« AnteriorContinuar »
sins must needs be fewer than his own; if he met with any of his equals, their heart, thought he, in all likeli. hood is better than mine; if they were richer than him. self, he considered that they did more good in the world than himself; if poorer, that then by reason of their poverty, they must needs have more humble and contrite hearts, and therefore be better than himself. Fourthly, the humble man arrives to true and solid wisdom before other men, not only because he is desirous to learn, and loves to sit at the feet of his teachers, but God also helps him to attain unto more than ordinary wisdom; whereas, the proud and haughty being loath to learn that wisdom which crosses flesh and blood, remains ignorant of the most solid wisdom. Fifthly, the humble man runs more cheerfully in the ways of God's testimonies, boggles at nothing that God commands, and expresses alacrity and readiness, at the voice of the greatest and weightiest, as well as at the least and easiest precept. Sixthly, the humble man's devotion is the only acceptable devotion to God, his sins are pardoned, his iniquities are easily for. given, for a humble and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise-Horneck.
EARTHLY AND HEAVENLY HONOUR.
If the applause of men, and the good opinion which they have from others, be esteemed an honour, what shall be the applause of Heaven, and the good opinion not only of saints and angels, but of God Himself, whose judg. ment cannot err? David took it for a great honour, that the daughter of his king was judged a reward of his valour: God surpasses this, and honours so much the service of His elect, that He pays their merits with no less a reward than Himself.
Besides this, he who is most known, and is praised and celebrated for good and virtuous by the greatest multitude, is esteemed the most glorious and honourable person. But all this world is a solitude in respect of the citizens of Heaven, where innumerable angels approve and praise the virtuous actions of the just; and they likewise are nothing, and all creatures, men and angels, but as a solitary wilderness, in respect of the Creator. What man
so glorious upon earth, whose worth and valour hath been known to all ?—those who were born before him, could not know him. But the just in Heaven shall be known by all, past and to come, and by all the angels, and by the King of men and angels. Human fame is founded upon the applause of mortal men, who, besides being less than angels, may be deceived, may speak untruth, and are most part of them sinners and wicked; how far must that honour exceed it, which is conferred upon the just by the holy angels, and by those blessed and pure souls who cannot be deceived themselves, nor will deceive others! If we esteem it more to be honoured by the kings of the earth, by the great men of the world, than by some ignorant peasants of some poor village; how ought we then to value the honour which shall be bestowed upon us by the saints in Heaven, who are the kings and grandees of the court of God, and are all replenished with most perfect and divine wisdom! All the honour of men is ridiculous, and his ambition no wiser who seeks it, than if one worm should be desired to be honoured by another. All the earth is but as a village, or rather some small cottage, in respect of Heaven; let us not therefore strive for a name upon earth, but that our names may be written in Heaven.
If Saul thought the honour too much which was given to David by the damsels, when they celebrated his victory in their songs, what shall it be to be celebrated by all the angels and saints in celestial responsories? When a servant of God enters into Heaven, he shall be received with such divine music; all the blessed in Heaven often repeating those words in the Gospel, “ Well done, good servant and true; because thou hast been faithful in a few things, thou shalt be placed over much; enter into thy Master's joy.” Which words they shall repeat in choirs ; this shall be a song of victory and honour, above all the honours of the earth ; being conferred by so great, so wise, so holy, and so authentic persons. Although the honour and applause which the just receive in Heaven from the citizens of that holy city be incomparable, yet that honour and respect with which God Himself shall treat them, is far above it; it is expressed in no meaner similitude than that of the honour done by the servant unto his lord ; and therefore it is said, that God Himself shall, as it were, serve the blessed in Heaven at their table. It is much amongst men to be seated at the table of a prince; but for a king to serve his vassal, as if himself were his servant, who ever heard it?
David, when he caused Mephibosheth (although the grandchild of a king, and the son of an excellent prince, unto whom David owed his life) to sit at his table, he thought he did him a singular honour ; but this favour never extended to wait on him. The honour which God bestows upon the just, exceeds all human imagi. nations : who, not sacisfied with crowning all the blessed with His own divinity, giving Himself to be possessed and enjoyed by them for all eternity, does also honour their victories and heroic actions with new crowns.
The just shall shine like the stars in the firmament; and if the least saint in Heaven shall shine seven times more than the sun, what shall that light be, which shall outshine so many suns ?
The honour of the just in Heaven depends not, like that of the earth, upon accidents and reports, nor is exposed to dangers, or measured by the discourse of others; but in itself contains its own glory and dignity. The world erects statues unto those whom it intends to honour, because, being mortal, there should something remain after death, to make their persons and services, which they had done to the commonweal, known to posterity; but in Heaven there is no need of this artifice, because those which are there honoured are immortal, and shall have in themselves some character engraved, as an evident and clear token of their noble victories and achievements. What greater honour, than to be the friends of God, sons, heirs, and kings in the realm of Heaven?
St. John, in his Apocalypse (Rev. iv. 4), sets forth this honour of the blessed, in the twenty-four elders, who were placed about the throne of God; and how in that honour and majesty every one was seated in His presence, and that upon a throne, clothed in white garments, in sign of their perpetual joy, and crowned with a crown of gold, in respect of their dignities. To be covered in the presence of kings is the greatest honour they confer upon the chiefest grandees; but God causes His servants to be crowned and seated upon thrones before Him; and our Saviour in the day of judgment makes His disciples His fellow-judges. Certainly, greater honour cannot be imagined than that which the just receive in Heaven; for if we look upon Him who honours, it is God; if with what, with no less joy than His own divinity, and other most sublime gifts; if before whom, before the whole theatre of Heaven ; if the continuance, for all eternity. Therefore let us so dispose of our lives here, and live so righteously and holily, that we may be thought worthy of that crown of glory which He hath prepared for all those who love and serve Him. Bishop Taylor.
EFFECT OF EXAMPLE.
What extreme advantage great persons have, especially by the influence of their practice, to bring God Himself, as it were, into credit! how much it is in their power easily to render piety a thing in fashion and request! for in what they do they never are alone, or are ill attended; whither they go, they carry the world along with them; they lead crowds of people after them, as well when they go in the right way, as when they run astray. The custom of living well, no less than other modes and garbs, will be soon conveyed and propagated from the court; the city and country will readily draw good manners thence; good manners truly so called, not only superficial forms of civility, but real practices of goodness. For the main body of men goeth not" quâ eundem, sed quâ itur,” not according to rules and reasons, but after examples and authorities ; especi. ally of great persons, who are like stars, shining in high and conspicuous places, by which men steer their course; their actions are to be reckoned not as single or solitary ones, but are, like their persons, of a public and representative nature, involving the practice of others, who are by them awed, or shamed into compliance. Their good example especially hath this advantage, that men can find no excuse, can have no pretence why they should not follow it. Piety is not only beautified, but fortified by their dignity ; it not only shines on them with a clear lustre, but with a mightier force and influence; a word, a look, the least intimation from them, will do more good
than others' best eloquence, clearest reasons, most earnest endeavours. For it is in them, if they would apply them. selves to it, as the wisest prince implies, to “scatter in. iquity with their eyes.” A smile of theirs were able to enliven virtue, and diffuse it all about; a frown might suffice to mortify and dissipate wickedness. Such apparently is their power of honouring God; and in proportion thereto, surely great is their obligation to do it; of them peculiarly God expects it, and all equity exacts it.-Barrow.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE ATONEMENT,
MEN are not easily convinced and persuaded of the deep stain of sin; and that no laver can fetch it out but the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Some that have moral resolutions of amendment, dislike at least gross sins, and purpose to avoid them, and it is to them cleanness enough to reform in those things; but they consider not what becomes of the guiltiness they have contracted already, and how that shall be purged, how their natural pollution shall be taken away. Be not deceived in this. It is not a transient sigh, or a light word, or a wish of “ God forgive me;" no, nor the highest current of repentance, nor that which is the truest evidence of repentance, amendment; it is none of these that purifies in the sight of God, and expiates wrath ; they are all imperfect and stained in themselves, cannot stand and answer for themselves, much less be of value to counterpoise the former guilt of sin. The very tears of the purest repentance, unless they be sprinkled with this blood, are impure; all our washings without this are but washings of the blackamoor-it is labour in vain (Job ix. 30, 31). There is none truly purged by the blood of Christ, that doth not endeavour after purity of heart and coversation; but yet it is the blood of Christ by which they are all fair, and there is no spot in them. We are said (1 Pet. i. 2) to be “elect unto obedience;" but because that obedience is not perfect, it is added, “and to the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”—Leighton.