Imatges de pÓgina
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GOD AN EVER PRESENT FRIEND.

all my powers to thee? and wish to love thee with an angel's fire? Light of eternity, art thou my light, and shall I not listen to thee, and count all wisdom folly, but the wisdom of thy word? all learning ignorance, except the truth thy blessed book unfolds? Thou art love. O patient love! I have injured thee, yet thou art kind to me. How are my sins, even of a hellish dye! How have I acted, even a devil's part, in sinning against infinite goodness! and grieving infinite love! Yes, my young friend, these mingled feelings of exulting joy in God, and deep self-detestation, well become us when viewing the love of God. Look but at his everlasting love, and there thou wilt find a sufficient portion to gladden all thy soul; and without a sigh, thou wilt leave riches, and honours, and pleasures, and fame, to their possessors, whilst thou canst say, GOD IS LOVE, and God is mine.

§ 17. Reflect further: He, thy God, is ever with thee. Friends may be absent, he is always near. He sees thy tears, he hears thy prayers, he beholds the pantings of thy heart, and the desires of thy soul after more of his presence, his likeness, and his love. He is by when thou art praying in secret; and he goes with thee in thy lonely walks. He gives thee strength for the labours of the day; and watches over thee through the darkness of the night. Perhaps thy house is poor; the great ones of the earth might scorn to enter thy humble dwelling, or come under thy lowly roof, but thy God is there. Thy cottage is not too mean for him, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, in that cottage to dwell with thee. He is by, when thou art meditating on his word, to pour the light of instruction on thy soul; to wing thy hopes, and fire thy heart, and raise thy desires to the mansions of eternal love. He is by when thou art conversing on his goodness; and hearkens and hears, and a book of remembrance is written for those that fear the Lord and think upon his name. is he absent when thou art wishing that thy eyes were fountains of tears, to pour a ceaseless flood, because thou lovest and servest him no better. Through all thy days of health, God is with thee, and when thou layest on thy sick-bed he will be near thee, and near thee in thy dying hour.

Nor

Perhaps thou art unknown and despised on earth, thy wisdom counted folly, thy name cast out with scorn; but while God is thy portion, what trifles are poverty, contempt, and

GOD AN EVERLASTING FRIEND.

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scorn! However lowly, however despised on earth, as his child, thy name is written in the book of life, and stands enrolled in the records of heaven. While God is thine, though thou mayst have little here, thou hast much there. On earth but just a humble shelter, in which to lay thy head; but in heaven an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, and that cannot fade away. No riches here, but endless riches there; and it matters not if thou art poor on earth, whilst thou art rich in heaven.

Perhaps thou hast few friends, yet canst thou want a friend, while God is thy friend? He is more to thee than the whole universe; and his friendship of infinitely more value than that of all the inhabitants of earth or heaven besides. Thou art feeble as a moth, but the eternal God is thy refuge, the everlasting arms support thee. Thou art beset by foes and dangers, but the infinite God is thy shield; thou art a dying creature, but the immortal God is thy life and thy portion.

Perhaps God has given thee more of the comforts and mercies of this dying world; yet it is a dying world, and all is dying round thee. Rejoice then not in fading transitory things, but in thy God. God is thy God for ever, but nothing here is thine for ever. The tender parents, or beloved and loving friends, whose kindness and affection give life its chief charm, and gladden the very heart, are not in this shadowy world to be thy friends for ever. The bloom of youth, the strength of manhood, the vigour and the joy of health, will not be thine for ever. The possessions and comforts of this life cannot long be thine. This is not the eternal world. All is shadow here, all is change and deception. Thy friends must quickly die, but thy God will never die. He inhabiteth eternity. Thy health must be changed to sickness, thy ease to pain, thy life to death. Thy taper will expire; thy sun will set; thou hast rapacious death will tear away. Rejoice not then in dying things, but if God is thine, glory in thy God, who dwells above the reach of change; thy God, the everlasting solace of the immortal soul. And he thy friend, thy portion, through the span of life, will be thine through eternal years. The sun that cheers thee with its light and warmth, must shortly shine upon thy grave; but God, thy glory, will then shine with all the beams of heavenly love upon thy soul. That sun itself must ere long expire, but God shall be thy

all

32 EXCELLENCY OF THE SCRIPTURAL ACCOUNT OF GOD. everlasting light. The world on which thou art a pilgrim now, must perish like a bubble, that bursts and is forgotten; but God, who leads thee here, will be thy God in those brighter regions, where dwell the nations of the saved.

There will he make thee rich, when all except his children are poor; and happy, when all but they are wretched. There will his love diffuse joy unutterable, far more exceeding and eternal through thy soul. There, "violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended."i

§ 18. The views the Scriptures afford you of God should lead you to bind that volume to your heart. How different is the God of the Bible, from that motley train of polluted idols which heathenism has produced! weak and feeble, vile and sinful gods. How different too is Jehovah from the idol which infidels, who admit any god, describe as god! A god who sees with unconcern the vicious conduct of men; a god divested of holiness and justice, and his brightest attributes. Who, except men inspired by God, could represent him as he is described in the Scriptures? Whence, but from heaven, should Moses and the prophets, and the unlettered men of Galilee, obtain those views of the divine majesty and glory which we have now contemplated? What but inspiration could teach them what the philosophers of all nations, and of all ages, never discovered? and so teach them, that all the philosophers of the world, with all their vaunted wisdom, are mere idiots in divine knowledge, if compared with many a poor child instructed from the sacred writings in a sabbath school?

(i) Is. lx. 18-20.

CHAPTER II.

ON THE NATURE AND LOVE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST; AND ON LOVE TO HIM.

§ 1. THERE are few more impressive proofs of human depravity, than the general indifference of mankind to subjects of everlasting moment; and the contempt of the world for the happy few who are warmly devoted to the Saviour. Zeal in other pursuits is admired, zeal for the gospel is despised. Yet will real Christians triumph in their Redeemer's cross, and most admire and most love those grand glories of the gospel, for attachment to which, the world most ridicules and despises them. No name is so dear to them as that name which shall endure for ever; no part of Christianity so prized as that which is to the Jew a stumbling-block, and to the wise of this world foolishness. The glowing fervours of a poet's language express the sober feeling of their hearts.

"Religion, thou the soul of happiness,
And groaning Calvary, of thee! there shine
The noblest truths; there strongest motives sting;
There sacred violence assaults the soul;

There nothing but compulsion is forborne.

Thou, my all!

My theme! my inspiration! and my crown!
My strength in age! my rise in low estate !

My soul's ambition, pleasure, wealth! my world!
My light in darkness! and my life in death!
My boast through time! bliss through eternity!
Eternity too short to speak thy praise,

Or fathom thy profound of love to man!
To man of men the mearest. ev'n to me!

My sacrifice! my God! What things are these?
Talk they of morals? O thou bleeding Love!
Thou Maker of new morals to mankind!
The grand morality is love to thee!"

Such regard to the Saviour can exist only where exalted views are entertained of his person and offices.

§ 2. In taking a view of a few of the leading arguments that prove that Jesus Christ is God * over all, blessed for ever,

• Inquiries on this subject are not speculative. Correct views upon it affect the heart, and the life. "If Jesus Christ is God, then we perceive how vast was his love, how great are our obligations to him, for taking human nature to save a lost world! How inestimable that heaven to which he would raise us! How deep the depravity, guilt, and misery, from which the Son of God could rescue

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THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST.

we may observe that the Scriptures repeatedly assert that he is God, and give him the names and titles of God.

us, only by taking human nature and dying for sin! But if we could look on Jesus Christ as merely a man, we should see no more in the love of Jesus Christ than in the love of Paul; and should discern nothing in what he did, that could peculiarly display the depth of our sinfulness, the worth of the soul, the love of God, or the value of heaven." Thus this momentous question affects all the branches of religion and religious truth.

Inquiry on this subject is more important in the present than in some past ages. Open infidelity has received a check. Its atrocities in France brought it into disgrace. It therefore in many cases adopts the specious and more imposing form of Unitarianism. It sets aside the infinite evil of vice, the righteous strictness of the divine law, and the lost and undone condition of man, It removes, or tries to remove, the fear of future punishment; tells its disciples there is no such being as Satan, and no such place as hell; or if there be, it is but a purgatory, and when purified by fire, as Priestley taught upon his dying bed, they will rise to heaven. Thus taught, they need not be very solicitous about eternity, nor much concerned about strict morality; for profligate and moral, the pious and the atheist, will find all well at last. They may join in scenes of dissipation; frequent the mask, the ball, and the dissolute playhouse; love the world and the things of the world; reject a great part of the divine word; treat Paul as an inconclusive reasoner, and Jesus as a peccable man. What is this system but infidelity under another name?

Perhaps these remarks may be thought uncandid and severe. Let the writer therefore be permitted to add, that to Unitarians, as men, and fellow-citizens, he feels no dislike, but cordial benevolence. Nor are the above remarks designed to attack them as if all put on Unitarianism as a mask to cover infidelity. Some no doubt do, but many adopt it through the pride of reason, or the blindness of the mind, and alas, some (in themselves amiable characters) through the influence of education. It is the system the writer attacks; for he cannot see that it is any part of real candour to describe black as white, or white as black, or to represent the difference as small between them. The two systems of evangelical and modern Unitarian faith are removed as far asunder as the east and the west. If the former is Christianity, the latter is disguised, though, in many instances, not designed, infidelity. This system attacks, with peculiar violence, the divinity and atonement of Jesus. Whilst therefore in many ways Unitarianism endeavours to beguile the young and unsuspecting, it is important for them to be able to give a reason of their professed belief in the deity of Jesus, and of the hope which rests upon him, as God over all. Let them consider that humility of mind is an indispensable requisite for a satisfactory investigation of divine truth. If you wish to be taught of God, you must submit the powers of boasted reason to him. You are to employ those powers to judge of the evidences which prove Christianity a religion from heaven; but when once that conviction is obtained, it then becomes your duty to believe whatever God declares, however incomprehensible; on this obvious principle, that he is acquainted with the truths revealed in his word, infinitely better than his creatures can be. To see men trying the doctrines of revelation, by what they are pleased to term the dictates of reason, and then rejecting divine truths because unable to comprehend them by their insect powers, may remind us of the poet's words:

"The moles and bats in full assembly find,

"On special search, the keen-ey'd eagle blind."

God leaves the proud to wander in their own delusions, and to perish in the folly of their boasted wisdom. He resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. He knoweth the thoughts of the wise that they are vain. If you would know his will you must inquire for truth with child-like simplicity; must desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. Jesus praised God that he had hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes.

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If to become one of these babes, in child-like teachableness and simplicity, is too humbling for you, you are no scholar in the school of Christ. Go then, and "Indian-like,' adore your idol reason. Go, join the upstart ranks of the wise, and compliment each other on your wisdom, and on your superiority to the credulous crowd, who are so simple as to suppose that God knows his own nature better than they. Go spread your philosophic cobwebs ; like other cob

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