Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

quiet, and steadfast, and unmoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord ?

I pray that I may be understood in the intention and feeling with which I speak. I have no violent zeal against Revivals of religion. I am not excited about these excitements. I have no anxiety about desertions from the cause of rational piety. It is not that I entertain the slightest fear that any rational person among us will be wrought upon by these public excitements, that I write as I do. And I am not perfectly sure, that there may not be some among us, who would be influenced by nothing else, and to whom if that be the case, I would recommend to be influenced by this. It is not, therefore, that I fear the direct impression of this system upon any ; but I fear the indirect impression. I fear that some who are timid in their disposition, and whose religious experience has been more gradual and rational, may be troubled with

I fear that others may not properly appreciate that system of christian influence and instruction that is established among us.

I fear that the noise, and crowd, and bustle of human devices, may push out of sight the calm and mighty operation of the word, and providence, and spirit of God.

It is therefore, that I would remind my readers that there are diversities of operations. And while I admit among these diversities, whatever, of man's devising, may lawfully and safely impress the human heart, I would remind them of the great and divinely authorized and all pervading means of impression, which are liable to be forgotten for the very reason, that they

out cause,

are, like all the most glorious operations of God, silent, and calm, and universal.

How powerful, then, are the ordinances of God's word and worship; the sabbath stillness, the deep meditation, the solemn prayer! Do we not-or do I altogether mistake this matter-do we not feel oftentimes touched in spirit, as we enter beneath the shadow of the sanctuary? Does not the voice of instruction—or am I here mistaken too ?-does it not, even when it is feeble, yet being sincere and affectionate, and earnest, does it not penetrate the heart? Coming from the heart, does it reach the heart? Do we not feel, often, that the words of truth, the words of piety, the words of God, are solemn words ? Do they not quicken us to holy desires and resolutions? Alas! that we have so often violated them! But does it not affect our hearts, to remember that we have broken them? O! sacred ministrations of the church of God, what power have ye, to subdue, to quicken, to guide us; to guide us when anxious and doubtful, to warn us when going astray, to reclaim us when wandering, to comfort us when troubled and afflicted!

How amiable,' says David — how amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house. For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand.' Psalm lxxxiv.

How powerful, again, are the teachings of God's providence! The whole experience of life is a moral discipline. And events often have a power, too, which no human teaching can equal. To present a single instance; how often does sickness come; and

he who was yesterday active and vigorous, to-day is stretched on the bed of pain and languishment. Now there are many who feel as if nothing were done for his spiritual welfare, unless a clergyman be there to sanctify the occasion, unless there be a gathering and a crowd, unless there be frequent prayers, and warnings, and inquiries into his state and feelings. I do not question the propriety of suitable conversation and prayer at such a time; but I cannot help reflecting how much more powerful is the teaching of Providence to that man. In the stillness of his sick room, in the anxiety of his friends, in his pain and weakness, in the prostration of his passions, in the sinking of his heart, in his danger, in his fear, oh! what a voice of instruction and warning is addressed to him. I disparage not the offices of holy friendship to him, but I feel that God is speaking to that man, in a voice more solemn, more touching, more heart penetrating, than any that mortals can use.

Once more, how powerful is the influence of God's spirit in the very nature and mind which he has given us! I believe that his spirit is thus striving with every man, striving with and within our spiritual nature. And what, I ask, can all human means do, without this moral nature, this moral image, and manifestation, and spirit of God? Are there not powerful influences and mighty energies unfolded in every heart? Lo! conscience with its solemn and heaven-commissioned admonitions, the heartfelt joy of doing right, the secret pains and penalties of doing wrong, the inward and silent workings of reflection, the dissatisfaction and weariness that attend or follow all earthly good, the saered aspirations after excellence, the gentle whisperings of despondency, the want-Oh! the want, never to be satisfied, but by an immortal good; all these invite and urge men to religion. All these are God's messengers

and ministers to us. And, while we have these, and with these, the teachings of his providence and word, let us not think that our means of

grace and piety are small. Let us rather be anxious to profit by them. Let us not distrust our opportunities, but distrust ourselves. Let us take hold of the great laws and appointments of God for our spiritual welfare, and thus be strong in the Lord, and the power of his might.

D.

EXPLANATION OF ISAIAH LXIV. 6. ALL OUR RIGH-

TEOUSNESSES ARE AS FILTHY RAGS.'

This passage is often strangely misapplied. It is always misapplied, when adduced as proof that correct morals are worthless, or of little value. Such cannot be its meaning. We have the highest authority, even that of our Saviour, for believing, that he who doeth righteousness is born of God, and knoweth God. Now it is important to recollect to whom the passage

cited from Isaiah was originally applied. It was applied to those with whom God was displeased, because of their iniquities. They were depraved, im-. moral, unholy men. Of such men it may well be said their righteousness is worthless and offensive. But to

make the same declaration in regard to sober-minded and conscientious men, men who have a lively sense of moral rectitude and religious obligation, and who are distinguished by exemplary virtue, would be inconsistent with truth and justice. Their righteousness is christian virtue, and it will avail them much. Such righteousness ought not to be lightly. esteemed. It stamps on the character its principal value.

Consider for a moment what was the grand object of the preaching of Christ. Was it, that men should labor and contend with intemperate zeal in the work of forming and supporting a list of speculative opinions on religion? Was it, that they might be furnished with the means of distinguishing themselves among the cunning and powerful in controversy? Was it, that in the true spirit of bigotry and intolerance, and with the exclusion of charity and kind affection, they might

contend earnestly for a faith? never given to the saints ? Nothing of this can be asserted. He never preached or encouraged metaphysical or speculative religion. It is the design of his instructions that under the influence of regard to the divine will, and from a disinterested and elevated feeling of the beautiful and good, men should be exemplary in piety and morals. Jesus required of his immediate disciples, and his religion requires of us, undeviating truth and righteous

He stated to his followers that unless their righteousness exceeded the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, they should not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Pharisaical acts of righteousness are not only useless, but deserving of censure ; but not such is the righteousness which christianity demands, With

ness.

« AnteriorContinua »