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that as we must shortly “ depart hence and be no more seen,” we can have no time to delay making our peace with God. Let us all “ cast our care upon Him," and no longer devote it to the world, bearing in mind the incertitude and insufficiency of mere human designs, that “ the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill, but time and chance happeneth to them all."
ON THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE DIVINE
MATTHEW, CHAP. VI. VERSE 10.
Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.
WHEREVER there is a supreme power there must be a supreme will, because supremacy and subordination cannot co-exist, as that which is supreme cannot be subordinate. As supreme power must be self-existent,--for it cannot be supreme if it be derived from any thing else, since that which caused it would be more powerful, and as, moreover, it cannot remain inert,a supreme will is inseparable from it. But such power can belong only to a Being infinitely perfect,—for Omnipotence in its very essence supposes all perfections ; it is therefore desirable that the will of such a being should be universally done, because universal good must be the issue of it.
The will that is infallible,—and infallibility is a necessary and unalienable attribute of omnipotence,-must render happy every creature subject to its influence. “And this is the will of God, even your sanctification;" the consummation of it therefore is to be desired by every creature under heaven. For which reason we are directed to pray that God's will
that God's will may be done, because, as this will be the cause of certain happiness, in proportion as it is not done, misery will more or less pervade the human condition, since contrary effects must arise from contrary causes. Where there is unlimited power, united as it must necessarily be with unlimited perfection, it will, as I have said, be exercised; because it is essentially active, and cannot therefore exist but in exercise; because moreover if it were passive, which is a philosophical contradiction, there would be the absence of good, and the absence of good would necessitate the presence of evil, for there can be no neutral ground between them.
From what has been said, then, it appears that where there is a God there must be a will, as nothing could exist without it. It is however clear that nothing evil can originate under the influence of that will; because as a perfect cause cannot produce, so neither can He desire an imperfect effect. Universal good therefore must of necessity follow the consummation of God's will. But as we have a choice either of obeying his or our own, which he has vouchsafed to make free, we may certainly frustrate the universal good that would infallibly arise from doing his will, by preferring to follow the perverse and selfish dictates of our own.
“ He who trusteth in his own heart is a fool,” says the divine proverb; “ but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered;" thus it will be evident how dangerous it is to trust only in man, “whose breath is in his nostrils, and not in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe.”
It is notorious that our own inclinations, apart from those suggested by the Holy Spirit, who alone “puts into our minds good desires,” are the moral rocks upon which we so frequently “make shipwreck” of our spiritual hopes. These inclinations should consequently be resisted, and made to give way to such pure suggestions of an omnipotent will as are addressed to our hearts in mercy, and designed to rescue us from the bondage of sin, “under which we groan, being burthened,” and bring us to the celestial Zion, that“ strong city whereof God has appointed salvation for walls and bulwarks,” whither “the ransomed of the Lord shall finally come with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; where they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” It is clearly then not without good and sufficient
reason that we are enjoined to offer up this petition in a prayer which the Lord Jehovah bimself has prepared for our devotions, and it has also, like each of the other members of that divine orison, a significancy and a comprehensiveness not to be detected upon a mere superficial view.
In this petition we pray for the conversion to God of those who are now “afar off," as well as for those that are nigh;" as well for the infidel as the believer; as well for those to whom the Deity is an “unknown God," as for such as know him indeed, but do not exhibit their knowledge by a devout and holy affiance. Where however these latter are intractable, in spite of their knowledge of him, and persist to labour for the wages of sin” in defiance both of his denunciations and offers of mercy, “ from such,” to use the Apostle's exhortation, “ turn away, because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we have also forewarned you and testified.”
As it is impossible that they who are strangers to God, or only know him imperfectly, can do his will, because they are ignorant of it; because they know not that he desires to be reverenced“ in spirit and in truth,” not in those monstrous representations of him which bring him before the eye under an aspect of the most revolting deformity; because they know not that it is his will to be worshipped according to those