« הקודםהמשך »
moured with this, that the God who created must at length be brought out to its adeyour mind, and all the tastes which are quate condemnation. And on that day, within it, and all the objects which are with when the earth is to be burnt up, and all its out it, and which minister to its most ex- flatteries shall have subsided, will it be seen quisite gratification, this God, we say, may of many a heart that rejoiced in the apbe turned away from with a feeling of the plause and friendship of this world, ihat, most nauseous antipathy, and you may give alienated from the love of God, it was inthe most substantial evidence of your hatred deed in the gall of bitterness, and in the to him, by ridding your thoughts of him al- bond of iniquity. together. Or, lastly, it may be what the Nor does it palliate the representation world calls a virtuous occupation, even that which we have now given, that a God, in of a mind bustling with the full play of its the fancied array of poetic loveliness—that energies, among enterprises of charity and a God of mere natural perfection, and withplans of public good. Yet even here, won- out one other moral attribute than the single derful as you may think it, there may be a attribute of indulgence—that a God, ditotal exclusion and forgetfulness of God; vested of all which can make him repuland, while the mind is filled and gratified sive to sinners, and, for this purpose, shorn with a rejoicing sense of its activity and its of all those glories, which truth and auusefulness, it may be merely delighting itself thority, and holiness, throw around his with a constitutional gratification,--and God character-that such a God should be idolthe author of that constitution, be never ized at times by many a sentimentalist. It thought of, or if thought of according to would form no deduction from our enmity the holiness of his attributes, and the nature against the true God, that we gave an occa. of that friendship, opposite to the friendship sional hour to the worship of a graven of the world, which he demands of us, and image, made with our own hands-and it the kind of employment which forms the is just of as little significancy to the argureward and the happiness of his saints in ment, that we feel an occasional glow of eternity, even the praise and the contem- affection or of reverence, towards a fictitious plation of himself, --if thought of, we say, being of our own imagination. If there be according to this his real character, and truth in the Bible, it is there where God has these the real requirements that he lays upon made an authentic exhibition of his nature, us--even the man to whom the world yields -and if God in Christ be an offence to you the homage of virtue may think of his God - if you dislike this way of approach-if with feelings of offensiveness and disgust. you shrink from the contemplation of that
There is nothing monstrous in all this, to Being, who bids you sanctify him in your the men of our world, seeing that they have hearts, and who claims such a preference each a share in that deep and lurking un- in your regard, as shall dispossess your argodliness, which has both so vitiated our fections for all that is earthly-if you have nature, and so blinded all who inherit this no relish for the intercourse of prayer, and nature, against a sense of its enormity. But of spiritual communion with such a Godonly conceive how it must be thought of, if your memory neither love to recal him, and how the contemplation of it must be nor your fancy to dwell upon him, nor he felt, among those who can look on character be the being with whom you greatly dewith a spiritual and intelligent estimation. light yourself, the habitation to which you How must the pure eye of an angel be resort continually,—then be assured, that moved at such a spectacle of worthless- amid the painted insignificancy of all your ness,--and surely, in the records of heaven, other accomplishments, your heart is not this great moral peculiarity of our outcast right with God; and he who is the Father race must stand engraven as that, which of of your existence, and of all that gladdens all others, has the character of guilt most it, may still be to you a loathing and an nakedly and most essentially belonging to abomination. it. That the bosom of a thing formed should Neither does it palliate the representation. feel cold or indifferent to him who formed which we have now offered, that we do it,—that not a thought or an image should many things with the direct object of doing be so unwelcome to man as that of his that which is pleasing to God. It is true, Maker, that the creature should thus turn there cannot be love where there is no de round on its Creator, and eye disgust upon sire to please; but it is as true, that there him,-that its every breath should be en- may be a desire to please where there is no venomed with hatred against him who in- love. Why, I may both hate and fear the spired it,-or, if it be not hatred, but only man, whom I may find it very convenient unconcern, or disinclination, that even this to please; and to secure whose favour, I should be the real disposition of a fashioned may practice a thousand arts of accommoand sustained being, towards the hand of dation and compliance. I may comply by his Preserver,-there is a a perversity here action-but instead of complying with my which time may palliate for a season, but will, I may abominate the necessity which which, under a universal reign of justice, I constrains me. I may be subject to his pleasure in my person, and in my perform- testify against me?" You may fear him; ances--but you would not say, while hatred you may heap sacrifices upon his altar: rankled within me, that I was subject to him you may bring the outer man to something with my mind. A sovereign may overrule like a slavish obedience, at his bidding, but the humours of a rebellious province, by till your heart be subdued, by that great the presence of his resistless military--but process, which all who are his spiritual subyou would not say that there was any loy-jects must undergo, you are carnal, and alty in this forced subordination. He may you do not love him. Your obedience is compel the bondage of their actual services like a body without a soul. The very prin-but you would not say, that it was in ciple which gives it all its value, is wanting. this part of his dominions, where the prin- It is this, which turns the whole to bitterciple of subjection to him existed in the ness. It is this, which, with all the bustling minds of the people. We have already af- activity of your services, keeps you dead in firmed, that though our will went along with trespasses and sins. It is this which mars a number of performances, which in the every religious performance, and imparts matter of them were agreeable to God's the character of rebelliousness to every one law-this was far from an unfailing indica- item, in the list of your plausible and ostention of love to God; for there may be a tatious duties. There is not one of them thousand other constitutional principles, which is not accompanied with an act of the residence and operation of which in the disobedience, and that too, to the first and heart may give rise to these performances, greatest commandment, by which we are while there was an utter distaste, and hos- called upon to love the Lord with all our tility on our part to God. They may be heart, strength, and soul. Though the hand done, not because God wills the doing, but should be subject, though the mouth because the doing falls in with our humour, should be subject,-though all the organs or our interest, or our vanity, or our in of the outer man should be subject; yet it stinctive gratification. But now we are pre- availeth nothing, if the will of the mind is pared to go farther, and say, that they may not subject. I could sell all my goods to be done, because God wills the doing, and feed the poor. I could compel my hand yet there may be an utter want of subjec- to sign an order to that effect, -and I could tion in the mind, to the law of God. The keep my hand from reversing that order terror of his power may constrain you to till it was executed. But all this I may do many acts of obedience, even as the call, says Paul, and yet have nothing, because I “Flee from the coming wrath,” told on the have not charity. It is not the act of welldisciples of John the Baptist. But obedience doing to your neighbour, but a principle of may be rendered to all the requirements of love to your neighbour, on which God this prophet. Thieves and swearers, and stamps the testimony of his approbation. sabbath-breakers, may, under the fear of the In like manner, it is not the act of wellcoming vengeance, give up their respective doing to God, but the principle of love to enormities, and yet their minds be alto- God, which he values and if this be withgether carnal, and utterly destitute of sub-held from him, you are carnal; and with jection to the law of God. There may all your painful and multiplied attempts at be the obedience of the hand while there is obedience, your mind is not subject to the the gall of bitterness in the heart, at the law of God. necessity which constrains it. It may not We shall conclude, at present, with two be the consenting of the mind, to the law short reflections. of him whom you delight to please and to First, If any of you are convinced of the honour. Now, this is the service for which justness of the representations which we it is the aim of Christianity to prepare you. have now given, you will perceive that It is by putting that law, which was graven your guilt in the sight of God, may be of a on tables of stone, upon the tables of your far deeper and more alarming kind, than heart, that it enables you to yield that obe- men are generally aware of. And such a dience which is acceptable to God. He is view of the matter may be quite intolerable grieved at the reluctancy of your services. to him who nauseates the peculiarities of No performances can satisfy him, while the gospel, -to him who has a contempt for your heart remains in shut and shielded the foolishness of that preaching, of which alienation against him. What he wants, the great burden is Jesus Christ, and him is to gain the friendship and the confi- crucified, -to him, in a word, whom the dence of his creatures; and he feels all the true description of our moral disease, must concern of a wounded and mortified fa- terrify or offend, -seeing that he carries ther when he knocks at the door of your a distaste in his heart toward the alone heart and finds its affections to be away remedy, by which the disease can be met from him. He condescends to plead the and extirpated. natter, and with the tenderness of a dis! But secondly, There is another class of appointed father, does he say, “ Wherein people, whom such a view of the actual have I wearied you, O children of Israel, I state of human nature ought to tranquillize, by bringing their minds out of perplexity, lessness ;-you become desperate of salvainto a state of firm and confident decision. tion in one way, and you are led to look for There are often in a congregation, a set of it in another way. The question, whether hearers not yet shut up into the faith, but salvation is of grace or of works, receives approaching towards it, with a growing its most decisive settlement;-when thus taste for the Christianity of the New Testa- driven away from one term of the alternament, but without a full and a final acqui- tive, you are compelled, as your only reescence in it-with an opening and an source, to the other term. You feel that enlarging sense of the importance of the nothing else will do for your acceptance gospel, but still halting between two opi- with God, but your acceptance of the ofnions respecting it; who, in particular, are fered Saviour. You stand at the foot of not sure where their sole dependence for the cross- you make an absolute surrender salvation should be placed, whether singly of yourself to the terms of the gospel. upon their own performances, or singly And we know not a more blissful or a upon the righteousness of Christ, or jointly more memorable event, in the history of upon both. Now, we trust that the lesson the human soul, than, when convinced that of our text may have the effect with some, there is no other righteousness than in the of bringing this unsettled account more merits, and no other sanctification than in speedily to its termination. You may have the grace of the Saviour, it henceforth glohitherto, perhaps, been under the impres- ries only in his cross; and now, that every sion, that the condition of man was not just other expedient of reformation has been tried, so bad as to require a Saviour, who must and failed of its accomplishment, it takes to undertake the whole of his cure, and bring the remaining one of crying mightily to God about the whole of his salvation. You have and pressing, at a throne of grace, the supattempted to share with the Saviour in the plication of the Psalmist, “Create a clean matter of your redemption. Instead of heart, and renew a right spirit within me." looking upon it with the eye of the Apostle, One thing is certain ; you are welcome, 'as being all of grace, or all of works, you at this moment, to lay hold of the righteous have in some way or other, attempted a ness of God, in Christ Jesus; you are wel compromise between them; and this has come, at this moment, to the use of his pre the undoubted effect of keeping you at a vailing name, in your prayers to the Father; distance from Christ. You have not felt you are welcome, at this moment, to the your entire need of him, and therefore you plea of his meritorious obedience, and of have not leaned in close and constant de his atoning death: and you are welcome, pendence upon him. But let the torch of a at this moment, to the promise of the Spirit, spiritual law be lifted over your characters, given unto all who believe, whereby the and through the guise of its external de- enmity of their carnal minds will be done cencies reveal to you the mountain of ini-away,-God will no longer be regarded quity within ; let the deformity of the heart with antipathy and disgust,- he will appear be made known, and you become sensible in the face of Jesus Christ as a reconciley of the fruitlessness of every endeavour, so father,-he will pour upon you the spirit of long as the consent of a willing cordiality is adoption,-you will walk before him with withheld from the person and authority of out fear,-and those bonds being loosed, God; let the utter powerlessness of all wherewith you were formerly held, you will your doings, be contrasted with the per- yield to him the willing obedience of those versity of your stubborn and unmanageable whose hearts are enlarged, and who run, with desires, and the case is seen in all its help- delight, in the way of his commandments.
SERMON XIV. The Power of the Gospel to dissolve the Enmity of the human Heart against God.
“ Having slain the enmity thereby.”—Ephesians ii. 16. II. We shall now consider how it is that lever. For, do you think that the delivery the gospel of Jesus Christ suits its applica- 1 of the law of love, in his hearing, as a position to this great moral disease.
tive and indispensable enactment coming The necessity of some singular expedient forth from the legislature of heaven will do for restoring the love of God to the alien-l it? You may as well pass a law, making ated heart of man, will appear from the lit imperative upon him to delight in pam, utter impossibility of bringing this about by and to feel comfort on a bed of torture. any direct application of authority what-1 Or, do you think, that you will ever give a practical establishment to the law of love, has it yet begun to dawn upon the mind, by surrounding it with accumulated penal- and spread its salutary and composing ties? This may irritate, or it may terrify,- charm over that dark scene of conflict, unbut for the purpose of begetting any thing der which many a sinner has to sustain the like attachment, one may as well think of burden of the wearisome nights that are lashing another into tender regard for him. I appointed to him ? You may seek for love Or, do you think, that the terrors of the to God throughout all the chambers of his coming vengeance will ever incline a hu- heart, and seek in vain. The man may be man being to love the God who threatens acting such reformations as he is driven to, him? Powerful as these terrors are, in and may be clothing himself in such visible persuading man to turn from the evil of his decencies, as he feels himself compelled to ways,-they most assuredly do not form put on, and may be labouring away at the the artillery by which the heart of man can drudgery of such observances as he thinks be carried. They draw not forth a single will give him relief from the corrosions of affection, but the affection of fear. They that undying worm, which never ceases to never can charm the human bosom into a goad him with its reproaches; but as to the feeling of attachment to God. And it goes love of God, there is as grim and deterto prove the necessity of some singular ex- mined an exclusion of this principle as pedient, for restoring man to fellowship ever,--that avenue to his heart has never with his Maker; that the only obedience been unlocked, through which it might be on which this fellowship can be perpetu- made to find its way,-every former arguated, is an obedience which no threatenings ment, so far from having dissolved the barcan force,-to which no warnings of dis- rier, has only served to rivet and to make pleasure can reclaim,- which all the solemn it more unmoveable. And the difficulty proclamations of law and justice cannot still lies upon us, --how are we to deposit carry,--and all the terrors and severities of in the heart of man, the only right princia sovereignty resting on power, as its only ple of obedience to God,-and to lead him foundation, can never subdue. The utter- onward in the single way of a pure, and ance of the words, Thou shalt love the spiritual, and substantial repentance ? Lord thy God, or perish everlastingly, can This, then, is a case of difficulty, and, in no more open the shut and alienated heart the Bible, God is said to have lavished all of man, than it can open a gate of iron. I the riches of his unsearchable wisdom on Multiply these arguments of terror as you the business of managing it. No wonder may, -arm them with tenfold energy, and that to his angels it appeared a mystery, make them to fall in thunder on the sin- and that they desired to look into it. It ner's ears,-tell him of the God of judg- appears a matter of direct and obvious ment, and manifest to him the frown of his facility to intimidate man,—and to bring angry countenance,-lay before him the his body into a forced subordination to all grim aspect of his impending death, and the requirements. But the great matter spread a deeper mantle of despair over the was, how to attach man,-how to work in vast field of that eternity which is on the him a liking to God, and a relish for his other side of it;-you may disquiet him, character ;-or, in other words, how to and right that he should be so, you may communicate to human obedience, that prevail on him to give up many evil doings; principle, without which it is no obedience and right that the whole urgency of the at all, -to make him serve God because he coming wrath should be employed to make loved him; and to run in the way of all his him give them up immediately,-you may commandments, because this was the thing set him a trembling at the power of God, in which he greatly delighted himself. To and better this than spending his guilty lay upon us the demand of satisfaction for career, in thoughtlessness and unconcern, his violated law, could not do it. To press about the great Lawgiver ;-but where, in home the claims of justice upon any sense the midst of all this, shall we find obedience of authority within us, could not do it. To to the very first and greatest commandment bring forward, in threatening array, the of the law ? Has this obedience been yet terrors of his judgment, and of his power so much as entered on ? Has love to God against us, could not do it. To unveil the so much as reached the infancy of its ex- glories of that throne where he sitteth in istence in that heart which is now begin- equity, and manifest to his guilty creatures ning to be agitated by its terrors ? Amid | the awful inflexibilities of his truth and all the bitterness of remorse, and all the righteousness, could not do it. To look out learful looking for of judgment, and all the from the cloud of vengeance, and trouble restless anxieties of conscious guilt, and our darkened souls as he did those of the anticipated vengeance, tell us, if a single Egyptians of old, with the aspect of a meparticle of tenderness towards God has any nacing Deity, could not do it. To spread the place in this restless and despairing bosom? field of an undone eternity before us, and Tell us, if it act as an element at all, in this tell us of those dreary abodes where each wild war of turbulence and disorder ? Or, I criminal hath his bed in hell, and the centuries of despair which pass over him are shall wither and expire under the contagion not counted, because there no seasons roll, of their ruffian example; and will patronize and the unhappy victims of the tribulation, every step of that progress which leads and the wrath, and the anguish, know, that from one depravity to another, till their il for the mighty burden of the sufferings fated proselyte, made as much the child of which weigh upon them, there is no end, hell as themselves, shall share in that comand no mitigation; this prospect, appalling mon ruin which, in the great day of the reveas it is, and coming home upon the belief lation of the righteous judgment of God, wi! with all the characters of the most immuta- come forth from the storehouse of his wrath, ble certainty, could not do it. The affections in one mighty torrent, on the heads of all of the inner man remain as unmoved as who boast of their iniquity. We have now ever, under the successive and repeated in- touched on the limits of a subject of which fluence of all these dreadful applications. half its horrors are untold; but through There is not one of them, which, instead of which, the minister of the counsels of heaconciliating, does not stir up a principle of ven must clear his intrepid way, in spite of resistance; and, subject any human crea- all its painfulness. We will not pursue ii ture to the treatment of them all, and to at present, but neither will we count the nothing else, and he may tremble at God, digression out of place, should a single peand shrink at the contemplation of God, rent among you be led, from what we have and feel an overpowering awe at the thought now uttered, to be jealous over his children of God, when that thought visits him ;- with a godly jealousy, and not to suffer thos, but we maintain, that not one particle of for whose eternity he is so deeply respons:influence has been sent into his heart, to ble, to take their random direction through make him love God. Under such applica-society, just where the prospects of busitions as these, we can conceive the crea-ness, and of worldly advantage, maychaude ture, gathering a new energy from despair, to carry them; to calculate on the postand mustering up a stouter defiance than bilities of moral corruption, as well as on ever to the God who threatens him. Strange the possibilities of lucrative employment ; contest between the thing formed and him to look well to exposures and acquaintances who formed it; but we see it exhibited and hours of social entertainment, as well among the determined votaries of wicked- as to the common-place object of a situation ness in life; and it is the very contest which in the world. And when you talk of a gives its moral aspect to hell throughout all good line for your children, just think a eternity. There God reigns in vindictive little more of the line that leadeth to etermajesty, and there every heart of every nity, and have a care lest you be the instruoutcast, sheathed in impenetrable hardness, ment of putting them on such a path of mutters its blasphemies against him. O danger, that it shall only be the very rarest hideous and revolting spectacle! and how miracle of grace that your helpless young awful to think that the unreclaimed sons of can be kept from falling, or be renewed profligacy, who pour along our streets, and | again into repentance. throng our markets, and form the fearful | But the difficulty in question still remajority in almost every chamber of busi- mains unresolved. How then is this reness, and in every workshop of industry, generation to be wrought, if no threatenings are thither speeding their infatuated way! can work it,-if no terrors of judgment What a wretched field of contemplation is can soften the heart into that love of God, around us, when we see on every side of it which forms the chief feature of repenithe mutual encouragement,-the everply-ance,--if all the direct applications of law ing allurements,-the tacit, though effectual and of righteous authority, and of its tre and well understood, combination, sustain- mendous and immutable sanctions, so far ing, over the whole face of this alienated from attaching man in tenderness to DUS world, a firm and systematic rebellion God, have only the effect of impressing against God! We are not offering an ex-violent recoil upon all his affections, and aggerated picture when we say, that within by the hardening influence of despair, ol reach of the walk of a single hour, there stirring up in his bosom a more violent alia are thousands, and thousands more, who tipathy than ever? Will the high and se have cast away from them the authority of lemn proclamations of a menacing Deny God; and who have been nerved by all his not do it?' This is not the way in which threatenings into a more determined atti- the heart of man can be carried. He 18 30 tude of wickedness; and who glory in their constituted, that the law of love can never, unprincipled dissipations; and who, with-I never be established within him by the enout one sigh at the moving spectacle of Igine of terror; and here is the barrier ruined innocence, will, in the hearing of this regeneration on the part of man. bus companions younger than themselves, scat-if a threat of justice cannot do it, will ter their pestilential levities around them, act of forgiveness do it? This again is not and care not though the hope of parents, the way in which God can admit " and the yet unvitiated delicacy of youth, I guilty to acceptance. He is so constitu