« הקודםהמשך »
I will take this Psalm with pleasure, Sir, and accordingly I have dwelt upon it to a very considerable audience, and feeling my heart enlarged, I have spoken with great freedom.
After church, a number visited me for the purpose of conversation, among the rest a lady whose nuptial ties have bcen broken by death ; an interesting pensiveness seemed to hang about her, that indicated a heart mortally wounded, by the loss of an amiable companion ; I had marked her attention while in church, and she listened cagerly to my conversasion, asking in her turn several questions: and I have the pleasure to hope that she is almost persuaded to embrace the Christian faith- -Glory be to God.
When I hear these grown children talk, I forget I myself was once a child. In discoursing on the fifth of Matthew, I pointed out Jesus as the poor in spirit, the pure in heart, &c. &c. Several of these dear people, not being acquainted with the comprehensive character of our Lord, were confounded, and could not think what I could possibly mean, by applying those beatitudes to Christ-Is it not said, theirs is the kingdom of heaven? and is not this speaking in the plural ; how therefore can it possibly apply to Christ?
But when I pointed them to the many in one, to a variety of passages, that proclaim Jesus as all in all, as him in whom alone we can be perfect as our Father, who is in heaven is perfect; when I shewed them the liead and members as one new man, when I shewed them his figure-God called their names Adam, never did I see countenances more visibly marked with astonishment, and they united to pour forth the most unequivocal acknowledgments of gratitude and praise.
I will enrich my journal- by a character delineated in a volume, with which I have been uncommonly pleased : “He possessed a large, benevolent, humble heart, a quick, susceptible understanding. He dedicated his genius to the service of his fellow creatures, and said heaven would reward him for it. He used to say the shadows of seventy years, were brief shadows; and that too much attention was paid in great cities to time, too little to eternity. That one general pursuit of temporal interest engaged the prince and the peasant, the merchant and the mechanic. That large societies were knit together by unsocial chains, and that very few were actuated by these nobler principles, the love of God and the love of man. I will quit, said he, (when a youth and engaged in all the perplexities
of the exchange,) I will quit this strange scene the first hour I am able; I will cultivate my heart in the shades, and listen to the vicegerent of heaven, and shut my eyes forever on the vanities of pleasure, the cares of avarice and pride of station, and walk home to the house appointed for all living by the silent path, the better way.
Accordingly he retired in mature life, to a small freehold which fell to him by the death of a distant relation, and there executed his purposes of wisdom; there he worshipped with an ardent heart, when the lark sung her first song, and when the shepherd rested him in the noon-tide shadow, and when the star of evening prevailed; there he could smile in the midst of midnight thunder and say to his soul, as the first great cause to the warring elements, peace be still. A large grove of flourishing elms surrounded his thatch where many a croaking generation of clamorous rooks had flourished and passed away. A small river, well supplied with fish, watered his violets at the bottom of his garden. A few acres well cultivated furnished his little family with the necessaries 'of life, and I have known him so ignorant as to insist, that nature asked no more. The situation of the country about hini, was to his warm, romantic imagination, particularly charming. The distant prospect of hanging hills, flourishing woods, and laughing vallies, he would call the Deity in capitals, and say to his children, “ It looks, my pretty loves, as if a long time back, some minister of grace descended on this sweet spot on an erranci of mercy, and left its blessing for its charter." He wore a plain coat, because he thought dress no material recommendation to the man; and he preferred plain diet, because he thought health a blessing. He was confident on the truest prospect, and cheerful on the gravest grounds; his religion is summed up in a few words. He fixt his eye steadfastly on the cross of Calvary, as the man of Tarsus did before him, and walking with jcalous feet, made no merit of obedience.
I preached last evening to a very large company, on the last clause of the fifth verse of the second chapter of Ephesians ;
“ By grace ye are saved.” I endeavoured,
Secondly, What by the salvation which we receive consequent upon grace?
Thirdly, Who they were that were saved by grace.
Ist. What are we to understand by grace ? Certainly favour. What by the grace of God ? Undoubtedly the favour of God. Thus, the grace of God bringeth salvation.
2dly. What is this salvation which is accomplished by the grace of God? It is not a temporal, it is a spiritual salvation ; neither is it a temporary salvation, it is an eternal salvation, firm and enduring as its Omnipotent, and self-existing Author.
3dly. For whom is this salvation? Who are they that are saved by grace? This is indeed an important question, much too important to be answered upon the authority of the creature. Let us repair to the fountain head, and inquiring of the Oracles of truth, the answer which we shall receive from the lip of divine veracity, should most assuredly be established, should be received with all acceptation.
Who are they that are saved by grace ? All mankind; because all have sinned, and in their own characters, cannot demand salvation. All mankind; because our Saviour died for all men, because he gave himself a ransom for all men, because it is the will of God that all men should be saved, and come unto the knowledge of his truth, because God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses.
But when was this grace exemplified? At what period were all men saved? While they were dead in trespasses and sins. So says the context, while we were yet sinners, in due tine Christ died for the ungodly-so says the Holy Ghost in many passages. But, there is so much confusion in the house, in which I have my present residence, that I cannot proceed.
I was very much aflicted in a dream last night; I was thrown on the bed of deatli, and distressed, greatly distressed, by the fear of annihilation. I think I never in my life suffered so much in my waking moments, and for this very reason; because in my waking moments, my reason is watching at the helm. I thank you for the arguments with which you have furnished me, to prove a continued knowledge in a future state, of those we have loved in this : for, at the same time they prove this consolatory truth, they prove something more ; they prove the reality of a future state. Like the arguments in favour of the immortality of the brute creation, they leave the immortality of the human mind without a doubt.
Did we not possess a hope beyond the grave, this state would indeed be
miserable. Yet is annihilation the terror of the living, and not the dead; for were it even possible that this heavenly spark, derived from Almighty God, could be extinguished, we should not then be miserable ; true we should not be happy, but we should not be sensible we were unhappy.
But the thought is big with horror, and I am persuaded it is the adversary's last effort. When he can no longer make us miseraable in the fear of future torment, when he finds us assured of a happy existence beyond the grave, nothing remains to him but to appal our souls, by the frightful idea of non-existence; or if he cannot succeed in this terrifying impression, to diminish our bliss, by the melancholy supposition that in the world of spirits, our dearest connexions will remain unknown. Not that this arch-deceiver has the least knowledge of future events, but he knows what promotes our happiness in the present state, and as his business is to bruise the Saviour's heel; he will of course take the most effectual method to afflict us. Indeed, when we know that every horrid suggestion, originates with the enemy to our peace, it is a prime step toward destroying his power. May we therefore never be ignorant of Satan's devices, nor suffer him thus to afflict our souls.
But it is time I attend the multitude, which are waiting to hear what God the Lord will say unto them. O, may the common Father of our spirits, speak to their hearts this day by my mouth! O, may be, in speaking to them, speak to me!
And permit me here to close this very long letter, by praying that your mind may be cheered by the benignant smiles of your Redeemer.
May no passions baleful in their kind find entrance there ;
Am now, my friend, to present you with as methodical an account of a sermon, I have delivered, as my memory will permit.
You may read my text in the 16th chapter of the Evangelist Mark, and the 16th verse of that chapter-Thus it is worded :
“He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
Never did audience give more attention, while I undertook to point out the folly of urging the necessity of believing, before the individual called upon to believe, was informed what he was to believe. The gospel was first to be preached, and the assent of the mind was required as a consequence. This led to the introduction of our text. “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature ;" which produced an inquiry into the precisc meaning of the term gospel, since salvation was affirmed to be a consequence of the belief of this gospel. A number of sacred passages occurred, expressive of the sovereign grace contained in the gospel, and it appeared, that this grace was first preached to man in the garden of Eden. « And the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." From hence we traced it through many a luminous path, to Calvary's bloody brow, where we heard the Saviour of sinners, the head of every man, most solemnly and affectingly declare—" It is finished.”
When addressing the people, I thus proceeded : These passages, my dear hearers, constitute a glorious and complete delineation of what the Redeemer hath accomplished for the family of man, of which the word gospel may be termed the aggregate, and it is this blessed, this everlasting gospel, which the Prince of Peace commanded his disciples to preach to every creature.
The Apostle to the Gentiles assures us, that this dispensation of the gospel, this ministry of reconciliation was committed unto him. “To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses." The prophet Isaiah also testifieth : “ That when all we like sheep went astray, every one to his own way, the Lord laid on him (Jesus) the iniqui