Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

a

error.

from overlooking our own demerits; from an arrogant assumption of rights which, under no circumstances, can belong to us; and from closing our hearts against the awful truth, that the Almighty can punish as well as forgive.

By overlooking our own demerits, we frequently fall into a dangerous, nay, it may be, into a fatal

We consider not that “out of the mouth of the Lord proceedeth not evil and good;" but whilst, indeed, we ought to know him to be the whole sum and substance of the latter, we are apt to ascribe to him those evils which originate with ourselves. We presume to murmur against the mighty Majesty on high, because that cup is bitter which we ourselves have drugged. There seem to be but too many of the malcontents among us, who reason upon the occurrences of life as if they had been called into existence merely to be the sport of a capricious Providence: to pass through a career of “ mourning and woe,” and to be forced at last into an uncertain eternity:-never choosing for a moment to consider that everlasting happiness is the purpose for which they were called to life from the dust, and that the trials of this world are only a preparatory ordeal, in passing through which they are to fit and prepare themselves for the felicities of a better. “Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the grave shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth; they that

a

[ocr errors]

have done good, unto the resurrection of life ; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” So that, while we are formed for eternal life, it is certain that we may bring upon ourselves eternal death.

There are many who affect surprise that an infinitely wise and just God, who could have so constituted them as to be above the reach of personal evils, should still have endued them with appetites and desires which it is so difficult to control, and yet attach so tremendous a penalty as everlasting misery to an unlimited indulgence in those enjoyments which their nature so strongly solicits. But let such consider that the Almighty has only made use of means to an end. He has designed man for perpetuity of bliss, and imposed on him one general law as the terms upon which alone this is to be obtained—namely, the law of obedience. He has furnished him with the power and means of compliance. He has offered him abundant motives; and though difficulties unquestionably lie in his way, still, who shall say that the ultimate reward will not infinitely overpay the struggles undergone in obtaining it; when the glories of eternity shall be unfolded to him, where he shall evermore “ dwell safely and shall be quiet from fear of evil”?

Let such also further reflect, that without conditions there could be no law; that without law,

; there could be no obedience; and that without obedience there could be no authority. This would

be'to confound all distinctions betwixt Creator and created; since, without authority, there could be no supremacy, and if there were no supremacy there could be no God.

If, indeed, there were no life beyond the present, every affliction by which we might be overtaken would undoubtedly be a grievous and unnecessary curse, and they who except against the dispensations of Providence, might then offer some show of reason for their temerity. But as there is an existence to come, wherein the extremes of joy and sadness will be realized ; and it depends upon the determinations of Almighty wisdom whether that existence shall be eternally happy or eternally miserable, according as we render ourselves fit, through God's assistance, to enjoy the felicities of the one, or to undergo the miseries of the other—we cannot surely justly complain if we are not rewarded for doing evil, when we are endowed with a sufficient capacity to do good. Shall we forget that “it is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not”? “Wherefore, then, doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins ?”

If we are capable of resisting our corrupt desires—and nothing really is imposed upon us but what we are well able to perform—why should we not do so, if that Almighty Being who formed us, thinks fit to make this a condition of our acceptance with him? As he bestows the reward, will

a

any one presume to question his right to fix the terms upon which only it is to be obtained ? and have we any right to complain when the choice is left us of refusing or accepting them? They are far from being beyond our power of compliance, and we all know the alternative of our neglecting to embrace them. “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil ?” Can sinners—and we are all such-expect to receive only of the one, and nothing of the other? And have we any just reason to repine when we are continually “receiving good” from the mercy of an outraged God, to which we never can pretend the slightest plea of desert; and when the evils we undergo, more than probably originate in our own misdeeds ? Should we be discontented because the Almighty permits the punishment to visit us which we prepare for ourselves? “ But now, O Lord, thou art our Father : we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we are all the work of thy hand;" wherefore, then, should we murmur at the visitations of thy providence? If we were not actuated by a blind self-love to overlook our own demerits, and would only consider the evils which so often befall us, as an equitable chastisement for our offences, we should be less disposed to repine at what are so frequently considered to be the inflictions of a rigorous Providence. If we would but further consider, how often the severe trials which we meet with here, act as checks to

a

our delinquencies ; how often they lead us to repentance, and make way for the entrance of the Holy Spirit into our hearts, we should rather adore the hand that chastens us, than endure in sullen discontent those stripes which are administered to us for good.

Shall we can we forget that the Saviour, who became man's substitute unto death for the remission of sins—who, dying, was“ made a curse for us,” that we, through him, might live—can we forget that he suffered, without a murmur, the slanders of his enemies, the reproaches of those who condemned him ? — that he was scourged, and buffeted, and mocked ?—that he was publicly stigmatized, reviled, and scorned ?—that he was pronounced an impostor, a blasphemer, and unmercifully murdered ? Shall we forget this, and then repine at what we suffer ? Did not the holy Apostles, whom he appointed to propagate his gospel, cheerfully undergo, for his sake who died for them, hardships, privations, and terrible deaths ? How were the prophets and saints of still earlier times afflicted ? “Had they not trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonments? They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented- of whom the world was not worthy.” Though they encountered troubles beyond parallel in the histories of men,

« ZurückWeiter »