Abbildungen der Seite

one with, and a part of himself. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father;' in a world where all is splendor they shall yet distinctly shine, shine as suns forever and ever.

We shall conclude this section of our subject with two remarks. First, although the revelation of our immortality is not the specific object of the gospel, yet by combining it with the knowledge of salvation, our Lord has made it what no mere human philosophy could have done, a guiding principle of life. He has made it the Pharos of the universe: it is true indeed, that, prior to his coming, his colossal truth existed; but it lay prostrate on the earth, an undefined rough-hewn mass, creating shadow instead of light; while the majority of those who viewed it could only speculate about the uses to which it might be applied. But our Lord, having given it an angel-form, upreared its gigantic stature to the skies, kindled its beacon fire, and placed it in a line with the haven of eternity; that by flinging its warning light across the dark and perilous ocean of life, it might enable the endangered voyagers to reach the port of futurity in peace. And how many, in every age, by steering in the track of its radiance, have outlived the billows and perils of the deep, and at length' escaped safe to land.'

Our second remark is, that in his representations of the last day, our Lord appears to set no bounds to his estimate of his own importance to man. When we hear him announce, • I am the light of the world,' even then we cannot forbear exclaiming, What must be the dignity of him who can thus stand


and say, in the face of the sun, compare claims with that great source and element of light;' what must be his own conception of his greatness and value, when he can thus seek to eclipse the noon-day sun, and challenge for himself the attention of the world!'

[ocr errors]

But in his representations of the last day, he makes himself the light of both worlds, the centre of the universe. Now what must be his own idea of his ability and worth, that having unveiled so tremendous a scene, he should make himself the central object? What must be his own estimate of the saving power of his gospel, that he should select the awful ampitheatre of the judgment in which to try its efficacy; that he should deem it an antidote for infinite terror, the terrors of the last day? Had he supposed its efficacy was limited, he would have made its limit the measure of his disclosures of the judgment day. He would have been silent concerning many of its most alarming features, he would have lifted the veil with a guarded hand, lest by raising it to its utmost height, he should awaken fears beyond his power to allay. But, in the full confidence of its efficacy to sustain and to save, he rolls back the face of his throne, summons mankind before him, calls for his thunders, and the ministers of his wrath, uncovers the mouth of the bottomless pit; and, while justice is in its full career of punishment, he throws over his people the shield of his favor, and canopies them with almighty grace.

Well can he afford to disclose the utmost terrors of that day, for he feels that he is able to save unto the uttermost; he knows that even now he can pluck from the mind the sting of conscious guilt, and replace it with a peace passing all understanding, thus enabling his disciples to long and look for his appearing; and he knows that then, while all the guilty shall wail because of him, his people, upheld by his grace, shall rise superior to dismay,

and shall only recognise in the pomp and grandeur of the scene, the celebration of their own triumph, and occasions for their joy. The saved and the lost will then meet together for the last time in contrast before his throne. And as it will be the last time the righteous will be able

to triumph on so large a scale before the intermediate eyes of the wicked; and as the scene will be enacted partly to make that triumph complete, we may be assured that every thing present will tend to crown their glory with perfection. Sin will have reached maturity in the wicked, and prepared them for hell; holiness will have attained maturity in the righteous, and prepared them for heaven; and when the purity and beauty, the joy and glory on the right hand, shall be seen in immediate contrast with the awful array on the left, all will acknowledge that the salvation of his people as there displayed is a worthy result of all his stupendous plans, and abundantly exceeds all the lofty things he has spoken concerning them. In that one scene shall be combined, the consummation of all the plans of time, the rehearsal of all the glories of eternity. Oh, who can revere him too profoundly, love him too ardently, or rely on him too confidently,



*The words that I speak unto you are Spirit, and are life.'

I. The doctrine of the spirituality of the divine nature, lies at the foundation of all true religion. Accordingly, to assert and preserve it was one of the avowed designs of the Jewish economy. But the frequency with which it became necessary for God to republish and defend the doctrine, shewed how unknown and uncongenial it is to the unenlightened mind of man, and how difficult to maintain it in combination with an economy of carnal ordinances. It is true, indeed, that for some time prior to the advent of Christ, the Jews had not so entirely lost it as to relapse into the worship of idols; yet, short of this, their views of God were at perfect variance with the belief of his spiritual nature. Divesting him of all the properties peculiar to that nature, the popular creed pourtrayed him as circumscribed in his essence, and local in his residence, with a jurisdiction which dispensed with the inward homage of the heart, and which only took cognizance of outward acts.

But if, in the prevailing belief of the Jews, the Deity was only almost ; in that of the heathen world he was altogether such a one as themselves. They had gradually disqualified themselves for all virtue, and prepared themselves for the commission of every vice, by debasing him to a level with themselves, and ascribing to him the attributes of a corporeal being. God—the invisible, the al


mighty, the omnipresent, the omniscient Spirit--was not in all their thoughts. What an awful vacuity! He was excluded from his own world; lost to his intelligent creatures; while his place was occupied with the fictions of human fancy, and beings of material form.

God is a spirit;' such is the simple announcement by which Jesus dispersed the legions of idolatrous error, and restored God to the world. This was the fundamental principle of his theology. In harmony with its importance, he taught it in every stage of his ministry, and in all varieties of form. The God he proclaimed is all-knowing and every where present, and to whom all things are possible; a being whom no man hath seen nor can see, and who requires to be worshipped in spirit and in truth; whose new evangelical kingdom on earth is to be seated in the human soul, having spiritual laws enforced by spiritual sanctions, and administered by the agency of his Holy Spirit. By thus attesting the Spirituality of the divine nature, and making it a fundamental doctrine of his gospel, our Lord lifted the mind of man from earth to heaven; provided against all our tendencies to materialize and debase religion; furnished a motive for every virtue; kindled in his church a central, all pervading light: and animated all piety with a living soul.

II. Agreeably to the spirituality of the Supreme Being, and the relation in which we stand to him as his spiritual offspring, in exercising the prerogative of lawgiver, he had legislated for the soul. Human laws, for reasons the most obvious, can only take cognizance of outward acts. But even the positive rites of the Jewish code however carnal in their nature, and temporary in their obligation, were specifically designed and constructed for the soul; while of the moral law, the soul was the proper sphere, the peculiar

« ZurückWeiter »