« ZurückWeiter »
the wisest of men are but children. They have all severed from the truth, however well they may be acquainted with its fitness and beauty. All are liable to be deceived; all are interested judges of their own motives; all are ready to stop short at that heavenly state to which it hath pleased GOD to call them.
ness of our indolence, and proud nature is soonest opposed. Otherwise, it would be as general to enter eagerly upon religion with alacrity as it is now to take up a lukewarm show of religion, yet it remains true that happiness and innocence and the love of our blessed Father and Lord dwell together. Receiving these truths, be ye men in understanding, whilst as children ye love God in order to know him.
Seek not to exercise your under
But let the love of Christ, their Saviour, open their hearts to the extent of his claims upon their service, and all this self-satisfaction will be brought low; this danger of self-standing but with a spiritual mind, a bias rather of humility than of curiosity. Seek to know by meditation upon all the works of GOD, how great his care for you. Learn by the cross of Christ, how he loveth you Read in every thing that GOD permits or doth, that he is the same good GOD, making all things work together for good.
esteem will be taken away, and love will convince us that every day must advance our steps in the paths of heavenly wisdom, every day must add zeal and freshness to our will, and build us up more firmly on the revealed word of God, and godlike love to men.
Cruel and hard-hearted is the spirit of the world that separates men from their Creator, and sinners from their only Saviour. Dead and appalling is that spirit which places the duties we owe to heaven, to ourselves, and to each other, on utility and decorum only; which represents the love of GOD as a something unattainable. Pitiful and miserable is our nature, when trusting, in fact, to fortune and to itself, it has no union to the Divine will and Providence through love to the Author and Giver of every good and perfect gift. Yet this filial spirit, the very strength and peculiarity of true religion, the very means by which it enables us to fulfil its precepts, is that to which the sinful
Let your youth thus contemplate him. Then wisdom shall temper your thoughts with prudence; your appetites and wills shall cheerfully yield to GOD, and you be early formed to that pure knowledge of him which will make you alike honorable, and preserve you alike secure in prosperity and in adversity. By the love of GOD you may glorify him, whether in the enjoyments or in the affections of life-in health, or on the bed of death. Only let this be the ground of your heart-let this be your highest wisdom, and your sweetest content; that God is love, and is known effectually by love.
A Funeral Sermon,
DELIVERED BY THE REV. H. BLUNT,
OCCASIONED BY THE DEATH OF W. WILBERFORCE, ESQ., AT HOLY TRINITY CHURCH, CHELSEA, ON SUNDAY MORNING, AUGUST 4, 1833.
2 Kings, ii. 12.-" And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horseman thereof! And he saw him no more."
THE departure of a man of GOD must | ance, every instance of success is at all times, and under all circum- declared in the revealed word of stances, afford matter of deep and GoD, to have been the result of Eliprayerful reflection to the survivors: jah's prayers. At his effectual ferthe departure of a prophet, and of vent prayer the rains of heaven were such a prophet as Elijah, must have intercepted for the astonishing period been, at the time of its occurrence, of three years and six months; and one of the most striking events in the at the prayer of this same righteous history of the Israel of GOD. In man the heavens gave rain, and the himself he might be almost said to earth brought forth her fruit: at his have combined the offices of a pro- prayer the widow's barrel of meal phet, a priest, a king, and a con- wasted not, neither did the cruse of queror; and this although he has oil fail: at his prayer the false pronever put on the priestly ephod, or phets of Baal were disgraced and worn the kingly diadem, or drawn discomfited; the armies of the aliens the conqueror's sword. were utterly destroyed; the bodies of kings were given to the dogs; fire came down from heaven to destroy the enemies of GOD; and even the very dead were brought to life again. He was pre-eminently a man of prayer; and so deeply indebted was the whole nation to the prayers of Elijah, that, when he was miraculously received to his divine inheritance, his beloved companion broke forth into the apostrophe of the text. "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horseman thereof!" intending by this remarkable expression to imply, that the real safeguard of Israel was not her thousand chariots of iron, that the true cavalry of Israel were not her horsemen; but that both were to be found in one prayerful and one devoted man of GOD.
The words of the text, and the in
And, brethren, whence was this? How came it that a whole nation was thus deeply indebted to one of whom the apostle declares that he was man subject to like passions as we ." The cause was this; not merely that he was miraculously endowed with the superior gifts and graces of a prophet, but that, as he himself declares, he was very jealous for the Lord God of Hosts." He bent all the energies of his supernaturally endowed mind to this one all-important subject; and while he devoted himself to the service of his Creator, he might have said with the apostle, "I give myself unto prayer." This was the great secret of his abundant usefulness, and unexampled success: prayer was his all-prevailing weapon throughout his long and remarkable life. Almost every incident of import
have been brought with peculiar vividness to my mind by the removal from the midst of us, even in the parish in which we dwell, since we last worshipped in this place, one who, when in this neighbourhood, was in the habit of worshipping with us--one of the best and greatest men the present generation hath ever looked upon; I need scarcely mention the name of WILBERFORCE. It is not too much to say, that the sun in its diurnal course visits no region, shines on no country of civilized men, where that name is unknown; and we might further add, none where many do not rise up and call him blessed.
dividual to whom they were applied, the powers of their oratory, and all the interests of their wealth, for her aggrandisement. And though through a selfish, sordid, groveling ambition, the very name of patriot has, in our days, been rendered a by-word and a laughing stock, yet, we trust, there may be many such-it would be the extreme of uncharitableness to suppose there are none. But where shall we find the men who love their country as the church and handmaid of their GOD-men who, as politicians, will devote themselves to their GOD as he of whom I speak so nobly did in years gone by, in rescuing their country from those foul taints which hang around her? Some such, no doubt there are, who prepare themselves for their public efforts for their country's welfare by their private prayers, by their devotedness to GOD; who are not ashamed to assert the honor of his day, and the necessity of acting in strict accordance with Christian principle, and of recognising the hand of Divine Providence in all things, even in the certainty of being met with the scorn and ridicule of an unbelieving world.
The house of GOD is, I am well aware, no place for eulogy upon the poor worms of earth: but if the Spirit of God does not fail to record so striking an example of departed greatness as the words of the text conveyif that same unerring Spirit has not hesitated to declare of men of like passions with ourselves, that the world was not worthy of them, and to place them before us for our ensamples, on whom the ends of the world are come-I feel no scruple, in the evil times on which our lot has been cast, in endeavouring to recall to your recollection some of the features in the character of this holy man of GOD, before the gushing tide of passing events shall have swept them from our minds for ever.
It forms one of the chief grounds for the continued welfare of our country, in the mind of the Christian, that we possess some such, although they may be but few, and that such th men may be found in the great councils of the nation. But when he of whom I speak commenced his great career, the way in which he was constrained to walk, might almost bo called in that generation, an untrodden way. Giving himself wholly to the great, and good, and blessed cause of delivering from bondage all them that are bound-thus removing one of the darkest stains that disgraced our country (and this not at a time when such exertions were become part and parcel of the liberalism of the day) we find a man so far in advance of
The character, then, in which I would wish to present the memory of the departed is that of a Christian patriot-words, alas, we fear, so seldom truly united; and yet, when united, forming unquestionably "the highest style of man." There may be many who love their country for her own sake, for her high historical recollections, for her past and present glories; and who would devote all the energies of their mind, and all
his species as to labour incessantly in this great work, unabashed by the world's ridicule and contempt, rising only the stronger and more determined from his repeated failures; not indeed, like him of old, gathering fresh strength from every fall to the earth to which he was struck down - but drawing his renewed energy and unflinching perseverance from the heavens, to which alone he looked for his aid and his reward. All his powerful efforts occurred amidst the contumely and the execrations of all but that little band of Christians who were united in this great and glorious work-a work which will bequeath the names of Clarkson, and Sharp, and Stephen, and Wilberforce, to an admiring posterity, when many of the conquerors of the world, and the rulers of the world, shall be forgotten-a work which will be remembered in the prayers and thanksgivings of Christians so long as humanity to our fellow creatures, founded on a grateful love to God in Christ, shall rank among the virtues of the man, or the graces of the Christian.
Brethren, who are enabled to appreciate such men and such exertions as they deserve to be appreciated? We live too near to them, our eyes are dazzled by their splendour; and it will require time and distance to mellow down the tints of glory which stand around them, before men will be able rightly to estimate the shape and magnitude of deeds like these. One thing we know, however, and can appreciate; and, but for that one, that blessed fact, no reference should have been made from this place to-day to mere worldly greatness: we know the motive that impelled this truly great and eminent man-I believe I may say, of each of those honoured names I have mentioned we know the one, the only
motive which could have induced him to throw all his powers, his talents, and his labours into the scale against that weight of human suffering and of a nation's sins. It was this-that it had pleased GoD of his goodness to teach this holy man, by the inspiration of his good Spirit, those eternal truths, which, although existing in the revealed word, and beaming from all the ordinances of our church, had become so lamentably and so disgracefully forgotten. He was led to search the Scriptures for himself, and by that search to discover that the religion of the world was in fearful opposition to the religion of Jesus. He was led to search his own heart, and to find, too, the extent of its corruption, its utter waywardness and helplessness, and spiritual death; and from the survey of his own dead heart, he was lead to the cross of a living Saviour. This was the secret of all his abundant labours in the cause of suffering humanity. This was the mainspring of the philanthropy of Wilberforce: he loved GOD because GOD first loved him; and he loved men, all men, men of all climes and of all countries, because he loved GoD. It was from this great source of love in his heart that he learned to estimate every suffering fellow creature, however degraded, as a man and a brotherremembering that the free grace of GOD, and that alone, had made him to differ from the vilest African who bled beneath the lash of the inexorable slave driver; while this great source of love enabled him, at the same time, to look with an eye of pity and compassion on the thousand hireling libellers who carried on the warfare against his opinions, his character, and his happiness, with a recklessness of truth and bitterness of persecution which would be almost remarkable even at the present day.
How wonderful are the ways of GoD —that such a man, with a frame so feeble, that forty years ago the most eminent medical men considered his existence to hang on a thread-that such a man should have been spared to survive all his enemies and all their accusations, and, after living almost beyond the limits of the days of man, should have descended to the grave like a shock of corn in its season, attended by a nation's representatives, and followed by a nation's tears! To the credit of our country, men of all parties and all opinions, of the highest and noblest rank, united to testify their respect to him, and to verify the never-broken declaration of our GoD-" Them that honour me, I will honour."
But there is yet another character under which I would call your attention to him whose loss we this day record. Engaged as he unceasingly was in the great measure to which his life was given, in the midst of those labours which must necessarily devolve upon the active representative of the largest county in England, he determined to address his countrymen on a subject which lay nearer to his soul than even the liberation of wronged and tortured Africans-even on the duties which each individual owed to his GoD, and upon the saving doctrines of the religion of Christ. It was this determination which led to the production of that work, the "Practical View of Real Christianity"—a work, the effect of which at the time was perhaps unequalled by any merely human composition which has ever appeared in this country-a work which, although its place may in some degree now be occupied by later, but not more able compositions, continues by GoD's grace, to be a most remarkable instrument in his hand in turning many to righteousness.
There is a testimony to the truth of this assertion so striking and so interesting to all, while it is so honourable to the memory of him of whom we speak, that I shall not hesitate to bring it before you-forming a very affecting incident in the life of an able minister of God not long since taken to his rest.-We are told in the life of the late Mr. Legh Richmond, that though he had been two years in holy orders, and still unimpressed with the great duties to which he had been called, and himself unenlightened in those truths he was commissioned to declare to others—a college friend to whom this work of Mr. Wilberforce had been sent, having no desire to read it himself, forwarded it to Mr. Legh Richmond, requesting him to read it, and inform him what he ought to say respecting its contents. Now observe the mysterious working of God's good providence. This book, sent from so unworthy a motive, and, we might almost add, read with so unworthy a motive, was blessed by GOD to the total change of heart, and life, and ministerial exertions, and therefore the ministerial usefulness, of him who read it. "He began to read the book, says his biographer, and found himself so deeply interested in its contents, that the volume was not laid down until the perusal of it was completed. The night was spent in reading and reflecting upon the important truths contained in this valuable and impressive work. In the course of his employment the soul of the reader was penetrated to its inmost recesses; and the effect produced in innumerable instances by the book of GOD was, in his case, accomplished by means of a human composition." In his own language he says, "I feel it to be a debt of gratitude, which I owe to GOD and to man, to take this affecting opportunity of stating, that, to the unsought