« السابقةمتابعة »
is the youthful ear, that was never open to drink in, with pleasure, the conversation of the trifling and the foolish? and where the youthful eye, that never cast a haughty, an angry, a wanton, or insulting glance? Are you the person? Can you appeal to the Searcher of hearts, and rest your eternal hopes on the success of the appeal, that love, unmingled love to God and man, has always dwelt in your bosom? that no resentful, envious, or unkind emotion was ever, for a moment, harboured there? that the law of kindness has always dwelt upon your lips? that only meekness, and tenderness, and goodness, have glanced from your eye? and that your ear was never opened to hear, with pleasure, of a brother's shame ? Can you make the appeal? Surely you cannot. Your Own "heart condemns you: and God is greater than your heart, and knoweth all things."
Religion briefly described.
RELIGION is the chief concern of all; and early religion is what God solemnly requires. "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them." It is as much as if it were said, "Mind religion while you are young. Let that engage your earliest care. Let that possess the first place in your heart; for it is worthy of it. In the days of your youth, those best days, prepare to meet your God. While young, make him your friend; seek an enduring mansion in the skies; and thus, to every other source of cheerfulness, add those last and best, your heavenly Father's care, and your gracious Saviour's love." The blessed Redeemer, who spake as never man spake, affectionately declares the importance and value of real piety. "One thing is needful, What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
Most persons will acknowledge the excellence and importance of religion, yet few
are its real friends. "Few there be that find it." Many are entirely careless of it. Others have the form without the power. Cthers play the hypocrite's part. They "speak fair words and act foul deeds, lift their eyes to heaven, and turn their steps to hell."
Now, while I endeavour to describe to you what religion is, let me beseech you to unite your prayers with mine, that you may indeed be taught of God; and let me beseech you to attend as seriously to the plain and affec tionate truths that may be presented to you, as you would do if you were lying on a dying bed, and were there earnestly inquiring how salvation might be found.
Religion, my young friend, consists in such a practical knowledge of our own guilt and misery, as leads us to abhor sin and ourselves; and in such an acquaintance with the blessed God, and the adorable Saviour, as leads us to believe on Jesus for salvation; and resting all our hopes upon his atonement and righteousness, to trust our eternal all to his care; and to yield up ourselves, body, soul, and spirit, to the Father, as our Father; to the Son, as our Saviour; and to the Holy Spirit, as our Sanctifier.
The foundation of religion is laid in that knowledge of our own guilt and depravity, to which, in the last two chapters, I directed
your attention. As sickness teaches the patient to prize the physician's aid; as slavery leads the captive to seek for liberty; and condemnation makes the criminal cry for mercy, so the knowledge of our own condemnation and guilt, prepares the soul for the reception of Jesus Christ. Are you acquainted with this? Are you sensible that you have rebelled against a God of love? and are you penitent for your transgressions? If knowledge of yourself, and of the evil of sin, has humbled you in the dust, and led you, from the heart, to exclaim, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner;" then, permit me to add, that a most essential part of religion, is an acquaintance with the Lord Jesus Christ. Not a mere speculative knowledge of his excellences, like that which even an infernal spirit may possess, but such a practical knowledge of his power and grace, and such a belief in him as subdues the soul; and leads the penitent sinner to make Jesus his hope, his trust, his all. The substance of the gospel message respecting Jesus Christ, is-that his nature was divine; "he was in the beginning with God;" that his own infinite compassion, and his Father's love, led him to assume the nature of man ; "He took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. Though he was rich,
for your sakes he became poor, that ye, through his poverty, might be rich." That his great object was to atone for sin. "He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." That this wonderful plan, for the redemption of a ruined world, was the effect of the love and wisdom of God. "God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace, wherein he hath abounded towards us, in all wisdom," And that Jesus Christ is now exalted at the right hand of power to intercede for his flock; to guide, guard, and protect them; to receive them at the hour of death; and hereafter to appear as the Judge of all; when he will pass on all mankind, the sentence that shall fix their eternal state; and when he will perfect the happiness of all his humble friends.
In the case of man, and in your own case, sin has deserved eternal punishment. Its wages (that recompense which it has deserved) is death. The justice of God called for the execution of the sentence; but his wisdom devised a plan of mercy for a rebellious