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FORGETTER OF GOD.-FINAL JUDGMENT.
Consider this, ye that forget God.
FORGETTING God is one species of atheism. Can it be, that there is a reflecting man in Christendom, who is an atheist, a believer in no First Cause? The intelligence requisite for a rational denial of a God, involves the very attributes of Divinity; for unless the atheist iş omnipresent-unless he is at this moment in every place in the universe, he cannot know but there may be in some place manifestations of a Deity, by which even he would be overpowered. If he does not know absolutely every agent in the universe, the one he does not know may be God. If he is not himself the chief agent in the universe, and does not know what is so, that which is so may be God. If he is not in absolute possession of all the propositions that constitute universal truth, the one which he wants may be, that there is a God. If he cannot with certainty assign the cause of all that he perceives to exist, that cause may be a God. If he does not know every thing that has been done in the immeasurable ages that are past, some things may have been done by a God. Thus, unless he knows all things, that is, precludes another Deity, by being one himself, he cannot know that the Being whose existence he rejects, does not exist.
The heavens and the earth, the frame of man and his reasoning soul, all proclaim the unambiguous footsteps of a God.-Let us now recollect, that our Maker and Witness is to be our judge. Let forgetters of God consider, that God will certainly call them to an account for their conduct. To argue, that because sentence is not speedily executed, it will never be executed; that because punishment is delayed, that it will never be inflicted, is certainly to argue very inconclusively. It were obviously unsafe to act on such principles, even although we had no evidence that the reverse is the truth. But we are assured, in the most explicit terms, that the reverse is the truth. "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself;-but I will reprove thee, and set thy sins in order before thine eyes. "" There is a throne of justice in nature, and the means by which the Almighty visits the sins of individuals or society, is not always by the visitation of the earthquake and the pestilence, but by the silent operations of the principles of human nature itself.
God, though silent, is ever present with his enemies. Though they forget him, he is not unmindful of them. He observes their conduct with the heart piercing glance of omniscience, and with that inconceivable abhorrence with which infinite purity must regard moral evil. In the book of his remembrance, he inscribes a full account of every crime; and all due preparations are made for a complete and awful reckoning. Yet a little while, and "the judgment shall be set, and the books be opened."
Before that awful tribunal, forgetter of God, thou must stand ! He will render to every man according to his deeds. "Can thy heart endure and thy hands be strong in the day that the Lord ariseth to deal with thee? Who can abide the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appeareth? What wilt thou say when he shall punish thee?" Ah! thou wilt be speechless.-"Consider this, ye that forget God."
I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
THE Soul was the last and noblest work of God in the formation of the world; the finish and ornament of this material fabric, on which the divine Architect bestowed his most gracious deliberation, and expended his richest treasures. It still stands, amidst creation, the fair and beauteous image of the Creator. It was the object selected by the great God in the councils of eternity, whose action, improvement and salvation, should be the means of exhibiting to the universe the most glorious display of the divine perfections, and on which mercy, wisdom and power were to exhaust their united resources. This is the object for which all the revelations of heaven and all the dispensations of grace, all the labour of prophets, priests and apostles, all the preaching and examples of Jesus Christ, were arranged.
The soul is sent into life, uncontaminated by sin and unendowed by virtue. It is made free to choose holiness or depravity; and its character results from this choice. By obeying conscience, and making itself virtuous, it performs an act of deification; and by a contrary course prostrates itself in ruins. The good or ill conduct of man is a thing of far more importance and concern in the moral system than is generally imagined. Man's deviation from his duty is a disorder, it seems, in the moral system of the universe, for which nothing less than divine wisdom could devise a remedy,-the remedy devised nothing less than divine wisdom and clemency could apply. Man's disobedience is in the moral world what it would be in the natural, if a planet were to wander from its orbit, or the constellations to start from their appointed seats.
Yet there is forgiveness with God. True repentance brings back the suffering prodigal; and while he is yet a great way off, his compassionate father sees him, and goes forth to assure him, before his arrival, of his forgiveness. The forgiveness which is with God is such as becomes him--such as is suitable to his greatness, goodness, and other excellencies of his nature-such as, that therein he will be known to be God. What he says concerning some of the works of his providence, "be still, and know that I am God," may be much more said concerning this great effect of his grace,-still your souls, and know that he is God. It is not like that narrow, difficult, hesitating, and manacled forgiveness that is found amongst men, when any such thing is found amongst them; but it is full, free, boundless, absolute-such as becomes his nature and excellencies. It is, in a word, forgiveness that is with God, and by the exercise whereof he will be known so to be. If there be any pardon with God, it is such as becomes him to give ;-when he pardons, he will abundantly pardon.-Go with your half-forgiveness, limited, conditional pardons, with reserves and limitations, unto the sons of men; it may be it may become them-it is like themselves;-that of God is absolute and perfect, before which our sins are as a cloud before the east wind and the rising sun. Hence he is said to do this work with his whole heart and his whole soul, freely, bountifully, largely, to indulge and forgive unto us our sins, and to cast them into the bottom of the sea--unto a bottomless ocean, an emblem of infinite mercy.
He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me, and he shall be loved of my Father.
RATIONAL and enlightened views render the christian system in the highest degree simple, beautiful, dignified and impressive,-shed a light and glory around the character of God, and impart a sublimity and felicity to the destiny of men, to which no other opinions can pretend. They have a most holy and happy tendency; and were they universally and practically believed, there is nothing low, selfish, or uncharitable, which they would not eradicate-nothing noble, disinterested, or sublime, which they would not cherish, and to which they would not excite. The most devout and holy adoraration of the sovereign Lord, the supreme Judge, the Parent of good-the most high and just valuation of the unparalleled excellencies of Jesus Christ-the most sober and well founded hope of a blessed immortality, disclosed by his doctrines and confirmed by his death and resurrection-the most pure and holy conduct, by which alone it is possible to prepare for heaven, or in the expressive language of the scriptures, to see God-the most disinterested and active benevolence towards all mankind, who are all possessed of the same nature, all parts of the same family; and all advancing, by various means, and through different discipline, to the same happy home, appear to be the necessary result of enlightened and scriptural views. But if, in these convictions we are mistaken, does this render them odious? Are these impressions calculated to make us bad members of society, bad neighbours, bad parents, bad children, bad friends? Do they tend to dry up the fountain of human kindness in our breasts, and to cause every generous and benignant disposition to wither and die within us?
He who believes that a Being of almighty power, unerring wisdom, and unbounded love is seated at the head of the universe, and is making every event promote, in its appointed measure, the highest happiness of all intelligent creatures, must possess perpetual serenity and active good will. The storm of adversity may gather above him and burst upon his head, but he is prepared against it, and it cannot dismay him. He knows that the evils which encompass him are blessings in disguise. The fair face of nature smiles upon him with a brighter radiance. The boundless expanse of heaven above him; the painted plain beneath him; the glorious sun that diffuses light and life over the ample and beautiful creation, are magnificent gifts of his Father, on which his enlightened eye can behold engraven the promise of his higher destiny. The narrow precincts of the tomb can neither bound nor obstruct his enlarged view it extends beyond the circle of earth, and reaches to that celestial world, where progression in excellence is infinite, and happiness is unchanging and immortal. Nothing can disturb his steady confidence. In the most awful moment of his being, his feeling is sublime as his destiny is glorious even while the tomb closes over him, he can exclaim in triumph, O death, where is thy sting! O grave, where is thy victory! Thanks be to God who giveth me the victory, through Jesus Christ my Lord.
Shall I receive this grace in vain ?
TERMS OF CHRISTIAN COMMUNION.
If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart, that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
WHOEVER believes that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, is entitled by this belief, to the name of christian, and has a right to admission to all the ordinances and means of christianity. The true church is composed of those, in every sect, whose faith produces pure, devout, charitable and useful lives. The kiss of charity in the apostolic age, the right hand of fellowship, a share in the oblations of the church, a commendatory epistle attesting the good character of the bearer, uniting in social prayer, the employment of the term brother or sister to denote spiritual consanguinity, were considered, in the purest ages, as tokens of communion.
Whoever forms his ideas of the church of Christ from an attententive perusal of the New Testament, will perceive that unity is one of its essential characteristics; and that though it be branched out into many distinct societies, it is still but one. "The church," says Cyprian, "is one which by reason of its fecundity is extended into a multitude, in the same manner as the rays of the sun, however numerous, constitute but one light; and the branches of a tree, however many, are attached to one trunk, which is supported by its tenacious root; and when various rivers flow from the same fountain, though number is diffused by the redundant supply of waters, unity is preserved in their origin." Nothing more abhorrent from the principles and maxims of the sacred oracles can be conceived, than the idea of a plurality of true churches, neither in actual communion with each other, nor in a capacity for such communion. Though this rending of the seamless garment of our Saviour, this schism in the members of his mystical body, is one of the greatest calamities which has befallen the christian interest, and one of the most fatal effects of a great apostacy perpetuated in our day, we have been so long familiarized to it as to be scarcely sensible of its enormity; nor does it excite surprise or concern, in any degree proportioned to what would be felt by one who had contemplated the church in the first ages. To see christian societies regarding each other with the jealousies of rival empires, each aiming to raise itself on the ruin of all others, making extravagant boasts of superior purity, generally in exact proportion to their departures from it, and scarcely deigning to acknowledge the possibility of obtaining salvation out of their pale, is the odious and disgusting spectacle which modern christianity presents. The bond of charity, which unites the genuine followers of Christ in distinction from the world, is dissolved, and the very terms by which it was wont to be denoted, exclusively employed to express a predilection for a sect. The evils which result from this state of division are incalculable it supplies infidels with their most plausible topics of invective; it hardens the consciences of the irreligious, weakens the hands of the good, impedes the efficacy of prayer, and is probably the principal obstruction to that ample effusion of the spirit which is essential to the renovation of the world.
When we ask christians to pray for us, then, in prayer, we have real communion with them. He who possesses the spirit of Christ, is capable of the true communion with all others of the same character, whatever their difference of creed.
216 QUESTIONS TOUCHING BAPTISM AND THE LORD'S SUPper.
Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of
WHEN duties are enjoined in a certain series, each of them on the authority in which they originate becomes obligatory; nor are we excused from performing those which stand later in the series, on account of our having from misconception of their meaning, or from any other cause, omitted the first. To exemplify this by a familiar instance: It will be admitted that the law of nature enforces the following duties, resulting from the relation of children to their parents first, to yield implicit obedience in the state of nonage: next, in maturer age to pay respectful deference to their advice, and a prompt attention to their wants; lastly, after they are deceased, affectionately to cherish their memory, and defend their good name. None will deny that each of these branches of conduct is obligatory, and that this is the order in which they are recommended to our attention. But will it be contended that he who has neglected the first, ought not to perform the second; or that he who has failed in the second, ought to omit the third? To such an absurd pretence we should immediately reply that they are all independently obligatory, as respective dictates of the divine will; and that for him who has violated one of them to urge his past delinquencies as an apology for the present, would only prove an aggravation of his guilt. It is true that some duties are so situated, as parts or appendages of preceding ones, that their obligation may be said to result from them; as for example, the duty of confessing Christ before men arises from the previous duty of believing on him, and that of joining a christian society, presupposes the obligation of becoming a christian. In such cases, however as the connexion betwixt the respective branches of practice is founded on the nature of things, it is easily perceived, and rarely, if ever, the subject of controversy. In a series of positive precepts, this principle has no place; as they originate merely in arbitrary appointment, their mutual relation can only be the result of clear and express command, and as reason could never have discovered their obligation, so it is as little able to ascertain their intrinsic connection and dependence, which wherever it subsists, must be the effect of the same positive prescription which gave them birth.
Granting baptism to be scripturally obligatory, I ask if the devout, humble, sincere and unbaptised disciple of Christ, not regarding baptism as I do, shall be refused admittance to the Lord's supper? Is he intrinsically disqualified for a suitable attendance? Is the supper so essentially connected with baptism, as to render his communion, in itself, absurd or improper? Has the communion a retrospective reference to baptism, or is baptism an anticipation of communion? Enjoined at different times, and appointed for different purposes, are they not capable, without the least inconvenience, of being contemplated apart? Are they ever mentioned in such a connexion, as to imply and assert, that the one is enjoined with a view to the other? Does the conscientious omission of baptism, forfeit the privilege, or cancel the duty, of observing the Saviour's last command ?
Let each one examine this subject free of party bias; remembering the caution, Put no stumbling block in your brother's way.