« السابقةمتابعة »
take possession of an eternal inheritance, as the adopted sons of God.
However great the privilege of being restored to life, it is not in itself a restoration to happiness; it solely presents us with an opportunity to prepare for happiness. We have already. learned by experience that life and felicity are not synonymous. There are many other requisites besides that of simple existence, although it is so essential to the possession of these. Happiness can alone be the result of an union, or a concordance between the various means and sources of good, and the state of our minds respecting them. It demands personal qualifications and social dispositions, corresponded to our situation in existence. It demands the due exercise of every faculty, the direction and regulation of every propensity, which hath a relation to things around us, and which must harmonize with them. The science of Ethics demonstrates to us, that rational beings cannot possess well being, without the love and practice of virtue, nor complete felicity, without the perfection of virtue and piety. Light is soon for the righteous only, and gladness for the upright in heart. As Individuals we must live soberly, righteously, and godly, in whatever world we may be placed; as social beings we must love
each other with a pure heart, without dissembling, or there can be no perfect harmony; and as children of our heavenly father we must love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our strength, and with all our minds.". The love of all that is good and excellent is essential to felicity, in every situation. Love is the only fulfilment of the law, securing an universal and unwearied attention to every duty, and being, in its own nature, an inward source of permanent delight. Love to God, the universal parent; love to his offspring, manifested by unremitted attention to their interests; delight in the pursuit of every thing which can improve our nature, exalt our faculties, and augment their powers of enjoyment. These are requisites to render existence a blessing; and, without these, immortality itself would prove an everlasting curse.
Although the great captain of our salvation has conquered death and the grave, he has not yet conquered sin and misery. He has, however, done great things for us. He has also enabled us to do much for ourselves. He has given us such precepts, set before us such an example, animated us with such prospects, and promised such assistance, that, by proper exertions on our parts, universal righteousness may
prevail, and then misery will be no more. He hath purchased for the virtuous and the good, "glory, honour, and immortality; and begotten them again unto a lively hope by his resurrection from the dead, to an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.'
Thus are the sons of Adam saved from the first condemnation of death, which was introduced by his transgression, and never repealed by their own righteousness. But it is to work out another salvation with fear and trembling. The same Gospel which proclaims "the good tidings of great joy," assures us that the promise of eternal life is alone unto them "that seek for glory, honour, and immortality, by patient continuance in well doing." They "who are contentious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness," have still to expect "indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish." It is declared, that "if we sin wilfully, after having received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries." These threatenings are founded upon the principles of the strictest equity; for, "if they that despised Moses's law, died without mercy, of how much sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy,
who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the spirit of grace." Those who are risen with Christ, and expect to enjoy everlasting life with him, are commanded to be "dead to sin, and alive to righteousness." They are to seek a kingdom wherein dwelleth righteousness, and to prepare themselves for it by all holy conversation and godliness.
Whoever attends to the tenour of the Christian dispensation will perceive, that its object is to enforce every moral duty, and cherish every pious affection, by more noble and more animating inducements, than would have been pertinent under the former dispensation. Every discourse of our Saviour respects the moral improvement of the human heart; and in all his actions he displayed the beauty of holiness. All the writings of the Apostles after they had preached, what they termed the Gospel,—that is, the death and the resurrection of their Divine master, repentance and remission of sins,--wereof a practical nature. There is not a virtue which they omit to inculcate with the most persuasive eloquence. They incessantly remind the early converts, that they are brought out of darkness unto light, that they may no longer
"walk as the children of darkness, but as the children of light." The Epistles of Paul to Timothy and Titus, whom he was instructing in what he denominated doctrines, are entirely lessons of moral discipline. Sound morality is with him sound doctrine.*
It is an important fact, although too much disregarded by controversialists, that all those passages relative to the mediatorial office of Christ, which have been detached from their connections, and assiduously collected together, to serve as columns in support of speculative dogmata, are in reality occasional expressions, uttered at different times, and upon various occasions, solely to enforce a practical attention to the fundamental doctrines, upon which Christian communities had been established, in the course of their mission. Whenever the death of a crucified Saviour is referred to, in their epistolary addresses, it is in order to recommend a pious and conscientious discharge of every moral duty. It is by way of appeal to their grateful and generous feelings. It is to inspire them with the love of the Saviour, with filial gratitude towards his God, and their God, his father, and their father; and to induce them to
See 1 Tim. i. 9, 10.