Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

to view--not very distinctly, but still with so much effect as to blind the mind and harden the heart. Perhaps, my reader, you can think of some irreligious companion whom you know you must give up if you become an open and decided Christian. Even if you do not give up him, you expect that he will give up you, if such a change should take place in your character. Now, although you do not distinctly make a comparison between the pleasures of his society on the one side, and the peace and happiness of religion on the other, and after balancing their claims decide against God and duty; although you make no formal decision like this, yet the image of that friend, and the recollection of the past pleasures of his society, and the prospect of future enjoyment, come into your mind and secretly hold you a prisoner. The chain is wound around your heart, and its pressure is so gentle that you scarcely perceive it. Still, it holds you firmly, and until you loosen the link, it will hold you. You do right, while you are in this state of mind, to say that you cannot love God. Our Saviour says the same. "If any man come to me, and hate not," that is, is not cordially willing to give up, if necessary, "his father and mother, and wife and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." You cannot be the disciple of Christ till you are willing to give up the world in all its forms.

Perhaps it is not a friend that keeps you from the Sav iour, but some other object. You may indulge yourself in some practice which conscience secretly condemns. Perhaps there is a favorite amusement which you must give up if you should become a consistent Christian. You do not distinctly bring this up before your mind, into formal comparison with the hope of a happy immortality, and decide that it is superior. It insinuates itself into your mind, and shuts its avenues against the light. You wonder that you do not see and feel, and cannot discover the cause.

III. Fear of the world.

Where love of the world binds

one soul in sin, the fear of it, in some form or othe., binds ten. Every one is surrounded by a circle of influence, it may be small or great, which is hostile to piety. To take the attitude of a humble Christian in the presence of this circle of acquaintances and friends, to abandon your past course of conduct with the acknowledgment that it has been entirely wrong, and to encounter the cold and forbidding, or perhaps scornful looks of those whom you have been accustomed to call your friends-all this is trying. You shrink from it. You do not very distinctly take it into consideration, but it operates with an influence the more unmanageable, because it is unseen. My object in alluding to it here, therefore, is to bring it out to view, that you may distinctly see it, and bring fairly up the question whether you will be deterred by such a consideration from doing your duty towards your Maker.

These three reasons are ordinarily the chief apparent causes why those who are almost Christians do not become so altogether. They are strong reasons. They hold a great many individuals in lasting bondage, and they will probably continue to hold many of my readers in their chains. It is no small thing, and with hearts and habits like ours it is no easy thing, to become a Christian.

Jesus Christ foretold all these obstacles. He was very

frank and open in all his statements.

He never intended to

bring any one into unforeseen difficulties. He stated very plainly what he expected of his followers; he described the sacrifices they must make to please him, and the troubles they must endure; and when he left them at last, he told them plainly that should they persevere in his service after he was gone, they must go on expecting to suffer, to bleed, and to die in this cause.

"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." How strong an expression ! What an entire surrender of the individuals addressed does

it require! And yet he says, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." How is this? Does not the first declaration imply that the service of Christ is a hard service? And does not the latter imply that it is easy? There are two classes of passages in the Scriptures which seem, on this point, to speak a different language. But the explanation is this: It is hard for you to come to Jesus Christ. Worldly pleasures beckon you away. Dangers and difficulties frown upon you, and above all the rest, pride-pride, that most unconquerable of enemies, stands erect and says you must not take the attitude of a humble Christian. Now all these obstacles you must overcome. The world must be relinquished; the claims of even father and mother, if they interfere with duty to God, must give way; the trials which in a life of piety will await you, must be boldly encountered, and pride must yield. But when this is done, the surrender once made, all is happy-the yoke is easy, and the burden is light. If the heart is really submissive to God, if its own affections have indeed been crucified, and if God really reigns there, peace comes; and peace and happiness will really reign, unless returning pride and worldliness renew the struggle. The government of God in the soul, is a government which regulates, but does not enslave; it diffuses over the heart unmingled peace and happiness.

Let all then distinctly understand, that there is no becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ without real submission, and submission is no pleasant work for human nature to perform. It is hard for us to acknowledge that we have been wrong to bow to a power which we have long opposed, and thus publicly and openly to change sides on a subject which divides the world. But it must be done. Enmity to God, or uncompromising submission to his will, is the only alternative.

It is right that this should be the only alternative. Just look at the facts. The Creator of all has proclaimed as the

law of his empire, that all beings should love him supremely, and their fellows as themselves. We have always known that this was his law; we know too that it is reasonable in its nature, and most excellent in its tendency. No man can

say that it is not exactly calculated to diffuse universal happiness; nor can any man deny that its almost unceasing violation here has filled the world with misery and crime. Now, excellent and reasonable as this law is, there are millions in the human family who have spent all their lives in the constant violation of it. They know that they never have, for a single moment, loved God supremely, or loved their neighbor as themselves. Now all of us who are, or who have been in this state, have been plainly living in opposition to God and to the general happiness. We have been violating known duty, continuing in acknowledged sin; and the effect has not been confined to ourselves, the influence has extended. Our example has been in favor of irre ligion; and as our sin has thus been public, can we complain that God should require our acknowledgment to be public too? No; submission to God must be entire, unqualified, unreserved, or we cannot expect God to receive it.

But let me be more particular. Perhaps some young. man who reads this is almost persuaded to be a Christian. He is still an irreligious man. I do not mean that he openly opposes religion, but that he is without piety. Were I to address such an one individually, I would say to him, “You, sir, are probably to remain twenty or thirty years in the community of which you now form a part. These years will be in the very prime of your life. Your influence is now great; it is increasing, and it must increase. God has brought you into this scene. education you owe to him. integrity which you have yours without his aid. He has held you up and brought you forward; and now, as the opening prospects of useful

Your original powers and your The habits of industry and of acquired, would not have been

ness and happiness lie before you, he calls upon you to come to him, and to assist in the execution of his plans for the promotion of human happiness. Will you come? There will be a great deal of suffering which you can alleviate during the twenty years that are before you, if you will set your heart upon alleviating suffering. There will be much vice which your influence may prevent, if you will exert it aright. You may be the means too of bringing many an unhappy sinner to the Saviour who died for him, if you will seek and love that Saviour yourself, and aim to promote his cause." "But no," do you say? "I have been, I acknowledge, in the wrong, but I cannot bow to truth and duty, and humble pride.—abandon my ground, and stand before the world the acknowledged victim of folly and sin." Then you cannot serve God. Unless you will do this, you cannot be Christ's disciple.

Is there an unchristian parent who reads these pages? God has especial claims upon you in your family circle. You are moulding the hearts of these children by your influence, and the lineaments which your daily example is calling forth here are probably to last. You are doing work for a very long futurity. You endeavor to promote the happiness of your children for this life, but God shows the way to make them happy for ever, and he invites you to come and coöperate with him in training them for the skies. But you cannot do this with the hope of acceptance unless your own heart is right with him. If you have been against him thus far, you cannot coöperate with him till you cease your opposition, humble yourselves before him, accept of mercy by trusting alone in Christ for salvation, and resolve to enter upon the performance of all known duty.

For example, you have perhaps hitherto neglected family prayer; and you know you cannot do your whole duty till you bow before Him at the fireside altar for the first time. Do you say this is a hard duty, and you cannot perform it?

« AnteriorContinuar »