Imágenes de páginas

the church, and to do things also which may prove eventually beneficial to their own souls as well as to the souls of other men. " Wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness." This is true of scientific and of moral wisdom, though in a far higher sense of spiritual wisdom. It is a question which perhaps we cannot answer, whether Cyrus of Persia ever knew the grace of God in truth. But allowing him to have never attained any higher wisdom than that for which he is celebrated by all the world, who does not see that his character was incomparably superior to that of his son, Cambyses. The former was a blessing, the latter a curse, to their many millions of subjects. Thus, in private life, profane persons are the bane of society, while men of sober and decent conduct are useful to all with whom they are connected. It must indeed be confessed that their sobriety, and their virtuous conduct, are a snare to themselves if they trust to them, and may become a snare to their thoughtless neighbors, if their accomplishments are supposed to procure that respect from God to which they are entitled from men. But there is nothing so good in this world, as to be incapable of being abused to bad purposes. Real piety may be perverted to bad purposes. Paul need ed a thorn in his flesh to preserve him from being lifted up above measure by the abundance of the revelations that were made to him,

When Rehoboam and the princes of Judah humbled themselves, and returned to the observance of the law, it is said that in Judah things went well, and yet it is said that he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord, 2 Chron. xii 15.

4. Those who diligently use the means of grace are much more likely than those who des pise them, to partake of the grace of the Spirit.

Although a natural man cannot perform any duty in a manner acceptable to God, yet, in the practice of it, he uses those means by which God uses to communicate his grace to them who shall be the heirs of salvation. When we hear or read the word of God, we approach the tabernacles of God, if we do not come to God himself. He is He is present in his own institutions, to command the blessing, even life forevermore. Nor does he confine his blessings to his sincere worshippers. Often has he been found in his house by them that asked not for him, or that never sought him after the due order. How is it that so many millions have been truly converted? By the gospel of his grace. It is the power of God to the salvation of the lost. "The entrance of his word giveth light, it giveth understanding unto the simple." "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." What soul? Of the sinner certainly; for Christ in his word. calls not the righteous, but sinners to repentance. The word is ineffectual without the

Spirit; and it would be presumptuous in sinners to imagine that we can procure for ourselves the gift of the spirit. But it is not presumptuous to believe that wherever God records his name, he will come to his people and bless them. "There shall be showers of blessings, and God will make all the places about his hill a blessing;" and may not sinners, when they go up to the bill of the I ord, indulge the humble hope that God, for his own sake and not theirs, may make them sharers of his liberality?

We cannot pray as we ought, but we should endeavor to pray, and to pray in faith; and who knows but God, who has commanded even unbelievers to believe and to pray, may give them that grace by which they will be enabled to perform acceptable devotion? It is the duty of all, believers and unbelievers, to do what he requires, and when they are sensible they can not do it, to endeavor, in a dependence on his own grace, to do it. When Je sus said to Peter, "Let down thy net into the sea," Peter said, "Lord, I have toiled all night, and have caught nothing, yet at thy word I will let down the net into the sea."Peter could easily let down his net into the sea; but what did that signify? He could not force the fishes to come into it. He had toiled in vain all the night, and it was not likely that the poor animals which had avoided his nets in the night, would be caught in the

day; but Jesus had commanded him to let down his net into the deep, The word of Jesus was sufficient. He lets down his net, and the divine power brings more fishes than the net could bear.

You cannot meditate with delight on the truths of God, but you can recal them to your minds, you can revolve them in your thoughts. What you cannot do God can do. He can command light to shine into your souls, by means of that word which he hath given to be a lamp to your feet, and a light to your paths.

Some will allege, that the doctrine on which we have been discoursing so long is very unpleasant." this is a hard saying, who can hear it ?" said some of the hearers of Jesus. But we must not confine our attention to pleasant subjects. It is much more pleasant to think of some of those glorious victories which our soldiers and seamen have gained in former wars, than to think of the dangers that threaten us at present from France. Evils must be thought of when they are present, or when they are approaching, that they may be removed, or kept at a distance. It is unpleasant to hear of our extreme depravity, and our utter inability to do any thing for our own relief, or to procure relief from him who is able to give it. But it is not only useful, it is necessary for us to know our condition, that we may not deceive ourselves

with false hopes. Self confidence is natural to us. It shifts its forms, and assumes so many different shapes, that like Satan transforming himself into an angel of light, it will deceive us to our ruin, if we are not on our guard. Even we, who have so often read the Bible, and have often heard of the danger of trusting to our own righteousness, ought not to think that we are in no danger of being entangled in that snare of the devil, which has proved fatal to so many of our race. It is necessary for us often to call to mind how little we can do for ourselves, or rather, that without Christ we can do nothing. Our cor rupt nature, in which there dwelleth no good thing, will often tell us that we can at least do something that should procure divine favor, and its proud dictates must be counteracted by the faithful representations which the word of God makes of our condition. We greatly need the grace of God; but the great loss is, that we are little sensible of our need. We are disposed to think that we are rich, or that, if we are poor, we have it in our power to procure, one way or other, what we need.

If it be true, that nothing is more dangerour than pride, nothing more necessary than humility, those doctrines must be necessary, whose tendency it is to humble the haughty heart of man, that renouncing all thoughts of merit in any form, we may submit to the righteousness of faith, and view it as the gift of grace.

« AnteriorContinuar »