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lays the foundation of all true religion in fallen and depraved creatures? It stiles it a new creation, a new birth, a passing from death to life, a turning of the heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Does it speak of faith in the Redeemer? It describes it as a fleeing to him for refuge, and having him formed in the heart: expressions obviously implying a most anxious, vekement, and affectionate application of the soul to him? Does it speak of repentance for sin? It compares it with the deep felt and heart breaking sorrow of an affectionate parent at the death of a first born and only child. Would it instruct us into the nature and degree of true love to God? It describes it as a loving him with all the heart, and soul, and mind and strength. Would it set before us that fear of the great Jehovah, which his children feel? It speaks of it as penetrating to the very centre of their souls, and even causing their flesh to tremble in the anticipation of his righteous judgments. Would Would it exhibit their desires after the manifestations of the divine love? They are said to long for God, as the heart panteth after the water brooks. Do they pray? They pour out, not words only, but their very hearts to their Father in heaven. Do they resist corrupt inclinations? This is represented as a crucifying of the flesh, with its affections and lusts; a cutting off of right hands, and a plucking out of right eyes. Their spiritual course is described as Vol. I. No. 5.
a race, a warfare, a painful uninterrupted opposition to the most formidable obstacles, and the most malignant foes. It represents them as living a hidden life; as having troubles and comforts, pains and pleasures, difficulties and aids, wholly unintelligible to worldly men. It describes them as walking with God, as having their conversation in heaven, and their communion with the Father and the Son. Let any one candidly compare these scriptural delineations of the nature and exercises of true religion, with the formality, listlessness and indolence of thousands of nominal christians, and the contrast will be seen at once.
. It is true, there are men who consider all those strong expressions on the subject, of which the scripture is so full, as mere figures of speech: as poetical flights, not designed to be construed in a literal sense, nor to communicate any thing more than general ideas. But suggestions of this kind, so far as they are admitted, plunge us at once into endless difficulties. Do they not even impeach the wisdom and mercy of God, by virtually representing his word as calculated, from beginning to end, rather to perplex and mislead than to instruct us? and this in a case of everlasting moment; a case, in which, of course, we should expect the most explicit information which words can convey. And is it not just as rational to content ourselves with the hope of a metaphorical
pardon, and a metaphorical heaven, as with a metaphorical repentance and self denial? Indeed, such constructions of scripture are, in every view, unauthorized and absurd. In human writings, it is common enough to find feeble ideas clothed in energetic expressions; and a sort of meretricious dignity imparted to an insignificant subject, by a pompous and splendid phraseology. But in this respect, as in a thousand others, the book of God is the exact reverse of every thing human. It gives
us the loftiest and most forcible ideas, in the simplest words. It generally means something far greater than the language of mortals is competent to express.
It is worthy of particular observation, that there is no temper stigmatized in scripture with stronger marks of divine detestation, than indifference and formality. It has, if the expression may be permitted, the whole artillery of heaven levelled against it.
The Laodicean church is represented as neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm. Its members were not openly vicious. They kept up the profession, and the formalities of religion. Nothing was wanting, but the fervour of love and devotion. What then? Let the reader turn to the third chapter of the Revelation, and the sixteenth verse, and he will find such denunciations of divine displeasure at these professors, as the fastidious delicacy of
modern terms will scarcely permit to be repeated. In the prophecy of Jeremiah, we find the covenant people of God charged as having committed two evils that is they had forsaken HIM the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out broken cisterns, which could hold no water. Their crime was, that they sought comfort and happiness in creatures, to the neglect of the Creator. Yet in what terms is this charge (a charge applicable to thous ands, who think it but a trivial affair) introduced? Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid: be ye very desolate, saith the Lord.
But, it will be asked, is not religion a rational thing? We reply, without hesitation, yes; infinitely rational. And since there are multitudes who seem to take it for granted that, in this case, reason and apathy are synonimous terms, we will pause a moment on this very point.
All who think seriously must allow, that if religion be any thing, it is every thing. Its intrinsick magnitude and importance, the intimate concern which creatures, dying yet immortal, have in it, give it the strongest claims on our most ardent and engaged attention. It embraces every thing which is calculated to penetrate our inmost souls; to awaken and employ our hopes, our fears, every passion, every active energy. To pursue it with indolence and unconcern, is folly and perverseness in the ex
To regard its all interesting objects with indifference, is, in fact, the wildest delirium of the human mind. All this must appear evident and undeniable, even to a considerate heathen. But the gospel has clothed religion with new solemnity, and with new attractions. By revealing DEITY in all the lustre and harmony of his perfections; by setting before us a PARDONING GOD, and a DYING REDEEMER, it claims, it demands, the strongest and the tenderest sensibilities of our hearts. Ah, what must our hearts be made of, which can resist and defeat such claims? We can feel the attractions of the faint shadows of excellence, which we perceive in creatures; and shall we be cold and indifferent to the transcendent loveliness of the adorable Creator? The kindness of a human friend or benefactor goes to our hearts, and excites the tenderest sensibilities and can we remain unpenetrated, unmelted, by the infinite, unwearied, forfeited goodness of our God and Saviour? Ingratitude to man is universally detested. No colours are thought too flagrant to exhibit its baseness. And does ingratitude become innocent; shall it cease to excite a blush, because exercised towards an infinite Benefactor? However such inconsistencies as these are countenanced by general practice, it is to be hoped there are few indeed, capable of defending it in the ory. To a reflecting mind,
nothing can appear more absurd than that cool, unimpassioned sort of religion, which is so often dignified with the epithet of rational.
Other considerations pertain to the subject, which shall be suggested in a future numZ. ber.
For the Panoplist.
"WELL DONE THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT." WHAT welcome language to the humble christian! Conscious of imperfection, and feeling no title through his own merits to the divine favour, how transporting to him, to be met upon the confines of the eternal world, when his pilgrimage on earth is closed, with that sentence of approbation-" Well done, good and faithful servant,"-uttered too from the lips of him, whose judgment is irreversible. If language fails in describing this exalted, this sublime pleasure, surely it is an object now to ascertain, whether we possess those marks, which prove us It is a faithful to our Lord. question, that we may put to ourselves in every walk and circumstance of life, "Am I a faithful servant?" Do I use the talents, with which I am entrusted, for the glory of him, who is their rightful proprietor; and with reference to that solemn day, in which he will demand my account of them? What man on earth is not interested in this trying question? Who, that possesses not some talent from the boun
tiful God, which he may improve for his own or neighbour's good, and for the glory of the Giver?
Our master is not a hard one. He does not expect to reap where he has not sown; but surely it is reasonable that, if he has sowed plenteously, he should expect to reap plenteously.
The man who has much, should ask of God a heart to devise liberal things, and a hand to scatter wide his bounty. His language should be, my wealth is not my own; let me therefore seek wisdom to distribute it from him who placed, and preserves it in my power.
The man of LEARNING and GENIUS will lift an inquiring eye to the "Father of lights," and submit to divine inspection the fruits of his labour, before he offers them to the world. He will ask; Is this the true use, of my mental faculties? will this be for the honour of him, whose "inspiration gave me understanding?"
The DIVINE will ask his heart before every action, Is this consonant with my high and holy vocation? Is this becoming the character of one, who has taken upon himself the "trust of a shepherd of souls?"
The PHYSICIAN will ask, that his talents may not only be exercised for the temporal, but for the spiritual good of his friends. He will wish, above all things, to heal the disorders of his own soul. He will ask that he may be confirmed in the principles of religion by ob
serving the wonderful powers and organization of that system, which he is called to relieve and invigorate. He will desire to look through the material body to the spirit, which animates it. He will inquire the cause of its manifold disorders, and finding "death" to be "the wages of sin," he will then be imperceptibly drawn to look and to fly unto JESUS, the conqueror of death, and despoiler of the grave. Seeing much of the infirmities of the body, and the consequent unhappiness of the present life, he will naturally extend his thoughts beyond it, and contemplate with joy and delight that unmixed state of felicity above, where sin and death have no place; where the inhabitant shall not say, "I am sick ;" and where tears shall cease for ever.
The MERCHANT, though engaged in the active pursuits of business, yet, feeling that the gain of the whole world would be a miserable recompence for the loss of his soul, ponders upon his plans of profit, and asks if they trespass not upon his neighbours' rights, if they interfere not with the demands of religion, if they rob him not of an unreasonable portion of his time, or do not engross too much of his attention, and finally, if he can retain his character of a "faithful servant" of his Lord. If his conscience cannot promptly satisfy him in these inquiries, his determination is fixed, to relinquish his designs. His ambition is to
lead a useful life, to exhibit a fair and bright example of a man, engaged in active, extensive business, still having his first, best thoughts on HIM, who made and preserves him; by whose smile he prospers; and on whose blessing he depends; consecrating to him his earnings, and resigning himself to his disposal, anxious only to secure the "pearl of great price," the favour of his God.
The POOR MAN, with his small talent of worldly wisdom, and still smaller of earthly goods, convinced that riches are denied him in mercy, that the sources of his disappointment and temptation may not be multiplied, cheerfully accommodates his mind to his condition. He has learned that
"Man wants but little here below, Nor wants that little long." What powers of mind he possesses, he improves for the edification and comfort of his companions in poverty; he points to the rich" inheritance of the saints in light," and directs and urges their attention to secure a title to that unfading, imperishable treasure. He administers, if not to the bodily wants of his neighbours, yet to their spiritual necessities. He endeavours in the chamber of sickness, and in the hour of dissolution, to approve himself faithful to his Lord, by pointing to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world; and entreating all about him to lay hold, while it is yet offered, on the hope of that
glorious Gospel, which is all that can afford rational happiness in life, fortitude, peace, and comfort in death.
Instead of speculating upon doubtful and difficult questions, which usually perplex, darken, and confound the mind, rarely impressing it with seriousness, or leading to practical godliness; instead of curiously inquiring, "Are there few that be saved," we should all fill with usefulness and dignity the several stations assigned us, "striving to enter in at the strait gate,"we should find in the is sue a favorable answer to our question, in the multitudes which, by this conduct, would attain the "crown of glory," the reward of faithfulness.
We are all hastening to one common end. On this side and the other the young, the gay, the vigorous, and the aged, are crumbling into dust. How often do we witness their departure, follow them to the narrow, humble habitation of the grave, and enter again upon the business and the vanities of life, seldom realizing for one single moment, that we also must soon occupy the same mansion. Would it not be wise to make DEATH a friend?
Our blessed Lord, just before he uttered the parable, which gave rise to our motto, left, in one word, to all his followers, this most useful, important, solemn lesson, "WATCH." The faithful servant, attentive to this injunction, will never fear the coming of his master;