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worldly business—all, all enter into the plan of your salvation: it is the will of God that you should exert yourselves diligently for the attainment of it.
Let us suppose the case of two Christians: the first shall be St. Thomas: the second a Christian of our own days. Let us suppose both the two equally convinced of the resurrection of the Saviour of the world; but acquiring their conviction in two different ways: Thomas convinced by the testimony of his senses : the modern Christian, by the attentive examination of the proofs which establish the truth of it: Whether of these two Christians, according to your judgment, expresses the greater love of the truth? Whether of these two Christians makes the greater sacrifice, in order to arrive at the knowledge of it? The one has only to open his eyes, the other must enter on a course of deep and serious reflection. The one has only to reach forth his hand, to touch the print of the wounds of Jesus Christ; the other must exert all the powers of his mind, in sifting the proofs, on which the doctrine is established. The one expects that the Saviour should present himself to him and say, Be not faithless, but believing, John xx. 27. The other goes forth seeking after the Lord Jesus, through the darkness in which he is pleased to involve himself. Is it not evident that this last expresses incomparably greater love for the truth, and offers up to it greater sacrifices than the first? This last, then, corresponds better to the idea of probation and sacrifice, to which we are called, during the time which, by the will of God, we are destined to pass in this world. Blessed, therefore,
with respect to the obscurity of the past, blessed is he who has not seen, and yet has believed.
2. The same principle is applicable to what concerns the night of futurity. It would require but feeble efforts, and would exhibit no inighty sacrifice for a man to deny himself the delights of a present life, if the joys of the paradise of God were disclosed to his eyes.
But how great is the magnanimity of the Christian, how wonderful the fortitude of the martyr, and, in propriety of speech, all Christians are martyrs, who, resting on the promises of God alone, immolates to the desire of possessing a future and heavenly felicity, all that is dear and valuable to him upon the earth? The present, usually, makes the most powerful impression on the mind of man. An object, in proportion as it becomes exceedingly remote, in some measure loses its reality with respect
The impression made upon the mind by sensible things engrosses almost its whole capacity, and leaves little, if any portion, of its attention, for the contemplation of abstract truths. Farther, when abstract meditations dwell on well-known objects, they possibly may fix attention. But when they turn on objects of which we have no distinct idea, they are little calculated to arrest and impress.
A Christian, a man actuated by that obscure faith, whose excellency we are endeavouring to unfold, surmounts all these difficulties. I see neither the God who has given me the promises of an eternal felicity ; nor that eternal felicity which he hath
proinised me. This God conceals himself from my
view. I must go from principle to principle, and from one conclusion to another, in order to attain full assurance that he is. I find still much greater difficulty in acquiring the knowledge of what he is, than in rising up to a persuasion of his existence. The very idea of an infinite Being confounds and overwhelms me. If I have only a very imperfect idea of the God who hath promised ine eternal felicity, I know still less wherein that felicity consists.
I am told of a spiritual body, 1 Cor. xv. 44.: a body glorious, incorruptible: I am told of unknown faculties: of an unknown state; of an unknown economy : Iain told of new heavens and a new earth; I am promised the society of certain spirits, with whom I have never enjoyed any kind of intercourse; I am told of a place entirely different from that which I now inhabit; and when I would represent to myself that felicity, under ideas of the pleasures of sense, under ideas of worldly magnificence, I am told that this felicity has no resemblance to any of these things. Nevertheless, on the word of this God, of whom I have a knowledge so very imperfect, but whose existence and perfections are so certain, I am ready to sacrifice every thing, for a felicity of which I have a still more imperfect knowledge than I have of the God who hath promised it to me.
There is nothing more delightful to me, than to live in the bosom of my country and kindred: my native air has in it something congenial to my constitution; nevertheless, were God to call me as he did Abraham; were he to say to me in the words which he addressed to that patriarch: “Get thee out
of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house,”. Gen. xii. 1. I will, without hesitation, obey : I will depart, without delay, for the land which he shall please to shen me.
Nothing can be more delightful to me, than the possession of an only and beloved son : nothing appears to me so dreadful, as separation from a person so dear to me; but, above all, there is nothing which inspires so much horror, as the thought of plunging, with my own hand, the dagger into his bosom, Nevertheless, when it shall please God to say to me, « Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, and offer him for a burnt-offering, upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of," Gen. xxii. 2. I will take that son, that object of my tenderest affection, that centre of my desires, and of my coinplacency; I will bind him; I will stretch him out upon the pile; I will lift up my arm to pierce his side, persuaded that the favour of God is a blessing, beyond all comparison, more precious than the possession of even that beloved portion of myself.
There is nothing capable of more agreeably flattering my ambition and self-love, than to talk with authority ; than to govern a whole world with despotiç sway; than to rule over the nations, which look up to their sovereigns as to so many divinities; nevertheless, were a competition to be established between a throne, a crown, and the blessedness of the heavenly world, I would esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt : I would choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, Heb. xi. 25.
There is nothing to which my nature is more reluctant, than the suffering of violent pain. The idea of the rack, of being burnt at a stake, makes me shudder. I am convulsed all over at the sight of a fellow-creature exposed to torture of this kind. What would it be, were I myself called to endure them? Nevertheless, the lofty ideas I have conceived of a felicity, which I have not seen, will elevate even me, above the feelings of sense and nature : I will mount a scaffold; I will extend myself upon the pile which is to reduce me to ashes: I will surrender my body to the executioners to be mangled; and amidst all these torments, I will still cry out with triumph, “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us,” Rom. viii. 18.“ for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory," 2 Cor. iv. 17. “ Blessed be the Lord, my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight,” Ps. cxliv. 1.
I ask, my brethren, does not a man in such circumstances, correspond incomparably better to the idea of probation and sacrifice, than the person who should behold with his own eyes, the eternal recompence of reward which God has prepared for his children? The proposition of our blessed Lord, therefore, is verified with regard to periods still future, as with regard to periods already past. The vocation of the Christian, then, is to pierce through