« AnteriorContinuar »
is to form men to the love of God. This cannot be done without grief of heart that there are enemies to God, and that all the divine goodness is despised, and our endeavours and exertions to bring men to God are of no effect. It is the distinguishing character of the disciples of Christ to love one another; they are pitiful and tender hearted, they put on bowels of compassion, they weep with those who weep: they do good and rejoice with thofe who rejoice: can they but be grieved in the miseries, and the apprehended desolation and ruin, of war ? Do we live by faith in a world to come, and confider death as the passage to an eternal state, to the good and to the bad, according to their works, without exclaiming, How unfavourable are campaigns and sieges, and battles, to the tranquillity and joy of the saint, the repentance and conversion of the finner! The men of piety, of benevolence, of faith, like the mourning prophet, weep for these things; their eyes run down with water: they are in distress, their bowels are troubled, their heart is turned within them. The desolations of Jerusalem, described fo pathetically in the book of his Lamentations, did not exceed
those those our Lord predicted in the passage before us in still more glowing colours : “ In " those days,” says he, “ fhall be affliction, “ such as was not from the beginning of the “ creation ; nevertheless,” he adds, “ in pa“ tience possess ye your souls : when you hear “ of wars and commotions, be not terrified.”
The caution and exhortation is addressed to guard men against dejection of spirit, violent agitation, becoming enfeebled and unfitted for the duties to which they are called respecting God and man, respecting this world and that which is to come; when there are wars and rumours of wars.
I. In the first place, when our Saviour says, “ See that ye be not troubled,” he exhorts them to beware of melancholy and dejection of mind. Men and women, of feeble minds, of weak nerves, and gloomy imaginations, dwell on the evils that surround them, and are coming upon them; they magnify them : they figure calamities and miseries that do not exist and never will be realized; or, should their fears be justified, are more terrible and overwhelming to them than to
others : there is no more spirit in them: enjoyment is insipid : health is impaired: life is a burden. Be not so troubled in mind.
2. By trouble of mind is more frequently, perhaps, meant the perturbation of violent passions and emotions. Against this, pofsibly, the apostles are more especially cautioned by our LORD. Of this we are much in danger, when there are wars and rumours of wars. Men who are sanguine in their expectations and keen in their pursuits; who are distinguished by warmth of affection and high interest and enjoyment, in whatever they chuse and poslefs; are greatly disconcerted and agitated when their expectations fail: when favourite objects of pursuit are thwarted, they are thrown into great disorder : the danger and loss of high gratifications; and the removal, the sufferings, the deaths, especially the sudden and violent deaths, of those who are much endeared to them; trouble them exceedingly. Alas! wars have done, and the prospect of wars has done, all this. Emotion and violent passions appear in the time of war; and the apprehension of its desolations unhinge the minds
of many. The sons of peace, those who remain at home, the Ministers of religion themselves, as well as the fathers and mothers, the wives and children of soldiers and sailors, and soldiers and failors themselves, from the highest to the lowest, need to be on their guard against being so troubled, when there are wars and rumours of wars. .
3. OUR LORD's exhortation guards us against that distress and confufion of mind, in whatever manner it is occafioned or explained, by which its powers are unhinged, perverted, and enfeebled; by which men are rendered incapable of the duties and exertions to which they are called. Producing melancholy and perturbation of mind, wars and rumours of wars render men incapable of the duties and exertions to which they are called : for melancholy and agitation unhinge, pervert and enfeeble, them. Rapacity, revenge, cruelty, the vices that distinguish a time of war, are the very counterparts of the distinguishing characters of the disciples of CHRIST : while melancholy and agitation and such vices prevail, where are the solemn and delightful meditations of piety, where the fervours of genuine devotion ? With their prevalence, gratitude to God, confidence and hope in his providence and promises, and resignation to his dispensations are incompatible. In men overwhelmed with forrow, distracted by passion, yielding to the temptations of times of disorder and violence, and blood; the tenderness and gentleness, and schemes and exertions, and pleasures of goodwill, are not to be looked for : fuch men are incapable of attending to the more immediate and pressing duties of life : they cannot perform the duties of parents, of fons, of neighbours; the duties of subjects to their sovereign, of friends to their country. By such men, injury, instead of being repelled, is invited ; every opposition and enemy is formidable to them; and all that renders life comfortable, all that constitutes the safety and the happiness of society, is abandoned.