Imágenes de páginas

morse ;—these are the combustibles which will support the fire that is never quenched ;—these are the corrupt elements that will generate the worm which will never die. As the worms that will at last gnaw and consume the human body will spring out of it, so the worms that will prey on the lost soul will spring out of its fætid moral elements. As future forests are wrapped in the acorn, hell is contained in the sinful character. You might as well endeavor to flee from your shadow as to flee from hell, if evil is in your heart. Marvel not that I say unto you, Ye must be born again,” &c.



The characters of men are moulded and de. termined by their beliefs. You adopt a certain plan, or pursue a certain course of conduct, because you believe it will serve your interest or promote your pleasure. Every rational act is at once the effect and embodiment of some belief. If you would get a man to quench his passions, to control his temper, or to change his mode of life, you must change his faith.

Hence the reformer, whether in politics, science, or religion, sets to work upon the beliefs of the people. With an unsparing hand he uproots those old notions, or beliefs, from which the corrupt things have grown, and sedulously endeavors to plant those seeds of conviction that will give birth to the new order of things which he desiderates. He is assured that no mystic influence, no mechanical force, no vital magnetism, can change the human character. He knows that man follows his beliefs as the tide follows the

He knows that faith is the soul's rudder; and if he would change the course of the barque,-turn her into more azure seas, and towards more propitious shores, he must act

The gospel itself only "effectually works in them that believe."


upon that.


illustrate this :-First : Supreme love to God is the essential element of a holy character. We say emphatically, supreme love. Love to God, in some way or other, occasionally, perhaps, enters the heart of the most depraved of our race. It comes as a passing emotion, a kind of poetic sentiment; it plays upon the soul for a moment like a ray of lightning ; it does not rest, like the sunbeam, to penetrate the whole being with its genial influence. This love, unless it be supreme, forms no part of a holy character. Where love in its supreme form is not, whatever natural amiabilities there may be, they constitute no part of a holy character; and wherever it is, whatever imperfections still exist, there is the "new heart,” the soul of virtue. Secondly: Faith in Christ is essential to the generating of this supreme love. Man by the constitution of his nature, cannot love a being whom he feels dislikes him. Enmity produces enmity. Assure us that a man hates us, and something of a kindred feeling will rise in our own hearts ;-at any rate there will be obstruction to our loving him. Now it is a fact, account for it how you will, that men's guilty consciences have invested the Eternal with those attributes of vengeance that awaken fear rather than love. What is wanted, therefore, to generate this love, is an unmistakable, irresistible proof that God loves us. Take an illustration Suppose that there exists in your heart at this moment, a burning and deeply settled hatred towards a certain individual. You have hated him for

very mention of his name makes your spirit flame with indignation. You are pained at his successes ; you rejoice in his trials; you would exult at the tidings of his death. In what way could I remove that emnity from your nature, and substitute in its place the affection of love and good will ? There is but one way, and it is this :—Let me convince you that the man you hate has no unkind feeling towards you, and never had; but, on the contrary, loves you, has on several occasions made sacrifices to serve you, and is prepared at the present moment to do anything in his power to make you happy :- let me work this conviction into your soul, and


Vol. IX.


no sooner shall I have succeeded than your enmity would give way, amidst compunctions for your criminal mistakes, to a real affection. This is just as God has acted in the mission of Christ. He knows that, the guilt and danger of mankind arise from the want of love towards Him. He knows, from those laws which He has impressed upon the human mind, that if He could but carry home to the heart of map the conviction that, however much he may hate his Maker, his Maker loves him, the desired renovation would be forth with effected. This He has sought to do by evidence the most overwhelming. The life of Christ is the testimony to this love. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Hence faith in this testimony of Christ, is essential to a change in man's character. There is nothing arbitrary in this, on the contrary, there is a profound philosophy, in the doctrine of the apostle; “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”' In the nature of the case there is no salvation without it. With this change of heart thus wrought through Christ, forgiveness also comes, and the man exclaims

« There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” A God-loving heart gives to the soul a smiling God and a bright universe.

I preach CHRIST then as the Saviour. Brother, do you ask how you can ascend from the depths of that depravity into which you have fallen, to those moral elevations congenial with your powers and aspirations ? I point you to “HE IS THE WAY." Do you ask how you

shall be delivered from the malady of sin which burns through your system, and which worketh death ? I point you to Christ


you ask how you may escape the terrible storm of wrath which seems brooding in that dark mass of cloud that is rolling up your horizon, threatening to scathe you with its lightnings, and to shiver you with its thunders? I point you to Christ and say, " HE IS THE REFUGE FROM THE STORM."

Christ and say,

[ocr errors]

and say,

[ocr errors]

The Genius of the Gospel.

ABLE expositions of the Gospel, describing the manners, customs, and localities alluded to by the inspired writers; also interpreting their words, and harmonizing their formal discrepancies, are, happily, not wanting amongst us. But the eduction of its WIDEST truths and highest suggestions is still a felt desideratum. To some attempt at the work we devote these pages. We gratefully avail ourselves of all exegetical helps within our reach; but to occupy our limited space with any lengthened archæological, geographic, or philological remarks, would be to miss our aim ;which is not to make bare the mechanical process of scriptural study, but to reveal its spiritual results.

SECTION FIFTY-SIXTH :-Matt. xvi. 24–27.

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it : and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

SUBJECT :-The Three Great Valwablesthe World, the

Soul, and Christ-like Love.

AMONGST the many great things, which Cbrist refers to in this passage, there are three to which I would especially invite your attention :-The World—the Soul-and Christ-like Love. The first is great, the second is greater, and the last, for many reasons which will hereafter appear, is greater than either.

The World is great. All men, though for very different reasons, are impressed with its greatness. It is great to the Poet, whose imagination glows in the presence of its scenes of enchanting beauty and aspects of stirring grandeur.

It is great to the Philosopher, who in every step of his research

It is great

is amazed with the subtlety of its elements, the regularity of its operations, the fitness of its means to its ends, and the boundless variety of its combinations and its life. to the Christian, who feels its moral significance, regards it as vocal with the thoughts, overflowing with the goodness, filled with the presence, and radiant with the majesty, of the Great Father of all. It is great even to the miserable worldling. He navigates its oceans, traverses its shores, cultivates its soils, and works its mines, in order to appropriate to himself as much of its treasures as is possible. In the language of Christ, he seeks to “gain the world.” The world is great.

The Soul is greater. Christ distinctly teaches this in the passage before us.

“What shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?" The word which is translated “soul,” in one of the verses under notice, is translated “life” in others. It would seem that our translators regarded the terms as convertible; and so they are. The soul is man's life. Take that essence from us which we call soul, that which thinks, feels, recalls the past, and anticipates the future, which reproves of sin, makes us tremble sometimes at death, and turn pale when we think of the crimes we have committed and the retributive judgment that is coming on; take, I say, this soul from us, and we cease to be men ;-we are brutes, nothing else. In Luke the idea that the soul is the man is fully expressed, and instead of the phrase “ lose his soul" we have “lose himself.To lose the soul then, is to all intents and purposes to lose oneself. Now this soul is greater than the world. The world cannot think of its Creator, the soul can ; the world cannot act contrary to the will of its Creator, the soul can; the world will not exist for ever, the soul will. An. cient philosophy and modern science encourage the belief in Peter's declaration concerning the destruction of the world : “ The Heavens shall pass away with a great noise, &c." As a leaf this planet shall fall from the great forest of existence; as a passing cloud in the sky it shall melt into thin air. But the soul has an imperishable existence.

« AnteriorContinuar »