Sidor som bilder

picture of a large proportion of the Christian world P Let us look around us, and observe how the greater part of those we meet with are employed. In what is it that their thoughts are busied, their views, their hopes, and their fears centered, their attention occupied, their hearts and souls and affections engaged 2 Is it in searching the Scriptures, in meditating on its doctrines, its precepts, its exhortations, its promises and its threats? Is it in communing with their own hearts, in probing them to the very bottom, in looking carefully whether there be any way of wickedness in them, in plucking out every noxious weed, and leaving room for the good seed to grow and swell and expand itself, and bring forth fruit to perfection ? Is it in cultivating purity of manners, a spirit of charity towards the whole human race, and the most exalted sentiments of piety, gratitude, and love towards their Maker and Redeemer? These I fear are far from being the general and principal

occupations of mankind. Too many of them

them are, God knows, very differently employed. They are overwhelmed with business, they are devoted to amusement, they are immersed in sensuality, they are mad with ambition, they are idolaters of wealth, of power, of glory, of fame. On these things all their affections are fixed. These are the great objects of their pursuit; and if any accidental thought of religion happens to cross their way, they instantly dismiss the unbidden, unwelcome guest, with the answer of Felix to Paul, “Gothy way for this time; when we have a con

venient season, we will send for thee.” But how then, it is said, are we to conduct ourselves? If Providence has blessed us with riches, with honour, with power, with reputation, are we to reject these gifts of our heavenly Father; or ought we not rather to accept them with thankfulness, and enjoy the gratitude, the advantages and the comforts which his bounty has bestowed upon us? Most assuredly we ought. But then they are to be enjoyed also with innocence, with temperance, and with moderation. They must not be allowed to usurp the first place in our hearts, They must not be permitted to supplant God in our affection, or to dispute that pre-eminence and priority which he claims over every propensity of our nature. This, and this only, can prevent the good seed from being choked with the cares, the riches, and the pleasures of the present life. We now come in the last place, to the seed which fell on good ground, which our Lord tells us, in St. Luke, denotes those that in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience, some an hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty. We here see that the first and principal qualification for hearing the word of God, for keeping it, for rendering it capable of bringing forth fruit, is an honest and a good heart ; that is, a heart free from all those evil dispositions and corrupt passions which blind the eyes, distort the understanding, and obstruct the admission of divine truth; a heart a heart perfectly clear from prejudice, from pride, from vanity, from self-sufficiency, and self-conceit; a heart sincerely disposed and earnestly desirous to find out the truth, and firmly resolved to embrace it when found ; ready to acknowledge its own ignorance, weakness, and corruption, and “ to receive with meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save the soul.” This is that innocence and simplicity and singleness of mind, which we find so frequently recommended and so highly applauded by our blessed Lord, and which is so beautifully and feelingly described when young children were brought to him that he should touch them, and were checked by his disciples, “ Suffer the little children to come unto me, (says he) and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God;” and then he adds, “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein”.” Here, in a few words,

* Mark, x. 14, 15. Vol. IA A A and

and by a most significant and affecting emblem, is expressed that temper and disposition of mind which is the most essential qualification for the kingdom of heaven. Unless we come to the Gospel with that meekness, gentleness, docility, and guileless simplicity, which constitute the character of a child, and render him so lovely and captivating, we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven; we cannot either assent to the evidence, believe the doctrines, or obey the precepts of the Christian religion. Hence we see the true reason why so many men of distinguished talents have rejected the religion of Christ. It is not because its evidences are defective, or its doctrines repugnant to reason; it is because their dispositions were the very reverse of what the Gospel requires; because (as their writings evidently show) they were high-spirited, violent, proud, conceited, vain, disdainful, and sometimes profligate too; because, in short, they wanted that honest and good heart, which not only receives the


« FöregåendeFortsätt »