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good seed, but keeps it, and nourishes it with unceasing patience, till it bring forth fruit to perfection. They could not enter into the marriage feast, because they had not on the wedding garment, because they were not clothed with humility*. For, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. Them that are meek, shall he guide in judgment; and such as are

gentle, them shall he learn his way i.” But here arises a difficulty on which the enemies of our faith lay great stress, and frequently allege as an excuse for their infidelity and impiety. If, say they, the success of the good seed depends on the soil in which it is sown, the success of the Gospel must, in the same manner, depend (as this very parable is meant to prove) on the temper and disposition of the recipient, of the person to whom it is offered. Now this temper and disposition are not of our own making: they are the work of nature; they are what our Creator has given us. If then, in any particular instance, they are unfortunately such as disqualify us for the reception of the Gospel, the fault is not ours; it is in the soil, it is in our natural constitution, for which surely we cannot be held responsible. This plea is specious and plausible; but it is nothing more. The fact is, that the imbecility and corruption introduced into our moral frame by the fall of our first parents, is in some measure felt by all; but undoubtedly in different individuals shows itself in different degrees, and that from their very earliest years. Look at any large family of children living together under the eye of their parents, and you will frequently discover in them a surprising variety of tempers, humours, and dispositions; and although the same instructions are given to all, the same care and attention, the same discipline, the same vigilance exercised over each, yet some shall be, in their general conduct, meek, gentle, and submissive ; others impetuous, passionate, and froward ; some active, enterprising, and bold; others quiet,

* 2 Pet. v. 5. f James, iv. 6. Psalm, xxv. 9. A A 2 instance,

quiet, contented, and calm ; some cunning, artful, and close ; others open, frank, and ingenuous; some, in short, malevolent, mischievous, and unfeeling; others kind, compassionate, good-natured, and though sometimes betraying the infirmity of human nature by casual omissions of duty and errors of conduct, yet soon made sensible of their faults, and easily led back to regularity, order, piety, and

virtue. - Here then is unquestionably the difference of natural constitution contended for. But what is the true inference? Is it that those whose dispositions are the worst are to give themselves up for lost, are to abandon all hopes of salvation, and to allege their depraved nature as a sufficient apology for infidelity or vice, as constituting a complete inability either to believe or to obey the Gospel? No such thing. On the contrary, it is a strong and powerful call, first upon their parents and the guides of their youth, and afterwards upon themselves, to watch A A 3 OVer, over, to restrain, to correct, to amend, to meliorate their evil dispositions, and to supply by attention, by discipline, and by prayer, what has been denied by nature. It may be thought hard, perhaps, that all this care, and labour, and painful conflict, should be necessary to some and not (in the same degree at least) to others; and that so marked a distinction in so important a point should be made between creatures of the same species. But is not the same distinction made in other points of importance P Are not men placed from their very birth by the hand of Providence in different situations of rank, power, wealth P Are not some indulged with every advantage, every blessing that their hearts can wish, and others sunk in obscurity, penury, and wretchedness? Are not some favoured with the most splendid talents and capacities for acquiring knowledge; others slow in conception, weak in understanding, and almost impenetrable to instruction ? Are not some blessed from their birth with

strong,

strong, healthy, robust constitutions, subject to no infirmities, no diseases; others weak, sickly, tender, liable to perpetual disorders, and with the utmost difficulty. dragging on a precarious existence 2 Yet does this preclude all these different individuals from improving their condition ; does it prevent the lowest member of society from endeavouring to raise himself into a superior class; does it prevent the most indigent from labouring to acquire a fortune by industry, frugality, and activity; does it prevent the most ignorant from cultivating their minds, and furnishing them with some degree of knowledge; does it prevent those of the tenderest and most delicate frames from strengthening, confirming, and invigorating their health, by management, by medicine, and by temperance? We see the contrary every day; we see all these different characters succeeding in their efforts beyond their most sanguine expectations, and rising to a degree of opulence, of rank, of power, of learning, and of health, of which at

A A 4 their

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