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than if it were a nonentity. They are the preachers of faith, then, who alone deal out to their hearers, the elementary and pervading spirit of the Christian morality. And the men who have been stigmatized as the enemies of good works, are the very men who are most sedulously employed in depositing within you, that good seed which has its fruit unto holiness. We are far from asserting, that the agency of grace is not concerned, in every step of that process, by which a sinner is conducted from the outset of his conversion to the state of being perfect, and complete in the whole will of God. But there is a harmony between the processes of grace and of nature; and in the same manner, as in human society, the actual conviction of a neighbour's good-will to me, takes the precedency in point of order of any returning movement of gratitude on my part; so, in the great concerns of our fellowship with God, my belief that he loves me, is an event prior and preparatory to the event of my loving him. So that the primary obstacle to the love of God is not the want of human gratitude, but the want of human faith.

ple to bear upon their hearers, which any one of us may exemplify upon the poorest, and by which both HOWARD and FRY have tried with success, to soften and to reclaim the most worthless of mankind.

This also suggests a practical direction to Christians, for keeping themselves in the love of God. They must keep themselves in the habit, and in the exercise of faith They must hold fast that conviction in their minds, the presence of which is indispensa ble to the keeping of that affection in their hearts. This is one of the methods recommended by the Apostle Jude, when he tells his disciples to build themselves up on their most holy faith. This direction to you is both intelligible and practicable. Keep in view the truths which you have learned. Cherish that belief of them which you already possess. Recall them to your thoughts, and, in general, they will not come alone, but they will come accompa nied by their own power, and their own evidence. You may as well think of maintaining a steadfast attachment to your friend, after you have expunged from your memory all the demonstrations of kindness he ever bestowed upon you, as think of keeping your heart in the love of God, after the thoughts and contemplations of the gospel have fled from it. It is just by holding these fast, and by building yourself up on their firm certainty, that you preserve this affection. Any man, versant in the matters of experimental religion, knows well what it is when a blight and a barrenness come over the mind, and when, under the power of such a visitation, it loses all sensibility towards God. There is at that time a hiding of his countenance, and you lose your hold of the manifestation of that love wherewith God loved the world, even when he sent his only begotten Son into it, that we might live through him. You will recover a right frame, when you recover your hold of this consideration. If you want to recall the strayed affection to your heartrecall to your mind the departed object of contemplation. If you want to reinstate the principle of love in your bosom-reinstate faith, and it will work by love. It is got at through the medium of believing, and trusting;-nor do we know a more summary, and, at the same time, a more likely direction for living a life of holy and hevenly affection, than that you should live a life of faith.

The reason why man is not excited to the love of God by the revelation of God's love to him, is just because he does not believe that revelation. This is the barrier which lies between the guilty and their offended Lawgiver. It is not the ingratitude of man, but the incredulity of man, that needs, in the first instance, to be overcome. It is the sullenness, and the hardness, and the obstinacy of unbelief which stands as a gate of iron, between him and his enlargement. Could the kindness of God, in Christ Jesus, be seen by him, the softening of a kindness back again, would be felt by him. And let us cease to wonder, then, at the preachers of the gospel, when they lay upon belief all the stress of a fundamental operation; when they lavish so much of their strength on the establishment of a principle, which is not only initial, but indispensable; when they try so strenuously to charm that into existence, without which all the clements of a spiritual obedience are in a state of dormancy or of death;-when they labour at the only practicable way by which the heart of a sinner can be touched, and attracted towards God;-when they try so repeatedly to hold and to fasten him by that link which God himself hath put into their hands and bring the mighty princi

SERMON XI.

The Affection of Moral Esteem towards God.

"One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple."-Psalm xxvii. 4.

IN our last discourse we adverted to the effect of a certain theological speculation about love, in darkening the freeness of the gospel, and intercepting the direct influence of its overtures and its calls on the mind of an inquirer. Ere we can conceive the love of gratitude towards another, we must see in him the love of kindness towards us; and thus, by those who have failed to distinguish between a love of the benefit, and a love of the benefactor, has the virtue of gratitude been resolved into the love of ourselves. And they have thought that there must surely be a purer affection than this, to mark the outset of the great transition from sin unto righteousness; and the one they have specified is the disinterested love of God. They have given to this last affection a place so early, as to distract the attention it. Heaven, in fact, would be a wilderness of an inquirer from that which is primary. to my heart; and, in the midst of its acThe invitation of "come and buy without claiming throng would I droop, and be in money, and without price," is not heard by heaviness under a sense of perpetual dissothe sinner along with the exaction of loving lution. God for himself,-of loving him on account of his excellences,-of loving him because he is lovely. Let us, therefore, try to ascertain whether even this love of moral esteem is not subordinate to the faith of the gospel; and whether it follows, that because this affection forms so indispensable a part of godliness, faith should, on that account, be deposed from the place of antecedency which belongs to it.

gether, to the consideration that God is looking with complacency upon me, I do not feel touched and attracted by the beauties of his character, when I look with the eye of contemplation towards him. I am without the most essential of all moral accomplishments in myself, if I am without the esteem of moral accomplishments in another; and if my heart be of such a constitution that nothing in the character of God can draw my admiration, or my regard, to him—then, though admitted within the portals of the city which hath foundations, and removed from the torments of hell, I am utterly unfit for the joys and the exercises of heaven. I may spend an eternity of exemption from pain, but without one rapture of positive felicity to brighten

And here let it be most readily and most abundantly conceded, that we are not perfect and complete in the whole of God's will, till the love of moral esteem be in us, as well as the love of gratitude,-till that principle, of which, by nature, we are utterly destitute, be made to arise in our hearts, and to have there a thorough establishment, and operation,--till we love God, not merely on account of his love to our persons, but on account of the glory, and the residing excellence, which meet the eye of the spiritual beholder, upon his own character. We are not preparing for heaven, we shall be utterly incapable of sharing in the noblest of its enjoyments, we shall not feel ourselves surrounded by an element of congeniality in paradise,-there will be no happiness for us, even in the neighbourhood of the throne of God, and with the moral lustre of the Godhead made visible to our eyes, if we are strangers to the emotion of loving God for himself,-if additional alto

And let this convince us of the mighty transition that must be described by the men of this world, ere they are meet for the other world of the spirits of just men made perfect. It is not speaking of this transition, in terms too great and too lofty, to say, that they must be born again, and made new creatures, and called out of darkness into a light that is marvellous. The truth is, that out of the pale of vital Christianity, there is not to be found among all the varieties of taste, and appetite, and sentimental admiration, any love for God as he is,-any relish for the holiness of his character,-any echoing testimony, in the bosom of alienated man, to what is graceful, or to what is venerable in the character of the Deity. He may be feelingly alive to the beauties of what is seen, and what is sensible. The scenery of external nature may charm him. The sublimities of a surrounding materialism may kindle and dilate him with images of grandeur. Even the moralities of a fellow-creature may engage him; and these, with the works of genius, may fascinate him into an idolatrous veneration of human power, or of human virtue. But while he thus luxuriates and delights himself with the forms of derived excellence, there is no sensibility in his heart towards God. He rather prefers to keep by the things that are made, and, surrounded by them, to bury himself into a

forgetfulness of his Maker. He is most in | more, with every offort to stir up his facul-
his element, when in feeling, or in employ- ties to lay hold of him, catch an endearing
ment, he is most at a distance from God. view of the Deity, than his eye can by
There is a coldness, or a hatred, or a terror, straining, penetrate its way through a dark-
which mixes up with all his contemplations ened firmament, to the features of that ma-
of the Deity; and gives to his mind a kind terial loveliness which lies before him, and
of sensitive recoil from the very thought around him. It must be lighted up to him,
of him. He would like to live always in ere he can love it, or enjoy it, and tell us
the world, and be content with such felicity what the degree of his affection for the
as it can give, and cares not, could he only scenery would be, if instead of being lighted
get what his heart is set upon here, and be up by the peaceful approach of a summer
permitted to enjoy it for ever, though he morn, it were to blaze into sudden visibility,
had no sight of God, and no fellowship with all its cultivation and cottages, by the
with him through eternity. The event to fires of a bursting volcano. Tell us, if all
which, of all others, he looks forward with the glory and gracefulness of the landscape
the most revolting sense of aversion and which had thus started into view, would
dismay, is that event which is to bring him charm the beholder for a moment, from the
into a nearer contact with God,-which is terrors of his coming destruction? Tell us,
to dissolve his present close relationship if it is possible for a sentient being to admit
with the creature, and to conduct his dis- another thought in such circumstances as
embodied spirit into the immediate pre- these, than the thought of his own preser-
sence of the Creator. There is nothing in vation. O would not the sentiment of fear
death, in grim, odious, terrific death, that about himself, cast out every sentiment of
he less desires, or is more afraid of, than a love for all that he now saw, and were he
nearer manifestation of the Deity. The only safe could look upon with ecstacy?-
world, in truth, the warm and the well and let the beauty be as exquisite as it may,
known world, is his home; and the men would not all the power and pleasure of its
who live in it, and are as regardless of the enchantments fly away from his bosom,
Divinity as himself, form the whole of his were it only seen through the glowing fer-
companionship. Were it not for the fear vency of elements that threatened to de-
of hell, he would shrink from heaven as stroy him?
a dull and melancholy exile. All its songs
of glory to him who sitteth on the throne,
would be to his heart a burden and a weari-
ness; and thus it is, that the foundation
of every natural man has its place in that
perishable earth, from which death will
soon carry him away, and which the fiery
indignation of God will at length burn up;
and as to the being who endureth for ever,
and with whom alone he has to do, he sees
in him no form nor comeliness, nor no
beauty that he should desire him.

Now, is not this due to the darkness of nature, as well as to the depravity of nature? There is in our diseased constitution, a spiritual blindness to the excellences of the Godhead, as well as a spiritual disrelish for them. The truth is, that these two elements go together in the sad progress of human degeneracy. Man liked not to retain God in his knowledge, and God gave him over to a reprobate mind; and again, man walking in vanity, and an enemy to God by wicked works, had his understanding darkened, and was visited with ignorance, and blindness of heart. We do not apprehend God, and therefore it is that we must be renewed in the knowledge of him, ere we can be formed again to the love of him. The natural man can no more admire the Deity through the obscurities in which he is shrouded, than he can admire a landscape which he never saw, and which truth and the righteousness of God out of at the time of his approach to it, is wrap-Christ stand before it in visible array, along ped in the gloom of midnight. He can nol with the other glories of character which

Let us now conceive, that through that thick spiritual darkness by which every child of nature is encompassed, there was forced upon him a view of the countenance of the Deity,-that the perfections of God were made visible,-and that the character on which the angels of paradise gaze with delight, because they there behold all the lineaments of moral grandeur, and moral loveliness, were placed before the eye of his mind, in bright and convincing manifes tation. It is very true, that on what he would be thus made to see, all that is fair and magnificent are assembled,—that whatever of greatness, or whatever of beauty can be found in creation, is but a faint and shadowy transcript of that original substantial excellence, which resides in the conceptions of him who is the fountain of being,-that all the pleasing of goodness, and all the venerable of worth, and all the sovereign command of moral dignity meet and are realised on the person of God,that through the whole range of universal existence there cannot be devised a single feature of excellence which does not serve to enrich the character of him who sustains all things, and who originated all things. No wonder that the pure eye of an angel takes in such fulness of pleasure from a contemplation so ravishing. But let all this burst upon the eye of a sinner, and let the

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belong to him. The love of moral esteem, | awaking the sword of vengeance against you may say, ought to arise in his bosom; us, awake it against a sufferer of such worth but it cannot. The affection is in such cir- and such dignity, that his blood shall be cumstances impossible. The man is in ter- the atonement of a world, and by pouring ror. And he can no more look with com- out his soul unto death, he shall make the placency upon his God, than he can delight pardon of the transgressor meet, and be at himself with the fair forms of a landscape, one with the everlasting righteousness of opened to his view by the flashes of an im- God,—in a word, instead of the character pending volcano. He cannot draw an emo- of God being lighted up to the eye of the tion so sweet and delightful as love, from sinner, by the fire of his own indignation, the view of that countenance on which he let it through the demonstration of the beholds a purpose of vengeance against Spirit be illustrated, and shone upon, by the himself, as one of the children of iniquity. mild, but peaceful light of the Sun of righThe fear which hath torment casteth out teousness, and then may the sinner look in this affection altogether. There is positively peace and safety on the manifested characno room for it within the bosom of a sen-ter of the Godhead. Delivered from the burden of his fears, he may now open his whole heart to the influences of affection. And that love of moral esteem, which before the entrance of the faith of the gospel, the sense of condemnation was sure to scare away, is now free to take its place beside the love of gratitude, and to arise along with it in the offering of one spiritual sacrifice to a reconciled Father.

tient being, along with the dread and the alarm by which he is agitated. It is this which explains the recoil of his sinful nature from the thought of God. The sense of guilt comes into his heart, and the terrors and the agitations of guilt come along with it. It is because he sees the justice of God frowning upon him, and the truth of God pledged to the execution of its threatenings against him, and the holiness of God which cannot look upon him without abhorrence, and all the sacred attributes of a nature that is jealous, and unchangeable, leagued against him for his everlasting destruction. He cannot love the Being, with the very idea of whom there is mixed up a sense of danger, and a dread of condemnation, and all the images of a wretched eternity. We cannot love God, so long as we look upon him as an enemy armed to destroy us. Ere we love him, we must be made to feel the security, and the enlargement of one who knows himself to be safe. Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me, and then may I love him and not fear him; but it is not so with me.

Thus, then, it would appear, that the love of moral esteem is in every way as much posterior, and subordinate to faith, as is the love of gratitude. That we may be able to love God, either according to the one or the other of its modifications, we must first know that God loved us. We cannot harbour this affection in any one shape whatever, so long as there is the suspicion, and the dread of a yet unsettled controversy between us and God. Peace with our offended Lawgiver, is not the fruit of our love, but of our faith;-and faith, if it be a reality, and not a semblance, worketh by love. We have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. And we love much when we know, and believe, that our sins are forgiven us.

But let him who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of own glory, in the face of Jesus Christ, let us only look upon him as God in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, and not imputing unto them their trespasses,-let him without expunging the characters of truth and majesty, from that one aspect of perfect excellence which belongs to him, let him in his own unsearchable wisdom devise a way by which he can both bring them out in the eye of sinners with brighter illustration, and make these sinners feel that they are safe ;-let him lift off from the men of this guilty world, the burden of his violated law, and cause it to be borne by another who can magnify that law, and make it honourable,-let him publish a full release from all its penalties, but in such a way, as that the truth which proclaimed them, and the justice which should execute and stood at as wide a distance from the them, shall remain untainted under the disobedient, and unfallen creation, as does a pensation of mercy,-let him instead of colony of convicts, from the country which

God did not wait for any returning affection on the part a guilty world, ere he felt an affection for it himself. At that period when he so loved the world, as to send his only begotten Son into it,-did it exhibit the spectacle of an immense prisonhouse of depravity. Among the men of it, there was friendship one for another, but there was one unalleviated character of enmity against God. Measuring themselves by themselves, there was often a high mutual esteem for such accomplishments as were in demand for the good of society;but that which is highly esteemed among men, is in God's sight an abomination; and when brought to the measure of that universal righteous which forms the standard and rule of Heaven's government, was it found that our species had through all its generations broken off from their allegiance,

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has cast them out of its borders. And it to it, and shifted from its place that great was at such a time, when the world liked principle on which both the love of gratinot to retain God in their knowledge,— tude and the love of moral esteem are suswhen all flesh had corrupted their ways,-pended.

when there was none seeking after God,- Let us cease to wonder, then, why faith when there was not the thought, or the occupies so much the station of a prewish, of a movement to him back again, liminary in the New Testament. It is the that he looked with pity on our fallen race, great starting point, as it were, of Christian and in the fulness of time, sent his Son into discipleship. Grant but this principle, and the world to seek and to save us. love, with all the vigour, and all the alacrity which it gives to obedience, will emerge from its operation. There is no other way, in fact, of charming love into existence; and the gratitude which devotes me to the service of a reconciled God, and the love of his character, which makes me meet for the enjoyment of him in heaven, can only arise in my bosom after I have believed.

Let this consideration shut you up unto the faith. Let it exalt in your estimation, the mighty importance of a principle, with

And the same is true of every individual to whom the overtures of reconciliation are proposed. God does not wait for any change of affection in our heart, ere we accept of pardon at his hands. But he asks one and all of us now to accept of pardon, and to submit our heart and character to the influences of that grace which he is ready to bestow upon us. In the gospel he proclaims a pardon ready made for you, a deed of amnesty which he is even now stretching out for your acceptance, a pre-out which there can neither be any sanctiventing offer of mercy, of which, if you fication here, nor any salvation hereafter. believe the reality, you will feel that he is Think it not enough that you import it into your friend, and in which feeling you will your mind as a bare existence. Know what not be disappointed. He does not expect it is to put it into habitual exercise, to dwell from you the love of gratitude, till you upon the truths which it embraces, and to have known and believed the great things submit, in feeling and practice, to their that he hath done for you. But he expects genuine operation. This is the only way from you the offering of an homage to his in which you can ever live a life of faith truth. He does not expect from you the on the Son of God,-or live by the power love of moral esteem, till, released from the of a world to come,—or keep yourselves in terror of having him for your enemy, you the love of God, seeing that it is only when may contemplate with all the tranquil you know and believe that God first loved calmness of conscious safety, the glories you, that you can be made to love him. and the graces of his manifested character. But he expects from you faith in his declaration, that he is not your enemy,--that he has no pleasure in your death,—that in Christ he is beseeching you to be reconciled, and stretching out to you the arms of invitation.

The first matter on hand, then, between God and sinners, in the work of making reconciliation, is, that they believe in him. It is, that the tidings of great joy shall fall upon them with credit and acceptance. It is, that they count the sayings of the word of this life to be faithful sayings. It is, that they put faith in the record which God hath given of his Son, which if they do, they will believe that God hath given them eternal life, and that this life is in his Son.

There is a certain speculation about the disinterested love of God, which has served to darken and to embarrass this process. It has cast an unmerited stigma on the love of gratitude. But its worst effect, by far, is, that it has impeded the freeness of the overtures of the gospel. It has perplexed the outset of many an inquirer. It has made him search in his own mind for the evidences of an affection which he never can meet with, till he embraces the offers, and relies upon the promises of the New Testament. It has deposed faith from that post of presiding supremacy which belongs

IN the progress of these observations, a few thoughts have occurred, which we trust may be deemed of sufficient importance to be brought forward,-and which we bring forward now, as supplementary to the whole argument.

It will have been remarked, that we do not consider man as altogether incapable of the love of moral esteem towards any being whatever. There are certain virtues of character which do call forth the admiration and the tenderness, even of our diseased nature, when they reside somewhere else than in the person of the Deity. Let our depravity be what it may, it were in the face of all observation to affirm, that man does not love the truth rather than falsehood, and compassion rather than cruelty, in a fellow-man, and the interesting question comes to be, how is it that these qualities appear to lose all the force which naturally belongs to them, of attracting our regard, so as to awaken no such sentiment towards God, though they be exemplified by him, in a degree that is infinite?

It will help us, in part, to resolve this question, if we conceive of our man of moral virtues, that his very truth, and justice, and compassion, lead him, in the defence of wronged or calumniated innocence,

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