Sidor som bilder

ation of our affections; the diffusion of happiness to every human being within our reach ; the attainment of God's favour and protection here, and of everlasting glory and happiness hereafter. These are objects worthy of a rational and immortal being ; these will find ample employment for all the faculties and powers of his mind; and the higher his rank and abilities are, the more will his duties multiply upon him, and the sphere of his activity enlarge itself. Whoever, in short, engages in earnest in the Christian warfare, whoever presses on with zeal and ardour towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, and “ forgetting those things that are “ behind, reaches forth to those that are beo fore,” will never find either his attention or his spirits droop. He will be continually animated with new prospects, elated with new acquisitions, rewarded with new triumphs, and will know nothing of that languor and fatness, that gloom and melancholy, which are so apt to seize upon unoccupied minds.

II. Whoever suffers himself to be brought

under the dominion of any malignant passion, envy, malice, hatred, jealousy, or revenge, must, from that moment, bid adieu to peace and cheerfulness. These odious tyrants are all most fatal to our repose. They throw the mind into a perpetual ferment and agitation ; they harass it with a succession of malevolent sentiments and vindictive designs; they keep it in a constant fever of resentment, and allow it no rest. The man possessed by these wicked spirits 6 sleeps not, except he has done mischief: 66 his sleep is taken away, unless he cause 6 some to fall.” * Every one must see, that a state of mind like this must exclude all enjoyment of life; must produce a sullen gloominess of disposition, which no ray of cheerfulness can penetrate or enliven. "

When, therefore, Christianity exhorts us to put away “ all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil-speaking, and malice,” it prescribes one most effectual remedy against disquietude and dejection of mind. And when it further recommends, in the room of these passions, to substitute sentiments of mercy, kindness, meekness, gentleness, compassion, brotherly affection, charity; when it commands us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and pour oil into the wounds of the afflicted and distressed, it points out to us the most effectual means, not only to make others happy, but ourselves also.

* Prov. iv. 16.

In fact, true Christian charity, in all its extent, is a never-failing fund of pleasure to the soul. The joy resulting from the diffusion of blessings to all around us, is the purest and sublimest that can enter the human mind, and can be conceived only by those who have experienced it. Next to the consolations of divine grace, it is the most sovereign balm to the miseries of life, both in him who is the object of it, and in him who exercises it; and it will not only soothe and tranquillize a troubled spirit, but inspire a constant flow of good humour, content, and gaiety of heart.

III. Another source of cheerfulness to be found in the Gospel is, that most comfortable doctrine of a particular Providence, which is there set forth in the clearest and most unequivocal terms. It is impossible for any thinking man, who supposes that the world, and all its affairs, are under no other direction than that of chance and fortune, to enjoy any true and permanent tranquillity of mind. There is such a variety of miseries to which human nature is continually exposed, and which no human prudence can either foresee or avert, that, without a firm confidence in some powerful superintendent, who is both able and willing to protect us, we must live under perpetual apprehensions for ourselves and those who are most dear to us. From this most painful solicitude (which was, in fact, a source of endless uneasiness to the Pagan world) the Gospel effectually relieves us. It informs us, that we are under the constant guardianship of an Almighty Friend and Protector, who sées the very minutest events, and governs the most casual; who, in the immense range of creation, does not overlook the least or meanest of his creatures; who commands us, “ to take no thought for the “ morrow," but to cast all our care upon him, for this most substantial and satisfactory reason, “ because he careth for us;"

who has declared, that, 6 if we seek first 6 his kingdom and his righteousness, all “ those things (that are really necessary) “ shall be added to us ;” and that, in the great variety and seemingly discordant mixture of human events, “ he will make every “ thing work together (ultimately) for good 6 to them that love him."* Here, now, is a firm and adequate foundation for enjoyment of the present moment, and indifference about the next. Under the persuasion that no disaster can reach us without his permission, who watches over us with an eye that never slumbers, and a tenderness which nothing but guilt can withdraw from us, we can face those unknown terrors from which Pagan Philosophy turned away dismayed; can look forward, unmoved, into futurity, and contemplate all the possible contingencies that may befal us, with intrepidity and unconcern; with the cheerfulness of a mind at perfect ease, reposing itself in full confidence and security on the great Disposer of all human events. · IV. That future state of existence, of

* Matth. vi. 34; 1 Pet. v. 7; Rom. viii. 28.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »