« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Such were the cheerful scenes which the first dawn of the Gospel, and the first appearance of the Comforter, present to us ; and although these were, indeed, preternatural effects, arising from such extraordinary effusions of the Spirit, as were peculiar to those times, and not to be expected in our own; yet, in some degree, his sacred influence will still remain į and to every one that is worthy of his consolations, he will still be a comforter. We are assured by the best authority, “that he will abide with us “ for ever ; that he will dwell with us ; that “ he will be with us always to the end of * the world ; that the fruit of the Spirit “ is lovė, joy, peace; that the kingdom " of God is righteousness, peace, and joy “ in the Holy Ghost."* If, therefore, we constantly and devoutly pray for his divine assistance ; if we do not grieve him by any sinful thoughts and actions ; if we endeavour by the most unblemished purity of mind, and sanctity of life, to render ourselves fit temples for him to inhabit ; we
* John xiv. 16; Rom. viii. 9; Matt. xxviii. 20; Gal. v. 22; Rom. xiv. 17.
may depend upon it that he will be our guide and companion, our comfort and support; will, in temptation, give us fortitude, in affliction patience, in prosperity thankfulness, in poverty content; will, in every condition and circumstance of life, impart to us that PEACE OF GOD, that heartfelt joy and satisfaction, which passes all understanding and all description.
Before I conclude, I must beg your attention to one short, but, as I conceive, important observation, resulting from the foregoing discourse.
We of this kingdom have been repeatedly stigmatized by the other nations of Europe as a melancholy, dejected, gloomy people. The charge, I fear, is upon the whole but too well founded ; and the proofs too visible, and sometimes too dreadful, to be evaded or denied. It behoves us, therefore, surely, to inquire a little into the true causes of this national malady ; and to consider, whether one of these causes may not be a contemptyous disregard, or, at least, a cold indifference for that most pure, and holy, and enlivening Religion, which contains the only true remedy for our disease. Instead of this, we have too. commonly recourse to a very different mode of relief, to those pernicious cordials of unbounded pleasure and endless dissipation, which, though like other cordials, they may raise our spirits for the moment, yet afterwards sink and depress them beyond recovery, and leave the unhappy patient infinitely more in distress and danger than they found him. If this be the case we know what we have to do. We must fly to a totally opposite regimen ; to that purity of mind, that sanctity of manners, that selfgovernment, that moral discipline, that modesty of desire, that discreet and temperate enjoyment of the world, that exalted piety, that active benevolence, that trust in Providence, that exhilarating hope of immortality, that reliance on the merits of our Redeemer, which the doctrines and the precepts of the Gospel so powerfully impress upon our souls, and which, as we have seen, are the best and most effectual preservatives against all depression of spirits. It is here, in short, if any where, true cheerfulness is to be found. To those, indeed, who have been long dissolved in luxuryand gaiety, that moderation in all things which Christianity prescribes, may, at first, appear a harsh and painful restraint; but a little time, and a little perseverance, will render it as delightful as it is confessedly salutary. Be prevailed on then, for once, to give it a fair trial; and accept, with all thankfulness, the most gracious invitation of our blessed Redeemer, “ Come unto me all ye that labour and are “ heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take “ my yoke upon you, and learn of me, and “ ye shall find rest unto your souls. For “ my yoke is easy, and my burthen is “ light.” *
1 Cor. i. 20.
WHERE IS THE WISE ? WHERE IS THE SCRIBE ?
WHERE IS THE DISPUTER OF THIS WORLD? HATH NOT GOD MADE FOOLISH THE WISDOM
OF THIS WORLD? THE subject on which Saint Paul is speak
ing in this chapter, and which drew from him the exclamation in the text, is the doctrine of the cross : that is, the atonement made for the sins of mankind by the crucifixion of our blessed. Lord. This is a topic on which he always speaks with an air of peculiar triumph and exultation : and in this chapter more especially, he enlarges upon it with unusual strength of argument and eloquence. He was not ignorant that this doctrine gave the utmost offence both to the Jew and to the Greek ; but notwithstanding this, he asserts, “that it was the power of God “unto salvation." * He was no stranger to the numberless objections made to it by the
* Rom. i. 16.