Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

shall see me and live." Our affections are not sufficiently purified, properly to esteem the holiness which reigns among the blessed; this is a treasure which cannot be reckoned, and a state beyond the comprehension of human intellect. Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, and these things have never entered into the heart of man.” The incomprehensible nature of this felicity, far from making us disgusted therewith, should lead us to form the greater and more noble ideas of it. If with our feeble minds, and narrow capacity, we could comprehend it, it would, of course, be as limited as we are: but how delightful to see ourselves destined to the possession of blessings, which, on account of their vastness and extent; we cannot comprehend ! Happy obscurity! Blessed ignorance ! Seeing this glory would confound us by its splendour, and overwhelm us by its weight; these pleasures are so great that we are unable to support them; these treasures so accumulated that we cannot reckon them; and finally, this new state is so rare and exquisite, that we must be transformed and made anew to enter upon it: “looking not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.”

The second character on which the apostle insists, is their eternity. “The things that are not seen are eternal." There are two kinds of eternity by which they claim our regard : an eternity of possession, and an eternity of enjoyment. In the first sense we can never lose them, and in the second we can never be disgusted with them, neither shall our delight in them be interrupted. I shall not enter far into the proof of this first sense; it will suffice to say, we shall possess them for ever, because we are heirs, and not servants or slaves, who are perpetually changing. "The servant or hireling,” says Jesus Christ, “abideth not always in the house, but the Son abideth always. Because we possess them by virtue of a supernatural donation ; that is to say, an irrevocable gift: “the gift of God is eternal life.” Because, to acquire them for us, nothing less could avait than the blood and passion of God: “Jesus Christ,” saith St. Paul, "hath obtained eternal redemption for us." Finally, we shall possess them for ever, because they are reserved in a high plare beyond the reach of our enemies : hence, according to the prophet Isaiah, “Death shall be destroyed for ever; the Lord shall wipe away all tears from all faces, and shall remove from the earth the reproach of his people.” “Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting, nor destruction within thy borders, but thon shalt call thy walls salvation, and thy gates praise; thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.” How can we contemplate these eternal blessings except in the fixed and unchanging point of view which the apostle here designs: “We look at the things which are not - seen, and which are eternal ?” Whatever is fleeting, cannot fix the mind; because, however vast in itself, we look for something beyond it; and as the object is finite and fleeting, the consideration thereof must be limited and transitory also. But who shall find bounds to his reflections in this vast abyss of eternity, these millions of days, years, and ages which shall prolong our felicity? What infinite depths of thought! What gulph more capable of swallowing up and absorbing our intellectual powers; and what subject more capable of fixing the inind? To feel ourselves at the fountain of all grace, sarrounded with pleasures, and at the summit of every kind of felicity, without fear of losing it! When once we are placed in an immutable state, where nothing changes, is fleeting or transitory; where we feel a perfect consistency, without vicissitude or change, the soul will acquiesce therein, be bounded thereby; and to contemplate it, without one wandering thought, must constitute its chief felicity.

But beside this eternity of possession, there is also an eternity of enjoyment and delight, which God prepares for us, and which shall constitute the consummation of our felicity. Though we should possess the things of this world for ever, we could not always enjoy them; they cannot fill the vast extent of our wishes and desires, and we should be disgusted and wearied with them. But with regard to the things which are above, we shall see God without weariness, because his essence and perfections shall unceasingly attract us; we shall love him without disgust, because he shall always present us with new causes to admire his mercy, and the way he hath chosen to redeem us. We shall praise him continually, because he shall continually appear praise worthy; and thus our life shall be one continual act of praise, one eternal hallelujah: “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, they shall still be praising thee.” This, says St. Augustine, shall be the only business of those whose business is ended; the only labour of those who are delivered from all labour; the only action of those who enjoy a perfect repose, and the only care of those who are freed from care and inquietude. Now what encouragement is it for us to look at what we shall eternally behold, and begin on earth contemplations which shall occupy us for ever. A painter of antiquity excited bimself to assiduity, by the consideration of the unfading glory he should secure thereby; “I paint," said he, "for eternity.” I would spare neither diligence nor pains, ought the Christian to say, to attach myself to the things which are not seen, because I know they shall always endure, they are objects which shall never disappear; as I look on them, my understanding shall expand, God shall shed on me irradiations more bright and luminous, and, finally, the truths I contemplate shall make in me impressions so cleep as to form the

Us.

beginning of my glory; and this glory shall be perfected, when I see those things as they are. “We all with open face behold the glory of the Lord, and are changed into the same image from glory into glory.”

Let us look at the things which are not seen, but let us look at them with all our powers and affections. Let us look at them with a look of contemplation, which renders them present to us, as if we perceived them with our bodily senses. The reason why we are not affected by the unfathomable blessings of another life, is because they are out of the reach of our senses; and as they are not gross and tangible, do not make so deep impressions upon

By reason and reflection we approach unto them, and faith discovers unto us what St. Stephen saw in his ecstacy: “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man seated at the right hand of God.” Yes, my faith penetrates the vail, and where my senses cannot reach, my understanding contemplates a blessed eternity; the place which God hath provided for me, and to which he hath destined me. Let us look at them with a look of admiration, for it is impossible that we should seriously contemplate these exalted objects, without being seized and occupied by them. They are blessings immense in their extent, eternal in their duration, and pure in their enjoyment; a throne that cannot be moved; a crown that shall never fade; a feast, a stream of delight, which shall flow froin the throne of the Lamb, from God himself, whom we shall see and enjoy. All this has in it something so great and august, that it is impossible to fix our attention upon it without being dazzled and transported with the magnificence of our Benefactor, and exclaiming with holy David, "O how great are the benefits which thou hast prepared for them that fear thee !” Let us look at them with a look of love. We cannot behold these blessings in all their greatness and excellency without feeling our love inflamed, and fixing our heart where our treasure lies.

Nor can we in the prospect of these things help adopting the language of the prophet David: “When thou saidst unto me, Seek my face, my heart said, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord: my flesh ceaseth not to long for thy courts.” And as St. Paul: “I have a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better.". Finally, let us look at them as our end, and as the objects which influence our conduct, viewing them so as by them to regulate our thoughts, actions, and conversation. Let us never lose sight of those objects which are our true guides, but imitate those skilful pilots, who, in their voyage attentively and constantly observe the heavens, to discover their course by that of the stars. Let us esteem the things of earth only as means to bring us to the things above, and leave behind us whatever is likely to turn us aside from the good way. "This one thing I do,y says St. Paul, “ leaving the things that are behind, and reaching to them that are before, I press toward the mark of my high calling."

If on this day, which rcnews our grateful feelings for what is past, when we raise our eyes to heaven: if on this day of the year we ought to offer thanksgivings and prayers, for our country, our families, our trade, and for the church in its militant state ; let us turn our attention towards the things that are not seen, and only form prayers with a relation to our future felicity. If we desire long life, and a flourishing reign to the queen,* victory to our armies ; unity amongst our allies; skill, constancy, and firmness to follow up and improve the advantages of the last campaign ; let it be in this spirit: that being delivered from the power of the enemy, and enjoying liberty and religion, we may serve God without fear, and be crowned by him in heaven with fulness of bliss. If we pray for the prosperity of our families and children, let it be that these young plants, cultivated by education, strengthened by our good example, watered by the dew of heaven, and growing day by day through the Divine favour, may become matured for eternity, and finally be removed to the heavenly abodes. If we pray for the prosperity of our trade and commerce, (God forbid that a vile and sordid feeling, or an ambition for splendour, should be the soul of our desires ! but) keeping in view the support of inDocence by our credit, the putting down of vice, and the assisting of the poor, may we hereby make to ourselves friends which shall receive us into eternal habitations. If we ask for the pros perity of the church, that God in our day may make Jerusalem a praise in the earth, God preserve us from the crime of factious views, and the intention of taking revenge on our enemies. Let us improve this state of prosperity as a means of extending the reign of Christ, of enlarging his dominions, multiplying his subjects, filling up the number of the elect, and accomplishing the decrees of God, which relate to the eternal establishment of the church in heaven.

May the benedictions which I put into your mouths this day, and which I form in a pure intention, be ratified in heaven, and return upon us in more abundant blessings ! May the queen prosper, with her council

, parliament and judges ; in her neyotiations, armies, and reputation; promoting the happiness of ber people by the mildness and length of her reign; and finally, may she change her perishing crown for a crown which never fades, and leave after her an uninterrupted succession, a Protestant line, which shall ever support true religion and piety. May your dear families multiply in number, and increase in virtue; promote your comfort on earth, and secure their own salvation in heaven! May our decayed commerce resume its former course, extend itself more and more, and tend, as we may hope at some future period, to assist in the propagation of the faith! May the visible church be purified from every stain, and strengthened in zeal, that Christ may triumph in every place! May this church in particular shed the good savour of the gospel around it, by the holy conduct of her ministers, elders, and deacons, and by the fervor and good works of all her members. May the church of France-for,“ Should I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember thee, if I prefer not Jerusalem to my chief joy;"-may the church of France purify her sanctuaries, recall the word she has lost, collect her chil. dren, scattered to the four winds, and attain a solid and permanent establishment, which shall become the deposit of truth to the remotest ages. May you all, my beloved brethren, pass your days in profound peace. “ The peace of God be with you. Amen."

* Queen Anne.

THE TRUTH OF GOD DEFENDED.

REMARKS on the Rev. LATHAM WAINEWright's “ Observations," 8.

(Continued from page 36.)

LETTER II.
“ Thou findest fault where nys to be found,
And buildest strong wark upon a weak ground:
Thou railest on right without reason,
And blamest 'em much for small enchearon.'

Spenser's Sheph. Cal. May, line 144. Rev. SIR,

What particular object Mr. W. can propose to himself in his “ Observations,” besides the destruction of experimental religion, and, as a natural consequence, the establishment of nominal Christianity, I find it more difficult than ever to perceive. To effect this, he indirectly cuts off all appeal to the Sacred Writings on the subject of Divine influence, by stating it to be peculiar to the apostolic age. This, it must be confessed, is a new ground of religious controversy; and a most singular one for a divine. If the influences of the Spirit, and extraordinary occurrences of Providence ceased, as we are informed,t with the age of miracles, the accounts which we have of them in Scripture, can possess no more interest to us than any other historical fact. The whole may be read with the interest of curiosity, but

* Nys, none. Encheason, occasion. + Pages 38, 64, 77, 99.

1

« FöregåendeFortsätt »