Imagini ale paginilor

pose, and with a different plan of life, has been suddenly arrested, humbled, changed by a power which he neither could, nor would then resist, and made to peach that Savior which he had before persecuted. So, too, in the darkest period in the history of the church, clouds have been cleared away; divisions have been healed; the fires of persecution have been put out; kingdoms and men that have opposed the gos pel have been destroyed by a sovereign God in a manner which no human calculation could have foretold, and in such a manner that it was seen that it was directly by the finger of the Almighty.

But what I wished particularly to say, was, that the success attending efforts to do good which actually occurs, is just such as to lead men to recognize their dependance, and to trace all to the interposition of a sovereign God. Now, the preacher labors for years apparently in vain, and his message seems like seed scattered on hard rocks; then, the soil seems to be made mellow by some invisible influence and every word takes effect; now, all his arguments, and appeals, and instructions, are disregarded alike by the aged and the young; then, truth so simple as to appear adapted to children, has power to arrest the man of age, and wisdom, and experience, and learning, and turn him to God; now, a whole congregation sit unmoved under an argument of truth; then, all are bowed down under the same truth as a forest bends before the mighty wind; and now, while the mass are unconcerned, the arrow shot at a venture reaches the heart of some poor sinner that came with no special preparation, and, wounded, and writhing with anguish, he comes to God for help. All this is the work of a sovereign God ;-our encouragement to effort; our argument for his agency; our demonstra tion of the truth of the great doctrines of grace; and the stay of our souls when we seem to labor in vain, and to spend our strength for nought. And I presume that every minister of the gospel when he looks back on his ministry to learn from the past what are the real grounds of his encouragement in his work, looks instinctively to such manifestations of the power of a sovereign God.-The argument which I designed to submit is now before you. Among the lessons which it teaches are the following.

1. The true nature of the sinner's dependance on God. All men are ready philosophically to admit that they are dependent on their Creator, but this doctrine is so held as to produce no practical effect on the mind. The sinner will admit that he is dependent for life, and health, and reason, and strength, and favorable junctures for the prosecution of his plans, as all men are. In common with all the race, also, he is dependent on God for the offer of mercy, and the knowledge that there is a way of salvation, and for the arrangements which God has made, and which were beyond the power of man. But the point of most immediate interest in this matter is, that he is dependent on God to do what he could himself do, but will not do; what he is under the most sacred obligation to accomplish, but what, such is his determined wickedness, he never will accomplish. He is dependent on his Maker for a disposition to love him; to attend to his own interests; to feel

feel compunctions of guilt where he has done wrong; to take one step in securing his own salvation. In a matter of the plainest obligation, and where the power is ample, he will never think a right thought, or have a right feeling, or be influenced by a right motive to all eternity, unless he is led to it by a God whom he hates, and whose agency he scorns and rejects. And hence,

2. We may see the nature of human wickedness. It is so deep in the soul; so fixed and determined in its character, that man never will be or can be led to do right without the intervention of the mighty power of God. There are no human means that will overcome it. There is no power of argument or persuasion; no regard to his own real happiness in this world, or to his immortal destiny in the next; no pleadings of affection, that will induce the sinner to break off from his sins, and return to his Maker. Man is endowed with an understanding, but in religion he will not follow its dictates; he has a conscience, but he resists its decisions and promptings; he has a will, but it is perverse and obstinate; he is capable of affection, but his heart is attached to improper things, and he will not love his Maker; he has interests of infinite value at stake, but he will not think of them or regard them; he is going to hell, and will not be warned to avoid it; he might go to heaven, but there is nothing that will induce him to seek its glories. The simple reason for this conduct, so strange-so passing strangeis, the wickedness of the heart. And that wickedness is no slight matter which will lead an immortal soul thus to make itself everlastingly wretched; and which resists all the arguments and appeals, which even God can place before the mind, rather than forsake it.

3. We see what is the prospect about the salvation of the sinner. The whole question is lodged in the bosom of a sovereign God; and it will be just as he decides. If an influence descends from heaven you will be saved. If not, you will not be. There is no other power to save men; and we frankly and most kindly say to you, one and all, that our hope of your conversion is not in any native tendency to goodness which we believe you to possess, or any inclination which you have to do right, or any belief that you will of yourselves ever be any more disposed to attend to your salvation than you are now. Nor is it in any expectation that appeals can be made to your understanding, or conscience, or heart, or will, or self-interest, that will induce you of yourselves to come to God. We have learned not to preach with any such vain and illusive expectation as that. Our hope is in that sovereign God who by his own power converted Saul of Tarsus, and Augustine, and Bunyan, and John Newton, and Col. Gardner, and all the infidels, and scoffers, and gay triflers, who have ever gone to glory, or are on their way; and we believe the question of your salvation is lodged solely in the bosom of that sovereign. Mysterious secret! Lodged and buried there in a heart into which no mortal looks and which no mortal controls! Dread Sovereign! The destiny of all hangs on thee! If so, then,

4. We see where our encouragement lies-how ministers should preach, and how christians should labor for the salvation of their fellow men. We should not be discouraged. We should not feel that sin will finally prevail. We should not fear that a torn and bleading church will be extinct. We should not feel that wickedness is to triumph in the earth, nor that all that are now wicked will go down to hell. Every thing may seem to dishearten us. In our spheres of labor there may be all the embarrassments that opposed the gospel when first preached. There may be all the prejudice that led the Jews to reject it; all the love of gain that opposed it at Ephesus; all the pride of philosophy that met it at Athens; and all the profligacy adapted to sicken the soul of the Apostle at Corinth, but there is the same God to carry forward the triumphs of the gospel; and in reference to a wicked world we may hear him say, "Be not afraid, for I am with thee, speak and hold not thy peace;" and is it fancy or the faith of fanaticism that seems to hear him say to each minister and each christian,

no man shall set on thee to hurt thee; for I have much people in this city?" In the great work in which we are engaged let us then direct our eyes and our hearts to the Great Sovereign to whose mercy are to be traced all our own hopes of salvation. There are things which man cannot perform in the matter of religion; there are things which, though he might perform them he will not; there is no certain basis of calculation in our appeals to the understandings or the hearts of men, but there is in the plans of divine sovereignty, and our own experience has taught us so. The world is wicked. Our friends are unconcerned about their salvation. Our kindred, and partners, and parents, and children, are regardless of their welfare in the future world, and nothing arouses them to ask the way to life. Whither shall we go? Where shall we look for help? Where can we find a solid rock of hope in our efforts? In the hope that God will mercifully interpose where we have no power, and that he will diffuse joy through our souls by their conversion when our hearts are ready to sink within us. Our place is at the feet of that Great Sovereign where we found mercy for our own souls-and there let us lie and plead, with strong crying and tears, in behalf of Zion, until "the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth."

5. Finally, my brethren in the ministry will recognize in the doctrine of this discourse nothing but what has come home a thousand times with peace and consolation to their own hearts. In the hours of our sadness and despondency-and they are many-when we feel that our preaching does good to no one, and that the word of truth seems to fall on the hard rock-we have had no where else to look for encouragement but to the high purposes of the God whom we serve. Then we have felt, that however man might receive the message, all is fixed and certain with Him who has called us into the ministry. What though the purpose be concealed from us, and we have no power to penetrate the secret counsels in JEHOVAH's mind; what though in our efforts we could not tell which would prosper whether this or that; and what

though we had no power to move the Eternal Arm to rescue the soul from death, yet our souls have been stayed with the unshaken belief that God means to save men, and that those "whom he has ordained to eternal life" will believe. Then God has blessed us. When we have felt this truth most deeply, then we were most strong, and most blessed. The soul never feels it so much as in the thrilling scenes of a revival of religion; and men never preach with so much power and so much success, as when they lie low before God, and feel that the whole question respecting the salvation of their hearers is lodged with him. Then mighty obstacles yield; "the mountains and hills are made low, and the rough places plain. The glory of the Lord is revealed, and all flesh see it together." In the great work to which God has called us in the field which he has appointed us to occupy; amidst all the obstacles which we have to meet from the love of gain, the prevalence of unbelief, the self-confidence of philosophy, the gaiety, the fashon, and the vanity of the world; and in all the obstructions which we may ever meet from the opposition of erring brethren, our hope of success is in the sovereign power of God. If our counsels and plans are formed with confidence in Him they will not fail; if resting on our own wisdom and strength, we shall find them again, as we have often found them to our sorrow, formed in vain.


No. 3. VOL. XVII.]

MARCH, 1843.


[WHOLE NO. 195.





"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it."-Rev. xx. 13.

THE resurrection was a favorite theme with the Apostles. The fact of Christ's having risen, was with them the crowning miracle of his earthly course, and an irrefragable argument of his divine mission. The resurrection of all mankind by Christ's power, to be judged at Christ's bar, was one of the truths upon which the first ministers of the gospel sought to turn the eyes of all their hearers. Peter preached this doctrine to the scribes of Jerusalem, and Paul proclaimed it amid the philosophers of Athens. And what thoughts struggle within us, as we look forward to such a change! These corruptible bodies shall stand again in the closest companionship with the souls that once inhabited them,-that at death deserted them but which now have resumed them. According to the deeds done in the body, men are to be judged. The term of probation closed when the spirit quitted the body, and dropped it into the grave. The time of judgment begins when that grave is opened and that body reanimated, "that every one may receive the things done in his body." We are prone, perhaps, to think too much of these perishable tabernacles of clay. But we do not, my beloved hearers, think enough of them, unless we think of them often and vividly, as bodies that are one day to rise again, endued with an indestructible existence, and capacitated for the endless bliss of heaven, or the eternal misery of hell.


I. This great doctrine, the resurrection of the body, seems yet better fitted than the kindred truth of the immortality of the soul, to make a powerful impression on the mind of man, when receiving the

2 Cor. v. 10.

« ÎnapoiContinuă »