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the world before the world leaves you-for leave it you must, either by choice or compulsion: and is it not better to leave it by the allurements of grace, than by the violence of death? O! leave the world, while it is in your power to prove that you relinquish it for conscience' sake. O! leave it as you will wish you had renounced it, when you enter an eternal state; and now show yourselves in the class in which you hope to appear at the day of judgment. View the world as an object of solitary contemplation.
View it as an object of dying contemplation. And arise, and depart hence. If you remain in the world, with the world you will perish.
O how I pity certain individuals who seem to have their everlasting welfare at heart-but cannot once for all resolve to give up the world. They are for ever purposing, but never decide. They seem to yield to every thing we advance, until we touch the subject of separation from the world-then they immediately shrink back: and, if pressed, employ all their ingenuity to excuse, or palliate their attachments and compliances.Are you of this number?
Perhaps you imagine your withdrawment from the world will render you miserable. Now, even allowing it to be irksome, still if it can be proved to be necessary, you ought to submit to it. You act thus in other pressing cases. But we are bold to affirm, that if you detach yourselves from it, you will be infinitely more happy, than in connexion with it. What liberty, what satisfaction have the votaries of the world? Are they not the most miserable of all beings? Are they not always disgusted or disappointed?-And still more peculiarly wretched is a state of suspense, be
tween the world and religion; where you have the inconveniences of both, without the pleasure of either. But, says Solomon, "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." "My soul," says David, "shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night-watches."
Good Matthew Henry said, as he was expiring, to his friends in the room; "You have heard and read the words of many dying men-and these are mine: I have found a life of communion with God, the happiest life in the world." Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way-It is true, but hear Bishop Beveridge: "If the way be narrow, it is not long! and if the gate be strait, it opens into endless life!"
WEAK GRACE ENCOURAGED.
For who hath despised the day of small things?-Zech. iv. 10.
Ir is not, indeed, easy to determine always what is small. Things originally and apparently trivial and uninteresting, often become very great and momentous.
It is so in nature. The oak, whose branches cover the side of the mountain, and whose
strength defies the storm, grows from an acorn which we would trample under foot. Broad rivers and streams, which fertilize the countries through which they roll and become a sea,-if retraced, would be found to spring from obscure, if not imperceptible sources.
It is so in science. There was a time when Johnson was learning his letters. Sir Isaac Newton sitting in a garden, saw an apple fall from a tree; and this led him to speculate on the power of gravity: he saw a boy blowing bubbles with soap suds; and this led him to investigate the subject of light and colours. And from such hints was derived much of the grand scheme of philosophy which distinguished this illustrious genius.
It is so in political affairs. As we read history, how often are we forced to exclaim, Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth! What an inconsiderable incident has sometimes set a whole nation in a blaze! How wonderful the difference between many of the revolutions of empires in their rise and in their effects!
"Know ye not whole lump?" may be murder
It is so in moral concerns. that a little leaven leaveneth the Our Saviour teaches us that there in an angry word, and adultery in a wanton look. Hence, the wisest part we can act is to stop beginnings; yea, to avoid the very appearance of evil. Then, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."
And what inference would you derive from hence? Why this. A philosopher will not despise the day of small things; a statesman will not despise it; a moralist will not-and should a Christian? God forbid. "For who hath despised
the day of small things?" Let us then apply this question entirely to the subject of religion.
And here it will be necessary first to observe, that the work of grace in the soul, is frequently small in its commencement-I say frequently; for it is not always so. The various graces of the Holy Ghost seem to have been produced in the apostle Paul, comparatively, very perfect at once; such was his unwavering faith, his lively hope, his inflexible courage, and his unconquera
But, in a general way, it is small in its beginning. The soul resembles the field, where we see, "first the blade, then the ear, and, after that, the full corn in the ear." God could instantly produce the fruits of the earth in their maturity, but we know from the event that it does not accord with his wisdom. He, therefore, advances them from very small principles, and, by a gradual process, to their perfection. Our Saviour spake a parable, which will apply to the grace of God, in the heart, as well as the gospel in the world, and which serves both to illustrate and confirm the truth of this representation. The kingdom of heaven," says he, "is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field: which is, indeed, the least of all seeds; but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh tree, so that he birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."
The Christian is a soldier; and the beginning of his career is naturally the day of small things. He is a raw and awkward recruit; he cannot march well, nor use easily and gracefully his arms. And then, when he has acquired the theory of his exercise, he has the practical part to learn:
and it is actual experience only, that can make the warrior.
The Christian is a scholar; and when he enters the school, it is, of course, a day of small things. He begins with his rudiments, with his a, b, c,and, though he has many things to learn, he cannot bear them now.
Or, to speak less figuratively: he has some light, and such as flesh and blood could never reveal: but it is indistinct. He sees men as trees walking. It terminates for the present rather in desires and admiration, than any thing else. It is marvellous light; it leads them to wonder and exclaim-"Where have I been? how was it that I did not see these things before? whence is it that I perceive them now? how can I acquire them; how can I ensure them?" Thus he longs, and prays; and waits for the Lord, more than they that watch for the morning.
He has some hope, but while it excludes despair, it also admits of doubts and fears. He does not question the power of the Saviour, but his will; nor the truth of his promises, but their application to himself. His affections are warm, but his faith is weak. Little stumbling blocks throw him down, as even a wrinkle in the carpet will occasion the fall of a child. He is easily perplexed and distressed. His afflictions embarrass him, and lead him to say, "If I am his, why am
I thus?" He cannot bear the frown of Providence, and because God chastises him, he fears that he is going to condemn. And this, according to Solomon, is another mark of a weak state of religion: "If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small."
But, secondly, weak, unpromising, and even