Page images

properly convinced of this; if we daily felt and exercised that confidence in Divine Providence which we ought, how many a bitter tear would be spared; how many a murmuring tongue would be silent; how many a heart, now bleeding with sorrow, would be healed; and how many a bosom, agitated by contending afflictions, would be calmed to rest! Yes, my brethren, did we indeed feel that full confidence which we ought-a confidence, tempered by intelligence and confirmed by piety-we might indeed mourn; but, in the midst of our sorrow, we should not be comfortless. We might mourn with David over his expiring child—we might weep with Jesus at the grave of Lazarus; but we should never forget that the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth ; and that because he has heretofore been our help, therefore, in the shadow of his wings, under the protection of his providence, we would rejoice.

To conclude. Let these principles, my brethren, drawn from what has been said, be ever impressed upon our minds; that confidence in Providence is our duty, confirmed both by Reason and by Revelation ; that at all times the proper exercise of it is calculated to inspire us with strength and comfort; and

that, in the hour of deep distress and affliction, it is the only and the safe refuge of the pious heart.


2 COR. V. 7.

“ We walk by faith, not by sight.”

I know not, my friends, from what words I could better address you. Having been so greatly favored by the kind blessing of Providence upon your indulgence, as to be permitted again to occupy this sacred place, I cannot do otherwise than direct your attention to the great importance of our faith.* Other subjects may occur to the mind, as not unappropriate on this occasion. But in treating of these, however gratifying it might be to private feeling, I should not better answer the expectation of a Christian audience, nor express, in a more becoming manner, my gratitude to God and to you. For the faith of the Christian, as comprehensively expressed in our text, is the sum and substance of his profession. It is the foundation

* This Discourse was preached December 13, 1818, on the Author's return from the Northward, where he had been for the benefit of his health.


which his hopes are built ; the rule by which his regulated ; the source whence consolation is drawn; and the principle which ennobles his nature. It is this which gives us a due conception of the connection between time and eternity; which teaches us properly to estimate the difficulties, as well as the blessings of life; and which renders familiar to our minds those sublime and enrapturing objects which it is the business of Revelation only to make known. In what manner, then, can I better express my gratitude for your friendship and indulgence towards me, my joy in again appearing amongst you, or the love and adoration which are due to our Father in Heaven, than by urging the excellence of that Holy Religion, in which his glory and our salvation are so intimately connected ?

I. In the Epistle from which our text is taken, the Apostle makes many allusions to the privations and persecutions which he had suffered. But over all these he confidently triumphs, conscious of the advancing perfec

tion of his nature, and in the anticipations of future good. “Our light affliction,” says he, 66 which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal ; but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens. For we walk by faith,” adds he, “ not by sight.”

Thus contrasting the faith of the Christian and his consequent enjoyment, with that knowledge which is the result of experience, the Apostle at once shows the superiority of the Gospel, in promoting the dignity, in advancing the perfection, and in securing the happiness of man. However ingenious the systems which men have invented, and however wise and useful the discoveries of human science, all fall short of the sufficiency of Revelation in preparing us to fulfil the great

end of our being. None are able to present such sublime subjects for our meditation, such examples for our imitation, such precepts for our direction, or such noble ends for our at


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

tainment. So that those who walk by faith, and those who walk by sight, travel in different directions. To walk by faith, is to live under the influence of that impression, which an habitual contemplation of the objects of faith is calculated to produce on the mind. Whereas to walk by sight, is to suffer our conduct to be controlled by the evanescent impressions of the objects of sense. He who walks, by faith has one unvarying standard of f moral propriety, the combined result of the truths of Revelation. However he may for a season be surrounded by darkness and confusion, he knows that the light of eternity is 10 still beaming for his guidance. While the he subject of sense, who walks by sight, who per- li mits his fears and his hopes to be at the mercy of present cirsumstances and surrounding In objects, must ever be exposed to all the variety & of casual impressions, and all the fluctuations of caprice.

The communications of the Gospel, which constitute the objects of the Christian's faith, are calculated, in their united and

proper effect, to make such an impression on the mind, as to modify and regulate the human character. They enlarge the understanding and purify the affections. What subject can

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »