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of his perfections, had imbibed, as it were, the wicked views and inclinations of sinful man, sinful man being so base and so wicked as to refuse to conform to the holiness of the supreme God.

But hast thou, man, sufficiently reflected on this article? Thou complainest of the laws of God. Who art thou? Whence dost thou come? Who gave thee thy being? Is not God thy governor? This firmament before thine eyes, that infinite space in wbich thine imagination is absorbed, those heavenly bodies revolving over thy head, the earth beneath thy feet, is not this the empire of God? And you, vile creature, confined in a corner of the universe, you house of clay, you worm of the earth, you nothing, lighter than vanity itself, you, who are only a vain phantom, walking in a vain shew, do you murmur at the laws of God? would you be Lord of religion? would you either say to God, Coinmand this, forbid that, or would you mount his throne, and give the universe law? What presumption !

You complain of the laws of God. Are not these laws just in themselves? God requires you to love him. Is it possible to refuse obedience to this just command, considering the eminent perfections, the majesty and benevolence of him, who requires your esteem? God requires you to love your neighbour. And would it be right that you, made of the same dust as your neighbour, and doomed both to return to dust again; would it be right for you, under pretence of some exterior advantages in your own condition, to cherish a self-complacence, that would debase the dignity of human nature, and teach mankind to estimate their worth by external appendages? Would it be fair in civil society that each should contribute to your happiness, that the artist should assist you by his industry, the scholar by his learning, the statesman by his wisdom, the soldier by his courage, and that you, a simple spectator of all these things, should think of nothing but enjoying yourself at the expence of all mankind? Would this be right? Are your complaints wellgrounded? My people, what have I done unto thee? wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me.

You complain of the laws of God. But what is the design of all these laws? Is it not to make you as happy as possible? Judge again yourself. Imagine yourself violating all the divine laws, having no veneration for God, no love for your neighbours, being haughty, overbearing, a liar and a slanderer. Imagine yourself, on the other hand, humble, pious,

pious, zealous, patient, charitable. Is it not clear, that, in spite of the violence of your passions, you would like yourself best in the condition last mentioned? If your passions have so blinded your mind as to incapacitate you for entering into these reflections, imagine two men, the one animated with the vices, and the other with the virtues just spoken of, and, if you can prefer the vicious man before the virtuous, I agree you shall complain of the laws of God.

You complain of the divine laws. But are not these laws infinitely proper to make you happy in this world? In what state would the human heart be, what bloody scenes would it revolve, were God to give it up to the infernal passion of envy, to excessive sensuality, to the miserable anxieties of avarice, or to the tumultuous rage of ambition? Imagine a society where robbery, assassination and adultery were allowed; a society in which self-interest was the only motive, passion the only law, and no bounds set to sin but such as ambition choose; where the magistrate was oppressing the people, the people revolting against the magistrate, where friend was betraying friend, and the receiver stabbing his benefactor; would you consent to live in such a society? Imagine an opposite plan, stretch your fancy as far as possible, and the further you go the more fully will you perceive, that nothing can be so well contrived to produce present human felicity as the divine law; and that, even supposing some particular cases, in which obedience is attended with loss, affliction and pain, yet in all cases there is an ample indemnity both in a hope of future happiness, and in an enjoyment of present pleasure arising from a consciousness of real rectitude and upright self-approbation.

You complain of the laws of God.. But doth not God exemplify all these laws himself? He commands you to be just. Is not he himself just? Righteousness and judgment, justice and equity, are the bases of his throne. He requires you to be humble. But, although this virtue may seem repugnant to the divine nature, yet we have beheld the prodigy of God humbling himself, of one, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, making himself of no reputation, and taking upon himself the form of a servant! Phil. ii. 6, 7. God requires us to be benevolent. Is not he love? Are we not all overwhelmed with his favours? Hath he not given us his Son? O admirable beauty of religion! My brethren, it transforms a creature into the image of his Creator! O matchless condescension of the God we adore! He

unites true happiness to an imitation of his attributes, and invites us to participate his happiness by partaking of his holiness.

You complain of the laws of God. But what does God require of you but to endeavour to please him? Doth he not promise to accept your sincere obedience, though it be accompanied with many frailties and great imperfections? Hath he not engaged to assist you by the essential aid of the holy Spirit? Brethren, enter into your own hearts, listen to the suggestions, the joys, the hopes excited in your consciences. This is the hand of the Lord drawing you; this is the light of heaven shining in your hearts; this is the holy Spirit converting the soul, Psal. xix. 7. Should God descend, and stand among you, amidst thunders and fires like those of Mount Sinai; should he stand among you surrounded with blackness, and darkness, and tempest; should he, from the centre of all these formidable ensigns of dreadful majesty, declare, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them, Gal. iii. 10. human frailty might serve for an excuse: but he speaks, as we said before, to his people, to them he presents himself with all the attractives of grace.

Ah! were you to deplore your depravity! Were you to say, in the bitterness of your soul, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Rom. vii. 24. God himself would comfort you, he would tell you, that he would not break a bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax, Matt. xii. 20. If, sinking under a sense of sin, you were to cast yourself at his feet, and implore his assistance, he would give you his holy Spirit, who, conveying light and strength through all your heart, would eradicute all your sins. But you love sin, you thrust back the mighty hand stretched out to help you, you grieve the holy Spirit of God, turn the grace of God into lasciviousness, Eph. iv. 30. Jude 4. and then complain, that the laws of God are too severe. You consider God the lawgiver as a mortal enemy, who attacks all your pleasures. Ah! how unjust are your complaints! O my people, what have I done unto thee? Are my commandments grievous, is not my yoke easy, my burden light? Am I not mild and lowly in heart? O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me.

The second class of human complaints against God regard him as the governor of the world. Man complains

of

of providence, the economy of it is too narrow and con fined, the temporal benefits bestowed are too few and partial.

Let us do justice to human nature, my brethren. If we cannot justify this complaint, let us acknowledge there is an appearance of equity in it. This complaint, we allow, hath some colour. God presents himself to us in religion un¬ der the tenderest relations, as a friend, a brother, a parent, a husband; the earth belongs to this friend, and the fulness thereof is at the disposal of this God, and a single act of his will would instantly fill our houses with pleasures, riches and honours. Yet he leaves us in misery and indigence, and it would be in vain to search the New Testament for a single passage to ground a hope that we should become rich, reputable and honourable in the world, by sincerely practising the prerepts of christianity.

If this complaint at first sight seem unanswerable in the mouth of a Christian, it is precisely from the mouth of a Christian that it cannot come without extreme ignorance and ingratitude. If you be Christians you must be so affected with the numberless benefits bestowed on you, that it is inconceivable how an idea of such temporal blessings as you think necessary to complete your happiness, can make such an impression on your mind, or find a place in your heart. Being Christians, you are persuaded that God hath blessed you with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. That he hath chosen you in him before the foundation of the world, that he predestinated you unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, Eph. i. 3, &c. Being Christians, you believe, that God so loved you, that he gave his only begotten Son, that you believing in him should not perish, but have everlasting life, John iii. 16. As you are Christians you are persuaded, that for your sakes the Lord hath shaken the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the dry land, and hath sealed you, and given you the earnest of the Spirit in your hearts, Hag. ii. 6. 2 Cor. i. 22. Being Christians, you are convinced, that the public ministration of the divine word, the ordinances of religion so often administered to you, are evidences of the watchful care of that providence over you, which gives some apostles, some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, and for the work of the mimistry, Eph. iv. 11, 12. You believe, for you are Christians, that, when you die, heaven will be opened to you, as it

was

was formerly to Stephen; that angels will uphold you in your agony, as they once comforted your Redeemer; and that, how difficult soever the race may be, you shall surmount all, and finish with a song of extatic triumph. Being Christians, you believe, there are in your Father's house many mansions, that Jesus Christ is gone to prepare a place for you, and that throughout all eternity your happiness shall suffer no diminution. Yea, being Christians, you are already quickened with Christ, and even now sit with him in heavenly places, Eph. ii. 5. 6.

Is it imiginable, that people enjoying so many advantages, favoured with so many benefits, and elevated with such glorious hopes, should complain for want of a few temporal gratifications, or spend a thought on such momentary accommodations as fire the unruly passions of worldlings?

This is not all. If the morality of Jesus Christ be thoroughly examined, it will be found almost incompatible with worldly prosperity. Such is the state of the human heart, that either Jesus Christ must alter his religious laws in order to put us into the possession of temporal prosperity, or he must deprive us of temporal prosperity in order to establish his morality in our hearts. You wish, you say, that he had promised pleasures to moderation, riches to charity, and worldly grandeur to humility. Instead of gratifying your wishes, he sees it necessary to the being of your moderation to remove from you the dangerous snares of pleasures; he doth not make the charitable man rich, lest riches should excite avarice; and he does not bestow worldly grandeur on the humble, lest it should diminish his humility. This is a well know truth of universal experience. It is generally seen, that every temporal good conveys a mortal poison into the heart of its possessor. The temptations attending prosperity are infinitely more difficult to overcome than those which belong to adversity. He, who hath triumphed over persecutors, executioners, and tyrants, hath not unfrequently fallen a prey to pride, luxury and intemperance, when objects proper to kindle these passions have presented themselves to him.

Temporal prosperity is not only opposite to our duty, but it is, for this very reason, hostile to our happiness. Had God given us a life full of charms, we should have taken little thought about another. It is natural to be delighted with an agreeable situation, and whatever attaches us to the world cools our ardour for heaven, the inward man is re

newed

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