« PreviousContinue »
Roll they must and will, nor is it in our power to arrest their revolution. Shall we then mope away the delightful months of spring, and think its pleasures and its blessings unworthy of our regard because it cannot always last, but must be succeeded by the gloom and dreariness of winter? This were evidently to counteract the designs of that benign Providence which hath so amply and so beautifully furnished the world around us with materials to accommodate and inspire us with cheerfulness. It it true the great Sovereign and Proprietor of all things hath not thought fit to stamp any of our enjoyments with the character of permanency-but instead of this he has given us hope; and if the sweetness and mildness of the vernal breeze must give place to the rough and chilling blasts of winter, neither shall these always blow, but we may still look forward to a returning or a yet unknown season of joy and gladness. Christian! Is not this privilege thine in its highest degree and its largest extent? Oughtest not thou especially to enjoy present good things to the best advantage, because thou hast others infinitely better in prospect? Though thou mayest be travelling through the wilderness thou art not without thy manna, and the heavenly Canaan lies beyond it; nor canst thou possibly find thyself in circumstances so dark and discouraging as not to admit of the assured expectation of a brighter day.
According to the present constitution of things, which it must be acknowledged is imperfect, change is necessary in order to prepare the way for something vastly superior. Seasons, generations and uman affairs are in a course of constant succession. We ourselves are passing through one stage of life
after another, and after all the gaiety and glory of our spring and summer, and after a few cold and cheerless autumnal days, we may bow down our heads, low as the earth from whence we sprung. But while the plant is dying the seed is ripening; and if it fall into the ground it shall spring forth anew, not like the fairest of our flowers, a mere copy of that which produced it, but in a form widely different and inconceivably improved. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be”—but this we know, that if we be planted in the likeness of the death of our blessed Lord, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. "If we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.". What was sown in corruption shall be raised in incorruption; what was sown in dishonour shall be raised in glory," and flourish in immortal youth and beauty, beyond the reach of time and the influence of changing seasons.
But it is written in the word of God-Behold, I make all things new."-We may therefore confidently expect the renovation, not only of the vital but of the moral principle, and how ought we to rejoice at the approach of that period, when not only pain and sickness and death, but every thing that now degrades the human nature below that standard of purity and virtue for which it was originally designed, shall be for ever done away, and when the great plan of infinite wisdom and goodness which is now by inscrutable methods leading on to, and maturing this great consummation, shall be completed and found to correspond in all its parts with the perfections of the Deity its author. Could we suppose a stranger to this our planet, first to arrive in those parts of it
which are bound up in ice and covered with snow, would he be able by any previous reasoning to form an idea of the wondrous change which would in the course of a few months be brought about, and for which the bleak and barren scene around him was in fact the most proper and effectual preparation. To whatever trials then our faith may be subjected, whether as relating to ourselves or the affairs of the world in general, let it be supported by the assurance that there shall at length be a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord."
Suffer me to add, in conclusion, a few lines from that well-known poet who has sung so sweetly on these subjects, and to whom I have already had occasion more than once to refer.
""Tis come-the glorious morn, the second birth "Of heaven and earth! Awakening nature hears "The new-creating word, and starts to life "In every heightened form-from pain and death For ever free. The GREAT ETERNAL SCHEME "Involving all, and in a PERFECT WHOLE "Uniting, as the prospect wider spreads, "To reason's eye refin'd, clears up apace. Ye good distress'd,
Ye noble few, who here unbending stand "Beneath life's pressure, yet bear up a while, “And what your bounded view (which only saw "A little part) deemed evil, is no more. "The storms of wintry time will quickly pass, "And one unbounded SPRING encircle all."
MUTUAL DUTIES OF CHRISTIAN MINISTERS AND
1 THESS. V. 12, 13.
And we beseech you brethren, to know them which labour among you and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love, for their work's sake.
You will not wonder, my friends, if, during the length of time that I have borne my part in the public religious offices of our society, my mind has frequently dwelt on the nature of the relation subsisting between a Christian minister and the people of his charge. Considering the plan upon which these services are conducted, to have arisen from the necessity of the case, and as what ought to be laid aside, whenever circumstances will admit of it, for something more fixed and regular, I have looked forward, not without a great degree of anxiety, to the consequences which such a proceeding might involve as to the prosperity, and possibly, even the existence, of this church. Several reasons have concurred to determine me to address a few thoughts to you on this important subject. The time cannot be far distant when the opportunity of saying what I would have