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pel, is that most comfortable doctrine of a particular Providence, which is there set forth in the clearest and most unequivocal terms. It is impossible for any thinking man, who supposes that the world, and all its affairs, are under no other direction than that of chance and fortune, to enjoy any true and permanent tranquillity of mind. There is such a variety of miseries to which human nature is continually exposed, and which no human prudence can either foresee or avert, that, without a firm confidence in some powerful superintendent, who is both able and willing to protect us, we must live under perpetual apprehensions for ourselves and those who are most dear to us. From this most painful solicitude (which was, in fact, a source of endless uneasiness to the Pagan world) the Gospel effectually relieves us. It informs us, that we are under the constant guardianship of an Almighty Friend and Protector, who sees the very minutest events, and governs the most casual ; who, in the immense range of creation, does not overlook the least or meanest of his creatures; who commands us 'to take no thought for the morrow,' but to 'cast all our care upon him,' for this most substantial and satisfactory reason, • because he careth for us;' who has declared, that, if we seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, all those things' (that are really necessary) shall be added to us;' and that, in the great variety and seemingly discordant mixture of human events, he will make every thing work together' (ultimately)
for good to them that love him.' Here, now, is a firm and adequate foundation for enjoyment of the present moment, and indifference about the next. Under the persuasion that no disaster can reach us without his permission, who watches over us with an eye that never slumbers, and a tenderness which nothing but guilt can withdraw from us, we can face those unknown terrors from which Pagan philosophy turned away dismayed; can look forward, unmoved, into futurity, and contemplate all the possible contingencies that may befal us, with intrepidity and unconcern; with the cheerfulness of a mind at perfect ease, reposing itself in full confidence and security on the great Disposer of all human events.
IV. That future state of existence, of which Christianity first gave us a clear and distinct view, affords a prospect to us that cannot well fail to cheer and enliven our bearts, and even
bear us up under the heaviest pressures of affliction. Without this support, there are, it must be owned, calamities sufficient to break the highest spirits, and to subdue the firmest minds. When the good and virtuous man is unjustly accused and inhumanly traduced; when enemies oppress and friends desert him ; when poverty and distress come upon him like an armed man; when his favourite child, or his beloved companion, is snatched from him by death ; when he is racked with incessant pain, or pining away with incurable disease ; when he knows, moreover, that he can have no rest but in the
supposes that this rest is the absolute extinction of his being ; no wonder that he sinks into melancholy and despair. But let the divine light of immortality break in upon him, and the gloom that surrounds him clears up. Let this day-star arise before him, and it will shed a brightness over the whole scene of his existence, which will make every thing look gay and cheerful around him. He is no longer the same being he was before. A new set of ideas and sentiments, of hopes and expectations, spring up in his mind, and represent every thing in a point of view totally different from that, in which they before appeared to him. What he had been accustomed to consider as insupportable misfortunes, he now sees to be most salutary chastisements. This world is no longer his home. It is a scene of discipline, a school of virtue, a place of education, intended to fit him for appearing well in a far more illustrious station. Under this conviction he goes on with alacrity and steadiness in the paths of duty, neither discouraged by difficulties, nor depressed by misfortunes. He is a citizen of a heavenly country, towards which he is travelling ; his accommodations on the road are sometimes, it must be owned, wretched enough; but they are only temporary inconveniences; they are trivial disquietudes, which are below his notice; for at home, he knows every thing will be to his mind. The blessings which there await him, and on which his heart is fixed, inspire him with an ardour and alacrity, that carry him through every obstacle. Even under the most calamitous circumstances, he supports himself with this reflection, more pregnant with good sense and solid comfort, than all the vast volumes of ancient Philosophy or modern Infidelity, that these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, shall work for him (if
he bears them with Christian patience) “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.'
V. There remains still another ground of joy peculiar to the Gospel; and that is, the consolation and assistance of the Holy Ghost. It is a circumstance of wonderful beauty and utility in the Christian dispensation, that one of those three Divine persons, who each bore their share in the great work of our redemption, condescends to contribute also to our present tranquillity ; to abide with us here constantly upon earth; to assume the endearing name, and perform the truly benevolent office, of a Comforter. Under this character and title, the Holy Spirit was promised to the apostles by our Saviour, in his last affecting address to them, in order to alleviate their grief for his approaching departure. This promise was most punctually and amply fulfilled on the day of Pentecost ; and from that time we see the influence of this heavenly Paraclete most eminently displayed in that astonishing and almost in. stantaneous turn, which it gave to the sentiments, the language, and the conduct of the apostles. From being timorous, dejected, and perplexed, shocked at the ignominious end of their Lord, afraid to appear in public, dubious, hesitating, and indecisive; on a sudden they become courageous, undaunted, cheerful. They openly avow, and boldly preach, that once offensive doctrine of a crucified Saviour. No complaints from that time; no dejection of spirits; no discontent. Though they were persecuted, afflicted, tormented, yet it was all joy, and triumph, and exultation of heart, • We are troubled," says St. Paul, ! on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair ; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, but not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich ; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things; and though our outward man perish, yet our inward man is renewed day by day.' The same alacrity and joyfulness spread itself to all the converts. For they that believed were together, and had all things common; and conținuing daily with one accord in the temple, they did eat their meat with GLADNESS and singleness of heart.'
Although these were, indeed, preternatural effects, arising from such extraordinary effusions of the Spirit, as were peculiar to those times, and not to be expected in our own; yet, in
some degree, his sacred influence will still remain; and to every one that is worthy of his consolations, he will still be a Comforter. We are assured by the best authority, that he will abide with us for ever; that he will dwell with us; that he will be with us always to the end of the world; that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace; that the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.' If, therefore, we constantly and devoutly pray for his divine assistance; if we do not grieve him by any sinful thoughts and actions; if we endeavour, by the most unblemished purity of mind, and sanctity of life, to render ourselves fit temples for him to inhabit ; we may depend upon it, that he will be our guide and companion, our comfort and support; will, in temptation, give us fortitude, in affliction patience, in prosperity thankfulness, in poverty content; will, in every condition and circumstance of life, impart to us that peace of God, that heartfelt joy and satisfaction, which passes all understanding and all description.
FOURTH SUNDAY IN ADVENT.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD,
MATTHEW vi. 10.—Thy Kingdom come. THESE words are of a very large and extensive signification ; comprehending, in brief, almost the whole notion of true religion; and are, therefore, particularly worthy to be the subject of our meditations, in the present season of Advent, when our Church directs her children to make a moral preparation for the spiritual and eternal kingdom of their Lord,
God is, by nature, king over all; and his kingdom' is the universe. His dominion' is infinite and everlasting; his “power' absolute and irresistible : his glory inexpressible and inconceivable. Of him, and through him, and to
him, are all things:' (Rom. xi. 30.] That is, for his pleasure, all things were created; by his providence, all things are preserved; to his glory, all things terminate. • The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy-work.' The whole frame of nature obeys his commands; and all the powers of the universe depend entirely upon the word of his mouth. But because it is more noble to govern free agents by moral considerations, than to have power over infinite systems of inanimate matter, which has no sense of the regularity of its own motions, nor capacity to perceive the wisdom and glory of its Creator; therefore the kingdom of God principally consists in his government of reasonable and intelligent creatures; in his being served and obeyed by those who, at the same time, are capable of disobeying; who by their own actions set forth his glory, and not merely in their being acted upon by Him; who, in their several stations and degrees, according to the light that is afforded them, discern what is right, and approve what is good, and act by their free power, and are conscious of the excellency of virtue, and love him whom they obey, and are made happy by the participation of his perfections. This is that, wherein principally consists the kingdom of God: a kingdom, wherein shine forth the goodness, and justice, and wisdom, and holiness of the Supreme Governor, as clearly as his power and dominion, in bis ruling the whole material universe.
By sin, this kingdom of God, this his government over the hearts and wills of the rational part of the Creation, is opposed and withstood. For his natural kingdom, the kingdom of his power, cannot be resisted. In this respect, the whole world is in his hand as a dust of the balance; he can withdraw from all things their very being itself, and, with a blast of his mouth, whenever he pleases, reduce them all into nothing in a moment. So that it is a very absurd notion, which some have entertained, from certain figurative expressions of Scripture very much misunderstood; as if Satan had attempted to oppose the Almighty with force, and had contended with him for the dominion of the universe. But, indeed, Satan rebelled against God, in the same sense wherein wicked men rebel against him; not by thinking to resist his power, but by presumptuously venturing to disobey his will, in those things wherein the nature of virtue and vice, and the very essence of moral