Abbildungen der Seite

kind. The whole of their conduct was directly opposed to the acknowledged and accredited wisdom, judgment, prudence, and policy of the world. In the opinion of the most grave, and learned, and virtuous of the men of the world, they were considered as fools. Jews and Gentiles, in other matters hostile to each other, united in this, that the followers of Christ deserved pity for their weakness and hatred for their impiety. The high-priest, the Scribes and the Pharisees, though for different reasons, adopted the same language concerning them, and conducted in the same manner towards them, as the Pagan historians, Suetonius and Tacitus, and the sophists, Celsus and Porphyry. That astonishing combination which took place in the trial of Christ, between Herod and Pilate, is a specimen of what afterward took place, at different periods, between bitter foes, when Christians were to be persecuted, and their cause to be ruined i .. What then, I repeat the question, supported them? What were the encouragements which the religion they embraced and defended afforded them? Unquestionably those which spring directly from the hope of

a remuneration in a future and everlasting state. They had respect to the recompense of reward which awaited them beyond time. Enlightened by the Spirit of God, they compared this life with that which is to come; earthly honours with those that are heavenly; acceptance with Christ, with acceptance among men ; heaven, with all that the world could give them. The Redeemer's solemn question had its proper effect upon them: '“ What is a man profited if he shall “ gain the whole world, and lose his own • soul ? Or what shall a man give in ex«s change for his soul ?” Every thing in time, when compared with eternity, being weighed in the balance, was found wanting.

The reward which they anticipated; the exceeding and eternal weight of glory which they expected, includes in it every thing that the understanding can approve, or the heart can desire and love. The imagination itself cannot form any adequate conception of its greatness, its suitableness to our constitution, its exquisite and infinite delights, its eternity. With the eye of faith steadfastly fixed upon this reward, the glory and felicity of earth faded to the view of Chris

tians. The latter, like the glow-worm, emitted a dubious, intermitting, feeble light, whilst the former, like the king of day, poured forth a steady, uninterrupted, resplendent light. They could look on the one and behold its porerty, whilst the other dazzled them with its fulness, and blinded them to every other object. No wonder, then, that they fainted not; but that though thir outward man perished, yet the inward man was renewed day by day. No wonder that they took joyfully the spoiling of tri gids knowing in themselves that tår hed in heaven a better and an enduri substance. No wonder that they, with

hertulmes, and ott-times with triumph, as waters of their Lord, gave up this short ani usitisactory life, for immortal, eterwallery:

This subc't corrects a mistake of some 1 vers: ministers a solemn warning & muliers; and addresses a seasonable pl ata a to all believers.

Fin. The mistake under which some Winter labuur is, that it is not lawful to

ini cur penual interest, in matters of fufen, als turikk'r than the value which

we possess in the scale of being; or, in other words, that we must be willing, if our value be so low, to relinquish our personal interest, and with it our all, for those who possess more value than ourselves. As the graduated scale to estimate such value has not been put in our hands by the Lord, it is impossible for us to judge correctly; and the more so because the direct effect of the grace of God upon the heart is to make every man think lowly of himself, in honour preferring others. Just in proportion to the power of grace will be his want of impartiality in his own favour, and his partiality towards those whose value in the scale of being is far inferior to his own. How, then, must he act? His modesty, his knowledge of his own corruption, his ignorance of the corruption of others, his desire to render to every man his due, prevent him from giving that credit to himself which he really deserves. Or, if on a fair, impartial examination of the pretensions of others and his own, he is constrained to judge that he is of more value than others, and claims his rights as such, he will be considered vain, assuming, and arrogant, by all who under

VOL. 11.



THE ETERNAL INHERITANCE [SER. XI. stand human nature. In this dilemma, the constitution of grace never has placed, and I venture to say, never will place, any person.

The mistake of which I am speaking, originates in the idea that virtue or holiness consists, not in choosing and performing every duty in its place, but merely in the love of being in general, or the good of the whole system of being. As, however, this good “ embraces such an infinity of “ relations, that before, we could be cer“tain what action it prescribed, the sea“ son of action would be past; to weak, “ short-sighted mortals, providence has as“ signed a sphere of agency less grand and “extensive indeed, but better suited to their “ limited powers, by implanting certain affections which it is their duty to cul“ tivate, and suggesting particular rules to “ which they are bound to conform. By “ these provisions the boundaries of virtue " are easily ascertained, at the same time “ that its ultimate object, the good of the “ whole, is secured; for, since the happi“ ness of the entire system results from the “ happiness of the several parts, the affec“ tions, which confine the attention imme

« ZurückWeiter »