Images de page

If we

thou knowest not now ?"

beneath the band of time, yet in a look but one step beyond the pre- green old age, and still adorning sent moment, all is blackness and by his presence the land which he joystery. We know not what a day had so long sheltered by his power may bring forth. Why are wars, and blessed by his virtues ? Does and famines, and persecutions per- not the unlooked for and untimely mitted ? Why do the wicked so bereavement which we have been often triumpb? Why is the Chris. deploring teach, in language far tian often plunged in apparently more forcible than the word of man, undeserved calainities? It is true, the bumbling fact of our ignorance a reason may be easily assigned, if and the utter uncertainty of all our we regard the final end; for life is calculations? Here, at one stroke, a state of probation, and all is in- was cut down honour and grandeur, tended for ultimate good to them the luxuriance of health, the cheerthat love God; but the immediate ful prospects of youth, all that was steps to this great end are often in- lovely and blooming, all that apvolved in clouds and darkness. peared calculated to complete a Can we account for the diversities husband's, a parent's, a family's, of God's providence, in affording a nation's happiness. Does not, one man health and prosperity, and then, the voice of Providence, as suffering another to remain in sick- well as of Nature and Grace, say ness and distress? Can we show to us, in accents the most powerful any cause why we have the Scrip- and convincing, " What I do thou tures, and have heard of a Saviour, knowest not now, but thou shalt and have been invited to repent of know hereafter ?” our sins, and to place our trust in While, then, we thus behold the him for pardon, and salvation, and awful mysteriousness of the Divine heaven; while millions of our fel. counsels, let us endeavour to attain low men, more excellent and con- consolation from the promise just scientious perhaps than many among quoted-a promise which, though ourselves, are perishing for lack made individually to St. Peter on of knowledge ? Or (if it might be a particular occasion, may be fairly allowed to allude to a recent event considered as belonging to all wbo in providence-an event which should follow in his steps to the end bas come home to every heart of time. with intense anguish) have we Hitherto we have been like a not witnessed a deeply afflicting, traveller bewildered in a dark though doubtless a wise and equi- and dreary night amidst dangers table proof of the mysterious na

and uncertainties ;- no track apture of the divine dispensations ? peared to open before us ;-NaWas it likely, if man bad been ture was dark and desolate : Procalled to decipher the counsels vidence was still darker, and even of Heaven, that while the aged and the works of Grace itself were inafflicted progenitor was in the volved in an obscurity which no fourth remove preserved, two ge- human eye could pierce. But let nerations should have been cut us behold the gleam of light at off at a stroke? Did it appear length breaking on the track ; let a thing probable that be who bas us listen to the voice of Revelation been permitted, by God's mercy, bursting from the gloom, and proto reign a longer time on the mising a speedy termination to all throne of these realms than anythe doubts and difficulties which monarch who went before him, environ the Christian's path. “ Heashould thus behold youth, and viness may endure for a night, but health, and vigour, perisb in bis joy cometh in the morning." Every presence; wbile he himself re

mysterious circumstance shall heremained, like a dismantled oak, bent after be so revealed, that even the

most weak and despairing disciple him. Much may have been intriof the Redeemer shall at length be cate and perplexed; events that obliged to quiet his murmurs, and promised vast results may bave to confess, that in all the operations ended in nothing; and others, of Nature, and Providence, and which seemed at the time of little Grace, “the Lord bath done all importance, may bave eventually things well.”

produced the greatest effects. The expression hereafter, which Even in the affairs of religion, an our Lord used to St. Peter, may apparently casual train of thought, refer either to some period within a remark from a friend or minister, the life of an individual

or to

a text of Scripture, a change of a future age of the world—or to circumstances in life, may possithat last great day when all things bly bave been at the foundation shall be disclosed ; and in each of of that bappy change which has these views the promise is often ful. gradually taken place in his soul. filled.

It is true that there is no geneIn the first place, even within ral necessity for thus attempting to the life and memory of an indivi. retrace every thing to a particular dual, a dark and intricate dispen- point of time or conjuncture of sation of Providence soinetimes providences; and not a few evils becomes plain. The case of Jacob have arisen from the weakness, the is remarkably striking. Nothing vanity, and the fancifulness of men could appear more adverse and in relative to this subject; but witbexplicable than the dispensations of out indulging superstitious or idle God towards that holy patriarch. prejudices, the Christian, in look. He lost his beloved son Joseph ; ing back upon the general path of and in the bitterness of bis spirit his life, taking a fair and sober estihe exclaimed, “I will go down to mate, and comparing event with the grave to my son mourning.” event, will often perceive that the Innumerable other calamities fol- whole was one connected chain, of lowed, till at length, the most pierc- which, though he could see but a ing of all, Benjamin was taken! single link at a time, be now knows and then, bowed down and broken- the general plan to have been orbearted, he exclaimed, “ Joseph is dered for the best, by an all-merci. not, and Simeon is not, and ye will ful as well as all-wise God. take Benjamin also !-all these But, though even during the things are against me !" Yet amidst life of an individual we may someall, mercy was in the bitter cup. Let times retrace the probable intenus follow bim to Egypt, and hear his tions of many dispensations of altered language : “ Joseph my son God's providence, yet in other is yet alive! I will go and see him cases the discovery is reserved for before I die.” Thus he lived to a longer period of the world's witness the intended issue of the duration. Numerous instances of darkest providences. The land was both this and the preceding case preserved from famine; the long- might be produced from the sacred lost son was raised to the highest page. The bistory also of the honours; and Jacob himself was Church of Christ, in every age, restored to his beloved offspring, abounds with illustrations of this among whom he parted his last truth. To mention but one-how blessing, and expired in peace. forcible a proof is the Reformation

In a somewhat similar, though from the delusions of Popery! less marked and miraculous, man- Nothing could appear more unner, may the Christian in the pre- likely than almost every circumsent day often look back upon his stance at the time, to produce past life, and survey the way by so glorious an effect. Who that which the Lord his God has led had lived in that age could have

so find no

predicted such a change as we perhaps the greater part, must be now see to have taken place ? Yet left to that day when the secrets of even the passions and oppositions all bearts shall be disclosed. Then which appeared at the moment shall every intricate event beam to obstruct the high and hea. forth in the clearest splendour of venly cause, we now find to have truth and wisdom. The ways of been overruled for good. Another God shall be fully justified in the act of this sacred drama seems to sight of an assembled universe ; so have been completed; Christianity that even those who shall be conis spreading widely and rapidly demned to “ the bitter pains of through the world ; the Scriptures eternal death,” shall be obliged to are fertilizing the vast tracts which confess that all was wise and equiinfidelity and superstition lately table on the part of their Creator, ravaged; the Messiah's kingdom is A new æra of celestial light shall hastening, and the latter-day glory begin; and the abstruse points dawning upon the world; and all which now divide the Church of this may be retraced to that Re God, shall probably appear so formation which began, and for a plain, that the only wonder of considerable time was carried on, heaven will be-how they seemed by means of events of apparently so mysterious upon earth.

What a very casual and sometimes even angels already know will doubtless trifling nature. “ What I do thou be made known to all the great knowest not now, but thou shalt household and family of “ the just know hereafter."

made perfect:" and even subjects Perhaps, in like manner, (if it respecting which, perhaps, angels be allowed once more to allude to themselves, at present, a more recent event, which seems end, in wandering mazes lost,” may even yet to meet us on every side, possibly be then disclosed to the to mingle with our conversations, lowest of the inhabitants of that and which we neither can nor ought blissful world. In the mean time, to dismiss from our thoughts.) of one thing, at least, we are quite perhaps the awful dispensation sure, that when the whole plan of which we have lately witnessed God's government, in all its departdark and unfathomable as it must ments, shall be developed, it will be now be considered—when looked found that grace and mercy, wisback upon, after the lapse of a dom and justice, with every other century, will appear fraught with Divine attribute, have been magni. consequences wbich we at present fied throughout the whole of his dis. little conjecture. What they may pensations. be, whether adverse or otherwise, The practical inferences from is not for man to divine. But what this subject are very obvious and ever they are, the grand and lead- important. If we know so little, ing truth is still clear, that the what a motive for looking up to an government of all things is placed all-wise Teacher! If all around us in the hands of Him, who is not be so dark, bow great is our need only “ the mighty Counsellor," but of faith to confide in Him, where also the “ Prince of Peace," and to we cannot discern his footsteps ! wbom, therefore, as to a faithful If the world be a scene of such Creator," the Christian may with uncertainty, how ardently should implicit faith, commit all his inte- we be “ looking for and hastening rests for time and for eternity. to" another and a better world,

But, after all, this world is not where all is certainty and repose ; the place appointed for a full dis- and bow earnest should be our closure of the mysteries of the preparation for it! Let us but Divine dispensations. Much, and fully realize as we ought these imand joy.

portant facts, and little further broken down, that the Jew no surely can be wanting to raise our longer possessed exclusive priviaffections above the troubles and leges, but that the whole family in vanities of the present life, to the heaven and in earth was now united permanent enjoyments of that state in Christ, and equally entitled to where we shall see and know as we be called by his name. are seen and known, and where The prayer itself by no means grief, and doubt, and error, shall falls short of the expectation excitLe for ever exchanged for the fulled by so solemn a commencement. assurance of understanding, and the " That he would grant you,” he immutability of love, and peace, continues, “ according to the riches

C.S. of his glory, to be strengthened with

might by bis Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in

your hearts by faith; that ye, being FAMILY SERMONS.—No. CVIII. rooted and grounded in love, may Ephes. iii. 20, 21.-Now unto him saints, what is the breadth, and

be able to comprebend with all that is able to do exceeding length, and depth, and height, and abundantly above all that we ask

to know the love of Christ, which or think, according to the power passeth knowledge, that ye might that worketh in us; unto him be

be filled with all the fulness of glory in the church, by Christ God." The whole of this passage Jesus, throughout all ages, world is most full and expressive. Lanwithout end. Amen.

guage sinks beneath the greatness St. Paul, in the prayer which pre- of the Apostle's ideas, and the anicedes this sublime ascription of mation of his heart, while he enpraise, had been offering several deavours to describe the love of earnest petitious to God in behalf Christ and its effects on the Chris. of his Ephesian charge. He intro- tian. He prays, that they may know duces bis prayer with a solemnity that which, if taken in its extent, of address well calculated to pre- passeth knowledge;" and even pare the mind of bis reader for

adds, that they

“ might be filled something affecting and important with all the fulness of God.With solemn prostration of body

How different are the wishes and bumility of soul, he thus offers thus expressed by St. Paul, to those his ardent wishes for his new con- which usually appear in the interverts to the Christian faith: “ For course of modern Christians! While this cause," (namely, that they we are daily desiring all worldly might not faint at bis tribulations advantages for our friends, how selfor them,) “ I bow my knees unto dom do we thus feel in earnest for the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the welfare of their souls! Let us of whom the whole family in hea.. learn from the Apostle's example, ven and in eartb is named.” St. to cherish a more lively interest Paul possibly intended, by this in- in the spiritual concerns of each troduction, to remove an objec- other; that in every intercourse tion which some Ephesian disciple and correspondence of life, we might be ready to urge against may evidence something at least of bimself, that because he was not that Christian anxiety which be of the house of Abraham, he was felt when he uttered those words : not interested in the Divine mer- - This thing I wish, even your percies. Being, therefore, the Apos- . fection." tle of the Gentiles, he antici- But might not ignorance or unbepates this objection, by intimat- lief bave suggested to some Epheing, that the wall of partition was sian convert, that the Apostle's re

quests were far too great to be admiration, it strengthens his trust, complied with, and included bless and increases bis joy. ings of too high a nature to be- It strengthens his trust. The come the lot of tbe Christian upon Christian is one who bas founded earth? St. Paul, without mention- bis hopes upon God. Every thing, ing this objection, effectually sets therefore, that tends to make him it aside by the words which con. more sensible of the fulness and clude his prayer, and which we power of the Almighty, tends to now propose to examine.

encourage a filial confidence; since In doing so, let us consider, he knows that power to be em

1st, The power of God to sup. ployed in promoting his welfare ply the Christian's wants.

and safety. When, therefore, he 2dly, The specimen and pledge feels his own weakness, how conwhich Christians have of that soling is it to him to reflect that power in their own experience. his Father which is in heaven is

3dly, The return of glory due infinitely strong! When he thinks to God for his exertion of this he has implored too much at the power.

Throne of Mercy, what joy does it First, The power of God to sup- give him to remember, that God ply the Christian's wants. It is ne- can do exceeding abundantly above cessary to consider the power of all he asks, or even thinks ! God, not so much in its own na. Thus, in addition to strengthenture, as in its relation to his people ing the Christian's trust, it inin

every age of the world. St. Paul, creases his joy.--This is, indeed, who had long known this power closely connected with the former; upon earth, and bad even had a for the stronger and more genuine premature discovery of it in the our faith, the more fixed and lively third heavens, bears testimony in our spiritual enjoyment. It is true, the text, that it is beyond the indeed, that the Christian's fears utmost prayer of faith_" all that arise oftener from a doubt of God's we can ask ;" and beyond the high- willingness than of his ability ; but est conceptions of the minds all when he considers how great and that we can think.” He had not aggravated have been his transgresforgotten the time, when, praying sions, he almost doubts whether the for a release from the thorn in the promises inade in the Gospel can flesh, he had found the efficacy of be applicable to himself, or whether this power, in teaching him rather one who has erred from God's to bear it; thus perfecting strength ways so widely, and for so long a in his weakness. He had also, in time, may find mercy at last. To bis labours among the enemies of such a one it is an important the Gospel, known in himself the truth, that God is able, as well as same support that was promised to willing, to hear and answer bis Jeremiah, when it was said, " They prayers; able, not in point of mere sball fight against thee, but shall power only, but consistently with not prevail; for I am with thee, all his attributes and perfections. saith the Lord, to deliver thee.” He His justice does not oppose his testifies, therefore, of this power, mercy. While sin separated bethat it was inconceivable and inex- tween us and heaven, there was an baustible; and, indeed, no power impossibility that our prayers should less than infinite could be ade. be heard or accepted; but a Saquate to every wish and every viour baving died, sin being pardonwant of the human soul.

ed, and the heart renewed, nothing But it is not in this speculative remains to make it inconsistent view only that the Christian regards with the Divine Majesty to grant the ability of God to supply his our requests, when offered up in wants. In addition to exciting bis the way which he himself has CHRIST. OBSERV, No. 192.


« PrécédentContinuer »