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the force of the enkindling and tried affections of his nature, could so feelingly exclaim, as he parted from his sorrowing friends, “what mean ye to weep, and to break mine heart?"-who, in the next moment, at the thought of his greater obligations to heaven, could cry out in triumph, “I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”*
Nor let it be said that, in times of affliction of any kind, while the gospel ministers a comfort and peace such as the world cannot give, it does so by crushing or impairing the tender affections of the heart. There is a grief which religion does not condemn, and a purified nature will never disown, on the recurrence of the ordinary misfortunes of life, and, more than all, at the bursting asunder of those dearest ties which have bound together friends and relatives upon earth. But still from the very acuteness of those feelings which it has awakened and refined, religion can extort a more than proportionate consolation.
We are told, indeed, to “sorrow not;” † but then the ground of this injunction is - not that, as the followers of Christ, we are considered to have forgotten the dictates of humanity, but that we are not in the situation of “ those who have no hope ;" that we have another principle derived from our Christian * Acts xxi. 13.
+ 1 Thess. iv. 13.
faith, which has an intense and counteracting power that can transcend and conquer sorrow. The true Christian, bereaved and afflicted as he may be, has a strength of confidence in God that enables him, though great be the struggle, to overpower and master the dominion of inordinate grief. In his soul there is a deep well of comfort and consolation which the worldly mind knows not of. He believes God; he loves God; he trusts in God; he hopes in God; and therefore—from the very strength of all those principles--heis content. He can bear to look on his sufferings or bis loss without repining, not as the punishment of an arbitrary master, but as the kind chastening of a father to correct the son whom he loveth. And, though he might have prayed his God, in the agony of grief, to put away from him the bitter and untasted cup, yet will he catch somewhat of the spirit of his Saviour, and learn from Him, in Christian resignation, to say, “Nevertheless, not my will, O Lord, but thine be done."
In conclusion then, my brethren, we may learn from this account of the character of sin, and of the operation of the scheme of Providence which was designed for its remedy, how many inducements there are, and of a kind, perhaps, some of them, which we had hardly dreamed of, to a pious and godly life. God asks not of us, when he addresses himself to a sinful world, a sacrifice unusual or abhorrent to our nature. He appeals to us on the same grounds that we are called on to love a father, or to respect a benefactor. He shews us that our duty to him is indeed our “reasonable" and natural “service." He shews us that this duty is the lawful exercise of our affections; that this is what the best feelings of our hearts would dictate; that this, and this alone, is our temporal and eternal happiness. We learn that the heart of man, cold and desolate as it seems, under the
gross and perverted character with which by human passion and human pride it bas been invested, yet retains in itself some latent capacities, which, by divine assistance, may be carried out and trained up to better and nobler things. Like the pool of Bethesda, which, though of itself insipid and powerless as the rest of the dead and tasteless waters of this world, though it could be made efficacious by none of those agitations of earthly and subordinate elements which might occasionally ruffle its bosom, yet when roused from its deep stagnation by the influence of a spiritual messenger from on high, could be made to send forth new and yet undiscovered virtues, and communicate health, vitality, and joy to all around.
While, then, we learn that such is the cha
racter of God's appeals to us, that such are the dispositions with which He has furnished us to receive them, let such also be the manner in which we draw near to his throne. Let ours be the homage not of cold words and a colder heart. Let us love Him who first loved us. Let us have gratitude to Him who hath given us every blessing. Let us have hope in Him who hath inconceivable treasures yet to give. And, while we return to Him from the ways of sin, let it not be with the coldness and heartlessness of the stranger, but with the reviving affection of the prodigal son, saying, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son !"
ON THE PERCEPTION OF SPIRITUAL TRUTHS.
Matthew xiii. 15, 16. This people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed ; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear.
In the preceding discourse an attempt was made to illustrate the first part of this text, by shewing the baneful influence of sin in hardening the sensibilities of the human heart. remains to point out the justice and propriety of the concluding paragraphs, which describe the unnatural dulness which must have clouded the