« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
for infirmity and corruption, the perfections of God are never compromised. The Scriptures never lower down the standard of holiness to the imperfections of man, but strive to raise his weakness to that noble and celestial height. Every thing is in the ascendant. Sursum Corda, Sursum Corda. The doctrines, the precepts, the examples, the images, the language of the Bible-all breathe a tone of sublimity that ill harmonizes with low pursuits, sensual appetites, and worldly affections. Let us follow whither they lead us. He only is truly happy, who has happiness within himself; whose soul is free, and whose wants are satisfied:-holiness alone is liberty; the favour of God, the only source of perfect and abiding satisfaction.
ON SUBMISSION TO GOD.
WHEN we consider the relation in which we stand to that Almighty Being, who created us by his power, and who preserves us during every moment of our existence by the unceasing energy of his wisdom; it seems of all truths the simplest and most obvious, that we ought to be subject to his disposal. When we recollect that He, who is our Sovereign by nature, unites in his adorable character every attribute which can attract our veneration, or claim our confidence, or win our love, duty seems too cold a term to express the regards which are due towards him. But when we reflect, that He who formed us by his power, and blessed us by his goodness, left not the world he made to perish in its wilful apostacy, but purchased again his own creation by the blood of his dear Son, what language can adequately describe the feelings of glad obedience and grateful adoration, which should animate every child of this wise and gracious, insulted and indulgent Parent! Yet man, fallen unhappy man, can forget alike the obligations of duty and of gratitude! Thousands pass on from youth to age in willing servitude to every passion of their nature, and to every caprice of vanity and opinion; while they dread and fly from his authority whose service is perfect freedom. And what shall we say of the best of us? Submission, which should be but our first duty, is reckoned" amongst our highest attainments; and he is thought to be an advanced Christian, who is only not rebellious.
There was a time when submission to God was not counted among our burthens. In Eden, the seat of purity and joy, before sin had entered, and death by sin, our first parents walked gladly in the way their Maker had appointed them, happy in their mutual love, happy in a grateful adoration of Him who gave it, happy in that filial confidence which a sense of his perfections and of their own innocence inspired. To them, duty and enjoyment were one; the law of obedience was the path of peace. But they were tempted, and they fell. They fell, because they would be wiser than their Creator, and thought some better satisfaction might be found, by a breach of his holy commandments, than they had experienced in a cheerful submission to them. Such, at least, appears to have been the cause of their sad transgression, and such certainly is the history of a large part of the miserable adventures, in which their blind and unhappy offspring have ever since been engaged. God is their proper happiness. His redeeming mercy has opened to them again the gates of everlasting life. His law, holy and just, is the path that will conduct them thither: his dispensations, secret or manifest, gentle or corrective, are ready, like guardian angels, to watch over them, and lead them safely in the right way, or call them back when they are wandering from it. But God they know not. They know themselves, their appetites, and passions. They know the world abounding on every side with allurements to gratification; and though age after age has testified to its vanity, and parents have still transmitted to their children the history of their own
disappointments, the hopeless race is for ever renewed, and men follow after happiness in every direction, except that by which they might attain it.
Yet some there are, (in this happy land we may reasonably hope there are very many,) who by the mercy of God have been made sensible of the general error; and who feel that true good can only be found, by re-ascending towards that holy light, which cheered the blessed region whence our first parents wandered down into this land of shadows. These, surely, are deeply sensible of their own blindness ; they have lamented their past follies; they have felt the blessedness of drawing near to God as to their reconciled Father, and they desire above all things to be for ever subject to his guidance and government. Yes, certainly, these are their settled feelings, their deliberate wishes. Were it otherwise, how could they reasonably believe themselves to be led by the Spirit of truth? And yet, even among the truly pious, there are probably very few who always preserve an equal temper of mind amidst the changes and chances of this world. Some are agitated by their own distresses. Some are moved to surprize and grief at the afflictions which befal those who are most dear to them. And there are moments, perhaps (they should be only moments), when even the most experienced Christian, though he may bow with unresisting submission under the hand of God, can scarcely lift up an eye of gratitude, or kiss with filial love the rod that chastens him.
It is neither to be expected nor desired, that we should become insensible to our own sufferings, or to those of others. He who is fainting in pain or sickness, would think himself but mocked, by being told that he must throw aside his weakness, and rise superior to such infir
mities. Nor is it by any means the nature of true religion to diminish our tenderness towards others.
On the contrary, it opens the springs of every gentle feeling, and calls forth to new life and vigour every generous affection. Yet, notwithstanding this, it cannot be denied that we are far too apt to be dejected under the misfortunes which befal ourselves; and sometimes, perhaps, while our own sorrows are sustained with fortitude, we yield to an unbecoming grief for those whose happiness is very dear to us.
Indeed, an exemplary patience under the distresses of our friends, is not the first of virtues. Yet it is very possible that a feeling mind may be betrayed into the indulgence of a more vehement sorrow, or a more careful anxiety, for others, than is quite consistent with a spirit of filial resignation, from the generous nature of a sentiment which can be blameable only when it is excessive. The same principles, however, undoubtedly apply to the pains which we feel for others, and those which we suffer for ourselves; and the true Christian must endeavour, in both cases, to recollect by whom they are inflicted, and to cultivate that cheerful assurance of the paternal care and kindness of our heavenly Benefactor, which will reconcile us to every dispensation.
Submission to God, in its full extent, is by no means an act of simple obedience: it implies the union and exercise of many Christian graces. To submit, indeed, in the narrow sense of the word, is not a matter of choice to
of He who created heaven and earth by his word, and who wields the elements at his pleasure, will certainly not want the power to give effect to his own purposes.
As I live," saith the Lord, every knee shall bow. Yet there is a submission, to which God invites his creatures as their