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4. One thing more. After all, law and penalty are not their own. Something lies back of them, from which they originated. They are only indications of an unseen disposition and will. If man could find, (as he cannot,) among the common works and visible governing of God, any argument to show that a sinner may escape the announced penalty of law, or exhaust it; all that would not be enough to answer a sinner's purpose. A worldly mind may not feel it, but a spiritual mind certainly will, when we affirm, that a creature like man wants something more than reconciliation to law, and the husbing up of his quarrel with it: he needs reconciliation to God, and the establishment of a filial and affectionate intercourse with him. Human sentiments follow the unworthy beyond the spot where the penalties of human law leave them. Men are not accustomed to welcome dismissed convicts into their families, and make them their bosom companions, just as if no stain were upon them, and would not attach to themselves, if found in the heart-intimacy of their fellowship. In the exercise of Christian virtue you may forgive an enemy, and love him; but it must be the height of that' virtue indeed, and nothing but copying Christ will bring you to it, if you receive him into your intimacy, and treat him the same as if he had never done you an injustice. A sinner does not want mere freedom, he wants friendship. He does not merely want God to let him go, not visited in vengeance; he wants God to take him back, and spread around him the arms of an everlasting love. He needs God to forgive him ; and then, beyond that, he needs God to love him. As a creature of tastes, sentiments and sensibilities, as a being of heart, as a weak and frail child whose wants and fears are many, and many of which words can never explain nor economies provide for, he wants a Father to flee to when the storm is rising, and the death-bed spreading, and the opening portals of eternity are disclosing to him the “great white throne," and the destinies beyond it. Even here, much of our felicity depends upon our fellowship. The best of it does. To love and esteen others, and aim to do them good; and to be esteemed of them in return, and have THIRD SERIES, VOL. II. NO. IV.
ground of confidence in their disposition to do us good, is the source of many of our joys. Mingling hearts are necessary to our felicity. In the other world we shall meet God. We are sinners unworthy and vile. Will he meet us, as a Friend and a Father, and introduce us into the fellowship of his heart and his heavens? Will he love us? What tells us so ? Where is the trustful demonstration of it? Nowhere, except in Calvary's cross, and Calvary's Victim! There is a new and peculiar work of God. There I see something, beyond nature, beyond law, beyond reason--the heart-work of that Infinite One, who has now demonstrated to me the thing I wanted, that God infinitely loves sinners! Oh! I see, he is infinitely in earnest to save them! I see, he is a Father still. I am not more guilty than he is good. His heart is open to me.
His Son dead—the devil baffled the tomb opened—the heavens pouring down the spirit of holiness and love; these new works, all of them works of an infinite compassion and love, demonstrate to me, that in the heart of God Most High there is still a place for the love of his unworthy child. I could not do without this demonstration. My heart needs it. My fears, my weaknesses, my sensibilities to needed friendship and fellowship with my God, as his forgiven and cherished child, need it. I see now that my God and my Saviour have done for me something more than merely consent to let me escape. The curse, listed off from me, has been borne by another. Infinite love has suffered for me, and the suffering has shown me this glorious truth, needful to raise my heart's confidence, tenderness, and delight; that this sacrificing God is something more than a governor, and in the blood of everlasting love is willing to write his name,
“My Father, and my Friend." This is enough—enough for God to do, and for me to ask of him. His heart is demonstrated to me, and I rush into bis arms.
The views which we have here presented, have by no means exhausted the subject, but we must break off in the middle. We trust that they will substantially accord with the views of all the truly pious, and that such will recognize in them some faint traces, at least, of their own experience.
This subject is one of vital moment. It was needful that Christ should suffer; and it is needful that any sinner, to be saved, should take Christ for his Saviour on the ground of his suffering, and thus meet God where God proposes to meet him.
And if it were in our power to gather together all the unconverted readers of this paper, and might speak to them on this vital matter, we would employ the following language: You who stand aloof from this new work of God, this suffering Christ, would do well to consider, that you have nothing to stand upon. Nature gives you nothing-reason nothing-law nothing. The ground which you imagine to be so firm beneath you, will give way under your feet; and if you do not meet God in this way of a gracious redemption, you will sink and perish for ever! He is better than you think him. We charge your unbelief with the sin of dishonouring his character and his love. He is better than this earth and these visible heavens proclaim him; and you will never believe in him and feel towards him as you ought, till you take him at his word, and close in with this peculiar and unparalleled work of his redeeming transactions. Why will ye die ? God has been in earnest to save you. Christ was in earnest when he came from heaven to the crucifixion. The Holy Spirit is in earnest when you are compelled to tremble in view of the distance which separates between you and God. Turn ye to the strongholds, ye prisoners of hope.
And could we address the readers of this paper who believe that they have found reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ, we would say to them: As Christians you are in a new state, and ought to have new sentiments. Jesus Christ is your life." You profess to meet God not on the ground of nature, but on that of grace. You need faith at every step. You need a heart to believe in the love of God for sinners; such a love as all bis worlds, and all his works, save one, could never demonstrate. Have you got it? As a communicant, when you lift the cup, can you rest on the covenant ? Can you look up to heaven and say, Christ died for sinners, and I drink this cup, taking God at his own proposal for my guilty soul; I humbly believe in his love; I trust in the blood of his Son; nothing, nothing but Christ for me; here I give my heart to the God of an infinite mercy and infinite redemption, and meet the demonstration of his love with the humble requital of my own? If our readers, with all godly sincerity, can say this, they have good ground to hope that through a merciful and faithful High Priest, they will yet see the glory of God, and enjoy his presence in heaven.
THE ANCIENT IDEA OF
By Rev. ALEXANDER YERRINGTON, East Windsor, Ct.
All nations have entertained some ideas respecting the existence of the soul in a future state. These ideas, which have differed in some respects, corresponding in a measure with the intellectual character and cultivation of those that have entertained them, we purpose to notice, taking the sixth book of the Æneid as our standard of comparison.
The first thing which will demand our attention, in an attempt of this kind, is the local habitation of the dead. This was supposed to be deep in the earth, as far removed from the surface as the latter from the firmament above, dark and gloomy, shut out entirely from day and the light of the sun. A minute description of this place, according to the ideas entertained by the Romans in his time, is given by Virgil. Darkness broods over it; walking in it is like walking by the faint glimmering light of the new moon, when it is every now and then obscured by clouds. Upon the confines of this, old
Pluto's dusky realm, clothed with a kind of aeriform body, are the various calamities which befall mankind. There sit Sorrow, and vengeful Remorse ; here dwell wan Disease and morose Old Age; here Fear and evil-persuading Famine and squalid Poverty_forms terrible to behold; here, too, dwell Toil, Death, and Sleep, his brother; while over against them is pernicious War, and the iron heels of the Furies; and frantic Discord, with locks of vipers. In the midst of this locality, a great aged elm throws out its huge arms, upon whose leaves perch delusive dreams. Within the shadow of this dream-tree are found many spectres of savage beaststhe Centaur, a monster half man and half horse ; the doubleformed Scylla ; the old hundred-handed giant, Briareus; the seven-headed, or, as some have it, fifty-headed Snake, which Hercules slew; the Gorgon and the filthy Harpy. All these monsters occupy what may be called the vestibule of the infernal regions. Separating this vestibule from the main part of the lower world, is that terror of the ghosts, the river Styx, and upon its bank, the inexorable old ferryman Charon, ready to convey over those who are buried, but sternly repelling all others, until they have wandered about a hundred years. The first object which meets the eye after passing the river, is the old three-headed dog Cerberus, with all his mouths wide open. The borders of this interior of Hades are occupied by three classes of the dead—the first, infants, whose wailings are continually heard ; the second, those put to death wrongfully, and by an unjust sentence; and the third, those who, innocent in other respects, commit suicide, and who would most gladly return to life, but that the odious Stys, nine times flowing round, prevents. Not far from these, in a forest of myrtle, are the retired haunts and walks of deceased lovers ; and beyond these the ghosts of warriors. Farther on still, upon the left, is Tartarus, with its walls of adamant, which neither men por gods can demolish, and with the Alaming river Phlegethon flowing around these walls; and upon the right, Elysium, with its flowery fields and sunny skies. Within the former are confined the Titans, or giants who had