« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
ing intellect of youth, and the frivolous pursuits of youth are disregarded, as exhausted cisterns, by the maturity
There is one more view of their inadequacy which still remains to be noticed. We are born to change. We “know not what a day may bring forth :" and while there is manifestly a want of pliancy in these inferior blessings to meet certain states of mind, there will be a still more impressive illustration of this truth in the future changes of our being. Mortality is the lot of all. “One generation goeth, and another cometh.” “ The spirit of man goeth upward.” The day of death severs every earthly connexion, and enshrouds the scenes of carnal pleasure in eternal darkness. Then, indeed, the spirit will want something more. It will require the friendship of Christ; the sense of pardon; the favour of God. It must enter upon the realities of an eternal state; and unless it enjoy an interest in the blessings of the gospel, its doom is irrecoverable wretchedness and despair.
Another reason why supreme anxiety about these things should be relinquished is,
III. The uncertainty which always attends them. This is so proverbial that any illustration may be considered superfluous. Every one must have observed, and many have painfully experienced, what are generally termed
reverses of fortune.” This has been the history of all ages; it is the lot of humanity. The eminent patriarch, who was as signal for his patience as for his vast possessions, beheld himself stripped, bereaved, and afflicted in a series of sudden and desolating trials. The throne is no bulwark against the invasion of trouble, since David was expelled from it by the unnatural rebellion of his and made a pensioner on the hospitality of Barzillai.
To say that many who once enjoyed the luxury which opulence can always command, are now impoverished, neglected, and forgotten, is a remark so trite that it appears to have lost all the force of truth.
That which has happened to others may happen to ourselves; and no one can shelter himself from the common liabilities of our present existence. Riches,” said the king of Israel, “ certainly make to themselves wings, and fly away as an eagle towards heaven.”
Since, then, an undivided pursuit of earthly good inverts the established order of things, and since its enjoyment is avowedly inadequate, and always uncertain,-it becomes us now to address ourselves to the cheering task of pointing
out a way in which the deficiencies of earth may be made up from a higher source, and the lawful enjoyments of this life rendered coincident with “ that which is to come.”
It is well that on such a subject we can avail ourselves of the guidance of Infinite Wisdom; and if you inquire after an object you may safely pursue, we reply in the language of Christ, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you," Matt. vi. 33. This, then, is alone worthy of your supreme anxiety; and as it has been provided to meet human wants, is commended by the highest authority, and secures the largest amount of good; it deserves that the energies now expended on the world should be employed in its attainment. It is to be sought under the conviction that without the favour of God all inferior good is a wretched substitute for happiness, and can only be obtained by a submission to the prescribed mode of reconciliation through Christ. This search will be marked " by repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ;” nor can we specify a brighter proof of the benevolence of God than the law which renders the enjoyment of his smile dependent upon the rejection of our worst enemy. Sorrow for sin, a resolution to forsake it, and simple faith in Christ, are the unchangeable pre-requisites for entrance into this kingdom. “ Marvel not,” replied Jesus to an inquirer, “ that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” When this change is experienced, the principle of love will exert itself in evangelical obedience, and the first question proposed by those who
pass from darkness into light will be, " Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?” Acts ix. 6. It will lead us to seek the advancement of the Divine honour, to expect and find our best enjoyments in conformity to the will of God, and by consulting his glory first, tranquilly to resign to his paternal care the management of our temporal affairs. It will secure patience in adversity; and in prosperity it will insure moderation and gratitude. It can make us happy without wealth, or enable us to use it aright.
'Thus will the interests of the soul be secured, and the bounties of Divine Providence will, where they are enjoyed, conduct us to their Author; and by being always considered in the light of servants, they will neither be allowed to usurp that regard nor engross that love due to God alone. We are taught to discriminate between sullen unthankfulness in the reception of blessings, and an idolatrous devotion to them, and to bestow our principal regard upon treasures which the changes of earth cannot affect. Matt: vi. 19-21.
The extent and suitability of the provisions set before you in the gospel should incite to immediate effort, and especially as they have been procured by the sufferings and death of Jesus. They are unspeakably valuable and indispensably necessary to human happiness, accessible to rich and poor, and offered with all the freeness of infinite compassion. While crowds are saying, “ Who will show us any good ?" the holy Scriptures reply to the universal question, “ Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat, yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price. Wherefore should ye spend your money for that which is not bread, and labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness," Isa. lv. 1, 2. To such substantial happiness does the Bible invite you. It does not forbid a proper enjoyment of temporal favours; it does not relax our obligation to industry, economy, and honesty; but teaches us to use the things of the world in'strict subserviency to the will of God. It demands some sacrifice, but proposes a glorious compensation; and, while to the believer it abounds in promises of all needful good in time, leads him to anticipate“ an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away."
Whatever, therefore, may be the sad confession of the dying voluptuary, this shall be the rejoicing assurance of the follower of Christ, “ All is not vanity and vexation of spirit.”
" I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he will keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” In that day when the ancient heavens shall vanish, and the earth shall be burnt up, he may exult in the safety and permanence of his heavenly reward. He will then escape the public charge of enmity against God, and will avoid the anguish of being taught the value of salvation by its loss. “ For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?" Mark viii. 36.
He shall say,
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY,
27, RED LION SQUARE.
J. & W. Rider, Printers, Bartholomew Close, London.