图书图片
PDF
ePub

'I WOULD NOT LIVE ALWAY.'

is doubtless our duty and our wisdom, how

ever painful the task may be, to wait with No passion has a firmer hold of the mind, patience, and perform our appointed work or retains its empire longer, than the lové with diligence and fidelity, until He who of life. Our present mode of existence has a right to dispose of us at his pleasure and operation is the only one with which shall grant us permission to quit our we are acquainted; and we are afraid to station, and enter on the enjoyment of venture ourselves in an unseen world, to that repose which is reserved as the rethe manners and relations of which 'the ward of faithful and unwearied labours. soul has not learned to attune itself. Our At all events, death is the greatest temnature, feeble as it now is, and bound to poral calamity which can befall us; and to the earth by a thousand tender ties, shrinks think of escaping from present misery, from dissolution, and feels alarmed at the which is seldom altogether intolerable, prospect of our being associated with be- and which, at the very worst, will soon ings who are not of this world, and whose pass over, by precipitating ourselves on powers, dispositions, and employments are | the unseen and awful realities of eternity, utterly unknown to us. Even when hardly | is the very paroxysm of daring and headable to support the burden of our own ex. long madness. Even to wish for death istence, we cling to life in spite of pain merely because we have been crossed in and misery, and in the agony of death the the world, because the stream of life does glazed eye closes with reluctance on the not glide so smoothly as we could desire, surrounding objects, and the arm that is is highly criminal, and argues a soul peerunstrung by the wrench of the king of ter- | ish and discontented, and in its present rors makes an effort to avert the stroke, state very unfit to quit its fleshly tenement, which in an instant would bring effectual however uncomfortable, and appear in the relief. When the common feelings of presence of its Judge. humanity are not repressed or counter We are not prepared to affirm that acted in their operation by supernatural Job's mind was properly exercised, and influence, the prospect of being immured under the benign influence of Christian in the mansions of the dead, with worms meekness and resignation, when he utand corruption for our companions, is for-tered the words, 'I would not live alway. lorn and dreary; and self-love, which He certainly was eminent above most of teaches us to regard ourselves as of great his contemporaries in piety and righteousimportance in the general system of being, ness, and had the testimony of God himsickens at the thought of our being cut off self, that there was none like him on the from the ways of men and shrouded in the earth. At this time he was smarting mantle of oblivion, as entirely forgotten under the most intense and complicated by a world once so dear to us as if we had afflictions that ever aggrieved a mortal never been.

man. His patience under these almost True indeed, there have been many hap insupportable sufferings has been comless and infatuated creatures, who, dejec mended by the pen of inspiration, and ted and depressed by the gloom of melan proposed as an example to future generacholy, disgusted with the world, and sick tions. And certainly, if his moaning was with a life which affords them nó pleasure, heavy, his stroke was heavier still. It have sought the grave as a retreat from cannot be denied, however, that his mind weariness and sorrow, and have longed for was too much chafed and irritated, and his the shadow of death, under the covert of desires for death appear to have flowed, whose darkness they might rest and be at partly, at least, from chagrin and fretfulpeace, beyond the fear of annoyance from ness, and not altogether from those views their own morbid feelings, or the rugged- and feelings by which the great apostle ness of a wayward destiny. In the frenzy was actuated when he declared that he of despair, or under the malignant influ- ' had a desire to depart and be with Christ, ence of unbounded pride and disappointed which is far better. Nevertheless, he was ambition, there have been many, who, in supported and solaced by the belief that despite of the voice of nature, the mandate his Redeemer lived, and by the hope that of Heaven, and the terrors of the world to his eyes should yet behold him in that come, have dared to become their own exe- place where pain and sorrow can never cutioners, and impiously to lift their hand enter. And though it should be a Chrisagainst that life which none but God could tian's meat and drink to do the will of his give, and which none but the Giver had a beavenly Father, and finish his work with right to take away.

unconstrained alacrity and uncomplaining This is the highest act of rebellion perseverance, doubtless it is his duty and against their Creator of which men are his privilege to be animated by the procapable, evincing at once a contempt of spects of glory and immortality which are his authority, and a defiance of his power set before him in the gospel, and to run and wrath. If our days are numbered, it his destined race with patience and cheer

fulness, because he knows that in due time nal change so complete, a revolution of he shall reach the goal. While his pre- views and sentiments and feelings so entire, sence on the field of labour and of war that the Scriptures designate it a new birth fare is needful for promoting his Saviour's and a new creation, and represent him as honour and the prosperity of his Church, inspired with new life, partaking of a no private consideration of personal ad-divine nature, and bearing the image of vantage should excite in his breast a wish his heavenly Father. After this renovato retire. But when the will of God is tion, the love of God becomes the regulating done, and the ends for which he was sent principle of his mind, and the reigning into the world are accomplished, surely affection of his heart, and his happiness death is a consummation devoutly to be chiefly consists in the unrestrained exercise wished. And that hope which irradiates and emanation of this divine affection, in its gloom should brighten as it approaches; connection with a sense and feeling of the and that faith which overcomes the world ineffable love which God bears to him. should wax stronger as the hour of victory This interchange of mutual affection in draws nigh.

great part constitutes that communion with We may mention a few of the reasons God which is the life and joy of the rewhy a Christian would not choose to live newed soul, and the perfection of this always, or which determine him to prefer communion' is the perfection of felicity. the life in heaven to the life on earth But though divine love be the predominant namely, the reasons which are within him, affection in a Christian's bosom, though around him, and above him.

the general and prevailing tendency of his There are many reasons within the heart be to God and holiness, still the good Christian, on account of which he would and the bad are sadly blended in his connot live always, or which determine him stitution, and temper, and exercise, and to prefer the future to the present life. the incessant jarring of discordant prin

Unless when under the influence of | ciples prevents the harmony of his soul, some gloomy passion, a bad man, we be- and not unfrequently renders it the seat lieve, never considers death as an event of painful and grating conflictions. And to be desired; yet were he to be assured, after all, his most successful endeavours on information satisfactory to his own after holiness are little more than painful mind, that his present mode of existence efforts to disentangle himself from the would never have an end, it is doubtful snares and the weight of sin. His mind whether his happiness upon the whole has been enlightened to perceive the beauty would not be diminished rather increased. and loveliness of holiness, and the deforEven under his present unavoidable con- mity and hatefulness of sin. His undervictions of the shortness and uncertainty standing approves of the divine law, and of time, he often complains that its wheels acquiesces in its purity. The moral permove heavily onward; and were he to be fections of the Divine character excite his assured that his years were to roll their esteem and veneration, and the sympathies tedious rounds to eternity, it is more than of his soul are in some measure attuned to probable that the very idea of the per- harmony with that justice and benevolence petuity of the dull recurrence would which preside over the interests of the l'ender his life a burden too heavy to universe. He knows that the God who be endured. As matters now stand, he created all things, and who upholds them usually considers death as an event so by the word of his power, surrounds him distant that it appears divested of its continually with his presence, and is most terrors, and does not prevent him from intimately acquainted with the deepest catching the pleasures of the passing day; secrets of his heart. He knows that God, nay, so indefinitely remote does it seem, who thus observes him and compasses that he regards himself immortal for thé him about, is of purer eyes than to behold present, and keeps himself easy for the iniquity, and cannot look on sin. How time being, leaving futurity to provide for sadly therefore must he be mortified and itself.

grieved when he feels that that abominable Were a good man to be told that this thing which is in direct contradiction to world was his everlasting home, his hope the nature and will of God, which his own would sicken into despair. In his mind understanding condemns and his heart and heart there are principles, and affec- detests, is interwoven with his very contions, and desires which connect him with stitution, and diffuses its vemon and imthe heavenly world, and the foul atmos- purity through every faculty and thought phere of this polluted earth is not the of his mind, and every action of his life! element in which these can live with How must he be cast down and humbled freedom, and extend with a vigour con- with the consideration, that his desires, genial to their celestial nature. By the and feelings, and disposition do not entirely agency of the Holy Spirit, through means harmonize with the Divine character, of the gospel, he has undergone an inter- which he loves and admires; and that his conduct does not coincide with the divine divine affection, and labours to push it law, of which his conscience has approved ; from its throne.' He therefore rejoices in that he is oftentimes actuated by passions anticipation of that final and perfect vicabhorrent to the nature of God, and sub- tory which the grace of God, which now versive of his government, and that some reigns within him, shall achieve over all degree of enmity and rebellion against the his earth-born affections,—when the smokSaviour, who died to rescue him from de- / ing flax shall be blown into a flame, which struction, still festers in his heart in spite through eternity shall mingle with seraphic of his prayers, and tears, and repentance. ardours in the pure element of perfect love. Even the great apostle of the Gentiles, He has now a joy and peace in believing who had obtained as complete a victory which the most violent gales of external over the unholy propensities of human adversity cannot disturb, and a serenity nature as ever saint obtained, whose mind of soul, arising from assurance of an intewas as thoroughly imbued with the spirit rest in the love of God, which settles in of his Divine Master as it is possible for placid tranquillity while the world around a mind to be in its sublunary state of im- him is agitated and deformed by tempests; prisonment and imperfection, lamented but from the misgivings of a timorous faith, bitterly over this state of internal discord, and the waverings of an unstable hope, and hailed with transports of delight thé he has often to complain that his views happy period when he hoped to be de- are so distorted and intercepted, that his livered from its disquietude, when those heavenly Father appears to frown upon seeds of depravity, whose growth he so him, and the evidences that his sins are earnestly laboured to repress, should be forgiven, and himself approved of as righfor ever plucked up by the roots. 'I de- teous, are so dim and defaced, that he is light,' says he, 'in the law of God after the unable to read them. He therefore longs inward man: but I see another law in to be freed from his present incumbrances, my members warring against the law of and to become an inhabitant of that place mind, and bringing me into captivity to where he shall behold his Saviour face to the law of sin which is in my members. | face, and be convinced, by the evidence of O wretched man that I am! who shall perception and intuition, that he is in the deliver me from the body of this death?' immediate presence of God, and that he

The Christian therefore considers death is the object of his entire approbation, as an event to be desired, because he and ineffable delight. He now enjoys knows that it will place him for ever be- sweet communion with God in the ordiyond the reach of sin and all its machina- nances of the gospel and the exercises of tions, and all those defects and disorders religion; but even in his happiest frames to which he is liable in this inferior stage | he has to lament that the damps of sin or of his existence, and which are inconsis- of bodily infirmity hang cold and heavy tent with the heavenly felicity,-because about him, repress the ardour of his devohe knows that he shall then be endowed, tion, and prevent it from attaining those in a glorious and transcendent degree, with sublime heights of rapturous ecstasy after those spiritual and heavenly qualifications which his soul aspires, and to which the which he now enjoys in a lower measure, infinite excellence of the object whom he and in whose exercise, though feeble and adores is calculated to elevate it. He obstructed, he experiences greater happi- therefore desires, with the apostle, to be ness than the world, with all its sorcery absent from the body, and in the appointed and fascination, can afford its misguided time to be released from the trammels votaries. He now delights in the law of which now entangle him, that his soul God after the inward man; but has to may glow and expand with the energy of abhor himself and repent in dust and angelic fervour; or rather, he looks forward ashes, because he perceives another law with emotions of delight to the period in his members warring against the law when this corruptible shall put on incorof his mind, and bringing him into cap- ruption, and this mortal shall put on imtivity to the law of sin. He therefore | mortality. looks forward with exultation to that. There are many reasons around the period when he shall be made perfect in Christian, on account of which he would that holiness which the law requires, and not choose to live always, or which deterhave his heart and life entirely under its mine him to prefer the future to the prebenignant influence, when his obedience sent life. The moral world is now in a will be complete, because his will shall state of disorder and confusion, which to retain no perversion, and his corruptions a Christian would be altogether intolerable, will be done away. He now feels himself | did he not believe that there will be a time constrained by the love of Christ which is hereafter when all will be rectified. What shed abroad in his heart, but has to is this world at present but a revolted prolament that some rebel passion still dis- vince, and the scene of a great and maligputes the empire of his soul with that nant rebellion against the God who made it? Here the prince of darkness has weight of glory-because he knows that erected his standard, and marshalled his in the pang which will break his heart will fernal legions against the King of heaven. be the last he shall ever feel-because he Those mighty and malicious spirits, being knows that it is the will of his father, that exiled from the realms of light, knowing through much tribulation he should enter that their doom is inevitable, and their the kingdom of heaven. perdition remediless, and burning with There are many reasons above the implacable resentment against their omni-Christian, on account of which he would potent Creator, are incessantly strug- not choose to live always, or which detergling, with an industry and perseverance mine him to prefer the future to the prewhich conscious impotence cannot slacken, sent life. It is said of the good man, that to derange his administration, and lay he is a stranger in the earth. A stranger waste the beauty of his dominions, or at passing through a foreign country to the least, to show that they hold his power in | land of his nativity, which contains all defiance, and hate him with a perfect that is dear to his heart, never thinks of hatred. The grand object of their ambi- taking up his permanent residence in the tion, in this their opposition to God, is to | country through which he travels. He defeat his gracious designs with regard to may, indeed, be pleased with the road, and mankind, and render them wicked and the entertainment and accommodation that miserable as themselves. For wise and he meets with in the course of his journey. holy reasons they are permitted to roam He may admire the general aspect of the at large through the world, and exert a place, the beauty of the scenery, the ferpowerful though invisible influence over tility of the soil, and the mildness and the children of men. Those demons, who salubrity of the climate. He may be thus go about as roaring lions, seeking charmed with the laws, customs, and whom they may devour, bend all their manners of the inhabitants, and the wisenergies against the Christian, and hunt dom and rectitude of their government. him with peculiar rancour and malevo- He may survey with a high degree of lence. They are enable to overcome him, joyous feeling, a smiling country, exhibitbecause he is strengthened by a power | ing on every part of its surface the traces superior to his own; yet they unceasingly of well-directed industry and liberal ecodog his steps, and pursue him with fiendish nomy, and teeming with a busy, enlightmalice to the very border of Immanuel's ened and happy population. Still he land. He therefore welcomes the ap contemplates the whole with the eye of a proach of death, because he knows that passenger, and moves onward with an beyond the vestibule of eternity they dare alacrity and impatience which increase not follow him, and that from the country as he approximates the home where he whose inhabitant he then becomes, they hopes to be hailed with the welcomes of are for ever excluded by a gulf which they his friends, and delighted with the endearcannot pass.

ments of reciprocal affection. Thus is it The Christian also considers death as with the Christian. To him this world is an event to be desired, because he knows a foreign land. He feels that he is a that it will release him from the pleasures stranger in it. His Father, his Redeemer, of the world. His religion does not dis- his friends, his home, and his inheritance, qualify him for relishing innocent plea- / are all above, and there also are his heart sures and rational amusements; yet he and affections. His God and Father is finds that even these, unless zealously re- | in heaven. strained within the bounds of exact model Jesus Christ is also in heaven, and ration, tend to relax the vigour of his therefore the Christian welcomes the appiety, and put his mind into such a state proach of death, because he knows that it of levity as is hardly compatible with the will introduce him into the immediate enjoyment of communion with God. He presence of his Redeemer-because he therefore welcomes the approach of death, knows that when he shall leave this world because he knows that it will place him of dreams and shadows, and awake into beyond the reach of temptation, and intro- that bright world of spirits, he shall see duce him to pleasures, in the enjoyment his Saviour face to face, in all his exalted of which excess and satiety are alike im. glories, and be with Him where He is. possible.

according to his own prayer, and his own He regards death as a desirable event, promise. 'In my Father's house are because he knows that it will release him many mansions : if it were not so, I would from the sorrows of the world. No afflic have told you. I go to prepare a place tion for the present is joyous, but grievous, for you. And if I go and prepare a place and the Christian endures it with patience for you, I will come again, and receive and fortitude, only because his light afflic- you to myself, that where I am, there ye tion, which is but for a moment, worketh | may be also. for him a far more exceeding and eternal | The Christian regards death as a desirbreak bis word, and act contrary to his own not be purchased, for it is infinitely above solemn declarations. He has summed all price, nor will he sell his favours. It up the law by which you will be tried, cannot be merited; for the best merit noin the two great commands which enjoin thing but destruction. It must come as a it upon us to love God with all our hearts, free gift. But to whom will it be given ? and our neighbour as ourselves. Now, | I answer, It is freely and unconditionally even though we should allow, what we pre offered to all who will accept it by faith. sume none of you will pretend, that you None, however, will ever accept it, but have, through life, perfectly obeyed this those who see that they have no righteouslatter command, and loved your neighbourness of their own to plead. None will acas yourselves; yet, you would still be con- cept it but those who are truly convinced, demned for neglecting to love God with that they have never performed a good all your hearts. The performance of all action, uttered a good word, or exercised the duties which you owe to your fellow one good affection. Hence our Saviour creatures, can make no atonement for informs us, that publicans and harlots, neglecting the far more important duties the very refuse of society, will sooner enter which you owe to your God; for as our the kingdom of heaven, than those, who, Saviour has said, in a similar case, these like the Pharisees, trust in themselves that ought ye to have done, and not to have they are righteous. left the other undone.' If, therefore, we should even allow the truth of all your pleas, you would still be found guilty, when weighed in the balance of the sanc THE PHILOSOPHY OF SACRED tuary, of wanting that perfect love to God,

HISTORY which the divine law inflexibly requires of all who seek to be justified by its works. The TIMES OF THE MESSIAH.-No. III.

Perhaps some may be found who will say, Notwithstanding, still our hope re

The Dawn of Philosophy in the West. mains unshaken ; for we have both piety THE philosophy of the West was eviand morality. We not only deal justly, dently intended to accomplish a certain and love mercy, as it respects our fellow-end, but as this is generally overlooked, creatures, but also walk humbly with our its influence and use are frequently underGod. We do not make the performance rated. It was well said by Augustine, that of our duties to men an excuse for neglect- God never intended to enlighten the ing our duties to God; nor, on the other world, or to reclaim men from idolatry, hand, do we consider the discharging of by these philosophers. This work was our duty to God as an excuse for neglect- | reserved for a better faith, more favouring our duties to men; but we carefully able times, and other men. The tendency attend to both.

of that philosophy was to foster doubt But still if you have nothing more than rather than faith, and to destroy error this, you want many things.

rather than to establish truth. Its cold You want that new heart, without which and cloudy light came like a withering no man can see the kingdom of God. You frost on the rank superstition of the times; want that faith, without which you must and as the frost that freezes the weed is be condemned. You want that repentance, as really the breath of heaven as the without which you must inevitably perish. breeze that fans the flower, we regard You want that holiness, without which no the West at this period, not as a barren man shall see the Lord.

field, but as fallow ground, preparing for But you will say, If this be the case, a future spring, a better seed, and a more then all will be found wanting; for the abundant harvest. It is in this light that Scriptures assure us, that there is not a we purpose to look at the history of philojust man on earth, who doeth good and sophy, in order to show that in the wissinneth not. True, by the law of God we dom of God, after the world by wisdom are all found wanting. We have all sinned, knew not God, it pleased him, by the and the whole world has become guilty be foolishness of preaching, to save them fore God. We are all children of wrath, that believe.' and are "already under condemnation. Ancient philosophy had its youth, its Do you ask, Who then will be saved ? manhood, and its old age. Its youth bewho will not be found wanting? I answer, gins about the time of Thales, and lasts those, and those only, who can bring and till that of Socrates; that is, from the place in the balance the righteousness of year 600 to 400 B.C. This period comprethe Lord Jesus Christ. This is a perfect hends the three primary schools, which righteousness, without spot or blemish. were named after the countries of their

But here an important question arises : founders--the Ionian, the Italian, and the How may an interest in the righteousness | Eleatic schools. Its manhood lasts from of Christ be obtained ? I answer, it can- | the time of Socrates to that of Epicurus;

« 上一页继续 »