« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
have done, the sins of his past life arise before him in sad remembrance. He wishes to exist after death, and yet dreads that existence. The Governor of the world is unknown. He cannot tell whether every endeavour to obtain his mercy may not be in vain. All is awful obscurity around him; and in the midst of endless doubts and perplexities, the trembling, reluctant soul, is forced away from the body. As the misfortunes of life must, to such a man, have been most.oppressive; so its end is bitter : his sun sets in a dark cloud; and the night of death closes over his head, full of misery. Blair.
6.-On the Enlargement of our Intellectual Powers.
From the right exercise of our intellectual powers, arises one of the chief sources of our happiness. The light of the sun is not so pleasant to the eye, as the light of knowledge to the mind. The gratifications of sense yield but a delusive charm compared with the intellectual joys of which we are susceptible. But these intellectual joys, however refined, are at present much interrupted. However wide the extent of human knowledge; however deep the researches of human wisdom; still it must be confessed, that in this life our faculties are exceedingly limited, and our views exceedingly confined. Light to us is every where mixed with darkness. Wherever we cast our eyes, or turn our thoughts, we are reminded of our ignorance; are liable to perpetual mistakes; and often fall into them even in our wisest pursuits. But when the day of immortality dawns, all this shall vanish: the incumbrance of flesh and blood shall no longer grieve us, nor the thick shades of ignorance ever more surround us. The happy spirit emancipated, and having left the spoils of mortality behind it, shall be able to comprehend, fully and at once, all the truths and objects which now either come but very partially within, or entirely escape its observation.
Here we are only children, bụt in heaven we shall arrive at the manhood of our being: and therefore we may justly infer, that the strength and vigour of our intellectual powers then, will surpass, at least, as much as what they are now, as the reason and judgment of a man exceed those of a child. But however this may be, certain we are, that the faculties with which we are at present blessed, and which are essential to our nature, shall be to a wonderful degree invigorated and improved. They shall be capable of taking in far more copious views, and abundantly larger emanations of God's excellence, nay, of tracing the hidden springs of his mysterious operations. The volumes of nature, of providence, and of redemption, shall be revealed : all the records both of time and eternity shall be opened and explained.
-We already know, in some measure, the charms of novelty, and feel the delight which arises from the contemplation of objects new, grand, and beautiful. Let us imagine then, if we can, the pleasing sensations we shall experience, the high transports we shall feel, when other and unseen worlds shall be disclosed to our view, and all the glories of the celestial paradise beam on our wondering eyes.--Such a felicity, even in prospect, enlarges the mind, and fills it with emotions which, while it feels, it cannot express,
And that our intellectual powers in a future state, shall really be thus amazingly enlarged, is not a matter of mere conjecture; it is what experience, and reason, and revelation lend their combined aid to confirm.—Experience teaches us that activity is essential to mind, and necessary to true enjoyment. Reason' tells us, that the acquisition of knowledge, particularly that which respects the works and the ways of the Most High, is the noblest exercise in which the active powers of the mind can be employed, and a source of the most refined enjoyment of which an intellectual being is capable.-And to confirm the dictates of reason, revelation assures us, that “ now we know only in part; but that hereafter that which is in part shall be done away ;--that now we see through a glass darkly; but that then we shall see God face to face, and know him even as also we are known.”—Blissful perfection! most amazing exaltation! While the men of the world walk in a vain show, and tire themselves in folly,- let us expatiate wide in the fields of wisdom, explore the traces of infinite Beauty, the impressions of celestial Majesty,
lose ourselves in the depths of umutterable grace, the knowledge of the adorable Jesus, and thus taste in time the pleasures of eternity.
7.-On a Future State. THE idea of another and a better world seems to be congenial to the human mind. It has been generally entertained in every age. The philosophers of ancient times, who had nothing but the dim light of nature to direct them, cherished the ennobling notion of immortal existence. Even the untutored savage, flatters himself with the pleasing prospect of being one day transported into happier regions, and anticipates the pleasure which he will there enjoy in the company of his fathers. All feel within themselves the pleasing hope, the fond desire, of immortality. But though Nature has given to all her children some conceptions of immortality ; still it must be acknowledged that her information is far from proving satisfactory. Hence we find the most eminent sages of the heathen world, even while desiring and hoping for such a state, confessing themselves unable to demonstrate its existence.--Doubtful and insecure were all their prospects. While towards futurity they bent their longing eyes, a thick cloud, impenetrable by unassisted reason, intercepted their view. But from this state of painful anxiety we, in these latter days, are happily relieved. To us immortal life is clearly revealed,-more clearly than it was even to those ancient worthies to whom God graciously revealed himself and committed his oracles. During the dispensation under which they lived, the prospect of a better world was afforded them ; but by dark and distant allusions. The city of God was seen only from afar ;-its glory was obscured by intervening shades. But by the gospel these shades are dispelled; the Sun of Righteousness has arisen : eternal objects brighten : heaven, with all its glory, opens to our eyes. There we behold the “ righteous,"—those who are justified by grace, and devoted to the service of their Saviour, adorned with all the holiness, filled with all the happiness, and clothed
with all the honour, which can be conferred upon their nature. Here they are as a city set upon a hill : they are the light of the world; but all this is not worthy to be named, when we think of what they shall be when they “ shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”—There sin and pain shall never enter: old things shall have passed away, and all things have become new. The happiness here enjoyed shall have every thing to increase, and nothing to diminish its value. In its nature, it shall be full and satisfactory; and as to its duration, it shall be lasting as eternity.
8.-On the Works and Attributes of the Almighty.
CONTEMPLATE the great scenes of nature, and accustom yourselves to connect them with the perfections of God. All vast and unmeasurable objects are fitted to impress the soul with awe. The mountain which rises above the neighbouring hills, and hides its head in the sky-the sounding, unfathomed, boundless deep--the expanse of heaven, where above and around no limit checks the wondering eye-these objects fill and elevate the mind—they produce a solemn frame of spirit, which accords with the sentiment of religion. From the contemplation of what is great and magnificent in nature, the soul rises to the Author of all, We think of the time which preceded the birth of the universe, when no being existed but God alone. While unnumbered systems arise in order before us, created by his
power, arranged by his wisdom, and filled with his presence the earth and the sea, with all that they contain, are hardly beheld amidst the immensity of his works. In the boundless subject the soul is lost. It is he who sitteth on the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers. He weigheth the mountains in scales. He taketh up the isles as a very little thing. Lord, what is man that thou art mindful of him!
The face of nature is sometimes clothed with terror. The tempest overturns the cedars of Lebanon, or discloses the secrets of the deep. The pestilence wastes the lightning consumes--the voice of the thunder is
heard on high. Let these appearances be connected with the power of God. These are the awful ministers of his kingdom. The Lord reigneth, let the people tremble. Who would not fear thee, O King of nations! By the greatness of thy power thine enemies are constrained to bow.
9.-On the Beauties of Nature. Pause for a while, ye travellers on the earth, to contemplate the universe in which you dwell, and the glory of him who created it. What a scene of wonders is here presented to your view! If beheld with a religious eye, what a temple for the worship of the Almighty! The earth is spread out before you, reposing amidst the desolation of winter, or clad in the verdure of the spring; --smiling in the beauty of summer, or loaded with autumnal fruit ;-opening to an endless variety of beings the treasures of their Maker's goodness, and ministering subsistence and comfort to every creature that lives. The heavens, also, declare the glory of the Lord. The sun cometh forth from his chambers to scatter the shades of night-inviting you to the renewal of your labours adorning the face of nature and, as he advances to his meridian brightness, cherishing every herb and every flower that springeth from the bosom of the earth. Nor, when he retires again from your view, doth he leave the Creator without a witness. He only hides his own splendour for a while to disclose to you a more glorious scene-to shew you the immensity of space filled with worlds unnumbered, that your imaginations may wander, without a limit, in the vast creation of God.
What a field is here opened for the exercise of every pious emotion! and how irresistibly do such contemplations as these awaken the sensibility of the soul ? Here is infinite power to impress you with awe-here is infinite wisdom to fill you with admiration-here is infinite goodness to call forth your gratitude and love. The correspondencc between these great objects and the affections of the human heart, is established by nature itself; and they need only to be placed before us, that every religious feeling may be excited, Moodie.