Page images
PDF
EPUB

while we do not shrink from all that God abhors. It is very easy for one who is of a generous nature to keep away from those who are mean and niggardly; for one of a high and active understanding to despise the grossness and lowness which accompany ignorance and folly. But if the generous person, while he avoids the company of the mean and low spirited, has no such objection to the sensual or the extravagant; if the strong understanding, while it revolts from the low vices of ignorance, has no distaste for those who unite with great abilities and knowledge an indifference for the service of God, then we are but pleasing ourselves in what we like, and in what we dislike; we are not trying to please God. But his is a true and sincere love of God, who, passing by all else in a character, whether it be of good or of evil, merely asks whether there be contained in it the one thing needful. Infinite, indeed, are our differences of taste and of knowledge. Rudeness and coarseness may pain us, ignorance may disgust us; but let us strive to find out Christ's mark, and, wherever found, to love it; to think that as our neighbour has his imperfections, so have we ours; that these may be as painful to him as his to us; but that both his and ours have been washed away in the sight of God in the same most precious blood, and that what God will not condemn in his judgment, we ought to forgive in ours. It

is indeed a grievous thing to know and to feel how many good men are divided from one another by trifling differences, not of opinion only, but of temper, of taste, and of manner. It is a fault which besets us all; one of the last, perhaps, which our nature, ripening into Christ's full resemblance, can cast away. But as our faith becomes stronger, as Christ becomes more and more to us our all in all, as eternity seems more real and more enduring, and as earth and earthly things dwindle into their proper proportions, then our eye fixes upon the one pearl of great price which is to be discerned on our neighbour's breast; and although it be not set off by the other parts of his dress, nay, though its lustre be somewhat obscured by their poverty, still it is the seal of Christ's Spirit, the pledge that he who wears it shall be our companion for ever, that our ears shall drink in together, our voices eternally join in the same hymns of praise, our eyes and hearts and perfected spirits for ever repose in the incomprehensible communion of the same God and Saviour. And not less grievous is it, that for the love of any perishable thing we should be drawn closely to him who loves not Christ. Our tastes may be the same, our knowledge kindred, our faculties alike vigorous, our prevailing feelings towards earthly things may all beat in harmony. But all these things must be destroyed; and where is the pledge

that we shall with equal joy awake to the call of His trump, who shall bid the dead arise ? Be that our only bond of friendship, the only communion which our souls shall thoroughly acknowledge. All else is but the slight acquaintance formed on a journey, with one who is to part from us at the next town to meet us no more. Whoso loves Christ, may we love him to the death, in spite of unkindness, in spite of all differences of earthly tastes and opinions; for the hour will come when all these things shall pass away. Whoso loves not Christ, and Christ's Spirit, may our hearts shrink from him evermore, in spite of all sympathy in our pursuits of worldly things; for our paths are wide asunder as the most infinite distances. We are of the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and he is of the children of the wicked one.

RUGBY CHAPEL,

May 5th, 1833.

SERMON V.

SUFFERINGS OF THE ISRAELITES.

DEUTERONOMY, xxviii. 67.

In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even ! and

at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.

THESE words are taken from the chapter which was read as the first lesson for the morning service on Wednesday last. It was not chosen on purpose, for there are no proper lessons for Ash Wednesday ; but it is the regular lesson in the calendar for the seventh day of March ; and as Ash Wednesday happened to fall on that day, so this chapter was read accordingly. Yet, had it been intentionally fixed upon, it could not have suited the service better. In particular, it well agrees with the Commination service, which warns us against falling under the wrath of God for our many and

various sins. This chapter is, indeed, an awful commination: it threatens the Israelites with every conceivable evil, if they departed from serving the Lord their God; it leaves them absolutely without hope, unless they turned with all their hearts, and repented them of their disobedience.

It is impossible, I think, to read or to hear this chapter, without being deeply struck by it. It speaks to the Israelites, before they were yet entered into the land of Canaan, to forewarn them lest they should be cast out of it. Amidst all the signs and wonders which God had been showing in their behalf, they were taught to look for a time when neither miracle nor prophet would be vouchsafed to them, when God would be as closely hidden from them, as his power was now manifestly revealed to do them good. As if, too, warning were far more required than encouragement, we find that the blessings promised for obedience bear a small proportion in point of length to the curses denounced against disobedience. So the Israelites entered Canaan, and took the lands of the heathen into possession, not without much to sober their pride, and to make them not high-minded, but fear. As when Solomon built his temple, and when Hezekiah showed all its treasures to the messengers of the king of Babylon, there was ever a warning voice mingling with the sounds of pride and selfcongratulation, there was always something to check

« PreviousContinue »