« PreviousContinue »
a gulf as impassable and profound divides the state of
Isin from the state of grace; and that no quantity nor quality of good works that we may attempt to throw in, can form a passage for our guilty feet. Rubbish at the best! how are they lost in its unfathomed depths! lost like the stones which travelers in Iceland fling into those black, yawning, volcanic chasms, which descend so deep into the fiery bowels of that burning land, that no line can measure, and time never fills them. Yet, blessed be Christ's name! the great gulf has been bridged. Redemption, through his blood and merits, spans the yawning chasm. An open way invites your feet. And would to God we saw men seizing that opening and opportunity of escape, as a retreating army makes for the bridge when bayonets are bristling on the heights, and the shot is plunging amid its disordered ranks, and clouds of cavalry are cutting down the stragglers! Oh, what diligence, what activity, what energy, what shouts and cries for help in such a crisis, such a terrific scene! They cast away their baggage ; everything is sacrificed for life. Husbands dragging on their wives, fathers carrying helpless children, brother raising up wounded brother, the cry of all is for the bridge, the bridge! And as the iron hail rattles among their flying squadrons, save where the rear-guard faces round to the enemy and gallantly covers the retreat, every man forces on his way; until, the living wave surging on it, the bridge is choked with eager fugitives. Who thinks of sitting down there, and waiting a more convenient season, waiting till the press and crowd is over? They may envy the bird that, frightened from her brood, darts through the sulphureous cloud, and wings her rapid way high over the swollen flood, but who sits down there in the idle hope that God will send some eagle from her rocky nest, some angel from the skies, to bear the loiterer across, and save him all effort of his own? No man. Every man is on his feet. He throws himself into the crowd; seizes every opening in the dense, desperate, maddened throng, to get forward; nor relaxes the strain of his utmost efforts, till he stand in safety on the other side—blessing the man that bridged the stream.
Is not God, it may be said, sovereign and omnipotent? As such, does he not sometimes save those who are not seeking to be saved? and even send them back from church to pray who came to scoff? True. He may set aside the ordinary laws of grace, as he set aside the ordinary laws of nature, when at his bidding iron swam, and flames were cool, and the flinty rock yielded drink, and the blue skies gave not dews but corn, and unstable water stood up in solid walls like adamant. But be it ever remembered, that in the ordinary course of his providence, God works in grace as in nature. To use a common but expressive adage, God helps the man who helps himself. Even the young bird chips its own shell, and I have heard its voice in a feeble cry for liberty before it had burst its prison walls; and what violent exertions have I seen an insect—about to enter on a new existence—make to shuffle off its worm case, and come forth in resplendent beauty to spend happy days in sunbeams, and sleep away the short summer nights in the soft bosom of a flower. Instinct teaches the lowest of God's creatures to exert themselves ; and providence teaches man, in the common affairs of life, to exert himself. Tjkejblessing is on the busy. He reaj 8 a harvest who tills his field; and sickles flash, and sheaves stand thick where the ploughs have gone. The history even of Christ's miracles is pregnant with the same lesson. Who were the lame he healed, but those who painfully crawled to him on their knees, or crept to him on crutches, or got kind friends to bear them on beds and break through house-roofs, that they might get near the Saviour? Who were the blind whose eyes he opened, but those whose hearts leaped within them, and who leaped to their feet when, by the hum and rush of the crowd, they knew that the Saviour was passing? Be these your pattern. Allow no difficulties about this or that doctrine to hinder you from giving immediate attention and earnest obedience to these plain commandments, Pray without ceasing, Labour for the bread that never perisheth, Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure, Take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Why is it that many, that perhaps you, are not saved? Will the Lord cast off for ever; and will he be favorable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Is heaven full? Is there no room for more? Or, has the blood of Christ lost its efficacy, or God his pity? No. It is miserable to see how carefully gold and jewels are preserved, while souls are thrown away, as of no value. Men are not saved; but why? They will give themselves no trouble—take no pains to be saved. This change is indeed a birth; but remember that it is not like the birth of the body —the pangs there are all the mother's. This change is a translation, but forget not that it is not such as Elijah's, when that deathless man had only to step into the chariot, and angels shook the reins, and horses of fire whirled him at his ease through the skies to heaven. I am persuaded that there would be many more saved, if fewer of us abused the doctrines of man's depravity, and God's free, sovereign, saving grace. It is the gospel, that Without shedding of blood there is no remission; it is the gospel, that Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God; it is the gospel, that Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; but remember, I pray you, that, according to the same gospel, those who receive are they who ask, and those who find are they who seek. It is to the knocking hand that the door is opened,
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.—Colossians L 14.
One who had been a great traveler, who had visited all the capitals of Europe, who had studied the most famous wonders of ancient art, and, no stranger to nature's grandest scenery in the Old World, had filled his ear with the roar, and his eye with the foaming cataract of Niagara, once declared, in my hearing, that near by the latter and most glorious spectacle he had seen the finest sight he ever saw. He was crossing from the American to the Canadian shore; and the same boat was carrying over a fugitive slave. The slave had burst his chain, and fled. Guided northwards by the pole-star, he had threaded his way through tangled forests and the poisonous swamp—outstripping the blood-hounds that bayed behind him, and followed long upon his track. Now about to realize his long-cherished and fondest hopes, to gratify his burning thirst for liberty, the swarthy negro stood in the bow of the boat, his large black eyes intently fixed upon the shore. She nears it. But ere her keel has grated on the strand, impatient to be free, he gathers up all his strength bends for the spring, and, vaulting into the air, by one mighty bound, one glorious leap for liberty, he reaches the shore, and stands erect upon its bank—a free man.
The liberty for which the slave longed, and labored,