« PreviousContinue »
Saviour, “that doeth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth, cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God." There is in fact, no class of men, so cordially despised, and hated, by impenitent sinners; and none whose characters they seek more earnestly to vilify and destroy. The whole tribe of blasphemers, liars, drunkards, unclean wretches, and fraudulent persons, receive not half the abuse, nor are half so cordially detested as are the faithful ministers of Christ, who testify against men's sins, and call upon them to REPENT, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. But with such, the blessed Saviour hath identified himself, declaring whoso despiseth you, despiseth me.
3. To these facts, innumerable others might be added, evincive of the same thing, that men are, by nature, enemies of God. We advert to their dislike of serious and fervent prayer, and of religious meditation and conversation. The theatre and ball room, the novel and the play, attract attention, and furnish delight. But nothing in their eyes can be more sickening or disgusting, than a prayer meeting. The exercise of prayer, has nothing attractive to the impenitent sinner. He may read, or recite, or frame a prayer, to keep his conscience at ease, or to relieve the burden of his self-reproach; but the going forth of the heart to God, in secret unrestrained delighted communion with Him, is a thing to which they are utter strangers. No altar is reared in their house. No morning and evening incense is offered at the domestic shrine. The closet is unfrequented. The public prayers of the church are tedious, and the minister who transgresses for fifteen or twenty minutes, in this delightful employment, is sure lo receive censure, and be pronounced a pharisee, or accu
sed of having, by such conduct disgusted them with religion, and prevented them, perhaps, from frequenting the house of God. To meet, in some retired spot, for the purpose of social prayer, and spend an hour in christian conference, in the estimation of many, betokens derangement or weakness of mind, or infatuation.
The avocations of business, the interests of the family, and a thousand other things are accounted of far more importance with many;
and they are never at a loss for some excuse, in withdrawing from the fellowship of the saints. “Behold, what a weariness is it,” are they ready to exclaim. Few things seem half so fatiguing and disgusting as the dull monotony of some simple honest soul, that pours out its prayers and praises to God. And why so?-how could there be such aversion from prayer and religious exercises, if the heart was not averse from God !
Prayer ardent opens Heaven, lets down a stream,
of man, in audience with the Diety. Assuredly if there was not a cordial aversion from Ilim, on the part of men, prayer would minister to their delight. It is their hatred of God and of divine things, that makes religious worship so irksome and disgusting, especially where there is nothing in the outward forms, attractive, or imposing to sense. Why clse, if they did not hate God, would they be so ready to raise the cry of fanaticism and enthusiasm, against those whose hearts are imbued with the spirit of prayer, and whose spiritual conversation shew that they feel the truth and force of what they profess to believe? Why else, would it be, that God is not in all their thoughts?—That they find no delight in the meditating on the glories of his being, and the truths of His word? Why else would their business, their pleasures, their friends, their houses, their lands, their funds, their families, anything and every thing but God, and his Christ, find such a welcome place in their hearts? Why else, should the lustful song, the lewd lascivious jest, and ribaldrous profanity, be more pleasing than a conversation about the state of their souls? Why else should the blessed Jesus stand knocking and pleading in vain to gain admisssion to their hearts? Why else should they reject such a friend, disobey the solemn command of God, take part with all their sins against a dying Saviour, give the lie direct to a God of truth, and crucify afresh the Lord of glory? Ah sinner, the secret is told against you. It can be concealed no longer. Jesus saith of a wicked and impenitent world, “ME IT HATETH.” This resolves all the mystery of your conduct, and this it is which creates all the obstacles in the way of your conversion. Charge not your impenitence on any constitutional depravity, wrought into the substance of your being-nor lay the blame of your rebellion upon the purpose and agency of God. Your sin and depravity lie at your own door. The world and its joys hold your hearts. You bestow on them your affections, purposes and cares, and they are sinking you deeper and deeper in the pit of perdition. You have commenced an inquitous course. Unless you repent, and give to God the thoughts, and affections, and cares, which you now bestow upon the world, eternity shall but sink you deeper and deeper in crime:
Beneath the lowest deep, a lower deep,
It is in the character of your own mental acts, and exercises, that you are to trace the proofs and workings of your own depravity. As to any thing which lies back of these things, as it is impervious to human view, imperceptible by human sense, beyond the sphere of consciousness, and utterly incapable of being subjected to investigation or anal
ysis, you know nothing. You need not think to lay the blame there. As well might you do it in reference to bone and muscle, flesh and sinews, and say that they, in themselves, are sin, as to resolve the guilt of your own voluntary acts into the essence and constitution of
your bea ing. You are conscious of various acts and affections, and that you possess a power to restrain and regulate them, For the exercise of this power, you are held responsible, and will be judged.' And, in your preference of this world, and dislike of God, thus giving your hearts to inferior things, and things opposed to Him, when He requires you to Love Him, with all your hearts, lies the sum and substance of your depravity. That there must be a nature to act, is not denied, but that there exists any necessity for you to sin, arising from constitution or any thing else, and depriving you of the power of voluntary agency as a free and accountable creature, cannot be proved.
THE MORAL CONDITION OF DECEASED
IMPOSSIBLE to conjecture the precise period at which we become capable
of moral action-Circumstances unfavourable to holy developments induced by the rebellion of our first parents-A remedial scheme provided. -Life can be imparted through Christ to rebels brought into connection with Him—The law of development obtains here—The Spirit's agency in establishing that connection-1 Cor. xv, 45---49-A connection may be formed between Christ and the soul at any period—The death of an infant no proof of final condemnation-A presumption to the contraryBut not decisive-The wisdom and goodness of God manifest in leaving this subject as it is-A purpose of election establishes no actual connection between Christ and the elect-- Luke i. 35 and ïi. 40 examined-Nothing to be inferred from it as to physical holiness—But the fact is established by it that the nature of man previous to any of its moral developments may be the object and subject of the Spirit's care and agency, The actual exercise of faith, &c. can only be predicated as absolutely necessary in those whose moral powers have been sufficiently developed Infants equally with adults indebted to redeeming love-The death of infants a bright feature in the Saviour's triumphs—The lessons of rebuke and consolation and duty it furnishes.
The view of human depravity, already given, not only throwslight on the responsibilities and character of men; but also on the probable condition of such as die in infancy. At what precise period of human existence, the susceptibilities. of our nature are so far developed, as to bring the individual so directly under the law, as to be held accountable for his own acts, or to possess such knowledge, as to render those agts siffu), it is impossible to conjecture. It cannot how