Page images
PDF
EPUB

we ought to degrade and to disfranchise of persons are all prudence without zeal. all who hold that system. This zeal may Those to whom I now allude, are chiefly be very sincere, but it is not zeal accord- young persons: they are all alive to the ing to knowledge. I believe that the sys- power and excellency of the gospel ; their tem of popery is bad—that it is prejudi- ordinary judgment and feelings are laid cial to the spread of knowledge and the aside; they see religion as the one thing cause of true religion—that we should do needful. And in the struggles of their all we can to beat it down--and that it is souls to escape the evil which threatens wrong for any man to be cold or chary in them; and in their desires to obtain the acting against it: still, it comes clearly to salvation which has been wrought out for my mind, that this does not form a disquali- them; and in their anxiety to snatch others fication for the enjoyment of civil privi- from the ruin which awaits them; and in leges ; and that zeal against the system is the alacrity with which they proceed in not incompatible with a willingness for the course of obedience; and in the joy the increase of those privileges; and that with which they look forward to the glory this extension of their privileges is the which awaits them ;—there is a warmth very way to do them good, to open their and impetuosity of feeling which makes minds, and to remove those barriers which them wonder how any who feel what they have hitherto prevented free inquiry. feel, and know what they know, and who What is perilous at one time may be safe see what they see, should set any bounds at another; and I believe that our zeal to their zeal. While we rejoice in all against the system shall be greater and these, as proofs of real' religion, we yet more effective, by granting an extension wait earnestly for the period when their of civil liberties to men who have been zeal shall become tempered with pru. under the influence of early prejudices dence, which shall be at once their safeand education, and who have too fre- guard and their impetus, and enable them quently been borne down by the ungener- effectually to accomplish the very object ous restrictions of a selfish policy. In which they propose. saying this, I mean no offence: I only We should be careful to adopt those crave the liberty which I grant to others. measures which are best in themselves, I only contend that our zeal in religion, and most likely to accomplish the object must be zeal according to knowledge; we propose. This is what we call Pruand that in order to have it according to DENCE.

Prudence does not damp our knowledge, we must go to the Scriptures, zeal, but enables us better to accomplish which alone can enlighten. For want of our own object. It teaches us to bring this, we find men zealous in asserting our zeal into action at those times which dogmas which have no foundation but in are most seasonable; and in that manner their own heated fancies; and which have which is most likely to produce the greatno more resemblance to truth than the est quantity of good. And as it teaches most absurd fictions of pagan mythology. this, and nothing else, we should cultivate

If any of you, my brethren, have hith- it with all humility, and practice it with erto been zealous without light, be zeal- all diligence. It is said of the good man, ous now, and repent. Examine the Scrip- that "he will guide his affairs with distures; and let your zeal be directed to a cretion;" and surely, if he should do this worthy end, and exerted in the use of in all his concerns, he should do it espesuitable means: then shall it be useful to cially in religion. It was predicted of yourselves, and useful to all around. Christ, whose zeal was so strong that it III. THERE MUST BE PRUDENCE IN THE was said to consume him, that he should

“deal prudently;" and it is added, " he LIGIOUS ZEAL.-I am well aware that many shall be exalted, and extolled, and be very Christian people are afraid of this ; they high;" and what was thus his own conare afraid that it springs from indifference duct, he presses on his followers. Soloto the great cause. They are all zeal mon, who was a very wise man, has said, without prudence; just as another class “ Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee:

EXERCISE AND MANIFESTATION OF OUR RE

he that reproveth a scorner, getteth to But we spake of true religion; and if in himself shame." And a greater than your zeal you act contrary to moral inte Solomon has said, “ Give not that which grity, it is not true religion: you may think is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your so, but you mistake. True religion empearls before swine ; lest they trample braces the whole will of God; and, as them under their feet, and turn again and moral and responsible agents, it is not rend you." Persecution is what the more necessary that we should seek a Christian is told he must expect; and he lawful end, than that we should seek the sometimes seems more ready to cope with gaining of that end by lawful means. It it than avoid it, lest any should doubt his is never right to do wrong that good may sincerity. But Jesus Christ has taught come. Christianity in our own hearts us that we should not provoke this, nor cannot be supported by that which is in avoid the ordinary means of safety. itself contrary to its own nature and ob"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in ject. A deliberate or systematic disobethe midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise dience to any one command of God, is conas serpents, and harmless as doves. But trary to the very design of the holy God beware of men. When they persecute who gave us his gospel to make us holy. you in this city, flee ye into another.” We must "abstain from all appearance of The Christian feels deeply concerned for evil,” and do that which is pleasing in the honour of God, and is sometimes the sight of God. ready to imagine that the profane and the A striking instance of this false zeal is wicked should be swept away by an act furnished by the conduct of the Pharisees, of violence: but Christ did not so; and in the days of our Lord. “Ye say, wholest his followers should desire to go into soever shall say to his father or his mother, the field to gather out the tares, he has it is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest said, “ Nay; lest while ye gather up the be profited by me, and honour not his tares, ye root up also the wheat with father or his mother, he shall be free." them."

These men were very zealous in making The zeal of Paul was great: it led him vows as to the temple of God, and in deto meet every hazard—to encounter every voting property to that effect; but at the danger; he was instant in season, out same time they kept back that which was of season;" he stood constantly prepared due to the support of their parents, and to make a sacrifice of his life. Yet he thus brake the fifth commandment. Our was prudent ; he practised himself what Lord would commend love and zeal manihe advised ;—“ Walk in wisdom toward fested to his house; but he condemned it them that are without;"_" Let not your when done at the expense of duty. He good be evil spoken of;"-cautions these, could not but be displeased at their prewhich, while they check no zeal, are tending to please him by what was diamesalutary to those who, if they did not act trically opposed to his will : and had the so, would be less excellent in themselves, Pharisees been acquainted with the word and less useful to others. You cannot be of God; had they depended less on the too zealous in obtaining personal religion; traditions of men and the teachings of the but at the same time you cannot be too scribes, and more on the pure word of prudent in the means you adopt to pro- God ;-they had not so mistaken, nor premote it; and at the same time that this tended to honour God, while they disowill enable you to abound in all the fruits beyed his will. This is one instance of righteousness, it will cause you to be only; but it contains the principle we instrumental in making others safe and would impress upon you. Christ has happy.

here taught us that our zeal is unsound IV. THE EXERCISE OF CHRISTIAN ZEAL and unavailing, when it prosecutes its MUST ALWAYS CONSIST WITH MORAL INTE- objects by wrong means.

It is not excesGRITY.We said at the first that you can- sive, but altogether wrong; it is not zeal not be too zealous to obtain religion; and for true religion. It requires, not to be this particular may seem to contradict it. regulated in its ardour, but to be changed

INFLUENCE

OF

in its object. To please God by break-ever bad things seem at present. By the ing his will, and to save the soul by an exercise of this disposition, we shall conact of disobedience, is one of the strangest ciliate the hearts we are anxious to win ideas that can possibly enter into the to the obedience of Christ. Charity will mind of man.

sublime our zeal; it will enable us to use If you, my brethren, have had such a the means with greater effect, and bring zeal; if, you have disregarded honesty them to bear on the circumstances and and sincerity in search of religion ; if you situations of those whom we wish to have acted under the influence of the benefit. sentiment, that " we may do evil that This charity, however, does not require good may come;" if, under the idea of us to mingle the wicked and the rightmaking the word of God known more eous; to imagine there is holiness where extensively, you put up with it something there is only sin; or to suppose that men which is not God's word ; if, in attempting are the servants of God, when they are, to promote the truth of God, you resort to in fact, the servants of Satan. This means which God does not approve ;-0, would be but imbecility; and it would “ be zealous, and repent ;' and be assured, injure others, because it would lead them that without this integrity to accompany to practise, without compunction, the your zeal, you can never prosper, be the very things they ought to avoid. Some object you aim at never so great and well there are, of whom we cannot speak but conceived.

with aversion, or of their practices but V. OUR RELIGIOUS ZEAL MUST BE UNDER with abhorrence. Here, however, is THE

CHARITY.-Great room for the exercise of charity; in qualithings are said of charity; and while to fying the circumstances which have given be destitute of it, is to be destitute of the rise to the evil, and in finding room for chief ornament of the Christian charac- aiming at their conversion, whatever may ter; so to have it and to exercise it aright, be the nature of their case. And while is to have the heart purified and made charity will lead us to pity them, and to meet for God. And charity is of vast im- aim at their salvation; it will prevent us portance to religious zeal. If we have it from confounding with habits what has not, we shall take no pains to do good to only originated in mistake, and from keepthose around us; if we see them in dark- ing at a distance from that which only ness and in danger, yet, not loving them, waits for the exercise of Christian exerwe shall make no effort to do them good; tion and instruction, to make all proper whereas, if we have charity towards them, and Christian. Charity, therefore, so far we shall do them all the good we can. from checking our zeal, prompts us to the And when we are zealous for their good, immediate use of proper means, and gives then charity comes in to mould it into a those means their due effect. better form, and to bring about more effec If we be zealous for religion, we shall tually the end we propose to accomplish. be zealous for charity, which is an essenIf we have not been taught to love God, tial part of true religion. We therefore and to hate sin—to hate sin, because we exhort you, in the exercise of your zeal love him who first loved us; when we for true religion, for the sake of others to meet with those who are opposed to the invest your zeal with charity. I would plans of God and his salvation, we are especially enforce this on those who have apt to think harshly of them, and would, but lately been brought into the ways of by one act, cast them out at once. Such God. You are apt to consider your fora zeal is unworthy the professors of the mer associates as bad persons; you are gospel of Christ. The more sinful and even ready to consider them as outcasts wretched men are, the more anxious from God's favour, and as something too should we be to bring them into the ways vile to be mended or saved. O, my friends, of Christ. We should exercise the consider that it is but a very little while charity that “hopeth all things;" and since you also were “ in the gall of bitterhope that a change may take place, how- | ness and in the bond of iniquity;" you

are but just rescued from the horrible "out of a pure heart, and a good conpit, and the miry clay;" and if God had science, and of faith unfeigned ;"_it redealt with you as you deserved, you had gards purity as the object which it is to been plunged into the pit of destruction. promote and secure: it is “out of a good It was by no merit of yours that you were conscience,”—a conscience renewed saved. Many of you were in the same a conscience trembling at God's word, state as those on whom you now look with a conscience zealous for his will in all supercilious scorn. Think that they, also, things; and it proceeds from “ faith unmay be saved as well as you; and even feigned,”-faith in the truth of God, on outstrip you, and be taken to the realms of which it places its unalterable reliance. bliss, while you are struggling, toiling, Such is the charity of the gospel ; and and fighting, here below! O take heed! under the guidance of this, religious zeal Be zealous, be very zealous, to avoid your assumes its fairest character, and obtains former evil associates, that with them its greatest success. Very different is you may not be carried down the stream the charity of the world ;-all soft and of ruin; be zealous, be very zealous, in mild,-a forgiving spirit, a good disposiurging on your course in the path that tion, and a generous hand. They have leads to heaven ; but let charity also have no charity but that which, from the fear its perfect work. Be zealous to save of doing what is disagreeable, looks on them; be zealous to bestow on them a the righteous and the wicked with equal boon richer far than any other they can complacency; which, out of kindness to receive. Let them see that you love the sinner, encourages, in fact, the sin he them; give them no proofs of resent- has committed; and which, rather than ment of hostility. So act and speak, that put on a frown which might disturb his they may see you have not forgotten happiness, will let him pursue the course " the rock from whence you were hewn, of danger; and which, rather than distress and the hole of the pit from which you him, will let him go on, provided he goes were digged." Let them see that your on smiling and happy, to his ruin ! “ heart's desire and prayer is that they And so with regard to PEACE. There may be saved." Let them see that you is much puling and whining after this in will gladly do all you can to serve them, the world. If by any word or action we consistently with your duty to God. Let break in upon the harmony which is only them see that yours is not the zeal of sus- purchased by what is subversive of divine picion, or of ill will, but the zeal of charity; truth; if we do any thing of this kind, that of which the apostle speaks so beau- they say directly0, all this is very tifully, when he says, it " suffereth long, true; the thing is much to be lamented ; and is kind; envieth not; vaunteth not —but do not you kindle war among us; itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave let us alone let us abide in peace !" itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is Brethren; this is not the peace of the not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; gospel : it is the peace of delusion—it is rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the peace of death! This cannot promote the truth; beareth all things, believeth the cause of God in your own souls, nor all things, hopeth all things, endureth all advance the glory of God in the world things."

around. “The wisdom that is from above But let me not be misunderstood.-I is first pure, Then peaceable ;and we are do not inculcate zeal for charity by itself. to follow peace with all men, and holiIt is too much the practice in the world at ness ;” and, without these, “no man shall present to wish for CHARITY and PEACE. see the Lord." 6. As for such as turn But the charity so greatly in vogue is a aside to their crooked ways, the Lord spurious charity, and not the charity of the shall lead them forth with the workers of gospel of Christ. It is true, indeed, that iniquity: but peace shall be upon Israel ;" it “thinketh no evil ;" but it is also true upon those who seek to do his will, and that it “ rejoiceth not in iniquity, but in whom is no guile. Away, then, with rejoiceth in the truth ;”-it is charity this false peace, and charity, and zeal ! Vol. 1.-19

N

DIVINE REVELATION

HORRORS OF WAR.

Be zealous for the truth; “let all your on coming forth to take its place among deeds be done in charity,”—but remem- things revealed, the heavens, and the ber that truth is the basis on which it earth, and nature, through all her chamshould rest. And while you are zealous bers, gave it reverent welcome. Beyond for peace, let it be in connexion with that what it reveals, the mysteries of the futruth, without which there can be no ture are unknown. To gain it acceptapeace. Let truth be established ; let ittion and currency, the noble army of marbe placed on the throne on which it tyrs testified unto the death. The general should reign, and then there shall be assembly of the first-born in heaven made peace. Then, PEACE is our watch-word: it the day-star of their hopes, and the PEACE WITH ALL MEN—PEACE IN ALL pavilion of their peace. Its every senTHINGS AND PEACE FOR EVER!

tence is charmed with the power of God, and is powerful to the everlasting salva

tion of souls.- Irving. THERE was a time when each revelation of the word of God had an introduction into this earth, which neither per When war is awakened, the judgments mitted men to doubt whence it came, of God are abroad in the earth. Thus nor wherefore it was sent. If, at the have we seen to-night a people distingiving of each several truth, a star was guished for their religious privileges, for not lighted up in heaven, as at the their prosperity, and for their separation birth of the prince of Truth, there was from all other nations, devoted to destrucdone upon the earth a wonder, to make tion because of their transgressions. Let her children listen to the message of us learn, that whenever the sword is their Maker. The Almighty made bare permitted to devour, it is to chastise the his arm, and, through mighty acts inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. shown by his holy servants, gave de- War is horrible in its nature and in its monstration to his truth, and found for effects. It separates the dearest and the it a sure place among the other matters closest connexions of human nature. One of human knowledge and belief. battle renders thousands of wives, widows:

But now the miracles of God have thousands of children, fatherless : thouceased, and nature, secure and unmo- sands of parents, childless : thousands of lested, is no longer called on for testi- spirits ruined beyond redemption! See, monies to her Creator's voice. No pressing into yonder slippery, impurpled burning bush draws the footsteps to his field, throngs of all ages, seeking their presence-chamber; no invisible voice own among the dead! In this disfigured holds the ear awake; no hand cometh countenance the child discerns with diffiforth from the obscure to write his pur- culty the features of his father. In that pose in letters of flame. The vision is mangled body dwelt the spirit which was shut up, and the testimony is sealed, and the prop and the glory of yonder silvery the word of the Lord is ended ; and this head, now bowed down over it in silent, solitary volume, with its chapters and unspeakable sorrow. There the widow verses, is the sum total of all for which washes the wounds of her husband with the chariot of heaven made so many her tears. And how few of that dreadful visits to the earth, and the Son of God list of slaughtered men were fit to die ! himself tabernacled and dwelt among us. Surely war was let loose upon the world

The truth which it contains once dwelt as a curse, in the just anger of God.andivulged in the bosom of God; and, Collyer.

« PreviousContinue »