Billeder på siden

may be supposed to inculcate, and to urge upon our observince, the following obligations are among the most conspicuous.

1. To abandon in our affections the sinful pleasures and vanities of this world, and to cleave with all our hearts the faithful instructions of true wisdom, as the only sure and unerring guide of our lives. Nor is there any thing in this duty which exceeds the ability of man to compass, since it is a fact, clearly ascertained by the light of reason and revelation, that man is created in the image of God, and clothed with those noble intellectual and moral powers which have placed him in a state peculiarly favorable to the highest mental improvements.

Therefore, he who carelessly or wilfully neglects this duty, can urge no plea which will be of any avail in point of justification.

2. It requires of us to seek those things which belong to the kingdom of Christ, and to cleave to thein in our hearts as the principal source of enjoyment. Hence it implies that the interests and blessings of the Messiah's reign were adapted by infinite wisdom to the more al condition of the creature man, and designed by unerring goodness for his enjoyment.

3. It implies the wholesome duty of embracing those great truths which are brought to light by the gospel of Christ, and to preserve them constantly in memory as the subjects of grateful meditation and praise ; to contemplate the evidences of the divine goodness, which are displayed in the plan of grace, thro' a crucified Redeemer. How consistent is the requisition ! how delightful the task ! How amiable the employment of our faculties, when exercised in contemplating the glorious truths of that revelation which holds up the character and labors of Christ as the only way of life and salva

[ocr errors]

tion to a perishing world : which contains the heartcheering evidences of that divine goodness and wisdom, which were concerned in raising the stupendous fabric of nature from chaos, and which matured the perfect plan of impartial grace, and secured its most desirable execution in the person of the brightest image of his glory. Surely no heart that is capable of the ennobling sentiments of gratitude, can for a moment withhold the acknowledgment that divine benevolence shines conspicuous, even in the command itself.,

4. The duty of embracing the great truths of the gospel, and of contemplating the evidences of divine goodness and wisdom which they contain, naturally suggests another important obligation, standing in immediate connection with itself, viz. that of communicating intelligence of these divine realities to the beings of our race, as far as opportunities may offer in our intercourse with society. For if it be an experimental truth, that faith in the gospel of Christ is productive of distinguished moral advantages to ourselves, it is equally evident to reason that an extension of the same faith would be attended with corresponding advantages to others.

5. To seek those things which are above, implies the necessity of improving every opportunity, and all the means which divine Providence has placed within our reach to extend our acquaintance with the character of God and the purposes of his love ; to keep up a constant intercourse with Heaven, by a virtuous course of life, the exercise of secret prayer, and by frequent and devout meditations upon his word, from which we derive the richest instruction for the support of all our better hopes.

6. We are also instructed in this command to culti. vate a virtuous resignation to all the allotments of divine Providence, considering the vicissitudes of life as.

perfectly under the control of unerring wisdom, and designed by the goodness of our infinite Benefactor to wean us from the vanities of the world, refine our moral sensibilities, and to prepare us for the more exalted enjoyments of a better inheritance. That such has been the effect produced by trying dispensations, a mul. titude of patriarchal and prophetic examples might be summoned to prove; but the testimony of the great Apostle will be sufficiently illustrative of this fact, both as it respects the design of affliction and of chastisement. “These light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."- Again he adds, "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous ; Devertheless it afterwards yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them who are exercised thereby.”

7. Lastly, it invites us to consider heaven as our final home, when all the transient enjoyments of earth shall fade upon our sight, and the dim taper of life is ready to be extinguished in the dark and gloomy vale of death. It is the duty of anchoring our hopes in a better world, to which we are prompted and encouraged by the gracious promises of the new and better coveDant, by the ministry and labors of Christ, by the sealing evidence of his death, and the glorious assurance afforded by his resurrection from the dead, and his triumphant ascension to the Father.

These are the most essential duties which the Apostle was laboring to impress upon the minds of his Colos. sian brethren, in that portion of his Epistle to which our attention has been directed ; nor is this plain and wholesome direction less important to believers of the gnspel in the present age. For it is obvious to eack reflecting mind, that the divine Author of all good, feels the same tender regard for the welfare of bis offspring

which belong to the present generation, that he could possibly feel for those to whom the message of his grace was sent in the apostolic age ; for no truth of holy inspiration is expressed in terms more plain and unambiguous, than that "with him there is no respect of persons.” It therefore follows, that if these duties were essential to the observance and welfare of the primitive disciples of our Lord, they are for the same reasons, equally binding on us. Nothing can be pleaded from the character of these duties, or from the moral influence which they are likely to exert upon society, which could in the least degree justify a neglect of their faithful performance in any age or country. For the exercise of unfeigned faith in the gospel of a risen Savior, an ardent hope of mercy and salvation, a devout meditation upon the sublime truths of revelation which unfold the character and will of an infinitely perfect Creator, and a humble sense of dependence upon his goodness, and a prayerful solicitude for the guidance of his wisdom ; never did, nor never can produce any effects un propitious to the welfare and happiness of man, or injurious to the moral prosperity of society. We may therefore pass

III. To inquire, what are the advantages which may be expected to result from the exercise of prompt obedience?

The attributes of God, as displayed in the heavens, and throughout all the earth, are such as to afford the most entire conviction, that no duties could be required at the hand of his creatures which could have the least possible influence to change his character, add to his essential glory, or in any way contribute to the in. crease of his happiness. For when we survey the heav. ens, where suns and systems display the wonders of Omnipotence, and stand forth in all the array of wisdom

thro’ the boundless concave, we are filled with astonishment at their infinitude, and our hearts are ready to burst forth in the acknowledgment, that he is infinitely above the praise of angels! And when we consider the rich profusion of his bounty, displayed through the vast kingdom of his providence, where every living thing receives a full supply of blessings from his hand, and the subjects of intelligence derive the richest mental entertainments from the contemplation of his works and the tokens of his condescending kindness and love, the perfect independence of the Deity is established by evidence to the rational mind, strong as demonstration could possibly afford. It follows then, with sufficient clearness, since the Creator can receive from the ser. vice which he requires of us no possible accessions to his essential glory or to his enjoyment, that as a wise and benevolent Being, he must have had in view the promotion of his creatures to higher degrees of rational enjoyment, in all the commands and ordinances of his wisdom.

The question then recurs, what are the advantages which may be expected to result from the exercise of prompt obedience to the duties which our text requires ?

1. As the words before us evidently require that our affections should become detached from sinful pleasures, and devoted to the instructions of true wisdom, it is because that in proportion as our affections to sin relas, our desire for wisdom will acquire an increase of strength, and our attachment to the pleasures which it affords will be augmented in the same corresponding ratio; and it will require no metaphysical subtleties to convince the man of maturity and experience, that "wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”

2. It requires us to cleave in our hearts to the things

« ForrigeFortsæt »