Billeder på siden


gerous so to live, for one who has to give an count, an account to a God who has so richly endowed him, a God who has marked out a course and prescribed a purpose, a God, who to the world's eye takes up where He lays not down, who gathers where He has not strewn, a God who will not endure to see a single talent unemployed.

Some of you again there are, on whom the lavish hand of a bountiful Creator has bestowed the rich gifts of genius, the ten talents of lofty mental endowments. Enjoy your gift with trembling, for as yours may be the best and highest, so yours too may be the worst and the lowest of all lots. You most of all may promote God's glory, widen your Saviour's kingdom, and bless your brethren. If you fail, if all your rich gifts are bestowed on earth and earthly things, and earthly acquirements, if you, so specially called to God's service, leave it to strangers to return and give glory to God, if to you ‘youth has been past and manhood has come, and genius has been given and knowledge won in vain", what can be your lot in that great solemn account of our several talents which we must one day give at the judgment-seat of Christ? Alas ! how many are there of those who have won, by powers given for better purposes, the brightest triumphs in the world, who will lay down a dishonoured head in a dishonoured grave, because the triumphs were won for themselves, not for others, for man, not for God, for time, not for eternity. Well!

I Wordsworth.

if in that grave they could rest for ever! for woe indeed to that man to whom God's cause

was especially committed, and by whom it has been betrayed ! good were it for that man if he had never been born!

But if there are some here so richly endowed with the gifts of fortune, there are many too, very many of you, my younger brethren, whose lot will be a lot of obscurity. No success, no fame, no honours await you. You may see some

You may see some of your companions the first and the foremost in the world's gallant show, the theme of every tongue, and the envy of every heart, while you are to live and to die unknown. Be it so! If you set forth on your obscure and humble path in the strength of this good purpose, and in the light of faith and love, if you persevere in it in a spirit of love and of duty, your lowly life will be as purely bright in His eyes who alone can judge what glory is, as the career of the warrior and the statesman; and your estate will be one which conquerors might envy, and kings bow down to it. You may return to your lowly dwelling at the close of every calm and solitary day, forgotten by all but Him, you may perhaps have holden communion with but one brother man, yet more lowly than yourself. Yet He who knoweth all things, may know that you have endeavoured to heal the broken-hearted, to instruct the ignorant, to make the vile man liberal; He may know that to that poor brother you have spoken or acted in a spirit of love, in an earnest desire to make him sensible of the beauty of Christian charity, and to promote God's glory by bringing him more and more within the pale of Christ's Church on earth, and so to prepare another worshipper for that Church in heaven. And then you may go to your rest in the blessed certainty, that that cup of cold water given in your Master's name and spirit was not given in vain ; that you have acted up to the dignity of your nature and the purposes of your Creator ; that you are a fellow worker together with Him in that grand scheme which was begun ere the world's foundations were laid, and will be completed only when they are committed unto dust. Seeing then, my brethren, that we have such glorious prospects and promises, let us all, the high and the humble alike, pray for grace that we may be enabled to give ourselves, our thoughts and hearts to this great purpose, and “glorify God with our bodies and spirits, which are His.'



[ocr errors]



Titus I. 15, 16.

Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled

and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

Well and truly has it been said that the Christian scheme is no formal and technical system of moral or metaphysical philosophy, and that it was not sent by its Author to lead mankind to any speculative or scientific truth, to give them perfect light as to the nature of the human mind, or to draw out in a formal array the active and moral powers of man. Deep as is the interest of such enquiries, and profitable very often the pursuit of them, this assuredly is not the object of Scripture. Yet, on the other hand, it must be acknowledged, that there are scattered hints of the deepest interest on these very subjects, words that perhaps speak only to the thoughtful and the wise, but yet such as are found by the thoughtful and the wise to anticipate them in their profoundest conclusions, and so to convince them that He who died for them on the cross had a nature which would make such a sacrifice effectual, that He was of a truth man's Maker, for that He knew what was in man. There is one subject especially of perhaps the very first importance in surveying the moral and intellectual powers of man, I mean the operation of the moral condition on the intellect, on which we find very many hints and suggestions conveyed in the Scriptures. The words of the text afford a very striking instance of these suggestions, and the theme is one of such fearful importance that I propose to pursue it to-day.

The Spirit of God has here set before us a representation of the effects of sensuality on the whole frame of man, moral and intellectual, on the whole course, plan, and purpose of his life below, a representation so profound and so awful, that with its simple brevity it may supersede whole treatises on Ethics, and convey to all who will listen to it the most useful and most alarming warning. There is no occasion for us to make any vain attempts to fill up the Apostle's meaning. We have only to listen, to follow, and to endeavour to comprehend the full force of his words.

I do not judge it necessary now to enquire against whom the words of the Apostle were in the first instance directed, for the lesson which they give is of universal application. And the lesson is this: not only that “sin is exceeding sinful,' that it is “enmity with God, and will banish us from his presence in that world to which we are hastening, but that sensual sin is the utter

« ForrigeFortsæt »