« ForrigeFortsæt »
pebbles into one of the earth's high voluptuous, and all that can charm caverns; there is a moment's amuse- the sensual, thronged the eternity ment in listening to the rough musick which he promised to his followers. wrung from the rocky surfaces, but it was no marvel that the Saracens the chasm still gapes insatiable as the flocked gladly round a prophet, who grave; you must cast in immortality taught them, that by the bold enterthe love of the eternal and infinite prizes of war in his cause, they should Creator, and then, and not till then, insure to themselves admission into will the void be satisfied, and the rest the perpetual enjoyment of all in which less craving after some mighty object, the most carpal imagination can deover which to pour the spirit, own it- light to revel; and certainly it were self in any sense appeased. But the but a mockery of your understandings love of God is a principle which never if I should stay to prove to you, that a found place in human ethics; it is Mahomedan's notion of heaven strikabove them, it is beyond them, it is ingly evinces that he can see nothing too refined, too sublime, too stupen-“of the kingdom of God." dous. The natural heart has no power
But whilst the men of Christendom of discovering how completely happi-are not iu danger of being deceived with ness is resolvable into this love of God the expectation of a sensual Paradise, as its prime constituent element; it we meet constantly with ideas of what cannot see it, and it will not believe it; may be termed an intellectual Paradise. and since heaven is depicted as the I think that very commonly literary possession of a full and unallayed love men, if they be also in any sense reliof the Almighty, will it not follow that gious men, associate heaven with the incapacity of the unregenerate man larger developements of science and to see happiness in the love of God general knowledge they look to enamounts to an incapacity of seeing joy in futurity the society of beings heaven in the scriptural representation of an illustrious genius, they dwell of heaven, and what is this but a vi- with complacency on the wide and vid illustration of the truth, that “Ex- burning fields of intelligence which cept a man be born again, he cannot may then be thrown open to the exsee the kingdom of God."
patiations of their spirits, on the vivid But I will subjoin some further ex- light which will then be cast over the hibitions of the point under review, most mysterious and perplexing phefor it is one deserving your particular nomena, and thus they hang with attention; I will refer you for a few much of rapture on the thought, that moments to the popular notions of the future shall unravel all intricacies heaven, and, showing you their glar- of the present—that secrets, on the ing inconsistency with the statements exploring of which the labour and the of the Bible, will leave you again to talent of successive generations have conclude, that carnal men cannot see been verily squandered, shall be laid “the kingdom of God.” We all know open to their gaze; and that permitted, what is meant by a Mahomedan Pa- it may be, to range from one bright radise—we all know, that when the station in the universe to another, they Arabian impostor, the shooting star of shall gather continually an exuberant the Revelations, promulgated his sys- harvest of wondrous discoveries, and tem of blasphemous deceit, he painted be admitted by the Creator into all the heaven under the aspect most calcu- arcana of his most splendid operations. lated to allure the natives of an eastern Brethren, I do believe that we shall climate, and all that can fascinate the move hereafter in so noble and en
larged a sphere of being, that the ness that he should ever utter words knowledge which the acutest among which are tinctured with harshness. I us can now attain of the works of turn to all that the Bible delineates of Omnipotence, will appear nothing the joys and the occupations of heaven, better than the veriest ignorance, when and I find nothing but one uniform recompared with that which shall then presentation of rapture derived from be imparted. But although there may communion with the LORD, and ecbe nothing unlawful in allowing the stasy experienced in beholding and thought of this extension of knowledge celebrating the majesties of the Lamb. to enter into our musings on heaven, I find nothing but incidental yet brilyet it is decidedly carnal to allow such liant notices, which exhibit to me the a thought a strong and prominent gladness of immortality as resulting place; and I look upon it as one of from contemplations of the Redeemer the delusions of Satan, to lead men as he is, and from the privilege of to fall in love with a paradise mingling with a countless assembly of their own creating, and then to chaunting to the harpings of golden fancy it the Paradise of their Maker's harps their lofty praises of salvation. creating. It is just the cheat and jug- There is much of simile drawn indeed glery of the evil one to make that from material scenery; but nothing heaven whose prime rapture results can be more palpable than that such from a knowledge of God in Christ, simile is adapted in condescension to seem identical with an ideal heaven the weakness of our capacities, and glowing with a knowledge of God in that its simple scope is to pourtray the nature, and thus to persuade an un- spiritual enjoyment of presence with regenerate man that he is anticipating Christ, and of the immediate mani. with delight the portion of the regene- festations of his glory and his love. rate man, whereas the unscriptural And whilst I thus find that God in imagery on which he is gazing pro- Christ is a believer's heaven, what shall claims with a voice like a clarion's be said of that religious romance which blast, that, “Except a man be born would identify heaven with the memory again he cannot see the kingdom of of dear and buried kindred-pointing God.”
to the shore of the celestial Canaan, There is another point on which I not as the scene in which Christ shall would touch briefly and gently-gently, be met, but as the spot where we shall because it is bound up with the kind rush again to the warm embrace of liest sensibilities of our nature, and it some being, over whose ashes we have is not requisite to a minister's faithful- wept the bitter tears of weary months.
(To be continued.)
London : Published for the Proprietors, by T. GRIFFITHS, Wellington Street, Strand;
and Sold by all Booksellers in Town and Country.
Printed by Lowndes and White, Crane Court, Fleet Street.
Oh, it may be a lovely thought, and amid the selfishness of this degenerate when chastened and moderated by world. And whilst I own it would be Gospel prescriptions, I suppose it to but a churlish speech to affirm that be a lawful thought, that in yon fair these 'views of heaven as a meetingworld which woos us persuasively to place for parted friends, prove that he its peaceful coast, the bands of friend who entertains them has never yet ship, which death hath burst rudely been born again, yet assuredly, they asunder, shall be again united, and are the views of the old man and not that they who have walked in holy of the new, and are generated by that communion as fellow-heirs of the which remains of carnal, and not by same promises, shall there be linked that which has been inserted of spiriin a still holier amity as partakers tual nature. And if it be thus undeof the same possessions. But what niable that the carnal nature, so far as better is it than turning heaven into it is yet unsubdued, introduces into earth, if we transfer to it all the our conceptions of heaven thoughts array of creature affections, if we look which detract from the simple and upon it as increasingly desirable, just scriptural characteristics of heaven, in proportion as it is peopled out of then it must be allowed that this carnal our own circle of Christian intimates ? | nature is of itself unable to discern and must not that be a degraded con- or appreciate the happiness of heaven; ception of Eternity which dwells on if the remnants of this nature still the fact—there shall be no parting, to struggling in a Christian's breast, prothe comparative forgetfulness of an- duce, as it were, dark specks in his other fact, there shall be no sinning, vision of futurity, then it is fair to and 80 wraps itself in the hope of argue, that the visions of men in whom meeting a child, or a wife, or a parent, this nature is wholly unchanged, can that it seems ready to dispense with be nothing else but one universal blot. all conjunction with the Husband of The clearness with which heaven is the Church, and the friend who is de- discerned appears proportioned to the scribed as sticking closer than a bro-decisiveness with which the old man ther? I would say nothing that might is resisted, and hence it might be be deemed stoical, but I must enter a called a logical inference, that “ ExChristian's protest against this discept a man be born again, he cannot honouring of Christ, and this ab- see the kingdom of God.” surd division of the celestial family But our time will be exhausted into separate groups, each moving sooner than our topic, and I hasten in that petty circle of relative cha- to recur to those remarks with which rities which had been chalked out I introduced this discourse. I have
set before you, under sundry points of
Regeneration, brethren, is a real view, the striking truth, that the un- thing, and a heaven wrought thing, regenerate man
which cannot be frittered away by the KINGDOM OF God;” as St. Paul de- grinding processes of a German neoclares in writing to the Corinthians, logy, without at the same time stamp“ The natural man receiveth not the ing in the dust and scattering to the things of the Spirit of God; for they are winds all that is holy and venerable foolishness unto him; neither can he and precious in Christianity.
I beknow them, because they are spiri- seech you, therefore, trifle not and tually discerned.” And now I leave tamper not with the doctrine of regeyou to bring your own hearts to the neration—are ye changed creaturestouchstone which is thus presented, are ye new creatures-can ye-oh, it and examining whether, in the senses is Eternity which hangs upon the anI have unfolded, you do or do not see swer-can ye see the kingdom of God? God's kingdom, to determine whether I will hear nothing of the difficulties of you have or have not been born of the answering these interrogations—difSpirit. It is easy-alas ! alas ! for the ficulties !-bear with me yet a single facility with which men may garble moment,I have spoken to you
of and mystify the plainest truths—it is heaven, of seeing, that is, joy and rapeasy to explain away the doctrine of ture, things to be desired, things to be spiritual regeneration, to identify it, longed for, in the descriptions which for example, with water baptism, or the Bible has put forth of heaven-try so to strip it of all its essential pro- yourselves by this simple criterionperties, that there shall remain nothing ask your consciences, faithfully and but the meagre and naked admission fearlessly—no cloaking, no varnishing of the necessity of a virtuous resolve -ask your consciences whether you to shake off the habits of evil. Oh, could take delight in beholding Christ, preachers will oftentimes preach this, and in serving Christ, and in praising and authors will oftentimes print this ; Christ? would such exercises be inand thus the pulpit and the press, gi- sipid to you ? are they insipid now, gantic engines both for swaying the and is it weariness to you to join even sentiments of mankind, are prostituted for a lonely hour in the communion of to the scandalous work of palming a his people? If such be the case, then foul lie on the understandings of sin- I am not your judge—but I ask you ners, deceiving them as to that internal whether it be possible that you can see and radical change of which their na- the kingdom of God, and I send you ture must be the subject, if they would to your closets with the words of my hope to shun the wrath which is de- text ringing in your ears, “ Except a nounced against the workers of ungod man be born again, he cannot see the liness.
kingdom of God.”
DELIVERED BY THE REV. J. F. DENHAM,
AT ST. BRIDE'S CHURCH.
Genesis, xxvi. 13.-" Thou God seest me."
There are few persons, indeed, who is very weak and imperfect. For supdo not suppose themselves to believe pose, my brethren, that we could show in the Being and perfections of God. you God, visibly in this assembly toThese truths seem to be so plain, and night, could we praise him so feebly, or the reception of them so common, that pray to him so coldly, or speak, or hear mankind in general would be displeas- so unfeelingly as we do; and shall seeed with any supposition to the con- ing, and not seeing, make such a differtrary, as an insult upon their heart or ence? Did we just this moment behold understanding. But multitudes who the object of our worship, would the think they possess faith in these doc- mere shutting our eyes render his pre trines are much mistaken. True faith sence less venerable, or the influence of determines the choice and governs the it less powerful? practice according to the nature of the Plainly not, my brethren; our seeing thing believed. True faith is "the God would only assure us that he was evidence,” or demonstration“ of things present; and if an equal assurance not seen." Let the objects be ever so can be obtained by any other means, remote, yet true faith brings them near the influence of his presence ought to the mind, and renders them as to be the same. It is not, therepowerful and as operative upon the fore, the mere circumstance of seeaffections and the will as if they were | ing, or not seeing God, that causes present and visible.
this difference in our conduct towards My brethren, suffer me to illustrate him, but the believing, or not bethis remark by appealing to your con- lieving, the reality of his presence. duct since you entered this church. Hence, it clearly follows, that any
less You have most of you solemnly pro- degree of reverence on our part, than fessed your belief in the omnipresence is actually due to the Majesty of an domniscience of your Maker ; when Heaven, and any undutiful step in our you joined in singing his praises, but conduct towards our Heavenly Parent especially in offering up your prayers and Governor, results from the weakto Him, each of you virtually profess- ness of our faith : a course of sin esed to be under the conviction of the pecially, or the habitual indulgence truth uttered in the text, “Thou of any corrupt affection demonstrates, God seest me”—because most plainly that whatever light you may have in you would not have attempted to pray your understanding, you do not, my to an absent or inattentive being. Yet hearers, from your heart believe the if you examine yourselves impartially, sentiment of the text, to be true in reand try your faith by the only proper ference to yourselves, “Thou God test, I suspect you will find too much seest me." reason to believe, either that
do When these observations are connot at all believe that God sees you, sidered, it will be seen, that infidelity or that your belief in this truth at best in some degree or other is more com