Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

your heart than any outward connexion? Then is the vital principle strong and vigorous within you.

Lastly, do you live by prayer? Are your prayers forced from you by the strong impulse of nature, when danger or unforeseen distress overtakes you like that of Peter ; 'Lord help us, or we perish.' Are they formal and stated only, or do you pray without ceasing,-standing, walking, conversing, buying and selling? In the song and in the dance do you lift up your hearts to God? For though the buyers and sellers might not be introduced into the temple, yet the business of the temple may and must be carried on in the commerce of the world. And if

you have the happiness to find after fair examination that you are yourselves thus advanced, make it your business to educate and bring up others to the same state of maturity. Be nursing fathers and nursing mothers to the church of Christ. When you meet with those who are inferior to yourselves in gifts and attainments, do not separate yourselves from them with a pharisaical fastidiousness, but treat them with that tenderness and indulgence, which you would show to a promising infant. Remove out of their path every stumbling block, remembering who it is that hath said, “Offend not one of these little ones.' Let your superiority be shown in bearing with their weakness, in instructing their ignorance, in rectifying their mistakes, and passing over with a manly indifference the little spirit of captiousness and humor which proceeds from the petulance of their infirm age. Remember, it is not a trifling thing to be born, and despise not the day of small things. Before birth there is nothing; nothing on which to ground a hope, or hardly a wish; but as soon as born, there are the seeds, the rudiments of a human being; they want expanding, it is true, but they are there; they require only kindly warmth and nourishment to spread into the perfect man.

Thus he in whom, by the divine grace, good principles and sincere intentions of doing well are formed, has the root of the matter in him, and needs nothing but the gradual discipline of years and events to bring out and confirm his virtues,

Finally, let us all lend our utmost endeavors to procure an interest in that life to which the being born again is to introduce us. There is a beautiful progression in the powers of man. In the womb he lives a vegetative life, after the natural birth an animal life, after the new birth a spiritual life. Unlike to the grass of the field, which when it withers or is cut down springs up again, it is true, but neither stronger nor fresher, nor less corruptible than before; for, to exist today, and tomorrow to be cast into the oven, completes from generation to generation the short and simple annals of the vegetable race; - unlike to these, he receives with every change a new accession of faculties and enjoyments, and, if it is not his own fault, rises in value after every decay. You, then, who are old, according to the number of years, and have almost spent one life, have you taken care to provide yourselves with another? While the principle of decay is busy within you, and every year takes something from your strength and agility and vigor, and leaves you but the remnant of yourselves, do you feel another nature within you springing and growing, and pushing towards perfection ? Or have you nothing which belongs to age but its infirmities ? Are you grey with years and green in goodness, withering away in your outward, and scarcely blossoming in your inward man? Or, at best, are your lateborn virtues like the unseasonable shoots of autumn, when the fading year has not vigor enough to bring them to perfection ? Are you almost pushed out of one class of being, and is scarcely the embryo formed in you of a new being belonging to another class? How, then,

indeed, can you enter into the kingdom of heaven ! The bars against your entrance are those of the eternal differences of species, and the immutable nature of things; for you will observe it is not said, He that is not born again shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he cannot enter. That which is produced a vegetable cannot enter into the mineral kingdom, nor that which is formed a mineral into the animal kingdom: thus, also, that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is 'spirit,' and each class and mode of being must be kept distinct, nor is it possible that the one should enter into the precincts of the other. And this is the case with most of the denunciations in the word of God. They are not arbitrary exclusions from happiness, and punishments contrived and invented (if I may so speak) for the purpose of inflicting misery upon the delinquent; but salutary warnings and kind information respecting the natural and necessary consequences of our actions and dispositions. Nor is the kingdom of heaven separated from the kingdoms of this world, as they are from one another, by barriers of rock and wide extended seas, and jealous gates and fortresses, nor need we go out into the wilderness to find it. It is in the midst of us. It exists silently, to most invisibly, in the very heart and bustle of the world, a kingdom within a kingdom. Its boundaries have nothing in common with those of space or time. They relate to dispositions only. Where these are heavenly, there is the kingdom of heaven; where these are sensual, there is the kingdom of sense. Into the kingdom of sense, indeed, we have all been born, and while we are in this world we ought to belong to it ; but the things of sense are transitory ; let us therefore, secure an interest in that spiritual kingdom which never passeth away.

ON

EXPERIMENTAL RELIGION.

PRINTED FOR THE

American Unitarian Association.

BOSTON,
BOWLES AND DEARBORN, 72, WASHINGTON STREET.

1827.

Price 4 Cents.

BOSTON, Isaac R. Butts and Co. Printers.

« ForrigeFortsæt »