Billeder på siden


God your hand-book, and the universe of God your eyebook, and the providence of God your book of problems to be resolved; and be your own soul, your family, your friends, every ear which listens—the theatre before which to demonstrate your knowledge ; this is amplitude enough. Is your heart generous and pitiful, but forced by niggard fortune to confine itself within narrow bounds of well-doing? then there is the generosity of feeling and of utterance ; there is a kind word and a good counsel, which the wretched need as much, but seldomer receive, than an alms. Feel no envy; that is generous : indulge no malice ; that is gracious : study no revenge ; that is bountiful : it was thus that Christ testified that passing generosity of spirit which hath made him the boast of manhood. I suppose he gave less, because he had less to give, than many amongst ourselves ; but he gave a volume of wise counsel, and bequeathed a treasure of good feeling which is now esteemed the most precious jewel this world contains within its orb. Do you say your noble ambitions are landlocked and idle by reason of hopelessnessis there no field for ambition in being a wise, good, and glorious

creature, after God's own image renewed ? is there no hope of conquering sin, misfortune, death, and the grave, of rising to honour, glory, and immortality ? till there be midnight darkness in these avenues and outlets of the soul, tell me not of hopelessness, of landlocked and idle ambition. Doth your wit rust like a sword hanging in its sheath? then, though I have no outlet for that species of wit which they call droll and comical, and which finds its feast in farces and caricatures, in obscuring and distorting truth--yet for that true wit which lies in exposing affectation and vice, and unveiling the subterfuges of self-deceived nature, and holding the true mirror up to man that he may know himself, and knowing himself be ashamed--that wit which lies in dressing truth and excellency in proper images, and brings God into view through clouds and darkness, that we may flee to his mercy and forgiveness, and love his image--for such wit there is abundant outlet; for that is the very highest office which a Christian can perform for himself or his friend. And for that higher vein of genius which seeks its way in poetry and song—there are to be exhibited all the attributes of God and life of christian virtue, and peace and joy in believing, and everlasting freedom from thraldom and impediment.

These, these are the proper excursions for the faculties of man into the provinces of God's holy nature and righteous

ways; these console the spirit that delights itself therein, and treat it with a feast sweeter than honey and the honeycomb, and replenish it with a treasure more valuable than the mines of the east. And these regions of thought and activity are open as the gates of the morning, and free as the liberty of thought itself.

Rank hath no preference here ; fortune brings no accession hither; a sceptre is no advancement; and a library of learning proves often altogether cumbrous. Therefore be encouraged to put forth each man his mind and spirit and will, in these highways of thought and business. And the Lord as ye advance will open wide the gates of libero ty, until at length death shall knock off the fetters of the mind, to become free and moveable as the angels of God.

I wish I had a dwelling-place in every bosom, and could converse with every faculty of man, that I had an ear to hear their murmurings, their sighings, their groanings and all their secret griefs; and I wish that I had a faculty to understand all the parts and kindly offices of religion, which in this present age seemeth to be in bonds and to want enlargement; then would I draw near to every repining, grieving, hampered faculty of every spirit, and out of my spiritual guide I would sing over it a soft and soothing strain, sweetly set to its melancholy mood and aptly fitted to its present infirmity, until each languishing part of human nature should be refreshed, and peace should come, and blushing health arise, and glowing strength spring up hastily, and, like a strong man from sleep, or a giant refreshed with wine, the whole soul should recover a divine strength, and push onwards to perfection heartily and happily with the full consent of all her powers. But no man can get such a faculty of drawing the distressed parts of fallen nature into an acquaintance with the healing, strengthening medicines of the Gospel of peace. Yet is there one to whom this happy function appertaineth, the Holy Spirit of God, whose unction is to the spirit what light and food and balmy sleep are to the body of man; and whose unspeakable comfort and unwearied strength we may every one partake of, seeing God longeth, loveth to pour it forth more affectionately than a father doth to give bread to his starving child. Then, then arise, arise, ye sons of depression and misfortune, arise from your lowly beds, arise from your sinful conditions, burst asunder the confinements of a narrow lot; cease from brooding griefs, severe complainings, and every disquieting thought; join fellowship with the great comforter of this afflicted world, even the Spirit of Truth, who from the lowest pass of misery will raise you to a


height of heavenly temper, and all the universe shall smile in the eye of your recovered joy, and the most discordant adversities of life become full of a divine wisdom and order.

What hath the meanest cottager to fear, what the most laborious workman to complain of, when possessed of this divine companion, who shall unravel this fitful dream of existence, and show it to be a dispensation of God full of mer. cies and of comforts? And the Scriptures which furnish his cottage shall be instead of palace ornaments and noble visi. tants, and shall furnish a better code to guide him than the formulary of any court; and his joys and sorrows awake as deep an interest in the mind of our common Father as those of royalty; and the incidents and changes and catastrophes of his cottage scenes are as well recorded in the book of God's remembrance as the transactions of an empire ; and he hath the faculty of extracting honey from the bitterest weed in his humble field of existence ; and though the bed of his distress may be dark, lonely, and unattended, the bosom of his Redeemer is his pillow, and the shadow of his wings his covert; and angels that have not fallen beckon him to the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, where is fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore.

Upon these unremoveable foundations the divine constitution placeth the contentment of every rank, high and low, and into these undebarred avenues of activity it calleth the awakened spirits of every man. There is room enough in all vocations for the display of every natural faculty and superadded grace, and in every vocation hath the arch enemy reared up a fabric of delusion against the Most High ; to overturn which, and raze it to the foundation, and on its ruins erect the work of faith, the labour of love, and the patience of hope, is work and honour enough for the longest lifetime and the largest faculties, aided and directed by the Spirit of God.

If men were under the influence of these principles, which are but a scantling of the whole, those grievances of the various ranks of life, which we set forth as the chief irritation of society, would cease. The miserable man of whom we spoke, into whose enjoyment discontent hath eaten like a canker, and who, oppressed with evil conditions, hath no more nerve for life, but bitterly makes his moan to the ear of solitude, and singeth sadly of departed hope and miserable fortune-to him the Comforter would come and take him into his kindly embrace, and whisper into his ear softening and soothing speeches, telling him of life beyond the

grave, where there is no sighing nor weeping nor any griefof a father in heaven who watcheth over him by night and day-of a shepherd that will feed him by the still waters, and of things unutterable which await him in his Father's house. The imprisoned sympathies of the woeful man being thus enlarged and satisfied out of the abundance of heavenly food, he walks abroad satisfied with himself and with his condition, loving his brethren of men whom he lately disreputed, and acting stoutly his worthy part in that bustling scene which lately thronged upon his memory a thousand ancient disappointments, but which now brightens with a thousand hopes, and is sweetened with a thousand wholesome uses.

And again, that brutal man, of whom we told, who hath his pleasure in sensual and riotous scenes, living content with mere animal gratification, unreasonable, unspiritual, unenlightened, drudging with cattle his weary life, feeding himself for mere drudgery, and caring for nothing beyond-to him the Comforter would come, and teach him how to become a man--a son of immortality ; awaken spiritual tastes, introduce him to spiritual people, make him a husband and a father from being a regardless man, and teach him to keep at home instead of being a vagabond upon the earth.

And again, that plodding man, whose contentment with the daily routine of business we blamed—and that scheming man, whose ambition to climb through wealth to place and power, we set forth-and that toiling youth, whose miserable reliefs and refreshments in dangerous gaieties we pitiedall these forms of active man the Comforter would mightily improve and refine ; touching the spiritless drudge with a wand of power that would quicken him into a thoughtful and a spiritual man, and draw him into converse with God and communion with heaven; teaching the schemer to scheme for eternity, and making him ambitious of all heavenly accomplishments, thrilling the soul of the youth with love for Christ and his christian vocation-enlivening the conscience of all to a thousand new perceptions of duty and usefulness, and filling the soul with a constant fund of devotion and peace.

Finally, those of high birth and fortune, who pass through a vain, hot, unbridled

youth, to settle down into a manhood of worldly ambition and display, this divine Comforter would catch and timeously defend from the snare of fashion and folly, and when pleasure sets forth her most delicious baits and treat succeeded treat in well-studied succession, when by luxury and beauty the pulse of life is raised, and by congenial sentiment and song the heart is kept in unison and the fancy dazzled by the finest creations of genius-all to win favour for most unholy practices, then, in that most trying moment, the guardian Spirit of God would spread the sober shades of truth over the tempting scene, and raise up a brighter creation out of the promises of God to out-tempt the tempter, and he would fill it with the beauty of angelic forms, with the feast and fatness of God's house, and the raptures of his ravished people, and so preserving the youth uncorrupted, lead him into settled manhood, and make him a man great in well-doing, the patron of good works, an honour to his name, and the boast of the country round.

Thus, truly, it would fare with all conditions, if they would take up the pattern of Christ and imbibe his Spirit; and thus would the ills of every condition be treated, and men live happy and die peaceful and enter into everlasting habitations.

« ForrigeFortsæt »