Page images
PDF
EPUB

obey him. But, alas ! God has not been in all my thoughts ; I have been careless and profane; I have considered religion a drudgery; I have neglected its duties; I have disobeyed its injunctions, and despised its disclosures; and I am, therefore,

; under the wrath of God, and exposed to the severity of his indignation. But there is mercy with God that he may be feared; and my own eternal interest, as well as the command of God, who has a right to be obeyed, urge me to change the whole current of my thoughts, to commence a new life, to make it my design and my endeavour to work out my own salvation, and to honour God in this life, that I may

be

prepared to enjoy him in the world to come.”

This, then, is your first duty-serious, earnest, consideration.' And, in order that you may have this matter properly consummated, you must believe in the name of the Son of God. During the public ministry of the Saviour, the Jews came about him, and put to him the question, 6 What shall we do that we might work the work of God? Jesus answered, and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe in him whom he hath sent." They probably expected that he should prescribe some difficult achievement, by doing which, they would be able to boast of their dexterity and success.

But Jesus prescribed a more humbling, yet more important exercise, faith in Christ, the reception of bim into the heart in all the characters in which he is revealed ; and the transferring of all merit from themselves to him. The name by which he is called by every genuine Christian, is, “ The Lord our righteousness;" and the two most vital doctrines of his confession of faith, are contained in the following sentence, extracted from the Evangelical Prophet: “ In the Lord (Jesus) have I righteousness and strength.” His merits, and his power, bis blood, and his spirit, are the objects of his trust; and it is by them that he expects to escape from the terror of an angry God, and the tyranny of sin. And while these are the objects of his trust, he is con

greater ad

vinced of the necessity of obeying the commandments, and to employ his earnest efforts, that he

may

attain vancement in the Divine life, and live consistently as a disciple of Jesus. Thus, he becomes a new creature; and, in this manner we counsel all the unconverted to proceed in the important concern of the salvation of their souls. Consider attentively your present situation; come to Christ; and cease not to importune the aid of the Spirit, who is the author of regeneration, and concerning whom it is said :-“If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven, give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him." Amen.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

An unfounded charge often brought against religion is, that it is calculated to produce melancholy. If we take what may be denominated a side view of the subject, there may at first appear to be reality in this accusation. Often has it been the cause, but the innocent cause, of events the most disastrous, and of catastrophes the most appalling. Sometimes it has kindled the torch of war, unsheathed the sword of persecution, rent and divided governments, involved cities in misery, and kingdoms in destruction. Sometimes it has separated friend from friend, brother from brother, and parent from child. To this circumstance Christ refers when he says, “ Think not that I am come to send peace upon earth; I am not come to send peace but a sword; for I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against the mother, and the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law, and a man's foes shall be they of his own household.” But this is to take only a partial view of the case. It is to attribute to religion what ought to be attributed to the foes of religion ; it is to give to that “wisdom which is from above," what ought to be given to the passions and pre

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

judices of men. If on this account we consider religion to be a system calculated to produce melancholy, we might on the same principle charge with similar aggravations some of the best of our blessings. Liberty is dear to man, yet for her how many battles have been lost and won !-how many heroes have conquered and fallen !—how many fields have been crimsoned with the blood of the slain !

The doctrines of religion are adapted to the moral condition of man, and are fitted to give him joy. Some whose minds are of a sad and gloomy cast, continually brood over those of them that are dark and humiliating, without, at the same time, attending to those calculated to cheer and animate. They think perpetually of the descriptions given of our ruined and miserable state by nature, of man's moral inability to save himself, of death and the grave, of hell and everlasting punishment. But this again is a partial view. It is to look to the shadings of the picture, without looking to its more prominent figures ; it is to look to the clouds of the sky, without looking to its sunshine. For, if religion tell us of our wretchedness by nature, it tells us also of our improved state by grace; if it tell us of man's inability to save himself, it tells us also where ability is to be found; if it tell us of death and the grave, it tells us also of life and immortality; if it tell us of hell and its punishments, it tells us also of heaven and its glories.

The Bible generally represents religion in this amiable light. “ Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness.“ How beautiful

upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings." With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” “ He went on his way rejoicing.The book of Psalms abounds with statements of this description. It is a book well adapted to devotional exercises. It has a subject fitted for the situation of every saint, whether it be a situation of joy or sorrow, of light or darkness, of doubt or confidence. Especially is it calculated to comfort;

In thy

to cheer, to animate. For this reason, said a venerable bishop, “ If every man were to obtain access only to one book of revelation, the one which I would select would be the book of Psalms.” Of this consoling and inspiriting nature is the passage in which our text is contained : “ Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. name shall they rejoice all the day; and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted. For thou art the glory of their strength; and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted. For the Lord is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our King.”

In illustrating our text, we shall consider, First, What is meant by the joyful sound. It is the Gospel.

Secondly, The reasons why the gospel may receive this appellation.--Spirit of all grace ! countenance our humble endeavours to make this portion of Scripture "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness."

I. What is meant by the joyful sound. The interpretation given by some to “ the joyful sound,” is literally the Jubilee. Every one is aware of the festivity with which the sacred morn of Jubilee was welcomed by the Jews. From one end to another of the land of Judea nothing but the voice of gladness was heard, and nothing but festal scenes were exhibited. The workman rested from his work, the labourer from his toils, and the husbandman from his exertions in the field. It was bailed as a period devoted to joy by young and old, by rich and poor, by priest and people. Hallelujahs were upon every lip, and hossanahs upon every tongue. It was particularly distinguished as a day of emancipation. The servant was relieved from his master-the slave shook off his fetters—the prison doors were thrown open, and forth went the prisoner, rejoicing in all the glories of his new-born liberty. Such was the joy of the Jubilee

« PreviousContinue »