« PreviousContinue »
because we then most want the comfort which such a remembrance brings. Far, very far from it. More yea! far more in the trials, and sufferings and disappointments of manhood, or in the feebleness of age, does man require for his own sake the soul sustaining comfort of God's presence and love. It is because, however deep and deadly the taint of sin in our nature, it has not yet established those habits of actual sin, which, as we have seen, debase, defile and at last destroy that nature, which God desires to see made like
Rash, and thoughtless, and presuming youth is, but yet what Christian can look on the youth of others, or look back on his own almost without regret ? Steadier and firmer purposes may have come on with manhood, but yet alas ! for man in manhood, if he has gone forth without faith in a Saviour and without the help of God's Holy Spirit, to mix himself with the world, and to learn suspicion, hatred, avarice, to be led by expediency, to sully his nature with habits of sin ? Can he then remember his Creator, and learn of God's Holy Spirit the purity which ought to be his ? When getting and spending lay waste all our powers, cold will be our devotion, ill shall we then learn, if then we are first to learn, to remember Him for whom we feel no love nor adoration, and whose purity and glory our polluted nature can so ill understand.
But pass this busy season, and all its corrupting business and pleasures, will the heart be more open to its Creator, if we wait till the feebleness of age and infirmity comes on? when all is become insipid and uninteresting, when day brings no joy and night
no rest, when the senses are dim, the body decayed, and the mind enfeebled by the course of nature, and we have wasted all our powers in impurity, can then begin to remember that Being whose glory we can never worthily comprehend in the strength of all our powers, never duly embrace in the very warmth of our young love and joy? Vain and hopeless expectation. If we would remember God as we ought, and learn to love him as we ought, and, through that remembrance and love, become pure as we ought, we must remember Him in the days of our youth, when the young heart finding on earth not enough to occupy and exercise its overflowing love, will rise with delight to that Being whose perfections alike justify and satisfy the most ardent emotion. The seed will be sown on no unfruitful or barren soil. God will visit with his most gracious influences the young heart that turns to Him. He will so exalt and purify your affections, that sin shall not sully his workmanship, nor bring on that fearful state where nothing is pure. He will lead you safe through the dangers and afflictions of manhood, and through the infirmities and uneasiness of decline. In the last sad hour of life He shall be the comfort of your parting spirit, in a higher world your exceeding and eternal reward.
For there the pure in heart, and only they shall see their God.'
Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is non come, that ye shall be
scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone : ; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
I HAVE endeavoured in the preceding Discourses to set before
you some important features of the Gospel scheme. I first shewed, that the aids and assistances of God's Holy Spirit won for man by the sacrifice of the cross, restore to him, what his corrupted nature had lost, the power of rising to a high degree of moral perfection. I afterwards pointed out how, on the one hand, the word of God calls on man, thus restored and re-endowed, to use his regained powers for their appropriate and worthy purposes, the glory of God and the good of man, how, on the other, the same word threatens, that if, instead of being consecrated to this their only and legitimate purpose, they are dedicated to the service of sin, they will have been restored
1 This was the last Sermon of the course of 1830.
in vain, and only to be involved in another, an utter and final destruction.
To day, in closing my addresses to you, I would rest on that other feature of our blessed religion on which in a deep sense of his need and weakness, frail, suffering, mortal man must desire most of all to rest, the consolations which it offers to them who truly accept it. The words of the text are well adapted to lead us to this contemplation.
There is something, I think, inexpressibly touching in these simple words, when we remember the relation between the speaker and those whom he addressed. They had given up all for him, they had heard his words of might and obeyed his call, they had seen his deeds of power and had owned that the hand of God was in them, they loved their Master and were loved of him. And now they were told by one in whom they knew that the spirit of wisdom and prophecy dwelt, who could not err and would not deceive, that notwithstanding all they had done and all they had suffered, notwithstanding the strong ties of love by which they were bound to this beloved and glorious Master, they would desert him in his hour of need, that when his foes seemed too mighty for him, when he was to be seized and reviled and insulted and slain, self and selfish fear would prevail for a time over love, and they would leave their Friend, their Master, their gracious Instructor, their kind Lord alone and helpless to his enemies. Alas! the weakness of our frail and corrupted nature, when even love, that very passion which was given that self might be annulled, is con
quered by self, and a base and slavish fear stands in the place of the love which should be stronger than death. How often indeed in daily life do we see such base passions, yea! far baser drive out that love of Christ which should triumph over all! How often do we see
even ashamed of their Saviour, and yielding to sin, because they are afraid to meet the
or the ridicule of the enemies of the cross. They are scattered every man to his own, to his own baseness and his own sin, and desert that holy cause and that holy Saviour for whom they should count it a precious and a happy thing to shed their heart's blood.
But, my brethren, these words, wherein the kind Master foretold the sad and shameful parting of his followers from him in his time of need, are not sad and touching only, for they contain a care for the sorrow they bring. Though earthly friends and earthly help would fail him, yet he was not to go through the sad scenes of suffering and trial alone. The Father was to be with him, to comfort and cheer him in that mighty agony in the garden, when the traitor kissed him, when the soldier seized, the priest reviled, the people clamoured, and the judge condemned. Yea! the comforts of the Father's presence would lead him to the foot of the cross, and only leave him in that arduous and bitter struggle which he must go through by his own strength, for without its agony and its bitterness man could not be redeemed.
We cannot then read these words as they apply to our Lord without having our thoughts led to the misery