Page images

ing with you? Have you never enjoyed blessings, and suffered bereavements which you could trace back to him? Has he never gratified your inclinations? Has he never disappointed your hopes ? Have you not sometimes been made to feel


dependance on him ? Have you never felt yourself to be in his hand, and then has not his favor seemed desirable and his frown dreadful? Has he never brought you near the grave and then withdrawn you? Are you a stranger to the thrill of gratitude, or to the pang of bereavement? Has his Spirit never striven with you? Has not the truth sometimes affected you? Have you not, at times, felt the constraint of conviction, and been almost persuaded to be different from what you are? Has no inward monitor ever whispered to your soul? Has nothing ever intimated God and eternity to you? Has the world never lost its illusion to your eye? Has man never seemed, at his best estate, altogether vanity, and all that life can afford palled upon your sated appetite ? Have you never thought that you ought to repent? Has it never appeared to you that you had a deep stake in religion ? Have you never been persuaded that there is one thing above all others needful, and that that is what you do not possess ? Have you never thought seriously and mournfully of the end of time, and the exchange of worlds, of the grave and the spirit, and the judgment and that eternity, that long eternity, your own, a blessing or a curse ?

God has been striving with you ; and all to arrest you in the career of sin, and to call you back. And

6. For

what is the result? Are you sinning still ? “ all this, they sinned still.”

I have not time to remark at any length on the thought suggested by the latter part of the text; the inefficacy of all these divine expedients. “ They sinned still."

In regard to the cause of this inefficacy, however, I would say that it does not imply any defect of power in God.

in God. And in relation to the extent of the inefficacy, I would observe these two things; first, that the great multitude of mankind appear to go on in sin and plunge into perdition. They cease, it may be, from some sins, but they persist in others. They do not repent. And, secondly, I would remark that those who do cease from sin, owe it not to these measures, except as they are the mere instruments of God.

I resume now, in conclusion, a question I have already asked, “What is the result of God's dealings with you ?" Has he striven to any purpose ? Has he arrested and reclaimed you? And, if not, why should any thing more be done for you? What more can be done, that has not been done already ? Why should not God give you up as incorrigible ? Why should you be stricken any more? Ye will revolt more and more.


My son, give me thy heart.-PROVERBS xxiii. 26.

“WHENCE came I ?" is the first question which, in some shape or other, man puts to himself, when he begins to exercise his rational faculties. While he is yet asking it, there is something within him which unites with every thing around and above him, to declare that there is a God, who, himself uncreated, created all beings, and all things, and a God, as all his works and ways do testify, uncontrollable in power, unsearchable in wisdom, immense in goodness ; yea, universally and infinitely perfect; a God, whose offspring we all are, as even a heathen poet could say, and who giveth to all life and breath and all things. “Doth he require any thing of me?" is a question that naturally follows the other. I know he, in whom I live, and move, and have my being, deserves all that I have and more than I can render; but does he desire it? does he demand it? He has a claim upon me; but does he insist upon his claims ? does he use his right? or, has he waived it ? has he turned me loose upon the world, and given me the freedom of a universe, and a license to do as I please, restrained by no law, and amenable to no account? Is it a matter of indiffer

to my

ence to him what I do with these organic powers, and these intellectual faculties, and these deeplyseated affections, the noblest part of me? Or does he expect and exact some return from them? I know he needeth nothing that I can give him. Yet it may be fit and morally right that he should exact and I should render what he may have no physical necessity for. If he cannot be the less happy on account of any thing which I withhold, yet I may be both less happy and less worthy. Shall I measure my obligations by his wants ? But whether he requireth any thing or not, is there any thing that I may render him? Have I any thing that he will take from me, and that is worthy of him to receive ? Tell me this, for I want to render something

God for all his benefits to me. He blessed me into being; he hath called me out of unconsciousness, and made me to feel the joys of conscious existence. I live by him; I live in him. His sun lights my path ; his earth yields me sustenance; from his air I inhale health ; and music, and fragrance, and beauty come floating upon it to my delighted senses. What will this beneficent God have me to do for him? Is there any thing I can do ? Oh! tell me, for I am in haste to do it ; let me pay but the first installment of gratitude, and I shall be happier than

What does he require? what will he receive? what labor that my hands can perform ? what exercise that my faculties can be put to ? what pilgrimage that my feet can accomplish? what posture that my body can assume? The lifted eye, the listening ear, the bended knee, the whole frame prostrated,


his name set to the music of


voice? Is it any thing pertaining to the world ? Shall I dig for its gems ? shall I dive for its pearls ? shall I amass for him its gold and silver ? or is it some sacrifice of some living object dear to me as my own life? Shall I bereave myself ? shall I macerate my body or afflict my soul? Is it any rite? What is it? It is none of these, for I am confident from his benignity, that what he requires will make me wiser and better and happier, and these have no such tendency. What is it then? What is that which the parent asks of the child? The gift most highly esteemed, which one creature renders to a fellow-creature, that which the monarch had rather have, than the sceptre he bears and the throne he sits


? What is the most precious thing you have to give? Is it not the heart, its love, the homage of the affections ? Well, this is what God requires : my son, give me thy heart. It is wisdom that speaks in the text and context; but she personates God. She speaks in his name and asks the heart for him. If we give the heart to wisdom, it is the same as giving it to God, for the affectionate fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The voice of wisdom is the echo to that which thundered from Sinai, “ Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart," of which Jesus, in commenting upon it, said, “this is the first and great commandment." God demands the heart. What! the whole heart? Yes, my hearers, the whole heart; by which, however, is not meant that we must love him only, but him first, him supremely. We

We may love other objects, but we must

« PreviousContinue »