« EdellinenJatka »
of our attention.
“ And hope maketh not ashamed, “ because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts « by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Let us consider the excellency, and the evidence of this hope. Let us, I. SHEW HOW ĮT PRESERVES FROM SHAME ; and, II. II. ASCERTAIN
CONNECTION WITH THE LOVE OF GOD.
Part I. It is not necessary to enlarge upon the nature of hope ; it is a pleasing expectation of some fu. ture attainable good.' But a commendation is here given it, which it will be useful for us to examine. IT MAKETĦ NOT ASHAMED. We may take three views of it. We may oppose it to the hope of the Worldling; the hope of the Pharisee ; and the hope of the Antinomian. Hope causes shame, by the insufFICIENCY OF ITS OBJECT, and this is the hope of the WORLDLING ; by THE WEAKNESS OF ITS FOUNDA Tion, and this is the hope of the PHARISEE ; by THE FALSENESS OF ITS WARRANT, and this is the hope of the ANTINOMIAN. The hope of the Christian has the noblest object, the surest foundation, the clearest warrant, and with regard to each of these, it MAKETH NOT ASHAMED.
First. Hope may cause shame by the INSUFFICIEN. CT OF ITS OBJECT ; and such is the hope of the WORLDLING. And here we are not going to observe how frequently " the men of the world” never reach the mark and obtain the prize for which they run ; we allow them to be successful, and only call upon you to witness their disappointment when their expectations are accomplished. For what have they gain,
ed to reward their toil, and to indemnify them for the sacrifices they have made? As they examine the acquisition which they so much overvalued ; see how they blush; hear how they exclaim ; «Vanity of van: “ities, all is vanity and vexation of spirit !"
“ In vain we seek a heaven below the sky;
“ The world has false but flattering charms :
And when we grasp the airy forms,
“ We lose the pleasing dream." Look forward and see the worldling called to strip and die. See him laying down all his honours, all his riches on the side of the grave; bidding farewell to every scene his soul held dear, and entering the eternal world destitute. Now thought can no longer be diverted; every disguise drops off; now he forms a true estimate of things; and what does he think of those objects for which he deprived himself of rest, and racked himself with anxieties? for which he disregarded the calls of religion, and abandoned the prospect of endless life? What does he think of them now they are fled, for ever fled, and have left him without resource? What does Alexander now think of his bloody trophies? What does Herod now think of kill: ing James, and condemning Peter, because he saw “it pleased the people?” What does Judas think of his thirty pieces of silver? They are all covered with confusion, and filled with contempt.
But let us view them in their present circumstances. Here they are in their best estate ; they have their portion in this life. Here the crowned votaries of the world seem to be happy, and they are envied by all around them. They are envied ; but it is only by the foolish and the ignorant, who know them not. They seem indeed to be happy, but penetrate through the glory which surrounds them, and look within, and you will find them harrassed with doubts, agitated with fears, a prey to evil passions, “ á troubled sea when it “ cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and dirt.” Could you approach them in those moments in which the delusions of imagination give place to the remon. strances of conscience, and reason is called to the chair, you would hear them confessing? “ all this is “ important only in the eyes of strangers ; they gaze “ on the exhibition and admire ; but we are behind the “scenes, and view the naked ropes and pullies. We “ are not happy, nor is it in the power of these things “ to satisfy our desires. In all this dissipation we nev“ er taste a drop of pure joy. The friendship of the “ world is worse than nothing. We are astonished “when we reflect upon our own folly. We do not “ follow these vanities; we are dragged after them. “Our life is bondage; O that we were free indeed! “ah! ye righteous, you alone have liberty and peace.
Happiness is only to be found in a deliverance from “ the present evil world. We will retire; we will re“ form; we will seek a better, even a heavenly coun.
Yes, tell me you who have made the world your hope, what has it done for you? In the many years you have devoutly served it, how much has it advanced your happiness? What have your pleasures and satisfactions been, compared with your regrets and disgusts? How soon when hulled to sleep, have your charming dreams vanished, and your waking disquietudes tormented you again! At the moment of my address, are you happy? Do you fear nothing? desire nothing? Are you not asking in language with which you commenced your career twenty, forty years ago, who will shew me any good? Do you dot shun solitude and retirement? Are you not afraid of reflection? Do you not flee from one company and amusement to another, to get rid of yourselves ? Do you never envy the happiness of the brutes ? Are you strangers to a wish that you had never been born? And if this be the case with regard to all your good things, what do you think of
your evil ones? Having no support in the day of adversity, you must sink. Having no diversion, you CANNOT escape the scourge of your own mind; and conscience free from restraints will be able to take a dreadful blow. Such is your present condition. You are as certain of disappointment in this world as in the world to come; and when you appear before God in judgment, you will not be heard to lament that all
your enjoyments are over, that your happiness is ENDED and your misery BEGUN. No.
You will not say, our happiness is ended ;” but “we never were hap
py: our misery is begun ; we always were miserable ; “ we found the way as well as the end of transgressors “ hard, and by a wretched time, we prepared ourselves only for a more wretched eternity."
On this dark ground we bring forward the Christian to advantage. The object of his hope is the greatest good a creature can possess; and while in every thing else the expectation exceeds the reality, in this
the reality infinitely surpasses the expectation. When we propose the hope of the Christian, we exclude every evil we feel or fear; every imperfection which degrades or grieves us. It is a house not made with “hands, eternal in the heavens :" it is “a city which “ hath foundations, whose builder and whose maker is “ God; it is “ a kingdom which cannot be shaken;" ;
; it is “a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” Think of the company with which he will associate, all the truly wise and good; “ the innumerable company of “angels;” “the Lord of all,” in whose“ presence “there is fullness of joy, and at whose right hand there
are pleasures for evermore.” Take his body; it is now vile, but it shall be changed and fashioned like the glorious body of the Saviour. Think of the body of the Son of God; a body to be worn by the Judge of all when he sits upon his throne ; a body in which He will be for ever adored. This is the model to which the Christian will be conformed. And after all, this is only the inferior part of him ; this is only' the dwelling, what will the inhabitant be! this is only the instrument, what will the agent be! however refined and subtilized, this is only matter, what will the spirit be! “ It doth not yet appear what we shall be ; but “.this we know, that when he shall appear we shall be “ like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Such is his hope, and it “maketh not ashamed." His understanding does not reproach him for pursuing such a prize. He does not blush to avow his purpose to the world. He does not shrink from a comparison with philosophers, princes, heroes. He leads a sublimer life; he has taken a grander aiin. And when he has