« EdellinenJatka »
terrors of a jealous God.” The worshipper of mammon, who sets his heart on his idol, and exults in the increase of his riches, as the Israelites danced round the golden calf; the pampered sensualist, or wanton debauchee, who gives the reins to his irregular passions and base lusts; the slave of ambition, who by all the artifices of low cunning and falsehood, presses forward into posts of power — these all pursue their gratifications under the solemn prohibition and dreadful frowns of Heaven.“ Whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear,” an awful voice declares, “ Woe unto them that join house to house, and lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink, that continue until night, till wine inflame them! And the harp, and the viol, and the tabret, and the pipe, and wine, are in their feast, but they regard not the work of the Lord, weither consider the operation of his hands. Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter !” Isa. V, 8, 11, 12, 20. Thus it plainly appears, the boasted delights of the wicked are only corrupt and criminal pleasures. Men must burst through
all the restraints of lawful authority to reach them; and incur all the terrors of Divine wrath to enjoy them.
But see the believer to whom Christ is precious. His joys are perfectly free of access, and free from the intermixture of bitter regrets. "Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely,” is an invitation, which sounds more sweetly than music in his ears. It is therefore “ with joy, that he draws this water from the wells of salvation.” No rigid prohibition, no flaming sword, no terrors set in array, prevent his approach to the tree of life. " He , calmly sits down under its shadow with great delight, and its fruit is sweet to his taste.” The plenitude, variety, and suitableness of spiritual blessings, are in the Gospel represented under the figure of a royal feast. The King sends his ser, vants to invite his guests. Too many, alas ! refuse the gracious invitation. Wholly engrossed by business, or pleasure, they begin to make excuse, and thus return evil for good. But those who listen to the Divine call, and rejoice that there is yet room, are at once welcomed to the feast. There are no hard, impracticable conditions to perform; no tedious and difficult preparations to make; no expensive offerings, or meritorious services required, to gain admission. At this feast, which is made for spiritual gladness, all, all is provided by the rich, unbounded grace of the King of Zion.
Besides, the enjoyments of the Christian are also free from those bitter regrets which attend sinful pleasures. Let me not, however, be misunderstood. I do not mean to intimate, that the believer is perfectly happy in this world. Alas! experience too feelingly evinces the contrary. Much remaining depravity, and many imperfections attend the best of saints while on earth. It is also the will of God, that they should be tried by rarious afflictions. Still, the Christian knows this, that his divine joy never turns to bitterness. He has none of those drawbacks and painful embarrassments, which attend the gay delights of the sinner. You do not hear him wishing that he had never known the pleasures of religion. You do not see him frantic with distraction and grief, and cursing the day in which he first began to seek and find satisfaction in the Gospel and its privileges. Those seasons of sweet enjoyment, which he has passed in communion with God, and his Son Jesus Christ, raise in the conscience no chilling horrors, nor pangs of remorse. No: when he grieves at all, it is not that he has tasted too freely the fruits and pleasures of religion; but rather, that he has lost
many precious comforts through inattention and carelessness. Spiritual blessings are indeed equally valuable at all times, though we are not always in a frame equally adapted to relish them. Mr. Scott, in his Essays, speaking of the joys which flow down from Christ, through the influence of the Spirit, justly observes, “ It is the privilege of the believer exclusively to experience, relish, and value such joys; and to distinguish them from the joy of the hypocrite, which springs from ignorance, pride, and presumption : we are, therefore, exhorted to rejoice in the Lord always; and all our enfeebling dejection and sorrow are the consequences of living below our privileges, and coming short of our duty in this as well as in. other respects. Especially we forfeit and mar this joy when we grieve the Spirit by our misconduct, or quench his holy influence by cleaving to the world, or by inexpedient self-indulgence; so that the apostle exhorts Christians not to be drunk with wine, wherein is excess, from which others seek exhilaration, but to be filled with the Spirit.” ..
Which now do you prefer, the pleasures of sin, or the free, unembittered pleasures of religion? Are you one who makes light of the Gospel and its rich provision, and yet eagerly indulges in every kind of corrupt and sensual joy ? Consider,
what a curse God hath suspended on every branch of forbidden pleasure. How many eagerly seize the bait of temptation, regardless of the hook, which never fails to pierce them with the keenest anguish! How many have been dashed from the precipice, on which you now perhaps stand, into the depths of endless misery? Or are you, reader, one who tastes the preciousness of Christ, and always triumphs in the savour of his knowledge ? Sensible that a mass of misery lies hid amidst the alluring scenes of the voluptuous, do you stand at a safe distance, crying in the language of the Psalmist, 6* Let me not eat of their dainties?" And when the sensual think it strange, so that you run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you;” would you rather bear their abuse than in a single instance give them the sanction of your encouragement? Do you think “ a day in God's house better than a thousand ?” Would you rather be a doorkeeper there, than dwell in the most splendid tents of wickedness. Go then to the source whence all your joys are supplied. There you are in no danger of excess. By drawing plentifully from this source you cannot exhaust it, nor be less amply supplied in days to come.
• 3. The enjoyments of the ungodly are unsuitable to the soul; but those of the believer are