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that toil, and business, and pleasure, might have been consecrated and blessed by a heavenly aim.

Can any being, claiming the attributes of reason, say that, compared with this, the case of spiritual indifference and sloth is not gloomy? What should we think, if twenty years of our life had been passed in blank and barren idiotcy? And when we awaked from that stupor and sleep of the soul, how should we regard the time that had thus passed? But, compared with twenty years of growing irreligion and vice, that lot would be a blessing. In that case no blame could attach, and no reproach would follow, and no retribution would call the unhappy victim to its bar. Twenty years of sickness would be accounted a sad lot; and yet that might have saved the soul for ever. But twenty years of spiritual maladies, to which no healing or help has come; twenty, thirty, forty years, in which a man has grown no better—a common case, I most seriously fear-in which no holy principles of action have been gained, no passions subdued, no communion with God has been sought, no preparation for trouble, and sickness, and death has been made, no meetness for heaven has been acquired!—truly, well might the Apostle say to his converts, “Let the time past suffice, wherein ye have wrought the will of the Gentiles.” Is it not_0 negligent man! O sinful sleeper!— is it not enough? Canst thou ask more time to be thus wasted and lost? If thou canst, when will thy wakening be? When, and where? If thou wilt not arise now from this spiritual lethargy, thy wakening may be when to all human view it is too late; and where the last failing voices of mercy may arouse you only to horror and despair!

When and where I say not; but this I know, that every hour of this awful repose is an hour of added peril. It is high time to awake from this sleep, in the fourth place, because there is infinite danger in it. Sleep, if thou wilt, on the brink of a precipice; sleep on the mountain's brow, with a yawning chasm beneath you; sleep on the sea-shore, when the roaring tide is coming in with a flood to overwhelm you : but let no man sleep amidst the mountain precipices and chasms of this world's temptations; let no man sleep amidst the whelming tides of passion. Those outward dangers are but symbols of a danger internal, spiritual, and great, beyond the power of any comparison to set forth. If you saw a fellow-being in those perilous situations, you would fly to his rescue; or you would be struck with horror at the danger which you could not avert. But, if you are a negligent transgressor of God's commands, a careless offender against your own conscience, an easy yielder to sinful indulgence, you have infinitely more reason to tremble for yourself. Ruin is not more certainly in the path of the devouring sea, than it is in the path and course of unholy passions and sinful indulgences.

And what a ruin is it?—not of the body, but of the soul; not of merchandize, but of virtue ; not of gold and silver, but of those affections which, rightly regulated, are richer-sacred heaven! how poorly was I about to speak! richer than gold and silver, was I ready to say? -nay, richer than all the suns and stars of the firmament. What a ruin is that which is found in the brand that sinful gratifications leave on the soul; in the blight and curse of an envious mind ; in the seared and callous heart of avarice ; in the meanness of selfish

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competitions ; in the baseness of living on the world's favour; in the barrenness of an unsatisfied and desolated mind; in the darkness of a soul estranged and alienated from its Maker! We talk of ruin ; but there is no ruin like that, no desolation like that, which enters into the chambers of the soul ; no ruin like that which lays waste the spiritual temple ; no scourge like that which passes over the immortal nature. All misery like that which sin causes, is in its nature occasional, temporary, transient; it does not belong to the mind, but only to its condition. But that misery which sin creates, becomes a part of the soul; it will cling to the mind till the last trace of evil habit is worn away by repentance.

It is high time to awake, then, because now is the only time we may have for it; because a matter of infinite weight presses ; because too much time has been lost; and because every added moment of spiritual sloth is a moment added to peril.

Once more, let us be admonished that it is high time to awake, by the tokens of the closing year. The season which we are approaching, is a time of congratulations and kind tokens of remembrance; and be it so. But let the great admonition of the season sink deeper into our minds than congratulations, and become an abiding memorial within us, more precious than all the offerings of friendship. Let the compliments of the season be paid, and let them pass, as they will pass; but so let not the solemn mementos of the coming season pass away from us. These years, Christian brethren, are hurrying us away. I say not this gloomily, nor to communicate gloom ; but to awaken from indifference, and arouse to exertion. What shall startle us from our sloth and negligence, if these epochs of our hasting life shall not? Most of us, it may be, imagine that a time will come when we shall be more zealous, and earnest, and decided. But when shall it once be? and what shall awaken us to it, if not the remembrance of lost time, and the present and urgent tokens of its hasty flight? Well saith the poeta

" It is the signal that demands despatch;

How much is to be done! My hopes and fears
Start up alarmed ; and o'er life's narrow verge
Look down-on what? A fathomless abyss,
A dread eternity, how surely mine!
“Seize, then, the present moments;
For, be assured, they all are messengers;
And though their flíght be silent, and their paths trackless,
As the winged couriers of the air,
They post to heaven, and there record thy folly:
Because, though stationed on the important watch,
Thou like a sleeping, faithless sentinel,
Didst let them pass unnoticed, unimproved.
And know, for thou that slumberest on the guard,
Thou shalt be made to answer at the bar

For every fugitive.
“Then stay the present instant;
Imprint the mark of wisdom on its wings.
Oh! let it not elude thy grasp, but like
The good old patriarch upon record,
Hold the fleet angel tast, until he bless thee.”

COMPASSION FOR THE SINFUL,

MARK iii, 5 : “And when he had looked round about him with anger, being

grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand.”

That part of this passage only which relates to the moral temper of our Saviour, is proposed for your present meditations. It is, in other words, and especially, the compassion of Jesus.

In reading the first clause of the sentence—he “ looked round about him with anger”-I suppose that many may have felt an emotion, a thrill almost of pain and doubt; they have felt that these words, by themselves, and in their simple meaning, were in painful contrast with all their ideas of our Saviour's meekness and patience; they have been ready to doubt whether the words could have been correctly translated. But how entirely and delightfully is the mind relieved by the words that follow—“ being grieved for the hardness of their hearts!” He was indignant as he looked around him, and witnessed the bitter enmity, and the base hypocrisy of the Jews; but his indignation instantly softened into pity; he was grieved at the hardness of their hearts.

This is one instance of that sublime moral harmony—that union in which the most opposite qualities met and mingled—that so entirely singles out from all other models, the character of our heavenly Teacher and Master. We recognise the same spirit with that which was so pathetically manifested in his appeal to Jerusalem—“0 Jeru. salem! Jerusalem!-thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent to thee.” Here is the tone of indignation, and reproach; but mark how instantly it is redeemed from the ordinary character of those sentiments—" thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent to theo ; how often would I have gathered thy children, even as a hen gathereth her brood under her wing, but ye would not!

The spirit with which we should regard the faults and sins of mankind is nearly a neglected subject in morals; and it had been well for moral reformers and preachers of righteousness, if they had more thoroughly considered it. It is, moreover, a very practical subject to all men; for we are constantly brought into contact with the faults and transgressions of mankind; every day offers, from this cause, some an. noyance to our feelings, or some injury to our interests; every newspaper that is taken in our hand is burdened with the recital of crimes -robberies, murders, piracies, wars. Indeed, this constant experience of injustice or exasperation, in some or other of their forms, and this extensive observation of human wickedness, are a part of our moral discipline; and it becomes us to consider how we should meet it, and be made better by other men's faults. It is, indeed, in its mildest form, a sad and grievous discipline, from which no one should be willing to come out unprofited.

There is another general observation applicable to this subject. As we advance in our moral discriminations, we shall always find that things, before indifferent, become interesting; and things distant, it may be added, become near. A war, for instance, breaks out between distant nations. A man may say—what is that to me? What is the case of the French and the Austrians, of the Russians and the Poles, to me? I answer it is much to you: for every time you read an account of a battle; every time you read of the prowess of armies, of blood and carnage, of blazing battlements, and groaning hospitals, you have certain feelings; and they are marked with a strong, moral complexion. You are pleased or pained, you exult, or you regret, or you are indifferent; and to any refined moral sensibility, these states of mind will not be unimportant. Or, an extensive fraud in some public insti-, tution, although it may not touch you in your interests, does touch you in your feelings ; and therefore does concern, though not your pecuniary, yet your moral welfare. And while others think that they have nothing to do but with words; nothing to do, but to talk, and speculate, and wonder, and rail; a thoughtful man will feel that he has much to do with his own heart. Or, when the poor miserable victim of vice, the shattered wreck of a man, appears before the public eye, he may be contemplated with laughter and scorn; but from a man who breathes the spirit of the Christian Master, that spectacle will draw forth deeper sentiments. It is the form of sacred humanity that is before him; it is an erring fellow-being; it is a desolate, forlori), forsaken soul; and the thoughts of good men, that gather around that poor wretch, will be far deeper than those of indifference or scorn. And, in fine, all human offences,—that whole system of dishonesty, evasion, circumventing, forbidden indulgence, and intriguing ambition, in which men are struggling together, will often be looked upon, by a thoughtful observer, not merely as the sphere of mean toils and strifes, but as the mighty, and to a Christian eye, the solemn, conflict of minds immortal, for ends vast and momentous as their own being. Sad and unworthy strife, indeed! and let it be viewed with indignation ; but let that indignation, too, melt into pity.

Such, indeed, is the spirit recommended in our text-a spirit of indignation at human faults and follies; but a spirit, too, which leans to pity-a feeling which, although it begins often with indignation, always, by the aids of reflection and piety, ends in pity.

There is a portion of indignation in the right temper. The right feeling is not a good-natured easiness at the transgressions of men, nor a worldly indifference, nor a falsely philosophic coldness, that puts on an air of reasoning, and says, “it must be so,” and men were made so," and “this is what we must expect. Neither is it a worldly laxity of conscience, that accounts everything well that passes under the seal of public opinion. It is a decided and strong moral feeling, that ought to be awakened by human wickedness. It is indignation.

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But then it is not a harsh and cruel feeling; it is not peevishuess nor irritation; it is not hasty nor angry reproach; it is not a feeling that delights in denunciation. No; but the words of warning fall, as they did from the lips of Jesus, mingled with lamentation. Or, the words of reproach are uttered as they were by Paul, when he told the Philippians, and told them even weeping, that some among them were enemies of the cross of Christ.

There are other mistakes which we are liable to commit, and other wrong feelings which we are prone to cherish, towards the erring and guilty.

Good men—shall I say it?—are too proud of their goodness. Here are you, a respectable individual in society. Dishonour comes not near you. Your countenance has weight and influence. Your robe is unstained. The poisonous breath of calumny has never been breathed upon your fair name. Ah! How easy is it to look down with scorn upon the poor, degraded offender ; to pass by him with a lofty step; to draw up the folds of your garment around you, that it may not be soiled by his touch! Yet the great Master of virtue did not so: but he descended to familiar intercourse with publicans and sinners.

There is a feeling, I say, not only of scorn, but of triumph, often springing up from the survey of other men's faults. Many seem to think themselves better for all the sins they can detect in others. And when they are going over the catalogue of their neighbour's unhappy derelictions of temper or conduct, there is often, amidst much apparent concern, a secret exultation, that poisons and blasts all their pretensions to wisdom and moderation, and their claims even to virtue itself. Nay, this feeling goes so far, that men take actual pleasure in the sins of others. It is not the corrupt man only—it is not the seducer into the path of evil only—that does this; but it is every man whose thoughts are often employed in agreeable comparisons of his virtues with the faults of his neighbour.

The power over men's faults, which is lost by a harsh or haughty treatment of them, would of itself form a great subject; and one that much needs to be commended to all those who would exert any moral influence over their fellow-beings. The power of gentleness, the subduing influence of pity, the might of love, the control of mildness over passion, the commanding majesty of that perfect character which mingles grave displeasure with grief and pity for the offender-these things have been too little seen in the world. I believe that our pulpits, and our tribunals of justice, and parental authority among us, must put on a new aspect, before they will appear in all their dignity, their venerableness, their power and beauty. We scarcely know, as yet, what we might do with men's passions and vices. They are commonly reputed, and some of them in particular, to be untameable, incorrigible, and fated to procure the ruin of their victims; and they are in part made so, by our wrong treatment of them. The human heart cannot yield to such an influence as we too often endeavour to exert upon it. It was not made to bow willingly to what is merely human; at least not to what is infirm and wrong in human nature. If it yields to us, it must yield to what is divine in us. The wickedness of my neighbour cannot submit to my wickedness; his sensuality, for instance, cannot submit to my anger against his vices. My faults are not the instruments that are to

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