Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

the hearing of a savage, the account of the Saviour's sufferings in the garden and on the cross. "How is this?" said one of

the savages. "Tell me it once more, for I would be saved". and laid his hand on his mouth and wept. Here was learned, almost by accident, the great secret of their success in the world. Here was illustrated anew the principle of the gospel, adapted to all ages and people, that the account of a suffering Redeemer is to be the grand means of teaching sinners everywhere their guilt; and of drawing forth tears of repentance from eyes that, but for this, would never weep. Our own experience in the ministry has been short. But we may, perhaps, be allowed to say, that the only revival of religion in which we, as a pastor, have been permitted to engage, began in the progress of a series of sermons on the work of Christ; and that the effect of that truth was visible through the series, till almost the entire congregation bowed at once before the cross, and a deep and awful solemnity pervaded all ranks in the community. Nor do we doubt that this is the way in which men must be taught to feel their guilt, as the gospel spreads over the world. If you wish to make men feel the evil of sin, go and tell them that its magnitude is so great that none but God's own Son could undertake the task of bearing the burden of the world's atonement. Go and remember that angelic might was not equal to this; that all on high but God was incapable to breast the tide of human sins; that so great were the plans of gigantic and all-spreading evil, that it was needful that God should become incarnate, and in our nature meet the evils of sin, aimed at his head and his heart. Go and look on embodied holiness-the august blending of all virtues in the person of the Son of God, moving a present deity through the scenes of earth; and himself the only innocent being that had blessed our world with his presence. Then go and see innocence itself in torture, and ask, why was this? Is this the fair expression of the desert of our sin? Did God judge

aright when he deemed that woes like these should tell how much man ought to endure? If so, then bitter sorrows should come over our souls at the remembrance of all these sufferings, and of the sins that caused the death of this stranger-friend that came to seek out the guilty, and to die.

6. One other mode consists in bringing before a man, so that he must see it, the tremendous scenes of the judgment. We must diminish the apparent journey which he has to tread, and place him amid the scenes of the judgment day. This help religion furnishes to bring guilty men to repentance. It assures us that we shall be there; and that that tribunal is a place where the sinner must feel. You perhaps have marked in a court of justice some guilty man, who, at the beginning of his trial, assumed the Stoic, and was bold, and, apparently, unconcerned. Yet you have marked the change in the man when the witnesses have been called; when one circumstance after another has pointed at his guilt; when an argument to condemn him might already have been made out. And you may have marked the cloud on his brow, and the paleness on his cheek, when he sees some witness advance deliberately, who, he knows, is acquainted with his guilt, who he hoped or believed would not have been there, and who now solemnly swears to declare the whole truth. His last refuge has failed, and he must die. So the sinner must be made to draw near to the judgment. His delusions and evasions must be swept away. He must be borne onward, and must look at those scenes. Time, and friends, and pleasures, and honours, must be made to leave him, and he must be shut up and encompassed in the still, solemn scenes, where conscience shall no more be silent; where the eye of the all-seeing Judge shall be witness enough of guilt; and where he must stand riveted by that eye, quailing beneath its piercings, horror-stricken at an opening hell; and amid that vast multitude, trembling by himself surrounded by numberless millions, yet weeping

apart. All this power the gospel wields; and, with this it intends to press on the soul till the haughty man is bowed down; and the hardened man melts into tears, and the profligate man trembles in view of judgment and of hell.

The gospel is, therefore, a simple device, though mighty, adapted to the state of man. It was originated by him who knew what was in man; and who knew the way to the human heart. It is founded on the manifest guilt of men; it meets the susceptibilities of men; enlists on its side all that is tender and thrilling, and awful in the human bosom; and has devised a plan calling in from three worlds, all that can move, excite, win, or awe. Could this plan have been invented by men? Is it like any thing that men ever have invented?

The work of the ministry is one of great difficulty, and demanding great skill. It is no light work to wield that which is designed to effect great changes in the human bosom, and to revolutionize the world. It is no unimportant task to be engaged in applying that which has called forth all the wisdom of God, and which must affect forever the destinies of men. But this is not the only difficulty. It is a work of laying open human guilt; bringing out secret offences; revealing crime; attempting to excite the energies of conscience; to inflict the pangs of remorse on men; and to bring them to the posture of grief, and the bitterness of penitence. It is not to be wondered at if we are regarded as ministers of gloom, and " pected of taking a pleasure in attempting to overwhelm the soul in dark and melancholy forebodings." Nor are we to be disappointed if one man thinks we are close, or personal, or severe; or another would like smoother prophesyings; and another be uneasy that his repose is disturbed; and another attempt to suppress his ill-concealed feelings; and another find quietude in some place where the mighty and pungent doctrines of the cross are concealed, or men are taught not to be afraid of the declaration that God is a consuming fire.

sus

We see here what makes death so terrible to a sinner. The mask is then off. The world recedes and appears as it is. Its delusions have vanished. The mist is gone, and the naked soul, the conscience, the feelings, the apprehensions, are laid bare to the insufferable blaze of truth, and the piercings of the eye of God. The tossed sinner cannot help himself, then. There is no delusion; no new mist; no cavern there; no far projecting rock; no way to silence the voice, or turn away the eye of God. There it is everywhere. The sinner dying, may roll and toss, but the eye of God is there-everywhere—just as bright, as keen, as riving—as justice and indignation can make it--and as it will be in an eternal hell. And there, too, is a finger mysteriously moving on the wall,-nor can he turn from that,—and writing his damnation. The man is afraid to live and afraid to die. Verily it is a fearful thing to die a sinner, and to lie on such a death-bed as that. God grant that no such struggling spirit of any of our readers may go to the judgment-seat of the eternal God!

V.

[CHRISTIAN SPECTATOR, 1834.]

Episcopacy tested by Scripture. By the Right Reverend HENRY U. ONDERDONK, D.D., Assistant Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. New York: published by the Protestant Episcopal Tract Society. pp. 46.

THE history of this tract is this. It was first published as an essay, in the "Protestant Episcopalian," for November and December, 1830. It was then issued in a pamphlet form, without the name of the author. It was next requested for publication by the "Trustees of the New York Protestant Episcopal Press;" and, after being amended by the author, with an addition of several notes, it was printed in the form of a tract, and as such has had an extensive circulation.

The tract is one which has strong claims on the attention of those who are not Episcopalians. The name and standing of the author will give it extensive publicity. The fact that it comes from the "Press" of the Episcopal Church in this country; that it is issued as one of their standing publications, and that it will, therefore, be circulated with all the zeal which usually characterizes associations organized for defending the exclusive views of any religious body; and, most of all, the character of the tract itself, and the ground assumed by it, give it a title to our attention, which can be claimed by hardly any single tract of the kind ever published in our country. Our views of it may be expressed in one word. It is the best written, the most manly, elaborate, judicious, and candid discussion, in the form of a tract, which we have seen on this

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »