Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Visâ cælesti illâ angelorum scalâ, evigilans Patriarcha, Quàm tremendus est, inquit, iste locus! Gen. xxviii. 17. Ecce sanctum Jacobum, ad ipsius loci, in quo se Deus repræsentari voluit, conspectum, piè contremiscentem ; vixque se continentem, quin solum ipsum, in quo machina illa angelica figi visa est, pronus adorârit. Quo demum stupore, divinæ illius gloriæ, quæ in summitate scalæ resplenduit, radiis, perculsum judicabimus! Certè, uti semper nobiscum Deus est, ita nunquam non aliter adest, quàm incomprehensibiliter gloriosissimus : neque agnosci à nobis unquam potest, nisi sacro quodam metu concussis, quasique adorabundâ tantæ majestatis admiratione planè absorptis.

Ego verò non parùm vereri mihi videor, ne hic affectus animi non ita, uti par est, apud Christianorum plerosque obtinere soleat. De magno illo et omnipotente Coeli Numine, et sentire et loqui assolent non pauci, stupido quodam neglectu, temerâque et incuriosâ familiaritate : haud unquam, nisi ubi tonuerit, ad potentiam ipsius pertrementes ; nec quo metu Infinitæ Deitatis unquam confusi, nisi cùm insigni aliquo judiciorum suorum specimine sese terribilem exhibuerit. Ecce, seraphici illi spiritus faciem sibi abscondunt alis; Isaia. vi. 2. fulgorem Presentiæ Divinæ intueri parùm sustinentes : quorum tamen unusquisque, ita totus gloriâ ac majestate splendet, ut meritô quidem Manoah, horum uno semel conspecto, de vitâ suâ subinde desperaverit. Judges viii. 22. Nos verò, cinis ac pulvisculus, faciem gloriosissimam illius, qui horum Spirituum Deus est, audaci fronte, negligentibus oculis, securâ mente, intueri non dubitabimus? Difficile, profectò, judicatu est, prejusne fuerit, Deum præsentem non agnoscere, vel agniti præsentiâ parùm affici reverenter: quorum, illud, stupidæ cujusdam negligentiæ est; hoc, impii cujusdam stuporis : quædain certè in utroque atheismi species delitescit.

(6.) Secundo in loco, Sanctum Obedientiæ Studium, Divinæque Approbationis ambitiosa quædam Cura ac Solicitudo. Enimvero, qui tam potentem Deum sibi perpetuò præsentem agnoverit, næ ille parùm ausus fuerit quicquam præstare, quod tanto Numini displiceat; quinimmo, dabit operam sedulò, ut à Summi Judicis misericordi manu fidelitatis suæ lauream reportare mereatur. Quicquid, verò, agendum susceperit, ex animo suo anxiè sciscitabitur clanculum; "Quomodo hoc Deo meo arridebit?"

When the Patriarch of old awoke, after the vision of the ladder of heaven, and the angels ascending and descending, he exclaimed, How dreadful is this place! Gen. xxviii. 17. Look at holy Jacob, trembling with awe at the very sight of the place, where God was pleased to vouchsafe a revelation of himself; and scarcely able to refrain from falling down, and worshipping the very ground on which the foot-way of the angels had appeared to rest. But with what amazement must we conceive him struck by the rays of that divine glory, which beamed forth at the top of the ladder! For, as God is present with us always, so is he never present with us otherwise, than incomprehensibly most glorious : nor can we at any time feel his presence, but we must be struck with solemn fear, and ready to melt away with reverential admiration of so great majesty.

And here I cannot conceal the fear I entertain, that this state of mind prevails not as it ought, among the generality of those who profess the religion of Christ. Not a few of them are wont both to feel, and to speak, of the great and mighty God of Heaven, with a sort of stupid negligence, or pert and careless familiarity: seldom or never trembling at the recollection of his power, unless it be when he thunders; nor confounded with the dread of his Infinite Majesty, unless when he shews himself terrible by some remarkable display of his judgments. Look, the seraphic spirits, unable to endure the brightness of the Divine Presence, cover their faces with their wings; Isaiah vi. 2. and yet with so much glory and majesty shines each of those spirits, that Manoah, at the sight of one of them but for a moment, despaired, and not without reason, of living any longer. Judges xiii. 22. And shall we, vile dust and ashes, presume to look upon the most glorious face of Him, who is the God of those Spirits, with audacious forehead, heedless eyes, and mind undaunted and unconcerned ? It is difficult to determine which of the two offences is the worse; not to acknowledge the presence of God at all, or, while acknowledging, not to behave with decent reverence towards him : the former is the token of stupid negligence; the latter, of impious insensibility: certain it is, that something very like atheism lies lurking under each of them.

(6.) In the second place, will follow a Holy Pursuit of Obedience, and an anxious Care and Solicitude for the Approbation of God. For he who acknowledges that so powerful a God is always present with him, will hardly dare attempt anything, which might displease so august a Being ; but will rather use his best endeavours, worthily to receive the recompense of his fidelity from the merciful hand of his Supreme Judge. Whatsoever, therefore, he may have purposed to perform, he will put it to his own conscience, secretly and solemnly, " How will this please my God ?”

Mandavit olim Abrahamo Deus, Ambula corum me, et rectus esto. Gen. xvii. 1. Præcepti pars una subinfert alteram : non potest non esse rectus, quisquis coram Deo ambulaverit. Gnaviter oportet sit impudens, qui coram viro, coram puerulo, peccare ausit: sed, ubi justissimus potentissimusque Vindex adstare cernitur, atque exdikov in nos oupa conjicere ; quis non illud usurpet Josephi, Quomodo faciam malum hoc grande, ut peccem contra Deum ? Gen. xxxix. 9.

(2.) Et de Præsentiâ quidem hactenus. Altera sequitur ambulationis hujusce statio, FAMILIARITAS.

Præterire solemus ignotos : superiores à tergo insequimur: cum solis amicis ac familiaribus ambulamus. Henochus igitur, et quilibet verè Christianus, non post Deum modò, uti assecla; sed cum Deo, uti socius, honorificè coambulat. Amicus Dei salutatur Abrahamus: 2 Chron. xx. 7. Isaiah xli, 8. James ïi. 23. Eodem planè titulo, excelso quidem illo, et qui vix mortali cuiquam competere posse videretur, discipulos suos compellat Christus: John xv. 15. Talem honorem sortiuntur omnes sancti ejus. Psalm cxlix. 9.

Ambulare igitur cum Deo quid aliud innuit, quàm cum ipso, velut amicorum intimo, blandâ tremulâque quâdam familiaritate, conversari ? Familiaris verò hæc cum Deo conversatio in multis quidem consistit piis dispositionibus ac officiis ; quæ, in sacrosanctâ hâc ambulationis hujusce statione, totidem quasi stadia meritò dixerimus.

[1.] Quorum primum illud est jus nostrum (ut cum leguleiis loquar) ad Deum in Deo firmiter nobismet stabilire. Quid enim, quæso, juverit apprehendisse Deum infinito planè essentialique modo sapientem, potentem, justum, misericordem ; quid, præsentem nobiscum agnovisse; nisi ipsum et nostrum insuper esse persenserimus ? Certè absque hoc omnia illa gloriosissima Dei attributa nihil aliud nisi terrorem nobis et incuterent et aggravarent; absque hoc foret, ambularemus Deo à longè: cum Deo ambulare nec ausi quidem ; a longè, ut alieno, ut inimico; non cum ipso, ut amico, ut Deo. Quid mihi demum profuerit alterius Deus? Væ mihi, nisi Deum habuero de proprio. Nihil mihi profectò vel tutaminis esse potest vel solatii, donec dicere possim cum Didymo illo, jam fæliciter restaurato, Dominus meus, Deus meus ; John xx. 28. et, cum Prophetâ, Jehovah justitia mea. Jer. xxiii. 6. Et hoc quideni fidei stadium est, latè sese porrigens: cùm ad apprehensionem illam agnitionemque Dei, quam modò pertransivimus ; tum ad reliquas actiones dispositionesque sacras, quas deinceps-sumus tractaturi.

[2.] Fidelem hanc Dei appropriationem sequitur perpetua The Lord commanded Abraham in days past, Walk before me, and be thou perfect. Gen. xvii. 1.

One part of the precept implies the other: he cannot but be perfect, who walks before God. He must needs be destitute of shame, who would dare commit sin in the presence of a man, or even of a child :but when the most righteous and most mighty Judge of all is seen to stand before us, and to cast his avenging eye upon us; who would not take up the words of Joseph, How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? Gen. xxxix. 9.

(2.) Thus far, then, of the topic of Presence. The second particular of our walk with God is FAMILIARITY.

Strangers we generally pass by; our betters we follow at a distance; it is only with our friends and acquaintance that we walk side by side. Enoch, therefore, and every true Christian, walks, not after God merely, like a dependent, but with God honourably, as a companion. Abraham is called the friend of God. 2 Chron. xx. . Isaiah xli. 8. James ii. 23. With the same title, lofty as it is, and such as might seem scarcely applicable to any mortal, Christ addresses his disciples : John xv. 15. Such honour have all his saints. Ps. cxlix. 9.

To walk with God, then,what else can the expression intimate, but to hold intercourse with him, in sweet and respectful familiarity, as with the nearest and dearest friend? But this familiar intercourse with God consists in many pious dispositions and duties, which we may with propriety describe as so many stages in this holy state of walking.

[1.] Of these, the first is firmly to establish for ourselves in God our right (to use a legal phrase) to God. For what can it advantage us, I

pray you, to have discovered that God is infinitely and essentially wise, powerful, just, and merciful; what, to have acknowledged that he is present with us; unless we are thoroughly convinced, moreover, that he is ours? Surely, without this, all the most glorious attributes of God would only augment and aggravate our fears; without this, we should still walk far off from God: in fact, we should not presume to walk with God; we should walk far off from him, as if he were a stranger and an enemy; not with him, as our friend, as our God. For of what use can another man's God be to me? Woe is me, if I have not a God of my own! He can afford me neither safety nor consolation, till I can say with Didymus, when happily recovered from his unbelief, My Lord, and my God! John xx. 28. and with the Prophet, The Lord my Righteousness. Jer. xxiii. 6. And this is the stage of faith, which extends itself both far and wide: as well to that apprehension and acknowledgment of God, which we have just discussed ; as to those holy actions and dispositions, of which we shall treat presently.

[2.] After this faithful appropriation of God to ourselves,

quædam mutui cum Deo colloquii familiaritas. Neque verò existimare debemus, ambulationem hanc planè mutam prorsùsve taciturnam : sed suavissimis dialogismis plenam. Piam animam alloquitur semper Deus, anima Deum. Deus animam, continuâ gratiæ excitatione, sanctarumque motionum injectione frequentissimâ ; anima Deum, assiduâ meditatione, gratiæ acceptilatione, repromissione obedientiæ. Suggerit Deus, Quærite faciem meam ; regerit anima, Fuciem tuam queremus, 0 Deus. Psalm xxvii. 8. Illicet hæc spirituum lingua est. Sic se solent illi, gratiosis divinisque rejaculationibus, mutuò excipere : et hoc illud est Bernardi dulce susurrium cum Deo; quo posito, impossibile planè est ut fidelis quisquam vel solus sit vel otiosus. Et hoc quidem stadium secundum esto.

[3.] Familiaris hujusce collocutionis gratiam ultrò sequetur certissima libertas, et consulendi Deum in dubiis, et rogandi in necessariis. Quicquid occurrerit, ad Ephodis oraculum recurrisse semper Davidem constat: I Sam. xxiii. 9. xxx. 7. sed et pius ille Jehosaphatus, ubi de re modò militari, expugnanda Ramothe, questio incidisset, non tam belli duces, quam sanctos Dei prophetas, censet adeundos. 1 Kings xxii. Teraphim suos percontatur Laban: Gen. xxxi. Endorem petit illico, pythonissam coasulturus, impius quispiam Saulus: 1 Sam. xxviii. cordatus quisque ac bonus unum scitatur Deum; et is nobis adstat, et verbum illius nobis ad manus est.

Non est quod enthusiasmos fanaticasque revelationes cogitemus. Æternùm præsens est consiliarius Davidis, pariter et nostri: Testimonia tua, ny "UX, viri consilii mei ; Ps. cxix. 24. Quicunque demum casus, quem appellant, conscientiæ, necessarius ad Christiani hominis salutem obtigerit, is, Spiritu suo, per vocem verbi sui nobis respondente ac definiente, claré certòque determinat.

[4.] Consulendi facultatem comitatur liberrima quædam supplicandi licentia, praxisque assidua. Illud est, quod, Apostoli manu, jubet Deus; Orare semper. 1 Thess. v. 17. Non ita cordi fuisset Deo Propheta ille Regius, nisi hoc fecisset perpetim: Venio, inquit, ante te in ipso crepusculo, ut vociferer. Ps. cxix. 147: Sed et elevatio manuum mearum ut munus vespertinum. Ps. cxli. 2. Quid ego mane loquor ac vesperam ? septies hoc factitatum in die; Ps. cxix. 164. Sed quid adhuc vices numero? Invoco te, inquit, Jehova, totum diem; Ps. lxxxviii. 9. Gratiam fac mihi, Domine, quia te inclamo toto die. Ps. Ixxxvi. 3. Brevi

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »