Изображения страниц
PDF

It will endear the blessed Jesus in every capacity, as the stings of the fiery flying serpents, and the dearth of the waste howling wilderness, endeared to the Israelites both their miraculous antidote and their bread from heaven. They who believe this truth must see their inexpressible and incessant need of Christ's Spirit. The protestation of Moses, on a particular occasion, will be the daily, the hourly breathing of their souls: ‘Carry us not up hence, unless thy presence, thy Spirit, “go with us:” for without this aid we can discharge no duty aright, nor successfully resist any temptation. They will be exceedingly cautious not to grieve? that sacred guest, lest he depart from them, and abandon them to the power of their lurking corruptions; knowing, that if he abandon them when such foes are within, and, so many snares without, their case will be worse than Samson's, when his locks were shaven and the Philistines all around him.

How highly will such persons value the blood of the covenant, and the intercession of their great Highpriest! They will no more presume to enter into the presence of the most high God, without a fiducial reliance upon the atoning and interceding Saviour, than the sons of Jacob would have ventured to appear before the viceroy of Egypt without the company of their younger brother. In all, in all their intercourse with Heaven, the great Propitiation will be their plea, and the great Advocate their confidence. The impotent man waited at the pool of Bethesda, and the Syrian general dipped seven times in Jordan: these persons will not only wait, but live by “the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness;' they will wash in the sacred sanctifying stream, not seven times only, but seventy times seven. • And when such sentiments possess the mind, how dear! O, how dear and desirable will our Lord's obedience be! I called some time ago our own works wormeaten things; and must not these corruptions, if they remain ever so little in the heart, tarnish our graces and debase our duties 2 Must they not be depreciatory to all our accomplishments, and too much like corroding ver

* Exod. xxxiii. 15. f Eph. iv. 30. t Gen. xliii. 5. - § Zech. xiii. 1.

min in the substance of our timber, or at the core of our fruits 2 Should we not then renounce, utterly renounce these tarnished, worm-eaten things, and rely, wholly rely, for everlasting acceptance on our divine Highpriest, who in his mediatorial works, as well as in his wonderful person, is altogether light and perfection,” and neither in him, nor in them, is there any deficiency or any darkness at all 2 Excuse me, Theron, I fear I have been preaching: the importance of the text must form my apology: it is an introduction, not to the records of history, or the transactions of philosophy, but to the riches of Christ. Ther. If my Aspasio has been preaching, I can assure him for his comfort, that his audience has been very attive; and though the sermon was somewhat copious, the hearer neither slept or gaped. However, I should be glad to have the whole reviewed and summed up, that if it has been large as the pyramid, it may, like the pyramid, terminate in a point. s Asp. This then is the state of our nature. The image of the Creator is lost; blindness is in the understanding, disorder in all the affections; in the will, enmity against God the sovereign good, inability to all that is spiritual and heavenly, with a propensity to whatever is sordid and earthly : the whole soul is deformed, distempered, rebellious. And shall such a creature lay claim to those amiable and sacred endowments, which may be a proper recommendation to infinite holiness? Is such a creature qualified to perform those righteous acts which may approve themselves to the demand of God's law, and to the inflexibility of his justice 2

* * Light and perfection.” This is the meaning of that mysterious ornament, which, in the grand officiating robes, of the Jewish high-priest, was annexed to the breast-plate, and styled urim an thummim: only the Hebrew words are in the plural number, and denote every degree of illumination, and all kinds of perfection. Does not this very significantly teach sinners whence to seek their wisdom, and where to look for their perfect tion ? There never was, in all ages, more than one urim and thummim, and only one person in each generation was appointed to wear it. And who is there in all worlds that can give us heavenly knowledge but the Spirit of Christ! What is there in ourselves or all creatures that can present us unblameable before God, but the obedience of Christ?

[ocr errors]

Should he conceive the vain hope, or make the vainer attempt, I would now address him as Jehoash formerly answered Amaziah. Amaziah king of Judah, elated with the little victories he had obtained over the Edomites, began to fancy himself invincible. Prompted by this foolish imagination, he challenges Jehoash king of Israel to meet him in a pitched battle, ahd receives this ironical apologue by way of reply; which for gallantry of spirit and delicacy of wit, for poignancy of satire and propriety of application, has seldom been equalled, perhaps never exceeded: “The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trod down the thistle.” What are we, when we offer to establish our own righteousness, or presume to justify ourselves before the most high God, but despicable thistles, that fancy themselves stately cedars? And is not every temptation, is not each corruption, a wild beast of the desert, which will trample on the impotent boaster, and tread his haughty pretensions in the dust *

DIALOGUE XIV.

Theron, alone in the Fields—His Soliloquy on the Charms of Rural Nature–His Reflections on the past Conferences-As#: reinforces his Arguments for the imputation of Christ's §hool. Self-examination, the keeping of a Diary, and Prayer for the enlightening Spirit-Departs under an engagement to correspond by Letter. As PAsio was employed in preparing for his journey. Theron, free from business, and disengaged from company, had the greatest part of the day to himself, which he spent in reviewing the substance of their late conferences, not without intermingled aspirations to God for the guidance of his divine Spirit. At evening he went, like the patriarch of old, “into the field to meditate,’t amidst the calm of nature, to meditate on the grace of the gospel. The sky was

[ocr errors]

peculiarly beautiful and perfectly clear, only where the
fine indigo received an agreeable heightening by a few
thin and scattered clouds, which imbibed the solar
rays, and looked like pensile fleeces of purest wool:
all things appeared with so mild, so majestic, so charm-
ing an aspect, that, intent as he was upon a different
subject, he could not but indulge the following soli-
loquy:—
* How delightful are the scenes of rural nature, es-
pecially to the philosophic eye and contemplative
mind! I cannot wonder that persons in high life are so
fond of retiring from a conspicuous and exalted station
to the covert of a shady grove, or the margin of a cool-
ing stream; are so desirous of quitting the smoky town
and noisy street, in order to breathe purer air, and sur-
vey the wonders of creation in the silent, the serene,
the peaceful villa.
‘’Tis true, in the country there are none of the mo-
dish, I had almost said meretricious, ornaments of that
false politeness which refines people out of their vera-
city, but an easy simplicity of manners, with an unaf-
fected sincerity of mind. Here the solemn farce of ce-
remony is seldom brought into play, and the pleasing
delusions of compliment have ho place: but the brow
is the real index of the temper, and speech the genuine
interpreter of the heart.
“In the country, I acknowledge, we are seldom in-
vited to see the mimic attempts of human art; but we
every were behold the grand and masterly exertions of
divine power. No theatre erects its narrow stage, sur-
rounds it with puny rows of ascending seats, or adorns
it with a shifting series of gorgeous scenery; but fields
extend their ample area, at first lightly clad with a
scarf of springing green, then deeply planted with an
arrangement of spindling stalks; as a few more weeks
advance, covered with a profusion of bearded or husky
grain; at last richly laden with a harvest of yellow
plenty. - .
* Meadows disclose their beautiful bosom, yield a
soft and fertile lap for the luxuriant herbage, and suckle
myriads of the fairest, gayest flowers; which, without
any wain ostentation, or expensive finery, outvie each

[ocr errors]

other in all the elegance of dress. Groves of various leaf, arrayed in freshest verdure, and liberal of their reviving shade, rise in amiable, in noble prospect, all around. Droves of sturdy oxen, strong for labour, or fat for the shambles; herds of sleeky kine, with milk in their udders, and violets in their nostrils; flocks of well-fleeced sheep, with their snowy lambkins frisking at their side; these compose the living machinery. Boundless tracts of bending azure, warnished with inimitable delicacy, and hung with starry lamps, or irradiated with solar lustre, form the stately cieling; while the early breezes, and the evening gales, charged with no unwholesome vapours, breeding no pestilential taint, but fanning the humid buds, and waving their odoriferous wings, dispense a thousand sweets, mingled with the most sovereign supports of health. And is not this school of industry, this magazine of plenty, incomparably more delightful, as well as infinitely less dangerous, than those gaudy temples of profuseness and debauchery, where sin and ruin wear the mask of pleasure, where Belial is daily or nightly worshipped with what his votaries call modish recreation and genteel amusement 2 * Here indeed is no tuneful voice to melt in strains of amorous anguish, and transfuse the sickening fondness to the hearer's breast: no skilful artist to inform the lute with musical enchantment; to strike infectious melody from the viol, and soothe away the resolution and activity of virtue, in wanton desires, or voluptuous indolence. But the plains bleat, the mountains low, and the hollow circling rocks echo with the universal song. Every walley remurmurs to the fall of silver fountains, or the liquid lapse of gurgling rills. Birds, musicians ever beauteous, ever gay, perched on a thousand boughs, play a thousand sprightly and harmonious airs. * • ‘Charmed therefore with the finest views, lulled with the softest sounds, and treated with the richest odours, what can be wanting to complete the delight? Here is every entertainment for the eye, the most refined gratifications for the ear, and a perpetual banquet for the smell, without any insidious decoy for the

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »