Page images

dence and hope ; but this does not help his own case. Though surrounded with all worldly delights, he must continue to want that exalted kind of happiness which consists in acting like an heir of immortality and in making this life subservient to a future state of being. · In that state the Christian believes all will be adapted to fill the capacities of his spirit, freed from the shackles of the body and the dominion of sin, delivered from the ever-changing scenes of a short and uneasy life, and assimilated to the very character of that Eternal Spirit, whose essence is holiness and happiness. Let the yoke of Christ, then, be ever so heavy, it is light when compared with that of the world : for amid all his troubles and disappointments, the Christian has within his breast a principle of hope, with regard to his future destiny, which, if he suffer it not to be weakened by the temptations that surround him, or by the remaining corruption of his own heart, bears him up triumphantly through all the trials he has to encounter, and animates him continually with the prospect of that crown of glory which he is soon to obtain.

From all that has been said in this and the former discourse, I cannot but think it has been made evident, that the words of our Saviour, contained in the text, when properly understood and applied, are worthy of our entire belief and acceptance ; and that it is not only our bounden duty, but our highest privilege, to resort unto him, and find rest unto our souls. He promises us the most unspeak

sins ;

able advantages, if we will truly repent of all our offences against God, and rely, with an unshaken faith, on his merits alone, for pardon and peace. He offers to us the absolute remission of all our

the influences of the Holy Spirit of truth and grace to enlighten our minds and purify our hearts ; a deliverance from their remaining corrupt propensities ; a protection against the temptations of the world; a security from the seduction of its smiles i a victory over its frowns; a support under its trials; a serenity amidst its injuries ; a cheerfulness during its disappointments; and a temperate use of all its innocent enjoyments. He offers us the calm of a quiet conscience, and a peace of mind that passeth understanding ; nay, in his gift is the most sublime delight to which a created intelligence can dare to aspire-communion with God himself: for, much as the sceptic may doubt it, there is sometimes shed over the soul of the true disciple of Jesus Christ such a lively conception of the presence and love of God, such an admiration of his excellence, such a resignation to his will, such a gratitude for his goodness, and such an anticipation of being soon admitted to the ineffable display of his glory, that the soul almost forgets that it is inhabiting its tabernacle of clay, and seems already to have taken its flight to paradise. My brethren, I speak not the language of a wild enthusiasm, but that of sober Christian philosophy. I state a fact, which, like all other facts, is liable to have the force of its evidence weakened by the intemperate

zeal of fanaticism, or by the incoherent ravings of mysticism, or by the cunning pretensions of hypocrisy, or even by the misguided ardour of an honest though mistaken ignorance ; but yet a fact, the truth of which is attested by thousands of sober and discreet men-men of philosophy, of science, of literature, of political sagacity and of military wis-dom-men whose testimony on every other subject : would be received without the least scruple or hesitation

I say, then, this very influence of the Spirit of God is offered to all who resort unto Jesus Christ, in order to purify and to elevate their affections, and to shed serenity on the soul. · He offers also to all who trust in him, to stand by them with the succours of his grace, in an hour which has appalled the stoutest hearts—an hour when the strongest arm is palsied, and the proudest eye droops—an hour in which the visions of worldly glory sink into eternal darkness, the charms of pleasure vanish into nothingness, the delights of wealth and the acquisitions of industry crumble into insignificance around their very possessor-an hour in which even the kindest offices of friendship, and the sweetest solaces of domestic love, are unavailing-an hour in which the spirit trembles on the verge of an unknown existence, and in which its hopes and fears, abandoning the petty concerns which have so long agitated them, become absorbed in the momentous realities of its approaching condition. Then is the moment to compare the yoke of Christ with that

of the world, and to say whether it is not worth some sacrifices to obtain a victory over the king of terrors, and to have the beams of a divine serenity illuminating the darkness of the valley of the shadow of death.

Shall I carry. this comparison any farther ? Shall I lead you to watch the last look, and to catch the last accents, of the unbeliever ? His brow, perhaps, still preserves its firmness, and his voice its composure: he has summoned up all the resources of his philosophy, and he is ready to die with gaiety and an heroical pride. Not a sigh escapes him, no self reproach for any action of his past life, no apprehension of the future state upon which he is just entering. But in spite of all this, occasional doubts fit across his mind, and he can find nothing certain on which to establish an unshaken confidence in the approbation of that awful Being before whom he is soon to appear. No visions of hope pass before his eyes, and at the best he has to confess that he is about to launch upon an ocean which is shrouded in the deepest obscurity and darkness. But there are few who reach this elevation of stoical apathy. Thousands there are, who though bold in scepticism in the days of health and pleasure, have shrunk from the trial of the last hour, and have spent its fleeting moments in bewailing the rashness that has led them to meet it unprepared. But the instance cannot be produced, in which the true disciple of Jesus Christ, when brought to the test of his dying hour, has ever abandoned the principles of the

Gospel, or exchanged the hope of religion for any other.

Shall I carry this comparison still farther? Shall I venture to lift the veil which separates eternity from our view ? No. It is enough for my present purpose to have contrasted the yoke of Jesus Christ with that of the world, in reference to this life alone. I will not enter upon the awful subject of the future destiny of the righteous and the wicked. Revelation discloses enough, however, upon this topic, to excite our liveliest hopes and fears. Christ has declared in such explicit terms, what will be the fate of those who reject him, that it is sufficient to read what he has spoken, without endeavouring to enhance its momentous import by any images of terror. Let His declarations, to which we must give an important and surely alarming significance or else suppose that he used words without a meaning -let his declarations be soberly regarded, and in their light let his yoke be compared with that of the world. I need not say which will be deemed, by the judgment of prudence, the easiest to be borne. In prosperity, then, or in adversity, in sickness or in health, in life or in death, with regard to time or eternity, the world deserves to be held low in our estimation, when compared to the service of Jesus Christ ; and the yoke which he calls upon us to sustain ought to be deemed easy, and his burden light. Let those who profess to believe his doctrines, and to tread in his steps, be mindful of these truths. Let them cultivate the liveliest

« PreviousContinue »