« ForrigeFortsett »
We have seen Jesus at the bar of Pilate. We shall Pilate at the bar of Jesus.
Every man has a case pending in the court of eternal judg. ment, in which property is concerned, even his right to the tree of life, and his title to the inheritance that fadeth not away ; and liberty is involved, the freedom of the soul from the most cruel tyranny that ever oppressed and degraded man; and life is at stake, not this life only, which if it be not violently cut off, soon terminates of itself, but a life to which this is not as the minutest dew-drop to the shoreless and unfathomable ocean. If this case be decided against you, you forfeit that right and title to heaven, you lose the freedom of the soul, and you entail upon your immortality a curse, which causes it to have all the evils of death, and to be called death, while it has none of its immunities. And the day of trial is approaching. You have already been summoned to be in readiness, for you know not the hour when you will be called to trial. Are you prepared for trial? Have you secured the advocacy of him who alone can successfully manage your cause ?
How intensely interesting and awful a day will that of the judgment be! It would seem as if Christ was alivays thinking of it. How frequently he speaks of it, and never but with the deepest solemnity.
It is the judgment-seat of Christ before which we are to appear. The Father judgeth no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son. Christian, what a subject thou hast here for thy heart's most fond meditation—thy Saviour thinc arbiterthy advocate and thy judge the same. What client would not be willing that his own counsel should decide his case! Dost thou tremble at the thought of going to judgment? Why, it is but to go to Christ--tollim who has already taken thy burden and given thee rest. Once He has already accepted thee. Vill He change his mind and reject thee? Will he not honor his own righteousness, which he put on thee? Shall not his pleadings for thee prevail,when he pleads, as it were, with himself--and bis intercessions on thy behalf are made to his own heart, that sorrowed for thee, and to his own bosom, that bled for thee? • Who is he that condemneth? Is it Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us?' Impossible! And yet, if He does not condemn, who can, since He is the judge ? This arrangement, by which the sinner's Saviour is his judge, constitutes one among the many surpassing beauties of Christianity. I wonder that the mere man of taste is not struck with it. Child of God, follower of the Lamb, press the thought to thy heart, cherish it among thy richest recollections. So shalt thou have ‘ boldness in the day of judgment.'
How much more our actions mean, than we suppose they do. The wicked, until the judgment day, will not know, that in refusing acts of kindness to the pious poor,they were refusing to feed and clothe Christ. They thought it was but some poor, weak people, called Christians,who made much ado about religion, that they had thus neglected. They did not mean any direct affront to Christ, but so he takes it. I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest,' said the voice from heaven to the astonished Saul of Tarsus.
The doctrine of an adjusting judgment, if it have any place in the system of natural religion, is inferred from the Divine justice, and cannot, therefore, be adduced in proof of it. That were to reason in a circle.
At the last judgment, a day of insufferable splendor will dawn upon us; a scene of tremendous magnificence will be displayed before these eyes, and these ears will hear that trumpet's stunning thunder. And you and I, who are now before a mercy-seat, will encompass a judgment-seat.
There is one controversy which the last day shall forever determine—the long and unhappy controversy about the Divinity of Jesus. How it shall be decided I leave you to judge, after I shall have asked a few questions. If the mover of all those sublime scenes,the agent in all those grand transactions be not God, where is God? and why takes he no part in the doings of this last tremendous day? If Omnipotence be not in this work of general desolation, where is Omnipotence slumbering? Where is the work that befits Omnipotence? Ifa mere creature is sitting on the throne of the Universe, where sits Jehovah? Tell me, Reason. and why and where has he retired, when now the destiny of men and angels is determining? If it be not Omniscience on that throne, if not Omniscience, which, from the lost archangel down to the least human sinner, scans every life, searches every spirit, and scrutinizes the inmost thoughts and the deepest purposes,what has Omniscience to do? I had thought it was Deity,at whose stepping forth the everlasting mountains are scattered and the perpetual hills do bow-Deity, from whose face the heaven and the earth do flee, away-Deity, that keeps the keys of death and of hell-Deity, who sits on the throne of the universe-Deity, at whose hands I am to receive the eternal recompense.
“I bowed down heavily, as one that monneth for his mother."--Psalm xxxv. 14
There is a peculiarity in every kind of bereavement. There is enough to separate it from all other modes of trial, to produce a peculiar state of feeling, and to convey its own lessons to the suul distinct from those imparted by any other divine dispensation. The loss of a wise, a friend, a companion, a sympathiser in trials, a fellow-heir of the grace of life, a sharer of the joys and a divider of the sorrows of our pilgrimage ; of a son who we boped would be our stay and staff in old age, and perpetuate our name when we are deadl; of a daughter whom we have tenderly nourished and tenderly loved ; of a sister, the companion of the playful days of childhood, and a kind friend as she advanced with us to the maturity of life ; of a father, the counsellor and guide of our youth-each one of these bereavements has its own sad lesson to convey to the soul; each one touches a cord in the heart which vibrates only then. It is a part of our duty and dicipline here carefully to gather up these lessons and apply them to our own souls.
In the text it is supposed that the death of a mother effects those who
NorE.-Occasioned by the recent derth of the author's mother.-- Editor.
aro bereaved by her loss in a peculiar manner, and that such a loss is among the heaviest of sorrows. “I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for bis mother.” To 860 the force of this text it is not necessary to suppose that this is the beaviest of all the sorrows which we can experience, nor is it necessary to make any comparison between this and the other forms of bereavement which we may be called to endure. All that is necessary to say is, that there are cords of the soul touched then which have not been touched before, and which will not be again. A man has but one mother to love; and when such an event occurs, it is well for him to endeavor to learn the lessons which God once in his life designs to tcach him.
It is the duty of a minister of the gospel to adapt his teaching to all the relations of life, and to apply the lessons of religion to the various circumstances in which his hearers may be placed. At no one time indeed can it be supposed that any considerable part of his audience will feel an immediate interest in a topic of this kind ; but there are usually enough who have been recently afflicted in this manner to make such a topic of public discourse proper. Besides, how large a portion in a congregation is there who have at some time been thus bereaved! How many are there here to-day who at some period of their lives have known what it was to lose a mother! It will be no injury to recall the memory of that scene—not for the purpose of opening wounds again which time and religion may have healed—but to make more fresh in the recollection the lessons which God designed to convey by the living virtues, and by the death of a mother. It may be useful, too, to those who have mothers from whom they may soon be called to part, to contemplate this relation, and to be told of the kind of emotions which spring up in the soul when a parent is taken away to be seen no more. It may teach you to prize their counsels and their friendship more ; it may make you more careful not to pain their bearts by unkindness or disobedience.
I shall make no comparison between this relation and that of a fath er. That is in many respects as important and as influential as this; and wh en that is sundered, the bereavement as much demands the tribute of our tears, and conveys as important lessons to the soul. Perhaps in some cases there may be more to affect the heart in such a loss, for some of us may owo more to the inherited mental characteristics, and the example and the direct teaching of a father, than we do to a mother. But though this may be so, the remarks which I propose to subunit to you now, will, I trust, be seen to be founded in truth. Without any very exact order, yet with such a general distribution of my thoughts as will be adapted, I hope, to make a distinct impression on the mind, I shall submit to you a few reflections on such a relation, and such a loss, which I trust may be fitted to be uscful.
I. I need hardly say that the relation of a mother is a peculiar relation, and has features which are found in no other. The tie is one which exists nowhere else; which can never be renewed; which, when it is sondered, is sundered forever, unless it is cemented by religion, and grows up into eternal affection in the heavods.
Her affection for us began at a period of which we have no recollection, and when we were not conscious that any being loved us. It was laid far back in her nature, by a benignant Providence, to anticipate our helplessness and our wants as we came into the world. It began when as yet we had manifested no qualities of mind or heart to deserve affection i when we were incapable of returning the tokens of her love ; when wo could not give back the kiss that was tenderly impressed upon us, and when it was certain that the expressions of her lavished affection could not be remembered by us should we ever reach a period when we would be capable of repaying appreciated kindness. It existed in her heart whatever we were to be, or whatever was to be our fortune in this world, and was so strong that even could she have foreseen all our ingratitude, and all that we might yet do to pair her, she would still have loved us, and perhaps her caressos would have been only the more tender while wo were yet innocent, and our souls were uncontaminated by contact with ovil. She met us as we entered on life already prepared to do us good. Her first emotion toward us was that of love; and even then, when we had no character, and no claim for services rendered; when we had furnished no ovidence that we ever would be worthy of her love, or repay her kindness with anything but ingratitude, she was ready to do for us what we may have even now scarcely secured a friend to do by all our virtues. Not a friend have we now who would watch more patiently by our sick-bed than she would have done by our cradle then, nor have wo one who would sorrow more sincerely over our grave. This care we owed primarily to God, and under him to that affection which he had created in her heart.
Unnumbered comforts on my soul,
Thy tender care bestowed,
From whom those comforts flowed.
The affection thus laid in her heart to anticipate our necessities, was strengthed on her part by all her own toil, and care, and watchfulness, and sacrifices on our behalf. Whatever might be the effect on us, the effect on her was to make her love ns inore. Her own solicitude and toil became thus a measure of her augmented affection ; for God has instructed us to love that much which is the fruit of sacrifice and toil. Her love for us was measured far more by her own sacrifices than by our own worth, or by any developed traits of character which seemed to justify her ardor of affection, though it was also strengthened on her part by every thing in as—then estimated perhaps at more than twice its valuo—which eemed to reward her care. On our part the attachment formed is not that which grows out of favors rendered, but favors received. It is laid ndeed in nature ; but it grows up and expande because we receive so many benefits ; because there is such an obligation of gratitude ; because