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tain. The wind of popular opinion is ever shifting. It will often leave us at a loss what course to steer; and, after all our trouble and anxiety to catch the favourable gale, it may on a sudden forsake us. For the versatility of character, the meanness and inconsistency of conduct, into which a dependant on the multitude is betrayed, frequently render him, in the end, an object of contempt to those whom he sought to please. But supposing him successful in his views, no worldly advantages, which are purchased by dishonourable means, can be either solid or lasting. They bring no genuine satisfaction to a man, who is conscious to himself of having given up his principles to serve the world. As long as he could be satisfied with his own conduct, he might bear up under undeserved discouragement; but when he becomes despicable in his own eyes, worldly honours lose their lustre. What can the multitude do for you, after you have followed them in evil? They cannot restore to you the peace of an innocent mind, nor heal the sorrows of a wounded spirit, nor shield you from the displeasure of God. They can do little to support you in the hour of affliction, and nothing to deliver your souls in the day of death. Forsaken and disconsolate, the world, for the most part, casts off its votaries in the end; and when we compute the final amount, it will prove a very small consolation, that, as you have had sharers in guilt, you shall have companions also in punishment.
Look forward to the issue of things. The multitude of men possess now, in a great measure, the distribution of praise and censure, of success and disappointment, according to their caprice. But this confused and promiscuous distribution is not
always to subsist. The day cometh, when we all are to appear before a more discerning Judge, and a more impartial tribunal. The day cometh, when our
Lord Jesus Christ shall descend from heaven in all the glory of his Father to unveil every character, and to render to every man according to his works. At that day how shall he lift up his head, who hath been all his life the slave of the world's opinion; who hath moulded his principles, and his practice, solely to please the multitude; who hath been ashamed of his Saviour and his words; and, to gain favour with men, hath apostatised from the native sentiments and dictates of his heart?-To say all in one word: there is a contest now between God and the world. These form the opposite sides which divide mankind. Consider well, to which of these you will choose to adhere. On the one side, lie your allegiance, your honour, and your interest; on the other, lie your guilt and your shame. For the one, conscience and reason; for the other, passion and inclination, plead. On the one hand are the approbation of God, immortal honour, and divine rewards; on the other, remember and beware! are the stings of conscience, endless punishment, and endless infamy.
On the WISDOM of GOD."
1 TIMOTHY, i. 17.
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory, for ever and ever! Amen.
IT T is of the highest importance to religious conduct, that our minds be filled with suitable conceptions of the attributes of God. They are the foundations of our reverence for him; and reverence is the foundation of religion. All the divine perfections are interesting to man. Almighty power, in conjunction with Eternity and Omnipresence, naturally inspire solemn awe. Infinite Goodness relieves the mind from that oppression which Power alone would produce; and from our experience of present benefits, and our remembrance of the past, creates love, gratitude, and trust. In the middle between these stands the contemplation of Divine Wisdom, which conjoins impressions of awe with those of comfort; and, while it humbles us into profound submission, encourages, at the same time, our reliance on that
* This concluding discourse was chiefly intended to be a general recapitulation of instances of the wisdom of Providence, several of which have been more fully illustrated in other discourses contained in this or in some of the preceding volumes.
King eternal, immortal, and invisible, who is justly styled in the text, the only wise God.
Among men, wisdom is a quality entirely different from cunning or craft. It always supposes good and fair intention in the person who possesses it; and imports that laudable ends are pursued by proper and justifiable means. In like manner, wisdom in the Supreme Being cannot be separated from the rectitude of his nature. It is, in him, an exertion of benevolence; and imports, that the purposes of justice and goodness are carried on and accomplished by means the most effectual. To meditate on some of those instances in which this Divine wisdom is displayed cannot but be highly favourable to the impressions both of piety and of
Ir is difficult to say, whether the natural, or the moral, world, afford the most conspicuous and striking displays of the wisdom of God. Not one, nor many discourses, nor indeed the study and labour of a whole life, were, in any degree, sufficient to explore them. Of the proofs of wisdom which the natural world affords I cannot attempt now to discourse. Any illustration of these would lead to discussions of a scientific kind, which more properly belong to the philosopher; and on which philosophy has often employed itself, with much utility and honour. I shall only take notice, that, in proportion as human knowledge hath enlarged its sphere of research and discovery, in the same proportion hath the wisdom of the Creator struck the minds of all enquirers and observers, with the highest admiration, All nature is in truth a scene of wonders. In the disposition of
the heavenly bodies, and the general arrangement of the system of the universe; in the structure of the earth; in the endless variety of living creatures that fill it; and in the provision made for them all, to enable them to fulfil the ends of their being; it is not easy to determine, whether power, wisdom, or goodness, be most conspicuous. It belongs not only to the heavens to declare the glory of God, and to the firmament to show forth his handy work; in the smallest and most inconsiderable, as well as in the most illustrious works of God, equal marks appear of profound design and consummate art. It has been justly said, that there is not a vegetable that grows, nor an insect that moves, but what is sufficient to confound the atheist, and to afford the candid observer endless materials of devout adoration and praise.
WHEN we turn to the moral world, the field of admiration which opens to us is no less extensive and striking. I can only mention a few instances of that exquisite wisdom which every where meets us.
In the first place, let us attend to the constitution of human nature. Though we are taught by revelation to consider it as now impaired by the fall, yet as it stands we behold the traces of the noble structure, planned and executed with the highest skill. All the powers and faculties bestowed on man are such, as perfectly suit his condition, and adapt him to the purposes for which he was designed. Senses were given him that he might distinguish what is necessary for the preservation and welfare of his body. Now, suppose, that any one of those