Page images
PDF
EPUB

highest pitch, and give a full loose to our wishes, without running the smallest risk of disappointment. To seek the kingdom of God implies, in the second place, a preference of choice bestowed upon it, above every thing else. Unless we are convinced of the worth and importance of any object, we shall not be very earnest in our en deavours to obtain it, and this is the reason that the bulk of mankind are so indifferent about the great objects which religion offers to their consideration; they are not convinced of their superior value, and why ? “ the God of this world ç has bļinded their minds," has removed futurity to such a vast distance, that its impression comes with small force upon the mind, and dresses up present and sensual enjoyments in colours so attracting, that these, together with the unhappy bias of our nature, powerfully incline us to the wrong side,

There is not, indeed, it may be justly affirmed, a more difficult task, than for creatures of our frame and constitution, creatures in whom the corporeal part bears so very considerable a proportion, to treat future objects as if they were present, and present objects as if they were future, and yet this we must do, if we would make a true estimate of things. When we allow ourselves to think, reason indeed will

soon tell us, that surely a period so short as threescore years and ten, though passed in all the pleasures time can afford, in health, in affluence, in grandeur, in power, that is taking man at his best estate, is not once to be compared with an eterni: ty passed in the enjoyment of God, in the contemplation of his nature and perfections, in admiration of the wonders of providence, and in the most delightful researches into - the height and depth, “ the length and breadth," of redeeming love; " that love of God which passeth understanding." But how does the very shadow of comparison vanish, when we consider man as he really is, a creature of yesterday, uncertain of seeing to-morrow, and that the present hour iş filled up with pain, and sorrow, and disappointment; when we consider this state as “ an handbreadth or a

span,” as already passed away, and eternity as already come, which is in truth the case. It is only by frequently and seriously indulging reflections of this kind, that we shall learn to acquire that indifference for this world, and that value for the future, which is so necessary toward our giving the preference where it is due. But the conduct of mankind is so widely different, that were a being of a superior nature, who was unacquainted with our system, to come into the world, and observe what passes in it, he would certainly be completely at a loss what notion to form of human nature. He would doubtless think, that man was made just to frolic about for a small space, and then to “ lie down to be no more.” But should he be informed that man was made for immortality, and that his happiness or misery through the ages of eternity depended entirely upon the manner in which he passed the small portion of time allotted to him in this state, he must imagine the whole of human life an absurdity, a contradiction. But in the third place, " seeking the kingdom of God,” implies seeking to be prepared for it; and this is indeed the main scope of our Saviour's precept:“Seek ye first the “ kingdom of God and his righteousness,” that is, “ seek after that holiness which alone pre

pares for the inheritance of the saints in light, “ for he that hath this hope in him, purifieth him“self, even as he is pure.” The all-wise author of our nature designed man for the enjoyment of himself, and for this end created him in all the dignity of wisdom and innocence, a holy, a perfect creature, ” writ his law upon his heart” as his rule, erected reason in his breast as his guide, and set up conscience as his overseer and judge: þut this happy establishment was but of short continuance; soon did man, who was created so “up

[ocr errors]

$ right," find out “ many inventions,” soon did he transgress his rule, forsake his guide, and bid defiance to his judge, and thereby he utterly disqualified himself for that exalted intercourse with his Maker which he formerly enjoyed, effaced the image of the Deity which was lately his glory and happiness, and forfeited all right to those blessings and privileges which, as a creature and a child of God, he was intitled to, Out of this deplorable condition it was absolutely impossible for him to extricate himself, for man was now become a weak, as well as a guilty crea, ture; sin had wasted the strength, as well as mar, red the beauty of the human soul: and in this condition are we all born into the world, at en mity with God, at a distance from him, unable to return to him, and as unwilling as unable. Yet still, blessed be God, that even in such a situation we are the objects of his pity and love: he has given his own eternal Son for our sakes, who in his life has taught us the path that leadeth to eternal life and happiness, and by his death paid the price of it. In order therefore to acquire the righteousness requisite for the enjoyment of the heavenly state, we must propose to ourselves this Saviour for our surety and pattern-resting all qur hopes of justification in the sight of God on what he has done and suffered ; conscious of our own weakness and imperfection, and placing no confidence in ourselves as able to merit any thing at the hand of a Being infinitely holy and just, we must humbly implore the Father of Mercies, that “ Christ may of God be made to us wisdom, “ and righteousness, and sanctification, and re

demption.” At the same time, we must make his example the pattern of our conduct, and let it be our constant and sincere endeavour to “ walk

even as he also walked;" to transcribe into our lives those graces and virtues which shone in full splendour in him. The intention of our Lord's entering into the world, and becoming our mediator with God, was not only to save from wrath, but likewise from sin ; for this purpose he lived, to give mankind a perfect pattern of all righteousness, of an exact conformity to the law of God, which is holy, and just, and good, as well as died a sacrifice for the sins of a guilty world, to atone for the breach of that law; and these two are never to be separated, as if we were concerned in the one more than in the other; for that man cannot reasonably expect to reap any benefit by the sufferings of Christ, who does not likewise lay his account with, and endeavour after living as he also lived. If therefore, we would seek after that heavenly kingdom in a proper manner, the way is plain and obvious. As “ without ho

« PreviousContinue »