Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

moral world ; and no man lives, no man ever lived, a stranger to them. Oh, how they sport with human hopes ! How they carry away every thing earthly that we value, leaving hardly a wreck behind! Here they take the form of disease, and in an hour change the most vigorous into the most helpless of mortals. There they come in the form of bereavement, and the result is that the sepulchre is open, and the funeral procession approaches it, and there is a corruptible deposite made there which some at least cannot think of without bleeding hearts. And again they take the form of animosities and contentions either in public or in private, in church or in state ; and under their influence Friendship bleeds and Peace becomes an exile. Contemplate the condition of our own country at this moment, no matter whether in its civil or ecclesiastical interests; and then look abroad, and note the signs of convulsion and revolution that are exhibited by other countries; and you will surely see enough to convince the most incredulous that this world was destined to be any thing else than a place of ultimate rest.

But in heaven there will be an uninterrupted and eternal tranquillity. The Christian looks forward to it as a sanctuary, a refuge, which no storm that may rise either on earth or in hell can ever reach. If the history of that world, from the time that the morning stars began to sing, could be submitted to us, we should find the record of only a single storm; and that was instantly hushed, by a dislodgment of the rebels with whom it originated. No, there are no dying scenes to break the heart in heaven.

There is no party spirit, no rivalry, no unhallowed strife, in heaven. The glorified who range its fields of light never feel the blighting hand of disease, or the blasting breath of slander, or the mildew of an envious and malignant spirit. Why then should not the Christian wish to breathe that peaceful atmosphere ? Especially when he has grown tired and sick of the strifes of the world, and feels that there is nothing dear to him here, which the next tempest that sweeps over the earth may not sweep away; and at the same time lists his eye towards a serener and brighter world, how reasonable that he should exclaim, “I would not live alway?"

I would not live alway, because I cannot bear the sound of dying groans ; because I instinctively shrink back from the bedside where my beloved friend is going through with his last agonies. I would not live alway, because I choose stability rather than vicissitude; and even when my hopes of earthly good are the brightest, I never know but that it is the harbinger of dire eclipse. I would not live alway, because my spirit is offended by the scenes of discord and contention which prevail around me;scenes in which I am compelled to mingle, and which, perhaps, in my weakness I may be left to promote. I would not live alway, because I see in the distance a region that is free from storms ;-a region in which not even a cloud lowers; and I would breathe that balmy atmosphere : I would walk beneath the very throne of the Prince of Peace: I would be able to look around me, to look before me, and reflect that there is not an element of tempest in all that portion of God's dominions in which I am to have my everlasting home.

V. The Christian would not live alway, because he prefers the fellowship of the glorified to the society of the imperfect.

In this mixed state of being, the best men are frequently brought into contact with the bad ; nay, even with the worst.

It sometimes happens that the Christian has his lot cast in a family, one or more of whose members is openly vicious and profane ; and sometimes even the Christian parent is compelled to the reflection that his own child, whom he meets every day in the discharge of parental offices, is a blasphemer or a profligate. But in addition to this, even the fellowship of Christians in this world is a fellowship of miserably imperfect men. What Christian has not had his heart wounded by the inconsideration, the wickedness, it may be the absolute treachery, of some one who has claimed to be acknowledged as a brother in Christ? What Christian has not sometimes been ready to ask, while he has wept over the spectacle of a religious community arming themselves with the weapons of carnal warfare, “Is there faith on the earth ?" What Christian but has sometimes felt the need of sympathy and co-operation, when it has been withheld; and when he would fain have opened his heart to the invigorating influence of a godly, fraternal fellowship, has found himself well nigh chilled in the freezing atmosphere of indifference and formality ?

Not so in the world which Christian faith anticipates. There all will be bound together in the cords of love; all will be helpers together of each other's joy. All—and who will they be? First, all the ransomed out of every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. Every patriarch, every prophet, every apostle, every martyr, every saint of every age, and clime, and condition, will be there. Next, there will be the native inhabitants of heaven, who have always been loyal to their King: they will continue to be, as they ever have been, at home on the fields of immortality. Jesus the dying Lamb, the God and Hope of the world, the enthroned and allgracious Savior, will be there, in mild and heavenly majesty ; carrying forward the vast purposes of his mediatorial reign, and pouring forth endless benedictions over the whole host of the glorified. This vast assembly will constitute one glorious fraternity of exalted minds. And is it any wonder that the Christian should desire to be among them ? Is it strange that, when rivers of waters run down his eyes because men keep not God's law; when his heart bleeds from wounds that have been inflicted by hands with which his own had been joined in the bond of covenant engagements-is it strange, I ask, that he should be more than willing, in God's best time, to join the eternal fellowship of heaven ?

I would not live alway, because I would escape from a companionship with those who despise my Redeemer and his salvation; because I do not wish my ear to be always accustomed to sounds of blasphemy, or mine eye to spectacles of profligacy and crime. I would not live alway, because even the communion of saints on earth is imperfect and often embittered; and I never know what either I or those with whom I am associated may be left to do, to destroy each other's peace. I would not live alway, because I expect to meet in heaven those Christian friends whom I love below, purified from their dross, and advanced to a state of absolute perfection ; because my bosom burns with a desire to mingle with the great and the good of other ages ; because I would fain see Abraham, and Moses, and Paul, face to face; because I would hear the martyrs tell with their own lips the story of their sufferings and their triumphs, and would join them in a tribute of thanksgiving for all-sustaining and all-conquering grace. No; I would not live alway, because the society of heaven is better than the society of earth. I had rather see my Re. deemer as he is, and gaze upon his unveiled glory, than to hold communion even with Him through the channel of his ordi

nances.

VI. Once more: The Christian would not live alway, because he prefers the honors of victory to the perils of warfare.

Imperfectly sanctified as he is, surrounded by temptations as he is, it cannot otherwise be than that he should be subjected to perpetual conflict. The adversary is watching to make war upon him; and he is to be resisted. The ungodly world would fain lay snares for his feet; and their insidious efforts are to be defeated. sions and affections inhabit his own bosom ; and their clamor is to be hushed, and their power broken. Indeed, the religious life is one unbroken spiritual campaign: the enemies to be encountered are the most formidable which either earth or hell can turn out; and though grace is promised to the believer according to his day, and though God's word is pledged for his ultimate triumph, yet he never knows

Evil pas

but that, through his own infirmity or corruption, he may be temporarily overcome ; and he is never safe if a single sentinel is withdrawn from any watchtower of his heart. Yes, he goes through the world as a combatant. He is required always to appear in arms.

He fights his way up to the gate of heaven; and only resigns his armor in the act of putting off the garments of mortality.

The warrior endures with patience the hardships of the camp, and rushes fearlessly into the din of battle, not because he loves deprivation and danger, but because he connects with them the hope of victory. Victory, victory is the word that falls like music upon his ear,—that burns in glory upon his heart; and when he looks around and finds himself in an army of conquerors, and feels that he is himself a conqueror too, how much more grateful is this than to be lying in ambush, or marching in the storm, or wading in blood, yet uncertain whether the fortunes of war may place him with the victors or the vanquished. He is resigned to his sufferings in view of the hopes which hang upon them; but he would not suffer always; he would hear the shouts of victory and bear the honors of victory, as soon as he can.

And can it be otherwise with the Christian in his conflict ? However patient he may be to wait God's time, must he not be comforted by the thought that his enemies will ere long lie prostrate at his feet; and must not his bosom sometimes kindle with strong desiro to enter upon his eternal triumph? This is the place for wielding the sword of the Spirit, and wearing the shield of faith, and encountering the fiery darts of the adversary; but in yonder world the inhabitants bear palms, and wear crowns, and sit on thrones, in token of their being everlasting conquerors. Who would live alway in a world where fighting is the appropriate work ;—especially when there is a world in prospect where no hostile tongue shall ever move, and no hostile foot shall ever tread ?

I would not live alway, because I would not always be harassed by spiritual enemies, and engaged in an eternal conflict. I would have this usurper within not only dethroned, but driven away. I would be beyond the reach of the devil's wiles. I would be able to lay my armor by, and feel that the contest bad closed in glory. I would not live alway, because I long to feel that I have come off conqueror; I long to receive the blood-bought crown, and cast it at the feet of my enthroned Lord. I would not live alway, because I had rather my heart should thrill with joy than throb with apprehension: I had rather my lips should be used to songs of immortal triumph, than even to supplications for God's grace to keep me from being overcome.

But I hear some one saying, “There is one thing which perhaps you have forgotten : there is a dark boundary—not a mountain, but a flood, that lies between earth and heaven; and that is to be passed before the Christian conqueror can be crowned.” No, I have not forgotten that: I stand upon an eminence now, with that flood rolling and raging beneath my feet; and even here I repeat, I would not live alway. For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and I rely upon him to bear me over; and if I may only rest upon his arm, I can walk firmly, though the tempest howls above, and the waters roar around. No, I would not live alway-Rise, ye dark and stormy billows, to frighten my poor soul, as much as ye will: Rise, ye fiends of darkness, and make your last desperate effort to terrify and overwhelm; and in the courage of faith I dare say even to you, I would not live alway.

“ Jesus, the vision of thy face
“ Hath overpowering charms;
"Scarce shall I feel death's cold embrace,
“ If Christ be in my arms.

“Then, when ye hear my heartstrings break,
“ How sweet the minutes roll,

A mortal paleness on my cheek,
"And glory in my soul !"

« ZurückWeiter »