Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the most horrid tortures that evil men, instigated by evil spirits, could devise for the purpose. This was their day of trial; and, fiery as it was, they “ sustained the burthen and heat of it," without complaining. The cross, as they well knew, led to a crown; they took it up, and “ bore it after “ Jesus."

Our trials (for ever blessed be God !) are not so severe; but, still, trials we have. If any man form a resolution, steadily, through life, to profess the doctrines and practise the duties of his religion, let not that man imagine, because the world is now called Christian, that he shall experience no opposition from it. They whose minds and affections are wholly given up to ambition, avarice, intemperance, and impurity, whatever they may style themselves or be styled by others, are idolaters; they do, in effect, still worship the deities of ancient Greece and Rome; and from them the true disciples of Christ will still suffer persecution; will be loaded with opprobrious names; will be driven from society, as not caring to run to the same excess of riot and libertinism; and will be prevented from making their way, as they might otherwise fairly and honourably do in life. It is said to be almost impossible, at this time, for a young man of rank to succeed, unless he first enter his name, and commence a member of certain societies instituted for the purpose of gaming. At this shrine he may saerifice his time, his rest, his estate, his temper, his conscience, the peace of his mind, and the health of his body. Costly oblations, and bitter pangs! It may be questioned, whether the sufferings of a primitive martyr would not constitute the more eligible lot of the two. The agonies could not be more acute, and they would be sooner over.

There is another source of trouble and uneasiness from without, though of a less important kind. It is that produced by the cross tempers, untoward dispositions, and other failings of those about us. These we sometimes, in a peevish hour, think to be more than human nature can bear. But the truth is, that our own tempers are not yet what they should be, and what these trials are intended to make them. It is forgotten that we ourselves have ill humours, and we are offended if our friends do not readily excuse and forgive them; yet we cannot excuse and forgive those of others. This is unreasonable and unjust; it is an inequality and roughness which time and experience, by God's grace,

must level and smooth; and we have reason to be thankful, if we are placed in a situation which may contribute to effect so good and necessary a work. The fine observation made by a great critic upon the behaviour of our first parents after their transgression, as described by Milton, well deserves to be remembered by us all: “ Dis“ cord begins in mutual frailty, and ought to cease “ in mutual forbearance *."

Thus much for the trials brought upon us by the world from without. There are others which have their origin from within, from the frame and constitution either of body or mind.

• Johnson's Life of Milton, p. 164, edit. Hawkins.

To have all relish for the pleasures of life taken from us at once; to be cast on the bed of sickness, and to be there confined for days, weeks, months— perhaps for years; this is a trial which, at a distance, wears a most tremendous aspect; and would cause the heart of the stoutest man to sink, who, in the midst of health and vigour should receive undoubted intelligence, that it was soon to be his portion. But let not any person alarm and terrify himself with thoughts of this kind; for, besides that it is folly to anticipate evil, and suffer before the time ; He who sends trials, sends strength to support his servants under them. It is wonderful to see how soon the temper is altered, and conforms itself to its situation; how the mighty are bowed down, and the haughty are humbled; with what meekness and patience a long series of weakness and pain is borne, till the sufferer“ comes “ forth as gold,” a vessel purified and polished, and every way fitted “ for the master's use," with this inscription upon it, “ It is good for me that I “ have been afflicted."

Another temptation is that from melancholy, or dejection of spirits, as we commonly style it; when the spirit, which sustains a man's other infirmities, is broken, and needeth itself to be sustained; when favourite studies and pursuits please no longer ; when the whole creation seems changed, and appears—we know not why-dull and dreary; when the mind is ready to give up every thing, and sink into listlessness and despondency. He who finds himself in this situation has no time to lose. When a skilful physician has been consulted, that it may be known how far the body is concerned, the mind is to be roused and goaded into action. Constant employment must be found for it, lest its powers be turned inward, to fret, and wear, and prey upon itself. In the use of these means,

let
prayer

be continually offered to Him, who can bring light out of darkness, and make the sorrowful heart to sing for joy; with patience and resignation let the sufferer trust in the Lord, and stay himself upon his God.

The time would fail me to enumerate all the different temptations which arise in our minds. They are as many, and as various, as our different passions and propensities, each of which will, at times, strive for the mastery, and all of which are to be kept, with a strong and steady hand, in due subordination and obedience.

The subject shall be left upon your minds with the following admonition of a pious French writer-

“ Include yourself within the compass of your own heart. If it be not large, it is deep; and you will there find exercise enough. You will never be able to sound it; it cannot be known but by him who tries the thoughts and the reins. But dive into the subject as deep as you can. Examine yourself; and the knowledge of that which passes there, will be of more use to you than the knowledge of all that passes in the world. Concern not yourself with the wars and quarrels of public or private persons. Take cognizance of those contests which are between the flesh and the spirit ; betwixt the law of the members and that of the understanding. Appease those differences. Teach

the flesh to be in subjection. Replace reason on her throne, and give her piety for her counsellor. Tame your passions, and bring them under bondage. Put your little state in good order; govern wisely and holily that numerous people contained in your small dominions; that multitude of thoughts, opinions, and affections, which are in your heart, till all rebellion be subdued, and the kingdom of heaven established within you *."

• Jurieu's Method of Christian Devotion, Part III. chap. iii.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »