« EelmineJätka »
them. “Remember Christians, the worthy name by “which you are called. Consider the tendency of " the principles you profess to believe." You have cs embraced the Gospel; it lays an obligation upon " you to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and “ to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the pres“ent world. You say you have faith; but faith: “ without works is dead, being alone. Faith resem. “bles a foundation, of high importance in case of a “ building, but useless if no superstructure be reared. “It is only a beginning, which is nothing without
progress. What are clear notions unless they influ.
ence; or proper motivés unless they impel? Abra“ ham had faith, and he offered up Isaac; Moses had “ faith, and he esteemed the reproach of Christ great, ser riches than the treasures of Egypt. Abel and “ Noah had faith, but it was belief alive, and in mos “ tion; it led the one to sacrifice, and the other to « build. If you know these things, happy are ye if "ye do them. You have received the truth, now ç walk by it. You are sound in doctrine, be so now “ in practice. You are orthodox, now be holy, de“ fraud no man, speak evil of no man. You have “ faith, add to your faith virtue ; and to virtue, “ knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to
temperance, patience, and to patience, brother, “ ly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity." Such is the meaning of the apostle ; and thus we conceive he would have explained himself, had he been living in our day, and called to address some of our audiences.
The first addition which he requires of you as be
kevers is VIRTUE. But it does not here signify good. ness in general ; it is immediately distinguished from the various excellencies included in the common acceptation of the word. It therefore expresses some particular quality; and by referring to the Greek and Latin writers, we can soon determine what it is, They mean by it Fortitude, Courage. My Brethren, this principle in the whole of your Christian course will be found indispensably necessary. You live in a world unfriendly to religion. You are called to various duties, in the discharge of which you will meet with oppositions and discouragements the most painful and trying. It will be found no easy thing to deny yourselves, and take up your cross ; to pluck out a right eye, and to cut off a right hand; being both the patients and the agents too.
It will be found no very easy thing to encounter opinion; to incur the frowns of connections, the scorn of superiors, the ridicule of the multitude ; to feel yourselves in a small and des, pised minority ; to have your designs suspected, your actions misrepresented, your very virtues transformed into vices, and where you have deserved best of your fellow-creatures, to be most condemned by them.
Some of these difficulties indeed might be avoided if you were only to BE religious and not to APPEAR SO. But not to observe that it is impossible to conceal religion in numberless instances when it is fairly reduced to practice, we wilh you to remember that you are require. ed to be open and explicit ; you are commanded to “ let your light shine before men; to “ confess with $ the mouth,” as well as to “ believe with the heart ;” to “ hold fast," not your faith, but the “ profession of
“ your faith, without wavering ;” and not only to be
on the Lord's side," but to be active in his service,
rising up for him against the evil doers, and stand“ing up for him against the workers of iniquity."
If we trace things to their origin, we shall find a thousand evils springing, not from ignorance, but 'cow: ardice. Pilate condemned a Saviour of whose innocency he was conscious, because of the Jews. Many of the Pharisees“ believed on him ; but feared to con. “ fess him, left they fhould be put out of the syna
gogue.” The disciples were afraid and forsook him, Peter trembled and denied him. It is owing to the influence of the same cause, that persons can hold the truth in unrighteousness ; refuse to hear the very doctrines they believe ; change with every company in which they are found ; hear the name of God blas. phemed, and the Gospel vilified, and “ sit as men in « whose mouths there is no reproof.” But holy courage will raise a man above this influence. It will
pro. duce in him a dignity which scorns every mean com. pliance ; a firmness which gives decision and consistency to his character ; a determination, not indeed to make singularity his aim, but to walk by those rules which will unavoidably render it a consequence ; a boldness to follow his convictions wherever they may lead him, and inflexibly to persevere in the path of due ty, regardless of the reproach he may endure, or the losses he
sustain. A second addition is KNOWLEDGE. And this very properly follows the former. It serves to character. ize, and qualify the courage of the believer. It res minds us, that it makes him open, but not oftentatious;
ready, but not challenging and vaunting ; decided, but not violent ; bold, but not rash and inconsiderate. It teaches us that courage is a force which wifdom is to employ. Courage may urge us to undertake the war, but judgment is to manage it. impel us along in our course, but knowledge is to observe the road ; otherwise our animation will only lead us aftray, and the swifter our speed, the greater will be our folly.
And hence it will be easy to determine the nature of this qualification. It is practical knowledge ; it is what we commonly mean by prudence, which is knowledge applied to action. It is what Paul recommends when he says, “ Be ye not unwise, but understanding
what the will of the Lord is. Walk circumspectly, 6 not as fools but as wise. Walk in wisdom towards « them that are without, redeeming the time." It is what Solomon enjoins 'when he says, “ let thine eyes “ look right on, and thine eyelids look strait before “thee. Keep sound wisdom and discretion ; so shall “they be life unto thy soul and grace to thy neck) “ then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot “ shall not stumble. When thou lieft down thou shalt “ not be afraid ; yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.” · This kind of knowledge results principally from experience and observation, and he is blamable indeed who does not grow wiser as he grows older, and who does not make every day a correction of the former. Our own history affords us some of the best materials to improve and embellish our character. There, bem ing heedless, I was surprised. By that trifle I was rob.
bed of temper, Here I dashed on a rock and a planks saved me.
Our rashness should teach the meek. ness of wisdom. We should derive strength from our weaknesses, and firmness from our falls.
But, alas ! what numbers are there upon whom the continuance of life, and all means of improvement, seem to be thrown away. They have eyes, but they see not ; ears have they, but they hear not. They pass through a country full of instructive scenes, and interesting occurences, but they travel in a hearse. And here many religious people seem peculiarly deficient; they perpetually remind us of the observation, “ the children of this world are wiser in their genera- tion than the children of light.” They are always roving from one public assembly to another, and are never alone. They hear much, and think little. Even the kind of information they obtain, often serves only to draw them away from things of immediate concern, and to disqualify them for the duties of the stations in which they move. With their eyes stretched to the ends of the earth, or roving amorg the stars, they go on regardless of any thing before them, and fall over every stumbling-block in the road.
Whereas “ the wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way."
“ The prudent man looketh well s to his going.” He draws down his knowledge from speculation, and uses it in common life. He judges of the value of his notions by their utility. He studies his character and condition. He examines his dangers, his talents, his opportunities. He marks events as they arise, and has a plan to receive them. He distinguishes times, places, circumstances. He discerns