Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

fare dissenting chapels often supply. And there can be no well-grounded reason for omitting the Lord's Prayer altogether, as is very often the case. After some years of deep reflection, I believe that a more spiritual devotional service is one of the greatest wants in our public worship, and a want that we should earnestly labor to supply. To be clear, full, comprehensive, earnest, and powerful in public prayer, and to obtain a manner which will evince reverence and deep humility, are among the things immediately connected with our ministerial usefulness, and the edification of the body of Christ. No doubt a due regard to the exercises of the closet, with a regular attendance at the family altar, will be great helps ; but we should both study and pray, labor and ask of God, that the spirit of prayer may copiously rest upon us.

How needful the request—"Lord teach us how to pray.” Warm our hearts. Stir up Thy good gift of prayer within us, and give us the power, that ours may be the effectual utterances that avail much.

J. BURNS, D.D.

SUBJECT :-Time is Short.

“ But this I say, brethren, the time is short : it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not ; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away." Cor. vii. 29–31.

Inalysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Sixty.

Ir is common, just, and useful, to illustrate the brevity of man's time on earth, by comparing it with the longevity of the first Patriarchs, the magnitude of the spiritual work we have to accomplish; and the immeasurableness of that eternity to which we are all destined.

I shall confine my attention at present, however, to indicate those aspects in which the apostle in the text regards its brevity.

I. He intimates that the time for THE DOMESTIC CONNEXIONS OF THE WORLD IS SHORT. It remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none,” &c. The matrimonial principle is the basis of the family institution, and seems peculiar to man. It

appears

not to exist either with higher or lower life. Man is the creature of the family. His domestic impulses are all-imperious. He is nursed in infant-hood, and trained through all the successive stages to mature life, under the soft and moulding influence of the family institution. When in the vigor of youth, Providence calls him to leave his first home, for the development of his powers in the open world, the domestic instinct, instead of weakening, waxes stronger, and impels him to become the head of a family himself. Thus the world goes on.

Man's life runs through a circle of domestic relations. He is first the subject of parental solicitude and rule; then he advances to the position of parental love and power; and then on he passes, until amidst the infirmities of old age, when the grasshopper becomes a burden, he becomes again the subject of domestic solicitude and sway. Far enough am I from complaining of this arrangement; on the contrary, I thank my Maker for the goodness it indicates and imparts. What generous, self-denying, and deathless sympathies are brought into play in the home of a well organized family. It is earth’s chief nursery and highest type of Heaven.

But this relationship, good and beautiful as it is, Paul says, “is short." The connexion between husband and wife “is short.” Few are allowed to climb the hill together, and fewer still, are permitted hand-in-hand, “to totter down.” The millions of the married separate on the green slopes on their way up.

If family connexions are thus so dissoluble and transient, how ought the members to feel and act towards each other? Why, live in vital connexion with that Gospel, which consecrates, exalts, beatifies, and immortalizes, all human friendships ; --live, so as to weave around the hearts those spiritual ties of holy love, which will strengthen with years, survive the grave, unite in heaven, and reign through the eternal hereafter.

[ocr errors]

JOYS OF THE WORLD IS SHORT.

II. He intimates that the time for THE SORROWS AND

They that weep, as though they wept not, and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not,” &c.

There are a weeping and rejoicing that will never end. The lost sinner will weep for ever tears of ruthless remorse, black despair, and terrible forebodings. There is a rejoicing that will never end; the joy of disinterested love, of a commending conscience, of an harmonious nature, of an ever-brightening and an ever-expanding hope.

But there is a sorrow and a rejoicing that will end with life. The tear of worldly anxiety and disappointment will flow no more after death. The joy, too, of worldly success and sensual gratification goes out at the grave. (1) The transitoriness of worldly sorrow and joy is a consolatory thought to the good man ;—for all his sorrows end here, and all those of his joys which are carnal and unsatisfactory.

(2) This transitoriness of worldly sorrow and joy is a terrible thought to the wicked. Many of the sorrows he has now, will make way for greater ones, and all the pleasures he has now, will end for ever.

TRANSACTIONS OF THE WORLD IS SHORT.

III. He intimates that the time for THE MERCANTILE

“ They that buy, as though they possessed not.” We, the men of this age and Island, are emphatically a commercial people. The market commands our talents and engrosses our time.

We make well-nigh all things marketable; we trade even in ideas ;yes, and religion too.

Whether man is constitutionally, as some have affirmed, an exchanging animal or not, he has become so now. The characteristics of the soul are often lost in the attributes of the shopkeeper; the man is absorbed in the merchant. The principle of commerce we appreciate as an element in the disciplinary system under which we live. It is adapted to

unite men together; and by the exchange of the material commodities, to exchange kind, quickening, and improving, thoughts. Were London tradesmen all religious, they could export religion with their goods to the ends of the earththe market would be the best Missionary Society for converting the world.

But this material commerce, with all its aims and anxieties, pursuits and pleasures, is very short with each man. Mental and spiritual commerce may go on for ever. There will always be the interchange of sanctified ideas, sympathies, and suggestions; the constant export and import of thought and feeling between the varied provinces of the divine empire. But the exchanging of material commodities for the ends of subsistence, will soon be over.

Make then this business temporary, subservient to your spiritual welfare ; make the market a means of grace : so that in all your getting you might get that “wisdom which is the principal thing."

THE WORLD IS SHORT.

IV. He intimates that the time for THE RIGHT USING OP

They that use the world as not abusing it.” It is implied by the apostle that the world is properly used when it is not abused. When then is it abused ?

First : It is abused when it is used chiefly with a senSUOUS end.

To the brute, indeed, the world has no relation but to the senses. It is nothing but touch, and sound, and vision. It is a minister to the senses, and to the senses only. But when man uses it so, it is abused.

Secondly : It is abused when it is used chiefly with a secular end. When men value it on account of the fruit it produces, and the minerals it contains ; when we look on its mountains, valleys, meads and forests, with the cold eye of merchandise; when we value it so far as it can be turned into money, then we abuse it.

Thirdly : It is abused when it is used chiefly with an intellectual end. There are men who look upon it chiefly as a great problem; who are eternally engaged in observing, classifying, and studying, its ever shifting phenomena, in order to get at some principle or principles, by which to interpret the whole. They seek to render all that is in the heavens above, the earth, and sea, and all beneath, into an intellectual system-a cosmos. I would not utter a word to disparage this. The world is full of significance; it teems with ideas; all its million objects are embodiments of divine thoughts, which it is both the duty and interest of all finite mind to study. But to make this the end is to abuse it. What then is to “use” it rightly? I answer, to use it chiefly with a religious end. Religion warrants us to use it sensuously, for we have senses ; secularly, for we need worldly good; intellectually, for we require truth. But demands that we should in all cases use it for spiritual ends ;-subordinate it to the salvation of the soul-make it the means of grace—the temple of worship-the communal medium of friendship between the Infinite Father and the human soul.

This religious use of the world makes it ours. The difference between the world to the worldly, and the world to the Christian is, that the former is possessed by it, the other possesses it. In the one case he is its, in the other it is his He converts the impressions which it makes upon his soul into ideas, and the ideas into principles, and the principles raise him in the scale of being.

WORLD IS SHORT.

V. He intimates that the time for THE FASHION OF THE

“ For the fashion of the world passeth away.” The world literally has a 6 fashion” that is passing away.

The fields change their clothing, and the skies their clouds. The phenomena and forms of the world are ever shifting; the process of dissolution and organization, of tearing down and building up, is constantly going on.

But it is to the human world that the apostle refers. All things connected with our humanity have a fashion.

“ The fashion of the world” passeth off like the gaudy, shifting, pageant of the stage. Such is the allusion. “ All the world's a stage.”

« AnteriorContinuar »