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. . . 170 * aversion to. Sin is the poison which the pleasurable sweets of life naturally yield: Pain, the opposite of pleasure, is the divine antidote to the poison. Every sweet, in short, which springs not from religion or virtue, has a poison lurking in it, and its antidote to counteract it, must be a bitter: And he who takes the largest draught of the sweet, must also of the counteracting bitter; for “every one shall receive,” sometime or other, “according to the deeds done in the body,"—“ there is no respect of persons with God,” his “ways are equal." There is no exception, in this respect, with regard to his elect, or “first fruits," for, “if the first fluits be holy, the lump is also holy.” . “ - But not only does this doctrine of the cross hold good in a moral point of view, but also in physicalseience. When our bodies, for instance, get corrupted by gross humours, or the system any way
deranged by animal indulgences, the antidote is not, in general, to
be found in those delectable sweets which please and gratify the
palate—No:-these are the things which produce the evil. The
antidote is to be found in those purgatives, nauseous and bitter draughts, and other correctives, all' which are generally mortifying and repugnant to our appetites. .* . But we may follow out this doctrine still farther, as we see it exemplified in the world around us, in regard to the productions of the earth. The fruits which the earth more naturally and spontaneously yield, are briers and thorns and other noxious weeds. Before that we can reap the fruits necessary for our use, we must labour and toil, to cultivate the good, and déstroy the evil, or noxious productions. The things that are good and necessary for us, are only to be obtained by “the sweat of the brow?”—here, again, the maxim holds good, that in order to enjoy the sweet we must be. partakers of the bitter. * * : . . . ." ...” , o, ø "So true is the doctrine I advance, and so clearly is it a maximo of heaven, that it even “became him, by whom are all things, and for whom are all things, in bringing many sons into glory, to make the captain of our salvation perfect through sufferings.” Now, if it became, or was expedient for Him to suffer, in order to procure to us the heavenly inheritance, it can hardly be considered unnecessary, or unreasonable that we should “be partakers of his sufferings,"— that the •oldier should partake of the same hardships as his captain and leader—should “drink of the same cup, and be baptized with the same baptism." Surely, “it is enough for the disciple
that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord." We must, therefore, “through much tribulation enter the kingdom.” “For even hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for us,” and, notice what follows, “leaving us an ecample that we should
follow his steps.” If we are to partake of the benefits of his suffer
ings, we must partake of his sufferings also. of we are to live with him, we must also die with him, and be made “conformable" to him in his death. It is only if we “suffer with him,” that we shall “also reign with him." We must arrive at the same end, by the same means as he did—by suffering, and death. Now, I am well aware that it will be said, that Christ's sufferings have already atoned for us, and that no sufferings of ours can be of an atoning nature. But although I grant that the merits of Christ need not the weight of our sufferings, in the scale of the atonement, yet, what of that?—we have seen, as already noticed, that we must suffer with him, if we are to reign with him: and this is enough for us, and ought to silence us on that subject. It is no matter what people say, if it can be shewn, that suffering is appointed by Heaven “for our profit, that we may be partakers of
his holiness.” - - * * o
Sin, or carnal pleasure, leads to misery and woe: Pain, or suffer. ing, is that which destroys sin, or pleasure, and opens the way to bliss. God," whose ways are unsearchable, and, who bringeth good out of evil, hath so ordered that suffering, the very consequence of sin, should tend to its destruction. That the evils consequent upon our fall, should be the very means of our recovery: and that death, the consummation of our earthly misery, should be the very introduction to life and blessedness.
Man fell from his first estate, by following his own will, in opposition to the will of his heavenly Father. Therefore, as rebellious children, we must be restored to our father, and to happiness, by means, directly contrary to our will and inclination. Even the captain of our salvation “came not to do his own will, but the will of him that sent him.” So must we “deny ourselves” or be denied our gratifications, and subjected to punishment. “and take
up the cross,” as he did. This doctrine of the Cross, which many
can talk well about, has a more extensive signification than is generally understood, and includes all the evils that ever came, or will come, either on the humble and obedient disciple, or on those termed incorrigible. This doctrine of the cross, or punishment,
is so contrary to our nature, that people would almost forego the heavenly enjoyment, rather than hare it upon these terms. Yet we are told that all must partake of the sufferings who would enter the kingdom. How few consider such passages as the following, in their proper import and meaning—" If ye endure not' chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons,"—" for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not.'' So that what we regard as our greatest evils, are, in reality, the very proofs of our sonship. Instead thereof of saying "Wherefore hath the Lord done thus—what meaneth the heat of his great anger?" We ought to say, in all our distress, "Good is the word . of the Lord concerning us."—" Let the will of the Lord be done." This, indeed, is contrary to flesh and blood, but remember, there is no arriving at the kingdom without crucifying the flesh.
"But among all the truths of religion, none meets with greater' opposition from flesh and blood, because none more contrary to flesh and blood, than the doctrine of suffering. Salvation itself, proposed upon these terms, is but an unwelcome offer; and how desirous soever men are of the end,.they cannot be persuaded to embrace the means. Though God, out of the infinite treasures of his wisdom, made choice of the way of the Cross, both for the Redeemer and the redeemed, as the most effectual means to recover lost man, and has set this truth in the clearest light, and given the highest evidence and assurance of it, both in the express declarations of scripture, and in the life and death•of his adorable Son, the Saviour of the world; yet, as it bears hard upon their corruptions, the very wisdom of God shall pass for foolishness with men, the brightness of the divine light shall he obscurity, and truth itself shall not meet with belief." This doctrine of the Cross, viz.—a suffering Master, .and suffering Disciples, •was, "to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness."
It were easy to adduce proofs, innumerable, not only from scripture, but from observation and experience, in support of the doctrine I maintain, of the salutary nature, end, and design of all afflictions, by whatever terms expressed, or on whomsoever be the subjects. To adduce scripture in reference to those denominated righteous persons, we might refer, not only to Job, and David, but to the greater part of the saints mentioned both in the Old and New Testament scriptures.— •..1, \ .
And in reference to those termed wicked, or accursed, whose
recovery is declared to succeed their punishment,—we might mention the Moabites, Jer. xlviii. 16, 17.—the Ammonites, Jer. xlix. 6.—the Edomites, verse 18 to 39.—the Sodomites, Ezek. Xtl 49 —63, &c . &c. But as I have, in a former communication, taken some notice of these, I shall, at present confine myself to an instance or two, from observation and experience only. . .
How often does it happen, as we have seen, that one has a darling child (for instance), upon whom his heart and affections are so entirely placed, that the child becomes his idol, and his heart is thereby weaned from God. What, let me ask, is then most salutary and proper for him ?—Why, it is just that which, above all other things, would distress him most, namely—to take away his idol child, by death. Have we not all seen the proof of this? Again:— . When we get prosperous in the world, our natural propensity is, to get proud, and say, "who is the Lord that I should obey him?" What is then most salutary and good for us? It is the very reverse of prosperity, namely—misfortune, as it is' called. And again :— When we begin to loll in the lap of ease and pleasure, then are hardships. (which, above all things we dislike), most salutary and good for us. But why need I multiply instances, to prove a doctrine that shines,like a sunbeam throughout the scriptures, and is so fully confirmed by daily experience? It is only because "it is a hard saying," that we "cannot bear it,"—and so contrary to our nature, that we will not assent to it.
Human nature is the same in all the sons of Adam, and in all ages of the world; and afflictions proceed from the same cause— are appointed for the same end and design—and will have the same ultimate effect upon all. All diseases and pains, as already noticed, are the natural and necessary consequence of sin. This is not the case with one class of persons,'but with all:—nor does it apply to one kind of sufferings, but to all. Every pang or trouble that we feel, 'whether it be such as would be reckoned more immediately from the hand of God, or brought upon us by pur own doings, is assuredly the effect of sin; but suffering is also the corrector and antidote to the evil that produced it. And . did not the indulgence in certain vices subject us to certain diseases to check and deter us (thus making the consequent punishment of our wickedness the very means of our correction and recovery)—and were it not from our knowing, assuredly, that death will, at no very distant period, usher us into an unseen world, the most awful wickedness would overspread the face of the earth—confusion and every evil work would prevail over the creation of God. Even as it is, the words of the Prophet are awfully verified, that, "because sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." But, were it not for the restraint* above-mentioned, mankind, in general, would give loose reins to their licentious appetites, which each one would gratify just according as he had the means in his power.—Let any one think, for a ino* ment, what a world we would then have. Does not all this point Out the necessity of such counteracting effects as are calculated to mortify and to crucify the flesh? Hence the salutary nature* and design, and end of all our losses, afflictions, and sorrows, from the slightest pang of our own immediate procuring, to that denominated damnation, or punishment in the highest degree. As in the "few," so in the "many stripes," the chastisement is for no other than the benefit and recovery of the sufferer. It cannot be otherwise, if God be Love, and the Scripture be truth." .
Let them talk, who will, of vindictive punishment. God cannot be vindictive without being cruel, revengeful, and absolutely wicked, to assert which would be blasphemy. Therefore (as already remarked), every punishment he inflicts on mankind, whether termed "a few stripes" or "many stripes"—whether termed "chastisement" or "hell torments" mast be in mercy to the sufferers. For if he is Love and Mercy in his nature and essence, all his dispensations towards his creatures must be in accordance with that nature.—His every act of punishment must be for their purification, recovery, and final happiness^. ' •
The punishment of the wicked is the work of the Saviour, and therefore a mediatorial work. For "the Father judgeth no man, hut hath committed all judgment to the Son." This being hit work, it must be completed during his mediatory reign. And "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the.kingdom to God, even the Father^" "having reconciled all things to himself."
The Author is well aware, that it is quite easy for one to talk of afflictions, as he has done, with the utmost complacency, when he himself is at perfect ease, and knows not from experience what afflictions mean. Bnt although the writer knows little of it,