Imagens da página

shall in due time be put into complete possession of the promised inheritance.

But a truly filial spirit includes reverence and love, desire of instruction, cheerful obedience and fear of offending, humble submission to salutary discipline, delight in communion with God, and finally, a patient expectation of the

promised inheritance.

1. If I be a Father, saith God by his prophet to his ancient people, where is my honour? To honour God is to entertain high and adoring thoughts of his attributes and character. It is to feel that deep habitual impression of veneration and awe, which the frequent contemplation of his perfections, of his self-existence, of his absolute independence, of his immensity, of his Almighty power, of his boundless knowledge, of his intimate access to the human heart, of his adorable majesty, of his unsullied purity, of his impartial justice, and in a word of his absolute infinitude, will naturally produce.

The man whose whole soul is impressed

with an habitual awe of God, will, as it were, shrink into nothing in the divine presence, will never pronounce the name of God, but with solemnity and reverence, will honour his attributes, his word and works, and will never presume to trifle with the Supreme Being in any of his addresses to him, or of the concerns which he has to transact with him.

2. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy understanding and with all thy heart, is the first and the great commandment both of reason and of revelation. And the men who being by profession sons of God, are animated with a truly filial spirit, love God sincerely and supremely. They think upon him with complacency and delight as the most amiable, and the best of all Beings; and they dwell with peculiar pleasure upon those representations which he has made of his boundless goodness in the works of nature, and the discoveries of revelation.

They delight in him as the Being whose name is Love, whose essence is unlimited,

unchangeable, everlasting benevolence; all whose thoughts and purposes, all whose works and dispensations originate in love; who proposes to himself no other end, but the happiness of his creatures; who is pursuing this end by the wisest and most efficacious means; and who will eventually bring it to pass in the best and the completest manner. Who cannot be frustrated in the execution of his designs, either by the occurrence of unforeseen contingencies, or by the opposition of superior power, or by the intervention of the froward and perverse wills of subordinate agents. They contemplate with delight, with admiring and with grateful hearts, the dispensations of the wise and benevolent providence of God: they rejoice in the liberality which extends even to the sparrow and the worm, which giveth to the beast his food, and provides for the young ravens when they cry. They admire the beneficent hand which extends its protection to the various tribes and nations of men who are scattered over the face of the earth, and are all entirely dependent upon Divine Providence, which deals out its blessings with impartial kindness to the whole human race: without overlooking the ignorant and thoughtless, or even the ungrateful, the vicious, and

pros fane, the men who presumptuously deny the existence, arraign the attributes, and abuse the goodness and forbearance of their invisible and unwearied Benefactor. With gratitude and joy they reflect on the moral dispensations of God to mankind, and on the various methods adopted by him in different ages of the world, to reclaim his thoughtless and disobedient children to wisdom and virtue. And they particularly admire the wisdom, simplicity, and beauty of the gospel dispensation, the tendency of which is to enlighten the understanding and to improve the heart, and the design of which is, by a silent and unperceived, but sure and irresistible progress, in due time to conduct all mankind to future happiness. They reflect with gratitude upon personal and social mercies. They review with admiration the kindness

of Divine Providence in the circumstances, of their birth and education; in their continued preservation; in their protection from dangers seen and unseen; in the liberal supply of their various wants; in the counsel which he has administered in the hours of perplexity; in the disappointment of gloomy fears and apprehensions; and in seasonable supports and consolations through scenes of sorrow and suffering. They are grateful for domestic comforts ; for dear and tender relatives; for wise, affectionate, and faithful friends ; for the blessings of social life, and the privileges of civil society. They are pleased and thankful for what they now enjoy, and look forward with cheerful expectation to better blessings in reversion, esteeming it their highest felicity that they are acquainted with the discoveries of the gospel, and are elevated to the glorious hope of immortality by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

All these considerations, and more which might be added, generate and cherish that

« AnteriorContinuar »