« السابقةمتابعة »
“ the way of truth" is the way of life, however hard, and rugged, and narrow it may seem; for “ I am the way, and the truth, and the life :” and “ the way of lying" is the way of death, however broad, and smooth, and flattering, and pleasant it may appear; for “there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end'thereof is death :” and it is the latter of which Christ speaks when he declares that “ broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that tread therein;" and of the former that he testifies that “narrow is the way that leadeth to life, and few there be that find it.”
Now, it is at once evident from all this, that there is a difference between these two ways, as wide as the gulf which separates heaven from hell; and that the one is, in reality, as much preferable to the other, as God, and Christ, and the spirits of the just made perfect-and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, and all who shall sit down with them in the kingdom of heaven, are to be preferred, as companions throughout eternity, to the devils and ruined souls; as the New Jerusalem, the city that descendeth from God out of heaven, is a more desirable abode through everlasting ages, than dungeons of darkness and prisons of fire, wherein are weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. And so long as God's judgments are laid in order before you, defining and disclosing the two opposing ways, and you distinguish clearly in what direction both are leading, and in what end each must terminate ; there will not be, there cannot be, the slightest shadow of doubt in any mind: there will not be a moment's pause to poise the balance, to adjust the standard, to count the cost. “I will choose the way of truth," will be the language of every heart, however large a portion there may be whose practice would return a prompt and positive denial to the declaration, “I have chosen it."
Now, listen a while, my young friends, and I will tell you from God's word, not only what “the way of truth” is, but what is meant by choosing it.e 0, that when the impression of the present service shall have passed away, and you are again within the dangerous precincts of the world, and encompassed by the snares of the tempter-O that you may be concerned and decided to choose it: for it is here the purpose may be formed, and the desire awakened; but it is elsewhere that the steadfastness of either must be tried.
To choose “the way of trutlı," then, is, first, to determine, with entire honesty of intention, and with full purpose of heart, that you will walk, as far as you know it, in the way of God's precepts-entertaining, not only a confident hope, but cherishing a firm assurance, that so doing you shall attain, sooner or later, when the days of your appointed time are past, to the end of God's promises. And as the word of an earthly parent is received with amplest credit, and the child, when properly trained, never doubts for a moment, that the engagements of a fond, indulgent mother, or the pious and consistent father, will be fulfilled to the utmost latitude of the letter, and in the fullest apprehension of the spirit; so it must be admitted, and established, and acted upon, as a first principle in choosing the way of truth, that what the Lord hath promised, the Lord—who is truer than the father to his first-born, more mindful than the mother of her sucking child—that what the Lord hath promised, he is able, and willing also to perform ; and that while all things which are possible tu unwatched power, and unmeasured wisdom, contrived by perfect noliness,
and controlled by perfect love, are possible to Him, it is altogether impossible that one jot or tittle should pass from anything he has spoken, until all be fulfilled. And this conclusion is not to be formed once only, as if by a special effort of the mind, and then placed on one side, as t¡ it might be safely forgotten or overlooked: it must have a place in the remembrances of every day. We must strive to awake every morning with a perception of the solemn row that is upon us; and prefer every day a special prayer for that grace which alone can enable us to remember and to redeem it as we ought.
There are two questions—so simple in terms that every child may be able to propose them, and yet in substance so densely significant that the most advanced Christian can never overrate the mercies which they include, or overpass the obligations which they. imply there are two questions which, if asked and answered at the commencement of each recurring day, would be sufficient, not only to recommend, but to enforce, the choice of "the way of truth:" and these are "What has God done for me this night?" and, "What am I to do for God this day?" "How many," may the young Christian exclaim-" How many have laid down exhausted, and risen unrefreshed! How many have been full of tossings to and fro to the dawn of the day! How many who were crying at evening, Would God it were morning!' are now exclaiming at morning, Would God it were evening! How many, in the thoughts of their head upon their bed, have pondered over images of horror, and prospects of darkness! How many have been started from sleep by the strugglings of an uneasy conscience, or scared with dreams, and terrified with visions! How many have gone to rest without a God to shield them; and, had the murderer's stealthy step invaded their midnight sleep, or had the flames seized upon their dwelling, would have awakened in the grasp of a more fearful murderer, from whose power none could rescue-or in the consciousness of fiercer flames which the floods of many oceans could not quench or cool! But I have laid me down in peace, and slept; for the Lord sustained me; the Lord made me to dwell in safety and now that I am entering upon another day, that I am commencing another stage of life, what shall I render unto the Lord for all his goodness unto me? How shall I set forth his glory? How shall I set forth his praise? How shall I prove that I desire to be his, and have received and realized the assurance that he is willing to be mine? How, but by choosing the way of truth; by walking in the only path that can lead me to his presence in the end; by taking his Word as a light to my feet, and as a lamp to my path; by answering like ancient Samuel to the voice that calls to me as a child, Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth;' by repeating from my heart, as he said, 'Seek ye my face,' Thy face, Lord, will I seek;' by devoting myself to the practical obedience of those Holy Scriptures, which are able to make me, as they made the youthful Timothy, wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Young as I may be, and lowly as I may seem-little worthy of the notice, and little entitled to the regard of any but those who love me-not perhaps for myself, but because I am theirs-1, a youth, a child, almost an infant, am yet called upon to glorify God, to serve the Lord Christ, to reflect the graces of the Spirit-to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling -to wean my heart from earth, and to prepare my soul for heaven. O mighty and momentous work! a work to which the patriarch, or the prophet, or the
apostle, would not be competent if left to his own endeavours; but to which I, though least and lowest in the kingdom of heaven, shall be made equal if I only seek the means; for 'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me:' he hath declared that “the Father hath hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and bath revealed them unto babes; and therefore I know that the babe may effect with him what the perfect man will in vain attempt without him; and therefore, though I am the dullest of the dull, and the weakest of the weak, I am only the fitter subject for his glorious working; for it is amid darkness that light shines forth, and strength is made perfect in weakness : when I am weak, then am I strong, if only the power of Christ shall rest
While, however, to such “ the way of truth" is, first, to determine that we will, if God help us, walk faithfully and constantly therein; it is next to be careful that, so far as lies in our power, we act out what we have determined ; that we do not, like too many, ask one thing in our prayers, and seek another in qur practice; that we do not through the after stages engage in any occupation, or devote ourselves to any amusement, or join ourselves to any society, by which our early approach to God may be made to seem hypocrisy, and our very petitions be turned into sin. If it were sufficient for the soul's health and safety, to utter a few prayers, and to read a few verses out of Scripture, at the commencement of the day, and we were then to be at liberty to follow wherever inclination, or fancy, or caprice, might lead—not only all children, but all men and women, would be religious at once; that is, they would profess to serve God, and in reality serve Mammon : carth would be at once turned into a hell by the way, and yet all would expect in the end to inherit and to enjoy heaven. But as it is not only at the waking hour, or in the lessons of early morning, that the child obeys the mother's voice, and heeds the father's eye, but that voice and that eye retain their power and influence throughout the day; and within sound of the one no evil would be admitted, and within sight of the other no evil would be allowed; so, should it not be the same when the eye of our heavenly Father is ever on us, and when the voice of the Saviour is ever sounded in our ears when we never attempt to do wrong, and seldom omit to do right, without the reproof in one case, and the remonstrance in the other, of the disturbed and disquieted conscience, ever prompt to take alarm, the messenger and the minister of God's Holy Spirit—and when if we will not take heed and check ourselves in them, a cloud (and now I know I am speaking according to the experience of some of my young friends who have felt seriously) a cloud seems to darken upon the eyes, and a burden to press on the heart, and the very things which should minister to our comfort, and promote our happiness, lose all their former relish, and make us silent, serious, and sad? O, if the child who is early taught to utter prayers, were taught, with equal care and diligence, that the eye of his God is upon him after he has risen from his knees—that at every instant, and in every place, it enwraps him, it encompasses, it penetrates him, it pervades nim; if the child who is early taught to read his Bible, were instructed, with equal care and diligence, that, when the volume has been closed, and the words nave ceased to cremble on his lips, or vibrate on his ear, the spirit of them must be stndied, and reflected in his life-that when he goeth it must lead him, and if be desire that while he sleepeth it should keep him, and when he walketh it
shail talk with him; we might hope, we might rely, that the rising generation would correct their own ill tempers amidst a diseased and a fallen world—that the moral pestilence which walketh at noon-day, would fall in vain upon the breast that is fortified with the antidote of a pure and salutary joy; the simplicity of Christian practice, founded on the singleness of Scripture principle, would foil and confound the tempter Satan, and might perhaps arrest, impress, and convert the tempter man. One who had been thus early initiated into the fear of God—I allude to the chaste and pious Joseph-was thus preserved from onc of the most subtle and seducing snares that ever was laid for human virtue; but the very simplicity and singleness of heart of which I speak, was itself a buckler of truth, an impenetrable shield : “How can I do this great wickedness," he asks, “and sin against God ?" The fearful idea of transgressing wilfully and presumptuously against God, with his eyes open, and his heart conscious of the sin, does not seem to have entered his mind as a possible thing. To harbour a wicked intention, knowing it to be such, was to him a moral contradiction: it was as far from his thoughts as uncovering his bosom to the envenomed arrow: it was opposed to all his early habits, and views, and principles. And wherefore was this, but because-unknown, perhaps, to himself—he had early made his choice, and firmly adhered to it; he had formed his decision in childhood, and acted upon it in youth : and this was the object of his choice, and this the decision of his will—(O may it also be yours !)
“ Thou art my portion, O Lord; I have said that I have chosen the way of truth ; thy judgments have I laid before me."
But now, my dear young friends, take heed : there is a third thing necessary, that you may safely choose the way of truth; that it may be your comfort and ornament while you live-your support, your confidence, and your triumpha when you die. O do not neglect this; for though we name it last, it does in reality come first; although you may not, at the beginning, be quite distinctly conscious
you would be sure to see it when you look back. Every one has seen it who has entered through the portal of Christ Jesus into the kingdom of Christ, opened by him for all believers. Every one has seen it; I can answer, all confess it. They all ascribe salvation, not to their own efforts or exertions, but to Him who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb. I will express this to you in the words of the wisest man who ever lived : “ Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths.” It is, then, a continual dependence upon the help of God, as promised for the sake of Christ, and conveyed by the influence of the Holy Spirit; and not only a continual dependence upon it, but a constant expectation of it; and not only a constant expectation of it, but an earnest and frequent entreaty for it. And here, to learn a lesson from our earthly parents, do you not in common things, when you are uncertain how to act, when you cannot determine for yourselves what is prudent or what is right, do you not go to the father for direction, and repair to the mother for advice? Do you not, if you meet with unkindness or misconstruction, seek a refuge for your trouble in that true and fond bosom, which is never cold against the child of his love? Do you not, when languor steals over you, or sickness seizes upon you, if the head swim with strange dizziness, and the linbs tremble beneath their load, if the flesh be torn, or the limbs be bruised, or the nerv
unstrung-do you not scek at once for relief and remedy at the mother's prompt and practised hand ? Just so should God be a refuge and strength, a very present help in every trouble that presses on the soul, a guide in every uncertainty, a shield in every distress, a strength for every weakness, and a balm for every wound. Just so, if the ungodly would mislead you, or the unthinking would pervert you, or the despiteful would persecute you, or the unkind would wound you, or the injurious would wrong you, just so should you fly from them to God: and you have not far to fly; for he is ever near, ever ready to help: he sees you cannot help yourselves; and he will either temper trial, or nerve you to endure it, or strengthen you to overcome it. Remember what Christ has promised his people—“ Lo I am with you always :" and if any do not feel he is with them, it is only because they are not sufficiently concerned to be one with him. The youngest and least accounted of in the spiritual church (of man I mean) is just as much a member of Christ, as the saint, full of years and ripe for glory. And as the hair cannot, of its own impulse, separate itself from the head, nor the branch detach itself from the vine, so neither can the life of the little ones who are indeed joined to Christ by faith, ever be separated from him.
Accustom yourselves, therefore-if indeed you have chosen the way of truth, and are determined to abide by the choice, which will surely lead you to life eternal in the end-accustom yourselves to expect, and to look for, and to realize, the constant presence of Christ. Remember that he is the way, as well as the truth and the life ; and therefore he has said, “ No man cometh to the Father but by me.” N if when first you feel the evil purpose gathering and rankling within, if when first you feel the unruly temper rising, or the forbidden desire kindling, or the allotted task and the required duty becoming more difficult and more irksome than it was wont, if you would go at once to a solitary place to seek Christ—or if that cannot be done, if you would lift up your hearts to him in the presence of the objects or the persons who are tempting you to do wrong, or restraining you from doing right—if you would but whisper (for effectual prayer is oftentimes a very short prayer) “ Lord guide me, for I am now in danger of going astray; Lord strengthen me, for I am now sore oppressed with enemies ; Lord now preserve the meanest of thy members ; Lord now watch over the feeblest of thy sheep; Lord now lay thy ments before my soul, and enable me to keep them, that I may not lose life eternal;"—then who can doubt, that He who is ever true to his promise, ever steadfast in his love, would be present by his Spirit at the voice of your cry; that he would cause you not to be overcome of evil, but enable you to overcome evil with good; that he would keep you firm in the way of truth which you have chosen, and in choosing which
you have chosen Him who has brought life and immortality to light, and will share its glories through eternity with you.
Now I have addressed you thus far, my young friends, either as those who have chosen “the way of truth," or are willing and desirous to choose it. But there may, I am well aware, be some here present, who have not yet made up their minds ; who see in the world so much of what is pleasing to attract them,
o much of what is amusing to divert them, and so much of what is trifling to engage them, and so much (they will say) of what is necessary and useful, as regards the present life, to occupy them, that they have not yet made up their minds to