W. (William) Suddards.

The British pulpit, consisting of discourses by the most eminent living divines, in England, Scotland, and Ireland, accompanied with pulpit sketches, to which are added, Scriptural illustrations, and selections on the office, duties, and responsibilities of the Christian ministry (Volume 2) online

. (page 61 of 84)
Online LibraryW. (William) SuddardsThe British pulpit, consisting of discourses by the most eminent living divines, in England, Scotland, and Ireland, accompanied with pulpit sketches, to which are added, Scriptural illustrations, and selections on the office, duties, and responsibilities of the Christian ministry (Volume 2) → online text (page 61 of 84)
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pear throughout all his works. The mind
naturally acquiesces in the doctrine of a
creating and superintending power arrang-
ing for the happiness of those whom he
creates. Hence, rather than exclude this
idea from their minds, the heathens
adopted the opinion of good and bad
deities, and the eastern nations of an evil
and a good principle, sharing the govern-
ment of this world. The idea, besides,
is confirmed by incontrovertible evidence,
for in the Bible we are assured, that God
made all very good, and delighted in the
work which he had produced. This
world, as wheeled into space, was crown-
ed with beauty. It was worthy of the cre-
ating hand of a benevolent being, and a
suitable abode for innocence and happy
creatures. Man was the lord of the crea-
tion, and his habitation afforded him every
enjoyment which his heart could wish, or
his imagination conceive. He himself
was curiously wrought, and admirably
adapted to his situation. His body was
immortal and fresh in undecaying youth,
health nerved his arm for action, and his
body was capable of obeying every im-
pulse of his mind. His powers and
faculties were strong — his mind vigorous
— his heart glowed with devotion — and
innocence unsullied adorned his nature.
A contemplation, therefore, of man's
original state, proves the benevolence of
God, and that he wishes to make his
creatures happy.

Every creature is finite, and, coming
perfect from the hand of God, may be-
come imperfect from personal acts. By
an act of creation God peopled heaven
with finite perfect beings, but some of

Vol. H.— 46



inhabit, and tempted our first parents to
rebel. Hell, therefore, was the proper
abode for man as a sinful creature. Ge-
nerations were to descend from our first
parents, and God adapted the earth to
their state as a temporary residence in
their journey to eternity. God revealed
his plan of deliverance to them, and the
earth, though under a curse, is peculiarly
adapted to the present probationary state
of man. He is placed in it now, under a
new economy to prepare for a future
existence. This globe, therefore, which
Satan considered as a part of his empire,
and its inhabitants as his slaves, is made
the platform for the exhibition of asto-
nishing events, under the moral govern-
ment of God. By the fall, rnan was not
only liable to punishment, but had be-
come morally depraved. Christ by dying
bore the penalty of a violated law, and
thus delivered believers from punish-
ment, and he procured the agency of the
Spirit to create the heart anew, and thus
restored the divine image which was lost
by sin. The deliverance from punish-
ment which Christ effected for believers
is an act, and is called justification ; the
renewing of the heart is a work, and is
called sanctification. The latter beings
progressive, though an act of grace, is
accomplished by means.

Life to Christians frequently is a
checkered scene, and at every remarka-
ble stage of their pilgrimage to eternity,
fresh proofs of an unseen directing power
are furnished. They are often led by a
way which they know not, and conducted
to an issue which they did not anticipate.
Ordinary occurrences are much under our
own control, and by certain modes of
action we can, in not a few cases, pre-
dict the result. Circumstances, however,
2H



362



THE BRITISH PULPIT.



which we did not foresee, and which,
from our ignorance of the cause, we term
accidents, give new directions to our
plans, and change in a greater or less
deofree the aspect of our personal history.
The meeting of a friend, the death of a
relation, or a single word dropped in con-
versation, may be connected with a course
of events which may either imbitter or
o-ladden our future existence. Situations
of importance may excite to activity
minds which otherwise would have cor-
roded with ennui, repined in solitude, or
bten frittered away on trifles. Individual
and general good may result from such
ovexruling dispensations. Minds of the
strongest grasp and finest mould may be
wasted in uncongenial pursuits, but while
God's ends are not frustrated by such an
arrangement, the individuals so circum-
stanced are kept in a state of preparation.
Prosperity engenders pride, and adversity
balances, in some minds, the actuating
powers. A sickly existence may preserve
the soul in health. Bereavements loosen
the heart from created objects. All
works for the good of the Christian, and
the fluctuations to which he is exposed
prepare his mind for the spiritual employ-
ments of heaven.

Every individual in future will be re-
warded according to his works. As we
sow, so shall we reap. He that sows
sparingly shall reap also sparingly.
Among the angelic host there are vari-
ous degrees, and though all are happy
in heaven, the capacity for enjoyment is
infinitely varied. As vessels all are full
to overflowing, but all cannot partake of
the same extent of enjoyment. In the
joy of our Lord as we have employed
our talents, so will be the measure of our
reward. This peculiarity in heaven's
jurisprudence is too much overlooked by
Christians In their preparation for eter-
nity. Heaven is spoken of by us in
general teims, and the godly ambition
recommended in the Scriptures escapes
our notice. We endure no ordinary strug-
gle, and submit to most unpleasant pre-
paration to gain our wishes in this world.
The temporal object is seen, and stimu-
lates us to continued exertion. Spiritual



from the medium through which they are
viewed, make a weak impression on our
minds. Our heavenly Father, therefore,
brings us more closely in contact with
the things which belong to our peace, by
preparation often perplexing, and gene-
rally unpleasant. We prefer present en-
joyment to future happiness, and by a
process of training suited to our case, o'lr
heavenly Father bends our stubborn
minds, that the future may not be neglected
ill the engrossing anxieties of the present.
Hence, the trials wliich we suppose cal-
culated to bring our gray hairs with sor-
row to the grave, are the divinely ap-
pointed means of ripening us for glory.
The moral culture which we are receiv-
ing is necessary, that we may grow,
flourish, and bloom for ever in the para-
dise of God.

Tired of the vexations of life and an
unspiritualizing world, we are apt to
exclaim, " that we had wings like a
dove, that we might flee hence and be at
rest." This wish is improper, for the
mental state which has urged us to im-
body such feelings, shows that we are not
fully resigned to God's way in preparing
us for heaven. " Blessed are the dead
who die in the Lord, they rest from their
labours, and their works do follow them."
Heaven is rest from pain and every
afflicting feeling, but it is not a state of
inactivity. The capabilities of mind
acquired in a probationary state are kept
there in active play without any disturb-
ing force. The wonders of creation, the
intricacies of Providence, the varied sub-
limities of redemption, with a considera-
tion of the past, present, and future, open
to them endless fields of inquiry, in which
they can expatiate with rapture. The
higher, therefore, the tone of spirituality
acquired in the even of preparation, the
more exalted the enjoyment during an
endless heavenly Sabbath. Here Satur-
day well spent prepares the mind for the
exercises and enjoyment of a coming Sab-
bath. There the activities of the even of
preparation are exchanged for employ-
ments adapted to every mind, and the
more refined and capacious the energies,
the higher the range of wonders unfolded.



things, though superlatively important, the more ravishing the enjoyment and



SEASONS OF TRIAL, TIMES OF PREPARATION.



363



ecstatic the praise. Here the Sabbath is
intended for bodily rest and spiritual
refreshment ; there the weary pilgrim
finds repose from distracting cares, the
malice of an evil world, and the per-
versity of a wicked heart; there blooms
the tree of life — is found the hidden
manna — rivers of pleasure which gladden
the city of our God — society — the most
estimable employments — congenial joy,
without a wish or a fear of its termina-
tion.

The conduct of a parent towards his
family exemplifies the system of moral
training to which God here subjects his
own people to prepare them for the exer-
cises of heaven. Children wish to enjoy
the present, and see the future only
through the imagination. The restraints
under which they are placed, and the
punishments which they endure, are sel-
dom imputed to the real motives. The
parent who does his duty anticipates futu-
rit}% and prepares his children to be use-
ful members of society by mental train-
ing. It is unpleasant to check the lively
buoyancy of youth, and force the unwill



feelings, and even the tear starting in the
eye, the parent causes grief to his child
from the purest motives. And is there
such a plan of sensibility in a parent's
heart in chastising his offspring, and will
not our heavenly Father have, t-owards his
own whom he aiBicts, the overflowings
of parental love. God is perfect in his
nature, and no impulse of feeling will
make him withdraw that stroke which is
to improve the heart. The grief which
he causes has a direct connexion with the
glory of a better state of being. Wiiom
he loves he chastens ; and though his
mode of culture be unpleasant to nature,
yet knowing tlie end he has in view, the
language of faith is, " It is the Lord,
let him do what seems good in hi*
sight."

It has been supposed, that the kindness
of God would be more manifest to our
race, were there no sorrow in the world.
This supposition originates in a mistake.
There was a time when affliction did not
depress the mind of man, but sin has
entirely altered his moral constitution,
and he has to be treated according^ to his



ing mind to labour. If he is directed by circumstances. Were there no grief,



feeling, he may spoil his children by
indulgence, and incur their blame in after
years ; but if he is guided by right princi-
ples, he will train them for the sphere of
life in which they are most probably
destined to act. His children and he
therefore have different ends in view with
present time. His children wish it for
enjoyment, and the wise parent wishes it
to be employed in preparing for active
life. The wish of the one not unfre-
quently will oppose that of the other, and
authority must interfere to gain the de-
sired end. The parent may have to strug-
gle with the finest feelings of our nature
in enforcing obedience when correction is
necessary, and from affection to his child,
and for his future welfare, he may subject
him to severe chastisement. Is the lov-
ing parent at this time devoid of feeling
when he puts his child to necessary pain
for future benefit? We appeal to every
judicious parent before us, if chastise-
ment is not resorted to for future advan-
tage. This consideration overcomes the
quiverings of nature, and with excited



there would be no sin, and were there no
sin, the present race of beings would
require to be swept from the face of the
globe. This is not the result wanted by
the objector, for he supposes the present
state of things to exist, and wishes com-
plete happiness to be connected with a
sinful state. In other words he wishes
an impossibility. He wishes God not to
train man for immortality in the way best
adapted to his nature. God trains for
heaven by affliction ; and the objector
wishes the result without the means,
happiness without the unpleasant moral
training.

Were Satan's power annihilated, and
man's heart changed, then grief could not
exist. This is just what God has in
view by his system of moral training,
and, to wish such an end, under* the pre-
sent state of things, is not only to com-
plain of God's way in leading his own to
heaven, but argues a desire for enjoyment
without the necessary preparation. What
important end can be gained without
labour, privation, and patience "? and is



364



THE BRITISH PULPIT.



this earth to be heaven, while it is only
in the nature of things preparatory fur
♦hat state ? Could the possibilities be
realized to wliich we have adverted,
wculd it be kindness in God to grant a
state of things in this world directly
opposite to the preparation required for
heaven. Were there no misery in this
world, would we not easily forget the
world to come. Were all happy here,
would we sigh for the happiness of
futurity. How would our sanctification
be promoted, were our minds not im-
pressed with tiie evil of sin 1 Where
would be the compassion to lull us into a
sleep pr found, and not to disturb our
repose, till the terrors of futurity burst on
our astonished view 1 Such a state of
thLngs would be most destructive to man,
and dishonouring to God. In fact, it
would merely be an act of forbearance.
Were we allowed to dwell in paradise, or
rather in this world such as Eden was,
and at a certain period, without one pre-
vious pang,allovved calmly to retire from it
into a state for which we were unprepared,
O ! where would be the goodness of God
in this act of forbearance 1 Is it not the
mebings of compassion to warn us of
coming danger ! Is he not the friend who
snatches us from imminent danger, though
in the act of doing so he causes momentary
anguish 1 And is it not from fatherly
affection that God sends afflictions to
stop abounding iniquity, and to prepare
his own for that place where sorrow and
sighing are unknown 1 When Jacob saw
the end Gnd had in view by his trials, he
fmnd that he should not have said, " all
these things are against me." Job re-
membered, with satisfaction, his trials,
and was satisfied that the Lord is com-
passionate. David suffered much, but
frankly confessed that it was " good for
him to be alT.icted." Christ was made
perfect through sufferings, and all works
for good to those who are the called
according to God's purpose.

The inhabitants of the globe are divided
into two great portions — the children of
God, and the children of the devil. Those
who are under the power of Satan may
not, in every case, require the interference
of God. For wise and inscrutable pur-



poses he may let them alone, and may
reserve the developement of strict justice
to another world. Hence, a vast number
of irreligious men are allowed to prosper,
but in the secret counsels of God, they
may be fattening for the day of slaughter,
and preparing for an awful reckoning.
Their minds may be of that nature that
affliction would not profit, and God over-
rules their prosperity to answer his plans
of moral government. He has compas-
sion for them, and does not take the
enjoyment from them which would not
individually profit, and which they may
enjoy, and his moral government be
secured. Some among the irreligious,
however, who follow wickedness with
greediness, require to be checked in their
course ; and though in their case no salu-
tary effect follows, yet, by their trials,
they may be reminded that God abhors
evil, and these may be of that nature
which arise directly from sins committed,
and may lead the minds of many, by the
training under which they are placed, to
think of God and on eternity.

Towards the wicked for whom God
has designs of mercy, afflictions not only
exemplify his abhorrence of sin, but are
a direct preparation for a beneficial
change. These are means of grace
through which the Spirit operates and
produces new principles of action. Some
minds cannot enjoy prosperity without
forgetting God, and it is to them actually
a curse. Their cup overflows, and they
quaff with pleasure the honied draught,
and amidst creature enjoyments forget
the Creator. God feels for the wander-
ings of such, and though they have no
compassion for themselves. He sends
trials that he may prepare them to con-
sider their ways. Unforeseen events may
occur, and one unexpected disaster after
another may destroy the pride of life and
bring haughty looks low. Plans may be
disconcerted, and mental anxiety be pro-
duced, which may convince them that
vanity and vexation of spirit are connected
with every created object.

Around the table like olive plants a
healthy family may be reared ; but disease
may wither hopes, and foreboding fears
may mar the enjoyment of the domestic



SEASONS OF TRIAL, TIMES OF PREPARATION.



365



circle. The soul may be bound up in
the pledges of love, and death may
mock the sympathies of the heart, and
convert the sweets of home into gall and
wormwood. Plenty may extend her hand,
and the noise of revelry invite to the
social board, but disease may have cloyed
the appetite, the blood may flow in rapid
speed, or sluggishly move in its chan-
nels, and the sick room and the nurse be
the abode and the friend. God knows the
state of every mind, and when he afflicts,
that his training may end in a salutary
change, the visitation is adapted to the
mind, and to the result to be produced.
How many thousands can date serious
impressions from the causes we have spe-
cified ; and, is not this proof conclusive,
that times of preparation are seasons of
trial ] O ! it is painful to nature to mourn
over a fortune ruined, to shed the tear of
bereavement, and to droop under disease,
and linger out a sickly existence ; but if
the heart is improved, how great the
kindness of Him who visited thus for
beneficial purposes. The depression of
the mind has been the blessed means
under grace of changing the heart. The
temporal loss has been spiritual gain.
The riches which flew away like an
eagle towards heaven, have been ex-
changed for durable riches, the treasures
of heaven. The family circle has been
lessened ; but a portion better than sons
and daughters has been given. Sickness
has mantled the world in sackcloth, and
imbittered the cup of enjoyment; but
glory is seen in distant prospective, and
a new relish acquired ; the soul hunger-
ing and thirsting after righteousness is
filled. God, therefore, by seasons of
trial, in many cases promotes spiritual
welfare, and by an even of preparation,
leads from sin to holiness, and from
misery to happiness.

We now shortly address those who are
not preparing to meet God. For the
wicked life is an even of preparation ; but
not the harbinger of a coming Sabbath.
Anticipate, we beseech you, the grave, and
remember that as the tree falls, so it must
for ever lie. Think on the solemnities
of a judgment day, and with an accusing
conscience fiom among the assembled



family of Adam, listen to a sei.touCB
which cannot be repealed, "Depart from
me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, pre-
pared for the devil and his angels."
Life is the season of preparation, and
death is the avenue leading to etornity.
As the joys of heaven are proportioned, so
are the punishments of the wicked. Some
receive few stripes, and others are beaten
with many stripes. There is a worm to
gnaw, and a fire to devour. If even the
indiflferent endure the second death, what
will be the portion of those who live in
the concealed or open violation of God's
commandments. The moral government
of God will be as fully developed in
another world in proportioning punish-
ments as distributing rewards. His de-
testation of sin will then be manifest, and
the frown of incensed deity will 1 e the
more awful as the mind is morally de-
graded. If the nations who forget GcJ
shall be turned into hell, what is meant
by " wo unto you hypocrites," and the
sorer punishment of those who trample
under foot the Son of God ? With hearts
as varied as the human countenance, so
will be the different capacities of the
wicked for enduring suffering. Living to
the flesh you will reap corruption, and as
the quantity of seed sown, so will be
your harvest. Sowing to the wind you
will reap the whirlwind. Drudging in
Satan's service you will not lose your
reward. Were your state fixed we would
not add to your wretchedness by advert-
ing to it; but you may yet escape im-
pending danger, and by fleeing from the
wrath to come lay hold on eternal life.
By such appeals we imitate the compas-
sion of our Saviour, and the tendernes.3
of his apostles, who urged sinners by
coming wrath to be reconciled to God.
This is your day of preparation, and a
lifetime is short enough to prepare for
heaven, and if the righteous scarcely are
saved, where shall you appear? If such
things happen in the green tree, what
shall be done in the dry 1 You will
repent, you suppose ; but in the act of
procrastination you miscalculate most
egregiously. The labourer was accepted
in the eleventh hour, who never before
was called to enter the vineyard ; but you
2h2



366



THE BRITISH PULPIT.



repeatedly have been called, and as often
have successfully resisted. Fron) one
solitary instance recorded in the Bible,
will you reason on the possibility of sal-
vation at a dying hour ] Granting that
you have made a covenant with death for
a specified period, is the interval of grace
to be abused, and is any other period of
your life so much adapted for repentance
as the present 1 In the case of Felix, did
present trembling resisted lead to a
change of life, or did the convictions of
the stony-ground hearers end in conver-
sion, and will your present resistance not
increase your insensibilities, and do you
not convert life, actually, into a curse
by preparing your minds for enlarged
capacity of suffering 1 You are moving
onwards in a state of moral degradation,
and escaping from the ordinary means of
conversion, you are rapidly assimilating
to the mental condition of your future
associates. Your pulse yet throbs, and
yet there is hope. The angel has not
lifted his hand to swear that time shall
be no longer. The present movement of
your mind may be the strivings of the
Spirit. Cherish convictions. Grace is
omnipotent. Mercy is boundless. The
bljod of Christ cleanses from all sin,
and a Zoar of safety is prepared for you
from impending wrath, into which enter
and be safe, and the Sun of righteousness
shall shine on you and direct your feet
to everlasting habitations. Amen.



THE PIOUS FAMILY.

Soon after the surrender of Copen-
hagen to the English in the year 1807,
detachments of soldiers were for a time
stationed in the surrounding villages. It
happened one day that three soldiers,
belonging to a Highland regiment, were
sent to forage among the neighbouring
farm-houses. They went to several, but
found them stripped and deserted. At
length they came to a large garden, or
jrchard, full of apple trees, bending under
the weight of fruit. They entered by a
gute, and followed a path which brought



them to a neat farm-house. Every thing
without bespoke quietness and security ;
but as they entered by the front door, the
mistress of the house and her children
ran screaming out at the back. The inte-
rior of the house presented an appearance
of order and comfort superior to what
might be expected from people in that sta-
tion, and from the habits of the country.
A watch hung by the side of the fire-
place, and a neat book-case, well filled,
attracted the attention of the elder soldier.
He took down a book : it was written in
a language unknown to him, but the
name of Jesus Christ was legible on
every page. At this moment the master
of the house entered by the door through
which his wife and children had just fled.
One of the soldiers, by threatening signs,
demanded provisions ; the man stood
firm and undaunted, but shook his head.
The soldier who held the book approach-
ed him, and pointing to the name of
Jesus Christ, laid his hand upon his heart,
and looked up to heaven. Instantly the
farmer grasped his hand, shook it vehe-
mently, and then ran out of the room.
He soon returned with his wife and
children, laden with milk, eggs, bacon,
&;c. which were freely tendered ; and
when money was offered in return, it was
at first refused. But as two of the sol-
diers were pious men, they, much to the
chagrin of their companion, (who swore
grievously he would never forage with
them again,) insisted upon paying for all
they took. When taking leave, the pious
soldiers intimated to the farmer, that it
would be well for him to secrete his watch;
but, by most significant signs, he gave
them to understand, that he feared no
evil, for his trust was in God ; and that
though his neighbours, on the right hand
and on the left, had fled from their habi-
tation, and, by foraging parties, had lost
what they could not remove, not a hair of
his head had been injured, nor had he even



Online LibraryW. (William) SuddardsThe British pulpit, consisting of discourses by the most eminent living divines, in England, Scotland, and Ireland, accompanied with pulpit sketches, to which are added, Scriptural illustrations, and selections on the office, duties, and responsibilities of the Christian ministry (Volume 2) → online text (page 61 of 84)