Page images
PDF
EPUB

returns, but not to the souls of men. The earth rejoices, but the ways of Zion mourn. Vernal showers descend to refresh and fertilize the earth; but the Holy Spirit comes not down in its transforming influences like rain upon the mown grass, and as showers that water the earth. Nature renewed all around us, is sending up to heaven froin unpumbered voices and altars, its anthems and its incense; but no such offerings arise from new-born, broken, and contrite hearts ! The natural world is gratefully revived, but a world lying in wickedness is untouched by heavenly influences, and is sinking to that region, where there are no revivals! Yet are christians affected by these considerations ? Now a spiritual spring is withholden, do they not practically say, that great

efforts are not called for—that earnest, persevering, expectant prayer is not necessary and that it is quite possible to be too zealous—too much engaged in seeking a religious revival ? And must it be so? Shall christians be more concerned that inanimate nature be renewed, than that immortal minds be regenerated ? Shall they seek with more importunity those genial influences which give to the earth its beauty and fruitfulness, than such as renew the souls of men into the image of Jehovah, and make them bear fruit unto life eternal ? There is enough in the moral condition of those with whom they are associated as sojourners below, to affect their hearts. Considerations are continually before them, sufficient to excite their prayers and efforts for the eternal good of perishing sinners. May they yield to these considerations. May they open their own souls to holy influences from above, and then labor to bring others under their new-creating power.

“Come Sun of Righteousness, and bring

Thy soul-reviving ray-
This moral winter shall be spring -

This darkness cheerful day!" III. Another reflection connected in the pious mind with the present season, respects the blessedness of that

approaching day, when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord. Then, indeed, in the highest sense, THE FACE OF THE EARTH WILL BE RENEWED. Then, the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abudantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. Then, by means of the more general

, and powerful effusions of the Holy Spirit, one universal revival shall prevail all over the earth. Then its curse for a season shall be repealed, and its moral ruins repaired. Some limited portions of our world, have hitherto exhibited an imperfect type of what the whole will be amidst the full orbed glories of that latter day. So far as moral appearances can be shadowed forth by natural, the existing aspect of the visible creation, may aid our apprehensions of those unrivalled charms, which will then clothe this fallen world. Nor are we forbidden to expect that even nature itself will then wear new features of loveliness. That 66 all seasons and their change," if they are not alike pleasant, will then be doubly pleasing. But all the enchantments of the scenery which Jehovah now spreads before us, must nevertheless be considered as an imperfect emblem of those beauties of holiness which his Spirit shall create, and which shall adorn, and glow in the noon-tide splendor of millennial day. And yet enough may be seen on every side, to awaken a train of associations which shall carry the minds of christians forward in fervent anticipation of the universal prevalence, and more commanding sway of their religion over the hearts and lives of men. By what they behold scattered up and down on the face of the earth, now clad in the bright and cheerful attire of spring, they can scarcely fail to glance their thoughts forward with an increased warmth o expectancy to

-“Scenes surpassing fable, and yet true
Scenes of accomplished bliss, which who can see,
Though but in distant prospect, and not feel
His soul refreshed with foretaste of the joy."

Nor can it be doubted, that truly religions persons must be led by the associations connected with the vernal scenery now stretched out before them, to glance a thought still farther—to look within the veil—to contemplate that better world,

“Where everlasting spring abides,

And never-withering flowers.” Oh! if God clothes this scene of transgression with so much that is beautiful-if he throws around his rebellious offspring, scenery so delightful; what ineffable charms must fill the heavenly world—what enchanting scenery must forever spread its attractions before its sinless inhabitants! And if too, so much good is bestowed in a world that is under a curse, what may not the redeemed expect to enjoy in those high abodes, where almighty wisdom and goodness will be forever employed to make them blessed!

But I speak to some who have no part in the inheritance of the saints. Nature around them is renewed, but they remain unchanged. Animate and inanimate nature is daily sending up to heaven its anthems and its incense, but they have no heart to join in the service. Their heart remains a rock of ice, untouched-unmelted. In the atmosphere of sin, it continues to gather around it the ices of the pole, though amidst the full orbed blaze of the Sun of Righteousness. In vain to them has spring returned. For it neither produces in their minds a devout recognition of God's benevolent agency in the change they behold, nor sends their thoughts forward in grateful anticipation of more glorious changes hereafter to be witnessed in the moral condition of our world. Least of all, does it create a delightful antepast of heaven. To them, the most pleasing and interesting associations of the season, are unknown. They feel not the moral power of its instructions. There is no resemblance between their hearts, and the face of nature abroad. The scenery around them is beautiful, promising, joyful—but within all is deformity, hopelessness, sorrow. Abroad, is a faint emblem of heaven, within are the real elements of hell. But why need I describe their condition? You know it-you feel it already. Rather let me then, exhort you to abandon it.

O, seek those heavenly effusions, which shall melt the icy obduracy of your hearts. Open your souls to the influence of that Sun, whose beams alone can quicken them into light, and life, and joy, and fruitfulness. Be it the earnest cry of each of your hearts to the ear of Heaven 0, thou who renewest the face of the earth, renew my heart. 0, thou who dost make earth reflect some resemblance of heaven, make my dark and polluted

soul reflect some image of thy holy self. Do this from the heart, and your souls will feel a quickening power. They shall feel the sway of spiritual winter no longer; but they shall present to the eye of the Eternal, a scene more lovely and attractive than that which his hand has spread out before us in his visible works. Oh, do this, and you shall ere long be transplanted to

That happy world-divine abode

Where spring eternal reigns-
And perfect day—the smile of God

Fill all the heavenly plains !

SERMON XXVII.

Autumn.

JOEL I. 12.

ALL THE TREES OF THE FIELD ARE WITHERED,

THERE are very few who contemplate entirely without emotion, the great lineaments of nature. Its diversified features which are continually spread around us in the abrupt precipice, the swelling mountain, the sweep of forests, the flow of rivers, and the rush of cataracts, excite their appropriate emotions in almost every breast. Nor does that diversity of appearances with which the shifting seasons clothe the face of nature, leave our common sensibilities untouched. Now these deep and varied lines which Omnipotence has stamped on the aspect of creation, and the ever-varying hues with which it is invested by the successive seasons, are much suited, and no doubt, designed to exert a happy influence on the moral and religious character of man. The mind that regards these, can scarcely fail to perceive indications of that benevolent power by whom the universe was reared, and by whom it is perpetually upheld. But if there are comparatively few whose minds are too gross to relish this magnificent display of creative might and benignity, the number is sadly otherwise, who utterly forego the pleasure and benefit of a religious view of earthly scenes. For the imagination may

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »