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are made to us in the Gospel, how much more should we depend on those stronger and clearer revelations of a life after death which the Gospel contains, supported as they are by the greatest proof which God could give of His power and will to perform them, in giving up His Son Jesus to death, that the debt of our nature might be paid in His blood, and in raising Him up from the dead as a proof that His atonement was accepted?
There is only one observation more which I shall make on the present chapter, and that is the moral consequence which, in the words of my text, is drawn from all the considerations of God's power and promises wherewith the prophet comforted his countrymen. I mean the fitness of an unshaken faith in God, and a fearless discharge of our duty under whatsoever calamities and against whatsoever opposition. It is a glorious thing to have a courage independent of chance or change; a breast from which the arrows of danger fall blunted, and which neither the rage of the people nor the frown of the mighty can turn from the line of wisdom and of duty. But this is, on every ground both of reason and Scripture, most likely to be the portion of him whose heart is right with God, who is firmly persuaded that all things are governed by Divine Providence, and who extends an humble but reasonable hope that his own life, his own best interests, his only happiness in this world and in the world to come, are the objects of Divine protection. "I fear God," it was the noble saying of a foreign
writer, "and I have, therefore, no other fear '" Such a courage indeed is often laid claim to in Scripture as the usual and distinguishing privilege of the truly religious. Of the wicked it is said in the book of Proverbs, that they "flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion "." "Are not two sparrows," saith our Lord, "sold for a farthing, and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Fear ye not, therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows." Why are ye fearful, Oh ye of little faith?" were the words of the same Divine Person to His disciples in the tempest 3. "I, even I am He that comforteth you," said God through His prophet to the pious Israelites. "Who art thou that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass?"
Still, however, "fear," it will be said, "is a natural and unavoidable passion. The protection of Heaven, though it is doubtless promised to the righteous in such a degree and such a manner as that all things shall eventually work for their good, and that they may be delivered from many evils which must otherwise befall, or supported in many which must otherwise overwhelm them, yet are they no where promised an exemption from all miseries, from their fair proportion of the natural evils of mortality, from pain, from poverty, from oppres→
1 Racine, Athalie, Acte i. scene 1. "Je crains Dieu, cher Abner, et n'ai point d'autre crainte."
2 Prov. xxviii. 1.
St. Matt. x. 29. 31. viii. 26.
sion, or from death. There are some sufferings, in themselves sufficiently terrible, to which the righteous in their present state of mortal imperfection are exposed as well as other men; there are some, if Christ's words be true, to which, even more than other men, and out of their very righteousness, and for the sake of Christ and His Gospel, the righteous are liable. And so long as God gives power to the oppressor to kill, diseases to vex, and hunger and cold to torment us, the mere present suffering which will arise from such causes is, in itself, a sufficient ground for fear in the breast of every one whose body is sensible to pain and privation.'
I allow the reasonableness of the objection; I am ready to admit that it is only comparatively and not absolutely that the religious man can hope to be free from fear of worldly evils, and that the degree of his fear must in a great measure depend not only on the strength or weakness of his religious principles, but on the state of his nerves, and the degree to which he has been already accustomed to danger and suffering. But, if he cannot hope to get rid entirely of his fear of worldly calamities, he may make that very fear an argument for a still greater fear of Him by whom all good or evil are, in this life, ordained, and on whom depend the far greater and everlasting good or evil of the life which is to follow. Are we by our nature or habits so sensible to the loss of worldly comforts, that the dread of approaching poverty is enough to
make us melancholy, the dread of approaching disgrace to drive us mad? let us reflect how we shall one day endure the want of a drop of water to cool our tongues; with what patience we shall one day bear the scoffs and mockery of devils, and the eyes of the whole world and of all the angels of God, when our secret sins are made known in the day of judgement!
Are we so sensible of pain that we tremble at the bare apprehension of its infliction now? Let us ask ourselves how we shall like to dwell with everlasting burnings? Let us consider whether it be not an inconsistency, a madness even beyond the madness of Bedlam, to be thus alarmed at the smaller and so indifferent to the greater danger, to be "afraid of a man that shall die, of the son of man which shall be made as grass, and forget the Lord thy Maker, that hath stretched out the Heavens and laid the foundations of the earth?" "Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do!" but if ye must fear these, forget not that there is One who is more terrible than them all. "I will forewarn ye whom ye shall fear! fear Him which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell! Yea, I say unto you, fear Him1!"
1 St. Luke xii. 4, 5.
THE CHRISTIAN'S TREATMENT ON EARTH.
[Preached at Calcutta, Nov. 1825.]
1 ST. PETER iii. 13, 14.
Who is he that will harm you if ye be followers of that which
is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness sake, happy
THIS epistle was addressed by St. Peter to men under great tribulation, the converted Jews in different parts of the east, the strangers," he calls them, "scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia'." Strangers indeed they were, as dwelling in foreign lands and remote from their beloved Jerusalem; strangers they were, still more, to whom the world was an uneasy pilgrimage, who were the objects, if Tacitus is to be believed, of the common hatred of the human race, shut out in no small degree from the defence of the laws, and exposed on the slightest pretences, or on no pretence at all, to the heaviest lash of their severity.
Of the dangers and distresses to which the pri
1 1 St. Peter i. 2.