Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

in heaven would have been lost! And, as to the delay of promised blessings, the harvest comes when it is ripe. In the mean time, there must be the toils of the husbandman, and days of sunshine and of storm. God is not unfaithful. He does not forget. His purpose is not changed, nor defeated, nor delayed. "The vision is for an appointed time: but, at the end, it shall speak and not lie. Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come; it will not tarry." The apostle, therefore, calls us to the consideration of this element of time, in forming our judgment of the Divine providences : "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

To us, time is a matter of great account. Ten, twenty years, is a great stage in the career of human life. But the Lord, in the eternity of his being, and the immensity of his plans, counts not time. From infinity it matters not whether you take away ten, or ten times ten thousand millions. A drop of water may bear some proportion to the whole ocean; a grain of sand to the bulk, not only of our earth, but to the aggregate bulk of all worlds and suns in the universe. But millions of ages bear no proportion to eternity. The scheme of man's recovery from sin has already advanced six thousand years, during which we can trace one purpose of Jehovah. Prophecy unfolds long ages yet to come, ages of blessedness and glory, -after the world's redemption, before that part of the scheme limited by time shall be finished. Then the world shall be consumed and vanish away: but the glories of redemption have then but just begun. The short-lived actors in these transitory scenes are to outlive this earth and these heavens. The transitory events of this earth are to exert their influence in another world, ages without end.

All these vast schemes of time and eternity God beholds at once. Amid changes which to man appear naught but confusion and chaos, the Lord sees order and plan. Man faints and is discouraged. God looks on unmoved, beholding in every thing parts of his stupendous and perfect scheme. When this shall be completed we may wonder and adore. Indeed, to us, these schemes may never be completed. They may be, in

eternity, only unfolding more and more the wonders of the infinite God, and the amazing reach of his eternal purpose.

Designs which lie wholly within the scope of ten, twenty, or fifty years, are not altogether beyond our comprehension. Yet these are, to the greater purposes of God, only subordinate and comparatively insignificant: for when they seem to us to have spent their force and to have done their work, a hundred or five hundred years after they are seen to have relations, and to bear an importance and significance in the great scheme, which no mortal could have dreamed possible while the events were transpiring. After-ages discover that the history of the world turns as much upon unnoted and apparently trifling events, as upon things which in their day filled the hearts of mankind with expectation or with dread for the destinies of the world; till at length we begin to doubt which shall be in the end most pregnant with mighty results, the overturning of an empire or the fall of a sparrow. As we trace out the works of God our vision enlarges. We learn to connect apparently isolated events with great schemes extending over thousands of years; to trust God, and to judge nothing before the time. Now nothing is insignificant. If the bow is drawn at a venture, Jehovah guides the arrow; and, as yet, Jehovah alone comprehends the design, and the results depending. We begin to see how important it is that the Lord should work all things after the counsel of his own will; that not a mote floating in the sunbeam should stray beyond his control; and that the very hairs of our head should all be numbered. We begin to see that our lives are too short to judge of schemes which show their significance only after the lapse of ages. The period will arrive, in our eternal existence, when a thousand years will be to us what one day is now. We shall look back and count thousands, myriads, millions of ages; and the period will seem short. Doubtless we shall then be able to comprehend many of the Divine providences which now, to most of mankind, seem dark or painful: and they may appear clearly to be wise and glorious, beyond what man has as yet been able to conceive.

Let us try to illustrate these things more clearly. It is said that some insects of this world have a mere ephemeral exist

ence. They live one day, and expire. Suppose such an existence endowed with human capacities; differing from man in nothing save in the brevity of its life. How impossible it would be for such a creature to comprehend many of the arrangements so familiar to us: e. g. of our seasons. One lives his day in the spring: the earth is beautiful, but where is its food for man? Another passes his day of existence in summer: how poorly does he judge of the unripe fruits and grains? Another passes his day in autumn: and cannot comprehend why mankind are laying up the productions of the earth in store-houses. Another lives his day in the winter: what a dismal world it is to him? Another spends his day in some terrific storm: what a judgment he forms of the cheerlessness and chaos that reign in this lower world!

A child, among us, soon learns, that, as the sun goes down, and darkness and damp mists rest upon the chilly air, the sun is once more to resume his circuit in the heavens; and that day and night are to run their rounds according to the appointment of a wise and beneficent creator. But if man were, like some insects, ephemeral, these things he could not know. Sunset would be to him like the end of the world. Or living only in the night, or in winter, or in some terrific storm, he could not understand the divine order and harmony of these things. He would be unable to discern the glorious and beneficent design, by which the Creator makes the night, the winter, and the storm, parts of his orderly and excellent plan. What is the world to such a being? It is night! It is winter! It is storm! He sees no wisdom. He comprehends no goodHe discerns no consistent and glorious plan in the creation and government of this world. Give to such ephemeral existence all the intellectual capacities of men; let their reasoning powers be developed to the full; only by the brief period of their existence shut them out from nature's book of knowledge; and even the simple and beneficent arrangements of day and night, and of the seasons, would be beyond the limits of their comprehension.

ness.

It is true, that if you give them letters, some philosophers may begin to record their observations; and when these records shall have accumulated for as many centuries as have

passed between us and the ancient Chaldeans, some Copernicus, or Newton, or Kepler, may arise, who, after long and painful. deductions, may unfold the law of the vicissitudes of day and night. He may speculate, that perhaps in future ages the period may arrive when observations and science shall avail to elucidate the laws of cold and heat alternating at distant periods: discover an arrangement of seasons, and tell, like bards of old, why the winter suns hasten so much to dip themselves in the ocean. To such beings, literally beings of a day, such discoveries would be as great as those of our proudest astronomers.

1

Some discoveries of modern astronomy seem to intimate that our conceptions of time and distance have hitherto been but the conceptions of ephemerals, in comparison with the grander views now opening upon us. During the thousands of years that the heavens have been observed by men, the stars, excepting a few wanderers, have been regarded as relatively fixed. With some slow vibrations of the entire heavenly sphere, recurring after vast periods, and-as one of our own astronomers has well expressed it," beating the seconds of eternity," the same heavens look down upon us, in the same arrangements in which they looked down upon the ancient Chaldeans. At length it seems to be determined that our system of suns and worlds is moving with immense rapidity, in an orbit which will require millions of ages to comp.ete the circuit, and yet with an apparent motion so slow, that centuries are required to make the change perceptible. What then are our old conceptions of distance and time?

Now suppose creatures who live through, and comprehend, the great years of the entire revolving system of our universe; and who measure their lives by the march of revolving ages. They may comprehend things in the purposes of God, in which we can, as yet, trace neither wisdom nor plan. Things which are most painful to us may to them appear most glorious. Nor is it unlawful to suppose that there are such creatures; creatures who shouted for joy when these worlds were made, and who count it but yesterday since they came to announce the glad tidings of a Saviour's birth. Indeed, if they have never sinned, and know no death, what matter if their

year comprehends so many millions of ours? And if they witnessed, and remember, the creation, the career, and the final conflagration, one after the other, of many such worlds as this; such periods will be familiar to us too, if we ever reach the heavenly inheritance. Then we shall understand what an apostle meant, when, so many ages before the end of the world, he said, "Brethren, the time is short!" Yes, Time is short!

Now, if beings, literally beings of a day, would be so lost. and confounded in our simple change of seasons, and even in our vicissitudes of day and night;—if we in our turn are lost and confounded amid the vast machinery and vast revolutions of the ages which measure the years of sinless beings,-how poorly are we qualified to sit in judgment on the plans and ordinances of the most high God! They comprehend immensity! They embrace eternity! The insect of a day sees a little, and failing to grasp the entire plan, which would fill him with wonder and adoration, he forms his judgment from what he sees. He rashly judges his Maker; blames the constitution and government of this world, fills his soul with murmuring and discontent, and dies! We readily see his mistake. His existence is too brief for knowledge. He has no faith in the Divine wisdom and goodness. Are we in no danger of similar mistakes when we fancy that we can find out the Almighty unto perfection? Can we venture to sit in judgment on God; and that too from what we see in our brief day spent amid winter or storm? Suppose we do see difficulties in the history of the fall, and in the ruin of all mankind by the sin of their first parent, so that "by the offence of one, judgment comes upon all men to condemnation ;" the counterpart of the "justification of life" which comes upon all believers in Christ? The difficulties are not removed by rejecting the account given in the Bible. The mournful part of our native depravity and ruin belongs not to any one scheme of Christianity alone, but to Christianity itself; and not to Christianity alone but to every possible form of Theism. Nor do we remove, or evade, the difficulties by interpolating into the scriptural account any explanations or provisoes to satisfy our reason in our present state of knowledge. On the contrary, such

« ElőzőTovább »