« PoprzedniaDalej »
Art thou, my fellow-sinner, ready to say, “ I they are spoken of in the preceding verses: am cast out of his sight?" Look again to- “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom wards his holy temple. Once more turn back, he hath redeemed from the hand of the eneand address his throne; once more cry,
my: and gathered them out of the lands, ** Yet save a trembling sinner, Lord,
from the east, and from the west, from the Whose hope, still hovering round thy word, north, and from the south. They wandered Would light on some sweet promise there,
in the wilderness in a solitary way; they Some sure defence against despair !"
found no city to dwell in. Hungry and And behold this sure defence; behold this thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then sweet promise—“a God ready to pardon!"
they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and The subject should afford consolation to be delivered them out of their distresses." those who have believed through grace. Be- Does the sacred writer refer to travellers in lievers are enemies to sin, and long to be de- general ? Much of the Lord's goodness is to livered from it; but while they are in the be seen in long and perilous journeys: but body they are imperfect. They find it im- the language here employed seems too strong possible to live without contracting fresh to justify such an application. Does he al. guilt
. Their duties are defiled ; and among lude to the Israelites, when marching through their holiest exercises they must exclaim, the desert to Canaan?. Of this we are na“ If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquity, Oturally reminded by some things in the deLord, who should stand ?" But are they; scription: but a part of it does not harmonize while they mourn, to refuse to be comforted ? with fact. They were taken from Egypt; Are they, while they are humble, to be hope- but not " gathered froin the lands, from the less? “ If any man sin, we have an Advo- east, and from the west, from the north, and cate with the Father, Jesus Christ the right from the south.” Does he refer to the retum eous; and he is the propitiation for our sins; of the Jews from Babylon to Judea, in conseand not for ours only, but also for the sins of quence of the decree of Cyrus? We know the whole world.” Instead of keeping away that Ezra, who led back a portion of them, from God under a sense of our unworthiness, says, “Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the as the enemy of souls would urge us, “ let river Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves us," with ingenuous feelings, “come boldly before our God, to seek of him a right way to the throne of grace, that we may obtain for us, and for our little ones, and for all our mercy, and find grace to help in time of substance:” and after this, we also know, need." He is “ a God ready to pardon !" they arrived safe at Jerusalem, “through the
The subject demands our admiration and good hand of their God upon them." But praise. There is no character we esteem what evidence have we that this Psalm was and extol so much as that of the merciful, the written after this event? Or that it was not tender, the placable, the forgiving: “It is written by David? Or, if written by bim, the glory of a man to pass by a transgression.” that it is to be considered as prophctical How glorious then must God appear! “Who rather than historical ? is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniqui- But the difficulty there is in determining ty, and passeth by the transgression of the the persons immediately designed is a cirremnant of his heritage ? he retaineth not cumstance not to be lamented. It is eren an his anger for ever, because he delighteth in advantage; it constrains us to a more spiritmercy.”
ual and evangelical interpretation of the But the subject calls upon us not only to subject. And thus the whole representation admire, but to imitate. Is he a God ready to is fully and easily imbodied. For the peopardon ? ** Be ye followers of God as dear ple of God are redeemed—redeemed from the children. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and curse of the law, the powers of darkness, anger, and clamour, and evilspeaking, be put and the bondage of corruption. They are away from you, with all malice: and be ye gathered—gathered by his grace out of all kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving the diversities of the human race; "out of one another, even as God for Christ's sake all nations and kindreds and people and hath forgiven you."
tongues.” Whatever this world is to others, they find it to be “a wilderness;" where
they are often tried; but their trials urge DISCOURSE LXXXVII. them to prayer, and prayer brings them re
lief. And being divinely conducted, they THE LORD THE UNERRING CON
at length reach their destination: and this
is the conclusion of the whole, and it apDUCTOR OF HIS PEOPLE.
plies to each of them; “ And he led them And he led them forth by the right way, that forth by the right way, that they might go to
they might go to a city of habitation.—Psalm a city of habitation." cvii. 7.
Let us consider-THE LEADER_THE In these words, it is not easy to ascertain War and The End. the persons immediately intended. Thus I. THE LEADER. He led them. The
Around the forest roam."
land to be given them is said to be “very far for the country through which they pass is off;" and in a journey of such extent, such full of snares and dangers: and difficulty, and of such importance, who would " A thousand savage beasts of prey, venture alone? But the believer is not alone. He travels under the conduct of Jehovah; And what emboldens them? The voice of and can say, and sometimes he can even sing him who cries; “ Fear thou not; for I am too; “ This God is my God for ever and ever, with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy he will be my guide even unto death.” God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will
In the everlasting covenant, ordered in all elp thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the things and sure, the engagement runs, right hand of my righteousness. I am with " They shall be my people, and I will be thee, and will keep thee in all places whither their God.” As if he should say, “I dedi- thou goest. Thou shalt walk in thy way cate myself to their welfare. I hold myself safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. Thou at their call.” As he undertakes to be no- shalt tread on the lion and the adder; the thing less than “their God," there is divi- young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample nity in every relation in which he stands to under foot.” them. If he is their friend, he is not only a Let us connect this guidance with his wisperfect, but a divine friend, and therefore an dom. Who knows what is good for a man infinite one. If he is their guide, he is not in this life? Who can distinguish between only a perfect, but a divine guide, and there- | appearance and reality? Who can deterfore an infinite one. Let us more particu- mine that what he wishes to shun is not a larly examine this privilege. Let us con- blessing? Or that what he covets is not a nect it with his omnipresence; his patience; curse? The way of man is not in himself. his power; and his wisdom.
Hence the admonition and the promise; Let us connect this guidance with his om- “ Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and nipresence. As his people travel from all lean not unto thine own understanding. In countries, and are remote often from each all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall other, no creature, if their leader, could be direct thy paths. I will bring the blind by a with them all at the same time: while he ap- way that they knew not; I will lead them proached some, he would withdraw, in the in paths that they have not known: I will sarne proportion, from others. But God is make darkness light before them, and crookeverywhere. He fills earth, as well as ed things straight. These things will I do heaven; he is constantly at hand, and to unto them, and not forsake them.” Some each of his people a very present help in possess great talent, and have acquired much trouble. They shall never perish for want knowledge and experience: yet, no creature of seasonable aid: “It shall come to pass, is infallibly wise, and therefore we cannot that before they call, I will answer; and imphcitly resign ourselves to him ; but we while they are yet speaking, I will hear." may absolutely commit ourselves to God. His
Let us connect this guidance with his pa- understanding is infinite. He sees the end tience. No other being in the universe from the beginning. He perfectly knows would be able to bear with our imperfections what we are, and what we want: and and provocations. The meekest man upon “though clouds and darkness are round about earth, and the most merciful angel in heaven, him, and justice and judgment are the habitaif intrusted with us, would soon abandon his tion of his throne; mercy and truth go becharge. A Christian has sometimes such fore his face.” views of his depravity; of his omissions of II. THE WAY. “He led them forth by duty; of his distractions in it; of his ingra- the right way.” Many things seem incontitude, his unbelief, his perverseness—that he sistent with this acknowledgment; especialcries with Job, “ Behold, I am vile," and ab- ly the various trials with which they are hors himself, repenting in dust and ashes. exercised, and which often lead them to say He then wonders that God does not cast him with Gideon, “ If the Lord be with us, why off. But his Leader is the God of all grace; then is all this evil befallen us?" Are they he is longsuffering; he does not break the persecuted by enemies, and betrayed by bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. friends ? Are they stripped of their sub“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the stance; bereaved of their kindred; invaded Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he by sickness; made to possess months of vaniknoweth our frame; he remembereth we are ty, and have wearisome nights appointed for dust.” And while, under a recollection of them? And, Is this the “right way "" In his past guilt, and a sense of his present un- answer to this, it will be necessary to ask two worthiness, he prays, “Cast me not away questions : from thy presence, and take not thy Holy First. According to what principle is it Spirit from me;" his Leader replies, “ I will “ right?" For a thing may be wrong in one never leave thee nor forsake thee."
view, and right in another. It is sinful to take Let us connect this guidance with his away life; but there are cases in which it is power. No other leader could defend them; I lawful and praiseworthy: as in self-defence
and the execution of judicial policy. In the wise, and will observe these things, eren they system of nature, winter is as necessary as shall understand the lovingkindness of the summer, and night as day; though for some Lord.” But we too often get down from purposes they are not equally good. A way our watch-tower, or fall asleep there ; and that winds about may not be valued for its the interpreter passes by unaddressed and unshortness, but it may be preferable for its safe- seen. ty, or for the sake of avoiding a hill, or for touch- Fourthly. There is one way of obtaining ing at several places where the traveller complete satisfaction even while we are in may do business. The correction which may this vale of tears. It is to rely on his word appear cruel, if considered only with regard when we cannot explain his conduct; it is to to the feelings of the child, appears very diffe- walk by faith when we cannot walk by sight. rently when connected with his protit. We And what is it that you are required to believe do not extol medicine for the pleasure of in order to bring this heaven into your souls? taking it, but for the effect resulting from it, Why, only, that He who spared not his own in the restoration of health. So it is here. Son will deny you nothing that is really good Many of the dispensations of Providence, if for you; that he takes pleasure in the pros viewed separately and partially, would be perity of his servants, and knows how to adobjectionable; but right when considered in vance it better than you do; that he doth all connexion with their designs, and relatively things, and "doth all things well.” “Who to the glory of God's name and the spiritual is among you that feareth the Lord, that welfare of his people. This is the rule by obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh which they are to be tried.
in darkness, and hath no light ? let him trust Secondly. According to whose judgment in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his is it right? And to this we immediately an- God. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, swer, The judgment of God. He alone is whose mind is stayed on thee: because he capable of judging; and his judgment is al- trusteth in thee." "If ye will not believe, ways according to truth: what seems good surely ye shall not be established.” in his sight, must be really good: for he can- III. THE END: “He led them forth by the not be deceived.
But we are so ignorant, right way, that they might go to a city of and can grasp so little of the plan-so occu- habitation." It doth not," says the apos pied, and full of prejudices—we are so selfish, tle John, "yet appear what we shall be; but so carnal, so impatient—and are such very this we know, that when he shall appear, we inadequate judges, that we often call evil shall be like him, for we shall see him as he good, and good evil .
is.” Froin these words we learn that the Four things, however, may be observed, in glory to which the believer is advancing, is reference to this case.
not wholly developed, and yet it is not entirely First. It will be right, according to the concealed. Indeed, some revelation is nejudgment of the Christian himself, in another cessary; for we cannot desire what we are world. “What I do," says his Leader, “thou ignorant of and have no sympathy with. knowest not now, but thou shalt know here. There are, therefore, some mediums through after.” When in God's light he shall see which we may catch a glimpse. Such are light, he will join the acclamations of those to the evils to which we are now exposed. Imawhom the mysteries which once perplexed gine all these removed. “And God shall them are explained; and say, Marvellous wipe away all tears from their eyes; and are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, and true are thy ways, thou King of saints!" nor crying, neither shall there be any more
Secondly. The Christian is not wholly pain: for the former things are passed away." without satisfaction even now. There are Such are the imperfections we now feel. some openings into the dispensations of Hea- Imagine all these annihilated. Then, " that ven which more than enable him to acquiesce. which is perfect is come, and that which is in When the noise of the passions is subsided, part, in knowledge, holiness, and bliss, shall and he can hear the small still voice; when be done away. We shall be presented faulthe has wiped away the tears which bedimmed less before the presence of his glory with exhis light; "I can now," says he, “perceive ceeding joy.". Such is the imagery the the reason of such a defection of friendship - Scripture employs; and as our souls are now I was making flesh my arm. I see why the incarnate, and we acquire knowledge by senvessel was broken-1 was forgetting the sation and reflection, our future condition will fountain. He planted thorns in my taber- more powerfully impress us when it is held nacle, for I was in danger of saying, This is forth by things seen and temporal. Hence it my rest. “I know, O Lord, that thy judg- is expressed by “rivers of pleasure; trees of ments are right, and that thou in faithfulness life ; crowns of glory; a house not made with hast afflicted me.'”
hands, eternal in the heavens; a city of habiThirdly. We should be more satisfied with tation.” the rectitude of the Divine proceedings if we This suggests magnificence. It is not a were more dutifully attentive. " Whoso is village, or a town, but a city of habitation. A
city is the highest representation of civil com- very inadequate image of his grace. We munity. There have been famous cities; but sometimes see persons who “condescend to what are they to all this? “Glorious things men of low estate;" but they are only men are spoken of thee, O city of God!" It is the themselves, deriving their nature from the city of the living God. It is the city of the same original, inheriting the same infirmigreat King. It is the city which hath foun- ties, and doomed to the same corruption. dations, whose builder and maker is God. God even condescends to behold the things The foundation is of precious stones. The that are done in heaven: well, therefore, pavement is of pure gold. The gates are of when we meet with him on earth, may we pearls. “I saw no temple therein; for the exclaim, "Lord, what is man, that thou art Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the mindful of him? and the son of man, that temple of it. And the city had no need of the thou visitest him?" sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for We congratulate those of you who have the glory of God did lighten it; and the reason to conclude that you are the people Lamb is the light thereof." But who can es- of God. We hail you, on the ground of your timate the honours, the provisions, the plea- present privileges. You are under a Divine sures of the place? As it is written, “ Eye guide ; and you are in the right way. One hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor have enter- of these necessarily results from the other. ed into the heart of man, the things which If you are under the Lord's direction, though God hath prepared for them that love him.” he may lead you in a strange and a thorny It is to display the munificence of his good way, it will be it must bemit is, a right ness, and to prove to men and angels, that he one: and you cannot indulge too firm a confihas not called himself their God in vain. dence. You know his name; and should put “But now they desire a better country, that your trust in him. What have you to do with is an heavenly: wherefore God is not asham- to-morrow? Events are his. Duty only is ed to be called their God, for he hath pre- yours; and in the performance of this, he alpared for them a city."
lows, he commands you, to rely upon him for Not a city of inspection ! Many—(Eternal wisdom and strength. “ Be careful for noGod! will it be any of this company ?-) will thing: but in every thing, by prayer and suplook in; and “there shall be weeping, and plication with thanksgiving, let your requests wailing, and gnashing of teeth, when they be made known unto God. And the peace shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the of God, which passeth all understanding, shall kingdom of God, and they themselves shut keep your hearts and minds through Christ out.' Not a city of visitation. Christians Jesus.” shall not only enter, but abide. They shall But still greater reason have we to bail go no more out—It is “a city of habitation.” you, on the ground of your future expecta
This conveys the idea of repose. The iion. Though you have much in hand, you Christian is now a traveller; then he will be have more in hope. He is now guiding you a resident: he is now on the road; he will by his counsel, but he will afterwards receive - then be at home: “ there reinaineth a rest for you to glory. He is leading you by the right the people of God.”
way; but the way, whatever may be said in It reminds us of a social state. It is not a praise of it, is not the city of habitation. But solitary condition; we shall partake of it with there there the journey ends. an innumerable company of angels, with all
" See the kind angels at the gates, the saved from among men, with patriarchs,
Inviting us to come; prophets, apostles, martyrs, our kindred in There Jesus the forerunner waits, Christ.-—“These are fellow-citizens of the saints, and of the household of God.”—
Unhappy sinners! How much are you de The subject requires from us an admira- priving yourselves of while sacrificing all the tion of God. " His greatness is unsearcha- present, and all the future advantages of relible.” “ He dwells in the light which no gion! You may banish thought, and remain man can approach unto.". “ Heaven is his insensible of your loss for a while—but it can throne and the earth is his footstool.” “ Thou- be for a while only-you must soon be consands minister unto him, and ten thousand vinced of your folly; and how dreadful, if you times ten thousand stand before him." And should learn your error when it is too late to what are we?—“Of yesterday, and know be rectified ! As yet, however, this is not your nothing. Our habitation is in the dust. We state. Your harvest is not yet past ; your are crushed before the moth.” Numbers will summer is not yet ended. You are yet in not relieve our meanness; all nations before the number of those who are within the reach him are as nothing, and they are counted to of mercy. May you " seek the Lord while he him less than nothing, and vanity-And will may be found, and call upon him while he is He make our concerns his care? His con- near." descension admits of no comparison. A king And what says all this to you, my young deigning to lead a poor beggar; a philosopher friends? Will you not “from this time cry stooping to teach an infant his alphabet-isa Junto him, My father, thou art the guide of my
To welcome travellers homc."
youth?” You are entering a world full of figure of speech to make them stand for the temptation. You are beginning life without individuals themselves. Thus it is with God. the advantage of experience, and yet in all His name means his perfections, his nature, the strength of passion. How liable are you his being, himself; and they who love his to err! And yet how much depends upon name mean those who love himself. every wrong step you take. Would you be Such there have been in every age of the wise, and safe, and happy ? Yield yourselves world; for he has never left himself without unto God; saying, “ Lord, I am thine, save witness. But do not all men love God! So
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me : far from it, that we'read in the Scripture of for thou art the God of my salvation ; on thee the “haters of God :” a charge which, howdo I wait all the day.”.
ever dreadful, we have reason to fear will apply to the generality of mankind. Will it
apply, my dear hearers, to you! In answer DISCOURSE LXXXVIII.
to this question, it is in vain for you to say
that you are not haters of God, because you FELLOWSHIP WITH THE RIGHT.
never speak against him: for there are EOUS.
works, as well as words, of enmity; yea, ac
tions speak louder than words; and you are Be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto accustomed to lay more stress upon them, in those that love thy name.-Psalm cxix. 132.
judging of the disposition of a fellow-creature Man is the subject of numberless wants and towards you. We read of our " being enedesires. He feels himself unhappy, and is mies to God by wicked works.” And there therefore restless for a change. He supposes is a "carnal mind, which is enmity against the future to be better than the present, and God, because it is not subject to his law." Is is therefore alive to hope. lle imagines the it true, that “ God is not in all your thoughts ?" condition of others superior to his own, and that you do not like to retain him in your hence the spirit that is in him lusteth to envy. knowledge? That the conversation is unin
And how many are there who only envy teresting which turns upon his glory? That those upon whom the world smiles; or who, you have no desire to enjoy his presence ? if ever they pray, are saying, “ Lord, rank That. you never strive to please him ?-In me with the healthful, the rich, the honoura- vain also, you say, that you join in his worble!” But there are some who have the ship, and do not find your attendance irkknowledge of the holy, and are made wise some. For, not to inquire whether this is unto salvation. These no longer ask, “Who true; whether your heart never rises up will show us any good ?" But their language against the doctrine of the Gospel, the strictis, “ Lord, lift thou up the light of thy coun- ness God's commands, and the spintnality tenance upon us. *" There is only,” says of his servicelet me ask, How do you feel such a man as this, " there is only one class towards the same Being, alone? Do you of persons I envy. They are those whom relish private devotion ? If you were with a the world overlooks and despises. They are person you dislike, in a large and entertainthe redeemed; the pardoned; the sanctified. ing company—though even then, you would They are those who are blessed with all rather he was absent ; the hour would pass off spiritual blessings in heavenly places in less disagreeably,--perhaps, even pleasantly, Christ.' These, and these alone, I envy: not --because you would have other attractions that I grudge them their privileges, or wish and engagements : but suppose all the rest to deprive them of their portion ; but I long were withdrawn, and you left with this indiabove all things to share with them. “Re- vidual only—your situation would then be inmember me, Ö Lord, with the favour that tolerable, and your only wish would be to es thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with cape. The application is easy. It is little thy salvation; that I may see the good of thy proof of your regard for God, to intermingle ehosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of with a large and respectable congregation in thy nation, that I may glory with thine in the sanctuary, especially where all the er.
heritance Be merciful unto me, as thou terior of devotion is inviting; where the pul• usest to do unto those that love thy name." pit is distinguished by talent and eloquence, From these words we observe
and the preacher is “ as one that hath a I. THERE ARE SOME WHO LOVE God's pleasant voice, and can play well on an inNAME. The word name, in Scripture, is sig- strument.” The question is, How do you nificant of person. Thus we read of “ a few feel towards God in the want of all this? De names in Sardis," which had not defiled their you love to meet him in solitude? There are garments; and when Peter stood up in the those who do. midst of the disciples, it is said, “ the number There are those who can say, "My soul of the names was about an hundred and shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; twenty.” As names distinguish, and make and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful known, and recall to our minds, the charac- lips: when I remember thee upon my bed, ters to whom they are attached, it is hardly a and meditate on thee in the night watches.