Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

withstanding all this, you have your comforts, your brighter scenes, your songs in the night, your triumphs, and your victories. Strange that such a feeble worm should be able to hold on his way: and yet it is not strange. Our text explains the secret; it unfolds the mystery. “He will keep the feet of His saints." This constitutes their security. Ah, were they their own keepers, soon would they tire, soon would they be seen drawing back unto perdition, falling to rise no more. “The Lord will keep,” &c. The

, Father chose them, hence they are folded in His eternal embrace. The Son redeemed them, hence their life is hid with Him in God. The Holy Ghost quickened them when dead, hence He maintains in them the sacred principle of divine life, so that nothing can destroy it. How beautifully do other scriptural declarations hold out or teach the security of the Lord's children: Psalm xxxviii. 23—25 and 28; Job xvii. 9; John x. 27—30. He will keep the feet,” &c., and guide them by His counsel, and lead them in the right way. Do they falter? It is a mercy they do not falter here. Do they wander to the right hand or to the left? It is their mercy they are not permitted to wander still farther; hence He restores their souls and bringeth them back, and leadeth them in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Do they fall ? How much deeper would they fall were they not in His hands ? Ănd, did he not hold up their goings, soon would they fall to rise no more, soon would they sin the sin that is unto death! “He will keep the feet of His saints." Hence, notwithstanding their infirmities, their weakness, and their sinfulness—the sinfulness of a depraved heart, they keep pressing onward; they go from strength to strength. But how often does it appear to the Christian pilgrim as if he were going back instead of forward; but, in spite of all these outward and inward impediments, the work of grace is going on; you are advancing to your Father's house. “The path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” A few more hills of difficulty to surmount, a few more valleys of humiliation to descend, a few more conflicts to engage in, and then, when you enter the last valley—the valley of the shadow of death-and pass through its gloomy shades, how cheering the thought! You will then enter the gates of the celestial city. He who directed your feet to the little wicket-gate, and enabled you to enter the celestial road through the strait gate, and kept your feet hitherto, and would not let you go, will continue to keep you according to His covenant engagements (Psalm lxxxix. 28–37.5 No, He will not leave you until He has elevated you to that throne, and put you into possession of that kingdom, ordained and prepared for you before the foundation of the world.

II. Let us consider the declaration in reference to the wicked : and what an awful contrast do they present unto us. The saints are the holy ones. The wicked are the unholy ones. It is no difficult task to describe their features, although it may be painful. They carry about with them the marks of the beast; you may read it in legible characters in their foreheads; they are unregenerated, unconverted. They are in love with sin ; lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, they hesitate not to déclare it openly; they live without God, without Christ, without hope in the world. They hate the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hypocrites, dissemblers, and self-righteous Pharisees are not so easily to be detected; so that good old Bunyan writes of one, whom he represents as knocking at the very gate of heaven, and, instead of being admitted, was detected as a dissembler, “So that I perceived," said that good man, “that close to the gate of heaven

[ocr errors]

there was a bye-path to hell.” Affecting, awful thought! But our text says,
“These shall be silent in darkness.” They may be noisy and clamorous now;
boasting of themselves, their riches, their pleasures, their boldness and
fortitude in the work of sin, and in the faith of the infidel. But the
triumph of the wicked will be short; their joy as the crackling of thorns
under the pot, which is noisy but of short continuance, and at the best
but an empty sound ; but soon will they be silent, silent in the grave. No
feet there to be heard running swift to shed innocent blood. No voice
of the drunkard singing the bacchanalian song! No tongue of the
blasphemer is there heard uttering horrid speeches against God, against
His providence, against His Gospel and His people! Ah, where are our
celebrated warriors, statesmen, philosophers, and literati, the noise of
whose fame once filled the earth ? Silent in the darkness of the grave. Oh,
what an immense multitude are congregated together amidst those silent
shades of death in the darkness of hell. And how awful that silence, the
harbinger of a tremendous storm. They shall be silent in darkness! To
what further does this ude ? No doubt to that place of darkness which
our Lord Jesus Himself describes thus, and by which He teaches us there
is such a place of torment called hell-Into outer darkness (they shall cast
the wicked), “ there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt

. xxii

. 13). Silent in darkness, the silence of despair. Who can describe the despair that reigns in hell ?-of conscious guilt, silent and constrained acknowledg. ment of the justice and holiness of Jehovah in the infliction of their punishment; silent, perhaps, in agony of feeling that cannot be expressed! Silent in darkness, bereft of all comfort; no cheering sounds, no ray of light; no hope ; all, all, will be dark. Yea, it will be an eternal night of darkness ! A visible darkness ! A darkness felt! Oh, the desolation, the dreariness, and the horrors of this dark silence of hell! And is this the prospect of the wicked ? O my God!

O my God! Let mercy, mercy, flowing in streams of blood, plead, plead, in behalf of those in Thy presence whose conscience accuse them of having hitherto waged war against Thee and against Thy glorious blessed Gospel. But the third declaration is in reference to the universal impotency of man, “For by strength shall no man prevail."

III. It is an affecting as well as a scriptural and self-evident truth that man in his unregenerate state is poor, wretched, blind, and naked-helpless and impotent (Rev. iii. 17). There is no health in him (Isa. i. 6). This is a very humbling view of man, but you perceive it is a scriptural one; and experience will make it appear to an enlightened mind a selfevident truth, insomuch that a man taught in the school of Christ wonders how any one can for a moment doubt it. No sinner can regenerate himself. This no created nature can produce. It involves that principle which is the life of God in the soul; it comes from God, has its source from Him, and is breathed into the soul of a sinner by the Holy Ghost, and a fruit of the dying love of Him who is the Resurrection and the Life; hence, until this divine operation takes place in the soul, no conversion to God can be effected by any mere human means, however strongly exerted, for "by strength shall no man prevail.” Away, then, with the notion of man's

ability and power and the potency of his free-will. 1. This truth also holds good in regard to the Church after her spiritual resurrection from a death in sin; and so also with every individual believer in all spiritual matters. How is it possible for any believer in his own strength to prevail against his spiritual adversaries—the world,

a

a

the flesh, and the devil ? Ah, many a saint, and strong ones too, have felt to their sorrow that their own strength is perfect weakness, when they have been left, or partially left, to contend by themselves against the adversary. See how Adam, the federal head and representative of mankind, feli, amidst the beauties, the felicities, and the holiness of Paradise. We may also refer you to some of the most eminent saints under every dispensation of the Church as striking proofs of the truth of our Lord's words, “Without me ye can do nothing," all wonderfully corroborating the solemn declaration of Jehovah, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. iv. 6).

2. This declaration of our text is essentially true as regards JehovahHis Church and His word. By strength shall no man prevail against these; no man, no enemy. Yea, all enemies combined, they shall be as chaff before the wind; they shall be as the burning of tow or flax. Against Jehovah shall a man prevail ? “Hast thou an arm like God ?" or canst thou thunder with a voice like Him? Against the Church, the Church of God, built upon the eternal Rock of ages—against which it is written even the “gates of hell shall not prevail.” Oh, many a hard and dreadful contest has the Church sustained against the world assisted by the powers of darkness! Nor has the Church sustained the least real injury. She has withstood for nearly six thousand years the most determined and deadly attacks of her enemies. Dungeons and banishment; rack and fire ; yea, every destructive engine has been employed to overthrow the Church of God, but all in vain! She still rises in magni. tude and splendour, and shall continue thus to flourish in spite of all opposition, until her glory filleth the earth ; for the Lord hath spoken it, and His zeal shall accomplish it. There is yet a dreadful struggle awaiting the Church ; perhaps it has commenced or is about to commence. Good old Eli trembled for the Ark of God; but ye who are the true followers of the Lamb, tremble not for the safety of the Church. She is in safe hands; and in His keeping she is a strong city. “Salvation will

a . God appoint for walls and bulwarks,” and “in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength ” (Isaiah xxvi. 1, 4). Equally unavailing and impotent will be their strength when opposed to the Word of God—which is the truth as it is in Jesus. Oh, what strenuous and unholy efforts have been made to destroy this sacred volume; to silence the preaching of the Gospel ; and to impede the triumphant progress of the truth, even by the professed friends as well as the avowed enemies of revealed religion ! and this, too, in almost every age of the Church. Infidelity-atheismdeism_error in all its multiform appearances-have striven to destroy it, to mutilate it, to corrupt it, to deface its beauteous form, to tarnish its lustre, and, if possible, drive it from the Church. Arianism and Pelagianism, in the early days of the Church, sadly prevailed. Then Socinianism, and now Arminianism, seems to be the most popular heresy of modern times. But all will be in vain. The truth will and shall prevail. It is the high decree of Heaven. Jehovah hath said, “My word shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I send it.It shall accomplish all that for which it is designed ; not one iota less, not one iota more. When it has instrumentally accomplished the salvation of the whole elect family of God—and nothing can prevent this—then will it also accomplish ail those dreadful threatenings against all its enemies which abound in its

sacred pages.

(1.) Learn from this the security of the Lord's people (Psalm xci. also cxxv. 143.)

(2.) The certain doom of the wicked.

(3.) The impossibility of frustrating the sovereign purposes of the Triune Jehovah.

a

COWPER'S “ TABLE-TALK."* The following very vigorous passage is now restored to its place in the poem from the first edition. It was removed by Cowper from the second and all subsequent editions. The probable reason of the omission was that in the interval Cowper had formed a friendship with the Throckmortons—a Roman Catholic family. His sensitive mind shrank from giving them pain by speaking thus strongly of their creed.

“Hast thou admitted with a blind, fond trust
The lie that burned thy fathers' bones to dust,
That first adjudged them heretics, then sent
Their souls to Heaven, and cursed them as they went ?
The lie that Scripture strips of its disguise,
And execrates above all other lies,
The lie that claps a lock on mercy's plan,
And gives the key to yon infirm old man,
Who, once ensconced in apostolic chair,
Is deified, and sits omniscient there;
The lie that knows no kindred, owns no friend,
But him that makes its progress his chief end,
That having spilt much blood, makes that a boast,
And canonises him that sheds the most ?
Away with charity that soothes a lie,
And thrusts the truth with scorn and anger by;
Shame on the candour and gracious smile
Bestowed on them that light the martyr's pile,
While insolent disdain in frowns expressed,
Attends the tenets that endured that test:
Grant them the rights of men, and while they cease
To vex the peace of others, grant them peace!
But trusting bigots whose false zeal has made
Treachery their duty, thou art self-betrayed.”

[ocr errors]

THE SELF-EXISTENCE OF JEHOVAH, AND CARE OF HIS

PEOPLE. " And hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the

earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their

habitation,"—ACTS xvii. 26. To take another verse or two in connexion with this, Paul appears to be trying to prove the self-sustaining nature of Jehovah, who stands in need of nothing from any of His creatures. It seems as if these Athenians might have exhausted all their deities, but, lest they should have omitted any, they erected an altar to the “Unknown God,” thus in their blindness worshipping God, although they did not know Him; bụt the Apostle

* Table-Talk and other Poems. By William Cowper. Reprinted from the Edition of 1782: with Notes by the late Robert Southey, Esq., Poet-Laureate. Illustrations by Harrison Weir, Wimperis, Barnes, Gilbert, Noel Humphreys, and other eminent Artists. Published by the Religious Tract Society.

"

goes on to show them that the "Lord of heaven and earth dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hand as though He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things (ver. 25). Then in ver. 26 he proceeds to show that there is no difference with God as regards any of His creatures, seeing “He hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth,” thus proving that although our first parents were placed in the garden of Eden, yet it was in the purpose of God in “ the times before appointed” that their descendants should be scattered all over the earth, and speak different languages, which purpose was accomplished at the building of Babel.

" So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth” (Gen. xi. 8). It was then He appointed "the bounds of their habitation.” And it appears to be this to which Moses alludes in Deut. xxxii. 8: “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel." And, though the latter part of this verse is somewhat abstruse, it proves what an important place the children of Israel occupied in the mind of God, that He had an especial eye to them in determining the boundaries of the several nations of the earth. Well might He call them His “peculiar treasure," and choose them to be a type of His spiritual Israel to the end of time.

W.

COMMUNINGS BY THE WAY. MY DEAR L-, I was led, as we say casually, to take down the volume of the GOSPEL MAGAZINE for 1860, and there lighted upon your letter, and the very precious account of the short illness and dying experience of dear Mr. Thame. It came to me as fresh as though I had never seen it before; in fact, the letter, and all the facts connected therewith, had quite passed from my recollection. I cannot express onetenth part of the sacred pleasure and satisfaction this re-perusal of your letter and the narrative it introduces afforded me. It so fell in with my present state of mind, which has for a long season been very anxious and greatly perplexed. It appears to me that I have not sunk so low for any length of time, for the last five-and-forty years, as I have during the last eighteen months. How much what I have been passing through has reminded me of your dear sainted father, and how often have I mentally exclaimed, Oh that my last end may be like his !” that end you and I were privileged to witness. I was especially thinking of him this morning as, during my last visit to his bedside, he stretched out his arms at full length, and exclaimed, I want a full armful of Christ.Ah, yes, Christ was all his theme and all his want. I often think that it is here I fail; I seem to be resting in or upon something short of Christ. I do not mean essentially or in the main, because I too well know, and rejoice in the fact that “there is no other name given under heaven among men whereby we can be saved.” But what I fear is, that there is an ever-constant disposition in me to look at something in self, or about self, to be attached to or rested in. I fail, I fear, to recognize, except in doctrine and mere words, that perfect poverty and absolute nothingness which makes Christ, in His fulness and power, and love and grace, so suitable and so precious. There is a peculiar blessedness and an unearthly satis

a faction in the realization of Christ as a wondrous set off against and

N N

« PoprzedniaDalej »