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the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us."
The number and glory of the stars, their order and stedfastness in their courses, seem to suggest the countless multitude, and the godly order and stedfastness, as well as the future glory, of the children of God. Thus, when God made known to Abraham that he was to be the father of a countless progeny (the father of the spiritual Israel as well as of Israel after the flesh), “ He brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be." Thus also we find that false teachers are called “ dering stars ? ;” and it is therefore implied, that the stars which are fixed and stedfast in their courses, are the emblem of faithful pastors, who are “ burning and shining lights.”
Thus also when St. Paul is setting forth the glorious resurrection of the bodies of the saints, he compares the difference between their present condition and the various degrees of glory in which they shall arise, to the difference between “celestial bodies” and “bodies terrestrial," and also to the different degrees of splendour and brightness among the heavenly bodies themselves. 66 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial : but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars : for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead 4."
Thus, “when I consider, O Lord, Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained;” my first thought should indeed ever be, “ What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him 5 ?” But I may go on to reflect, also, how Thou hast in Thy holy word made all those glorious bodies to be parables of divine instruction, and emblems of heavenly hope. The countless multitude of the stars suggests to me the encouraging thought of that vast "number which no man can number” of those who, in various ages and distant countries, have been redeemed out of the world, and have washed their garments and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; and who shall hereafter rejoice for ever before Thy throne. When I observe their stedfastness and wonderful order in their several courses, let me pray that I may myself be 6 stedfast and unmoveable” in that course of appointed duty to which Thou hast called me; and that Thy Church may ever be ordered by wise and faithful pastors, who shall see that all things be done in decency and order. And when I observe not only the glory and splendour of all the constellations, but also how “ star differeth from another star in glory,” let me by faith look forward to the glory of the resurrection, when the vile body, that has been sown in dishonour, shall be raised in glory, and this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality. May I be counted worthy, through the merits of my Lord and Saviour, of even the least degree of that heavenly brightness; and when I see some faithful servant walking on his appointed course, as a burning and shining light, let me be moved to a holy zeal, that I may at least follow him on the
1 Ps. ciii. 11, 12.
2 Jude 13.
of faith and duty! At all times, and in all circumstances, let me endeavour so to live, that this vile body may hereafter be fashioned like unto my Saviour's glorious body, according to the mighty working whereby He is able to subdue all things to Himself .
5 Ps. viii, 3, 4.
6 Phil. iij. 21.
XIV.—THE TENT STRUCK.
“We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved,
we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven : if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” 2 Cor. v. 1-4.-See also Gen. xviii. ). Ps. xxxix. 12.
Jer. xxxv. 7. John i. 14. The soul is sometimes said in Holy Scripture’ to dwell in a house of clay, the foundation of which is in the dust, and which is crushed before the moth. This comparison is most suitable to remind us of our frailness, and to check in us “the pride of life ” and all high or vain imaginations. In other texts the soul is said to dwell in 6 a tent” or 66 tabernacle:” a habitation suited to one who is travelling through a desert and uninhabited land. We are therefore reminded by such expressions that we are “strangers and pilgrims upon
earth 8." It was an act of faith in Abrahamo to dwell in tabernacles in the land of promise as in a strange country. His practice in this respect was a perpetual confession that he regarded himself only as a stranger and traveller on the earth, and that she looked for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God.” Again, the feast of tabernacles was appointed 10 to remind the children of Israel of the wanderings of their forefathers in the wilderness (when they dwelt in tents), and thus to suggest to them continually the same thought, that this life is only a pilgrimage, and that our true home is elsewhere, that we have here no continuing city, but seek one to come. By faith, a Christian continually regards his body 7 Job iv. 19. 8 Heb. xi. 13.
9 Heb. xi. 9. 10 Lev. xxiii. 34.
1 Heb. xiii. 14.
as a tent or tabernacle, a frail and uncertain habitation, suited to the condition of one who is only a traveller to his true home, offering no effectual protection against the many dangers to which he is exposed, a dwelling-place which may be struck or taken down in a moment. Thus St. Paul calls the body “the earthly house of this tabernacle," which may soon be “dissolved;" and St. Peter says, “I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me?”
The similitude, however, which reminds us so touchingly of our state as pilgrims in this world, may also suggest to us, that if the body be thus liable to be soon " dissolved,” it may also soon be put together again, even as a tent, which is soon struck, is as easily and quickly set up again.
Let me, then, be daily more and more sensible of the present frailty and vileness of that tenement which the soul is appointed for a season to inhabit, and on which so many lavish all their care, while they take no pains to adorn and beautify: its immortal inhabitant, nor to provide for its wants, when, its tabernacle being put off, it will pass to another state of being, and will be found * naked and unclothed,” if it be not “clothed upon with a house which is from heaven-a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Re. garding my body only as a tent, let me live on earth as a stranger and sojourner with God, not entangling myself with those things which I am always leaving, but still looking forward with earnest desire to the true home, to which I am continually drawing nigh. Knowing how soon the tent may be struck, let me prepare myself for the journey which must then be taken; and whenever that time shall come, believe with
2 2 Pet. i. 13, 14.
3 Ps. cxlix. 4, and 1 Pet. iii. 3. #1 Pet. ii. ll.
joyful confidence, that when the dark valley is past, the tent shall be set up again, no more to be taken down, inasmuch as mortality will then have been swallowed
up of life.
XV.-THE WILD GOAT UPON THE MOUNTAINS.
“He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high
places.” Ps. xviii. 33. “ The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats ; and the rocks for the conies."
Ps. civ. 18.–See also Deut. xxxiii. 25. Ps. xciv. 18. Hab. iii. 19.
How safely does the wild goat rest on the side of the precipitous mountain, or climb the dizzy height, whe our brain would turn and our feet would inevitably slip! How freely and fearlessly does she leap from rock to rock ! Her eye is as true, and her foot as sure upon the steep and slippery crag, as on some beaten road! God has fitted her for the high hills" on which He has appointed her to live, and has endued her with those faculties of the foot, and of the eye, which enable her, even in the darkest night, to walk on rocks and precipices where man could not tread securely under the noonday light.
The servant of the Lord is thus enabled to dwell securely wherever God has appointed the bounds of his habitation ; and to go forward freely and fearlessly on the path of Christian duty. He may be exposed to temptations which he would once have thought it impossible to endure; or he may have to bear up against sorrows to which he would once have looked forward with dismay, as sure to swallow him up. He may have to serve God in high and difficult duties, to which he would have thought himself utterly unequal; or he may be called even to the giddy and slippery places of worldly greatness, where those who witness his course expect
5 2 Cor. ii. 7.