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God who has appointed each member to his own use and office; and as it is an amazing impiety in those who have received greater talents, to despise such as have less ; so also is it in these, if they be not content with such offices as God has assigned to them. It has been well said, that the little brook which waters a few fields, fulfils the office assigned to it by Providence, as truly as the mighty river, which bears on its bosom the commerce of a nation.
And we see also what ground there is for mutual sympathy, help, and love, among all the many members. How closely should we keep to those holy ordinances by which our fellowship is effected, and realized! and how earnestly should we endeavour to give proof of that blessed 'fellowship, by the truest sympathy with all our fellow-members, and by the most ready exertions of Christian love towards all; whether they be high or low; whether they be in our own land, or in foreign countries ! The tie of Christian fellowship unites us to all who have been baptized into the same body; nor is it severed by death itself. It binds together those who have entered into their rest with those who are yet militant on earth. It is the true source of comfort in the hour of bereavement, and
“ I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant
between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: and I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud ; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the
earth.” Gen. ix. 13-16.—See also Ezek. i. 28. Rev. iv. 3. The rainbow is not so much a similitude, as a sign and token in the cloud of God's covenant with man. It is caused by the refraction of the sunbeams in the drops
of the falling shower; and is therefore a sign of rain; though by God's appointment it is changed into an assurance and pledge that the rain shall never again prevail, as it prevailed in the deluge. It is thus become an emblem of a covenant of grace and mercy to a guilty world. And the very beauty of that faultless arch which joins the heaven with the earth, and of those colours which are so brilliant, and so softly blended into each other, seems to render it the more suitable token of that blessed Gospel, which proclaims “glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
And thus we find, that in such visions as were of old vouchsafed to saints and prophets, the more dreadful brightness of the Divine glory was ever tempered by the appearance of a rainbow, blending itself with “ the colour of amber out of the midst of the fire, or the colour of the terrible crystal.” The Prophet Ezekiel
saw as it were the appearance of fire; and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about.” And St.
6. He that sat on the throne, was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone. And there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” And again?, “I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud'; and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire.”
The rainbow thus proclaims to us an opening of mercy in the midst of judgment and anger. And, since that which is itself the sign of rain, has become a pledge that the rain shall no more prevail; it seems especially to remind us that the grace of God makes all things new; and so changes the character even of what in itself is a remembrance of wrath, as to make it a pledge of mercy. Thus the sentence that man shall eat bread in the sweat of his brow' has become 2 Rev. x. 1.
3 Gen. iii. 19.
a source of happiness, by enforcing useful employment, and by leading to all the instruction of literature, and all the discoveries of art and science. Thus the trials of life are received as the chastisement of a loving Father, and not as the infliction of an angry Judge. The tears of penitence issue in the grace of Christ; and death itself is become the gate of life.
“ The bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain reminds us also, that in the very deepest affliction there is a way of deliverance. The colours of the rainbow are brightest when it is seen against the darkest cloud; and faith is able to see all is well written in characters of mercy upon the very darkest visitations of God's providence. Faith still whispers to us, that when " night is darkest, dawn is nearest," and that “man's extremity is God's opportunity.”
XXIX.-THE FISHERS AND THEIR NET.
“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon
called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea : for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and
followed him.” Matt. iv. 18—20.-See also Matt. xiii. 47–50. When we see fishermen mending their nets, or launching into the great deep, or drawing their net to the shore, we should reflect not only on the lowly condition and humble occupation of the blessed Apostles, before our Lord called them to follow Him, but also on the analogy and resemblance which exists (as His own expressions intimated) between their lowly employment and those high and honoured services to which they were thenceforth to devote themselves. “ Follow me," He said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” And in one of His parables, He has compared the Gospel preached in the world to a net cast into the sea, and gathering of every kind.
As the sea is a frequent type or emblem of the world', SO " the fishes of the sea," which take their course at will, and so often prey upon one another throughout that waste of waters, represent the vast numbers who know not God, and walk in the way of their own hearts, without any sure guide or rule of conduct, and, too often, only envying and provoking, hating and devouring, one another. Into this broad sea of the whole world a net was to be cast; and instead of their lowly labours on the little sea of Galilee, the Apostles were to be employed in gathering men out of every clime and country into the Church of God, and in drawing them under the blessed restraints and holy discipline of “the obedience of faith.” A net will indeed gather of every kind; and when it is drawn to the shore, a separation is made of the fishes which are worth the pains of taking out of the sea, and such as are nothing worth, and may be cast away. And thus we are reminded, that among those who are gathered into the visible Church of Christ there “ are good and bad,” many false professors as well as sincere servants of God; nor will the good be separated from the bad until the net is drawn completely to the shore; which will not be till the end of the world. In this world there will ever be an admixture of the evil with the good, even in the Church of Christ; but the time will come when the final separation shall be made; and those only who have willingly been drawn by the bands of love', and have lived under the blessed restraints of pure and undefiled religion, will be gathered into the heavenly kingdom.
This similitude, then, should lead us to reflect how far this is as yet the case with ourselves. It reminds all those who are called to the ministry of the word and sacraments, how high and noble is the work to which they have devoted themselves, and with what a single mind, and unswerving purpose, they should
Dan. vii. 3.
5 Hos. xi. 4.
labour in drawing souls to Christ, catching them, as it were, with blameless guile', and even compelling them with holy earnestness, and gentle violence, to come in? And it should suggest to all persons the duty of examining whether they have suffered themselves to be drawn to God, and the restraints of real religion, out of the troubled sea of this world ; and whether they are so living, that when the good shall at length be separated from the bad, they may hope to be gathered to a happy eternity.
XXX.—THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF THE TRUTH.
“ These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly :
but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground (stay, marg.) of the truth.” 1 Tim. iii.
14, 15.-See also Matt. xvi. 18. Gal. ii. 9. WHEN the Apostle calls the Church “ the house of God” and “the pillar and stay of the truth,” it is supposed that the language he uses contains an allusion to the temple of Diana at Ephesus, which was the pillar and support of falsehood, idolatry, and vice. The Church was thus to be the visible support and witness for true religion in the world, and, as it were, the
great rallying point of its disciples; or, it has been supposed, that he may have intended to allude to the two pillars which Solomon placed in the porch of the temple, and to which, it is said, the prophets affixed their prophecies in writing, that they might be read by those who came to the temple to worship; or there
be an allusion to such stones or pillars as Joshua was commanded to raise as a perpetual memorial of the passage of the people over Jordan ; or the stone which Samuel set up', and called Eben
6 2 Cor. xii. 16.
Il Sam, vii. 12.
7 Luke xiv, 23. 9 Josh. iv.