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A minister of God is as a watchman on the height; withdrawn from such entanglements as would hinder him in his responsible office; raised above the din and throng of common earthly cares and pursuits; and devoted to the great work of watching over the welfare of such part of the walls and bulwarks of God's city as may be entrusted to his charge. As the watchman must wake, while others sleep, so the minister of God must be ever intent on the things of another world, and on the spiritual dangers by which the city of God is beset; while others are necessarily more engaged in the common concerns of life. It is his office to give early and effectual warning of any perils which may affect either those sacred truths of which the Church is the keeper and the witness, or the holiness of its members. He must warn those who "sleep,” that the night is far spent, and the day is at hand ?." And he must assure others who inquire either with insincerity of heart, or on needless points which it is beyond his province to explain, that it is vain to inquire, unless they ask with a real intention of returning truly to God, in the way of practical repentance and amendment. If any faint and are weary with the long continuance of a “night” of sorrow, he must cheer and comfort them with the assurance, that though “heaviness may endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning &;" whereas to such as presume on the continuance of the bright and shining morning he must give the solemn warning, Work while it is day: “ the night cometh, when no man can work 9.'
That he may thus rebuke, instruct, console, or warn, the people entrusted to him, the Christian watchman 'must accustom himself, by prayer and meditation, to discern the “signs of the times "," the counsels of Holy Scripture, the dealings of Divine Providence, and also the devices of Satan?.
6 Ps. xlviii. 12, 13. 9 John ix. 4.
7 Rom. xiii. 12.
1 Matt. xvi. 3.
8 Ps. xxx. 5.
must know his own heart, and his own weakness, that he may know the hearts, and feel for the weakness, of others. He must endure patiently the present checquered condition of human affairs; but long earnestly for the dawn of that long-expected day when the Lord Jesus shall come again with glory, and the number of God's elect shall be accomplished.
Let us bless God that He has set apart an order of men thus to 66 watch for our souls, as those that must give account.” Let us be anxious to know what message they have to deliver; and ready both to receive their warnings of any fault, or spiritual danger, with meekness, and gratitude; and also to follow their godly admonitions with a teachable and reverent mind. And be it our care to pray that their eyes may be opened to see what we are all so much concerned in their rightly understanding; so that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same; as knowing that “ Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”
XXXVIII.—THE GRAVER'S TOOL.
“Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a
book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!" Job xix. 23, 24.-See also Exod. xxxii. 16. Jer. xvii. I.
2 Cor. iii. 3. How deeply and indelibly have those sentences been cut in the solid stone by the graver's tool! They may be exposed for ages to the changes of the climate without losing their sharpness, and precision. The most violent and ceaseless rains will not wash away those deep and enduring characters for centuries to come. They are well calculated for the purpose which they are intended to answer, of conveying to coming generations a solemn and important record.
3 Ps. cxxvii. 1.
It is thus that we should wish that the truths of Scripture, and especially the Law of God, might be so deeply engraven on our hearts that nothing might ever efface the characters. We know that that Law was written of old on tables of stone; and the Apostle intimates that it is now written by the Spirit, not on tables of stone, but on “fleshly tables of the heart." And thus our Church teaches us to pray that God, in compliance with our earnest supplication, would write all these His laws in our hearts.
Be pleased, O Lord, to write them, not so that the characters may be washed out by “the floods of ungodliness," and temptation; but so that they may endure through the many changes of joy and sorrow, of difficulty and trial, to which we may be exposed in this mortal life. Write them so that they may be “known and read of all men“," by the unmistakeable character of a life led after the example of Christ, and reflecting something of His image.
How glorious and consoling was that truth, with especial reference to which Job wished that his words might be graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! Its preciousness may be now less felt, because its certainty is more generally acknowledged; but it is indeed that truth, in the power of which every Christian must wish both to live and die. "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth : and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another."
4 2 Cor. iii. 2.
5 Job xix. 25-27.
“And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this
generation ? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the market-place, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.” Luke vii. 31, 32.—See also Isa. v. 4.
Luke xiii. 34. 1 Cor. ix. 19-22. Who that notices the ways of children has not seen instances in which some perverse and sullen humour has spoilt the innocent glee of a festive occasion ? A few children, it may be, of a wayward and wilful disposition, have marred the enjoyment of a whole party by their perverse unwillingness to enter into the efforts that were made to please them: and though such of the company as were sweet-tempered and yielding have tried every means to win the others to be social, and happy, yet these have persisted in their sullen humour, and have refused to answer to the touch of affection, or the persuasions of reason.
He who was ever intent on drawing lessons of wisdom from all that came before Him, perceived the resemblance between the temper of such perverse children and the way in which too many, who are no longer children in years, receive all the efforts of their Heavenly Father to win them to happiness. 66 Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation ? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the market-place, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and
ye have not danced ; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of Publicans and sinners !
But wisdom is justified of all her children.” The use of pipes was common, both on festive and on mournful occasions; and our Lord, in this similitude, seems to have before Him the case of children representing in their play, first, the festivity of a marriage, and then the lamentations of a funeral; but unable to get their companions to join them in either pastime. He thus implies how various are the means by which God endeavours to awaken us to repentance, and to draw us to Himself. He strikes, as it were, on various chords; He touches many a spring, in order to rouse us from our stupid unconcern, and win us to be happy. He sent, first, John the Baptist, a man of secluded life, and most austere habits; knowing that such habits in their minister have influence with some who would hardly listen to a person of a different turn of mind. On the other hand, since many are prejudiced against religion, when set before them in its austerer character, our Blessed Saviour was pleased to conform Himself in a greater degree than was the case with John, to the ways and usages of common life; and He exhibited religion under a milder and a more winning aspect. And thus does He still adapt His dealings with us to our various tempers, characters, and circumstances. He touches some chord that should move us to godly sorrow; or some other that should raise us to sacred joy; or displays His awful Majesty, to excite our reverence, or His winning mercy, to awaken our love.
But under this image our Lord implies, also, how perversely we receive His gracious endeavours; even like fretfúl children, who will not be pleased or persuaded. Some wrong construction is put upon all that He does; just as the Pharisees of old misrepresented both the austerity of John, and our Lord's conformity to common usage. We are indeed as children, foolish and trifling; eager, like children, after present things ; like children, sitting idle in the market-place, and playing when God bids us “work in His vineyard;" and, what is more, perverse, like children, unwilling to be won, and still finding some reason or other for disregarding the message which is sent to us. Either we say, The minister is too strict