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and severe; or else, he is too easy and indulgent; or, he belongs to a different party from ours; or, his personal faults throw discredit on his doctrine. Instead of being like the strings of an instrument, that answer to every touch, and yield the sounds which the player wishes to awaken, we are so dead that no appeal can rouse us. Instead of being duly affected by the reasoning addressed to us, our reason is clogged and clouded with mists of passion and prejudice; so that it either fails to see what is truth, or has not candour to acknowledge it.
The true cause of all this is the perverseness of the heart; which is skilful in finding excuses for what it has no mind to do. Let us call on God to sweeten this bitter water, and heal this barren soil. 66 Wisdom is justified of all her children." There are those who are not thus perverse; children of heavenly wisdom. They are not children in understanding, nor in frowardness; but in teachableness, and innocency". And they “justify” the wisdom of God by showing, in their life and conversation, how suitable are the means provided for man's recovery to the end which God has in view. May we be found sitting at the gates of wisdom, and watching at the posts of her doors 8 ! In this case, our companions will be among the poor in spirit, and simple in heart; but the eye of our soul will become more clear and piercing ; and our heart will answer more readily to every touch and motion of God's Holy Spirit.
XL.—THE FALLING STAR.
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!"
Isa. xiv. 12.-See also Ezek. xxxii. 7. Dan. viii. 10. Matt. xxiv. 29.
Rev. viii. 10; ix. 1. No wonder, my child, that you bid me look at the
6 I Cor, xiv. 20.
7 Ps. cxxxi. 2. Matt. xviii. 2, 3.
8 Prov, viii. 34.
falling star. I marked what struck your sight, and drew from you such expression of amazement. . It seemed as if one of the brightest jewels in yonder crown of night had been suddenly struck from the diadem, and cast headlong to the earth. It shot from the height of heaven through the clear expanse; and though its light was as brilliant as ever while it fell, yet in an instant it seemed to be put out for ever.
What you saw was but a meteor, which is not uncommon in certain states of the atmosphere; and has given rise to a sublime and awful application of the scriptural similitude, by which such beings as are highly exalted, whether in heaven, or in earth, are likened to the stars of light."
As the honour of such beings as “ excel in strength," or holiness, in earth, or heaven, or are exalted by office, or station, above their fellows, is thus set forth to us; so the notion of a “falling star” is used to convey to us a lively sense of the downfal of those whom God casts down from their eminency; and the decline of such as “ keep not their first estate of purity and brightness. Thus the prophet Isaiah, when speaking of the pride and the downfal of the king of Babylon, compares that awful change to the fall of the morning star from its place in heaven. “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning ! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations ! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also
the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit 11."Pride and ambition were probably the chief occasion of the downfal of the apostate angels; as they certainly were the sins which provoked the Lord to break the power of the king of
9 See Similitude xiii. Second Series. 10 Jude 6.
11 Isa, xiv. 12-15.
Babylon, and tread him under foot. And in such a case, the greatness and awfulness of the fall is measured by the brightness and splendour of the former glory. Of all earthly changes, the downfal of the kingdom of Babylon was, perhaps, one of the most memorable; warning us against that pride, vain glory, and oppression, which are so utterly unsuited to a frail creature like man, and unspeakably offensive to the Most High. But the fall of the angels which kept not their first estate” is also held forth to us as a warning and a lesson; and may teach the purest and the best among us, that there is no height of holiness or station from which they may not fall, if they suffer themselves to be lifted up by pride, and forget their continual need of God's grace. And the downfal in such a case is like a falling star. It is the extinction of a bright and shining light'. The figure is used several times in the Revelation of St. John; and seems also to have been employed by our Lord in His prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, as typical of the day of judgment. And though we may not fully understand its prophetic or symbolical meaning, yet this use of it in Holy Scripture will lead us to muse, with awe and reverence, even on such an instance as you have witnessed of a common phenomenon. Such an instance may well suggest a prayer for those who are raised to stations of honour, that they may be
preserved from pride ; and for those who have great gifts of holiness, and usefulness, that they may be kept from falling?. Shall we not also bless God if a lowlier station saves us from many temptations of this kind; and, while we watch and pray lest we fall from the grace that has been given us, remember also that we must strive to let our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven ? We should remind ourselves that a Christian's office is not only to try to strengthen such as stand, but also to raise and restore the fallen; and 1 Matt. xxiv. 29. John v. 35.
2 Jude 24.
that they who shall turn many to righteousness, shall at last shine as the stars for ever and ever 3.
XLI.-THE NAIL IN A SURE PLACE.
“ And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place.” Isa. xxii. 23.-See
also Ezra ix. 8.
Many a poor man's cottage in England is better provided with furniture, and things which we think essential to comfort, than is the case with the palaces of the great in Eastern countries. In that part of the world, the climate enables people to dispense with much that is thought necessary to a home in northern latitudes; and such furniture as is there seen, even in the dwellings of the wealthy, is of a far simpler and ruder kind than would here be found in houses of a corresponding class. Thus, in those countries, it is common for things to be laid on shelves or on brackets fastened to the wall, which with us would be enclosed in chests or cabinets. And even a nail or spike projecting from the side of an apartment, is made to answer the purpose of far more costly and ingenious contrivances among ourselves.
Thus it is necessary that the several rooms should be provided with nails or brackets of this kind, not only sufficiently strong themselves, but also so fixed into the walls as to bear a considerable weight. And as these walls are commonly built of mud or clay, it is necessary that the nails should be laid in the walls while they are being raised, and should also extend through their entire thickness; or else any considerable weight would only tear down a wall constructed of materials so little solid, or durable.
This account will help us to understand what is meant where God says of His servant Eliakim, “I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place *.” In other words, I will so build him into My spiritual Temple, that he may himself be fixed in it securely, and that others also may safely depend on him for help and counsel. In like manner, in Ezra's acknowledgment of God's mercy in the restoration from Babylon, he says, that “grace hath been showed from the Lord our God ... to give us a nail in His holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.” The expression seems to mean a firm support (by the rebuilding of the temple) on which the Church might hang its hopes and interests. And as Eliakim : appears to be a figure or emblem of Christ (and the temple was undoubtedly a type of Him), we have in this similitude an instructive lesson, both of our duty, and our happiness. On Him we must hang, as it were, our hopes, and interests, both with respect to our own salvation, and to the peace and prosperity of our Church. “ My soul hangeth upon Thee ," says David : and his words describe the feelings of every true Christian. To Christ we must commit the keeping of our souls in welldoing, as unto a faithful Creator?: and we shall find Him such a stay as will never fail those who hang their hopes upon Him. He is as "a nail fastened in a sure place;" and the covenant of which He is the Mediator, is "the sure mercies of David 8.” Whatever else men hang their hopes upon will be a like a spider's web or “a tottering wall ?.” On Him only can we depend with safety for all we need in time and in eternity.
3 Dan. xii, 3.