« PoprzedniaDalej »
dales, woods, meadows, each of them striving to set forth other, and all of them to delight the eye! So as this is no other than a natural and real landscape drawn by that Almighty and skilful hand, in this table of the earth, for the pleasure of our views no other creature besides man is capable to apprehend this beauty. I shall do wrong to Him that brought me hither if I do not feed my eyes, and praise my Maker. It is the intermixture, and change of these objects, that yields this contentment, both to the sense and mind. But, there is a sight, O my soul, that, without all variety, offers thee a truer and fuller delight; even this heaven above thee. All thy other prospects end in this. This glorious circumference bounds, and circles, and enlightens all that thine eye can see; whether thou look upward, or forward, or about thee, there thine ege alights, there let thy thoughts be fixed.
One inch of this lightsome firmament hath more beauty in it than the whole face of the earth; and yet this is but the floor of that goodly fabric, the outward curtain of that glorious tabernacle ; couldest thou but (oh that thou couldest!) look within that veil, how shouldest thou be ravished with that blissful sight! There, in that incomprehensible light, thou shouldest see Him whom none can see, and not be blessed, thou shouldest see millions of pure and majestical angels, of holy and glorified souls; there, amongst thy Father's many mansions, thou shouldest take happy notice of thine own. Oh! the best of earth, now vile and contemptible; come down no more, O my soul, after thou hast once pitched upon this heavenly glory; or if this flesh force thy descent, be unquiet till thou art let loose to immortality
UPON A CORN FIELD OVERGROWN WITH WEEDS.
Here were a goodly field of corn, if it were not overlaid with weeds; I do not like these reds, and blues, and yellows, amongst these plain stalks and ears. This beauty would do well elsewhere; I had rather to see a plot less fair, and more yielding. In this field I see a true picture of the world, wherein there is more glory than true substance ; wherein the greater part carries it from the better; wherein the native sons of the earth outstrip the adventitious brood of grace; wherein parasites and unprofitable hang-byes do 'both rob and overtop their masters; both field and world grow alike, look alike, and shall end alike; both are for the fire; while the homely and solid ears of despised virtue shall be for the garners of immortality.
A GOOD CONSCIENCE-HOW OBTAINED AND
THERE is no greater good that we can seek after than a. good conscience. Let us inquire, then, how we may get and keep so great a good.
First. To make the conscience peaceably good-faith in Christ and his blood is absolutely requisite. An impure conscience cannot but be an unquiet conscience, and every guilty conscience is impure. Guilt is the same to the conscience that the winds are to the sea. “The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace to the wicked,” Isa. lvii
. 20, 21. Now that which makes the sea so troublesome and raging · restlessly, is the violence of the blustering winds that trouble and toss it to and fro. But the winds are not so troublesome to the sea as guilt is to the conscience: therefore, as the way to calm the sea is to calm the winds, so the way to quiet and calm the conscience is to purge and take away Guilt is in the conscience as the prophet Jonah was in the ship-Out with him, and the sea and ship are both quiet. But how shall guilt be purged from the conscience? The apostle Paul has answered this question, Heb. ix. 14. It is by faith in the blood of Christ. To have a good conscience, our hearts must be sprinkled from an evil one. But what is that wherewith the conscience must be sprinkled, in order to make it good, and infuse peace and quietness ? It is the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ,” 1 Pet. i. 2. That is the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel,” Heb. xii. 24. Is it asked, how is the conscience to obtain this blood of sprinkling? I answer, it is by faith--faith in Christ's blood produces peace in the conscience. Faith is both a purifying and a pacifying grace. It not only purges our corruption, by applying the efficacy of Christ's blood, but it specially purges our guilt by applying
the merit of his blood. So that, no faith, no peace; and no peace, no good conscience. But how shall this good conscience be maintained ? Two things are essential to this. The first is repentance from dead works, or continual striving against sin. To think of enjoying a peaceable and good conscience, whilst a man makes no conscience of sin, is all a dream! The less peace with sin, the more peace with God and our own consciences. And the other thing is, the constant and conscientious exercise of prayer: this is an excellent means to help us to the enjoyment of that peace which makes and keeps the conscience good.—Jeremiah Dyke.
CALLS OF USEFULNESS.
A Call on a Bible Reader. Visitor. You are meditating over the blessed book of peace, and mercy, and wisdom, I see, as usual, Jacob. Many a crumb of comfort you get, when others are fainting for want of spiritual food to cheer them on their way through the wilderness.
Jacob. Ay, sir, you may rather call the promises of God in Christ loaves of bread, than crumbs of comfort. There is in the Bible a feast of fat things for the lowliest follower of the Redeemer.
Visitor. God has spread for us a table in the wilderness, but we are so much wrapped up in ourselves, that we devote but very few of our thoughts to His mercies. One glories in his wisdom, another in his might, and a third in his riches. In short, in anything but the mercy and compassion of our heavenly Father.
Jacob. When we look at ourselves, there is enough to make our eyes run down with tears, and our eyelids gush out with waters; but when we view the grace of Jesus Christ, in living, dying, and interceding for us, words are not sufficient to express our joy.
“ Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches : but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord,” Jer. ix. 23, 24. I sometimes think myself wretchedly poor, but no sooner do I
open my Bible, than I find myself to be rich indeed; for it is not one thing, but all things, that are promised to pardoned sinners; for pardoned sinners, and none others, are God's people.
Visitor. True, Jacob; I am going to call on Mary Thomas, at the top of the court, but I could not pass your door without stepping in for a moment. Continue to trust in the promises which God has given in his Son, and your hope and
confidence will be secure. " To the Lord belong mercies, though sinners may raise
'Gainst his grace every sinful endeavour : To him be the glory, thanksgiving, and praise,
For ever, and ever, and ever.”
Call on a Self-righteous Man. I have never been easy since I called upon you last, Maurice, for the remarks you made gave me reason to think that you are building on a false foundation. foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ;" and if you think there is a particle within you free from sin, from the crown of your head to the sole of your foot, you are grievously deceived. Your best thoughts, words, and works, are worthless with regard to salvation, unless under the influence of a lively faith in Jesus Christ.
“ It has,” said a learned but self-righteous man,“ always been a consolation to me, when addressing the Deity about my infirmities, to feel that I had a good heart.” “Then,” replied an unlearned but pious Christian, “ you have never yet rightly prayed to God at all; for the prayers of a good heart never reach him.” "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise,” Psa. li. 17.
I wish you to read over this tract, “ The Doctrine of the Cross of Christ.” We can talk about it when you have read it, and if our hearts are humbled as much as they ought to be with a sense of sin, we shall have very little to say of ourselves, and much of the love of the Redeemer.
Call on a Barber, Visitor. I will thank you to thin my hair a little, for I
have more of it on my head than I like to have this hot weather. Yours is a pleasant situation, and I dare say
that you have a good business.
Barber. If it was not for the shop opposite, where a man has set up against me, I should do pretty well, sir; but he takes many a shilling out of my pocket.
Visitor. Ah, well, you know, he must do the best he can to get an honest penny as well as you, and perhaps he had no intention of doing you an injury. I am afraid you are taking off too much hair, I have but little to spare there,
Barber. It is getting rather thin at the top of your head; I would advise you to use a little oil, or bear's grease, or
Visitor. No, no; I never use the one or the other, for I fancy that every particle of dust would stick to my hair if it were oiled, and I cannot bear perfume of any kind. Do you keep your shop open on a Sunday ?
Barber. Yes, sir; many of my customers can come to me at no other time.
Visitor. I am sorry for it; there must be something wrong either with them, or their masters, but perhaps it is with both. The word of God says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Now, do you really think it ,right to follow your calling on the sabbath ?
Barber. Why, I can hardly say that, sir. I wish that I cØuld manage without it, but it is impossible so long as my neighbours keep open.
Visitor. There is no act of parliament passed, that I know of, which compels a man to do the same thing that his neighbour does; and, therefore, I should think that you might shut up shop, even though your neighbour continued to keep his open.
Barber. That would never do, sir; I should offend some of my best customers.
Visitor. It is certainly not a pleasant thing to offend man, but it is a most unprofitable thing to offend God. Though you may get a trifle by it, I would advise you to give up your Sunday business, being persuaded that “ better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit,” Eccles. iv. 6.
Barber. I cannot, indeed, sir, give it up; I cannot make so great a sacrifice.
Visitor. Well, then, the case stands thus :—God com