« PoprzedniaDalej »
Whatever become of these outward senses which are common to me with the meanest, and most despicable creatures, O Lord, give me not over to that spiritual darkness, which is incident to none but those that live without thee, and must perish eternally, because they want thee.
UPON THE SIGHT OF A GLIDING STAR.
How easily is our sight deceived ! How easily doth our sight deceive us! We saw no difference betwixt this star and the rest; the light seemed alike, both while it stood, and while it fell; now, we know it was no other than a base slimy meteor, gilded with the sun-beams; and now our foot can tread upon that, which erewhile our eye admired. Had it been a star, it had still and ever shined ; now, the very fall
argues it a false and elementary apparition ; thus our charity doth, and must mislead us in our spiritual judgments ; if we see men exalted in their Christian profession, fixed in the upper region of the church, shining with appearances of grace, we may not think them other than stars in this lower firmament; but if they fall from their holy station, and embrace the present world, whether in judgment or practice, renouncing the truth and power of godliness, now we may boldly say, they had never any true light in them, and were no other than a glittering composition of pride and hypocrisy. O God, if my charity make me apt to be deceived by others, let me be sure not to deceive myself. Perhaps, some of these apostatizing stars have thought themselves true: let their miscarriage make me heedful; let the inward light of thy grace more convince my truth to myself, than my outward profession can represent me glorious to others.
UPON THE HEARING OF A SWALLOW IN THE CHIMNEY.
Here is music, such as it is; but how long will it hold ? When but a cold morning comes in, my guest is gone, without either warning or thanks : this pleasant season hath the least need of cheerful notes; the dead of winter shall want, and wish them in vain. Thus doth an ungrateful parasite: no man is more ready to applaud, and enjoy our prosperity; but when with the times our condition begins to alter, he is a stranger at least. Give me that bird which will sing in winter, and seek to my window in the hardest frost: there is no trial of friendship but adversity ; he that is not ashamed of my bonds, not daunted with my checks, not aliened with my disgrace, is a friend for me; one drachm of that man's love is worth a world of false and inconstant formality.
THE RIGHT WAY TO GET THE RIGHT THING. IT must be allowed by every one that it is a great advantage to have the right thing; and therefore it must be of great importance to know the right way to get it.
What is the right thing? Do you desire to be really happy ? Do you desire to be good ? Do you desire to have power against evil temptations? Do you desire to have peace of conscience? Do you desire to be content with your station? Do you desire to have comfort in your
heart ? Do you desire to have the terror of death taken away? Do you desire to have a reasonable hope of being happy after death? Do you desire to be a real Christian? There is one thing which, if you had it, would satisfy all these desires, and give you more blessings than you can desire :not perhaps all at once, but gradually, sooner or later, some at first, and others step by step, as would best suit with your character and circumstances. This is the right thing to have, and this is the Holy Spirit, to be in you, to teach you, guide you, help you, strengthen you, comfort you, keep you, and bless you. No person can effectually be a real Christian who has not the Holy Spirit within him. The Holy Spirit will certainly bring every one to Christ in whom he dwells; and so make him a real Christian. To have him then is the right thing. See John iii. 5; xvi. 7–14; Acts ii. 38, 39; 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10; vi. 19; Eph, i. 13, 14.
There is but One, by whom any person can have this right thing; and that is God the Father in heaven, to whom we speak when we say the Lord's Prayer. God the Father is the right person to go to; and he is not far from any one of us, being about our path and about our bed. But the difficulty is to find out how such as we are can possibly indu Him to give us so great a gift as that right thing. All depends upon going the right way to work. There is a right way and a wrong way in every thing, and those who take the wrong way cannot hope to succeed. God, the right person, has fixed upon a way of his own making, by which people may get what they thus want; and He is always ready to attend to the least desire of the heart of any, even the poorest persons, who want the right thing, if they come in this right way. See John xiv. 16, 17; Acts i. 4, 5, 8; xvii. 27, 28; Psalm cxxxix. 2, 3; Matt. xi. 28; John vi. 37, 40.
To open this right way, God gave his own Son to be a man; that, as a man, he might be what the first Adam would have been if he had never sinned—that is, wellpleasing in his sight. This man, Jesus Christ, never sinned, and is therefore well-pleasing in God's sight. As the Second Adam, having no sin of his own to answer for, he stood in the place of the first Adam, and answered for his sins and the sins of all his children; so that, by bearing their sentence and their punishment for sin, he has obtained from the Father the right to forgive them their sins. This was redeeming them, or buying them back. Having purchased this right, at the price of his own death, he makes use of it to forgive all those persons who receive the Holy Spirit—the right thing. He is gone up into heaven, to wait there till all the people who will be saved shall have been born and received the Holy Spirit: and so he has been waiting these eighteen hundred years past, on purpose to give us, who live now, the opportunity of procuring this right thing. While he is thus waiting, he sends his ministers to inform people of the right way to get the Holy Spirit: and that is, by applying to the right person, God the Father, for this right thing, as the very thing which Jesus Christ has purchased and paid for by his atonement, so that he has a right to it whenever he wills. Now he authorizes any person who desires it, to go in his name, that is, as being sent by him, to ask for that which we do not deserve ourselves, but which he who sends us does deserve, and has a right to. To
go in Christ's name, and to ask for his sake what he may justly claim, (though we have no claim at all for our own sake,) is the sure way to get this great thing; because God the Father cannot refuse it to Christ; and Christ gives us permission to put in his claim for our benefit. See Gal. iv. 5; Matt. iii. 17; 2 Peter i. 17; 1 Peter ii. 22-24; 1 John ii. 1, 2; Gal. iii. 13;
1 Cor. vi. 20; Rom. viii. 1-9; John xvi. 7; Acts ii. 38, 59; iii. 19–21; Matt. xxviii. 18—20; John xvi. 23, 24; xvii. 9, 20, 24.
It must be remembered, that to apply to God for any thing, it is necessary that we should inwardly feel in our spirits that we are doing so; and really mean what we say or think. It is not speaking words alone that will do.. Speaking is the natural way of expressing what we feel; and, therefore, when we do feel, we are apt to speak, which is very proper. But God has to do with the heart, and is applied to by the spirit, so that a dumb man can apply to God as easily as one who speaks; while a man may speak words without ever meaning or feeling what he says. It is not, therefore, saying prayers at certain times that is the surest sign that we ask God for anything. The beginning of the matter is a desire in the heart to have the right thing. If you want it you will try to get it. In this the old saying holds good—“Where there's a will there's a way:” the will is the first thing; but if you will, this is the right way. Do not, therefore, deceive yourself with wbrds, for you will never be heard merely for much speaking. Mere words are soon said, and soon forgotten. But a real desire remains in the heart, whether the mouth speaks or not. It will break out into words spoken or words thought from time to time; and show to ourselves, in that way, every now and then, that it is going on in the heart. But God, who knows the heart, and converses, so to speak, with the spirit, receives the desire for the right thing as the true application for Him; which goes on always, both when we speak it out, and when we do not: while to speak words without the desire is quite the
wrong way to get anything. John iv. 24; Rom. vii. 26, 27; Jer. xvii. 10; 1 Chron. xxviii. 9.
This, then, is the right way to get the right thing.--Go to the right person, God the Father, and ask, for Jesus Christ's sake, that he will give you the Holy Spirit. You cannot be wrong; and though you may not all at once perceive the result, yet you are sure to succeed, if you keep on earnestly and repeatedly crying in your heart, with all sincerity of desire, O! my God, for Christ's sake, give me the Holy Spirit.
Reprinted, by permission, from the Wonston Tracts.
CALLS OF USEFULNESS. Call on One troubled with Doubts and Fears. Visitor. I hope, Richard, that the clouds and darkness which have so long hid from you the face of the Redeemer, beaming with Divine compassion, are passing away, and that you can rejoice in the hope set before you.
Richard. No, sir, that is not the case. I feel, notwithstanding all the promises of God, that I am too unworthy to hope for mercy.
Visitor. Too unworthy! You must be unworthy indeed, if you are worse than those whom redeeming grace has already pardoned. Paul considered himself to be “the chief of sinners,” and yet Paul found mercy.
“Come, ye weary, heavy laden;
Lost and ruined by the fall:
You will never come at all." Richard. There are many precious invitations in God's word, certainly, but none of them seem addressed to me.
Visitor. No! that is rather strange too, if you feel the weight of your unworthiness. What do you think of this invitation : “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest ?” Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come; buy wine and milk without money and without price."
Richard. But my heart is too hard; it is as hard as a stone.
Visitor. Is it; then there is a promise in Ezekiel, that will just suit you; “I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”
Richard. Sins such as mine must be atoned for.
Visitor. The word of God, which is better than the opinion of man, says,
“If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous : and he is the propitiation for our sins.” “ Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
Richard. I am not only a sinner but a backslider.
Visitor. It is indeed a grievous thing to be a backslider; but grievous as it is, the forbearance of God extends itself to this case also. “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely.”