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the people; so must the blood of the eternal Jesus, who oftered up himself, without spot, to God, be sprinkled upon our consciences, that it, may, purge us from dead works, that we may serve the living God.
But some men will say, “How is it possible that the blood of Christ should be sprinkled upon any man's conscience? Do not we all believe, that it was spilt upon the ground more than seventeen hundred years ago ? How then can any man be such a volunteer in faith, as to believe that which every one must see at once is impossible to be true?” This is just as sound reasoning as that of Nicodemus, when he said to our Lord, respecting the new birth, “How can these things be? Can a man be born again when he is old ?" Bụt as that great man did not understand our Lord's meaning ; so those who reason thus, do not understand the apostle; when he speaks of the sprinkling of the blood of Christ upon the conscience, it is well known that he speaks in a figurative way, and that his words are not to be literally understood ; for who ever thought of the blood of Christ being really, and truly sprinkled upon any one's conscience? But the Apostle's meaning evidently is, that we should so believe in Christ, should so embrace and receive him, as to experience the virtue and efficacy of that blood, considered as making an atonement for our sins, so that we may enjoy that redemption from all guilt and condemnation, which was purchased for us thereby, that being justified freely, through faith in Christ, we may enjoy the peace of God, as an evidence of the love of God extended
But as our mind, as well as out conscience, is defiled with sin, there fowed from the side of our Lord a stream of puris fying water, as well as of atoning blood. Water is an em blem of purity, and the Holy Spirit, in the sacred scriptures makes use of this figure to set forth his sanctifying influences upon the mind :." Then will I pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring." Ágain : “ Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and yo shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols; will I cleanse you ; A new heart also will I give you, and a right spirit will I put within you, and ye shall walk in my commandments, and keep my statutes, and do them.” So likewise the Apostle informs us, that the Lord saves us, “ by the washing of regeneration, and by the renewing of the Holy Ghost :” And St. Peter shews us that the purifying influences
of the Holy Spirit are experienced by all who truly believe in the Son of God; " and put no difference between us and theni, purifying their hearts by faith.” Hence we learn, that he who by faith lays hold upon the Redeemer, receives the grace
of God, or the divine nature; and is thereby renewed in the spirit of his mind, and made a new creature; an entire change is wrought throughout all the powers of the mind, and the man is made really and truly righteous, and is put into a proper condition to serve the Lord. Thus we see who they are who are righteous, the men who are blest with res demption in the blood of Christ, and who expérience the renewing influences of the Spirit of Christ; and who' accordingly walk in all the commandments and ordinances of God blameless; the tree of whose heart being made good, the fruit is also good. We come now to enquire,
Secondly, How, and for what end the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears open to their prayers ?
Here we may observė, the Lord hath taken those highlyfavoured souls into his peculiar protection, and he watches over them as a good shepherd watches over his flock: So the prophet speaks, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs with his armi; and carry thèm in his bosom, and gently lead those who are with young." It is well known that the shepherds, in the eastern countries, watched over their flocks both day and night, to defend them from any of those ravenous beasts, which would otherwise havé devoured them: David slew both a lion and a bear; who were going to destroy a part of his flock. The righteous, while in this world, are in an enemy's country: they have both evil spirits and wicked and unreasonable men to contend with. The devil is their determined enemy, and as a roaring lion, he goeth about, seeking to devour them; and ungodly men are his
agents; he sets themi to do that part of his work which he cannot do himself; but the Lord is our Shepherd, and when speaking of his church under the similitude of a vineyard, says, "I the Lord do keep it, I will water it every montent, and lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day." The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, that he may protect them? from the power of the devil; let him take what methods he will, he shall not be able to hurt a righteous man, while he continues under the care of his heavenly Shepherd. Many a snare may be laid for his feet, many a dangerous weapon inay be formed against him, and many a fiery dart may be shot at him: But while the Lord is his keeper, none of these shall prosper, and all the designs and devices of the devil shall be
brought to nought. The Lord hath circumscribed the power of Satan, that he cannot proceed an hair's breadth farther against a righteous man, than he will give him leave: And to the everlasting confusion of that old furious serpent, all his bad labour. shall not only be in vain, while we steadily trust in God; but every temptation shall prove a mean of bringing us nearer to that heaven, to which we are travelling, and of making us. more fit for the enjoyment of it.
Ungodly men have ever been the bitter enemies of the righteous, and have been permitted at certain times, variously to try, yea; grievously to afflict, and cruelly persecutę them : But the Lord hath said to these
men, " Touch not mine anointed, and do my children no harm:" Yea, “ He who touches these, touches the apple of mine eye." Wicked, men have. many times ventured to invade the vineyard of the Lord, and have taken no small pains to lay it waste, and to destroy it utterly: But these can proceed no farther than the Lord will give them leave. The righteous, sometimes, by their means, have been minished and brought low, and many thousands of the innocent followers of God, have fallen a prey to the fury of those oppressors. But even then, the blood of the martyrs : has been the seed of the church; and by means of the most bloody persecution, the disciples of Christ have been increas sed.
The words of the text have been remarkably fulfilled in the present age. When the Lord first began the present revival of true religion in our land, his servants took their lives in their hand, and trusting in God, they went forth into the highways: and hedges, the streets and lanes of our towns, cities and villages, and published the Gospel of Peace, in the Name of their Mas. ter: the mighty power of God attended their ministry and thousands of poor, ruined sinners were converted; then in was that Satan began to fight for his kingdom, which he saw to be in danger; he therefore stirred up the beasts of the people, and with all the rage and fury which hell itself could inspire, these men þeset the innocent servants of God, so that their persons were not only greatly abused, but many times their lives were in imminent danger. The rich and powerful also were alarmed, and took counsel together how they might prevent the spreading of this new doctrine, as they then called it : But in these days of trouble and distress, the eyes of the Lord were over the righteous, and he who sitteth in the hea. vens laughed them to scorn; the Lord hath had them in deri sion: and in spite of all the opposition that those sinners against their own souls could make, the word of the Lord mightily
prevailed, and the Gospel is preached in its primitive purity and simplicity, nearly throughout the whole land, and such is the goodness and mercy of God, that his people can now siç under cheir own vineand under their own fig tree, and worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, no man daring to make them afraid. 1
Bus It is true, at certain seasons, such is the danger to which the righteous may apprehend themselves to be exposed, that they may say with David, “I shall one day fall by the hand of Saul;' or with the Prophet's servant, when he saw the mountain on which they were, encompassed about with an exceeding great army, " Alas! master, what shall we do?" } “ Fear not," said the man of God, they are more that are with us, than they that be with them.” He then prayed, saying, Lord, open the eyes of this young man, that he may see." The Lord granted his request, and what an astonishing sight! Behold the mountain was full of chariots and horses and chariots of fire, round about-Elisha and his servant: And in consideration of this, may we not say, " So standeth the Lord round about the righteous," and they are preserved by an invisible hand, they are protected by an almighty arm; "The angel of the Lord," said David, encampeth round about them that fear him, and preserveth them.” On this ground we may well say, “Happy are the people who are in such a case, yea, blessed are the people that have the Lord for their God.”
The shepherds also applied a good pasture for their flocks, where they might be well fed, might lie down and take their rest: Our gracious Saviour also will feed his flock like a shepherd, and the sweet singer of Israel bears witness to the truth of it, ". The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, he feedeth me in green pastures, he causeth me to lie down by the still waters." And agreeable hereto, the Apostle Peter exhorts the saints of God, " as new-born babes, to desire the sincere milk of the word,” (the pure and unadulterated gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to be preached unto them,) that they might grow up into salvation thereby.”,
The Lord will take care to provide for his flock in this re, spect; he who hath the residue of the spirit, will pour it forth, raise up and qualify his ministers for their work, and will send them-forth to feed his people, not with husks, but with the solid, substantial food of the pure word of God : So saith the prophet Jeremiah, “ And I will send yon pastors after mine own heart, who shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." And again ; " And I will set up shepherds
over them, who shall feed them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.” Likewise the prophet Ezekiel, “ And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David, he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd Thus we see that the Lord will take care of his flock. Wherever he hath a people, thither he will send his faithful ministers to teach and instruct, to comfort, strengthen, and build them up in real holiness. And he will provide a fold for his flock also, where they shall peaceably worship before his throne, where they shall enjoy the lively ordinan ces of his house, where he himself will be powerfully and blessedly present, and make the place of his feet glorious. Here they shall delightfully sing the songs of Sion, and praise the name of the Lord : They shall humbly fall down : at his feet, and devoutly offer up their heartiest praises for innumerable mercies already received at his gracious hand; and shall fervently call upon his name, for all the blessings promised in his word: They shall behold their teachers with holy delight, and shall hear the pure word of God with.sacred pleasure and unspeakable profit; here they shall commemorate the dying love of their infinitely lovely Redeemer; the ? cup of blessing shall be to them the communion of his precious blood, and the bread which is blessed in his name, shall be the communion of his broken body; here they are blest with all the privileges of the house of God, that they may also enjoy all the blessings of the new covenant.
“ The ears of the Lord are open to their prayers:" Hence we learn that the righteous are a praying people; this they certainly have been in all ages of the world. A man who lives without prayer, may be said, without any breach of charity, to be living without God in the world. A prayerless soul is, beyond all doubt, a graceless soul, But wherever we find a righteous man, we have found a man, who not only, from a sense of duty, but because he is fully satisfied that it is his highest interest, frequently calls upon the name of the Lord his God. A righteous man never loses sight of the worth of his immortal soul, he lives under a deep sense of its ; many weaknesses and wants : And as he sees the rich provi- . sion which the blessed God hath made for him, he goes to him in strong desire, in earnest expectation, in fervent prayer. He
opens his whole soul to his God; lays all his weaknesses and wants at his feet; pleads the merits of his great Redeemer, and he lays fast hold upon the truth and faithfulness of his God. His prayers are all regulated by the promises of the