« AnteriorContinuar »
THE RULES OF THIS FAMILY. First, It is expected that every one who comes under this roof, fail not to be present at Family Prayer, and the reading of the Scriptures. ft
Secondly, It is hoped that beside these things, attention be given to the private engagements of the closet. They who begin the day in prayer, will probably find cause to end it in praise.
Thirdly, The Apostle's maxim is to be invariably followed, under the divine blessing: in all things having convertation at becometk the Gospel of Christ: that no corrupt communication may proceed out of the mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephes. iv. 29.
Lastly, Whatsoever is done in word or deed, all is to be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Coloss. iii. 17.
To every one who, looking up for grace to render it effectual, sincerely desires to act in conformity to these rules, the good man of the house saith, 'Come in, thou blessed of the Lord, wherefore standest thou without V Gen. xxiv. 31.
Thus invited, I entered the door, and found that it led into a large room like a hall. There were several persons seated round a table, at the head of which a venerable old man appeared to preside. Having taken my place at the bottom, to which the kind looks of the master at the top seemed to invite me, I soon discovered, by what dropped from his lips in discourse, that the characters around me were Zion's Pilgrims, like myself; and that the Lord of the way had directed them in his providence hither for refreshment and counsel.
It is a very precious thing, when little societies meet together on gracious errands. There is a restraint upon the mind in the assembly that is mingled. 'Two cannot walk together except they be agreed.' I venture to believe that, more or less, every follower of the Redeemer knows somewhat of this in his own experience. And it should seem that the dear Lord himself, at his last supper, restrained those sweet and incomparable discourses, which the apostle John hath recorded in the fourteenth and following chapters of his gospel, until Judas the traitor had withdrawn. For as soon as he had gone out, Jesus said, 'Now is the Son of man glorified;' and immediately the Lord began his farewell sermon.
At this assembly of the Interpreter's, there was somewhat visible in every countenance, which indicated that' they were all of one heart and of one soul.' They were come together to lay down their several burthens, and to unbosom their minds to each other. And the good man of the house seemed to be deputed to speak a word of consolation to every case. 1
I found my mind much relieved under one part of my burthen, (I mean under the sorrows induced from the persecutions of my relations, J by what the Interpreter said to a woman in the company, under similar circumstances. 'My best advice to you,' he said, 'will be, to recommend you to seek grace, in order to adopt the prophet's example. For when he found no favour from man, he recollected that he had the favour of God. So that, however wicked the times were in which he lived, yet the righteousness of Jehovah was unchangeable. 'The best of them, (he said,) was as a briar, the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge.' Who therefore could venture to come near either? Your case, you see, is not singular, in the unkindness you sustain from your relations, on account of your religion. In all ages it hath been the same. And hence the prophet saith, 'Trust ye not in a friend; put ye not confidence in a guide; keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house.' But what was the prophet's conduct under these heavy troubles ?' Therefore, (saith he,) I will look unto the Lord: I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me*.' The more the world frowns, the sweeter will be the smiles of Jesus. And the greater unkindness you meet with from your relations, the greater will be your esteem of the affection of the Redeemer. What, though all your earthly connexions fail, and their friendship is continually fluctuating, and changeable; yet in Jesus you find an unchanging friend ' at all times; one born for adversity, and who sticketh closer than a brother.'
'And it should very evidently seem, that God over-rules those very events which tend to loosen our attachment to every thing here below, on purpose to raise our affections, and to fasten them on the great objects which are above. By tinging our most innocent enjoyments in this mortal state with vanity and disappointment, what is it but in effect saying, * Mtcah vli. 4,5, 6.
'Arise ye and depart, for this is not your rest, because it is polluted?' There is much meaning in that word of the prophet, Therefore; when he says, Therefore I will look unto the Lord; that is as much as to say, Because all things else are dissatisfying, I will look where I am sure not to be disappointed. Though all creatures leave me, my Creator is the same; and though every earthly friend fail me, my heavenly friend never will. O, depend upon it, let a child of God be persecuted, forsaken,
-slighted, or despised ever so much by man; yet while he hath a God to look up to, and a Covenant-God to trust in; while he can say
-' My God, he may at the same time with full assurance say, he will hear me. '. - 'And I believe it possible, nay more than possible, even frequently induced by divine grace, that, where the love of God is shed abroad in the heart in its fulness and strength, it drives out all lesser considerations; as the effulgent brightness of the sun puts out the fire of the hearth. And it is in this sense we must accept that otherwise seemingly harsh doctrine to flesh and blood, where the Redeemer saith, 'If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his