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upon their view, beyond all that the heart of man can conceive, or his imagination realize!
Meanwhile let us all examine ourselves, and inquire from the words before us, Am I “CALLING UNTO GOD?" Not to call on Him at all is to forfeit the name of christian. It is a common phrase of the apostle to speak of believers as those“ who in every place call upon the name of the Lord.” And we know that those alone will be saved at last who " call upon the name of the Lord.” Therefore to live without prayer is to live without hope, and without God in the world! Awful reflection! Well may all who are thus living cry to God for mercy ere the door of hope be closed against them: soon " the master of the house will rise up and shut to the door;" and then in vain will they be found standing without and knocking, for he will say to them, Depart from me, I know you not, all
workers of iniquity!"
And let all those who profess to cultivate the duty of prayer, consider well the character of their devotions. May it not justly be feared that the prayers of many who maintain a character for true piety, are lamentably cold, formal, infrequent, and unbelieving ? And may not this be the true cause why the blessings of the text are so rarely enjoyed? But it may be asked how are we to kindle in our heart the spirit of prayer ? We reply, How do the painter and the poet imbibe the spirit of their respective arts, but by studying the sublime scenery of nature, and gazing upon the objects which they would portray or describe? How then shall our devotion be animated but by more intense and frequent contemplation of the object of our worship? We must devote ourselves to meditation-reflectionsolitude, and converse with the word of God. We must strive to behold God as revealed in the face of Jesus Christ: we must “ look unto Jesus” until we see more beauty in him, and our hearts desire him. We must continue instant in prayer, and call long and loud, though none seem to answer or to heed us. The duty must be persevered in until it become a PRIVILEGE; and we may rest assured that by calling continually upon God, we shall enjoy the accomplishment of the promise, “ I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not. ” For “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant.”
Isalah ji. 22.
“ CEASE YE FROM MAN, WHOSE BREATH IS IN HIS NOSTRILS: FOR
WHEREIN IS HE TO BE ACCOUNTED OF?"
To humble the creature and exalt the Creator is the object of revelation; to magnify the creature and to depreciate his Maker is, and has been in all ages, the endeavour of the 'carnal heart: a rebellious desire of independence was the sin of Adam, and to maintain a fancied independence has ever been the aim of his fallen children. Even the Israel of God continually evinced this corrupt principle, and showed themselves more willing to lean upon human help, and to exalt the sufficiency of man, than to trust in the Lord their God. The whole of the spirited and beautiful address connected with the words of the text is intended to level this pride of the creature. “ Enter into the rock,” saith the Lord by his
prophet,* “and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty. For the lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” Though the pride of man may exalt him as “the cedars' of Lebanon high and lifted up,” though he may appear strong as the tough “oaks of Bashan,” the storms of God's vengeance shall rend him, and lay him low; though he be as the high mountains and hills, “he shall be levelled;" or as the gallant “ships of Tarshish,” he shall be swallowed up in the ocean of God's wrath ; and the proud, and the great, and the gay
o shall go
into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.” And the conclusion of the whole matter is this, “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils, for wherein is he to be accounted of?” O that it may please God to enable us so to meditate on the littleness and vanity of the creature, that we may betake ourselves to the Creator alone for comfort, consolation, and peace, in a sinful and troublesome world!
Let us reflect for a moment, on the real character of him against whom the exhortation of the text is directed: it is MAN! And what is man, that he should be the object of our fears or
* Ver. 10.
of our hopes ? How vain and impotent a being ! “ His breath is in his nostrils," ready to depart; and if it please God to take it away, in a moment he dies and returns to the dust out of which he was taken. “Wherein is he to be accounted of?” in what respect can he be depended on; a frail, perishing creature of a day, that dies before the moth! “ Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble; he cometh forth like a flower;" he may be blooming and gay, and diffusing fragrance around him, but “like a flower he is cut down : he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”+ Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.” How strange it is that a being manifestly so frail and impotent should be capable of exciting in our bosoms such lively emotions of joy or of sorrow! That we should be afraid of a man, our fellow, or trust in him in whom there is no help! And yet all Scripture affirms, and experience illustrates the truth of the assertion, that the fear of man is more generally influential than the fear of God, and reliance on man far more prevalent than confidence in God. The happiness of multitudes rests upon the smiles of their * Job xiv. 1, 2.
t Psalm cxlvi. 4. * Psalm lxii. 9.