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say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea,
I say unto you, Fear him.” *
While man is beneath our fears, and unworthy of our confidence, here is a refuge and defence
Blessed be God, He has not left us to perish in despair and solitude amidst the hollow professions and faithless promises of our fellow creatures, but He is himself revealed to us as a friend indeed to his trembling and feeble people. How striking is the contrast between the qualities of man and the attributes of God! Is man a friend at best but impotent and frail ? God is an almighty friend! Is man fickle and faithless ? God is unchangeable, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever! Are the promises of man deceitful? This Friend“ keepeth his promise for ever!” Is the advice of the best of men often erroneous and illusive? The counsel which God gives is fraught with infinite wisdom, and cannot mislead us! Will the kindest of friends be sometimes weary of our society, and turn away from our importunity ? God is never weary of our prayers ; the more we ask, and the oftener we draw near to Him, the more pleased He is to hear and answer us! Above all, human friendship is utterly unavailing in the time of our greatest need, and accompanies us only to the margin of the grave; while the help of God is most powerfully afforded when we enter the dark valley of the shadow of death ; in that trying hour the Lord has promised that he will be with us, and that “his rod and his staff shall comfort and support us!" Oh, how true and faithful a friend is God to his people! “ Blessed indeed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is ! *
* Luke xii. 4,5.
Let us each most solemnly inquire, Is THIS GRACIOUS BEING MY FRIEND? Born in a state of alienation from Him, if He have not become my friend, He is still my enemy. There can be no neutrality, no middle ground, no border country; every individual among us is the friend or the enemy of God! And greatly is it to be feared that some of us may still be strangers to Him, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. While the world smiles upon us, and health and prosperity are our portion, like too many around us, we may contrive for a time to shut out every painful reflection, and enjoy a state of delusive happiness, which will only render more bitter those days of sickness, pain, and sorrow, which sooner or later inevitably await us all; and then what human help, what earthly friend will avail us? In the hour of death, in the day of judgment, who but a heavenly friend can save us? -And in the dread scene to which allusion is made in the context, “ when the Lord shall arise to shake terribly the earth,” amidst the ruins of creation, and the confusion of a second chaos, who but the Lord shall help and comfort us ? Let then every heart now submit to his gracious sway. May God give us grace to repent and believe the gospel, and now to touch the sceptre of the Redeemer's love, lest we be crushed with the rod of his power!
* Jer. xvii. 7.
But if indeed we venture to indulge the hope that we have "ceased from man,” and have sought and found the Lord as our friend, then blessed is our portion ! “ He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Of the Lord we may “He is my refuge and my
fortress: my God; in him will I trust. To us also the Lord Jesus
“Henceforth I call you not SERVANTS; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you FRIENDS!”† We are the children of “ Abraham, the friend of God,” and heirs together with him of the grace of life. God adopts us as his dear children, and our hearts respond to Him, saying, “Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of thee.” If this be our happy portion, and the Lord is our friend, let us diligently cultivate this friendship-by prayer, * Psalın xci. 1, 2.
+ John xv. 15.
by meditation, by communion with God, let us seek nearer acquaintance with Him — walking humbly with him—leaning confidently upon His Almighty arm, and resting upon the staff of His never-failing promises. Above all, let us remember that God is a jealous God, and that if our hearts treacherously depart from Him, if we indulge secret iniquity, or the “accursed thing” be found in us, He will depart from us, He will leave us to darkness, sorrow, and desertion, until we return to Him and He renew His covenant with our souls ! May we never
grieve the Holy Spirit of God whereby we are sealed unto the day of redemption !” May we never quench his gracious influences ! but renouncing all other comforters, and rejecting every false confidence, may we be enabled in the strength of the Lord
to walk before him in all his statutes and ordinances blameless,” living as the friends of God should live. And having obtained an interest in promises so great and precious, may God enable us “to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord !”
THE BOW IN THE CLOUD.
Genesis ix. 16.
“ AND THE BOW SHALL BE IN THE CLOUD; AND I WILL LOOK
UPON IT, THAT I MAY REMEMBER THE EVERLASTING COVENANT BETWBEN GOD AND EVERY LIVING CREATURE OF ALL FLESH THAT IS UPON THE EARTH."
Never in the world's history was there a crisis more interesting, nor an occasion more remarkable, than that on which these words were uttered by Almighty God. Two thousand years had rolled away since our sinful parents were driven from the garden of their innocency; during this period it would seem that great proficiency had been made by the antediluvians in the arts and sciences, but greater still in the practice of wickedness : all flesh had corrupted itself before God, and all flesh, save Noah, his family, and the living creatures that were with him in the ark, had been destroyed and swept away by an universal deluge. These having found grace in the sight of the Lord, had been mercifully preserved from