Imágenes de páginas

so unto them that look for him shall he ap-
pear the second time without sin unto salvation.'
'Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast,
unmovable, always abounding in the work of
the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour
is not in vain in the Lord.'


a house of merchandise, and a den of thieves; they love, and long for, and haste unto; for as and when, by making it the scene of his per-Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, sonal ministrations, he would cause the glory of the second temple to exceed that of the first. The event of Messiah's appearance was not only expected by the people of Israel, but desired and longed for. They understood not his true character, and grossly misapprehended the design of his coming. Predictions and promises, which held forth to them the prospect of a spiritual redemption, were so misinterpreted by them as to engender the hope of a temporal deliverance. A few there were among them, who, like Anna and Simeon, escaped the delusion which proved fatal to the great body of their countrymen, and with an enlightened and well-founded confidence 'waited for the Consolation of Israel.' But all of them looked forward to his appearance as an object of ardent and delightful anticipation; and therefore to all of them the prophet could truly say, 'The Lord whom ye seek shall come, even the Messenger of the covenant whom ye delight in.'

'No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him,' John i. 18.

GOD is to be seen in his works; for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.' The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy-work. The earth is full of his riches. He may be seen in the operations of his providence; for what is providence but God manifesting his perfections in the preservation and government of the crea

in his word, which reveals to us his being and attributes, his purposes and will. Every man, therefore, who looks with attention and understanding into the world of nature, or the arrangement of providence, or the record of scripture. may be said to have seen God.

This intimation, which assured them of the speedy fulfilment of their hopes, loudly called them to the work of preparation. The design was to awaken serious concern, to enforce self-tures he has made? Above all he may be seen examination, to excite repentance, to induce humility, watchfulness, and prayer. The prospect of Christ's coming had in it much that was fitted to console and animate, but it had in it much also that calculated to rouse and alarm them. For he was to be to them as a refiner and purifier of silver; having his fan in his hand In the early ages of the world God was pleased that he might thoroughly purge his floor, and to discover himself in a visible manner to his sergather his wheat into the garner, but the chaff vants and people. He appeared to Adam imhe would burn with unquenchable fire.' Know-mediately after the fall, and to Noah after the ing the terrors of the Lord, the prophet warned flood. He was seen by Moses and Manoah, by them of their danger, and anticipated the Bap- Samuel and David, by Elijah and Daniel. The tist's message, 'Repent, for the kingdom of people of Israel saw him in the cloud of glory which heaven is at hand.' hung occasionally over the tabernacle, and which All that is here predicted of the first coming rested permanently on the mercy-seat. But he of Christ, may with truth be affirmed of his was seen only in his attributes and actings. His second advent. His second coming, like his essence is spiritual, and, therefore, invisible. In first, will be personal and visible; for he 'shall this sense no man hath seen God at any time, nor come in the clouds of heaven, with his own and can see him. And how little was seen of God his Father's glory, and every eye shall see him.' amidst the shadows of the Old Testament revelaIt will be sudden and unexpected; for the day tion. Even Moses, unto whom 'the Lord spake of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, and face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend,' at such an hour as ye think not the Son of man desired a fuller manifestation of the divine charcometh.' It will be full of terror to his enemies; acter, and prayed, "Shew me thy glory.' But the for he will try every man's work, and render privilege which was denied to him has been conunto every man according to his work, indigna-ferred on us: for 'God who commanded the light tion and wrath, tribulation and anguish to every to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our soul of man that doeth evil.' But to his own hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the people it will be the day of redemption which glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.'

[ocr errors]

All that mankind have ever seen of God was unfolded to them through the mediation of the Son; for 'no man knoweth the Father, but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.' He is in the bosom of the Father,' a partner in his counsels, perfectly conversant with all the movements of the divine mind; and he came forth from the Father to declare that which the world by its wisdom did not know, and never could have known concerning God. Having fulfilled his commission he could say, 'I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou givest me out of the world.' This he did in—

The constitution of his person. By uniting the human with his divine nature, he embodied the Godhead, and made it not only visible to our contemplation, but in some degree level to our comprehension. In the Man Christ Jesus we are brought into immediate contact with the divine presence, and we behold a distinct and intelligible exhibition of all that is peculiar in the divine character. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?' He declared the character of God in

The doctrine which he taught. He exposed the errors of heathenism by declaring the unity of God, the spirituality of his nature, and the unlimited extent of his dominion. At the same time he corrected the prejudices of the Jews by inculcating the truth that God is not the God of any one people exclusively, and that Jerusalem is not the only place where men ought to worship, but that of every nation and in every place, 'he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with him.' He spake of God, of his names and attributes, of his prerogatives and purposes, with the freedom, and fullness, and familiarity of one who had a perfect knowledge of the subject. He taught the way of God truly.'

He declared God by

The redemption which he accomplished. What is the cross of Christ but an illustration of the perfections of God, of his absolute sovereignty, his inflexible justice, his immaculate holiness, his unfathomable wisdom, his everlasting love; of all that is great and gracious, or awful and amiable in his character? Attributes seemingly inconsistent with each other are there made to appear in perfect harmony. We see God to be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus, manifesting at once his hatred to sin, and his love to the sinner, strict to mark iniquity, yet merciful

to pardon it; righteous in executing his law, yet gracious in passing by the transgression of the remnant of his people, because he delighteth in mercy.

[ocr errors]

'Blessed are our eyes for they see.' We see God made clearly manifest not only to our understandings, but even to our bodily senses. The Lord said to Moses, Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me and live.' The view of God's unvailed glory would be too bright and dazzling for our feeble faculties. But in the face of Christ it is softened down, and brought nigh, and presented in a form which we can safely approach, and intimately contemplate, and profitably study. The Saviour has conferred upon us other and, in some respects, more important benefits. But in estimating his claims to our gratitude it is ever to be remembered that all the knowledge of God which we have or can attain to comes to us through Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. They only who know Christ can be truly said to have seen God.

The pure in heart alone shall see God. He that ascends into the hill of the Lord, or stands in his holy place, must have both clean hands and a pure heart; for 'what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, or what communion hath light with darkness?' To see God is not so much the act of a mind enlightened by his word, as it is the exercise of a heart renewed by his grace. And as moral purity is the necessary qualification for seeing God, so it will be the invariable effect. 'But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.'

After all, how little can we see of God in our present state of imperfection and sinfulness. Here we see darkly as through a glass. It doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he who is our Life shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Who can conceive the blessedness of seeing God face to face, of beholding his beauty, and of being satisfied with his likeness? O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee; my soul thirsteth for thee; my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land where no water is. To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.'


'For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life,' 2 Cor. ii. 15, 16.

'A SWEET savour' is that which gratifies the senses, such as the taste of some delicious fruit, or the fragrance of a rich perfume. The expression is used by the sacred writers chiefly in connection with the offering of sacrifice. To intimate the divine acceptance of Noah's sacrifice we are told that the Lord smelled a sweet savour.' The offerings required by the Jewish law were presented for 'a sweet savour unto the Lord.' These were merely the shadows of good things to come, but the body is Christ, who also 'gave himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.' The labours of his servants in the ministry of the gospel cause to ascend to the throne of God the incense of a precious and acceptable offering, promoting, as they do, the honour of his name, and the advancement of his kingdom; therefore, Paul speaking for himself and his Christian brethren could say, 'We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ in them that are saved, and in them that perish.'

All existing diversities of character belong to one or other of the two classes which are here contrasted, and may be identified either with them that are saved, or with them that perish. The former of these classes may be comparatively few, but absolutely they will be a multitude whom no man can number. Nor are they confined to any one sect or party in the church, but include all of every sect and party who have been renewed in the spirit of their minds, and who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. But all have not faith. The apostle, in making mention of them that perish,' speaks not of heathens, nor of such as never heard of Christ, but of those to whom the gospel has been preached, and by whom it has been professedly embraced. It is a mournful yet undeniable fact that a large proportion of those who have access to the means of grace, instead of improving them for their salvation, abuse them to their own destruction. If from the If from the professing friends of the gospel we could deduct the ignorant who do not understand it, and the lukewarm who are indifferent about it, and the sceptical who secretly disbelieve it, and the hypocritical who selfishly pervert it, and the profane who openly trample upon it, and the licentious who daringly abuse it; if, in short, we could separate from those who bear the name of Chris

tians all who are Christians only in name, what a distressing minority would be left behind!

The same instrumentality which proves effectual in saving some is not merely unproductive of good to others, but will be to them the occasion of a heavier condemnation. In itself the gospel is calculated in every instance to become Such is its designed 'the savour of life unto life.' upon all effect, and such too is its actual effect who believe and obey it. But it does not produce this effect mechanically or necessarily. Every thing depends, under divine influence, upon the manner in which it has been received. The wilfully ignorant, the unbelieving, and impenitent; who reject the counsel against themselves, cannot be saved. And they perish not only without excuse, but under a fearful aggravation of guilt. They have incurred the penalty not only of disobedience to the law, but also the heavier penalty of disbelieving the gospel. By holding the truth in unrighteousness they pervert the word of life into an instrument of death. They extract poison from the flower which was intended to yield only honey. Instead of being renewed and sanctified by the truths, and precepts, and ordinances of the gospel, they become, through a presumptuous and thoughtless familiarity with these, more hardened in sin, more alienated from God, and tenfold more the consequence, children of hell than before; and in that which was appointed to be the savour of life unto life,' is to them 'the savour of death unto death.'

But God will be glorified both in them that His infinite are saved and in them that perish. holiness, justice, and truth will be manifested in the one; his sovereign compassion, wisdom, and love will be displayed in the other. He delighteth in mercy, and hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked, yet they shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of power. And the Lord, and from the glory of his his procedure will be triumphantly vindicated, and his character supremely honoured in the estimation of an intelligent universe, who will confess that in this, as in every thing else, the Judge of all the earth has done that which is right.

The labours of his faithful servants may fail to be useful to men, but they cannot fail to be acceptable to God; for we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ.' He is not indifferent to the success of his own word. He commandeth all men every where to repent, and willeth that all should come to the knowledge of the truth, that they may be saved. Sinners may turn a deaf ear

to his call, but they cannot deprive him of his | He sustains also the character of a reprover: for glory. His servants may spend their strength 'he will reprove the world of sin.' By reproving or for nought and in vain, but they shall in no wise convincing of sin, he produces feelings of alarm, lose their reward. They are accountable for the and grief, and self-condemnation in the soul. But want of fidelity, but not for the want of success. having wounded, he also heals. He gives 'the Those for whose salvation they labour may derive oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise no benefit from their exertions; but having acted for a spirit of heaviness.' His gracious influences their part honestly and faithfully they shall de- are equally effectual in removing the anguish of liver their own souls, and receive at last the spiritual distress, and alleviating the pain of temapproving welcome of Him who is not unrighte- poral affliction. To mourners of every descripous to forget their work of faith, and their labour tion he says, As one whom his mother comof love, 'Well done, good and faithful servant, forteth, so will I comfort you.' He fulfils also enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.' the office of

He has provided for our work, as well as for our reward. We serve a liberal Master, who is both our righteousness and strength. Let us honour him by our simple dependence on his word, on our cheerful submission to his will. < For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.'


'But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he will testify of me,' John xv. 26.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

An Instructor. The disciples were in distress, and needed the ministrations of the Comforter. But much of their anxiety proceeded from ignorance; and therefore the Comforter was promised to them in the appropriate character of the Spirit of truth.' Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come.' On the day of Pentecost they obtained the expected Comforter in the descent of the Holy Ghost, who called them out of darkness into his marvellous light, and imparted to them all necessary gifts and attainments for the arduous work to which they had been set apart. Their experience was peculiar and miraculous; but the dispensation of the Spirit which began with them was designed to be perpetual: and the subject matter of the Spirit's teaching is to us what it was to them. It is He of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, and the King of Israel.' 'He shall testify of me,' said Christ to his disciples; and again, ‘He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.'

We learn from these words what the Holy Ghost is both in nature and in office. The language here employed by our Lord obviously describes, not a mere influence, but a distinct and divine person. In this sense the disciples unquestionably understood it. They often had occasion to allude to the character of the Spirit; and in all that they either said or wrote on the subject, the idea of his personality is clearly expressed or imBut there is a difference in the manner of the plied. Personal feelings and actions are uni- Spirit's testimony. To the primitive disciples it formly ascribed to him. It was their practice was communicated by immediate and supernatural to consult the mind of the Spirit, and their pri- inspiration. We have a permanent record of it vilege to receive communications from him. in the holy scriptures, which were given by inThus the Holy Ghost said, 'Separate me Bar-spiration of God, and in every part of which the nabas and Saul;' we read of their having been 'forbidden of the Holy Ghost.' They inform us that the Spirit searcheth all things;' that he 'beareth witness; they admonish us not to 'grieve the Holy Spirit,' with many other expressions of similar import, all attributing to the Spirit the character and properties of a distinct personal subsistence.

But it is chiefly in his official capacity that the Spirit is here presented to our contemplation. He is by name and by office 'the Comforter.'

Spirit testifies of Christ-of his personal glory and mediatorial abasement, of his justifying righteousness and atoning blood, of his perfect character and plenteous redemption. These are the things of the Spirit of God,' which the natural man receiveth not, and knoweth not, for they are spiritually discerned. But God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now

we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things which are freely given to us of God.'

We have, therefore, not only the external testimony of the Spirit which speaks to us, but also the internal testimony of the Spirit which speaks in us. In the one case, the Spirit testifies of Christ as revealed in the scriptures; in the other, the Spirit testifies of Christ as formed in the heart by the working of that mighty power which raised him from the dead: for the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.'

The wisest of men are liable to err, as the best of men are prone to sin; but the teaching of the Spirit is both infallible and efficacious. It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps; but He is wise in counsel, and leadeth the blind by a way that they knew not, and which is the right way that will bring them to a city of habitation. 'As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.'


expect that God would interpose in his behalf, as he had graciously promised to do, and as he had done on many former occasions. He, therefore, prayed not only for the 'light' of God, but also for his 'truth' or faithfulness in the fulfilment of those promises upon which he had been encouraged to hope.

The situation of David was peculiar, but the feelings which it awakened are common to all the children of God, and the petition which it called forth will be found equally applicable to every variety of spiritual distress. The terms 'light and truth' fitly represent the illuminating and comforting influence of the Holy Spirit. He is the Spirit of truth, whose entrance gives light, and produces a joy that is unspeakable and full of glory.'

In offering this prayer we do not ask from God any new revelation of his will. We have no warrant to expect the light and truth of immediate and supernatural inspiration. But we ask from him the right and profitable understanding of that revelation which he has already granted, and which is perfectly sufficient for all the purposes both of holiness and comfort. Nothing is to be expected in answer to such a prayer without the use of ordinary means; but these means can be effectual only when they are accompanied with the demonstration of the Spirit, and with power. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can

'O send out thy light and thy truth,' Psal. xliii. he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.'


THIS psalm contains the record of David's feelings on an occasion of very trying emergency. In consequence of Absalom's rebellion he had been driven from Jerusalem, and subjected to many sad reverses. But there was one privation which he felt and lamented above every other. He expressed no concern about the recovery of his royal honours and prerogatives; but his heart was ready to faint within him when he remembered Zion, and the courts of God's house, now no longer accessible to him. His affections still lingered in the sanctuary, and he poured forth his desire in these emphatic words, 'O send out thy light and thy truth; let them lead me, and bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.'

Doubtless the psalmist uttered this prayer with a special reference to the circumstances of his own condition. Light may be understood to express the joy which springs from a manifestation of the divine favour. Never did David stand more in need of it than now when his soul was bowed down with grief, and filled with disquietude and alarm. Yet there was good reason to

That knowledge by which the soul is savingly converted unto God must, therefore, be the effect of divine illumination, opening at once the eyes of the understanding and the door of the heart, turning it from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God. And the same divine influence which begins the good work of grace in the soul, is needful to carry it forward, and bring it to perfection. Not only in the commencement of the spiritual life, therefore, but in every subsequent stage of its progress, even under the most favourable circumstances, and with the most matured attainments, the believer has occasion to adopt the prayer, 'O send out thy light and thy truth.'

There are, in the experience of every child of God, particular situations which more especially call forth this devout aspiration. When the mind is harassed with difficulties relative to the truths of revelation, arising from inability to understand them, and to reconcile them with each other, or with the perfections of God, or the demands of his law, or the dispensations of his providence; when cases of perplexing doubt

« AnteriorContinuar »