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is true that God hath put all things already | growth of empires-the most diverse vicissitudes under the feet of his Son. It was for this that of human affairs-all are under the control of the he endured the cross, despising the shame; this mediatorial dominion-all are subordinated to is the mighty prize which his toils, and sorrows, the growing glory of Zion. and travails have won. The prediction was, 'the Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.' And these glorious words abundantly prove that the prediction has been accomplished. Therefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.' And for what purpose has the sceptre been given to Jesus? To what end does he wield it? How does he employ the absolute and unlimited authority with which as Mediator King he has thus been invested? O how we rejoice to know that it is singly for the good of his people-for the glory of his redeemed! The apostle, under the guidance of inspiration, declares that he is 'Head over all things to the church.'
And well, well may he be styled its sole Head. He is its Head-because he hath purchased it with his own blood. Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it-that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing."
He is its Head-because it is by his grace alone that every member of it is converted. He came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance—and not till his word is brought home power to the heart can any feel their need of salvation, and flee for refuge to the hope of the gospel.
He is its Head-because he pours down on it continually from heaven the sanctifying influences of his Spirit. It is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send him unto you.' Blessed be Jesus that that promise has never failed! He lives still freely to communicate to all who seek it in faith the free gift of his Spirit—and all on whom it descends are transformed and regenerated-most graciously prepared for the sinless exercises and joys of the habitation whither he has gone before them.
What then shall we say of a church which owns not Jesus as supreme? How shall we characterize a spiritual community which fails to own and confess him before the world as Master and Lord in his own house? It is no church of Christ at all. It is a body without a head. Let us never forget what is written, that his church is 'Christ's body,' the fullness of him that filleth all in all; so that such are the riches of his condescension, that even He who filleth all in all is not complete in his mediatorial character without the preservation and salvation of its members! How thankful ought we to be to God that the church of our fathers has clung to this truth at all hazards; in evil times and prosperous alike; let us pray that she may never be tempted to let it go.
And what more consoling truth can there be to believers than this, that he who rules the church rules the world also―ay, and rules the world in accordance with the designs of his church. The kingdom of providence is now subservient to the kingdom of grace. The rise and fall of kingsthe revolutions of governments-the decline and
Still let me not boast vainly of Christ's Headship, if I have not yielded my own spirit to his sway. Such boasting is vain, as it is impious. O Lord, bow thy heavens, and come down and subdue me unto thyself. I desire to be wholly thine. Casting myself down at the foot of the cross, let my believing cry be, ‘my Lord and my God!' And then, indeed, as the willing subject of Christ's kingdom, by whatever name I am called here, how may I rejoice in the thought that my Redeemer reigneth, yea, reigneth over all as a man. He to whom all power in heaven and earth belongs is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; on the throne of the universe-on the throne of heaven, and earth, and hell—a human heart, the heart of a brother, is beating.
A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom,' Heb. i. 8.
THESE words plainly refer to the Lord Jesus Christ. They are quoted from the xlvth Psalm, which contains one of the most beautiful prophetic descriptions in the whole bible of the grace and glory of Christ's dominion. Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.' And most gracious words they are: the truth which they inculcate is one on which it is most pleasant to meditate. The sovereign whom we serve is indeed King of kings and Lord of lords; but the height of power to which he has been exalted only serves more
world, and reprove with equity for the meek: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.'
Who can help reflecting on the difference between his own people and his enemies under Messiah's sway?
brightly to display that righteousness which is
And how mightily is this calculated to relieve
Blessed be God that the government which by righteousness Jesus hath thus won, in righteousness he conducts and shall conduct to the end. With him there is no respect of persons: under him neither may any fear to find injury, nor hope to escape if they commit it. The widow's cause he delights to plead; he is the stranger's shield and orphan's stay; the humble folk also he forgets not who put their trust in him. But his right hand worketh terrible things to the proud he breaks in pieces the oppressor. This was the prophecy of him of old, The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears, but with righteousness shall he judge the
See the righteous man. Is he subjected to the reproach of the world, falling on evil days and evil tongues? He has his appeal to the King who sits on his holy hill of Zion with justice and judgment as the habitation of his throne, and most surely of the King he will be justified. Is he the prey of persecution and intolerance here? Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right, and vindicate his violated truth hereafter in the face of the universe? Is he called to eat the bitter bread of penury, or to agonize on the bed of pain and languishing, or to weep often by the deathbed and over the graves of those he loves? It is the will-it is the doing of the righteous One-and whatever he orders is or
Ah! but these are the stinging thoughts of the wicked. In the midst of his godless prosperity a still small voice within whispers fearfully that his sin shall yet find him out! Even though his fraud, and treachery, and tyranny, escape unseen and unpunished on earth, he feels that there shall be a retribution beyond. He cannot believe that the denunciations of the Judge will not be executed: he cannot persuade himself that his threatenings are empty sounds, intended merely to frighten the weak and timid. They are the words of Him who cannot lie— whose sceptre is a sceptre of righteousnessand who speaks as he acts. 'Heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one jot or tittle of his word shall perish.' O Lord, I cannot stand before thee in my own righteousness: if thou deal justly with me my portion in eternity shall be misery and despair. Give me grace now to flee for refuge to the hope of the gospel; that in the face of Jesus Christ my Redeemer thou mayest look on me, and in thy truth visit me with thy salvation.
'I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them,' Ezek. xxxvi. 27. THE Lord Jesus, as the Head of his spiritual kingdom, has taken care to provide for the loyalty
of his people. In their natural state he finds the catalogue, 'Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, them rebels and aliens, and he makes them will- gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.' ing in the day of his power: in their natural state O how blessed a thing it is to have the heart right they hate his law and his gospel, and he inclines with God! how happy those who account the their hearts unto his word; by a sweet violence statutes of the King their joy, and his testimonies he constrains them to walk in his statutes, and to their song in the house of their pilgrimage! This keep his judgments, and do them. evening let us all search and see whether the promise of Ezekiel, 'I will put my Spirit within you,' has been realized in our experience. Is our affection to the Saviour cold and weak? is our faith in him a faith merely of the letter? are our services in his sanctuary dull and formal? are our prayers at his footstool, in the family and the closet, few and short and heartless? have we no love to his truth? are we not diligent to keep his judgments and do them? are we barren and unfruitful in good works? O! then, just as surely as if a voice from heaven proclaimed it, we may believe that we have not yet the Spirit of Christ, that we are none of his.
If we sit down with the simplicity of little children to our bibles,-if we search at all into the sins of our hearts and lives, we will all be convinced that we must needs undergo a change of nature ere we can be the true subjects of the King of Zion! This change is so great, so thorough, so pervading, as to be called a 'new creation: it is represented by such strong figures as these, 'passing from darkness into light,' from 'Satan to God,' from 'death to life.' We may not be able to point out to others,- -we may not know ourselves, the precise time at which it began, or the exact manner in which it was effected. There are persons indeed who aver that it is always sudden, always violent, ever accompanied with strange excitements, and strong agitations and throes of the heart and frame. Such persons are presumptuous enough to dictate to the Spirit of God the mode of his operations in the conversion of sinners, which is just as various as the various tempers and habits of sinners. Sometimes conversion is a sudden, sometimes a gradual work: in one it is wrought in a moment, in others it is the slow result of diverse processes that may have been in operation for years; in this man it is begotten of many labours, and travails, and tears; in that man it is calm, and soft, and gentle, as the heart is opened, and love melts and subdues the whole spirit into tenderness. But in all it is a real work, and though we may not specify the day and date of its taking place, we can take two different periods of our life, the present and some one gone past, and by the contrast show that it must have taken place. One thing is certain,' every believer can say with him of old, whom Christ restored to sight, 'one thing is certain, that whereas once I was blind, now I see.'
Now the author and agent of this change is the Holy Spirit, whose gifts Jesus hath purchased for his people. The scriptures tell us that no man can truly call Jesus Christ Lord but by the Spirit, --that if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his. It is his office to convince men of sin; it is his office to guide men to the truth; it is his office to renew men after the image of God, and to prepare them for the sinless exercises and happy society of heaven. There is not a single grace of the Christian life which does not flow from his influences. Would you know his fruits, mark
And yet this is not so, because the Spirit has not done his part with us. At some time or other, to some degree or other, we have all experienced his working. Who can say that the arrows of the Lord have been flying around him for years, and yet that he has escaped utterly untouched? In a Christian land, with the bible in our possession, and a gospel ministry at our doors, if we are yet unbelieving and impenitent, it is just because we have grieved, and vexed, and quenched the Spirit. And yet the Lord is waiting to be gracious. O come and let us petition for an outpouring of God from on high, on our family and our neighbourhood! Blessed be God that the days of revival and refreshing from his presence are not gone by in the land; ever and anon rumours of them are filling our ears, from east, and west, and north, and south. And alas! as we survey the vast fields of spiritual death that are spread around us, who will not give thanks with his whole heart for the gracious visitation? True, there may be extravagance, and fanaticism, and enthusiasm; true, there may be extraordinary excitements and agitations, which, as they pass away, leave men more inveterately ungodly than before.—And such things satan loves. But wherever the Spirit of God is vouchsafed, the invariable and eternal effects are 'goodness, and righteousness, and faith.' Come then, and on our knees let us plead God's own promise of this precious gift to the fervent prayer of faith; if a son shall ask bread of any of you who is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? or if he ask an egg, will he give him a scorpion? if ye then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your
heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that | to leave for ever the 'old familiar faces.' That is ask him?'
'I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: 0 death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction,' Hosea xiii. 14.
WE cannot tell what it is to die. We can follow a man to the very verge of being-but the last step between the two worlds, the final link between time and eternity, is invisible. We trace the ravages of the growing disease-we see the body tossing in agony, the multitude of the bones vexed with strong pain-we mark the gathering paleness, the closing eye, the stiffening features, the shortening, sinking breath-we watch till the spirit hovers on the very lips but none ever returned to tell of the parting struggle which rent the tabernacle of flesh, none ever returned to tell us of the experience of the last feeling, of the very severing of the thread of life. The last enemy must be fought alone-without any earthly companion the gloom of the valley of shadows must be trodden by all; and no one can stand beside the bed of a dying man without witnessing the awful solitariness that sits on his face. Now this is the blessed privilege of believers, that in the situation of all others the most trying to human nature, they lean with perfect confidence on the arm of their Lord. To them death is a covenantmercy, and the grave a quiet place of rest; to them death, in his worst shape, environed with all his terrors, is but the messenger that calls them home to their Father's house.
Let us meditate for a little on some of those circumstances in death, which though most terrible to others, their faith teaches them to over
1. Painful, bitterly painful often is the last struggle with mortality-the earthly tabernacle falling to pieces-the mysterious bond between soul and body breaking. And yet how often have the testimony of a good conscience, and the hope of a better inheritance through the cross of Christ, inspired composure and fortitude amid the worst agonies of the flesh! There are few better appeals to the infidel than the voice from the death-bed, 'See how a Christian can die.'
2. Again, very grievous are the separations which death makes. It is sad to part from scenes we have known long, and objects on which our fondest affections were lavished; it is sad
a fearful text to the worldling: "Thou shalt have no more a portion in any thing that is done under the sun.' Ah! but the Christian knows that he is a pilgrim and a stranger here, and as a pilgrim he lives; all the while his chief treasures are in heaven, and a removal from earth in God's good time he frequently looks forward to as not less good for him than inevitable. It is true that he were a traitor to his nature did he not feel, and feel keenly, as friends and kindred are weeping around him. But though his heart be sad, and tears may flow, he sorrows not as those who have no hope. This is the truth that scatters flowers around his tomb, there is a meeting again in heaven;' and if a fear will sometimes arise within him for the future provision of those whom he is about to leave behind him to the pity of a cold world, it cannot disquiet long. He commends them to his Father in heaven-and sweet, soothing to his soul, beyond ought that thousands of silver and gold can give, are these gracious words, ‘Leave thy fatherless children, I will keep them alive, and let thy widows trust in me.'
3. Again, who can contemplate the gloom which hangs over the tomb of nature, and not weep? See the dust given to the dust; see the turf wrapping the little heap; see the flesh consumed from the bones; see the very bones mouldering away. O the grave, the grave! Is this the end of him whose thoughts wander through eternity? Man dieth and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?' Ah! but from the Star of Bethlehem light has been flung on the tomb of nature, and athwart the dunnest gloom of the valley of shadows. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.' It is desolate, tenantless for ever; and written over it ineffaceably are these glorious words, 'I am the resurrection and the life; if a man believe in me, though he were dead yet shall he live again; he that believeth in me shall never die.'
4. Finally, it is the doubts and fears-it is the apprehensions of wrath and forebodings of judgment which accompany it—that make death most terrible to a man. To enter into the immediate presence of the great God-to appear with all his sins unshriven on his head before the Judge of the quick and the dead; how fearful a thought! See that poor conscience-stricken one, vainly weeping, and vowing, and confessing, and promising; see that weary soul idly casting a look every where for some anchor on which to restpanting hopelessly after any refuge which may shield it, any thing that may quiet it in that awful hour! O! how frightful is death to him who
has no part nor lot in the everlasting covenant! | truth in our behalf-we look to the all-sufficient Ah! but what enemy can intermeddle with the merits and all-prevailing intercession of our Medipeace of him for whom Jesus died, for whom ator-we look to the gospel promises confirmed Jesus is interceding in heaven? As from the to us with an oath for ever-and we are ‘filled foot of the cross he looks to his crucified Re- with peace in believing.' No one may estimate deemer, and thence lifts his eye of faith to mount the value of that peace save they to whom it is Zion, this is the triumphal song he takes up, O given! It is a perpetual feast; it is the joy and death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy sunshine of the soul; it passeth all understandvictory? Thanks be unto God who hath given me ing; the world cannot give it nor take it away; the victory through my Lord Jesus Christ.' My it is heaven upon earth begun. Without this soul, enter not thou into the secrets of those who thousands of silver and gold cannot buy content live and die without the consolations of the gos--all the honours of time piled on the head canpel of the grace of God.
'O may the grave become to me The bed of peaceful rest,
Whence I shall gladly rise at length,
And mingle with the blest! Cheered by this hope, with patient mind I'll wait heaven's high decree, Till the appointed period come,
When death shall set me free.'
not charm disquietude away: with this, in the worst privations of penury, in the face of the world's scorn and the proud man's contumely, on the wasting bed of disease, amid the weariness and pain of dissolution, the believer is happy. With a reconciled Father in heaven, with an interceding Redeemer, with a witnessing Spirit, with an approving conscience, what has he to fear-who can intermeddle with his joy?
Now, satan is ever ready with all his arts to obstruct us in the acquisition of such a blessing as this, because it is utterly subversive of his kingdom. He fills us with doubts and fears
•And the God of peace shall bruise satan under he tries to disturb us with hard thoughts of God, your feet shortly,' Rom. xvi. 20.
ONE of the most beautiful titles of Jesus in the scriptures is the Prince of peace.' And well may he be so styled. At his birth the herald angels sang,Peace on earth, good-will to men;' his ministers are ambassadors of peace; his gospel is a message of peace;' he makes peace through the blood of his cross;' himself is the 'peace' of the believer.
Let us consider the way in which this blessing is secured, and of what value it is.
Naturally we are enemies to God, fearing him, hating him—and, as enemies, he cannot suffer us to live in quiet, 'There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.' But there is reconciliation with God through his Son! By grace he draws us nigh to him in the name of Jesus;-he shows us the suitableness of the gospel salvation to our case as guilty and polluted sinners, and enables us with our whole heart to accept it;and then he enters into a covenant with us, saying, I will be no more wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee;'-being justified by faith we have peace with God. And to peace with God succeeds peace of conscience. Who shall lay any thing to our charge? The demands of the law are satisfied in our stead—and the Judge is wellpleased. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again. We look to divine mercy leagued with divine
and miserable forebodings of guilt-he tempts us at times into dejection, and despondency, and despair. But our consolation is, that through Christ Jesus, though he be our enemy, he is a conquered enemy. He cannot hurt us if we adhere stedfastly to our Saviour, and fail not to implore the constant supply of his grace to direct and strengthen us in the evil hour. Faith and prayer are the weapons of proof which he cannot stand. And yet strive as we may, we must not expect in this life to be complete victors: not till death call us hence, will he be bruised utterly under our feet. As long as we carry about with us a body of sin in an evil world, we have to wage a keen and continual warfare with the great enemy of souls; and the calm we do enjoy is but an armed truce' maintained with the sword in our hands. Ah! but there is nothing to hurt or destroy in all that holy mountain whither death leads the weary pilgrim of faith; the arrows of the tempter cannot reach him there. "O that I had wings like a dove-for then would I flee away and be at rest.'
There is another truth which very naturally suggests itself in connection with such reflections as these. All they who have found peace with God in Christ delight to live in peace with one another: brotherly communion is one of the tests of their discipleship. And why should not all be united together in heart and spirit as well as in name?