« AnteriorContinuar »
man, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night.' By this use of watching, we are constantly reminded of the necessity of counting our days, so that they may not pass unobserved, or unimproved. Secondly, Watching is applied to the looking out for coming events of any kind. This is likewise exemplified by Isaiah in these words; 'Thus saith the Lord, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth-and he hearkened diligently with much heed.' This watching includes the great duty of observing the ways of providence, and the signs of the times in which God has cast our lot. Thirdly, Watching is applied to the guardianship of property, as when our Lord declares, 'if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Fourthly, Watching is applied to guarding a place against enemies. Thus Nehemiah, when endangered, prayed to God, and set a watch against them,' and thus the Lord says, by Isaiah, to his lately desolate and forsaken, but now restored and protected church, 'I have set a watch on thy walls, O Jerusalem.'
From these, which are the chief views of watching, we are forcibly reminded of the following circumstances.
1. Of our constant liability either actually to forget, or live as if we did forget, the progress of time, the decay of youth, the advance of age, the nearness of death, and the certainty of judgment. How few feel that they are growing old, even when gray hairs appear! How frequently does even sickness fail to arouse to a sense of mortality! How needful, therefore, to watch our days, as we watch a time-keeper, to recollect how many are gone, and think of how few are to
2. By our Lord's call to watching, we are reminded of our constant danger of becoming absorbed in the affairs of time, to the sad neglect of eternity.
3. By the call to watching, we are reminded of the invaluable treasure of which God has appointed us stewards, and of the awful terms of responsibility upon which our trust is held. This treasure is not merely our own souls, but frequently the souls of others, for whom we watch, as they who must give account.
4. We are, finally, reminded that we watch in a state of warfare, surrounded by enemies.-The world with its pomps, vanities, and allurements; the flesh with all its weaknesses; the devil with all his wiles-so that not even one moment's relaxation can be permitted from our vigilance;
'seeing our adversary goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.'
But, while watchfulness suggests a wakeful sense of accountability-the call to prayer reminds us of our constant dependence. Prayer without watchfulness, is to ask of God what we judge not worth the keeping; watchfulness without prayer is to attempt to keep the treasure we have never actually received. For ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you,' are the precious promises upon which alone we can rely for preserving what we possess, or obtaining what yet we require. Whatever is the object of watchfulness should, therefore, immediately become the subject of prayer.
Prayer is the heart making report of its watchfulness to God, and offering therein all its desires for things agreeable to his will. But the main object, both of watchfulness and prayer, is to escape entering into temptation. To this preservation watchfulness and prayer contribute in two ways. First, as the means of obtaining, through grace, the counsel, protection, guidance, or deliverance of God; and, secondly, as the instrumental means of keeping us from evil. The man who is watching against sin, is, by the very temper of watchfulness, rendered unacceptable to sinners, so that they entice him not; while the man who prays without ceasing, is, by that very prayerfulness, so occupied with higher things as to be habitually rendered insensible to the lower things of the earth.
If we then be risen with Christ, let us seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Let us set our affection on things above, not on things upon the earth; for what is a man profited, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what would a man give in exchange for his soul?
How strange that Christ should be in an agony in the garden, while his disciples have ceased to watch; how much stranger, if he be interceding in heaven, and his disciples have ceased to pray. Let us watch without sleeping; let us pray without ceasing.
'So he drove out the man,' Gen. iii. 24. WHEN the earth arose from the hand of God in all the freshness and beauty of creation, he chose out a special residence for man, and 'planted a
garden eastward in Eden, and out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden, to dress it, and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.'
Thus amply endowed with all that was good for use, and fair to look upon-thus strictly cominanded, and thus solemnly warned,-man stood without any excuse, when he coveted the sole royalty that God had reserved, and violated the sole command to which obedience was enjoined. Hitherto God had appeared to man merely as a gracious Benefactor, now he appears as an offended Judge. Hitherto he had spoken in the sweetness of blessing, now he speaks in the bitterness of the curse. The innocent creature he had 'put into the garden,' the guilty creature he now drives
Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God. On them who fell, severity.' But in a God of mercy, why this severity? Because the God of mercy is also a God of truth. God had given a reasonable command, enforced by a reasonable penalty, and the truth of God must be kept. Yea, let God be true, and every man a liar. Were one jot or tittle of God's word to fail, God would cease to be a competent or righteous Judge. He would cease to be competent for if he gave a law that required not to be enforced, the enactment of such a law proved his unfitness to legislate. He would also cease to be righteous for if he enforced not his law, he violated his word—and thus ceasing to be a righteous law to himself, must thereby cease to be a righteous Judge for others. The word of the Lord, therefore, cannot be broken; but sin must be followed by a correspondent punishment.
The punishment inflicted upon our first parents implies deep displeasure against sin. The Lord God did not simply 'send' them away. He 'drove' them out from the garden. Had he merely commanded them to go, there had been no reasonable expectation of obedience-for they who had disobeyed when innocent, would much more disobey when guilty. Had he merely commanded them to go-they who had so readily invented excuses for one sin, would no less readily have defended another. They would still have lingered around their earliest home, and hid
themselves again beneath the trees of the garden. And had God permitted this, they would soon have concluded him to be such an one as themselves—indeed, had he permitted this, he would have been such as themselves. They had believed a lie-God would have told an untruth. They had practised sin-God had not punished it— and between the culprit who sins, and the judge who neglects to punish, the sole difference lies in rank; there is none in disposition or character. The one is a culprit, because he breaks a law— the other, because he does not enforce it. The act of God in 'driving' out our first parents, is, therefore, a practical revelation of that 'indignation and wrath' with which he regards every sina revelation, not merely necessary for the exhibition of his own character, but equally necessary for man, who must see, before he can fly from, the terrors of the wrath to come.'
Our first parents did not attempt to deny their sin-they merely attempted to excuse it; the woman charged her guilt upon the serpent, the man referred his to the woman-both pleading temptation, not merely as the cause, but also as the defence of their rebellion.
And so do sinners still continue to plead, not with, but against God. Some sinners allege, in their excuse or defence, the peculiarity of their natural temper. On this ground, for example, some either palliate or deny the guilt of sudden anger with all its unseemly accompaniments and lamentable consequences. Others allege the power of natural appetite, or of acquired habit; while habit is again traced to the society and circumstances by which they were surrounded, inveigled, or betrayed. In a word, any plea, but that of guilty,' will the sinner put in before God; or, if forced to this at last, even still some allegation of the littleness of the sin, and of the greatness of the temptation, will be found on the lip or in the heart, in order to diminish the guilt, or to mitigate the sentence. Now, because, in reality, all this is but to transfer the sin back to God—and, in some way or other, to lay it at his door, it became absolutely necessary that God should not only exhibit the full detail of the curse, but that he should deprive the sinner of the scene of blessedness with which he had been originally endowed; that sin and misery thus meeting together, in the memory of past joys, and the pressure of present sorrows, might become as medicines in the hand of the great Physician, for working out, in mercy, the sinner's final cure; that the miserable exile might desire a better country; the unhappy outcast a father's home.
But is not this 'driving' out of the man from
Eden, the sad and terrible emblem of the final | merciful Saviour! Come unto me, all ye that sentence against impenitent souls, to whom the labour and are heavy laden.' Toil-worn with your Judge, on the throne of his glory, shall say, 'De- work, down-borne by your burden, 'Come unto part from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire?' me'-but not that I may task you more heavily, Here sin and misery are in temporal, there in as Pharaoh did Israel when he sought for liberty— eternal union! But miserable sinners though but come unto me, and I will give you rest.' we be, while here our state is never hopeless. And learn of me,' it is added, for I am meek Here the cherub guard is not only withdrawn and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest to your from the tree of life, but Jesus says, 'Look souls.' unto me, and be ye saved.' And because we were under the curse, he himself became a curse for us; and because we were in sin, he himself bare our sins in his own body on the tree;' and because we were in misery, he bare our griefs, and carried our sorrows;' and because we were exiles and outcasts without rest from our profitless toils, Jesus therefore said, and says, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'
Let us then contemplate, first, the characters invited-all that labour and are heavy laden.' Since sin entered into the world, labour has been the lot of man. 'And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it— cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee-and in the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread.' The earth, cursed in one place with ob
Let us then flee to the refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before us! Once were we, in Adam, expelled from Eden; now are we, in Jesus, in-stinate barrenness, in another with perverse provited, entreated to return. Let us linger no more let us doubt no more. He who was and is just to punish-was and is also mighty and merciful to save. He who righteously drove out the man,' is the same who, in grace, restores him to glory.
'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,' Mat. xi. 28. SOME parts of scripture seem specially intended either for particular characters, or special circumstances. Thus the 'twenty-third' has been called 'the child's psalm'-and certainly from the lips, as it were, of babes and sucklings,' it has been more frequently heard than any other. Thus the 'hundred and third' has also been denominated, 'the sick man's psalm,'-and how often, 'in the valley of the shadow of death,' it has been a lamp to his feet, and a light to his paths,' every one can tell, whom office, duty, or sympathy, has called to visit the bed of affliction, or the house of mourning. But, perhaps, even beyond all these and similar blessed portions, the words upon which our meditation turns, have been employed to give light in darkness, comfort in sorrow, strength in weakness, and even hope in despair. What surpassing beauty, what attractive emphasis in every word! Come!' O! why is it not 'Go?' Why not depart' from me? 'Come unto me!' To Jesus! The incarnate God, the mighty, the
ductiveness, yields only to labour; nor does winter in its cold, or summer in its warmth, afford any interval of relaxation from continuous toil. And all this labour of man is for the mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.' But how greatly is this labour increased, when we contemplate the various arts that man must cultivate, the complicated manufactures in which he must engage, in order to provide the necessaries, conveniencies, or comforts of his short and weary life! And how much greater still becomes human labour, when the body almost comes to rest, and the mind, either from choice, habit, or compulsion of circumstances, becomes the labourer in the field of thought. The contemplative investigator of truth alone can tell how true are the words of Solomon when he said- Much study is a weariness to the flesh.'
But how often is this mental and bodily labour most grievously increased by disastrous disappointments in all our studies, purposes, and plans! How much heavier grows our burden still when we consider those sad bereavements of dear and beloved ones whom we expected to aid in our toils, to share in our successes, to divide our sorrows, or to double our joys! And how grievous becomes our labour, how intolerable our burden, when debilitated by sickness, or tormented with pain!-when 'wearisome nights are appointed to us, and tossings to and fro to the dawn of the day'-when in the morning we say, Would God it were even! and at even, Would God it were morning!'
But the most grievous labour and burden of
our state ever arise from the power of temptation, sake his way, and the unrighteous man his and the consciousness of sin. The spirit of a thoughts, and return unto the Lord, and he will man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he spirit who can bear?' This wound of the spirit will abundantly pardon.' sin alone can inflict, the conscience alone can feel. This burden alone is intolerable, for every other may be shaken off, or borne up-but sin unremoved must sink the soul into eternal misery.
Now through the din of all this toil, the vexation of all these disappointments, the tears of all those bereavements, the sufferings of all this sickness, and the darkness and guiltiness of all this sin-there comes a sweet voice of invitation and promise-Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' This blessed rest has its commencement in the heart. Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.' The peace of God, that passeth all understanding, keeps our hearts and mind.' In that peace, on earth—the peace of a 'conscience sprinkled from dead works'—the soul reposes as Lazarus, in glory, upon the bosom of Abraham. This peace, this rest in the conscience—the real seat of all human joy or woe-immediately pervades and subdues the affections, while it sets them upon things above'-removes them from things upon the earth,' and diffuses over them the sunshine and the calm of the upper world, of which the renewing Spirit of God is the specimen and the earnest. Then flee away all the terrors of the fiery law, and the rest of victory succeeds to the toils of the conflict. For the wages of sin is death, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.' Then is subdued and laid prostrate all the power of sin. For when the law sin's strength-is deprived of its terrors-when we pass from under the ban of the law, and come under the protection of grace-then cannot sin any more reign in our mortal bodies that we should obey it in the lusts thereof;' but grace reigns through righteousness, unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.' And then enter we into our temporal rest-temporal as to its duration, spiritual as to its nature-and then receive we 'the earnest of the inheritance, even of the rest that remaineth for the people of God.'
Come, then, all ye that labour and are heavy laden. You feel your burden-you deplore the galling yoke of the world and of sin—you purpose, one day, to come to Jesus, because you can elsewhere find no rest. O! come!-come!-come now. Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him, while he is near; let the wicked for
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,' Rom. v. 12. THAT sin is in the world no one can deny, unless those self-blinded souls who altogether deny its existence. That some men, however, should thus deny the existence of sin, by denying any real and essential distinction between good and evil is nothing more than a proof of what is often found-even that mental aberration upon one point may, in many cases, be accompanied with great powers of discernment and reasoning upon every other. That those who deny the existence of sin are in reality subject to mental alienation, can be easily proved; for let their feelings be outraged, and their influence undermined; let their name be calumniated, or their property abstracted
and then see whether they do not discover the difference between right and wrong, when it ceases to be a point of mere verbal disquisition, and is felt as a matter coming home to their lives and bosoms.' In a word, it is vain to deny that there is sin in the world. Idolatry, impiety, contempt of ordinances, disobedience to parents, oppression, cruelty, murder, licentiousness, fraud, cunning, deceit, robbery, lying, and covetousness, are every day assuming a thousand forms both in public and in private life; and though some of these forms some men may excuse, yet others of them every man is daily found to condemn.
Thus into a world created by a God holy, beneficent, just, and omnipotent-we find, beyond all controversy, that sin has obtained an entrance. But how? The scriptures cut short all farther inquiry as utterly unnecessary to the purposes of man, and plainly declare, that by one man sin entered into the world,' and that by one man's disobedience many were made sinners.'
may find it important or necessary to investigate | len from his original righteousness. The history, its origin, in order to its cure; but if he find the the mode, and the manner of that fall, the scrippatient in extreme danger, and sees not a mo- tures alone supply. ment to be lost, he will postpone his researches into the origin of the disease, and employ all his energies to palliate or remove the urgent and most dangerous symptoms.
And so is it with sin in ourselves and others. Sin appears in all. The symptoms are apparent and dangerous; every one an emblem and a forerunner of death. Till the most urgent symptoms are removed, we have no time for inquiring into their deeper origin; and when they are removed, we are contented to learn what the scriptures discover, that by one man sin entered into the world.'
That Adam stood not as an individual, but as a federal head, is obvious; for as he received the blessing of multiplying, and the command of obedience, and the threatening of disobedience, at
Of the evil of sin, the only natural expositors are disease, pain, and death. What they are to the body, sin is to the soul. They destroy its comfort, they disfigure its symmetry, they waste its beauty, they undermine its strength, they torment it with pain, and they deliver it over as a hopeless prisoner to corruption and to worms. There is this only difference-the death of the body is complete the death of the soul is with the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched.
Help, Lord, else we perish!'
all be made alive,' 1 Cor. xv. 22.
THERE are two Adams mentioned in scripturethe first and the second. The first man (or Adam) is of the earth, earthy; the second man (or Adam) is the Lord from heaven. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly.'
one and the same time, his obedience or dis-For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall obedience applied, therefore, to all his posterity. And this fact we see every day illustrated in the occurrences of this life. If a father have an estate, his improvements and his additions descend to his heirs. If he squander or lose his estate, the effects of his folly, or his misfortunes, in like manner descend. Besides, since by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin,' we perceive, by simply reversing the order, that where there is death, there must have been previous sin. But we see death in children, therefore there must be sin in children. But, in cases of children dying in early infancy, it cannot have been actual transgression; it must, therefore, be that sin of the whole race which we inherit as the bitter fruit of Adam's first offence.
Now that all men naturally inherit sinful dispositions, is obvious to the eye of every man that examines the world around him. The proof lies in the fact, that in all men, without exception, as soon as action begins, sin begins. But this disposition could not have been the original condition of man. This is proved by reason as well as asserted in scripture. Reason absolutely proves it thus. We find men prone to sinful actions. We find them so prone from youth, from the very dawn of reason. But proneness to sinful actions, cannot arise from any other than sinful dispositions; in point of fact, such proneness is sinful dispositions. Now that God could not have created man so, is obvious for if he create a being with sinful dispositions, he, as the author of these dispositions, is the author of sin, which is absurd and blasphemous. Man must, therefore, have been created holy; and man must have fal
Now, the first Adam was the federal head of all his posterity, and in him all his posterity die. The second Adam was also the federal head of all his posterity, and in him all his posterity live.
Our great concern is, therefore, to ascertain what the scriptures mean by being in Christ,' for upon that being in him,' depends our spiritual resurrection and eternal life. Our Saviour, in the fifteenth chapter of John, explains what is meant by being in Christ,' by the union between a vine and its branches. 'I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.' Paul expounds the same union by a variety of emblems, but by none more specially than by that of the body and members. Hence he says of Christ and believers, 'Ye are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.'
Now, is this dwelling of believers in Christ,