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and darkens thy brightest worldly prospects, and involves thee in worldly misfortunes. But still amidst the warnings of disease, and the heartrending visits of death to thy dwelling, and the crash of thy fortunes, and the gloominess of thy prospects, and the desolation that hath come round thy spirit, the voice of thy Saviour standing and knocking at the door of thy heart, may be heard saying, Come unto me, all ye who labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' In emphatically stamping vanity on the things to which thou art clinging as thy chief happiness, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, he is but loudly knocking at the door of thy heart, to gain thy attention to himself, that he may communicate satisfying happiness to thee. Nor does he rest satisfied with knocking thus by his providences. By his word and his Spirit he knocks, earnestly pleading to be admitted. The invitations of the gospel have been addressed to thee, its gracious faithful promises stated, its warnings given, its threatenings denounced. The Spirit hath knocked with a hand of persuasion, or a hand of power.
or the vain amusements of life, or the indulgence of sinful passions, these have obtained possession of many hearts, and therefore does the glorious Redeemer solicit entrance in vain. O shame, shame to rational creatures! Shall pleasures which perish in the using be preferred before delights of eternal duration? Shall foul damning lusts find welcome entrance, and the Son of God be excluded? Shall labours and pursuits, bounded, at the best, by the short and uncertain period of our mortal lives, engross our whole attention, whilst the voice of Jesus soliciting us with promises of many and delightful never-ending blessings is disregarded? Is there not cause for deep humiliation on account of the folly, the absurdity, the sinfulness of such conduct?
If any man hear my voice, and open the door. Perhaps thou hast kept Jesus Christ long standing without. Perhaps his knocking has been very loud and affecting. But what then? His patience is not yet exhausted; he knocks still; witness what thou art now reading. There is no reason to despair: there is no cause to fear that now he will come in to thee in wrath. For he says, if any man,—even though he be one who has evil entreated me, and despised me in times past-'if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him.' The Redeemer will be present with thy soul, will delight thee with the communications of himself, will manifest his love to thee, and will receive with pleasure the tokens of thy affection for him, and of the esteem in which thou holdest him. Thus he will sup with thee.
Ah! that heart! How firm and strong the bars of unbelief which shut out Jesus Christ, even when he thus stands and knocks! If the devil comes with his deceits, the heart is opened to him. If the world comes with its pleasures, the heart is opened to them. Sin after sin comes, a long troop, and they all find admission. But when the blessed Jesus comes, the door of the heart is straightway closed. When he stands and knocks, no answer is given. The bolts are not withdrawn, even though he remains pleading And at last, when all things are fully readytill his head is filled with dew, and his locks when thine appointed work on earth is finished, with the drops of the night.' We might trust and thy soul, through communion with thy Savihim that it is on some kind errand that he hath our and by the work of the Holy Spirit, is precome, even did he not tell us. But what excuse pared for heaven, the Lord Jesus will take thee can be offered when as he stands and knocks, he away to sup with him in his Father's house. says, 'If any man hear my voice, and open the There he will do thee the highest honour, he door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, will minister to thee enjoyments ever new and and he with me?' The promise of such an hon-satisfying, and so thou shalt be for ever with the our and happiness, might well make the very Lord. stones to find ears. But man's natural heart is more obstinate and hard than the stones. The Son of God, the compassionate Saviour, the Lord of glory-who would not bid him welcome? I will tell thee who: Thou art the man. Many a time thou hast refused to receive him; perhaps thou art doing so still. Other guests thou hadst admitted, and for their sakes Jesus Christ was shut out. And what guests were these? Ah! dost thou need to be told? The world with its pleasures and employments the little trifles which engage the idle, or the cares of business,
'Thou art fairer than the children of men; grace
ment to receive him with gratitude and joy. The | nevolence, sympathy, tenderness, godliness, adorned threatenings of divine justice may rouse us to a the character of our blessed Lord. Well may it sense of our danger, and make us look round for be said of him therefore, 'Thou art fairer than safety. But we never can be brought to love the children of men.' O my soul, what thinkest God by having him presented to us only as an thou of Christ? Lovest thou him more than offended, angry, threatening God. The love these around thee? Dost thou greatly desire his wherewith he has loved us, and the holiness, beauty? Is he precious to thee, and is it thine excellency, and amiableness of the Saviour, must earnest wish that he should be thine all in all? be discerned, ere our affections can be engaged, When thou beholdest him, he is fairer than the or our love kindled. And hence the beauty and children of men. But that is not all his excelglory of Christ's character are largely set forth lence. For, blessed Jesusin the scriptures, both by the record of what he has done in the work of redemption, and by express testimony.
The psalm from which the subject of meditation is taken, relates to the Messiah. It is a prophetic description of his person and kingdom-a reviving, encouraging, attractive delineation of his glorious excellencies. May the light of the Spirit's teaching make me see more of my Saviour's beauty and grace, that I may love him with a fresher and a fuller love.
"Thou art fairer than the children of men.' It is written in the scriptures, and the words relate to Christ, 'He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.' But these words express the estimate which worldly carnal men form of the incarnate Son of God. And they show to what an extent sin has blinded the understanding, and perverted the affections of our fallen
Far different is the divine testimony, and the estimate of regenerated men: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;' 'He is the chiefest of ten thousand, and altogether lovely; "Thou art fairer than the children of men.' These testimonies are true. The beauty and excellency of Jesus Christ are boundless and incomparable. He is Emmanuel, God with us, and, therefore, has all the glorious attributes of Deity along with all that is amiable and good in the nature of man. Perfect holiness, tenderest compassion, love to the children of men stronger than death, unwearied patience in bearing with neglect and insults, gracious condescension in communicating himself and his benefits to his people, wisdom and tender compassion in dealing with the weak among his saints, power irresistible to protect, provide for, and defend them, dignity and glory unspeakable as the King and Head of his church; —these all meet in Jesus Christ. Where among the children of men will we find such a one as he? Every excellency, every beauty, all power, all amiableness, is to be found in him. Meekness, patience, kindness, pity, love, compassion, abhorrence of sin, rectitude, justice, humility, active be
"Grace is poured into thy lips.' It was the testimony of enemies that 'never man spake like that man,' the man Christ Jesus. And the testimony thus borne was true. Read Christ's sermon on the mount, and mark its strict, pure, high-toned morality; read his discourse with Nicodemus, rich in the revelation of the great truths of the gospel; read his last conversations with his disciples before his crucifixion, and the beautiful and precious intercessory prayer with which he closed these conversations, and say if you do not feel the meaning of the words, 'grace is poured into thy lips?' His parables wisely timed, and wisely constructed, his speech gentle and kind to the afflicted, plain and faithful to sinners, and at all times, and in all companies, fraught with instruction-how true, O my Saviour, these words of the Holy Spirit concerning thee, 'Grace is poured into thy lips.' May what those lips of thine have uttered be nourishment to my soul, enlightening my understanding, rectifying my will, purifying my affections. I will hear what my Saviour will speak. He speaketh peace to his saints, but let them not return unto folly.
God has great delight in moral beauty and excellency. Jesus Christ said, if a man love me he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.' In a certain place it is written, 'The Lord hath pleasure in those who fear him, in them who hope in his mercy. inasmuch as Jesus Christ is adorned with all moral beauty, and possessed of all excellency, God the Father supremely delights in the glorious person, character, and work of the Son. And accordingly, this was his promise before the Son's incarnation, 'I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong.-By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many.' And this is the testimony of the Spirit after Christ's work of humiliation was finished, 'Wherefore God also 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 in
earth, and things under the earth; and that every innocence and suffering, of power and weakness, tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, of dignity and debasement, of sovereignty and to the glory of God the Father.' And then the subjection, there was a deep unfathomable mysrepeated testimony by a voice from heaven, to tery, a mystery which the great master-key of which we have already referred, This is my the gospel dispensation finally unlocked and disbeloved Son in whom I am well pleased.' All this closed, when at length, in fulfilment of the angel's throws light on the words, "Therefore God hath announcement to the virgin, 'God was manifest blessed thee for ever.' The divine everlasting in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, complacency, and a full eternal communication preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the of good to the Son, as Mediator, manifest the world, and received up into glory,' 1 Tim. iii. 16. approbation with which God contemplates him. who is fairer than the children of men.'
When the Saviour is so amiable and excellent in his person and character, so gracious in his communications to men, and for ever delighted in, and blessed of God, with what gratitude and joy should we open our hearts to receive him and his benefits! Precious Christ! My Lord, and my God. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.'
'And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS; for he shall save his people from their sins,' Matt. i. 21.
THE first promise of God to a fallen world was, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head; and the full discovery and exposition of that promise constitutes the sum and substance of revelation. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,' Rev. xix. 10. This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life;' and that this life is in his Son,' 1 John v. 11. But how great is this mystery of godliness! The Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Emmanuel,'—God with us, Isa. vii. 14. This glorious Deliverer was to save a people over whom Satan had triumphed, and yet was himself to suffer. He was to be a Lamb without blemish, and yet to be numbered with transgressors. He was to be the Desire of all nations, and yet when men should see him, he was to have no beauty nor comeliness that they should desire him. He was to be a Leader and Commander to the people, and yet to be despised and rejected of He was to be the Lord our righteousness, and yet to make his grave with the wicked. He was to be a Prince of whose kingdom and dominion there should be no end, and yet to be 'cut off' out of the land of the living. In this amazing combination of holiness and guilt, of
This was he of whom Moses in the law and all the prophets did write; the great antitype of him who conducted Israel into the promised land. That land, that earthly inheritance, was an emblem of the rest that remaineth for God's people in heaven; even as the wilderness had been an impressive figure of man's condition as a sinner, banished by his apostacy into a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. Accordingly, when the time came to lead the people over Jordan, their victorious Captain was called by a new name, that he might, in his office and work, more perfectly shadow forth the Captain of our salvation. 'Moses called Oshea, the son of Nun, Jehoshua,' Num. xiii. 16. It was not enough that the Israelites should know him as Oshea; that is, a Saviour. They must be taught that their victories were not due to an arm of flesh-and by his new name, 'Jehoshua,' that is, 'God the Saviour,' they must learn to give the praise unto the Lord.
These were the shadows of good things, but now the very image of the things has come. We have a race of fallen creatures wandering in the wilderness of sin, and ready to perish. We have the mighty river of divine justice flowing deep and strong, like another Jordan, between us and heaven. And blessed be God, we have another Jehoshua-not in the sense of being the mere representative of a power above and beyond himself, but in the cause of being in his own glorious person at once our Saviour and our God. Thou shalt call his name Jesus,' that is, Jehovah the Saviour, 'because he shall save his people from their sins.' He hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. He hath gone down into Jordan-he hath exposed himself to the full flood of that wrath of God which is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, and hath opened up a way by which even the chief of sinners may pass over in safety. There is now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus,' Rom. viii. 1. We were sometimes far off, but are made nigh by the blood of Christ,' Eph. ii. 13.
But this is not all that is implied in saving his people from their sins. These sins had not only
the text, to have his mind stayed upon God.'
exposed us to the curse of a broken law; they ❘ that any one can be said, in the full meaning of had also unfitted us for communion with God. And, accordingly, while by his atoning blood he washes away the guilt of sin from his people's souls, he at the same time, by the grace of his Holy Spirit, renews their fallen nature, and restores them to the image of God. He blesses them by 'turning every one of them from his iniquities,' Acts iii. 26. 'If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,' 2 Cor. v. 17. It is a truth, never to be forgotten, that these two blessings, deliverance from the guilt, and deliverance from the power of sin, are inseparable. Where one is not, the other cannot be. Let no man, therefore, vainly dream that he can escape the curse, if he be not emancipated from the bondage of sin;-that he can be washed and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, if he be not also sanctified by the Spirit of our God. But while Christ will give a half deliverance to no man, he will impart a free and full salvation to all that come unto God by him. He is both able and willing to save to the uttermost. How infinitely precious, then, must be the knowledge of Christ. To know him is life eternal, 'For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,' Acts iv. 12. Wherefore, then, do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David,' Isa. lv. 2, 3.
TRUSTING in the Lord in the scripture sense of the expression, manifestly embraces the two great departments of providence and grace: trusting, that is, in the providence of God as to all that concerns our outward estate; and trusting in the grace of God as to all that concerns our inward and everlasting welfare. These two departments comprehend the whole of man's connection with God, and include all his interests temporal and eternal. And it is only when there is an unhesitating confidence as to both these departments and as to all these interests,
1. In the first of these departments how beautifully do we find this constant reliance on the divine love and faithfulness displayed in the scripture history of the saints of old. The Lord is my shepherd,' said the pious king of Israel, 'I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. . . Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil: my cup runneth over,' Psal. xxiii. Nor was this spirit of entire dependence on the Author and Preserver of his being, this recognition of the divine hand as ordering all his lot, confined to those more pleasing events which might naturally be expected to awaken emotions of gratitude. His trials were traced to the same source, and received with the same firm reliance on the Lord's wisdom and mercy. When Shimei the son of Gera, a man of the house of Saul, insolently exulting over the misfortunes which were driving David for a time into exile from his city and his throne, 'came forth, and cast stones at David, and cursed him still as he came :' instead of giving vent to that indignation which so grievous an outrage would have excited in a mere man of the world, not only did he restrain any feeling of this kind in his own mind, but expressly forbade any manifestation of such a feeling on the part of his followers. Let him alone,' said the humbled king, reading his sin in his affliction, let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him,' 2 Sam. xvi. 10. In the case of Job, too, in circumstances peculiarly distressing, how brightly did the same spirit shine forth! For when the messengers, in swift succession, brought him the tidings of another and another woe, and when by the sum of their desolating intelligence they had swept the venerable patriarch in one moment from the very ward wretchedness and misery, what is it we hear height of fortune into the lowest depths of outhim exclaim? 'Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord,' Job i. 21. One other touching example of the same habitual reliance on God, as ordering all things in His holy providence with unerring wisdom and watchfulness, let His own word supply. When Joseph made himself known to his brethren in Egypt, it was thus he comforted them under the bitterness of their self-accusations. 'Now therefore be not grieved nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to
preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land, and yet there are five years in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance,' Gen. xlv. 5-7.
It was thus that holy men of old practically acknowledged, what to the Lord's people is ever a most consoling truth, that the very hairs of their head are all numbered, and that not even a sparrow falleth to the ground without our Father. But how different is all this from the spirit and conduct of multitudes who bear the name of Christian. If successful in their worldly pursuits, they regard their acquisitions as the fruit of their own might and prudence, forgetting that a man can receive nothing except it be given him of God. If distinguished above their fellows by superior station, gifts, or power, they look down disdainfully on their humbler and poorer brethren, forgetting that it is God alone that maketh them to differ, and that He accepteth no man's person. Or if, on the other hand, they are visited with adversity and bowed down by afflictions, they murmur at what they regard as a fate equally hard and undeserved, forgetting who hath said, 'shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil also?' hath not the potter power over the clay?' Such men cannot know what it is to have 'perfect peace' amid the shifting scenes of time, because they know not what it is to have their minds stayed on God.'
2. But trusting in the Lord' embraces, not only the domain of providence, but the department of grace. And here it occurs at once to observe, that before any man can be said to have cast his soul's welfare upon the Lord, and to be making the Most High his habitation, he must have acquainted himself with those provisions which divine grace has made. The apostle Paul tells us of the Ephesians, that they trusted' in God; but he shows us at the same time, that theirs was an intelligent and scriptural confidence, by adding, that they so trusted after that they heard the word of truth, the gospel of their salvation.' And, moreover, he acquaints us with the fruits of that reliance on the grace of God when he says, that they had faith in the Lord Jesus, and love to all the saints.' To trust, then, in the grace of God, is not so unmeaning a thing as there is cause to fear too many professing Christians think it to be. If we trust in that grace at all, we must do so on its own terms, truly, and habitually, and practically relying on the provisions of that covenant, which is well
ordered in all things and sure. If either through wilful ignorance or criminal indifference, we take up with some other ground of confidence different from that foundation sure and stedfast which the Lord hath laid in Zion, we are trusting not in God, but in vanity and lies. We may be saying to ourselves, 'peace, peace,' but there can be no peace.
Let it not, however, be imagined, that it is enough to know what the provisions of the gospel covenant are; to know who the Saviour is, and what he hath done. "The letter killeth,' it is the Spirit that giveth life,' 2 Cor. iii. 6. We must embrace Christ with the arms of a living faith as all our salvation, and all our desire. We must look to him daily as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.' We must confide in his infinite merits as 'the Lord our righteousness.' We must abide in him as the 'true vine;' and seek in faith and prayer to receive daily out of his fulness, and grace for grace; that so we may abound in those fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of God. Then indeed will the Lord keep us in perfect peace: then shall we know the blessedness of that man whose mind is stayed upon God.'
'But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul,' Heb. x. 39.
'No man,' said the Lord Jesus to one who showed some reluctance to follow him, 'no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.' To lend point and force to that solemn warning, he added, on another occasion, these pregnant words, 'Remember Lot's wife.' Even to look back is to incur the divine displeasure, because it is to betray the hollowness of the profession which had been assumed; it is to show that the heart's treasure is still among those things which are beneath. Such an one has no relish for the things which are above where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God: he is of the earth, earthy, he is not 'fit' for the kingdom of God.
It is, however, with yet greater impressiveness that 'drawing back' is condemned. It is an act of more glaring apostacy, and the language in which it is denounced is proportionably stern and strong. If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him,' IIeb. x. 38. The words inti