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expressly commanded to go forth, and teach all the contrary, they are just sufficient for our need nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, And verily, when we contemplate, on the one and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and hand, the end in view-the total renewal of our teaching them, moreover, to observe all things, own nature after the image of God in righteouswhatsoever I, the Lord, hath commanded ness and true holiness, together with an inherithem. With such a view of divine grace before tance of honour, glory, and immortality in the us, can we be blind, or dead to the obligations purest dwellings of eternity; and on the other, the thus lying upon all who have been made partak- simplicity of the means appointed for working ers of its blessings, to make themselves willing out such immeasurable results, we shall rather and unwearying instruments in working out the be inclined to wish that these means were enlarged Redeemer's will, and promoting the regeneration than contracted; and, while working out our great of mankind. It is at once the duty, and the salvation with fear and trembling, shall be careful manifest interest of every Christian church, to to apply every direction that Christ has given in labour continually in the great work of self-small things just as well as in great. For he that extension; for in no other way can its own in this, his season of merciful visitation, is despissecurity be maintained; and still more evidently can the injunctions of our text in no other way be fulfilled.
It is not only as churches or communities, however, that we are bound to serve the Lord in this field of duty, but likewise as individuals. O! if we have but a right sense of the privileges conferred upon us in baptism, and still more if we have tasted the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and the power of baptism in the inner man, then shall we not be slow to comprehend the obligation imposed upon all who are called by the name of Christ, to wage incessant war with iniquity; set their faces as flint against the reign of unbelief, and, within the little sphere of their personal influence, go on conquering and to conquer, till they make it as a green spot in the wilderness, fresh and sweet with the dews of Israel.
ing the day of small things, is in sad reality despising the great day of the Lord. O! let us be up then and doing while it is yet called to-day, for the night is fast approaching wherein no man can work..
'For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, .. so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it,' Isa. lv. 10, 11. We never doubt the power of God to do what he pleases. But it is one thing to admit, or not deny, and another to believe a truth, with an While teaching others, however, may we our- ease and familiarity of faith corresponding to its selves be wise to learn. We are taught in the importance. There are many great truths, which, passage before us, in aiming at salvation, to apply, although no one ever thinks of denying them, with diligence, all the means appointed by the remain so strange to our thoughts, that believing grace of God for working it out. The word all them is an effort and a process of the reason reis here exceedingly emphatic, and manifestly quiring to be repeated just as often as they force implies that the neglect of any divine ordinance themselves on our notice. Of such a kind is, involves a nullification of all the rest. The ex-in the minds of perhaps most men, the motion of press injunction of our text is to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded; and it is impossible, with such an explicit word as this all before us, strengthened, moreover, by the intensive term whatsoever, to overlook the manifest conclusion, that no commandment of Christ can we be keeping, while living in wilful disregard of any; for all his ordinances are wrapped up in this one commandment to observe them all; and therefore, as a system, they must stand or fall together. Just as obvious, at the same time, is the inference, that to neglect even the smallest ordinance of the gospel, is to renounce all its blessings; for we may be sure that Christ has given us no needless directions, or useless means of grace, but that, on
the earth, or the omnipresence of God; so that, when reminded of either, they have to think, and remember, and reason within themselves, in order to clear away the habitual illusion that the world is at rest, or that God is as far from their steps as he is from their thoughts. There are other truths, again, with which we are so familiar, that they affect us like instincts, and pour their influences direct upon the heart without passing through the filter of reason by the way. Of this sort is our belief in the regular return of the seasons, or in the divine promise that while the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease.'
These observations lead us to remark further, | heavens without accomplishing the purpose for that we find these two sorts of truth generally which it is sent; for most manifestly does it presented side by side in the bible; and the always produce an effect either for good or for things which are slowest in mounting to the evil; and it is but a short and sure stage in reasurface of the mind, so interlinked in the meta-soning, to ascribe that effect to the counsels by phors and comparisons of scripture, with the which the clouds are 'scattered and turned round themes of our quickest and easiest belief, that about.' they must either sink or float together. Such is the association of ideas in the short saying of our Saviour, I am the bread of life,' a metaphor connecting the great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, with a subject of familiar and universal experience in natural life, and teaching us to connect them as closely with each other in our faith and our desires.
The comparison employed in the passage before us, is a beautiful instance of the same kind; and by the careful kindness of him who is not only the author of the simile, but also the contriver of the likeness, is admirably suited to interlink an important topic of religious faith and meditation with our most familiar modes of thought, feeling, and action.
Of all appearances in the natural world there are none that more manifestly lie within the kingdom of providence, or depend more unquestionably on the will of God, than snow and rain; nor are there any that make us more sensible of our own helplessness and dependence in the midst of our most strenuous exertions and most anxious expectations. Hence says the proverb, with emphatic simplicity, It is God who saith unto the snow, Be thou upon the earth;' and, with a sublimity of conception surpassing all human poetry, hath the psalmist called the rain the river of God.' All rivers, indeed, might with abundant propriety be so called, but pre-eminently is the rain entitled to such a distinctive name, by its marvellous manner of flowing, in a perpetual alternation, from the heavens to the earth and from the earth to the heavens, performing the one portion of its endless circuit in the form of light vapour, and the other in that of rain. All the while, moreover, is its aërial channel, if we may so express ourselves, continually shifting with the blowing of the wind, of which we hear the sound, but cannot tell whence it cometh;' so as to pour out the 'small or the great rain' upon whatever spot of the earth God pleases, with the precision of a vine-dresser watering the plants of his vineyard. For the Lord by watering wearieth the thick cloud; he scattereth his bright cloud, and it is turned round about by his counsels, that they may do whatever he commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth.'
Why then should we be slow in believing that just in like manner shall the word of God water the spiritual world, and prosper in the thing whereto he sends it? O! we never doubt; for who hath resisted his will?' But alas! do we believe it in the same manner as we believe in the fertilizing properties of rain? And do all eyes look up unto God for the reviving showers of his wind, as in the day when their corn is in the tender blade, and the heavens are like brass, they look up to him for the early rain? O! let us associate in our minds just as closely as we find them connected in the metaphors of scripture, the necessities of the soul with the wants of the body, and the promises of the life which is to come with that which now is ; let us connect the spiritual vineyard in our thoughts with the natural; and the word of the one with the rain of the other, till they blend together, and become, as it were, the same idea. Let us remember that the God of providence, and the God of grace, is one and the same Jehovah! And that a man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God! And O! if it be sweet, pleasant, and refreshing to our own hearts, to see the tender blades of a corn-field wet, and fresh, and green with the watering of God; can we be dull and dead to the reviving power of his word on the drooping graces of the soul! In the days when all eyes look up to heaven for rain as they do for meat in due season,' and when they see the passing clouds bearing to other hill-sides the quickening waters so much wanted on their own; and when, in the impatience of the hope deferred that maketh the heart sad,' they wish they had the winds in leading-strings, or the hills on wheels, are they not reminded that they themselves have feet to bear them to the spot where God is blessing the preaching of his word; and pouring down the spirit of revival, and satisfying the soul of the people in drought like a well-watered garden?
Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts,' Zech. iv. 6.
In the natural world, which is a picture of the Never, moreover, does this rain return to the spiritual, great and permanent effects are most
frequently produced by gentle means and silent operations. Physical force, associated in our minds with ideas of violence and hurry, has a very different significancy in the kingdom of nature, where light, air, heat, water, and similar substances, all soft and gentle in themselves, are continually effecting revolutions by their softest modes of action. It is remarkable too that when the hard and the soft, or the violent and gentle of the natural world, meet in conflict, whatever may be the immediate result of the first collision, the victory in the end always rests with the gentle and soft. Thus is it the flesh of the human frame that gives shape to the bonesthe brain that fashions the skull. So does water polish rocks, and woman—man.
We find this law very beautifully represented in the manner of the divine manifestation vouchsafed to Elijah, as he waited and watched on the mountain for the passing by of the Lord. And behold,' says the record of this significant interview, the Lord passed by, and a great strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.' It was in this still small voice therefore that the Lord passed by, or in other words, favoured the prophet with a passing manifestation of his pre
We are thus assisted in our transition from the kingdom of nature to that of grace; for in the vision of the prophet are blended together the worlds of matter and of mind. And we have now to observe, that the same law which in physics assigns the ultimate superiority to powers soft and gentle in their operations, has likewise awarded, in the moral and spiritual departments of the world, the final victory to the meek, the humble, and the patient. It is the will and the promise of God, that in the end the meek-spirited shall inherit the earth; and to the achievements of this conquest hath he appointed, as the efficient instruments, the power of meekness and of the soft answer that turneth away wrath.'
This power of meekness in the moral world, most conspicuously exhibited in the character and the conquest of Christ, is equally observable to an attentive eye in all the subordinate instruments of his grace. The conflict between the hard and the soft, or the violent and the meek, in the spiritual world, was brought to its first issue in the murder of Abel. The victory was no doubt to all appearance on the side of the
fierce and sullen Cain, for he rose up against his brother in the field, and slew him. But the voice of that brother's blood rose up to heaven from the ground; and was from that moment consecrated by the grace of God, to the exercise of an influence and dominion in the world, which like the slow working of water, has undermined the thrones of tyrants, and sapped the foundations of mighty empires. Abel was the first martyr; and all the kingdoms of the earth have been revolutionized, or shaken by the power of the martyr's blood.
It is the sin of mankind, at war, in the ignorant impatience of passion with time, space, and circumstances, to employ physical force in its violent sense, where moral power alone is equal to the vastness of the results in view; and hence, if we would call down the power of God at all, it is in the form of tempest, and earthquake, and lightning, that the most of us invoke it. When pining over our unheard prayers, our recourse is to an arm of flesh;' our trust in the horse and his rider.'
Such means the Lord no doubt occasionally employs, for with a high hand and an outstretched arm were the Israelites brought out of Egypt. But in turning the affections of man, as he turneth the rivers of water, or fashioning his heart, as the potter fashioneth his clay; and in the great process of spiritualizing the world, the means that he employs are like the end, imbued with the spirit of meekness and peace.
All these remarks are abundantly confirmed by the scripture at present before us. The holy men who were engaged in rebuilding the temple, and being stricken with dismay by the multitude of powers and principalities opposed to the enterprise, and despairing of their own resources, are here comforted with the divine assurance, that not by might nor by power' should the work be accomplished; but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts. The human instruments, employed in the undertaking, were not to be invested with extraordinary authority, supported by armies and royal edicts; but imbued with the enlightening and persuasive influences of the Holy Spirit. Before the strong, the gentle Spirit of faith, and love, and holiness, and wisdom, and zeal, were they assured, that the 'great mountain' of their difficulties would be levelled with the plain, and the work proceed, calm, but irresistible in its progress, to a sure completion. But all the while was the spirit of the prophet's vision undoubtedly pointing to Christ, and the sanctification of the human race. Christ was then, and is now making to himself a temple of the whole
earth; and will go on building amidst the united | in reality a continual conflict between the princiopposition of hell and the world, till 'incense and ples of decay and renovation; which, in process of a pure offering be offered unto God, from the time, always ends in the breaking of the wheel at rising of the sun to the going down of the same;' the cistern, and the long repose of the grave. We and the instruments he employs are, not the are thus directed, by the experience of our own hard and the violent, not might and power, as wants and weakness to the fulness of that Founwe understand them-not armies, with their tain from which all life and vigour flows. And confused noise, and garments rolled in blood;' hardly can we turn our eyes towards the throne but the meek, the soft, and the gentle, the of the Omnipotent, and contemplate the great regenerating and sanctifying influences of his Inhabitant of eternity, without feeling that he Holy Spirit; and so shall he bring the day to must be Lord over both life and death; able to pass, when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, supply us with such a sufficiency of the living the leopard lie down with the kid, and the meek-principle as may for ever arrest the progress of spirited inherit the earth.
Let us remember all the while, however, that we are as individuals a part of this great undertaking a small part we may think, but, nevertheless, just as great as the whole, in our own esteem, if we remember that every one carries his own eternity within him. Let us rejoice then in the promise of the text; and by keeping ever near to the means of its fulfilment, by walking much with the meek and lowly Jesus, and seeking much unto God in prayer, let us labour diligently in the great work of spiritualizing our own hearts, and becoming living temples of the Holy Ghost.
'But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint,' Isa. xl. 31. THERE is manifestly an arm at work in the universe that never tires, and a power incessantly giving itself out without ever growing less. The scoffers of the later ages, described by St Peter, as inferring that the world will never come to an end, because 'since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning,' do homage to the unwearying might of the Eternal with the very words that deny his faithfulness. For just in this sameness of procedure pervading every department of creation, and directing all its modes of action in the same course, and towards the same end, do we see the vigilance of an eye that never sleeps nor slumbers, and the working of an energy that needs no intervals of repose.
In our own nature do we find embodied, on the contrary, the principles of weakness, decay, and dependence on a Fountain of strength, or 'of living waters.' foreign to ourselves. Our natural life is
decay; and make us partakers of his own eternity.
Now this is just what his word teaches us to hope; and, in the passage before us, moreover, teaches in such a spirit-stirring manner, as almost in the instant to realize itself, by raising us far above this valley of sin and death, and bathing our soul in the light of heaven. But O! it is our besetting sin, to mistake the soarings of an excited imagination, for the mounting up of the heart; and momentary sallies of enthusiasm for a turning of the soul to God; and though we moun: and soar upon wings as eagles, even to the very windows of heaven, it is alas! too frequently only to be dashed with a farther fall, and a greater force on the rocks from which we rose.
We are directed in the text 'to wait upon the Lord.' O! but this is a hard saying, thinks the fainting soul within itself; and who can hear it! God, we are apt to think, is far away-seated upon the stars, and beyond the reach of human prayers. a glorious, but distant and lonely throne beyond Or, if it be true that he fills heaven and earth with his presence; that he encompasses all our steps, and besets us behind and before, yet he is an invisible Spirit; everywhere eluding the most diligent search of our senses, just as effectually as if he were no where present on our side of the starry firmament. For 'behold,' says the ancient patriarch of Uz, 'I go forward, but he is not there; and backwards, but I cannot perceive him; on the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him; he hideth himself on the righ: hand that I cannot see him.' Soon after, however, do we find the same patriarch declaring of the same invisible Spirit; 'I have heard of the by the hearing of the ear, but now mine bath seen thee, wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.' It is remarkable that we thus find the man who has most movingly be wailed the invisibility of God, just most emphatically, also, declaring his experience of the divine manifestation; and the more we feel inclined complain of the apparent distance, or absence of
the Lord, whom we profess to seek, the more rea- | the bloom and strength of immortal youth, to son have we to be thankful for all the means with mount on wings as eagles to the mansions of which he has favoured us, of waiting upon him, unfading glory. and bringing our hearts within the influences of his manifested presence. These means are extremely simple in their own nature; and so continually, moreover, within the reach of our capacities, that we have it in our power to realize literally the privilege of Enoch, and walk with God. For they
are the reading of his word, which the most of us have always at hand; the holy ordinances of his gospel, which are at once easy, and of frequent recurrence; and the privilege of close communion with his Spirit in the exercise of meditation and prayer. It is this last privilege that we may regard as specially pointed at in the expression, 'waiting upon the Lord;' because it is not only the most literal application of the words, but the most effectual means of realizing the full import of the promise contained in them. Let us remember, then, that we are directed to wait upon the Lord in the public prayers of the sanctuary, the devotion of the family altar, and the private communion of the closet, where alone the Spirit helpeth our infirmities, making intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.' But O! are any of us strangers to the wandering of our thoughts in prayer; and the devotion of the bowing head, and the bending knee, in which there is no waiting upon the Lord? Have we never seen the congregations of the sanctuary, not only turning away from God in the inner, but even in the outward man; sinking down upon their seats before the prayer is ended; and thus, in reality, though knocking at the door of heaven, turning their back in the very moment when they should expect it to open at the name of Christ. Thus even in the act of prayer do the youths faint and grow weary, and the young men utterly fail —but all this, because they are not 'waiting upon the Lord.'
Let the preface, therefore, to all our prayers be, 'Lord, teach us how to pray.' And so addressing ourselves to the Fountain of living waters, the Source of life and strength, with the prayer of faith that wavereth not, shall we, in all our prayers realize the promise of our text; and 'renew our strength, and mount up on wings as eagles;' and having our affections, our treasures, and our conversation in heaven;-waiting constantly upon the Lord, and walking in all his ordinances blameless; we shall run, and not be weary; we shall walk and not faint. Thus in the end shall death have no power over our souls; and shall be unto our bodies a long renovating sleep in Jesus, from which we shall rise clothed with
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers,' Acts ii. 42.
Ir is a saying worthy of all acceptation, as rich in comforts for every desponding pilgrim of Zion, that with the Father of lights, from whom cometh down every good and every perfect gift, there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.' His goodness flows from a fountain that can never run itself out; but, on the contrary, though continually filling the cisterns of innumerable human hearts, continues itself, for ever full. Just as little can the divine power wear itself away by exertion, for 'hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary.' Though incessantly 'giving power to the faint, and increasing strength to them that have no might,' he remains, amid his own inexhaustible resources, from everlasting to everlasting the same.'
We sce in the text the simple, but majestic power of the gospel in full operation; and the theory of religion reduced to practice. Those early Christians, it tells us, continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayer. In these words we have, indeed, a most beautiful picture of the primitive church, when Christianity was still almost in its infancy, and verily an infancy, moreover, which, like our own, when compared with our riper years, that makes us look back upon it with a sigh of regret, and wish we could live it over again. The interesting members of that early church had not only been hearers but doers of the word; receiving the new doctrines from the apostles of Christ, not merely as an interesting discovery in the kingdom of thought and the soul, but as a living substantial rule of life and manners; and pointing out the way to honour, glory, and immortality. Their conversion had been recent and sudden; but it was stedfast and durable; for they adhered with unwavering constancy to the doctrines of their new religion, notwithstanding all the efforts of a world lying in wickedness around them, to reason, to laugh, or to frighten them out of their faith. They also kept up a