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Many despisers have in this way been constrained to fall down on their faces and worship God. The conviction of sinners, by the preaching of the word, is a direct mean of showing forth the glory of Christ. He is king, and one of the first acts of his kingly office is to subdue his enemies. The child Jesus is set for the fall, and the rising again of many in Israel.' There is first the bowing down of the proud into penitence, and then the raising up of the bowed down. By this subduing of his enemies, Christ the Redeemer is
high. The subject of Peter's address was, 'God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.' Under this prophesying' of the apostle, the hard hearts of these unbelieving Jews melted and became as water. When they heard this they were pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? The word made its way through every barrier-quickened the conscience-laid open the secrets of many hearts. Conviction ripened into conversion; and souls saved were added in thous-glorified; the special office of the Spirit now adands to the church.
The best testimony to the truth of the word that ever can reach our understandings, is the experience of its convincing power. The revelation which it makes of sins in our inmost souls, hitherto hidden even from ourselves, manifests both the power and the wisdom of God its Author. It is a glass this word, and many an object is faithfully reflected from its surface. At one time we may behold revealed in it, the glory of the Lord; at another, the shame of men. This faithful mirror detects and exposes to our own view, the most secret spots of guilt that lie upon the inner man. The spots that stain a sinner's soul, a sinner, with his own unaided eye, cannot see. The spots are there. They are on himself. They are marks of shame; but he sees them not, and no blush suffuses his face. They are seeds of death, but he feels them not, and no thrill of terror beats in his heart. He cannot see he cannot feel them. He knows not that they are there. He thinks all is well, and says, Peace, peace. But when this truthful mirror is held up before him, it reveals an image of loathsomeness and deformity. Stung by a begun conviction, he shrinks instinctive back; but there is no peace now in shutting the eyes against the unwelcome sight. He is constrained to look again. Looking more narrowly, he not only sees that there is such an image, but feels that it is an image of himself. Conscience not only recognises the truth of the delineated character, 'altogether vile,' but appropriates the subjoined inscription, "thou art the man.' This application of the word by the power of the Holy Ghost, effectually subdues the self-righteousness of nature. The heart is broken, and the affections of the broken heart flow out in the appropriate language of penitence, 'Behold I am vile, what shall I answer thee?' 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?'
This effect of the word preached is the most convincing evidence that it is not the word of man. Many who have stoutly resisted other evidences of divine revelation have yielded at last to this.
ministering the covenant, is to glorify him; and the word is the sword which the Spirit wields. What a word is this!' exclaimed the wondering Jews, when they saw the elements of nature, the dead bodies of men, and the spirits of darkness obeying the command of Jesus. This emphatic testimony to the power of divine truth, has often since that time been extorted from a gainsayer's lips. When the dead soul has been quickened, at length there is a ready acknowledgment of the 'arm revealed.' Though the word has reached his heart through the medium of an ‘earthen vessel,' the convicted sees and gladly confesses, that the excellency of the power is of God.'
'What a word is this.' It is worth preaching, and worth hearing. Let ministers beware of trusting to their own skill and strength, when the very 'sword of the Spirit' is put into their hands. Let the people beware of going to church for the purpose of hearing the minister, and judging of him. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
'For whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning; that we, through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope,' Rom. xv. 4.
MANY things were written of Christ before his coming. To Him gave all the prophets witness. The prophets themselves did not fully understand the meaning of their own words. The truth was revealed with sufficient distinctness to keep the eyes of the faithful looking steadily forward to the Messiah coming to sustain the hopes of those who looked for salvation in Israel; but still, even those among them from whose eyes the veil had been taken away, could only see through a glass darkly. When the fulness of time had come, a new light was shed on the types and prophecies of the Jewish dispensation. Whatsoever things
were written afore time,' though immediately) from providence some things in God's law, that addressed to the generation then living, were re- are comparatively of lesser import, connected as corded in the scriptures especially for the 'learn- they are with the present world; but in regard ing' of the generations following. He established to the great things of that law,-all that concern a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in the forgiveness of sin, acceptance with God, escape Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they from wrath, and the eternal life of the soul-in should make them known to their children; that regard to all these, alike unable to find them out, the generation to come might know them, even and unwilling to try. Such was our helpless the children which should be born, who should condition, when God looked from heaven in love, arise and declare them to their children; that they and sent a remedy suited to our wants-sent a might set their hope in God,' Psal. lxxvii. 5-7. revelation of those parts of his will which sinners Under the guidance of the same Spirit who could not discover for themselves, and without spake by the prophets before, evangelists and which sinners could not be saved. Here, as in apostles, at and after the time of the Saviour's other cases, man's extremity was God's opporincarnation, wrote for our learning the works and tunity. When we were ready to perish, light the words of the Lord Jesus-wrote for our arose in the darkness. The Light himself came learning the whole counsel of God. into the world, and the Light was the life of men; the Word, after being shadowed forth aforetime' in type and prophecy, was at length made flesh and dwelt among us. Bless the Lord, O our souls, and forget not all his benefits! Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.
Behold how gracious is our God! Consider this mark of his mercy-his writing to us the great things of his law. Many of his laws we are left to find out, as best we may, from the traces of them left in nature and in providence. He has laws whereby he regulates the material These precious things were written for our universe; but he only works by them, and allows learning. It is ours to search the scriptures. us to exercise our own ingenuity in searching And what shall we find there? Hear the judgthem out. He has also a code of laws whereby ment of him who gave them. These are they he regulates his spiritual kingdom-he has a which testify of me.' Paul speaks of having covenant in all things well ordered and sure-learned Christ,' and it was the great aim of all these he has not left us to discover; he has re- the apostles to preach Christ. The Spirit dictated vealed them. By searching, we could never find the word, and the aim of the Spirit in the word them out, and in great mercy he has written is to glorify Him. This then is what we are to them for our learning. Turning to the record we learn from the things written aforetime. We find no axioms laid down, no problems solved in will not 'learn' wisdom from the Bible, unless we any department of human science. It tells noth-see all its lines converging to Jesus, and forming ing of other worlds, save the simple fact that God a circle of glory round his head. created them; and nothing of the mysterious influences that are at work upon our own. These, though part of God's law, were not to us the great things. The great things are the things written, and the things written may be resolved all into this—a law eternal, sure, unchangeable a fixed institute of heaven-a law whereby God most holy and man most sinful may meet in peace. All the revelations of the bible when concentrated into a point, just exhibit a plan whereby the justice and the mercy of God may meet in the salvation of man. How man may be just with God! this is a problem which reason could never solve. Nor is this all. There is not only inability to discover the truth, there is aversion to the truth when known. There is an inherent dislike of the truth preventing the thoughts from going out in search of it; and also an inherent incapacity for discovering it though the search were made. This was our helpless condition-able to read in creation, and collect
rays of light scattered over its pages will appear a confused unintelligible mass, if we look to them each apart and with mere nature's curiosity; but when seen by faith's single eye, and with faith's undivided affection, each separate ray shines distinct in its own brightness, and all converge into one point, and that one point thus intensely illuminated, is Christ our passover, sacrificed for us,' the Lord our righteousness, and the Lord our strength. The point to which the collective radiance of holy writ is directed, is Christ crucified the power of God. All the things written aforetime—whether law, or pro phecy, or history-all look unto Jesus. All these things were written either to prepare the way before him, or declare his salvation after he had come; and we never learn what the scriptures were intended to teach, till we see there for ourselves the light of the glorious gospel in the face of Jesus Christ.
The design of this learning is 'that we through
patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope.' 'Patience?' we get it here. Seeing him who is invisible,' we shall be able to endure.' Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed. Comfort? yes, look to the things written aforetime, and comfort ye one another with these words, 'God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son!' If God be for us, who can be against us? From the scriptures we may get 'patience and comfort;' in the scriptures there is a sure foundation whereon we may rest our hope. Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God.
‘And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and
needed among the dangers of this life, and committed them to a faithful Creator; doubtless he prayed that the everlasting arm might be around them, to defend them from all ill. But, while he would not fail to remember then the work of Him who rules in the kingdom of providence, his special aim is to commend his sorrowing disciples to the word of God. The word of God! But is it quite certain that this will console the mourner? Does it follow as a matter of course, that the beam which shines from the word, dries the tears of every upturned eye? Nay, for in that word there are many terrors. The light from the word may be just the consuming fire from the face of God, beneath which no sinner can stand.
Paul knew this, and it is specially to "the word of his grace" that he commends these mourners. The expression is very common, but, It means favour, something given, not because it perhaps on that very account, little understood. was deserved, but contrary to deserving, and wholly from the free will of the giver. That is the character of all we get from God. But when we hear of the "word of his grace," it is the gift of pardon and justification through the redemption of Christ. The apostle would have peace communicated to the distracted hearts of these Ephesian disciples, and he knows well how that can be attained. When he frames his desires into a prayer, he orders the words aright. It is grace and peace' be multiplied unto you. So here, when he would have them to arrive at that peace with God, which would keep their hearts and minds in the troubles following, he directs them to seek it, and expect it through grace. Look to the word and accept the grace' offered there, pardon through the blood of Christ, and thus ye will reach a peace which the world cannot take away.
This God to whom he commends them, is able by his word to build them up. This is the edification of the saints—their growth in grace. It is assumed that they are admitted into the family, and have a right to the inheritance, but this is not all; they need to be built up in their holy faith. Believers are said to be living stones coming to Christ and being built up in him. Elsewhere it is said that in him all the body fitly joined together, groweth into an holy temple in the Lord. That house is being built. Each living stone growing, and all growing into one temple. The operation is going on by the world unseen. This spiritual house is rising. Of the increase of it there shall be no end, until all the elect be Doubtless, Paul thought of the protection they gathered into one; and when the top stone is
brought forward the shout will be the same as when the foundation was laid, 'Grace, grace, unto it!' Farther, this God to whom the apostle commends the Ephesian elders, is able by his word to give them an inheritance. The thought of an inheritance after death might make us tremble. We are accustomed to think of an inheritance as something to which we were born. And what have we been born to? Children of wrath. Our birthright is eternal woe. Death is the messenger who leads the heir away to his gloomy inheritance. The heir, unless disinherited, must take possession whether he will or no; and to take possession of what we are born to, is to lie down in everlasting burning. There is only one way of shaking off that horrid birthright-and that is by being born again -born again not of corruptible seed, but by this 'word of God,' which liveth and abideth for ever. But of that inheritance, to which a title is given even now, it is farther said, that it is among all them which are sanctified. This is the will of God, even your sanctification. The inspired apostle seeks the same thing. How like is this parting scene to that of the separation between Christ and his chosen apostles! Sanctify them through thy truth.' This is the very end of the covenant as regards us. The very design of God in his electing decree is, 'that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.' Holiness becometh thy house, O Lord, for ever. The rule at last will be, nothing shall enter that defileth,' and now therefore, we must be made meet for the inheritance. The streets of the city are pure gold, and how shall we appear-what have we to do to tread these courts? O for the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost!' Who are these that stand around the throne in white clothing? They are the sanctified.' How shall I be made meet for taking my position among them? By being washed, as they were, in the blood of the Lamb, and renewed, as they were, in the Spirit of their minds. Unto the word of thy grace, O God, I commend my soul. Sanctify me through thy truth; thy word is truth.
‘And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law, and these statutes, to do them,' Deut. xvii. 19.
GIVE ear, O earth! for the Lord hath spoken. The creatures all are bound by the Creator's law.
They are all dependent on his power; they are all the subjects of his government. He is 'King of kings.' Those who rule on earth, are themselves ruled by an Almighty arm. Those to whom power is entrusted on earth, may succeed for a time in keeping God out of their thoughts, but they cannot set themselves free from his control. He makes the wrath of man to praise him, and restrains the remainder thereof. He turneth the hearts of princes as the rivers of waters. The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king;' let judges, and lawgivers, and kings, bow the head and worship; let them confess that he is Lord; let them fear his judgments; learn his will; obey his law. Before addressing themselves to the actual performance of their duties, magistrates of every degree should, on their knees, adopt and appropriate the question, extorted once from the lips of a convicted sinner: 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?'
The duty of knowing and doing the will of God, is evidently of universal obligation. If it is binding on one, it is binding on all. Rulers as well as subjects must learn from the scriptures, what we are to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man. For this purpose they must search the scriptures. Their prayer must be, 'send out thy light and thy truth; let them lead me.' He was a king who said, 'Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O Lord; teach me thy statutes,' Psal. cxix. 11, 12. The command in the text is imperative. It is specially the duty of a king that is laid down, and the law of the Lord is prescribed to him as the rule of his life. He must have that law in his hands. He must acknowledge it as the standard of faith and practice. He must learn to delight in it, because it is holy; he must study it every day, and all his days. This seems a hard task for any man, and especially for one who is encumbered with the cares of royalty, and exposed to the temptations that surround a throne. True, if it be accounted a task, it will turn out a hard one. Those who look on it as a task, will feel that it is impossible to perform it. The pleasures of a court, and the business of a cabinet, will hide or banish the word of God. Though the record on which that word is written, be deposited in a ruler's library, or held in his hand, it is nothing: though the matter of the word be imprinted on a ruler's memory, and its meaning plain to his understanding, still it is nothing. The word so depo
sited, so remembered, so understood, will lie a dead letter; it will have no effect in regulating his conduct. But let the love of the word take por
session of a ruler's heart, and its controlling power | one of them is protected by the shield of faith, will immediately be manifest. The law of the these weapons will pass him harmless by. Not Lord hid in his heart will influence every step of only may he escape himself, but armed with the his path. In forming his plans he will seek that sword of the Spirit, he may attack from a vanwisdom which is from above; in executing them he tage ground the spiritual wickedness in high will have respect to all God's commandments. places. He may not only save his own soul alive He will rule in the fear of the Lord. Having in the midst of danger, he may do much to enlarge many talents entrusted to his charge, he will feel the Redeemer's kingdom. The path of a ruler the obligation lying heavier upon himself than who would walk in the fear of God may be pecuupon other men, to occupy till his Lord come. liarly difficult; but let the word dwell in him Having in the wise providence of God been set richly, and it will be a light to his feet and a upon a hill, he will strive to let his light shine for lamp to his path. The Lord is near to all that the good of others. Having been raised to a call upon him. One calls out of the lowest depths position in which he must do much, he knows of human misery; another calls from the loftiest that he is not thereby released from the command heights of human power. One is bowed down to do all to the glory of God. under a greater weight of trouble; the other is beset with stronger temptations. Both need a great deliverance. A great Deliverer is near. Let the 'low' call on God, that he may be raised up; let the 'high' call on God, that he may be delivered from the dangers of his exaltation.
The express reason why rulers are enjoined to search the scriptures, is, that they may learn to fear the Lord, and to keep all the words of his law, to do them. They must read every day that they may learn; and learn, that they may keep the law habitually in their hearts; and keep it in their hearts, that they do it in their lives.
It is a great blessing to a people when the law of the Lord is written in the hearts of the rulers.
Believers should specially pray for this as a gift
from their Father's hand. Those are best fitted to rule on earth, who have themselves become subjects of the king set up in Zion. Christ is greatly glorified when kings and princes acknowledge him Lord, and rule in his name. It should be the desire and the prayer of all Christ's people, that he on whose shoulders the government is laid, would reveal himself to earthly potentates, and make them willing in the day of his power. In so far as Christ's people, in their capacity of subjects in a free state, have a voice in the election of their rulers, it is clearly their duty to see that those whom they raise to power are men who fear God and hate covetousness.
We know that earthly rank and power are injurious to the spiritual interests of men; that riches and honour bring a snare; and that thousands fall into it. The higher we rise in this world's grandeur, the greater is the danger, and the more terrible the consequence of a fall. It is difficult to keep balance on the giddy height where monarchs stand; but we must beware of thinking that they must necessarily fall. The great of this world are not all unmindful of one who is greater than they. God can give grace according to the day, and the place of need. He can shield his people from all the fiery darts of the wicked one. These darts fly thick around the thrones of princes, and the attendants on royalty fall in thousands an easy prey; but if any
Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the
GOD hath spoken to men: if they hear, their
This prophecy closes the record of God's revealed will. In this book God says yet once more to men, 'come and let us reason together.' The reasoning is set down here for our use. We shall get no more. We will indeed, all hear the voice of God, but when we hear it next, it will not be a reasoning together.' The reasoning is past; the judging will follow. Throughout a long day of grace, God has stretched out his hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people; a day of judgment is coming, in which he will crush his enemies with the rod of his power. This prophecy accords with all that has gone before. Although the last portion of God's