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duties of sons and daughters. When God confers on any one the right of an heir, he imparts also the spirit of adoption. The children of the kingdom are distinguished by many marks from the men of the world among whom they dwell. While they are in this far country, they account themselves strangers, and hasten onward to their home. Their appearance, and manner, and pursuits, indicate that they are pilgrims passing over a stage in their journey. Though in tribulation now, they know that their rest remaineth. Though their bodies are bowed down in weak
weak in themselves, they are strong in the Lord. They appear to be poor, yet they have all, and abound; they appear to be sorrowful, yet they are always rejoicing. These are the children of a king; and soon they will enter on their high inheritance.
The scripture speaks of the multitude of the redeemed, adopted, sanctified children, as the whole family in heaven and earth,' Eph. iii. 15. There is much consolation here-consola-ness, they lift up their souls unto God. Though tion to those members of the family who are still in the body. Though in a strange land, they are not accounted strangers. They rank as children. They are not distinguished by a different name, from the already blessed inhabitants of heaven. There is a distinction, not in the title of the children, but in the place of their sojourn. What think ye of Christ?' It is through him ye have this new name. He it is who hath made both one of Jews and Gentiles, two alienated families on earth; and it is in him that things in heaven and things on earth are gathered into one, so that those are made perfect around the throne, and those who are suffering in the body rank equal even now-all children of God, as safe as Omnipotence can make them; as highly honoured as sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty can be.
It is a whole family. O that will be joyful, when they meet to part no more.' When a family are scattered on earth, they sometimes try to meet to meet by appointment once a year, under a father's roof. By and bye, one is taken; and the remnant meet next time a mutilated family; in mourning weeds they meet, and the meeting just reminds them all the more strongly of the missing one. When the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty come at last into their Father's presence, they come a whole family-not one of them shall be lost, when they get out of great tribulation, and into the presence of the Lord, their joy will be full-they go no more out.
'But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night,' Psal. i. 2.
It is a uniform law of Christ's kingdom, that those who have the title acquire also the character of children. Those who are admitted to the privilege, are also disposed to perform the
'Set your affections on things above.' This seems a reasonable command. Surely no one can say it is grievous. It does not lay a heavy burden on men's shoulders. It seems as if it were easy to yield obedience to this command; and yet with man it is impossible. A dead man cannot lift up the members of his body; neither can the spiritually dead lift up to God the affections of his soul. The heart must be made new, ere its emotions will rise habitually to heaven. The carnal mind is enmity against God. My soul cleaves to the dust, quicken thou me.'
But it is not the only characteristic of the children of God, that in secret they set their hope in him: they keep his word in their memory, and regulate their lives by his law. They do not forget the words of God, but keep his commandments.' They keep the Lord always before them, and strive to do those things that are pleasing in his sight. Among other duties, the reading of the word holds a prominent place. The word dwells in a believer richly; day and night doth he meditate on it. Now, this is a thing with which a stranger cannot intermeddle. He cannot understand it. He has read commands to that effect, and has heard ministers say, that it is a duty daily to read and meditate on the word of God. He has never said any thing against this; but he has never been able to practise it; and he cannot have done it for a day or two after he has been understand how any man should be able. He may ill; but soon it grew wearisome. At one time he puts it off to another opportunity, at another time he altogether forgets that there was such a thing to be done. Such a person cannot comprehend how any man can be so frequently employed in searching the scriptures; and the reason is,—
fieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness,' Isa. lv. 1, 2.
'Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding,' Prov. iii. 5.
this is one of the things of the Spirit of God, and they are spiritually discerned. The secret of it all lies in this: The Lord's redeemed adopted children love the Lord's most holy law. No man will read the word profitably, or regularly, who is driven to it for fear he incur the vengeance of God by refusing. Until he learn to delight in the law, the great things that are written therein must necessarily continue to be counted a strange thing. Where there is a living spring in the soil, the streams do not forget to flow. So, where there is a new heart created-a spiritual life imparted to the soul, the affections will not forget to flow out toward him who is altogether lovely. A man who is living, and in health, never forgets to breathe, or take his food; so, when there is life in the soul, and that life in vigorous | Creator has made us to differ from the beasts of exercise, there is no such thing as forgetting to the field. It has been bestowed for great purpray, or to read the word. There is an appetite poses, and these purposes it is fitted to serve. belonging to the spiritual life. Without it the By means of it we are enabled to mark the works life cannot be sustained. Where it is weak, the of God, as seen in the world; and search the principle of grace will languish; where it does not revelation of his will, as it is written in the word. exist, there is death. By it, as an instrument, we are enabled to know ourselves. By it, when enlightened by the Spirit, we learn to know God. We are fearfully and wonderfully made; and the understanding' is the most wonderful part of our complex being.
The appetite for food is an instinct of our nature. We take our food, not because we have been told it is a duty, but because we have a desire for it, and pleasure in it. So with this word this bread of life. There is an appetite, a part of the renewed nature. There is a thirsting for the living God communicated by the quickening Spirit, which will seek without ceasing for its appropriate gratification. This desire cannot well be explained. The only way of knowing both the appetite and what it feeds on, is to experience it. Let that blessed craving be implanted in the soul, and there will immediately be a seeking for its natural food. There will no longer be a complaint about the word being a weariness, and the ordinances barren. There will be an instinctive seeking to the ordinances, not to feed on them, but on Christ in them. There will be an ever-active desire to search the scriptures, because they testify of him whom the soul loveth.
THIS power of understanding which we possess is a precious talent. The inspiration of the Almighty' has given it. It is one of the many good gifts which come from above-which issue from a Father's open hand. It is thus that our
The text does not make light of this gift. We do not find the word of God depreciating any of his works. The text has been written not to undervalue the human intellect, but to provide against a destructive error in its exercise. His own understanding' lies at the foundation of all that is excellent in man. Without it he is nothing. The text does not in the least derogate from the worth of this faculty; it is intended to guard against its abuse. The warning is, 'lean not to thine own understanding.' It is sufficient for many things, but it will not do to lean on. Many who have leant on it, have found it a broken reed. Those who depend on their own understanding for the knowledge of God, and the way of salvation, spend their strength for nought; they have not yet reached the beginning of wisdom. If they have no other support to lean upon, they fall and perish.
Alas! how little of this love is in our hearts; how little of this habitual bible-reading in our lives. We lose much by counting the word of God a strange Pride of intellect brings a snare, and many are thing. It is a great deep. By our searching we entangled in it. In the concerns of our eternity, can never find out all the wisdom and love that nothing is more fatal than this. This lofty look are treasured up there. It is a fountain ever must be bowed down. While it lasts there can full-ever flowing. Ho, every one that thirsteth, be no spiritual prosperity. They who are wise in come ye to the waters, and he that hath no their own conceit, cannot advance one step in the money: come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wisdom that is from above. Nothing more effect wine and milk without money, and without price. ually hinders the entrance of the word; nothing Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is more effectually keeps the light of the glorious not bread? and your labour for that which satis-gospel from shining in upon the heart. It is easy
to trace the process. He who thinks he can | his existence, and venerate his holiness, and dread accomplish his object himself, will not seek help his power; but his children only-those who are from another. God has said, ‘Ask, and ye shall reconciled through the blood of the covenantreceive.' But if a man has no sense of want, he can trust in him. Some do not know God at all, will not ask; and not asking he cannot get. and sport unthinking beneath the flaming sword "Open thou mine eyes that I may behold won- of his vengeance. Some know God terrible in drous things out of thy law;' this is a cry out of righteousness, and knowing him their enemy, the depths; it is a prayer from a humble and con- believe and tremble. It is only when he is seen trite spirit. It is an effort to lean on the Al- in the face of Jesus, a just God and justifying the mighty's arm, made by one who has discovered ungodly, that there can be a 'trust' in him. He that he cannot help himself. They were blind invites only through Christ; and it is only at his men, and knew themselves blind, who cried out, own winning invitation that sinners can yield 'Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on us.' themselves unto him; and it is only when they Those who are puffed up with their own wisdom, have yielded, and tasted that he is gracious, that never will, and never can pray, for light out of they can begin to know the blessedness of the Zion to guide them in their path; and those who man whose trust Jehovah is. Ere any one can do not ask, will not receive. Like the demoniac have this trust then, he must be of the family of in the gospel, who cried out, what have I to do God,-born from above. with thee, thou Jesus,' at the very time when he was the devil's helpless slave, the wise of this world think themselves rich and in need of nothing, while they are poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked. The wisest of men, while they are ignorant of Christ, have their foolish hearts darkened. However accurately they may scan the works of God in the material universe, in regard to eternity they are blind, and cannot see afar off. It is a poor thing to lean upon the understanding of a fallen and corrupt creature. It cannot find out how exceeding bitter a thing sin is; it cannot find out how sin may be pardoned; it cannot find out the way of peace; it cannot direct the wanderer back to God. Lord, I am poor and needy, forsake me not. Teach me out of thy law. By the entrance of thy word give light to my darkened understanding. I have gone astray like a lost sheep, seek thy servant.
But, when our self-confidence is destroyed, is there any other foundation near? When we have been cast down from the heights of our own pride, is there any power that can raise us up again—is there any rock on which our feet may stand, and our goings be established? This same portion of the word which warns us of our own weakness, points to a refuge in which we may be safe-a foundation on which we may rest secure. Trust in the Lord.'
Trusting in the Lord, is a form of expression very common in scripture. It would be wrong to say that the word is vague and indefinite; but from the very frequency of its occurrence, there is reason to fear it leaves but a vague and indefinite impression on our minds. Trusting in the Lord, is the very essence of saving faith. It is the most distinguishing characteristic of the children of God. His enemies may believe in
More particularly still, it is 'trust in the Lord with all thine heart.' It is only thus that there can be a trust. It is a matter, not of opinion, but of affection. His heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.' It is not enough that his judgment is fixed in believing the essential truths of revelation; his heart must be possessed by a love of the things revealed. The judgment convinced, steadily maintains the truth; and the affections captivated are drawn out in love to it. And it must be with the whole heart. Alas, who is sufficient for this thing? My heart is unstable as water; its affections are scattered on a thousand vanities. My soul cleaves to the dust. Lord, thou knowest we have divided hearts. Lord, bless and pity us. Keep our hearts. Turn upward the flow of their affections. Set them steadily on thyself. Enable me to obey this law of thine: to trust in thee with my whole heart. Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.'
Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,' Luke xxiv.
ON that same day' in which the Redeemer rose from the dead, two of the disconsolate disciples
went to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened.' They communed together and reasoned' about Christ and his sufferings—about the Master's promises and the servant's hopesabout the restoring of Israel and the setting up
Is this the way in which we When friends meet, do they hold free converse about things seen, and never pour out their hearts to each other about the things unseen-about their hope in Christ? Will two walk by the way, both named after Christ, and commune together about the vanities of a day, without naming him on whom their salvation depends? We have surely much need to appropriate the apostle's prayer, that Christ may dwell in our hearts. If we allowed Christ to dwell in our hearts, his name and his salvation would oftener rise to our lips, and be heard in our conversation.
of Messiah's reign. Their views of these spiritual | wrought for them. things were by no means clear, and their conver- occupy our leisure? sation regarding them could not be very intelligent. So ignorant were they, notwithstanding the privilege they had enjoyed, that they had never yet learned from the scriptures that Christ ought to have suffered and so entered into his glory. 'The chief priests and our rulers have crucified him; but we trusted that it should have been he which should have redeemed Israel.' Thus ran their desponding complaint. Their hopes of redemption for Israel seem to have been almost quenched, when Jesus bowed his head and gave up the ghost. The conversation of these two disciples on their way to Emmaus could not be very clear—their reasonings could not be very conclusive, but as they went, they talked together about Jesus. Though they knew but little, they 'loved much.' Though the eye as yet was not very clear, the heart was full. Babes in Christ as yet, they could not do much by their mutual reasonings to explain the mysteries of the kingdom, but still they would be talking about it. They had not much knowledge; but they had a strong desire to know. To him that hath this humble and spiritual affection to Jesus, shall be given in due time the knowledge of his salvation. While these two men were communing together, 'Jesus himself drew near and went with them,' enlightening their eyes and warming their hearts. Upon their return to Jerusalem, they found the rest of the apostles and certain other believers gathered together. At this meeting the same thought possessed their souls-the same theme prevailed in their conversation. "The Lord is risen indeed.' The two began to tell what had been done in the way, and as they thus spake Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith, Peace be unto you. Again, while the sorrowing disciples are eagerly communing about him and his salvation, Jesus himself comes to teach them what they did not know. "Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.'
We know from the history of the Acts that this was their occupation during the forty days of the Saviour's sojourn among them after his resurrection. The time was employed in 'speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.' In the example of the apostles, then, we may read a rebuke, and from their experience we may draw encouragement.
There is great encouragement to the humble disciples to commune together about the things that belong to their peace. When they that fear the Lord speak often one to another, the Lord will hearken and hear, and a book of remembrance will be written before him, and they shall be his in the day when he makes up his jewels. When the heart is full of love to Christ, and his name is felt to be like ointment poured forth, there will in due time be an increase of knowledge. To them that fear him thus, he will certainly show his salvation. Jesus himself will draw near to humble earnest inquirers; he will not leave them to seek his face in vain. Ascended now to the Mediator's throne, and no longer personally present with his people, he sends his Spirit down to administer the covenant; to enlighten the ignorant, to comfort the mourner, to stablish, strengthen, settle the saints in their most holy faith. Ask, and ye shall receive.'
Our understandings need to be opened. There is wisdom written in the word, but a barrier is set up to prevent its entrance into a sinner's heart. There is light enough in the scriptures, but there is an obscuring veil upon the understanding of men. God hath shined out of Zion-out of Zion our God hath shined gloriously, and the bright light circles free through all the tents of Jacob; but the sons of Jacob do not let it in upon own souls. God hath shined out of Zion-that we can all say; but have our hearts really been illumined by the light of the glorious gospel? These are two different things. both, are well aware that there may be the one without the other. They know in their own experience, that the light shone around, at a time when it did not shine in. The one- -the shining out of Zion—was the work of Emmanuel, finished by himself and perfect for ever; the other—the shining in upon the heart-is a special work of the Holy Spirit, taking away the veil and admit
Those who know
When 'two or three' of them meet, whether sitting in the house, or walking by the way, we find they are engaged in communing about Jesus -about their own hope in him, and his salvation | ting the diffused light into a dark place.
It is a blessed thing to have the understanding | may be prescribed for both. There is the thirst so opened. The salvation is near, and it is sad of a living creature, feeling the want and crying to think that many who hear of it, shall perish for for help; and there is the dryness of the ground, ever. It is sad-it is heart-rending, to think that needy, but not knowing its need. There is a pantnothing stands in the way of sinners' salvation but ing, and a parching. We hear of the hart pantthe hardness of their own unbelieving heart. O ing for the water-brooks; and we hear of a dry that it were opened! Nothing more is needed. and parched land, where no water is. In the one All things are now ready. No obstacle impedes case we have a living thing, knowing its wantthe beam from Zion, until it reaches us, and the feeling the pain, and longing to be satisfied. In veil keeps it out. From the impenetrable depths the other, we have the dead unfeeling dust, dry, of a past eternity-from the covenant of the ever- hard, and riven, in need of the water-brook, but lasting Father, ordered ere time began, the light with no sense of want, or desire for supply. The issues forth; and no length of ages dims its bril- same blessing will remedy both these forms of ill. liancy, or turns it from its course. From the high Water poured out will satisfy the thirst of the heavens it comes, and no distance wearies its panting hart, and soften as it flows the parched flight. This good news from a far country holds soil. on its way to the needy object; it seeks the sons of men. Barriers there were, but they are removed now. Justice stood in the way-interposed to keep the blessed ray from coming at all from the throne of God in the direction of this world accursed. But in the fulness of time, justice turned aside-justice satisfied was borne out of the way by the mighty God our Saviour, and the glorious light from the covenant began unopposed to flow. Again, the curse lay on the lost, to intercept the blessing. Messiah became a curse for us, to take the condemnation away. He who is now the way unto the Father, first became the way from the Father to us-the way whereby compassion from God might flow free to men. And now the light of the gospel after clearing all these obstacles, and reaching its object, is kept out of our hearts. Sinners perish, after salvation has come nigh. The God of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the gospel should shine into them. Great God our Saviour, by thine own Spirit promised and sent, open our understandings, that the word may enter to quicken, to enlighten, to save.
For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water-courses. One shall say, I am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel,' Isa. xliv. 3—5.
WE have here two different kinds of thirst. Two distinct forms of evil are depicted, that the remedy
When God from heaven on high looks down on this fallen world, he sees it a waste howling wilderness; but the sad scene is not altogether uniform. Death does not reign over all. There are marks of spiritual life. There is drought over all; but some have been quickened into life, and are panting for a refreshing stream. The general aspect of the fallen race is that of a parched land. The heavens above are as brass, and the earth as iron. All seems ready for the burning, and yet no sense of want, no sigh for relief. But on the surface of this dreary waste, there are here and there marks of life. God sees there his own children. He marks their vehement longing for the refreshing from his presence. He hears their cry. He has recorded for them his promise. I will pour my Spirit on him that is thirsty.' Though the living who are thirsty-the living alone can lay hold of the promise and urge the prayer, yet the blessing, when it comes, will be upon all. It will fall upon the living who asked, and on the dead who knew not their need. answer to the cry of his own redeemed people, God will not only satisfy their own souls out of the fountain of living water, but also pour floods upon the dry ground. Open your mouth wide, ye that wait upon the Lord, open your mouth wide, and your Father in heaven will open wide his hand. He will give his Spirit to invigorate the life of your souls, and beget new life in the dead around you. Ask, and ye shall receive.' cording to his promise, he will bless you and make you a blessing.
To be thirsty' is in itself not joyous but grievous; yet it often turns out a 'salutary pain.' It is part of Jehovah's purpose still to lead his people into the wilderness. As of old, so now, he has many lessons to teach them there, which they would not learn by the flesh pots of Egypt. He would teach his people to depend only upon