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to trace the process. He who thinks he can accomplish his object himself, will not seek help from another. God has said, 'Ask, and ye shall receive.' But if a man has no sense of want, he will not ask; and not asking he cannot get. "Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law;' this is a cry out of the depths; it is a prayer from a humble and contrite spirit. It is an effort to lean on the Almighty's arm, made by one who has discovered that he cannot help himself. They were blind men, and knew themselves blind, who cried out, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on us.' Those who are puffed up with their own wisdom, never will, and never can pray, for light out of Zion to guide them in their path; and those who do not ask, will not receive. Like the demoniac in the gospel, who cried out, what have I to do 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
his existence, and venerate his holiness, and dread his power; but his children only—those who are reconciled through the blood of the covenantcan trust in him. Some do not know God at all, and sport unthinking beneath the flaming sword of his vengeance. Some know God terrible in righteousness, and knowing him their enemy, believe and tremble. It is only when he is seen in the face of Jesus, a just God and justifying the ungodly, that there can be a 'trust' in him. He invites only through Christ; and it is only at his own winning invitation that sinners can yield themselves unto him; and it is only when they have yielded, and tasted that he is gracious, that they can begin to know the blessedness of the man whose trust Jehovah is. Ere any one can have this trust then, he must be of the family of God,-born from above.
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 hopes— about the restoring of Israel and the setting up
of Messiah's reign. Their views of these spiritual | wrought for them. Is this the way in which we things were by no means clear, and their conver- occupy our leisure? When friends meet, do they sation regarding them could not be very intelli- hold free converse about things seen, and never gent. So ignorant were they, notwithstanding pour out their hearts to each other about the the privilege they had enjoyed, that they had things unseen-about their hope in Christ? Will never yet learned from the scriptures that Christ two walk by the way, both named after Christ, ought to have suffered and so entered into his and commune together about the vanities of a glory. The chief priests and our rulers have day, without naming him on whom their salvacrucified him; but we trusted that it should have tion depends? We have surely much need to been he which should have redeemed Israel.' appropriate the apostle's prayer, that Christ may Thus ran their desponding complaint. Their dwell in our hearts. If we allowed Christ to hopes of redemption for Israel seem to have been dwell in our hearts, his name and his salvation almost quenched, when Jesus bowed his head and would oftener rise to our lips, and be heard in our gave up the ghost. The conversation of these conversation. 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.
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
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 seck 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 their 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. Those who know 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 admitting 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. Oing 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.
TWENTY-SEVENTH DAY.-EVENING. 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. In 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.' According 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
himself to draw all their consolation from the treasures of his grace. For this purpose they are led into a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. Had Moses, when first he came with his divine commission to deliver the captive Hebrews, begun by smiting a rock on the plains of Egypt, and summoning the people thither, to drink from the issuing stream, few would have heeded his call. Having enough in their own houses, they would have treated his invitation with indifference and neglect. In the desert they needed no invitation. Their suffering whetted their appetite. The thirst which they were enduring made them crowd closely round the appointed rock, and eagerly receive the first outflowing of the refreshing stream.
The God of Israel is our God; to his children the same love he beareth still.' Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? If he leads us into a wilderness, why should we complain? If in the course of his holy providence, he leads us into a land where no water is-a land where the streams of Egypt cannot follow us; if he bring us into a land where no springs rise from earth, and no rains distil from the clouds, it is not that we may be left to perish there. No, our God is gracious; his plans are wise-his purpose love. If he allows us to be thirsty, it is that, feeling the pain, we may come to the fountain of living water. It is a blessed thing to be made to feel that all created things are broken cisterns that hold no water. It is a blessed thing, though painful, to experience the psalmist's vehement longing for the living God. This pain draws or drives the needy near to the fountain of all grace. Thirsty that is a painful thing; but out of its very darkness, the light of hope arises. This is the very description of the man for whom the blessing is laid up-to whom the promise is given. This man has a strong argument to plead. God himself has filled that man's mouth with arguments. Let him that is thirsty' plead in hope, for to him expressly the promise is given. Remember thy holy covenant, O God! 'Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.' I am thirsty, pour thy Spirit upon me.
The promise is very rich, and very full. It is not only refreshing to individual believers, but an encouragement to them in their desire and prayer for the world; for the church; for their relatives; for their offspring. Godly parents long for the salvation of their children. A brother, already in Christ, longs vehemently for a brother according to the flesh, who is still in the bond of iniquity. The promise of the text throws open a channel
through which these strong desires may freely vent themselves. One who yearns for the salvation of a brother or sister, or wife or child, or father or mother, would soon grow weary with holding in. You are not able to save from death the soul of your beloved, and the pent up grief would consume your spirit. Here is an opening for your struggling emotions. God from heaven has opened it up, and brought it down to you. He hath said, I will pour out my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thy offspring. The promise has been sent down from heaven to earth, just to open up a way for your prayer to rise from earth to heaven. Take hold of it—for that very purpose it has been given-and on the strength of it plead, O that my father, or brother, or child, might live before thee.'
It is a blessed thirst that leads our souls to the open fountain. Welcome those troubles that drive us to Christ. Welcome those bereavements that leave in our bosoms a void to be filled only with the love of Christ. Welcome the scorching, and the parching, and the fainting, in a dry and thirsty land, if our weary souls are thereby induced to cry what have we any more to do with idols, and to wait on him who hath promised to be 'as the dew unto Israel.'
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,' Eph. iv. 11, 12. WE have much need to get our conceptions of the ministerial office raised and purified. In this matter the tone of the church is low. These verses are well fitted to instruct and reprove us. The former tells who is the Author of the office of the ministry; the latter tells what is its design. The former raises our eye to the Mediator's throne as the source whence this gift emanates; the latter turns our eye abroad upon the world to contemplate the end which the gift is fitted to serve.
He gave. The Lord our Redeemer gave; and not till he had ascended up on high did he thus fully equip the church for her combat with the powers of darkness. The gift is the purchase of his pain; one result of his victory; one fruit of his finished work. It was when he ascended up on high that he gave these gifts to men; nay, it was for this very purpose that he did ascend—
that he might fill, or fulfil, all things-that he difficult. It needs a hand skilful, delicate, pure, might finish the work he had undertaken, and to meddle with this matter at all—to interfere fulfil the promises he had made. It should in any way between Christ the Saviour and shame us out of our low carnal conceptions of the sinners seeking him. Who is sufficient for these ministerial office, to remember whose gift it is, things? God only, by his Spirit, can apply the and the travail to which his soul was subjected benefits of the redemption wrought by Christ; ere it could be obtained for us. yet it has pleased him to appoint some from among their brethren to be pastors and teachers of his people. He has committed this trust to earthen vessels, just that the excellency of the power, when the work is accomplished, may appear to be of God.
All these enumerated offices are given by Christ, and all for the same great purpose; but the pastors and teachers are the ordinary officebearers of the church, and with them we are more immediately concerned. The two offices, whether vested in one person, or separated, are, the private care of the pastor, and the public preaching of the word.
their Lord calls them to give an account of their stewardship. The special design of this work is the edifying of Christ's body; each believer is a living stone, and all together grow into an holy temple in the Lord. The work of a minister is, to confirm each and unite all. It is his duty to watch over the flock; to repress the outbreaking of sin, and stimulate the exercise of every Christian grace-to watch for the souls of his brethren as one that must give an account.
It is farther said that pastors and teachers are given for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. They are labourers The specific design of this ordinance-the sent into the vineyard. They must work while object for which this gift has been procured it is day. They must labour in season and out and bestowed, is first of all, for the perfecting of season, that they may not be ashamed when of the saints.' It is literally, 'fitting in-uniting each member to Christ the living head, and binding them all into one. There is enough in Christ to satisfy the wants of all his people. In him all fulness dwells: yet many of his redeemed are wandering on in weariness and want. They have a title to the inheritance; and yet they are not like the children of a king; they are lean from day to day. There is enough in Christ their Saviour, and his grace is offered free; they are invited to take freely; they come and try, but go away mourning. Believers do not get what their Saviour has to bestow. They err through ignorance in making their application; their faith fails, and they cannot lay hold on the promise. They need help, and reproof, and instruction. They need one to point out to them the particular provision in the covenant which contains the cure for their pains. One is needed, standing by the ark of the covenant, to tell this mourning inquirer that he is searching too much into his own heart and looking too little to Jesus; or to warn that too confident professor that he is putting his own repentance and faith into the foundation of his hopes. Ministers are needed to direct inquirers as they come, and point out to them the appropriate remedy for every disease, lest they pine and die beside the fountain of all grace, for want of skill to appropriate the blessing which they need. There is also a fitting of believers into each other; so that they shall be one in the bonds of love, thus helping each other, and glorifying their Saviour. Whether it be fitting an individual believer into the covenant with Christ, so that he shall have peace and joy; or fitting together the different members of the church, so that their unity shall be a blessing to them that are without-the work is great and
The members of the church have much to learn about the origin and uses of the ministry. It cannot be their duty to look with superstitious reverence on the office, or the person who holds it. Every several believer must try the Spirit of his teacher by the word. But those who avoid the error on this extreme, are apt to fall into another equally dangerous. The human spirit, when freed from the trammels of superstition, is ready to bound over into the opposite region of religious liberalism, which is equally fatal to the life of the soul. Let not the members of the church rudely judge him who is over them in the Lord. Let them not rashly measure his worth, by the estimate they may form of his talent or his learning. If he has been enabled to enter upon his office in the fear of God and in dependence on his Spirit, the members of the flock should learn to look on the pastoral office as the gift of their risen Lord, and the means by himself appointed to keep them unto the end. If in this way they receive it, they will be blessed in their deed.
Has Christ, for these great purposes, given his church pastors and teachers? Woe to them who are called to the ministry, if by their unfaithfulness they frustrate his grace. Woe to the pastors if the flock are allowed to turn aside un