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to some to whom the gospel-message, plain and simple as it is, was nought but “parables ?”—there was neither perception nor reception of it. The hearers thereof blind and dead, at the very time they heard with the merely outward ear, and saw with the merely natural eye; but where the gospel has come “not in word only, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” how marked its effects ! how different the results an opening of the eyes, an unstopping of the ears, a breaking of the hard heart! Away, then, with the Pharisaism and the self-righteousness of poor, proud, and blinded human nature. No longer can such say, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,” but such know of a truth and are brought feelingly to realize, that they are by nature “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Brought to a personal and heartfelt knowledge of this, under the power and teaching of the Holy Ghost, the language of a poor broken-hearted sinner is no longer strange to them. They cannot now, as before, look upon such, and say within themselves, “Surely there is something peculiar in that man's case; he must have verily been guilty of some gross sin ; he must have committed some fearful crime, which has not yet been discovered;" but now that the fountains of the great deep of a man's own heart are beginning by little and little to be opened up, he personally and practically understands the cry of those who, in the words of the Psalmist
, exclaim, “ Thou hast set my sins, my secret sins, in the light of thy countenance;" he even already begins to feel it a mercy that there was one-a Daniel—who, long before his day and generation, had exclaimed, “ O Lord, unto thee belongeth righteousness, but unto us confusion of faces." He feels how true the language of the Psalmist “I am poor and needy,” and he longs to be able to add, Yet the Lord thinketh upon me -yea, even upon me, poor, vile, guilty sinner that I am.
Now, what a mercy, beloved, it is to be brought here, so that step by step, and in plea after plea, you may be able to follow the Psalmist, and thus prove -although you may not as yet value the gift as it behoveth you to do that you are under the teaching, and guidance, and control of the Lord, even as David was.
But for this, you would neither understand, nor feel the force and power of His words. Oh, then, be it yours to thank God and take courage. Be it yours to say, Well, though it is not with me as I would have it, it is not with me as it was. Verily, there is a change! I see and feel what I did not once see and feel; and is not this of the Lord ?" Yea, undoubtedly, it is; and give God the glory. May He make it your mercy to acknowledge what He has done, and to ask Him to go on to be gracious, and to “perfect that which concerneth you,” remembering, for your encouragement, that it is written, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun in you a good work will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ.”
“Grace shall complete what grace begins,
To save from sorrows and from sins;
Eternal Mercy ne'er forsakes.” Reader, you that are a little more advanced—you who have weathered many a storm-buffetted many a billow, and whose head is still above water—do you not feel it a mercy this morning to look back upon the first dawning of light, upon the first gentle throb-yea, the very tiniest indication—of life? and, with the vivid remembrance thereof, do you not see and admire the Divine faithfulness and the rich mercy of the Lord, in that He hath fulfilled His word, “ He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax, but will send forth judgment unto victory ?"
Now, with respect to the Psalm before us, it is not clear as to the actual time or the precise circumstances under which David wrote it ; but whenever or wherever he did so, one thing is certain, he wrote it under the freshness of trouble, and under a feeling sense of the need of the great Helper. It is this, under God, that gives life, and tone, and energy to his words. Verse after verse is fraught with unction and power, and all so sweetly bespeaks the Divine anointing of the Holy Ghost in relation to the Psalmist's varied sorrows and afflictions. Clear it is, that the great end and object for which those afflictions had been sent was being brought about, in that they drew up David's heart and eye to the Lord. He relinquished all creature-holds, he was blessedly compelled to forego all human wisdom and human help, and simply and entirely tò cast himself—with all that he was and all that he wanted-upon the Lord !
Pieauer, are you brought here? Blessed position, if so. We do not ask you who you are, where you are, or what your trouble ? All this is of comparatively little moment; but this we ask, Has that trouble, be it what it may, brought you to "cease from man ?” Has it brought you feelingly to know, that “ vain is the help of man ?" and are you at this moment mentally exclaiming, in the closing verse of this Psalm, "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord ?”
Oh, sweet mercy this !
David opens the Psalm with this bold and blessed declaration, “ The Lord is my light and my salvation.” Whatever his conflict at other times, and however dark both his pathway and his feelings, here his language is that of strong confidence and holy dependence. Nor was it by any easy process that he attained to this. It was not spoken as a mere matter of course. He knew too much of every step of his pathway being disputed by Satan and the baseness of his own heart, to come to any such conclusion in a carnal or simply
There was no taking things for granted with the Psalmist, nor will the Lord allow of it in the cases of any of His dear children. What they learn they learn by little and little, and that, too, in a certain course of training and fatherly discipline. All which they have that is not got out of the fire is of little worth, and generally proves but the hay, straw, and stubble, that must be consumed the mere refuse to be thrown
Their faith is a faith that must be tried; it must be rendered fire-proof; and the only way in which this can be known, and the genuineness and reality of it realized, is by submitting it to the fire. When so tested, how tiny is the deposit of the precious metal that is found in the crucible. How much dross has to be separated from the pure gold, and cast away. How, for a season, to any but to the eye of the Refiner, does all appear to be lost in the flame, without so much as one particle of the precious metal remaining; and how vividly is the idea of faith as a grain of mustard seed” brought to the mind. If such a small measure of faith could, by the merest word, remove a mountain, or pluck up a tree, how tiny must that particle be, reader, which you and ourselves possess.
But it was only after repeated proofs and manifold failures, that the Psalmist could adopt this strong and positive language, “ The Lord is my
light and salvation." The very words convey the idea of conflict. They bespeak a warfare. It would seem as though it had been a disputed matter; and that it was only after being made victorious in the struggle, the Psalmist, in spite of his foe, could make the declaration. He speaks triumphantly. “ The Lord is my light and my, salvation.” You have contended the point, Satan—you have taken part with the tempter, oh, my heart; but, notwithstanding, “ the Lord is my light and my salvation.". I know it-I feel it-I have proved it; I will not yield the point. I cannot -- I dare notI will not give it up. He is my light, He is my salvation. Were it not so, I should not be where I am, nor as I am. It is He that hath delivered; it is by Him I have triumphed; it is His wisdom and His strength which have brought me through. Moreover, it is the Lord; it is not I.
Strictly speaking, I have had nought to do in the matter. I have been rather a hinderer than a helper. I have rather taken part against the Lord than with the Lord. He has done what He has in spite of myself. Hence I am the great debtor to His sovereignty and His bounty. “It is the Lord's doings; and it is marvellous in mine
Not unto me, O Lord, not unto me, but unto thy name be the glory, for thy mercy and thy truth's sake.” Furthermore, “He is my light and my salvation." In myself I am nought but darkness. I was born, and I lived in a region of darkness and deathliness. I was blind and He gave me light-yea, He Himself is my light; every ray of spiritual light comes down from the Sun of Righteousness. I was lost, undone, ruined for ever, but for Himself, not my light merely, but
my salvation—a present salvation, an eternal salvation; a salvation from foes internal, external, and infernal; a salvation for body and soul, for time and eternity ; a salvation worthy of a God, as complete and as lasting as Jehovah Himself could make it. A salvation without any lets or hindrances
, contingencies or peradventures. This, reader, was the salvation in which the Psalmist rejoiced; and no less a salvation could have made him happy, or caused him to exclaim, “ The Lord liveth, and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.”
But salvation is one thing, and the knowledge of it experimentally another. We have said that it was by no easy means, nor by any ready or fleshly process, that the Psalmist attained to this knowledge. It was God's work. He came to this knowledge by the Holy Ghost's teaching, and that alone. And as with the Psalmist in his day, so with the Lord's people in our day. There is no royal road to this learning, and yet it is a royal road, for every step of it is by the King's highway of holiness. It is by that special and peculiar pathway through which and by which the Lord leads His people, and where no alien from the commonwealth of Israel, or stranger to the covenant of promise, durst intrude.
Oh, the conflict through which a poor soul passes before he can be brought to this sweet confidence. How long it is with most whom the Lord takes in hand, ere they can, without wavering or doubting, say, “ The Lord is my light and my salvation.” Now and then they seem to get a glimpse of Him, and, under the sweetness of that glimpse, they say within themselves, “ Surely it is well! I see how adapted we are for each other-I a poor sinner, Jesus a mighty Saviour. He is all I want. I see His love ; I behold His willingness ; His promises are so numerous, so suitable, so precious; I feel the power of this one and that one ; and the way such and such an one was spoken, the time of deep, deep, necessity in which it came, and the weight
and power of its application, seem to say, 'It is well—that that promise was indeed for me.' Surely I may venture to lay hold upon it. I may treasure it up I
may call it mine-yes, even mine. I will trust and not be afraid.' I can say, that Christ is all my salvation and all my desire;' that 'my heart trusted in him, and I am helped, therefore with my song will I praise Him." • Whom have I in heaven but thee ? and there is none upon earth I desire in comparison with thee. The Lord Jehovah is my strength and song; He also is become
salvation.'' Such are, for a season, more the mental breathings of the Lord's trembling ones than their outspoken language; they are heart-words, for such fear to presume. They fear to express even a tithe of what they feel, lest they should deceive, or be deceived ; or, in case of their little faith giving way, they should bring dishonour upon the name and cause so dear to their hearts. Thus, even in the early stages of their spiritual career, they are brought, almost unconsciously to themselves, under the sweet influence of a godly feara holy jealousy for his truth-and the power of a tender nscience
It is by little and little ; after many a fall and many a rising again ; after being long and painful, yet profitable students of Peter's words : “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish. strengthen, settle you ;” it is after this, they are able to say, in the sweet triumphs of faith, “ The Lord is my light and my salvation.”
Reader, have you arrived at this sweet stage of experience yet, or are you still among the Lord's trembling and doubting ones, fearing to lay hold, and yet at the same time deeply sensible that,
“None bnt Jesus, none but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good ?” Sweet teaching this, and what will assuredly lead step by step to that blessed and fearless declaration, “ The Lord is mine, and I am His,
35 He loved me and gave Himself for me.” In God's time, beloved, you will be led to see that you never would have been brought to a sense of what you are as a sinner; never would you have discovered your own vileness and helplessness; never would you have known that Jesus, and Jesus only, is the very Saviour you need, if so be the Lord had not quickened you
death in trespasses and sins, and infused into your previously dead soul the breath of eternal life; and take this for your comfort, the Lord the Spirit help you so to do:
" The soul that on Jesus hath lean'd for repose,
He'll never-no, never-no, never forsake.”
THE EDITOR. Bristol, Aug. 17th, 1859.
REGENERATION.—Regeneration slays A man must have a new heart and a new enmity, and implants in the soul Divine spirit created in him : in which heart love ; for we must regenerate, or we and spirit the love of God is the ruling cannot enter into the kingdom of God. principle.
WAS COWPER’S INSANITY CAUSED BY RELIGION ?
How often we find that the actions of to a public school in Huntingdon, where great men--men whether famed in his- he was shamefully treated by an elder torical annals, statesmen, poets, histo- scholar; and the only relief afforded him riaus, or philosophers, and more espe- from this cruel tyranny, was prayer to cially Christians--are mistaken and mis- God. Unprotected, almost friendless, he applied. This seems to be an evil which cried to that God who has sworn himself many of our best writers possess. If to be a friend to the helpless; and his the views of a popular author are not prayers were answered, the school-boy consonant with their own, they are de- was expelled, and he was taken from the nounced; and those actions which are school. He then went to Westminster excusable under the circumstances, have School. He tells us that, after he left had a wrong and entirely different con- this school, “I was soon after struck struction put upon them. This is more with a lowness of spirits uncommon at my or less the case with a true, sincere, age, and frequently had intimation of a God-fearing man; witness, for instance, consumptive habit. The messenger of the case of William Huntington, that the Lord did his errand, and perfectly revivalist of evangelical religion, whose convinced me that I was mortal.” From character has been lately calumniated by this we may infer, that the germ of his a daily Chartist penny newspaper ; and disease was in formation even then, and we find that, however good and straight- that any unhappy circumstance might forward a man is in the daily course of accelerate and bring it to an awful perlife, the more likely he is to the censure fection. Another great trial—for to an of the world.
ambitious young man, full of hopes, it It is one of these errors which men was a trial-was the refusal of his uncle are possessed of, to ascribe the cause of to sanction his marriage with his cousin, insanity to religion. It may be a ques- and although she deemed it proper to tion whether religion is ever the cause of obey the injunctions of her father, yet insanity. It is to me strange that it
“ The heart that dared not disobey, should be so, and I do not think it can
Could never cease to love." be supported by one single instance. But as my subject gives me a limitation, The loss of his much-valued friend, Sir I shall confine myself to the question, William Russell, and then of his father, “Was Cowper's insanity caused by throwing him back upon his slender religion ?”
resources, were sufficient to cause an This question has been answered by outbreak of his malady. These circumHayley and Southey, histwo biographers, stances, together with the being called in the affirmative; but how far this is con- upon to appear before the bar of the sistent with the facts, may be seen from House of Lords upon the acceptation of a statement of them. The only reliable the office of clerk to the journals of that source of information of the life of House, and which situation he felt conCowper's first thirty-eight years, is from fident he should not perform satisfachis own pen. Hayley and Southey were torily, drove him to despair. Satan put not fit and proper men to write his bio- temptations in his way to destroy his graphy. They were destitute of that existence--drowning himself, poisoning spiritual knowledge which fits a bio- himself with laudanum, and hanging grapher for so important a task. When himself, were all tried several times, but but six years of age he lost his mother. the overruling hand of Providence sufIn a tender susceptible mind like the fered it not to be so. He was to become poet's, we may readily presume that his an ornament to the Christian world; he feelings would be agonizing in the ex- had a work to perform for his divine treme; and, indeed, he apostrophised Master; he was to write hymns for the her memory in some lines which plainly consolation of the Christian. At last exhibit the intense grief he felt. To his agony of mind at his own lost, ruined make matters worse, his father sent him helples s condition before God,