Imágenes de páginas

taught and practised morality of the most benevolent kind," in an attempt to overturn Christianity; and the flagrant manner in which he has belied the sacred writers, must he manifest to every one that is in the least acquainted with them, and will take the trouble to compare them with what he has asserted concerning them.

Secondly: From the purity of Christ's character arises an important part of his fitness for his undertaking : without this he could not have been a priest, a sacrifice, or a mediator. It was necessary that the priests of Aaron's order should be without blemish, aud their sacrifices without spot.* This purity it is true was of a ceremonial kind, but it was typical of that which was moral; for in reference to this it is said of Christ, that such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.--We are redeemed, not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. The priests under the law were but ceremonially clean ; they needed daily to offer up sacrifices, first for their own sins, and then for the people's : but Christ offered himself once without spot to God, and thereby perfected for ever them that are sanctified. A polluted being might endure the demerit of sins, as the ungodly actually will; but he cannot make atonement for it, so as to make an end of it. The world might have borne its own iniquity, but it is the Lamb of God only that can bear it away. And as it was an important part of the priestly office to mediate, and make intercession for the people, so Christ is our mediator and intercessor before the throne : With his blood he entered once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. This mediation is founded upon his sacrifice : and the acceptableness of the former depends upon his spotless purity equally with the latter. A mediator could in no case be admitted to plead in behalf of a criminal, unless he himself were innocent. Had Moses been guilty of idolatry at Horeb, be could not have mediated on behalf of Israel.

* Lev. xxi. 21. Numub. xxvii. 3, 9, 11,

Our advocate with the Father is Jesus Christ the righteous. Though he mingled with sinners, yet he must be holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from them; and though he pleaded for sinners, yet he must not extenuate their sin, but condemn it without reserve, and justify the righteous government of God, by which it was threatened with destruction. It was on this account that the mediation of Christ' was so highly acceptable to God, and so gloriously successful, that he gave him the desire of his heart. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness : therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness, above thy fellows.

Thirdly : From the spotless purity of Christ's character arises his fitness to be the great exemplar, after which we should be formed, and which it should be our daily practice to imitate. God hath predestinated us to be conformed to the image of his Son. Jesus saith to the weary and heavy laden, Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. One great object of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ; and this he doth, not only by receiving of the things of Christ, and showing them to us; but by working, as I may say, by his spotless life as a model, and forming our souls into a resemblance of it. And as the Holy Spirit glorifieth Christ, in his operations upon us, so also must'we glorify him by voluntarily copying after his example.

The nature of man is such that he requires an example before his eyes. We all feel a strong propensity to imitation : Hence the danger of evil, and the benefit of good company : and hence the superior effect of example, in ministers and heads of families, to mere precept. But where shall a suitable example be found ? God is too much above us : our weak souls cannot look steadfastly. at his glory. With angels we have but little or no acquaintance; and men, even the best of them, are stained with imperfections, which it would be dangerous to imitate. If we had been predestipated to be conformed to the image of the best merely buman character, we should never appear faultless before the presence of the divine glory. Whatever imperfections attend us in the present state, we require a perfect model, otherwise we shall never attain perfection in any state. The example of Christ is

the only one that is adapted to our circumstances. In his face the glory of God is seen, without the eye of the mind being dazzled with its overwhelming lustre. In his character there is every thing to love, and in conforming to it nothing to fear. Happy are the men who are found followers of the Lamb whithersoever he goeth!

found forming to it not character the



1 Kings xix.

ELIJAR lived in a time of great apostasy. His history is more particularly related than that of most of the other prophets, and is very interesting. The most distinguished event of his time was a sore famine. For three years and six months the heavens were shut up. Of this Ahab was previously warned; and to prove that it was a visitation from God for sin, he was assured by Elijah, that as the Lord God of Israel lived, there should be neither dew nor rain, but according to his word. Hitherto he preserves his character, not only as a man, but as a man of God. We admire his magnanimity also, when, towards the close of this afflictive period, he looked Ahab in the face and reproved him. Still more do we admire him, when, singly by bimself, be braved the host of Baal's adherents, and confounded them before the people. But, alas ! what is man? After all this he is intimidated by the threatenings of Jezebel, and flees for his life. After going a day's journey into the wilderness, he sits down under a juniper-tree, and requests for himself that he may die. From hence he arose and

went to Horeb, the mount of God. Entering into a cave, he was there interrogated by him whose cause he had seemed to desert, What dost thou here Elijah ? He attempts to excuse bimself by accusing Israel. He had been very jealous for the Lord God of Israel : but they had digged down his altars, and slain his prophets with the sword, he only was left, and they sought his life. Thus, according to his account, it seemed time for him to flee. But that which is worse than all, in excusing himself, he does not barely accuse Israel, but seems tacitly to reflect upon the Lord bimself, as though he had done little or nothing to vindicate his own name, and what then could his poor servant do there alone ?

Jehovah could no doubt have confounded the complaining prophet; but forbearing, like himself, when dealing with erring creatures, he makes him no answer, but calls him forth to appear on the top of the mount. Here he is made to witness a very extra. ordinary scene.The Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks ; 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. And it was so when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.

The Lord was not in the wind :-that is he did not answer Elijah out of the whirlwind, as he did Job ; nor out of the earthquake, nor out of the fire. These awful appearances were only harbingers which preceded the voice of Jehovah. On hearing the still small voice, like the seraphim on the appearance of the divine glory, he wrapped his face in his mantle, and retired to his cave. The interrogation, What doest thou here Elijah? is repeated, and Elijah repeats his answer. The Lord replies, by directing him to go on his way to the wilderness of Damascus ; to anoint Hazael to be king over Syria, Jehu to be king over Israel, and Elisha to be a prophet in the place of himself. This was an answer to Elijah's tacit reflection. It was saying, I have judgments enough in reserve, both temporal and spiritual, to vindicate my name ; and Israel sball feel them in due time : for it shall come to pass;

that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. But is all Israel gone off from God? Is it as Elijah supposes, that he only is left; and is it all wrath and terror that is revealed against them? No ; there is a heart reviving exception at the end, yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the names which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

These great events undoubtedly bear a near resemblance to the extraord nary appearances on the mount ; and it seems probable, if not more than probable, that the one was designed to represent the other. If so, the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, would refer to those dire calamities with which God was about to punish Israel for their apostasy; and the still small voice, to the mercy and peace which should follow. Particularly, first, by the great and strong wind that rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks, understand Hazael's wars, by which the strong holds of Israel were set on fire, their young men slain with the sword, their children dashed, and their women with child ripped up: by these meaus God punished the common people. Secondly, by the earthquake, understand Jebu's revolution, who smote the house of Ahab, and avenged the blood of the prophets, and of all the Lord's servants, at the hand of Jezebel ; by this God punished the royal family, Thirdly, by the fire understand Elisha's trying prophecies, and the judgments which accompanied them: by these it is probable the idolatrous priests and false prophets were confounded. Fourthly, by the still small voice, understand the mercy and goodness which followed these dire calamities. It was doubtless soothing to Elijah's mind to be told of seven thousand faithful men in reserve; and while they remained in the nation a reserve of mercy in its favour might be expected, notwithstanding all their transgressions. And this was actually experienced under the reigns of Jehoahaz the son, and Joash the grandson of Jehu. The former besought the Lord, and the Lord hearkened unto himn : for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them.Hazael king of Syriu oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz; but the Lord was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and

« AnteriorContinuar »