Imágenes de páginas

be came he could not see him, enjoy him, be forever with him. For he has learned to place all his happiness in him, and it is only in proportion as he can experience his presence, that he can say, of any situation, " It is good to be here."

There is in heaven company of the first sort; society the most delicious. There we shall Join the innumerable company of angels. There we shall mix with all the truly wise and good. There we shall be introduced to martyrs, apostles, patriarchs. We shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God. We shall see those who have gone before us, with whom we were once connected by the tender ties of nature or of friendship. But Jesus is " the chief of ten thousand." Whom have we in heaven but him ?—And he cannot be satisfied unless we shall be with him to share in all his honour and happiness. "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. Where I am there shall also my servant be."—Such are the contents of this gracious declaration.

But the more important and interesting any intelligence be, the more anxious are we for its certainty. Our Saviour therefore,

IL Meets This State Of Mind In The Disciples, And Says—" If it were not so, I would have told you." How friendly and familiar! And yet how convincing and forcible is this address! Take it thus.

First If it had not been so—he could have told them. For ho knew all from the beginning. He was perfectly acquainted with the situation of his Father's house; with the works and enjoyments of heaven; with the character of the persons who were to possess it; with the way in which it was to be obtained.

Secondly. If it had not been so—he should have told them. As their professed teacher, it was his office to rectify their mistakes, and to save them from delusion.

Here you will also observe, that he had always laid a peculiar stress upon a future state in his doctrine. He had endeavoured to induce them to give up the present for the future—to abandon treasures on earth, in expectation of treasure in heaven. Now if there were no such state of blessedness and recompence—ought he to have suffered them to give up every thing that was dear to them here, for the sake of a fool's paradise? He knew that they had forsaken all to follow him; and he knew that in consequence of their adherence to him, they would endure persecution and death—and if there was nothing to indemnify them, should he not have told them?

Thirdly. If it had not been so—he would have told them. This follows from the former. For what was proper for him to do, he always did.

Besides—on all other occasions, when they had apprehended things to be otherwise than they really were, he had set them right We see this with regard to his sufferings, and the nature of his kingdom.

He had kept back nothing that was profitable for them. "Henceforth," says he, "I call you not servants: for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." And surely he would not have held them in darkness and error in a case of so much consequence as this!

What room was there for suspicion! Could they question his love? Had he not abundantly proved his readiness to serve them? Was he not even then going to lay down his life for them!—What could be more awful than the circumstances he was now in? He was now ready to be offered: and do men feel inclined to deceive when—dying!

Conclude we therefore by remarking, First, How unlike our Saviour is the "god of this world." The god of this world "blindeth the minds of them that believe not" He is afraid of the entrance of light He reigns by delusion. He knows that the end of these things is death. He knows that even now the pleasures of sin are not equal to the sorrows of religion. His servants indulge expectations, every one of which will issue in disappointment He knows this—but he refuses to tell them so: till, from the blindness of sin, he plunges them into the darkness of hell.

Second. We shall never go on well in religion till our Lord and Saviour has gained our confidence. And this he surely deserves. He is often better than his promise, but never worse. Let us in all cases run to his word, and consider what he has spoken—if he has) not said such a thing, it matters not who has) —but if he has spoken it—believe it to be more sure than heaven or earth—for heaven or earth may pass away, but his word shall not pass away. If you were not welcome to come and take of the water of life freely, he would tell you—if future happiness were a fancy, or a dream, he would undeceive you; and not suffer you to run and strive in vain. Settle it therefore in your minds that he will not— that he cannot delude you.

It is expected therefore that the believer's confidence in him should be in proportion to his acquaintance with him. Hence it is said, "They that know thy name will put their trust in thee." And hence, says the Apostle, "I know whom I have believed"—my faith is not a blind, rash confidence—I am sure of my ground, therefore I tread firm—I have proved the character I depend upon, and therefore I unreservedly commit myself to him—he is an old friend, a tried friend. How many evidences have I had of his kindness, veracity, and power! How reproachful would it be if I could not trust him now!" I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day." If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

Third. What a Master, what a Saviour do we serve! How sincere! How kind!" His heart is made of tenderness; his bowels melt with love." How concerned is he not only for the safety, but also for the comfort of his followers! With what a soft hand does he wipe away their tears! How graciously does he reward them—how infinitely does he provide for them !" This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O ye daughters of Jerusalem!" Fourth. Are you to fill any of these mansions!—Is there a place above prepared for you?—How people long to rise in the state! How they envy the great! How happy would they deem themselves if they could get into such—and such places! To what humiliations will they submit; what sacrifices will they be ready to make, to attain such fleeting, unsatisfying honours! But what are they— what can they be to "heavenly places!"—in which you are "blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ?"

For whom then are they prepared? I answer, for those who are prepared for them. God makes his people " meet for the inheritance of the saints in light" The vessels of mercy are "afore prepared unto glory." Others would be only miserable there; even if God had not determined to exclude them. But " The wicked shall not stand in his sight, he hateth all workers of iniquity: without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." Here nothing that defileth can ever enter. For such as love sin there is another place prepared. "For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared: he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it" The place indeed was prepared, as our Saviour says, "for the devil and his angels;" but sinners, by their rejection of his grace, will make it their own!—It is therefore said that Judas, when he died, went to his " own place."

Lastly. Let us rejoice in hope. Let us lay open our minds to these everlasting consolations which our Saviour here reveals and insures. Let them fill us with a joy unspeakable and full of glory in all our present trials, and especially under the loss of dear and valuable friends.

Let us remember that when no longer visible to us, they are not lost They have reached their Father's house. They are disposed of infinitely to their advantage. And this should subdue the selfishness of our grief. If we love them, we ought to rejoice in their promotion.

We have no reason to believe that they are acquainted with our circumstances, or can employ themselves for our welfare—yet fct us they languish, and for us they die. We may improve their removal; it should draw us away from earth, and attach us the more to heaven. And thus their going away will be for our welfare. When we lose the lives of our friends, we should be careful not to lose their deaths too.

They will not come to receive us to themselves—but they will welcome us when we enter their everlasting habitations. The separation is temporary. A time of re-union will come. We shall see their faces, and hear their voices again in ihe flesh. O cheerful consolation !—how suitable—and how sure! "I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died ana rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpof God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."



And when he wat entered into a thip, hit dudpies followed him. And, behold, there ante a great tempest in the tea, imomuch that the thip wot covered with the wavet: but he wat atleep. And hit ditciplet came to hut, and awoke him, taying, Lord, tave ut: wt perish. And he taith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of tittle faith? Then he arote and rebuked the windt and the tea; and there wat a great calm. But the me* marvelled, taying. What manner of man u this, that even the windt and the tea eke; him .'—Matt viii. 23—27. A Storm at sea is one of the sublimest appearances in nature. Hence it has often employed the painter's pencil and the poet's penDavid, whose genius was very vivid and distinct in its conceptions, has given us an admirable representation of this impress11'6 scene. "They that go down to the sea in ships,

that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders a t» deep. For he commandeth and rais*"1 ■* stormy wind, which lifteth tip the w»w

thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble^ and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they are quiet: so he bringeth them unto their desired haven."

Let us repair this evening to the lake of Galilee, and behold a vessel in a storm, containing the twelve apostles and the Lord of all. The narrative is every way instructive and useful. And was written for our learning. The circumstances are six. They are these—The Storm Arose While The DisciPles WERE FOLLOWING OUR LORD. Wllll.K THEY WERE ALARMED, HE WAS ASLEEP. 1.N THEIR DISTRESS THEY IMPLORE HIS ASSISTANCE. He REPROVES THEIR FEARS. He COMMANDS THEIR DELIVERANCE. He DRAWS FORTH THEIR ADMIRATION AND PRAISE.

They sailed in a calm, and soon encountered a storm. It is the emblem of life; at least the life of many. They launched forth into the world with fair appearances and high-raised expectations; but they had not proceeded far before the clouds gathered blackness, the sky was overspread, the winds howled, the waves roared, and they said, with Hezekiah, "Behold, for peace I had great bitterness." It is the emblem of many a particular enterprise; for so unanswerable often is the end or a thing to the beginning of it, that prudence as well as Scripture, seems to say, "Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may brine' forth."

But we are not only taught that we may sail in a calm, and meet with a storm;—we may encounter one even when sailing with Christ This was the case here. They were acting in obedience to his authority and in compliance with his example: "When he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him; and, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves." How is this? He could have prevented the fury of the elements, and have given them a peaceful and pleasant passage over. But then he would not have taught us so much. Particularly we should have wanted a confirmation of this truth—that prosperous gales do not always attend us in the prosecution of duty. And yet this is a very important lesson. It is of great utility to the young;, who are just beginning a religious course. It will prevent their expecting exemption from trials and difficulties; it will lead them to believe that these things may occur, will occur: and thus when the evil day comes they will not think it strange, or grow wearv and faint in I into their soul."

their minds; but rather be emboldened and confirmed. "O my soul, did He not tell me this! Did he not assure me that in the world I should have tribulation—that, as a traveller, I must look for some unfavourable weather and disagreeable road—that there would be a slough, a hill of difficulty, a valley of humiliation—and here they are? I am right Here David sighed. Here Paul groaned. These are way-marks which they have thrown up. I am journeying the same way; 'the way everlasting.'"

For want of having this truth present to the mind, many Christians who are more advanced in the divine life, have been confounded and dismayed. All misery wears the character of tm, of which it is the consequence; it naturally therefore reminds us of it God is the source of all light and joy; and when we see nothing of the one, and feel nothing of the other, it is not easy to believe that he is present with us. We are ready to say, with Gideon, "' If the Lord be with us, why then is all this evil befallen usT Surely he would have hindered all this. Surely, if he had it in his power, a father would keep a child from every thing hurtful; and a benefactor, a friend. How then can God be my benefactor and father, when, though he could by a single volition cure all my complaints, he suffers me from week to week to struggle with poverty, pine in sickness, and groan under disappomtment! If I am his, why am I thus!" But here we err. We do not consider that his thoughts are not our thoughts, nor his ways our ways—that though his love be real, it is also wise—that though no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, nevertheless afterward it yieldetn the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby. Hence it is not said, Blessed is the man that escapes, but "blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive a crown of life." Afflictions are the same to the soul as the plough to the fallow ground, the pruning-knife to the vine, and the furnace to the gold. Let none, on the other hand, conclude that they are right because they are prosperous. Success is flattering not only to our wishes, but to our pride; and when we are very warm in any cause, we are prone to consider every favourable circumstance as expressive of divine approbation. But did God approve of Jonah's flight because, when he came down to the sea-shore, he found a ship just ready to sail? What says poetry?

"God's choice is safer than our own:

Of aees past inquire
What the most formidable fate?—
To have our own desire."

What saith the Scripture * "He gave them their heart's desire, but sent leanness

Secondly. While His Disciples Were


O sleep, thou soft, downy enemy! how much of our time, our short, our uncertain, our all-important time dost thou rob us of!— His whole life was an illustration of his remark—" I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day: the night cometh, wherein no man can work." He never spoke an idle word; never spent an idle hour. He was in watchings often: we read of his teaching early in the temple; of his rising a great while before day and praying; of his going up into a mountain, and continuing all night in prayer to God. Now for once we read of his sleeping. We may take three views of it

It was a sleep of refreshment Wearied nature required repose in him as well as in us. For though he was divine, he was also truly and properly a man, and was possessed of all our sinless infirmities. At one time we find him upon the road begging a draught of cold water; at another, he hungered and found no food on the fig-tree. He was now heavy to sleep, and like a labouring man— such he was—his sleep was sweet; and regardless of delicate accommodations, he could lie down and enjoy it even in a fishing ship, and in a storm!

This renders the sleep wonderful. There could have been no fear, no uneasiness within: all was secure and serene. Some of you, it is probable, could not sleep in a storm. Judas was now on board. I dare say Judas could not sleep. What a hell would his avarice produce in his guilty conscience? But see Jacob. He is journeymg alone; the shades of the night descend; yet he "takes the stones of the place for a pillow, and lays himself down to sleep!" David abroad in the field, in the rebellion of Absalom, and when he had few troops with him, said, "I will both lay me down and—sleep, for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety." Peter, in the night preceding his designed execution, was "sleeping between two soldiers" so soundly, that the angel was obliged to strike s blow, as well as a Tight, in order to awake him. "So he giveth his beloved sleep!" Happy they whose minds are tranquillized by the blood of sprinkling. Happy they, who, though sensible of daily infirmities, can say, Our "rejoicing is this, the testimony of our consciences that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation m the world." Happy they who can this evening retire, and feel a comparative indifference to life or death; who can say, If I live, it will be to serve thee; and if I die, it will be to enjoy thee.

Again. The sleep was designed, and our Saviour had a particular end to answer by it He would try the disposition and dependence

of his disciples, and show us that he may be with his people in a storm, and yet seem to be indifferent; seem to see nothing, hear nothing, feel nothing. Thus it was with Abraham: his deliverer did not interpose to say, Forbear, till the hand had grasped the knife, and was stretched out to use it Thus it wu with the Jtws in Egypt He had engaged, at the end of four hundred and thirty yew, to deliver them; but he seemed to have forgotten the promise: the very last day of this long period was arrived—but be awoke in time; and before the returning dawn all the host of the Lord had escaped!—He defen these interpositions to render them the more divine and wonderful. His glory never shmes so brightly as on the dork ground of human despair. When creatures nave withdrawn, and the eye sees nothing all around but desolation, then, if he approaches us, he must be seen, and be welcomed with peculiar joy and praise: while by such a dispensation he saji to his people in all future ages—"Neverdespond; I can turn the shadow of death into the morning; at eventide it shall be light"

"Just in the last distressing hour
The Lord displays delivering power;
The mount of danger is the place
Where we shall see surprising grace.**

In the mean time he exercises our faith and patience, and calls forth our desires after h in. He knew that his disciples would soon apply to him; and so they did.—

It is the Third circumstance in the relation. "Thet Came To Him And Awoke HIM, SATING, Lord, Saye I:s: Wi: Perish." It Dm been said that those who would learn to pray, should go to sea; and one would suppose that danger so imminent and sensible would produce this' eflect, But, alas! many have returned from sea without learning to prayPerhaps indeed they prayed while the storm continued—but their devotion sunk fast*' than the winds and waves. How many are there who consider prayer as a task to be petformed in perilous circumstances, but not their daily duty, their constant privilege! We read of some birds that never make a noise but at the approach of foul weather: and there are persons who never cry to God but "when his chastening hand is upon them. —What would you think of a neighbour, who never called upon- you but when he wanted to borrow or beg? Would you not say, What a selfish wretch! he has no regard forme! he thinks of nothing but his own convenience? And what can God think of your religion, if you never seek him but in trouble.

And yet we are authorized to say, that trials have frequently been the means of bringing a man to God: he and God first met in affliction; but a friendship for life ws»the consequence. I cannot therefore but look hopefully towards a man who is brought into trouble; just as when I see a smith putting ■ bar of iron into the fire, I conclude that he is going to do something with it, to form out of it some useful implement, which could not be done while it was cold and hard. In his affliction Manasseh sought the Lord. Upon the same principle, thousands have had reason to say, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted."—We may also observe, that as trials are useful to begin, so they are employed to assist a life of prayer. For Christians themselves sometimes grow too careless and insensible. God hears from them less frequently, less fervently than before. Other things amuse them and engage them. But how differently do they feel in the hour of mortification and disappointment! "Where is God my Maker, that giveth songs in the night? Therefore will flook unto the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation, my God will hear me."

*' Now I forbid my carnal hope,
My food desires recall;
I give my mortal interest up.
Aud make my God my all."

By this you may judge whether your storms are blessings or curses. Do they make you passionate or prayerful? Are you quarreling with the winds and waves, or spreading the case before the Lord? Are you looking to creatures, or to him who has them all under his command, and "in all our affliction is afflicted?" "I would seek unto God, nnd onto God would I commit my cause: which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number."

Fourthly. Our Lord Reproves His DisciPles. But observe, I beseech you, for whai it is that he censures them. It is not tor breaking in upon his repose. Some of you may remember the confmement of one hundred and forty-six Englishmen in what is called the black hole at Calcutta. It would harrow up the feelings of your souls were I to relate the sufferings of these brave men, driven into a dungeon, which was a cube of eighteen feet, walled up eastward and southward, the only quarters whence refreshing air could come, and open westward by two small windows barred with iron—all this under a melting sky—and many of the men wounded! But what I refer to is this. The cries of these sufferers at last were such as to prevail on one of the enemy's soldiers to go and implore relief of the Suba or Chief. But he soon returned, saying that the Suba was asleep, and that it was upon pain of death any one dared to awake him before the time—and before he awoke many of them had expired! —But it is not so with thee, O blessed Jesus, thou Saviour of the world! Thou despisest not thy prisoners. We cannot by our continual coming weary thee. Thou hast always an ear to which misery is welcome. The groans of a broken heart are as delightful to tfvce as the songs of angels. No: he does

not reprove them for their prayer—but their fear. They were in a needless panic. They talked of perishing, not considering who was with them; and that they could not sink without his sinking too. His safety proved their security. Therefore he saith unto them, "Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith V And hereby he shows us—that our alarms originate in the want of faith—that faith may indeed be real where it is little—but that being little, it renders us liable to apprehensions and dismay—and that if a small degree of faith will be sufficient for fine weather sailing, a greater is necessary in a storm—a faith assured of our union with him; clear in its views of his power and love; and firm in its dependence upon his promise.

But oh! in what manner did our Lord utter this reproof? It is impossible to do justice to those lips into which grace was poured, and which spake as never man spake. But had we heard him, I am persuaded his tone of voice would have been more expressive of kindness than severity. It would have been the address of one who pitied while he blamed; who was touched with the feeling of their infirmities; who knew their frame, and remembered they were but dust; who knew the influence outward things have upon the body, and the influence the body has upon the mind. He would not therefore keep them in suspense, but

Fifthly: it is said, "Then—nE Arose And


There Was A Great Calm." What a scene was here? I see him opening his eyes—but not with surprise. Nothing astonished him through life. I see him gomg upon deck— not in haste. Haste is the effect of confusion —he had always too much to do to be ever in haste. I see him facing the storm.—But what said he? He " rebuked" the winds and the sea. To rebuke is a word that we apply to intelligent creatures only. We talk of rebuking a servant or a child—but not a tree or a stone. Thus the storm is personified and addressed as if it could hear him; and it did hear him and obey. And "there was a great calm!" Those who are acquainted with the sea know that after a storm is hushed, the deep continues for a considerable time to rise and fall and fret But the sea now immediately subsided from its raging, and spread into a smooth surface. For his work is perfect He doth all things well. And the execution honours him as much as the desipn.

But Finally. What effect had all this upon his disciples? They are not only convinced, but impressed: they not only " believe with the heart," but "confess with the tongue:" and,


a peculiar and unexampled display of perfection, "they marvelled, saying, Wnat manner of man is this, that even the winds and

« AnteriorContinuar »