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rebellious state of mind, and a rebellious emotion. The most humble and dutiful may feel at times an unruly thought suddenly rising up—but it will not be encouraged, and finding no entertainment there, it will . withdraw. The disposition of the soul appears in this, that it is shocked and distressed by such a sentiment: while it longs and strives after acquiescence. We are to judge of ourselves, not by what is unavoidable, but by what is voluntary: not by what is occasional, but by what is habitual and prevailing. The rest will be readily pardoned by Him, who " knoweth our frame, and remembers that we are dust, and spares us as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." How beautifully is this state of mind characterized and expressed in the following lines'
*' Peace all our anery passions, then;
"I charge my thoughts, be patient still,
"The patient soul, the lowly mind
II. Let us consider The Reasons Bt Which
THIS DUTY IS ENFORCED.
Nothing can be more pleasing and convincing than the language of the Apostle. "Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live! For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that wo might be partakers of his holiness." Here are four motives.
The First is derived from the relation in which God stands to us. He is our Father. This is thf common name by which he has revealed himself in the Gospel; and it is equally lovely and venerable. There is indeed another beinjr you have honoured with this title. Cut he is not your father in the same sense with God. The former is your father subordinately, the latter is so absolutely. The one is the father only of your Jlr.sh, the other is the Father also of your spirit— and thin is the man ; this is the principal part of human nature. The body is the case, the soul is the jewel; the one is the habitation of clay, the other is the inspired resident By the one we resemble worms, by the other we are allied to angels; the one is mortal, the other is immortal; "the dust returns to the dust whence it came, the spirit returns to God who gave it" In whatever way the spirit unites with the flesh, in the production of it human agency has no share, and God
claims the creation of it as his prerogative. He is called "the God of the spirits of all flesh;" and is said to have "formed the spirit of man within him."
But to what does this lead? The conclusion, says the Apostle, is obvious. If he preeminently fills this relation, his claims to duty are proportionably great You gave the fathers of your flesh reverence. Look hack to the period of infancy and childhood. Were all your wishes gratified, whether wise or foolish! whether good or evil? Were no restraints laid upon you, the reasons of which you were unable to discover! Were you not compelled to apply yourselves to various exercises, which your vain and roving minds would have gladly passed by! But jou regarded the authority that enjoined them; and submitted. You sometimes provoked the rwi. and incurred rebuke. And you have better apprehensions of the whole system of discipline now, than you had then. But even then you did not strike again—your arm would have been unnerved. You did not snatch the rod out of your father's hand and break it to pieces—you would have shuddered at the thought You did not fly from the house, and refuse to return. You did not say to him, I despise thy strokes—and mil do so again. Y'ou did not even dare to ask, What right hast thou to deal thus with me! And shall a man obtain more obedience than God ?" Shall yon not much rather be in suhjection unto the Father of spirits?" It is to be feared that the children of Jonadab will not only rise up in judgment against the Israelites, but against ourselves. Hear what God says of them: "Go and tell the men of Judalt and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, N ill ye not receive instruction to hearken to my words! saith the Lord. The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons, not to drink wine, are performed; for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father's commandment: notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early ana speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me. Because the sons of Jonadab the sons of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them; but this people hath not hearkened unto me: therefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upca Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them."
This brings us to the Second reason of submission. It is taken from the danger af *" sistance. "Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits^ and live = Clearly intimating that disobedience willew in deatL It did so among the Israelitish children, to whom the Apostle alludes. Mder the Law, rebellion after parental correction was a capital crime; it was death bj statute. And thus the statute runs: "If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of the city, and unto the gate of his place; and they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear." In such a case there was no alternative but submission or destruction.
And so it is here. Resistance is not only unreasonable, but ruinous. "Who ever hardened himself against Him and prospered i Wo be to the man that striveth with his Maker!" There cannot be a more awful presage of future misery than to counteract the afflictive dispensations of divine Providence, and "despise the chastening of the Almighty." It provokes the anger of God, and operates penally in one of these two ways. Either, first, it induces God to recall the rod, and, giving a man up to the way of his own heart, to say, as he did of Ephraim, "He is joined to idols; let him alone;"—or, secondly, he turns the rod into a scorpion, and fulfils the threatening; "If ye will not be reformed by me, by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins." Thus he strikes at first more distantly, and less severely. He takes away a part of the man's estate. He then bereaves him of a friend or relation. He next visits him with some bodily disease. After this he strikes his conscience, and he has " a wounded spirit" that he cannot bear; he is afraid to die, and he is unable to live. At length God casts him into hell, with these words, "He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
At the thought of this, a Christian trembles in every particle of his frame, and falling on his knees, cries, "Do not condemn me." Chasten me as thou pleasest with thy people, but let me not be condemned with the wicked. Make use of the rod of a father, but let me not feel the sword of the judge. "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the wav everlasting."
Tf this be your desire; if your soul bows to his authority, and subscribes to his wisdom and goodness; if you can say, "I have borne chastisement; I will not offend any more: that which I know not, teach thou me; if I have done iniquity, I will do so no more"—it
is- a blessed omen; and whatever aflliction you may suffer, you may say with David, "I shall not die, but live."
The Third motive is taken from the brevity of the discipline.—They verily chastened us, but it was only for "a few days." The child soon became a man, and the course of restriction and preparation resulted in a state of maturity. This is to be applied to our heavenly Father, as well as to our earthly ones; and contains an encouraging intimation, that the whole season of trial, when opposed to our future being and blessedness, is but a short period. Indeed the argument is much stronger in this case than in the former. There is some proportion between the days of minority and manhood, but there is none between time and eternity; there is none between the introductory and the final state of Christians. If life be short, and it is "a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away," trouble cannot be long. The Scripture seems to labour for expressions to diminish any apprehension of length, as an attribute of our grief. Ye shall have " persecution ten days:" but what are ten daysl— Weeping may "endure for a night;" but what is a night?—I will keep thee from "the hour of temptation:" but what is an hour i—This light affliction is but "for a moment:" but what is a moment ?—Yet this is not short enough to answer, I was going to say, the impatience of our Deliverer. "For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee."
The Last motive is derived from the principle and design of affliction. Men are imperfect, and their actions are like themselves. Hence, when as their children they chastened us, it was frequently "for their pleasure." They would do it It was to give ease to their passions; to vent their feelings. It was from a peevish humour; a false pomt of honour. It was to show their authority, or maintain their consequence, regardless of our welfare.
But this is not the case with God. "He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." He does it only " if needs be" —He does it "for our profit" This is his aim in all his dispensations. If he keeps you in a low and impoverished condition; if he removes lover and friend far from you; if he makes you to possess months of vanity and wearisome nights—whatever you may be tempted to think of all this—it is "for your profit"
What profit? A profit that infinitely weighs down every other advantage, and which above all things, yea, and by "any means," you should be anxious to secure: spiritual profit; divine profit—"that you might be partakers of his holiness."
It is the essence of religion and happiness to resemble God: but observe in what the resemblance is principally to consist Not in our imitation of the natural, but moral perfections of Deity. Here men perpetually mistake. They wish to be as God, knowing good and evil: they wish to be independent of others; they wish to be like the Most High in exaltiqg their throne above the stars; they wish to govern with an arm, and to thunder with a voice like his. A Nebuchadnezzar could desire this—Adam desired this, and fell—angels desired it, and were driven from their first estate. But who wishes to be true like God, patient like God, merciful like God, holy—holy like God? Yet this is the design of the Gospel; it is to create us after the image of God "in righteousness and true holiness." It is the design—let it never be forgotten—it is the design of every affliction with which you are exercised :—" but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness." Reflect on four things when you retire, for we have not time to enlarge. If God chastens us to.make us holy—we learn,
First; the importance of holiness, and the value of it in the eye of a Being who cannot be mistaken.
Secondly; we learn how defective we all are in this attainment; seeing God deems such trying means necessary, in order to promote it
Thirdly; we learn that if any thing can promise a happy deliverance from trouble, it is the sanctification of it: when the end is answered the rod is laid by.
Fourthly; we learn that whatever our afflictions may do for us, they have not fulfilled the Divine purpose, unless they have made us more holy. It is not enough that our trials have made us more wise and cautious with regard to business; more sedate and regular in our deportment; more dissatisfied with society. Is sin more abhorred? Are our corruptions more subdued? Are we more devotional? Are we more heavenly-minded? Are we more like a pure and a holy God?
We conclude the whole with one general reflection. It regards the manner in which the sacred writers teach us. They simplify every subject they touch. They exemplify it by comparisons; and these images are not taken from the arts and sciences, but from familiar scenes; from those relations which all fill; from those occurrences which all meet with. All therefore can understand them; all can feel them. And while these images serve to illustrate religious subjects, they also instruct us in the duties of civil life.
Take an instance from the words before us. The Apostle refers to the conduct of children, to illustrate the disposition of a suflering Christian; but the very reference inculcates a dutiful behaviour in children themselves. They should give their parents reverence; the reverence of obedience to their commands, and of submission to their corrections. A child
commits one fault in rendering correction needful, but he commits another and a still greater, in neglecting and despising it Parents have not only authority, but & charge to correct
Again. The Apostle refers to the conduct of parents, to illustrate the character of God in chastising us; but the very reference gives him an opportunity to show parents how they ought to correct They should not do it for their own pleasure, but the child's profit He should see that they are not actuated by passion, but conviction; that they do it not willingly, but from a sense of duty. This being the case; would it not be better to defer punishing till provocation has subsided! This would allow of your judging impartially of the offence; of proportioning the degree of penalty to the crime; of adapting the kind of discipline to the criminal. In this case instruction would unite with correction. If rebuke be really necessary, it will be equally so an hour after; but many, if they do not chastise immediately, cannot do it at all: a sure proof that irritation, and not religion, is the principle that actuates them.
What reason have we all, masters and servants; children and parents; for deep humiliation before God!
Oh, Thou supreme, Thou infinite Excellency ! enable us to make Thee our only model, and be perfect, even as our Father which is in heaven is perfect!
THE RULER'S DAUGHTER RAISED TO LIFE.
And he put them all out, and took her hy tie hand, and called, taying, .Haiti, ariu. Mi her tpirit came again, and the arote ttragitway: and he commanded to give her meat —Luke viii. 54, 55.
It must have been very gratifying to a mind possessed of tenderness and benevolence to have accompanied our Lord and Saviour from place to place, as " he went about doing good." # How delightful to have seen him, at one time, feeding a multitude of hungry people upon the grass; at another, stopping to open the eyes of a blind man, that sat by the way-side begging; at a third, restoring a poor paralytic to the use of his limbs, and enabling him to return home, carrying the bed npoo which he himself had been brought; at » fourth, repairing the losses of those who had been bereaved of their connexions, and were sorrowing most of all that they should see their face, and hear their voice, no more! —Who is not ready to envy his immediate followers! Who does not wish that he ho o seen one of the days of the Son of man I
But no small degree of the same pleasure may be enjoyed in perusing the hislory of these interesting' scenes. It is secured to us in the Gospels ; it is written with a simplicity the most exquisitely natural and striking; .and the events themselves are much more instructive to us than they were to those who witnessed them.
We are now going to bring under review the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus.
Jairus was "a ruler of the synagogue;" probably a magistrate: obviously a man of some eminence and consequence. "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called." It was asked by our Lord's enemies, "Have any of the rulers believed on him?" They were the common people that heard him gladly; and very few in higher life were either his followers, his friends, or his suppliants. But there were some. Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man, and a counsellor. Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews. A centurion besought him on behalf of his servant A nobleman besought him on behalf of his son. And Jairus besought him on account of his daughter.
That which brought him to the Redeemer was an event that reduces the high to a level with the low, and proves the insufficiency of wealth and honour. Can a higher station in the world secure peace of mind ? can it ward off the common vexations of life? can it prevent sickness? can it protract the approach of death? Does it not rather multiply our fears and anxieties: and render us more widely vulnerable? does it not produce many evils, which others escape? and make every affliction less tolerable, by previous and softening indulgence?
Behold this man. Disease invades his family, and seizes a daughter; his only daughter ; a daughter twelve years of age; a period of peculiar attraction, when the mind begins to move, and the character to bud; when the heart is all alive, and confidence is unchilled; when the parent begins to feel esteem blending with tenderness, and to hail a companion in a child!—She "lay a dying!" The aid of medicine had doubtless been called in: and no expense had been spared to obtain relief! But all is in vain—the disease increases—and hope begins to fail. Yet the distressed father cries, "' Let me not see the death of the child.' I have heard of the fame of Jesus' of Nazareth. He is not far off I will go to him. I will try his goodness and his power." And to him should we bring all our distresses, whether temporal or spiritual; personal or relative. They are intended to remind us of a friend born for adversity, and who is too generally forgotten in the hour of prosperity: and if they have led to an interview with him, or increased our intercourse, wo have reason to bless the rod, and can acknowledge, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted."
This man had some faith in our Saviour, or he would never have taken a journey to apply to him; yet it seems to have been weak and wavering. Compare him with the Centurion. When Jesus offered to go with him, the Centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed." But Jairus deems his bodily presence necessary to the cure; and, therefore, falling down at his feet,' he beseeches him to go to his house. The Friend of sinners would not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. He adapted himself to the views of the petitioner; and immediately complied with his wishes.
But as they went, a messenger from the house met them, and said, " Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master." It is easy to conceive what a shock this would prove to the father's feelings. While there was life there was hope, however weak; but who can recall the dead? I see him turning aside to weep—struggling to say, like David, "I shall go" to her; but she shall not return to me;" —or, with Job, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord;"—then, thanking the Saviour for the kindness of his intention, and for coming so far; but, like the servant, deeming all further application both useless and tiresome, Jesus, the hope of Israel, the Saviour thereof in the time of trouble, answers him, saying, "Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole."
May we not remark hence, First, that sometimes while dealing with the Saviour, the storm becomes darker than before? We cry for pardon, and feel a growing sense of guilt We pray for sanctification, and the power of corruption seems to revive. We hope for deliverance, and our difficulties multiply. Thus he tries those whom he intends to succour, in order to wean them from every false dependence, and to render his interposition' the more wonderful and endeared. And the trial is commonly very humbling, as it shows us the weakness of our confidence in him
Secondly. Let us never deem importunity in prayer troublesome. By our continual coming we may weary the best of earthly benefactors: but it is otherwise with God our Saviour. His power is almighty; his understanding is infinite. He listens to the cries of a world of creatures dependent upon his care; and yet he can regard our affairs as much as if he had no other aflairs to regard. And as to his disposition—this is such, that our prayer is his delight; and the oftener we come, and the more we ask, the more welcome we are.
Thirdly. It is never loo late to apply to the I-ord. Though means fail us, and the case is desperate as to help from creatures, yet our extremity is his opportunity; he is
able to do for us exceeding abundantly, above all we can ask or think; and "at even-tide it shall be light"
And therefore, Fourthly, the way to obtain present ease, and certain relief, is to exercise faith under every discouragement How well are, "Fear not," and "Believe only," coupled together I "Thou wilt keep him," says Isaiah, "in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed upon thee: because he trusteth in thee." But in another place he tells us, "If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established."
Our Saviour could have healed the child at a distance, and with a word, but he chooses to go " to the house of mourning"—to teach us to go there. A family in such a condition, is a very aflecting and improving ohject We instantly feel a sympathy with the distressed. We melt into pity as we see the emblems of death. The world loses its hold of our minds. By the side of the breathless corpse we see the vanity of human life; we thmk of the mortality of our friends—and of our own. Who can see death, and not think of eternity! We sigh—we pray. "By the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better." A visit to the house of mourning aflords an opportunity of doing good, as well as of gaining good. At no other season is instruction so likely to be impressive. The ground is now prepared to receive the seed. The value of the Gospel is now felt; and you can introduce religion as—a friend; as—a comforter.
Behold our Saviour approaching the scene of sorrow. Many attended him to the door; but he would not sufler any of them "to enter in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and mother of the maiden." The admission of a large crowd would have produced inconvenience: and have violated the sacredness of grief. Our Lord wished not for ostentatious display; yet the truth of the miracle would require a competent number of persons to attest it; and in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established. But in vain we ask why Peter, and James, and John, were selected for this purpose? The circumstances would have been less remarkable had it not been exemplified on two other extraordinary occasions: I refer to his transfiguration, when these same three individuals were chosen to witness his glory ; and to the garden, when they were admitted to witness his agony. He does not always explain himself; but of this we may be assured, that, though he acts sovereignly, he never acts arbitrarily: whatever he does, he does it "because it secmeth good in his sight;" and what seems good to him, rnust be so: he always has reasons to influence him : and when he shall divulge them, they will not only bring glory to him, but yield satisfaction to us. How many little touching circumstances does the narrative incidentally mention! Thus far we have heard of the father only; now we
learn that the diseased had a mother living. The mother had been torn with anguish twelve years ago, to give her birth; had carried her in her bosom; had fed her at her breast; had watched over her by day and night; had given "no sleep to her eyes, or slumber to her eyelids," while the disease was preying upon her child's tender frame. What her confidence in the Saviour was we are not able to determine; but informed probably, by the previous and hasty return of the servant, of his approach, and of what he bad said to her husband, she also had gone forth to meet him. Thus did Martha, when he was drawing near to Bethany: "As soon as she heard that he was coming, she went forth and met him; and said, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died!"
We have seen the few with which he entered the house; but he found many in it; and all wore the appearance of sorrow: "all wept and bewailed her." Her death was unquestioned: and we find the mourners, and the minstrels, usually employed on such occasions, already called in; and performing their lamentations.—How then could he say, "Weep not: she is not dead, but sleepeth!"
He spake modestly. Another would hare said, "Come; examine this patient; sec, there are no remains of life in her—you will witness before I begin, that there is nothing to aid my operations." But he would not magnify the action he was going to perform. He sought not his own glory.
He spoke figuratively. Sleep is the term commonly, in the Scripture, applied to the death of all believers: and it is peculiarly just Sleep is the pause of care—the parenthesis of human wo. Sleep is a short death; and death is but a long sleep; during which the body rests from its toils, and at the end of which it will awake, refreshed and renewed in the morning of the resurrection.
He spake in reference to his present mtention. They were preparing for her interment, and performing the funeral rites: buthewoTM gradually intimate, that there was no needot this, since, instead of a burial, she wasgom? to be raised to life.
He said this also to try his hearers, cordingly it showed their disposition, though the occasion was solemn; though they must have heard of his miracles; and were informed of the wisdom and holiness o! w character; they treated his words with attempt, and indecently "laughed him » scorn." "Is he ad reamer? Are we bWj Did we never see a corpse before 1—U "TM„ breath gone; and the flesh cold and suit -'
Here we are led to note two thmgs- rj<» How much more are men governed by natural views and feelings than by vie of truth; and how easily are they M001i^ divine things by their sense and rca*°etent cause their sense and reason are cWr