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look for such things, be diligent that ye may | The captivity had destroyed all their civil be found of him in peace, without spot, and and sacred institutions. The temple was blameless." Can you be indifferent to any a magnificent building, endeared by a thouof your actions, when they are recorded in sand claims; but now it exhibited to the the book of his remembrance, and will be passing eye only a scene of ruins—their "holy published before an assembled world ? What and beautiful house"-was burnt with fire. you are doing now you are doing for ever. It One circumstance could not fail to touch and is a light thing to know how you are to be impress their minds it was the place " where disposed of for a few inonths or a few years their fathers praised him." What a venera
- What is to become of you when you go tion does an edifice acquire that has stood for hence, and are seen no more! It signifies ages the sanctuary of devotion, and in which very little whether you class with the rich successive generations have worshipped God! or the poor, the learned or the illiterate, the What a solemn thought is it, that we occupy honourable or the despised. The question is seats once filled by those who have gone -In what rank will you be found, when“ be “the way of all the earth! The fathers, fore him shall be gathered all nations, and he where are they? and the prophets, do they shall separate them one from another, as a live for ever?" And we are “ accomplishshepherd divideth his sheep from the goats?" ing, as an hireling, our day," and are making Will that trumpet call you to "lamentation, room for our children. Here they heard his and mourning, and wo?" or will its language word, called upon his name, sung his praise, be, “ lift up your heads with joy, for your re- offered up prayers and vows for us! Their demption draweth nigh ?"
example reproves and alarms us. They were He who will then be the Judge, is now the alive in his service; does our deyotion discoSaviour. He will then say to the wicked, ver any degree of seriousness and fervour? “ Depart”—but, blessed be his name, he does Are we “ followers of them who, through not say so now to any–His language is, faith and patience, inherit the promises ?" “ Come.” “Come," says he; "come unto Shall we one day join our pious ancestors, me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, “and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jaand I will give you rest. Him that cometh cob, in the kingdom of God ?" Again: "All unto me I will in no wise cast out.”
their pleasant things were laid waste"—the And this reminds me of another trumpet, sacred utensils employed in the service of of which Isaiah speaks in these striking God; the ministers of the sanctuary; the alwords: “It shall come to pass in that day tar, the table of shewbread, the ark, the pot that the great trumpet shall be blown, and of manna, Aaron's rod that budded, the cloud they shall come which were ready to perish of glory, their new moons and sabbaths, the in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the callings of assemblies. This, to the pious land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in among the Israelites, was a far greater afthe holy mount at Jerusalem.” This trumpet fiction than the loss of all their temporal you have heard. But, alas ! how have you privileges. Their country was dear to them, heard it? Has this " grace of God which but Jerusalem was dearer; and they “ loved bringeth salvation," taught you “ to deny all the gates of Zion better than all the dwellungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live ing-places of Jacob.” soberly, and righteously, and godly, in the This affliction, blessed be God, is not ours. present world, looking for that blessed hope, Our civil and religious privileges are still and the glorious appearing of the great God continued, and we hope, will pass down unand our Saviour Jesus Christ ?" o let the impaired to the latest posterity. But the judgment-trumpet awaken your attention to words discover a disposition which will be the Gospel-trumpet; and may the latter pre- found to harmonize with the feelings of all pare you for the former! Amen.
the people of God. I refer to the manner in which they speak of the service of God, and
the exercises of devotion : “Our pleasant DISCOURSE XII.
things." Hence, we observe, that the means of grace, the ordinances of religion, are, to
the Israel of God, PLEASANT THINGS.
And First, what are they?
In the number of their pleasant things, (LORD'S DAY EVENING.)
they include the sanctuary. To them the Our holy and our beautiful house, where our temple is not a prison, a place of confinement fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire :
and correction; but it is the house of their and all our pleasant things are laid waste. heavenly Father, their “holy and beautiful Isaiah lxiv. ii.
house;" and beautiful because holy. “I was
glad when they said unto me, let us go into Thus spake these pious Jews. And we the house of the Lord. For a day in thy may consider the words either as expressing courts is better than a thousand. I had rather an affliction, or as discovering a disposition. be a door-keeper in the house of my God,
than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. has done for their souls." These are some of How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of their "pleasant things." Hosts!"
Let us inquire, Secondly, how they become In the number of their “ pleasant things," SO POWERFULLY ATTRACTIVE? For it is certhey include Sabbaths. To many indeed God's tain that they are not so universally: by holy day is uninviting, and even irksome: numbers they are not only neglected, but they therefore cry out, " what a weariness it despised. Whence then do real Christians is to serve the Lord! when will the Sabbath find them so pleasing? be gone, that we may set forth wheat ?" pur- First, there is in them a suitableness to suing their gain, or finding their own plea- their dispositions. Thus we know music sures. But the Christian "calls the Sabbath charms those who have an ear for it. Money a delight, and considers the holy of the Lord is a pleasant thing to the covetous; honour, honourable." To him it is a time of refresh- to the ambitious; scandal, to the slanderous. ing from the presence of the Lord; a weekly In all these instances there is something that jubilee; and wearied with the toils, and foi- meets the taste; and that which gratifies allies, and vexations of the world, he hails a ways delights. So it is here. “That which day of seclusion from it; a day that “ brings is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which him to God's holy mountain, and makes him is born of the Spirit is spirit. They that are joyful in his house of prayer—This is the day after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice but they that are after the Spirit, the things and be glad in it."
of the Spirit.” The pleasure of the Christian And are not the Scriptures some of their does not depend upon persuasion—but inclina“ pleasant things?” Job could say, “I have tion: he is not merely told that the provisions esteemed the words of his mouth more than of the Gospel are good, but he has a spiritual my necessary food.” David could say, “More relish. Since he is a “new creature," he has to be desired are they than gold, yea, than new appetites, and "hungers and thirsts after much find gold; sweeter also than honey and righteousness.” the honeycomb." Jeremiah could say, “Thy Experience, however, is another source of words were found, and I did eat them; and this pleasure. We are attached to books which they were unto me the joy and rejoicing of have afforded us peculiar satisfaction. The my heart.” It is the character of a good man, kindnesses of friends endear them. A spring, and the pledge of his blessedness: “ his de- which in a scorching day, and when we were light is in the law of the Lord, and in his law ready to expire, yielded us a refreshing supdoth be meditate day and night; and he shall ply, will be thought of with pleasure. The be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, new-born babe is at first urged by a natural that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his instinct, but afterwards it cries for the breast, leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he not only from a sense of want, but a sense of doeth shall prosper."
enjoyment. So it is with the Christian. He This too will apply to the preaching of the has found these things to be good for him. word. The Christian does not wish to be al- Having "tasted that the Lord is gracious," ways hearing sermons, for he knows that his language is, “Evermore give us this every thing is beautiful in its season, and the bread!" Many do not know what it is to enclaims of duty are numerous and various- joy God in the means of grace; they are not but he values opportunities of hearing the attached to ordinances, because they have deglad tidings of salvation: he welcomes the rived no profit from them. But Christians message and the messenger, and exclaims, have striking proofs of their beneficial influ“How beautiful are the feet of them that ence in their own experience: they know preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad that in keeping them there is great reward : tidings of good things!" And though their they remember how they have been owned trials be many, "and the Lord gives them the of God-at one time, by delivering their souls bread of adversity, and the water of afflic- from the power of temptation at another, tion,” yet they find an ample compensation by filling them with “ all joy and peace in and relief in this—that “their eyes behold believing." Some seasons and exercises their teachers, and their ears hear a voice be- they can review with singular feeling. la hind them, saying, this is the way, walk ye in these they were “abundantly satisfied with it, when they turn aside to the right hand, the fatness of his house :" they were made and when they turn to the left."
to “drink of the river of his pleasures. In They find it a pleasant thing to approach his light they saw light.” And the memory God in prayer, and to “come before his pre- of these peculiar communications and dis sence with singing”—a pleasant thing to sur-coveries makes them long with David" to see round his table, and to refresh their minds his power and his glory as they have seen him with the memorials of a Saviour's dying love in the sanctuary!"
a pleasant thing to be in the circle of pious Continual need also renders them pleasant friends, and to hear from their lips " whai God things. Though the Christian hopes the good
work is begun in him, he feels how far it is him day and night-an intercourse only with from being complete. His deficiencies are great those who are perfectly pure and holy-all and many. Something is lacking to his faith, this would be intolerable to an unrenewed his hope, his knowledge. Sometimes also he mind, who is " saying to God, depart from us, feels decays. His zeal cools into indifference. we desire not the knowledge of thy ways." Earthly things sensualize his mind. He wants Thirdly. What an affliction do Christians to have his convictions renewed; his impres- sustain when they are DEPRIVED OF THEIR sions regenerated. And how are these defi | “ PLEASANT THINGS !" This may be done two ciencies to be filled up; these decays to be ways. First, by the removal of these privirepaired ? Read the promise-"In all places leges from them. Thus persecution has where I record my Name, I will come unto sometimes forbidden them to assemble to thee, and I will bless thee. They that wait gether, and has silenced their preachers, deupon the Lord, shall renew their strength : stroyed their sanctuaries, and banished all they shall mount up with wings as eagles; religious ordinances from a neighbourhood. they shall run and not be weary, and walk God sometimes inflicts his judgments upon a and not faint.” Draw nigh to God, and he place for neglect and abuse of Gospel priviwill draw nigh to you.
leges. He can send a more dreadful dearth Let us review what we have said and than a "famine of bread," even “a famine of learn,
| hearing the word of the Lord." He can as easiFirst, TO JUSTIFY RELIGION FROM THE RE- ly convey an evangelical ministry from one PROACHES OF THE WORLD. The world pre-country to another, as we can carry a candle tends that the services which religion de- from one room into another :-“I will remove mands of us are all slavery and gloom; and thy candlestick out of his place, except thou they spread this evil report of the good land repent.” Or, secondly, by removing Christo check inquiries, especially the young. But tians from these privileges. Thus business if you are willing to enter in, “let no man's may call them away from a favoured situaheart fail him!" The Scripture assures us tion, accidents or sickness may detain them that “her ways are ways of pleasantness, and prisoners from the courts of the Lord. And all her paths are peace.” And “wisdom is though in these cases he does not leave them justified of all her children." Those who comfortless, still they feel their loss, and can have tried (and these are the only competent say, “When I remember these things, I pour witnesses), instead of complaining of bondage, out my soul in me: for I had gone with the find the Saviour's service to be perfect free-multitude, I went with them to the house of dom, and own-especially compared with the God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a yoke of their old master-that “his command- multitude that kept holy day.". ments are not grievous."
Let us, Fourthly, be very THANKFUL THAT Secondly, LET US TRY OURSELVES BY THIS THESE “PLEASANT THINGS" ARE WITHIN OUR RULE. A man may want assurance, and still REACH-that we have been so long favoured be in a state of safety; but if he be habitually with them—that we have them in so rich an a stranger to pleasure in divine things, and abundance—that we have liberty to partake can pass through all the services of religion of them-and strength to go forth and enjoy as a mere formalist, it is an awful proof that them :-surely “the lines are fallen to us in “ he has no part nor lot in the matter: his pleasant places; yea, we have a goodly heritheart is not right in the sight of God.” A age. Let us enter his gates with thanksnumber of speculative opinions, cold ceremo- giving, and his courts with praise.” nies, cheap moralities, in which the affections And Finally, LET US RAISE OUR THOUGHTS have no share, can never be a substitute for AND DESIRES AFTER THE “ PLEASANT THINGS" real devotion. “The Lord looketh to the OF HEAVEN. Philip Henry often said, when heart." He does not value those exercises he had finished the delightful exercises of which are performed from necessity ; unwil- the Sabbath, “Well, if this be not the way to lingly, grudgingly. He abhors the sacrifices heaven, I know not what is." Yes, these are of those who are glad of excuses to keep them introductory to the glory that shall be revealfrom his worship; who would be thankful ed: they are foretastes to endear it, and were he entirely to dispense with their ser-earnests to insure it. And when you come to vices; who feel him as a task-master while die-if you can say, in sincerity, “Lord, I they are performing the drudgery of his work. have loved the habitation of thy house, and The question is-Are spiritual things your the place where thy honour dwelleth"-you “ pleasant things?" If not, you are destitute may plead with confidence, “Gather not my of the mark of a real Christian, and you have soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody a poor prospect before you in eternity. God men.” No: he will not gather you, in eterwill not force you into heaven to make you nity, with those you never loved in time. miserable; but miserable you would be, even Being let go, you shall join your own comin heaven, in your present state. The nature pany, and be for “ever with the Lord."-And and duration of its employments an eternal if the streams be so sweet, what will the sabbath-a temple in which you shall serve ) fountain be?" In his presence there is ful
ness of joy, and at his right hand there are murderers, no rending of garments, no wringpleasures for evermore !" Let us sing ing of hands, no plucking of the hair! She
feels as a mother, she endures as a Christian;
and, submitting to the mysterious designs of
Providence, suffers with all the dignity of an
The people of God know not what they can
bear, till they are tried. When the “time of
need” comes, then comes “the grace to help,”
and it is always found to be sufficient for
a Christian, in any situation, however distress-
ing, after beholding Mary standing near the
dren! remember, religion allows you to feel,
| but forbids you to faint. You are not to be Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mo
swallowed up of over-much sorrow, but to ther, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife
preserve a calm of mind favourable to the of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When
exercises of reason and of grace. You are to Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the dis
endeavour to say, “It is the Lord, let him do ciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith
what seemeth him good: the Lord gave, and unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
the Lord hath taken away, and blessed be the Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mo
natne of the Lord.” Think of Mary, and say ther! And from that hour that disciple took
-“What can my affliction be, compared with her unto his own home.-John xix. 25-27. Thers!"
For who can adequately imagine her anThis is one of the most remarkable pas- guish! When old Simeon saw the infant sages in the history of our Saviour's passion. Messiah, he said to his mother, “Yea, and a The language is peculiarly simple and affect- sword shall pierce through thy own soul ing. The scene is exquisitely tender. The also !" And now the prediction is accom
characters are in the highest degree interest-plished. -Oh! to see her son enduring such - ing; and the circumstances in which they are a death! Suspended in torture! Oh! how
placed, altogether new and wonderful. O for would she agonize when she saw the nails a class of feelings becoming the subject! Let driven through his hands and feet! And then us fix our minds on three things. I. THE for such a son to endure all this extreme of SITUATION OF THE MOTHER. II. THE ADDRESS anguish -a child foretold by prophets, anOF THE SAVIOUR. III. THE OBEDIENCE OF nounced by angels—all goodness, excellency, THE DISCIPLE.
perfection who had never displeased her, Women are more than once brought for- but endeared himself by every word, by every ward in the Gospel, and the notice taken of action!-A child, the glory of her house, the them is always to their honour. Thus, while consolation of her age--for to crown all, she others have forsaken him and fled, we here was now a widow! Joseph her husband was find three females rising above the fears of dead-but Jesus her son was yet alive, and their sex, braving the horrors of the execu- | in his power and kindness she was sure to tion, piercing through the crowd, and ap- find a resource. But now her remaining prop proaching the foot of the cross—there to tesis struck away, and her "only coal in Israel tify their sympathy with their suffering Lord is quenched !" And she is to be thrown out, a -to show how willing they are to die bereaved, exposed, helpless, pennyless widow, with him—to admire his patience and his upon a selfish, unfeeling, cruel world! meekness and to secure his dying words. II. In such a condition, and with such “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his prospects, she attracts the eye of our Lord; mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the and HE SPEAKS. He addresses her in a wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene." | manner suited to her trying circumstances. What were the feelings of these three Marys! “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and But
the disciple standing by, whom he loved-he I. The MOTUIER OF OUR LORD IN THIS saith unto his mother-Woman, Behold thy SITUATION demands a larger share of our no- son!” Though I die, there is one who will tice. I admire in her the efficacy of Divine discharge the filial office; who will guard, grace. She is able to stand near the cross; and nourish, and provide for thee-Behold thy she does not faint away and drop down. She son! Then saith he to the disciple—"Behold keeps her feelings within due bounds. Here thy mother! Receive her--not as a pauper, are no outrageous exclamations, no bitter com- or a mere pensioner on thy bounty, but regard plaints flung at Heaven for not avenging him her, as you would the tenderest of all conof his adversaries, no imprecations on his nexions-Behold thy mother!"
This is very instructive. It reminds us, effects, and secure guardians for his children first, of the indigence of our Lord and Saviour. -So as not to occasion perplexity and discord Many talk of poverty, but he was poor. In after his decease. He should be also attenordinary cases he was sustained by alms; in tive to the spiritual improvement of those extraordinary ones, by miracles. When he around him. If able to speak, he should recame to die, he had no personal property, no commend the Saviour, and speak well of his landed estate to leave. All he had to be- ways. Dying words are impressive. This queath was his wearing apparel; and even is the last time you can do any thing for your this never came to his mother. “They parted generation. “By faith Jacob, when he was his raiment among them, and for his vesture dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph, and did they cast lots: these things therefore the worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.” soldiers did."
“ Now the days of David drew nigh that he What becomes then of riches? Are we should die; and he charged Solomon his son, such fools as to fall down and worship this saying, I go the way of all the earth : be thou idol of general adoration? Does money pro strong therefore, and show thyself a man; duce-does it imply-worth? A man may be and keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to an apostle, and be moneyless. “Silver and walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and gold have I none,” says Peter. “Foxes have his commandments, and his judgments, and holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but his testimonies, as it is wriiten in the law of the Son of man hath not where to lay his Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that head”—yet he was “the brightness of the thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest Father's glory, and the express image of his thyself.” Mr. Bolton said to his children, person!" But, alas! all this will not keep who stood around his dying bed, “See that numbers from thinking money the essence of none of you meet me in an unconverted state all excellency. Money can add charms to at the day of judgment." Dr. Rivet said, in ugliness: money can transform wrinkles into his last illness, “Let all who come to inquire youth: money can fill brainless heads with after my welfare be allowed to see me: I wisdom, and render nonsense oracular: mo- ought to be an example in death as well as in ney can turn meanness into virtue; and, fall- | life.” ing like snow, can cover a dunghill, and give Fourthly. A lesson of filial piety is clearly it the appearance of whiteness and innocency! deducible from this subject. Children are
Behold, secondly, an instance of the Divine under an obligation to succour and relieve goodness, which ought to encourage the poor their parents according to their ability. And and needy. When one comfort is withdrawn, this is not to be considered as charity, so much another is furnished. When Jesus is removed, as common justice. The Apostle therefore John is raised up. A Christian should never calls it a requiting :-"Let them requite their despair. Our heavenly Father has more than parents." I admire the disposition of David, one way of providing for his children. His who, when wandering from place to place, resources are innumerable and inexhaustible. seemed regardless of himself, if he could pro
* fear the Lord, all ye his saints; for vide a safe and comfortable situation for his there is no want to them that fear him: the father and mother: “He went to Mizpeh of young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, they that seek the Lord shall not want any Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, good thing." Let those who are dying with come forth and be with you, till I know what out wealth, and have nothing to leave behind God will do for me." I admire still more thern, hear him saying, “Leave thy fatherless David's Son and David's Lord, who, even in children; I will preserve them alive: and let the agony of crucifixion, commends his poor thy widows trust in me." Let those who fear mother to the care of the beloved disciple. that by bereavement they shall be reduced And here you ask--but why did he this? and impoverished, say, with David, “When Could he not have provided for her himself? my father and my mother forsake me, then -He who turned water into wine, and made the Lord will take me up. In him the father- a few loaves sufficient to feed a whole mulless findeth mercy."
| titude-could not he have furnished means Thirdly, we learn that we should endea-for the subsistence of a destitute mother? vour to be useful, not only living, but dying. Behold, in answer to this, another reflection. We see the Saviour attentive to the duty of He does not needlessly work miracles. The every season, and every circumstance. Never manna which followed the Israelites in the so occupied, even by his sufferings, as to for- wilderness ceased as soon as they could pro get others: he dies as he had lived; and not | vide themselves with the corn of the land. only when “ going about,” but even when He generally fulfils his kind designs by comnailed to the cross, we behold him—"doing mon means, and in the established course of good.'"
things. His care extends to the poor as well A Christian, if he has not done it before, as to the rich. He has made the rich stewshould now “set his house in order.” He ards, but not proprietors : he has given them should arrange his affairs, and dispose of his an abundance, not to hoard up, but to expend