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and to administer. And the poor and distressed are as much consigned by Providence to the care of the affluent, as Mary was charged upon John. None of God's benefits termmate wholly on the possessor—they are means as well as mercies, talents as well as endowments. If we are enlightened, we are to "arise and shine;" if converted, we are to "strengthen our brethren;" if comforted, we are to "comfort others with those comforts wherewith we ourselves are comforted of GoJ;" if we have "all things richly to enjoy," we are to be " ready to communicate, willing to distribute."
Suppose a master should call into his presence a servant, and say to him, "Take this money, and go, carry it to such a poor family;" and suppose the servant, as soon as he had gotten possession of it, should resolve to keep it, or lay it out on some finery or amusement; what would you think? Would you blame the master, as wanting in generosity i No—but you would say, "O thou wicked servant!" And what would the master himself say ?—Surely he would punish him ; and he would well deserve it: for he would be at once guilty of unfaithfulness and cruelty. Such a master indeed may never find out this villain-. But the rich are going to appear before a God who " cannot be mocked," to give an account of the application of the property which he committed to their trust, for certain purposes which his word clearly specifies. It was given them to teach the ignorant, to clothe the naked, to " make the widow's heart to sing for joy"—Wo! wo be to them, if they shall be found to have frustrated the kindness of his designs, either by not using, or by wasting his goods!
Once more. John was "the disciple whom Jesus loved:" he had a peculiar friendship for him—and how does he express it? Not
life? and not only so, but trouble alsrj—yea, and reproach and suspicion, by accommodating the mother of one who was executed as a malefactor—an enemy to Cesar?"—He obeys cheerfully, instantly, implicitly.
And let us remember, that true obedience is prompt; and will lead us to " do all thingi without murmuring and disputing." This it peculiarly the case with regard to charity. Real benevolence, if I may so express it, is not too longsighted and thoughtful; it will not suffer the fine impulse to cool by indulging hesitations: when an obligation strikes us, it will not allow of our eludmg it by giving us either inclination or time to bring forward the hardness of the times, the slackness of trade, the increase of family, the multiplicity of cases. While we stop to investigate every particular, to make comparisons, to collect evidences, and to take great pains not to be deceived—the opportunity is gone: our neighbour may not be alive a few days hence, or we may not—and thus, by cautious and delayed beneficence, he will lose the relief, and we the honour of the action. Therefore, says Solomon, "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it Say not unto thy neighbour, go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give, when thou hast it by thee."
To return. Let us now follow the mother of our Lord to her new residence. Venerable woman, whom all generations have blessed, we rejoice in thy comfort! Thou hast "a certain dwelling-place," thou shalt not want!—With what kindness would John treat the charge of his departed Lord! With what tenderness would he nourish her! How many evenings would they pass together in discoursing of the Saviour ascended to his Father and their Father, to his God and their
by diminishing his care, but by enlarging the God! How would they dwell upon his ser
claims of his duty; not by increasing his tate, but by giving him a consumer—consigning to him an aged female for life. You may deem this a strange proof of his aflection —a strange way of honouring him! But, if you view the matter aright, you will see that there is nothing unaccountable in it To be employed by him and for him is a dignity and a privilege. If he pleased, he could well dispense with our poor services; but he engages us—to improve our graces, and to reward our exertions. And, in proportion as we are in a good frame of mmd, we shall long to be instruments in the Saviour's hands, ana bringing ourselves daily to his footstool, we shall ask, " Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" John, therefore,
HI. Executes The Orders Of His Dying Lord. "From that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." He does not stand weighing things: "Can I afford to do it? Shall I not entail upon myself expenses for
mi ins, his miracles, his sufferings! We meet once more with this distinguished woman in the sacred history. In the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, we find the twelve returning from the place of his ascension, and in an upper room; and it is said, "They continued with one accord, in prayer and supplication with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus." After this she disappears, and we hear of her no more. But we shall by-and-by see her, and derive from her all the interesting particulars relative to the birth, the infancy, the youth of the child Jesus, over which, for wise purposes, a veil is now thrown.
Let me conclude by calling upon you to choose for yourselves the situation of these three women—they were "standing by the cross of Jesus. There, by reading the Scripture, by meditation, by the exercises of faith, by the memorials of his death—there you may fix yourselves. It is a blessed station:
take it, and "determine to know nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified."
Do you wish to contemplate whatever is grand and sublime? Take this station. Behold him on the cross—See "the Sun of righteousness," as he sets, gilding the heavens with glory. See him, as he dies, exercising every grace, displaying every perfection!
Does the world prevail over thee? Take this station. Exclaim, with the Apostle, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world!
"His dying crimson, like a robe.
Do you feel trials and afflictions i Take this station. Behold a suffering Saviour. "Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint m your minds."
"Thousands have found the bless'd effect,
Are you oppressed with a sense of guilt? Take this station. Bruised by sin, remember him who was bruised for it Be of good cheer. "Surely he hath borne our grief, and carried our sorrows; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed."
Do you wish for an example? Take this station. Behold here not only your sacrifice, but your pattern. While he atones, he instructs. "He suffered for us, leaving ns an example that we should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously"—who, full of forgiveness, prayed for enemies, and said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" —who, all affection and concern for his relations, said, Woman, behold thy son!" Son, behold thy mother! Ye children, admire him. Admire him, ye friends. Admire him, ye disciples, who wear his honoured name— "nor stop at wonder—imitate and live." May we "be planted together in the likeness of his death, that we may be also in the likeness of his resurrection."
THE THRONE OF GRACE.
Z-et u* come boldly unto the throne of grace, that
such an honour, such a privilege, such a
means of sanctifying, relieving, enriching the soul—that he who teaches us to pray is our best friend; and there is nothing we should more highly prize than those instructions which are designed to regulate and encourage our addresses to God.
And such is the design of the Apostle in the words which I have read. He tells us of a throne of grace, and informs us in what manner, and for what purpose we are to approach it "Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
The language is metaphorical. When God enacts laws, he is on a throne of legislation; when he'administers these laws, he is on a throne of government; when he tries his creatures by these laws, he is on a throne of judgment; and when he receives petitions and dispenses favours, he is on a "ihrone of grace."
The idea of a throne inspires awe, bordering on terror. It repels rather than invites. Few of us could approach it without trembling. But what is the throne of an earthly monarch, the greatest earthly monarch that ever swayed a sceptre? The God we address is "the King of kings, and the Lord of lords." In his eye, an Alexander is a worm; yea "all nations before him are as nothing, less than nothing, and vanity. Heaven is his throne, and this earth is only his footstool." How can we enter his presence, or approach his infinite majesty i—Blessed be his name, he tills the "mercy-seat;" he is on a " throne of grace;" and we are allowed, and even commanded, to come to it boldly. But I. It Is Necessary For Us To Kngw What
THIS BOLDNESS 1S.
And we may be assured that" it is not audacity, rudeness, or a trifling freedom. We have sometimes heard persons address God, in a manner which they would not dare to use, I will not say to a superior, but even to a fellow-creature of their own level. Such persons would do well to compare Scripture with Scripture. For what is the language of the Bible in other places ?" God is greauy to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him." "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth, therefore let thy words be few." "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence, and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire." They would also do well to remember the nature of the business in which they are engaged; for if we are imploring "mercy and grace," common sense will tell us, that the boldness we are allowed to indulge, can be only the boldness of a penitent and a suppli
cut Now an encouragement to beg, is not surely a license to offend. Prayer and insolence ill accord together.
This boldness then, arises from nothing in ourselves, but purely from the goodness of the Being we address—and it consists principally in a persuasion that we are freely authorized to come, and may confidently hope to succeed.
What a change is made in the view and feelings of a person by conviction of sin! Sin was once nothing in his view; but now, awakened to consider, and enlightened to perceive its nature and consequences, he feels It to be the greatest evil: as before he could not be made to fear, he can scarcely now be induced to hope. Knowing his desert, and judging under the influence of human and guilty feelings, he finds it difficult to believe that God will receive him—But till he does believe this, he will not, he cannot come to him aright God has therefore made provision to excite and sustain the confidence of self-condemned sinners.
He has revealed himself, not as implacable, but as full of pity and compassion, as "the Lord God gracious and merciful." He has "commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." The conclusion is not more justly drawn, thin it is infinitely encouraging: "He that spired not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things! Surely he hath borne our grief, and carried our sorrow, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed." His blood "cleinseth us from all sin. He is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth." He "suffered, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us unto God." I mention this the more fully, because we "come unto God by him:" and in proportion to our knowledge of the Mediator, and our reliance upon him, will be our enlargement and consolation in duty. It is here that our hopes take their rise: it is here that we are "filled with all joy and peace in believing." "In whom, [speaking of Christ, says the Apostle,] we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. And again, having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near, with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having nur hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
We have also "exceeding great and precious promises"—such as these: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
To illustrate these promises, and to banish every fear, that springing from unworthines* and guilt, would hinder our application to him, he has been pleased to add a succession of examples. Some of these are derived from characters the most vile: but vile as they once were, "they were washed, they were sanctified, they were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." Among men, the chief oftendeni are always made examples of justice—but here they have frequently been made the examples of mercy. Civil governors are afraid to pardon the most criminal lest they should operate as encouragements—but here they are designed to be precedents: " for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering as a pattern to them that should believe on him to life everlasting." By these instances he has said—" Never despair.—See what I can da Learn that neither the number nor the heinousness of your sins shall destroy you, if you are willing 'to obtain salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ'"
In time also, the believer's own experience much aids his confidence. Though he has no more dependence upon himself than he once had, he leams to trust more simply and firmly in him who has never "turned away his prayer," but has been " a very present help in every time of trouble."
This boldness takes in not only a confidence of success, but also "a holy liberty in our addresses to him, expressive of intimacy and privilege." Are we Christians? We come not as strangers and foreigners, but as fellow-citirens with the saints, and of "the household of God." "We have received, not the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father!" Other monarchs can be approached only at certain seasons; and in certain cases; and with certain formalities. But you may call upon him at "all times;" and in all "circumstances." You may "in every thing make known your requests unto God." You may go and inform him of all that perplexes, all that alarms, all that distresses you. He deems nothing too little for you to spread before him. You may tell him what you can tell no earthly friend. And you are not required to keep at a distance, but allowed to come " even to his seat—to order your cause before him—to fill your mouth with argu
raents—to put him in remembrance—to plead with him"—to persevere, and not " let him go except he bless you."
IL Having considered the manner in which, let us observe The Purposes For Which We
ARE TO COME TO THE THRONE OF ORACE. They
are these—to "obtain mercy"—and to "find grace.'' These blessings are wisely connected together by the Apostle, because there are too many people who try to separate them. They would be saved from hell, but not from sin. They wish to be pardoned, but not renewed. They would have mercy, but not grace.
But be not deceived. Whom God forgives he sanctities and prepares for his service. And both these blessings are equally important and necessary to our salvation. Let us therefore pray for both.
First Pray for mercy. And pray like those who know they greatly need it You are verily guilty. You are charged with innumerable transgressions, and your consciences tell you that many of them are attended with circumstances of peculiar aggravation. Till these are pardoned, you are in a state of condemnation: and what a doom is that which is denounced upon you by the law which you have broken! Think ot "the wrath of God." Think of the "worm that dieth not, and the fire that is never to be quenched. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!"
And you are continually liable to the execution of this sentence. You must die soon, you may die this very night; this very hour: and then it will be too late to cry for mercy. Be prevailed upon therefore to seek it immediately and earnestly—"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.
But we shall need the exercise of mercy as long as we are in the body. We often contract fresh guilt Our most holy things are defiled. "Who can say, I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin V Archbishop Usher often said he hoped to die with the language of the publican in his mouth; and his biographer tells us his wish was fulfilled—he died, saying, "God be merciful to me, a sinner." What an exalted character is given us of Onesiphorus! Yet, says the Apostle, "the Lord grant unto him, that he may find"—not justice—but "mercy of the Lord in that day." He would need mercy till then, and then he would need it more than ever. And when we all come to appear before his righteous tribunal, to have our Actions and our motives tried—" should he mark iniquity, who could stand?" Let us therefore say, with Job, "Though I were righteous, yet would I not answer him; but I would make supplication to my Judge." Secondly. Let us pray for " grace to help
in time of need." But is not every time a time of need with us? It is. And there is not a moment in our existence in which we can live as we ought, independently of Divine grace. We need this grace, to mortify our corruptions; to sanctify our affections; to resist temptations; to overcome the world. It is this, and this alone, that can enable us to pursue our journey; to run our race; to accomplish our warfare; to "endure to the end." We cannot pray, or sing, or hear, or read, as we ought, without the assistance of this grace helping our infirmities. "We cannot," says Bishop Hopkins, "stand one moment longer than God holds us; or walk one step further than God leads us." For a thing constantly necessary, the Apostle would teach us to pray constantly.
But there are some seasons in which we peculiarly require the aid of Divine grace. Two or three of these it may be proper to mention.
Prosperity is a time of need. Few "know how to abound." It is no easy thing to be full, and not deny God. Worldly fame and aflluence have often had a baneful effect on the minds of good men; have attached them too strongly to earth, and slackened their diligence in seeking " a better, even a heavenly country." They have had less dependence upon God, and less communion with him. They have grown high minded and illiberal; and exhibted far less of the Christian in their advancement than in their poverty. Others have lost their religion entirely in passing from a cottage to a mansion. "The prosperity of fools shall destroy them." Let us therefore be wise, and remember, that the wisdom which can alone preserve us consists in our fearing always; in a diffidence of ourselves; in our praying, "hold thou me up, and I shall be safe." He indeed can keep us from falling, even in slippery places. Thus he guarded Joseph and Daniel, in situations equally high and dangerous.
Affliction is a time of need. It matters not from what quarter the trouble springs: it is a trying season; and the Christian is concerned to "come forth as gold." He not only wants support and comfort, so that he may not "faint," but he wants strength and preservation, so that he may not sin. He is concerned to be secured from impatience; from distrust of Providence; from quarreling with instruments. He wishes to glorify God in the fires; and to derive advantages from his crosses, so as to be able to say, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted." For all this he seeks the Lord; and what the Lord said to Paul he may apply unto himself: "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."
Death is a time of need. And it is an unavoidable one—other times of need may come, bat this will come. It is indeed the last time of need—but it is also the greatest It is new and untried. It settles every thing for ever. It is awful to let go our hold of earth, to give up the soul into the hand of God, to enter eternity. The enemy also now uses all his force to distress: for there are two seasons in which he is peculiarly busy: when we are coming to Christ for grace—and when we are going to him for glory. Now othere may endeavour to banish this subject from their minds; but the Christian must think of it And he will be concerned to die safely— as to consequences; honourably—as to religion; comfortably—as to himself; and usefully—as to others. And what can be done here without grace to help—to help in this time of need! If many Christians, who are now cast down, were but assured that their sun would set without a cloud, they would be filled with strong consolation, bear cheerfully their trials, and look forward to every future scene with pleasure. Well, grace can do this, and has done it for many; and even for many who were "once walking mournfully before the Lord!" When the time of need came, then came the grace—suffering grace for a suffering hour—and dying grace for a dying hour.
Now if this be our errand in prayer—if we are to pray—" that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need," does it not follow, as a fair inference from the subject, that a prayerless person is destitute both of the mercy and grace of God? This is an awful truth; and it leads me, before I conclude, seriously to ask you—
First Have you come to this throne? Have you ever prayed? Perhaps you have sometimes dragged through the duty as a task—but did you ever feel it to be your privilege and your pleasure? Perhaps you have engaged in it occasionally—but has it been your habitual employment? Perhaps you have called upon God in the hour of sickness and danger—but as health returned, have you not discontinued prayer by little and little, till you have lived entirely without him in the world? You have frequently attended public worship—do you pray much in your closet; or, in the duties of your calling, do you send up many a desire to God, saying, "Lord, help me? " You are fond of hearing sermons—but while you so often hear from God, does God ever hear from you?
Secondly. Do you design to comet or have you resolved to " restrain prayer before him?"
Do you imagine you can acquire these blessings in any other way than by prayer? This is impossible: "For all these things," says God, * will I be inquired of:" "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, ana it shall be opened unto you."
Or do you imagine these blessings are not worthy of your pursuit? Alas! strange as it
may appear, I suspect that this is the case. You are not prepared to estimate these advantages. You do not feel your need of mercy and grace; otherwise surely you would deem them worth asking for. If you could gain a fortune by prayer—would yoa not pray? Or health—would you not pray! But what are these to mercy and grace? These comprise every other blessing—and nothing else can be a blessing without them.
Or do you imagine they are not to be gained? There is no ground for such despair: he "waiteth to be gracious; and is exalted to have mercy." "Come, for all things are now ready." None are excluded. All are welcome.
Y'et if one class of petitioners could be more welcome and successful than another, it would be the Yocng: "I love them that love me; and they that seek me early shall find me."
SUMMER AND HARVEST.
ffc that gathereth in titmmer it a wise ton: hut he that tleepeth in haruett it a ton that cauteth thame.—Prov. x. 5.
What a scene of desolation was presented to the eye of Noah when he opened the door of the ark! No human face appeared. The earth was stripped of all its beauty; and no trees, no plants, no grass were to be seen. The effects of the Deluge were everywhere awfully visible; and every cloud, every wind, excited alarm. In this condition he offered a sacrifice. God accepted it—and to dissipate his fears, and to draw forth his confidence, he said, " While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest cold and heat and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cense."
Each of these periods is not only useful, but instructive. We cheerfully part with the dreary hours of winter, to embrace the reviving spring; and as readily resign tbe growing hours of spring, to welcome tJie joyful harvest When, under Divine Providence, this season arrives, "the year is crowned with his goodness; the earth is full of his riches;" and the husbandman is called forth to secure the golden produce. He is reasonably expected to make every concern give place to this, and to exert all his diligence to improve the short, but all-important period. Hence the reflection of Solomon: "He tliat gathereth in summer is a wise son; but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causetK shame."
Common sense readily acquiesces in this truth.' But let us accommodate the subject to moral and spiritual purposes. Let o> represent Tour Harvest Season; and enforc®