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dominion of sin—its curse pressing upon him—its pollution rankling in the soul—its eternal consequences impending over him. Could the captive, thus enslaved, see his true character, how would he loathe and abhor himself in dust and in ashes before God! How would he sigh after the liberty wherewith Christ makes his subjects free, did he but know its sweetness and its peace! What a fearful situation, to be under the wrath of God! But what will it be when that wrath blazes forth in quenchless flames—when the soul shall be eternally engulfed in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone! And, O sinner! till thy unholy soul is renewed—till its sinful lusts are subdued—till it is rescued from its enmity against God—it is fit for no residence but hell, and no company but that of lost spirits. Unpardoned, you must inevitably sink beneath God's wrath ; unrenewed, you can never see the kingdom of heaven ; unholy, you can in nowise enter into the New Jerusalem ; undevout and ungrateful, you can never mingle in the loud and unceasing hallelujahs of the skies. O sinner! it is high time that you should awake out of sleep. The fetters of sin and guilt are rivetted fast upon you. Only Christ Jesus can burst them asunder, and say to your enslaved spirit, go free. Though you may have been long in bondage, yet liberty is now proclaimed to you. Christ's righteousness can cover all your sins. His blood can cleanse the foulest spot. His Spirit can break and soften the hardest heart. He can set up his throne where Satan reigned. He can make your wicked and rebellious heart the temple of the Holy Ghost. O sinner! give yourself up to Christ. Look to him to teach you—to save you—and to govern you. His yoke is easy, his burden is light. In his blessed service you shall realize a perfect freedom, and shall soon feel that all are slaves, however they may boast of liberty, who are not made free by Christ. If the Son shall make you free, then shall you be free indeed.
Children of God! whom he hath called by his grace into the faith of his Son Jesus Christ, how blessed is that liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free! Stand fast then, in your liberty, and be not again entangled with the yoke of spiritual bondage. Sing loudly and cheerfully with our Christian poet
“ We will be slaves to sin no more,
Since Christ has made us free,
And bought our liberty.” O remember, there are thousands still enslaved by sin and Satan. They are now in the state in which you once were. Commiserate them-pray for them--and use every lawful effort for their salvation. Triumph in your own liberty, and strive to impart its blessings to others.
ON DIVINE INFLUENCE.
BY JOHN HUNT.
Hosea xiv. 5-7.-1 will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall
grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive-tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the
vine : the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. “He hath given unto us many exceeding great and precious promises.” The text is one of these, surpassing in the excellence of its nature, and the vastness of its blessing, the utmost comprehension of all created intellect.
The figure is borrowed from one of the finest and most efficient operations of nature. Jehovah, the God of Israel, appearing to them as their covenant God, promising to bless them : and that, not by the intervention of instruments, but by his own immediate influence upon the heart. There is one thing connected with this promise, which demands peculiar attention-a fact which makes it as remarkable for the grace and condescension it displays, as for the blessings it enumerates. made to Israel, not at a time when he had reason to commend, but to reprove them. They had, at this moment, forsaken him, “the Fountain of living waters, and were hewing out to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, which could hold no water.” Instead of promising to restore and bless them, he might have said, “Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone.”
But hear his affecting address. “O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.” And then, hear O ye heavens, and be astonished, 0 earth! in connexion with this announcement of their iniquity and their fall, he makes the promise in the text.
My brethren, we would not utter a syllable to lessen, in your estimation, the evil of sin, or that should not tend to weaken its influence upon the heart. But it must not be concealed, that the
spirit, burdened and oppressed with guilt, may derive from this fact abundant consolation. The fulfilment of the promise is connected with that, which to such a soul appears infinitely desirableits return to Him. Is it not thus ? Like the Prodigal Son in the parable, you would not remain among the swine, in a far distant country, and expect your Father to send you “ the best robe and the fatted calf.” But like him, you are saying, “If I might, I would arise and go unto my Father.” Well; He invites you, and instructs you.
“Return unto the Lord thy God-take with you words, and turn to the Lord--say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously." So he invited Israel: and promised, saying, “I will heal their backsliding-I will love them freely, for mine anger is turned away.” Yes! His anger is turned away. The clouds charged with the lightnings of his vengeance are dispersed—the thunder of his terrible majesty has rolled awaythe heavens smile with the brightness of divine beneficence, and the surrounding atmosphere is unmoved, save by the undulations of that voice which pronounces—“I will be as the dew unto Israel." These words present us with one of the most delightful of all subjects—the subject of Divine Influence—and I invite your attention,
I. To its origin.
May it descend upon your souls and make them as a well-watered garden. Let this desire be cherished—let this prayer be presented, while we consider,
I. Its origin. I will be as the dew. That is, from me shall descend that holy and effective influence, by which my people shall resemble, in moral beauty and fruitfulness, the luxuriance of nature, refreshed and fructified by the dew. And here three remarks require a brief illustration.
1. This influence cometh from God. Hence we call it Divine Influence. There is nothing human in its composition : it comes not within the range of human control-it is altogether and entirely Divine. This is most unequivocally taught us by the metaphor. Of all the operations of nature, there is nothing more independent of human agency than the dew. " Its birth-place is the womb of the morning, which tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men."
Walk out in the early dawn; observe the earth saturated, and all nature wet with the dew of night: see the crystal drops, which
beautify the tender herb, and nourish the unfolding blossom. Who, for one moment, imagines that these have been produced, condensed, and scattered, in this vast profusion, by human agency ? No! brethren, it is the work of Him who hath given to the sun his attractive influence, and, according to the arrangements of whose infinite wisdom, the purified exhalations, and the lucid moisture descends in genial and refreshing dews.
So it is, my brethren, with the grace by which you are renewed, and comforted, and sanctified. It is that good and perfect gift which is from above. Like the dew, it is independent of all human agency. Planted among the trees of righteousness, you live, and grow, and flourish, not of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God." You prosper under the genial, but mighty influence of that grace which is from above.
2. This influence cometh from God, as reconciled in Christ.
Have you observed the dew? It descends not from stormy heavens—nor amidst thunderings, and lightnings, and tempest. No, it is the offspring of an unclouded sky, the benediction of a placid atmosphere—the happy attendant of serenity and peace. While in a state of enmity, we can contemplate God only as an offended sovereign, looking with frowns of righteous indignation on his rebel subjects. The perfect purity of his nature—the inflexible justice of his character—the rectitude of his moral government; forbid him to permit man to sin with impunity. From the necessity of his nature he is angry with the wicked. And his word declares, not that he will pour upon them the dew of his blessing, but that he will rain upon them snares, and fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest. Wickedness is the state of the world. It is the universal character of men, that they are wicked. How is it then that he can be as the dew ? that he is not to every man as a consuming fire ? Inspiration answers the question: "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.” He so loved the world, as to give His only begotten Son; and by him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace by the blood of his cross. By virtue of that reconciliation, and by that alone, He“ hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places, in Christ."
Brought into a state of amity, and having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, there descends upon our souls that influence of his Spirit which is here beautifully compared to the dew.
3. This influence cometh from God, as a sovereign and distinguished blessing to his chosen people. “I will be as the dew unto Israel."
It is not a common, but a peculiar blessing. It belongs not to the world, but to the church. This promise is made not to the unbeliever, but to the christian, the Israelite indeed. To him the blessing belongs. And the divinity of its origin is not more strikingly represented by the dew, than the sovereignty of its communications. As man cannot create, neither can he direct, the diffusion of its numerous drops. It is not within the range of his command to say when or where it shall descend. And if he cannot command that which is natural, much less can he direct or control that which is spiritual.
With whom is the residue of the Spirit? With Him who, when he ascended up on high, received gifts for men. By whom is it communicated ? By him (as Peter stated on the day of Pentecost) who, “having received the promise of the Father, hath shed forth this which you now see and hear.” Who hath merited this blessing? By what rule of distinction among fallen creatures can such a blessing be communicated ? The divine word, here also, answers the question. Moses said, (Deut. vii. 6—8.) “ For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people : for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt."
Christian ! are not you waiting to subscribe with your hand and with your heart, “ By the grace of God, I am what I am.” “I will be as the dew unto Israel," to them who are called, and chosen, and faithful. To the church the promise is, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty ; and floods upon the dry ground. I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring."
Such is the origin of this influence. Let us consider,
II. Its properties. It is like the dew. It is the great condescension of the God of all grace, who so frequently employs things which are natural, to explain and illustrate things which are spiritual. All nature is thus laid under contribution to furnish the church with spiritual edification. But our attention must be confined to the particular instance in the text. Divine influence is compared to the dew. Let us endeavour to trace the resemblance. It would be easy, but surely not proper, to occupy your attention with a philosophical disquisition on the dew. There are some phenomena,