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GOD'S DEALINGS WITH HIS PEOPLE. THE only way of salvation is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ must dwell in us by his Holy Spirit, and we must abide in him by a living faith: thus Christ is “the way," and no man cometh unto the Father but by him. Convinced of our danger by the Holy Spirit, we flee to Christ as the ark of our refuge; we see him, by faith, dying on Calvary, and we believe that our heap of sins is among those which lie on his head, and we can discern our names “graven on the palms of his hands." We believe what God's word declares as applicable to ourselves, “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin ; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." But as soon as we thus believe in Christ as the propitiation for our sins, it leads to much communication between Christ and us, and we begin to imitate him, and to reflect his image, so that our old companions “take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus"-with him whom our soul used to hate, but now loveth exceedingly. And so, by the Holy Ghost enabling us to believe, and applying the Redeemer's blood to our sins, we “are washed, we are sanctified, and we are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God.” We commend our souls into the hands of Jesus, and trust in him to preserve them unto his heavenly kingdom; and with Thomas we can say to him, “My Lord and my God;" or again with the Psalmist, “ Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee." "My times are in thy hand.” We learn to acknowledge the hand of God in appointing us our life-time in the present age. His mercy towards us delayed our birth till after the ages of druidical cruelty, darkness, and superstition; and has caused us to be born at a period in our nation's history when life and immortality have been brought to light through the gospel. By fixing our birth some nineteen centuries forward in the great scale of time, we have been blest with the sanctifying knowledge of the only true God, in this world, and with the hope of glory in the world to come. Why was not the sacrificial knife uplift on us and our infant offspring ? or why were not we and our children presented, in a colossal statue of wicker work, a whole burnt-offering to some sanguinary idol deity, as were many thousands of our British countrymen in olden time? The answer is, because our times are in God's hand. Again, our times are in God's hand in respect to the preservation of our lives. No “foeman" can take away our life until our God permits. Our time of death as well as our time of life are determined by our covenant God. Add to which, our times of prosperity and of adversity, of sorrow and of joy, of trouble and of consolation, of trial and of victory, of disquietude and of peace—these all are in God's hand! they come, they continue, they go away at his command. As the sun knoweth its going down, as “the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times, and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming, so do the various dispensations of God's providence come to us at the time of God's appointment. He disposes of everything in its season after the purposes of his own will. “Affliction cometh not forth of the dust,” but from God; and it is he that “giveth power to get wealth.” In short, God ordains everything; and he disposes
of all persons and things for the glory of his own name and the benefit of them that are his. May this consideration stay our souls on the All-wise, Almighty, and All-sufficient God under every trial and under every danger-"it is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.”
CHRISTIAN FRIENDSHIP. The second truth that is brought before us in this delightful portion of scripture, is this: that his friendship is not limited to the Saviour ; great as this privilege is, it is extended to all the saints. They are the friends of the friends of Jesus. You mark the words of our blessed Lord : “ Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.” He does not say my friend, but our friend ; as if he would by this word bring to the recollection of the disciples, in a season of sorrow, that there was an union among his people, that they were all friends. This is one of the delightful 'peculiarities of the religion of Jesus. It is the religion of friendship; it is first to make us, “who were enemies to God by wicked works,” friends with him, and then to make us friends to each other—a friendship which not even death can annihilate. You observe it was when Lazarus was in his grave that our Lord said, “ Our friend sleepeth”-he is departed, but he is not lost; he is still our friend. “We are come,” saith the apostle, “to mount Zion, the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, and to the church of the first-born, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect." An intimate communion subsists betwen the church on earth and the church in heaven, as one of our hymns beautifully expresses it :
“One family, we dwell in him;
One church, above, beneath;
The narrow stream, of death.
At his command we bow ;
And part are crossing now.” They indeed have gained the prize of their high calling, while we have still to keep on our own way, through “ good report and through evil report;" but this present difference in our state does not annihilate our friends. The ties that bind the friends of Christ together are far too strong to be dissolved by death : death rather strengthens them; since the peaceful departure of those who are taken brightens the hope that the God of all grace, who kept them stedfast to the end, will perfect that which concerneth us also; that he will be with us when we are to pass through the stream, and that then we shall meet to part no more. But time forbids my enlarging upon this part of the subject, sweet as it is to think of the friendship of the friends of Jesus, to look forward to the day when we shall all meet in the same mansion to “go out no more, but to serve him day and night in his temple.” O may each of you, my beloved friends, have a place in this blessed abode.—The Family that Jesus loved, by the Rev. J. Haldane Stewart.
THE THORN. ACCORDING to the rabbins, there are twenty-two different Hebrew words signifying thorns or pric
kles in the bible. Celsius has given dissertations upon sixteen; only one of which, Kotz, appears to have the meaning of any thorny plant in general, whether large or small, woody or herbaceous. 1. The Paliurus Napeca, in Hebrew Shamir, is believed by most modern authors to be the real thorn, of which the painful crown of our Lord was platted; it is singularly elegant, whether in flower or in fruit; and I cannot do better than copy Hasselquist's account of it:- Nabca Paliurus Athenai of Alpinus. Nabca of the Arabians. In all probability, this is the tree which afforded the crown of thorns put upon the head of Christ. It grows very common in the east. This plant is very fit for the purpose, for it has many small and sharp spines, which are well adapted to give pain; the crown might be easily made of these soft, round, and pliant branches; and what, in my opinion, seems to be the greater proof is, that the leaves very much resemble those of ivy, as they are of a deep glossy green. Perhaps the enemies of Christ would have a plant somewhat resembling that with which emperors and generals were crowned, that there might be a calumny even in the punishment.” 2. Next, after the pretensions of the paliurus to the honour of forming the crown of thorns, stand those of the buckthorn, or Rhamnus Spina Christi. The monks of Jerusalem show, or lately did show, an aged buckthornshrub near the holy city, from which they say the crown was originally cut in such a manner, that, wearing it, the thorns showed themselves so as to present something like the appearance of the radiate crown with which the kings of the east used to adorn themselves. 3. A third sharp thorn, native to Palestine, is sometimes considered as the material of the crown of thorns. This is the