« AnteriorContinuar »
eye of a naturalist only. Let us go over it as Christians ; let us hold communion with things unseen and eternal, by means of those which are seen and temporal. Thus our Saviour has taught us to find the influence of the gospel in the leaven hid in the meal, the agency and comforts of the Holy Ghost in the blowing of the wind, and in rivers of living water ; and the efficacy, utility, and the necessity of his death in the sowing, corruption, and revival of corn.
Secondly. “ God is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working. His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are his ways our ways.” The enemy supposed he had completely succeeded when our Lord was crucified—now his cause is crushed, his followers will be dispersed and annihilated, and his name will be heard no more. But all this was “ according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God:" death was the road to life, and shame to everlasting renown. They were sowing him to make him fruitful. In falling a victim he conquered : and from the cross he passed to the possession of a throne in which he reigns king of saints, and will reign king of nations.
Thirdly. What think ye of Christ crucified? I know what prophets and apostles thought of him. I know the importance his death occupies in the scriptures of truth. I know that when Moses and Elias appeared in glory, “ they spake of the decease which he would accomplish at Jerusalem.” I know an ordinance is expressly appointed to show forth his death; that the preaching of the gospel is called the preaching of the cross ; and that the praises of heaven are ascribed to him, as " the Lamb that was slain, and hath re
deemed us " unto God by his blood."-But what are your views of this interesting subject? To the Jews it was a stumbling-block; to the Greeks foolishness; and to thousands now, it is a thing of no importance. Is it to you the wisdom of God and the power of God? Our creed and our experience will be found very defective, unless they have much of the sufferings and death of Christ in them. Spirit of grace and truth, take of the things of Jesus, and show them unto us. May we know the fellowship of his sufferings; may we be made conformable unto his death : and be enabled individually to say, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not-I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.-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."
CONFIDENCE IN GOD COMPOSING THE MIND.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is
stayed on thee.--Isaiah xxvi. 3.
In many things people differ widely from each other, but in one thing they are agreed: they all wish for satisfaction; they all desire inward tranquillity. And, indeed, what is everything else without this? What is ease of circumstances, and even health of body, if the mind be perplexed, distracted, tormented ? " The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear ?"
Now Isaiah tells us how we may obtain and preserve a blessed composure in' a' miserable world. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” These words require some explanatory remarks, and furnish some practical reflections.
In explaining these words it may be necessary to inquire, first, what we are to understand by staying the mind on God? And to this we answer, that it simply means relying upon him, or trusting in him. Man is an indigent and a dependent creature. He is not equal to his own happiness; he feels a thousand necessities which he cannot supply from his own stores ; he therefóre goes abroad for succour, and looks after something to lean on; and, as the world always stands nearest, upon this he always leans first. And, though he finds it to be a broken reed which disappoints his hope and pierces him through with many sorrows, he returns to this miserable dependence again and again, till divine grace brings him to his proper rest, and enables him to say“Now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.” And thus are fulfilled the words of the prophet: " It shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.” Now that which, in these cases,
we stay the mind upon is the word of God-consisting of information and promises-revealing his goodness and his all-sufficiency--offering himself as our portion, and even commanding us to depend upon him. Accordingly it is said, “ Trust in him at all times ; ye people, pour out your hearts before him ; God is a refuge for us. Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” Here is a foundation that will not give way, a resource that cannot fail. And here we learn what is our duty: it isnot to hesitate, not to wait for fresh evidence, and assurance; but to believe what God has spoken, to take him at his word, and to venture upon his engagements. In doing this we run no manner of risk : his word is called the faithful word ; it is said also to be a tried word; and those who have tried it most have the firmest persuasion of its truth.
Secondly, this staying of the mind on God, keeps it in peace;-and it does this, not only as it ensures the divine blessing-for God will honour them that honour him, and by nothing is he so much glorified as by our reliance upon himbut also by a natural influence and tendency. Let us specify a few instances in which this confidence tranquillizes the mind :
This alone can calm the mind when convinced of sin, and searching in dreadful distress for pardon. We which have believed, says the apostle, do enter into rest. “ I am guilty," cries the awakened sinner, “but my condition is not desperate.
I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in - his word do I hope. I hear a voice, saying, Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. The blood of Jesus Christ his Son
cleanseth us from all sin. Here is something on which to stay the mind. He died for the ungodly; and such am I: yea more ; he invites all that Jabour and are heavy laden to come to him, and promises to give them rest; and mine iniquities are a burden too heavy for me to bear, and I sigh and groan, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” Sometimes this confidence is very feeble: it scarcely amounts to a probability—it is merely a kind of peradventure—who can tell 2-I may succeed. But even this is attended with some effect. Like a twig to a sinking man, it serves to keep his head above water, until something else can be brought strong enough to help him ashore. Or, to vary the image, it will keep him from despairingly giving up the use of means and of prayer. “I will hang upon him till he shakes me off. If he drive me back, it is nothing more than I deserve, but I will not go back. If he be pleased to kill me, I have no right to complain, but I will not be my own murderer. If I perish, I perish! but here I will die." In other cases this confidence rises higher; and, however unworthy and helpless the man feels himself to be, he is persuaded that God will receive him graciously, and in due time appear to his joy. În consequence of this, agitation and terror subside, and he “both hopes and quietly waits for the salvation of the Lord.”
This confidence also calms the mind under delays. To pray and receive no answer; to stand knocking—not like other beggars for a few moments, but from day to day, and from week to week, and see no opening—this is truly discouraging: and the danger is, lest we should withdraw, saying, with the unbelieving king of Israel,