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ADDRESSES AND MEDITATIONS.
GENESIS Xxxi. 13. “ I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me, now arise, get thee out of this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.”
How amazing is it that Jehovah should speak thus of any spot of this earth? The heavens are his with all their host, the earth in all its glory is only his footstool, yet he describes himself as the God of Bethel. The spot thus honoured, was neither adorned by that pomp of kings, nor signalised by those trophies of war which attract to particular scenes the curiosity, or the veneration of men, but was wild and solitary, yet Jehovah viewed it with delight, as the place where he had manifested his glory to a heart that loved him, and speaks of it in a manner which sweetly indicates this complacency, and points out his readiness to favour his people in all ages and places with similar communications.
There is no place too wild and lonely to be the scene of fellowship with God; nay, the more bleak and sequestered it is, the more does he manifest his goodness in exciting in it religious joy. It was the consciousness
of this which made the Psalmist say, “ Whither shall I go from thy Spirit, or flee from thy presence; if I ascend into heaven, lo, thou art there; If I make my bed in hell thou art also there, and if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the outerinost parts of the sea, even there should thy right hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” While John was in Patmos, an outcast from society, and far from the friends and the work he loved, he was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and had the brightest prospects of the triumphs of the Gospel, and of tiie glory of the Lamb opened to his view.
And if God holds communion with his people in such places, they have much more reason to expect it in the ordinances where his name is recorded, and his presence is promised. It is on this account that he is called the God of Sion, because in its various rites of worship his glory is displayed, and his grace is imparte ed. In the preaching of his word he sends forth his light and his truth ; in the sacrament of baptism he pours out his spirit and his blessing, and in the Lord's Supper, the bread and the wine are the communion of his body and blood. It is with the graces of his people that he holds fellowship-to their faith he unveils his glory-to their love he displays his beauty-to their gratitude he unfolds his blessings, and to their hope he reveals the destined inheritance. You are now longing for communion with God, and saying, “ Oh, when wilt thou come unto me," and I trust he will visit you with his sweet mercy, and cause you to say, “ We behold his glory full of grace and truth.” .
In the vision at Bethel, there was a scene exhibited which suggests the most interesting meditations at the communion table. A ladder was seen reaching from earth to heaven, and Jehovah stood at the top of it. This was an emb em of that restoration of our intere course with God, which has been effected by the mediation of Christ. We by nature are enemies to God, labour under the effects of his displeasure, and have rea. son to fear more tremendous consequences of it in a future world ; and no intelligence can be so delightful as this, that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He now speaks to us with the voice of love, and welcomes our return to Him with a father's smile. Our condition is very different from that of heathens, who were left in the most distracting uncertainty on this point, and were rendered miserable amidst their costliest oblations, by their fears that their rites and their sacrifices were vain, for we can joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation. The believer in the atone ment may regard the character of God under the softest images of tenderness and peace, and can rejoice that at his throne he hath no condemnation to fear, and that in his darkest cloud there is no bolt to destroy. Such contemplations have excited the liveliest gratitude to Him who submitted so promptly to be “ made a curse for us,” and with such sacred feelings may your hearts now glow to the generous Mediator between God and man. And it becomes you to cherish fervid gratitude to that God who devoted the Son of his love to suffer and to die, to save you from destruction. This love is infinite ; this gift is unspeakable, and they claim our everlasting wonder and praise. ply, “ O Lord I will praise thee, though thou wast an. gry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me. Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song, and he also is become my salvation."
Such were the views which Jacob had at Bethel, and such are the objects which are more fully presented to you in the cross. Now God says to you, “ I am the God of Calvary, where Jesus suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring you to God,” and let your faith and love, your gratitude and joy, now rea
After the Service.
It was at Bethel that Jacob took the stone which had been his pillow, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil on the top of it; and it was here that he vowed a vow, saying, “ If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone which I have set for a pillar shall be God's house, and of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” This memorial was simple, but God regarded it with delight, as the expression of grateful homage, and this vow was recorded in his book of remembrance. It is not of a splendid temple, or of a magnificent ceremony that God thus speaks, but of a rude and lowly pillar, and of a vow made in utter soli. tude. Superstition hath boasted of the majesty of the columns it has reared to his name, and of the subli. mity of the hymns it hath sung in his praise, but to all its structures, He prefers the rudest pillar which gratitude erects, and on which the tear of repentance falls, and to all its pealing anthems, the holy wish, and the virtuous purpose of the renovated heart.
Ye young disciples let this be the vow you now make at his table, that your heart shall be his. The sweet. est sound which can rise from earth to heaven is the vow of early piety, “ He is my God, and I will exalt him, my father's God, and I will prepare him a habis
tation.” The witness and the record of this vow are on high, and you will be reminded of it hereafter to your shame, or to your joy ;-to your shame if it is for. gotten and violated to your joy if you have kept the faith.
Ye who are in middle life, devote to him your active days. Others at this period are devoting the prime of their faculties to worldly wealth, and to worldly ambition ; but we trust you are now dedicating, and will hereafter direct yours to the service of God. Piety will lighten all your cares, guide all your steps, and sanctify all your engagements.
And let aged disciples devote to God what may remain of life. God is now reminding you of the solemnities of your early days, and of the purposes which you formed in them, and which he hath kept you from disregarding, and while he does so, consecrate the evening of life to the remenibrance of his name, and the declaring of his works; yea, this day make your vow for eternity, and ere you rise from that table, let this be your resolution: “I will extol thee my God O king; every day will I do it, and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.” It becomes you to shew both to God and to the world, that instead of finding reason to complain of his dispensations, or to become languid in his service, you feel yourselves more strongly bound than ever to keep his commandments and to abide in his love. · You are now on the brink of the grave, and it becomes you to set up your stone of memorial on that spot, and to inscribe on it the affeeting expression of gratitude, “ Hitherto hath the Lord helped.” And you may be assured, that the God who hath blessed by his mercy all the former periods of your life, will not leave you comfortless now. He will refresh you, when weary, with the dew of your youth, and with the first fruits of paradise.