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ing what ought to be the state of our hearts under a sense of his manifold mercies and lovingkindnesses which have been ever of old.
In applying this passage to our own experience, let us, my brethren, meditate on various instances of divine interposition as exercised towards us.
And of these, the first which we shall notice is embraced in our temporal mercies.
It is impossible, indeed, to separate the consideration of these entirely from our spiritual privileges, because all God's mercies flow to us through the channel of mediation, and we are less than the least of any of them. Whatever help has been vouchsafed to us, hitherto, as the creatures of the divine hand, we have received in consequence of that unspeakable gift of love which the Father hath bestowed on us in the Lord our Saviour. Still, my friends, it is of great consequence to bear habitually in mind our obligations to God for those common mercies, as they are sometimes called, which, as creatures simply, we have received from him. The enumeration even of these surpasses our powers of recollection as far as it does those of thankful acknowledgment. Their history preceded our birth, and has run parallel with every hour of our being. Let us reflect on the place assigned to us in the creation of God. Why were we endowed with rational and immortal spirits, rendered capable of the exercises of contemplation, forethought, and judgment, the powers of our minds, in their finite cajtucities, tearing witness to the infinite wisdom which created them? Why have so many inlets to enjoyment been furnished for our sentient and accountable nature, every faculty and affection proving that the Lord is good unto all, and that his tender mercies are over all his works? And as we have been thus " fearfully and wonderfully made," so our preservation in the land of the living is due exclusively to the truth, " that hitherto hath the Lord helped us." Look back, my friends, to the helplessness of your infant years, and reflect on the gracious provisions which not only met, but even anticipated all your necessities, in the exercise of the parental affections, or in the kind assiduities of those who loved you as their own souls. In how many subsequent stages of your being have you experienced the help of God, when he averted from you some threatened danger, or restored you from the couch of sickness, or gave you his own strength to endure when heart, and flesh had begun to faint and fail! In what a countless variety of instances have you realised the protection of an overruling Providence, the strength of an Almighty arm, the overflowings of a Father's bountifulness! Hath not the Lord helped you to use the comforts which he had so amply provided, whether in your individual or relative experience, giving you the power and the disposition to enjoy them? When the mind is rightly exercised, we shall discover causes for gratitude in whatever state Divine Providence has placed us. Nay, the most ordinary mercies will, in such circumstances, seem to us in
finitely more than we deserve; so that in the lijrlit of heaven's sun, and the refreshing influence of the surrounding atmosphere, and the food that nourishes our mortal bodies, and the bliss of contentment wilt our estate, we shall behold abundant grounds of gratitude to Him who giveth us all things rictih to enjoy. And even when deprived of those Terr comforts which we had deemed indispensable to our happiness, are we not thereby taught thai God is both able and willing to render the prmtion conducive to our higher and more permanent interests, and to supply all our real need accordm.' to his riches in glorv bv Christ Jesus? In taking a retrospect of our temporal mercies, let u< not forget the interchange of those relative and friendly offices which minister so abundantly m the happiness of our condition. How precious are those mutual charities, in which the heart of man is knit to his kinsmen, his friends, his neighbours, his fellow-eountrvmen, his brethren in Christ! Much of the value of human existent e depends on the cultivation of those living sympathies which flow through the social system, rau<m.us to rejoice with them that rejoice, and to weep with them that weep. In every instance of i brother born for adversitv, we have reason to mart the loving-kindness of the Lord, who hath not, because of our guilt, separated us for ever from the communion of the kind affections, and caused us to know the extent of misery involved in that saying, " hateful and hating one another." In surveying the wide range of our social relations, aim the happiness which we have experienced Bimil-: them, we are constrained to raise our Eben-eier— our stone of remembrance—and to inscribe on ii. "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."
In the second place, let us review our spiritnil mercies, in connection with the dispensation w the Gospel of the grace of God.
It is here, my friends, that the text is seen in the most varied and impressive lights; fur it is here that the Lord has been emphatically the heip and salvation of his people. From everlastin.. Jehovah laid help for us on the Son of his low '< and in the fulness of time sent him torth, nW/ of a woman, made under the law, to redeem then that were under the law, that we might recei^ the adoption of sons. In the scheme of our salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ, the help of G»i is, throughout, shown to be indispensable;'"' helplessness, the very extremity of helplessntv characterises our low and lost estate. Are ** helplessly guilty? as identified with a self-A*troved race, condemned of heaven, and exposed :i everlasting punishment? In this situation, an atoning sacrifice was offered to the divine jusnoi of infinite and imperishable value,—a Lamb without blemish and without spot, whereby reoon;.liation was made for iniquity, and a mercy-s?-: provided for the refuge of the very chief of si»ners.
Are we, moreover, helplessly depraved, enenw* to God, in our minds, and by wicked works.'"" spiritual beauty having consumed away hie u* moth; and in us, that is in our flesh, dwelling no good thing? The Lord hath made abundant and suitable provision for our restoration to the purity, as well as to the safety of the redeemed. In that fulness of gTace and truth that belongs to the Lord our Saviour,—with whom is the residue of the Spirit,—there is seasonable help for every time of need. Are we ignorant of any department of Christian obligation or privilege? The Lord helps us to see these in their Scriptural import, anointing our eves with the eye-salve of his own divine illumination. Are we helplessly destitute of every spiritual benefit? The Lord gives unto us the bread of life which came down from heaven, for "his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed." Are we in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is? He hath helped us by opening a fountain in the desert, and springs of living water to satiate every weary, and to replenish every sorrowful soul. The Lord hath thus proved helpful to us as our provider, our physician, our guardian. In him his people are complete, and through him they lack nothing that is good. He sends forth his Spirit to teach them the way of life, and he strengthens them " with all might in the inner man," that they may go forward from strength to strength, until they arrive perfect before God in Zion.
But it is necessary to be more minute and specific, in reference to the application of the text, to the case of individual Christians. There are, indeed, necessities common to all men, for which, therefore, a common salvation is provided. Still it may be affirmed, with perfect justness, that whilst the heart of one man answereth to another, even as in water face answereth to face, there are individual varieties of spiritual condition, as there are of external features, which render each man's experience his own and not another's. And this presents a strong additional cause of thankfulness, in considering the help which the Lord hath provided for his Church. It is help wisely and exactly suited to the countless diversities of our spiritual wants. It is help, accordingly, comprehending- the very amount of light which is necessary for every season of darkness or of difficulty; of strength for every season of weakness, and of consolation for every hour of sorrow. The precise situation of every member of the household of faith,—all his circumstances, whether joyous or grievous, are "naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do," and there is, therefore, a biiperabundant fulness, which is adapted to every exigency. It would be unbefitting the infinitude of God were it otherwise. Could we conceive a solitary exception which should not come within the "exceeding riches of his grace," that exception would prove a want of adequacy in the provisions of the Gospel. But it is not so. In our "Father's house there is bread enough and to spare," and, therefore, every specific instance of want, or of woe; of temporal or spiritual destitution; of personal or relative distress, is thoroughly provided for. "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us," is the blissful experience of all who have put his
faithful love to the test. Was I in the depths of spiritual wretchedness? He left me not to sink unpitied and forlorn, but revealed to me his power and his willingness to save. Was I overwhelmed with the burden of indwelling iniquity, mv trespasses having gone up unto the heavens? I heard his voice saying, "Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Was I like men at their wit's end, tossed to and fro on an ocean of conflicting difficulties because of adverse providences, as I deemed them, "when my fig-tree had ceased to blossom, and the labour of my olive had failed, and no fruit was found in my vine, nor herd in my stall?" Even then a stone of remembrance was raised to that Lord who had hitherto helped me. He who had hedged me in on every side, as a trial of my faith and patience, at length opened my way before me, and by his own blessing, on his own providential ordinations, caused me to reap an abundant harvest of the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Was I plunged into the depths of anguish, because the desire of my eyes had been cut off with a stroke, and the sorrows of death got hold on me? In that season of unutterable affliction, the Lord helped me to say, not with a feigned, although with a burdened heart, "The will of the Lord be done."
It is thus, my friends, that each Christian's experience may be distinctly subservient to his understanding of our text. And it is by such experience, indeed, that any portion of God's Word is best understood; for until we are placed in the very circumstances to which the Scriptures are adapted, we can have fit&e more than a speculative apprehension of their meaning.
We would, therefore, observe, in the third place, that the Christian's growing meetness for heaven bears testimony to the language of Samuel, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."
This head of the subject has been in some measure anticipated, under the preceding head; but it is of sufficient, importance to require separate illustration. As the Lord is the source of all spiritual blessings, so it is his efficacious grace which enables us to use them for his own glory, and our Christian edification. Whatever measures of knowledge, or faith, or holiness, we attain, are, thus, to be ascribed to the help of the Lord. It is He who prepares the soil of the human heart for the reception of the good seed, in order that it may spring up, and yield fruit to his own praise and glory. The same Lord enables us to exercise faith, and hope, and repentant affections, and strengthens all these and other graces in the soul. By his help we labour, and by his help we endure. It is He who teaches our hands to war, and our fingers to fight—strengthens us amidst the heat and burden of the day, and fortifies our souls against the conquests of the prince of darkness. It is to Him we are indebted for whatever divine light is shed over the warnings, or the promises; the doctrines, or the precepts; the examples, or the consolations of the written Word. These means of salvation, how excellent and seasonable soever, possess nc inherent efficacy to soften the hardness of the human heart; to quicken its languid affections; to concentrate or direct its energies; to sustain its fortitude, or to check its rebellious tendencies. But when the Lord helps us by his Spirit to profit through the Word, we are thereby enabled to acknowledge that he is in it of a truth. And as the reading of the Scriptures is wholly ineffectual for salvation, without the help of the Lord causing us to understand and apply them, so the preaching of the truth is powerless, if unaccompanied with the Spirit's helpful influence. The treasure of the Gospel is in earthen vessels, that the excellency and the power may appear to be of God and not of man. We cannot fix on a single point of the Christian's history from the period of his translation from death unto life, until he reach the perfected felicity of his nature in the heavenly world, that bears not on it this inscription: "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." Whether it was by some arousing dispensation of providence in which his ear was opened to discipline, or by some vivid manifestation of Scripture truth to the conscience, —by the terrors of judgment, or the alluring invitations of mercy,—by the thunders of Sinai, or the glories of Mount Zion, in whatever way the work of his preparation for eternity was furthered, to God's help he ascribes the whole. In the ordinary course of things, this truth may fail to be kept steadily in view. But, there are seasons of special necessity, ever and anon occurring-, which rouse to a more lively impression of it. There are times of peculiar sacredness in the Christian's course, that demonstrate the necessity of a better wisdom and a higher strength than his own, as in times of great personal affliction, or under very striking' domestic visitations, when he feels how utterly vain is the help of man, and how precious is the help of God. And when under the pressure of such calamities, he grasps, with tenacious earnestness, the rod and staff which the Shepherd of Israel hath proffered, and lays hold on his strength, he then " knows in whom he has believed, and that he is able to keep that which he has committed unto him against that day." Nor does his stone of remembrance disappear even amidst the waters of Jordan; the floods of death do not overwhelm it. "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us," is the Christian's memorial in life and in death, as it shall be the theme of his everlasting praise when the feebleness, and the wants, and the tribulations of the present time shall all be exchanged for that world in which there is fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore. "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
But the text reminds us, that it is not in the personal or private walks of Christian experience only, that we ought to raise a stone of remembrance, saying, " Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." The transactions recorded in this chapter, are of a public and national character, bearing am
ple testimony to the help of God in a juncture of critical interest to the civil and religious privileges of ancient Israel. The ark of God had been restored after its sacrilegious detention amongst the enemies of the truth. And the stone of remembrance was intended to perpetuate that cheeriii> event. Samuel and his brethren did not look to their own things only, but they rejoiced in rendering unto God the things that are God's. Thev had wept when they remembered Zion, and they were glad when the majesty of the Lord God of Israel was again presented to their contemplation through his own appointed svmbol.
Was this the experience of Jehovah's ancient heritage? Did they give thanks unto the Lord, not merely because of their own personal comforts, but sympathise most strongly with the restored indications of his presence in the midst of them? Were they very jealous for the honour of the Lord of Hosts? In the sublime language of the Psalmist, who was soon to be their monarch, did they say, "We will not give sleep to our eyes, nor slumber to our eye-lids, until we find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob?" And ought not tee, brethren, on whom the ends of the world are come, to form the same resolution, and to offer up our united prayer, "Arise, O Lord, unto thy rest: thou and the ark of thy strength?"
We fear that many professed Christians conceive, that their duty is sufficiently discharged when they mind the things that belong to their own peace, and fulfil the more ordinary obligations of domestic and social life. But, my friends, however sincere the piety of such persons mav be, it is devoid of an essential element of true religion, that of an enlarged regard to the divine glorv, ia connection with the interests of the kingdom of grace on earth. The Christian, especially if he have leisure and other facilities at command, ought to consider himself as bound to maintain the cause of his Redeemer in its enlarged relations to the human family. The church of the living Goethe pillar and ground of the truth, must be inrinitely more sacred to his heart than any eartbir considerations. With every addition to its numbers, and with every increase to their faith, hope, and charity, he must seek to possess a community of feeling. When the ark of God is removed, or when danger overhangs it; when aliens from the commonwealth of Israel would carry it awav, or tarnish its lustre, the Christian must then gird, up the loins of his mind, and, with the help of God, contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints. And, if honoured to be a fellowworker with God in thus maintaining a testimony for his name's sake, the most natural and apiirtv priate expression of his heart will be that of th? prophet, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped u^"" Nor will he cease from exertion, nor from pravef, until the night come, when no man can wort Whilst the wise men of the world sport themselrei with their own deceiving?, and prosecute as (he ruling passion of their hearts, that their own names
be inscribed on the stones of this perishable earth; whilst they pursue the fleeting phantoms of a scene, which is full of vanity and vexation of spirit, the Christian labours to extend the memorials of Jehovah's mercy and grace, rejoicing in the prospect of that glorious era described by inspired prophets, in which men shall be blessed in the Saviour, and all nations shall call him blessed. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things; and blessed be his glorious name for ever. And let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen.
ON THE EVIL OP
VAIN CURIOSITY, AND INDETERMINABLE
AND USELESS SPECULATIONS.
By The Rev. James Foote, A.M.,
Minister of the East Parish of Aberdeen.
Having, in a former paper, considered the evil of vain curiosity and indeterminable and useless speculations, as it shews itself in the attempts which are often made to settle certain points more positively and circumstantially than they are settled in Scripture, we shall now proceed to consider it, and put in a caution against it, in reference to ail prying into the secret purposes of the Almighty.
"The Lord of Hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I lave thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand." "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." God "worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." Such is the truth : but beyond this we can seldom go with certainty or safety; for, except in the few instances in which God himself has made a particular discovery, these purposes are inscrutable till they be manifested by the result. And yet much time is wasted in endeavouring to anticipate the knowledge of some of them, while the divine declaration by Moses is disregarded,—" Secret things belong unto the Lord our God ; but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."
Thus it is, for example, with regard to the infinitely important purpose,— God's purpose as to the salvation of individuals. It is true that believers are exhorted to "make their calling and election sure." But then, their election can be ascertained by themselves only, in consequence of their being actually called, or brought into a state of grace: and when it is thus scripturally ascertained, it is no longer one of " the secret things," but it is one of the things which are "revealed," and which belong to them. If, however, men venture to reason and determine, independently on their actual :onvcrsion, whether or not they are within God's purpose of mercy, this is highly presumptuous and danger>us. On this plan, there is reason to fear that some •ontinue in unbelief and sin, satisfying themselves with be idea, altogether without evidence, that they are the hosen of God. On the other hand, it is not very unommon to meet with persons in great distress of mind, ecausc, not being able to come to the conclusion that hey are possessed of the character of God's children, r influenced by some unaccountable impression, or, ^>rgetting that the only certain proof of reprobation is rial impenitence, they conclude, very unscripturally ail presumptuously, that there neither is, nor ever will s, any mercy for them. Instead of brooding over this 'ea, which is alarming enough to overwhelm the strong>t mind, they ought to fix on the plain declarations of lod'a Word, that all who believe shall be saved that
Christ came to save the chief of sinners, and that those who come unto him he will in no wise cast out. Proceeding on these declarations, they would acquire more and more of the character and consolation of true Christians; and thus, by inverting the order of their inquiries, they would gradually obtain, in the way of legitimate inference, that satisfaction which they can never properly find in the way of direct search.
There are, again, various things in the grand and comprehensive purposes of the Almighty, which are revealed as to the mere fact, but which are kept secret as to the time: and therefore, it is in vain for us to endeavour to settle the exact period when they are to take place. When the disciples put this question to Jesus after his resurrection, "Lord wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" he replied, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth." Our Lord did not stop to rectify their carnal views which the descent of the Holy Spirit was soon to dissipate, nor did he give them any direct answer to the question in its spiritual import j but he proceeded immediately to inform them how they were to be qualified, and how they were to act, for the advancement of his kingdom throughout the world. In like manner, still, no certainty is likely to be obtained as to the time when the Gospel shall prevail through the whole earth; nor is much good likely to arise even from the most modest attempts to fix it. But what is that to us? Does our comfort, or our duty, depend either on our knowledge, or on our ignorance of that point? Should we not rejoice that the event is certain? Is not our duty in the mean time plain? Are we not called on to do what we can to promote the cause of the Redeemer? Has he not left with his Church the very intelligible command, " Go ye, and teach all nations?" Is it not always the time for us to be exerting ourselves towards the desired consummation? And ought we not to be praying, and planning, and labouring, that the kingdoms of this world may become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ?
So also, (as may be seen at large throughout the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew,) when the disciples asked of our Lord the time and the signs, botli of the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the general judgment, saying, " Tell us when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coining, and of the end of the world?" he gave them no chronological answer, either as to the one event, or as to the other, but only furnished them with some signs of each, and gave them directions how to prepare for both, and especially for the great day of judgment; in reference to which, as shadowed forth by the national calamity, he said, " Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." "Watch, therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come!" "Be ye also ready; for, in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh." Insteud, therefore, of here prying into what cannot be determined, let us live habitually under the belief of Christ's second coming, and give all diligence, that we may be found in Him without spot, and blameless.
Moreover, as many of God's purposes are secret as to their nature, or as to the time of their fulfilment, so many of them are secret as to the reasons of their adoption. Hence it is said that "God's judgments are a great deep," that "his footsteps are not known," and that "he giveth not account of any of his matters." Into the reasons, therefore, of his purposes, further than what he himself has been pleased to open up, we cannot penetrate, and ought not to pry. Let it suffice us
to know, and carefully to improve for holiness and comfort, this general truth that God is influenced by reasons, and proceeding on a plan, according to which he will most effectually cause all things to work together for glory to himself, and for good to them that love him, and are the called according to his purpose. If, when attempting to go beyond this, we are reduced to a nonplus, let us humbly stop short, and devoutly exclaim, "O the depth of the riches botli of the wisdom and knowledge of God I how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto hiin again? For, of him, and through him, and.to him are all things; to whom be glory for ever. Amen."
We shall only advert, at present, to one other mode in which the unhappy and unprofitable turn of mind in question, operates, namely, inijuisitiveness with regard to things relating to others. We are not, indeed, to cherish that selfish and contracted spirit which would render us indifferent to what really concerns the happiness of our fellow-creatures; on the contrary, we are, considerately and kindly, to "look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." At the same time we ought to avoid such interferences and inquiries as are uncalled for, and as argue on our part, rather an impertinent curiosity, than an honest desire to benefit either our neighbour or ourselves. The Apostle Paul speaks with much disapprobation of those who "learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also, and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not;" and he enjoins Christians, instead of meddling with the affairs of others, to " study to be quiet, and to do their own business." We should recollect, too, that it will not be a whit more wise in us that it is the spiritual, and not the temporal welfare of others that interests us, if, while we are minding them, we are forgetting ourselves, if, while we are busied in keeping their vineyards, our own vineyard we have not kept.
Neither does it belong to us, generally speaking, to form, or to pronounce any positive opinion as to the religious state and character of others.. "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth." Instead of this, it will be better for us to scrutinize ourselves, and to judge ourselves. "Let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not iu another. For every man shall hear his own burden."
Solomon adverts to one inquiry of little moment, in these words, "Say not thou. What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this." It must be premature to inquire into the cause of such degeneracy before we are sure of the fact; and this, to say the least, will often be very difficult to ascertain. Of what use, too, is it to declaim against the growing profanity of the world, if our zeal evaporate in such declamation, and we sit down in indolence, and make no attempt to stein the torrent? If, indeed, in our belief of the surpassing iniquity and misery of our own generation, we exert ourselves to improve it, then that belief, whether correct or unfounded, is harmless. But such a belief is not necessary as a motive to action, for, whether the times be better or worse, it will always be our duty to do what we can for the public good; and with regard especially to the improvement of the religious character of the age, we ought never to forget the importance of looking to ourselves, for, if every person would reform one, all would be reformed.
The disciples put this question to our Lord, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" not inquiring, without reference to any individual, who, generally speaking, was the greatest by character, (for then the
question might have been a wise one,) but curious t« know particularly, and by name, who was the greatest of all his immediate disciples. Accordingly, Jesus, u usual in such cases, instead of giving a direct answer, replied in such a way as to lead them to think of tbasselves; he told them that except they were convened they should not enter into the kingdom of heaven* all, and that of these who did enter, the humblest shout be the greatest. This teaches us that instead of disputing who of all the great and good men in our dij is the greatest and the best, which could only tend to si: up envy and jealousy, we ought ourselves to see tint we be indeed converted, that we belong to Christ's kingdom, and that we be seeking to excel in every grace, but especially in humility.
When, again, one said to Jesus, "Are there few tin! be saved? " he replied, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many will seek to enter in and shall not k able." Now, to what purpose should we spend time in calculations and inquiries as to the number of these who may get to heaven? Suppose we could ascertain it, which we cannot, of what benefit would it be to »»• Rather let us be earnest in the prosecution of our owa salvation. Rather let us anxiously inquire, each tor himself, "What must I do to be saved?" However many may be lost, will that prove any excuse for my obstinacy, or alleviate my condemnation, if I also pen-j However many may be saved, will that be of any lament to me, if I am not among them? I will, therefore, by the help of God, withdraw from those wi* are going down to death; and as I see a company uu are pressing into the kingdom of heaven, I will auJ-i to the number.
We are informed, in the last chapter of John's Gospel, that when our Lord had told Peter that he wa> to suffer martyrdom for his sake, Peter seeing John kilowing Jesus, said, " Lord, and what shall this u-t do?" or more literally, " What as to this nun?" ua: is. What is to be John's history and end? Is he C'j to die a martyr? In reply to this question, Christ s&L: to Peter, " If I will that he tarry till I come, whsi ithat to thee?" Whatever information may have btc couched in this way of speaking, it is evident that v-' Lord declined giving Peter a direct and positive answer, being displeased with the improper curiosity which imanifested, at a moment when it would have been :••' more becoming in him to have been intensely oecspied about his own duty, and endeavouring, by father edifying communication with his Lord, and b< prayer, to acquire faith and courage sufficient to esrry him through the labours and sufferings to which he" divinely called, and which he had solemnly engs^rU' undergo. "What is that to thee? Follow thou me. Cease, as if our Lord had said, cease to waste preboic time in such inquiries, and let it be thy constant stirf? to follow me,—to follow me as thine instructor ind. vine truth, us the only object of thy trust, as thy Lffi*l whose commands thou art bound to obey, and as tin pattern, whose example thou art to copy; and if tiwilt come after me, deny thyself, and take up thy crcs-, and follow me through sufferings and death. Cease !■' amuse thyself with vain speculations, and make it ti' great concern thus to follow me.
No doubt, like Peter, in this case, we would son times be glad if we could know what is to beju! •■ friends in this life, and when they are to Lave ii' with this life altogether. This will frequently be a for example, when any important temporal interest f depending on the life of another; but here the inqiC" is quite in vain. It is natural enough, too, for near 3 lations to feel somewhat in this way toward* e«£ other; for a father, for example, as he looks with ss eye on the son of his love, to feel as if he wouU »; to himself, " How will this my son conduct bimseiHow will he succeed in the world? Is he to live *■