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narrow-necked phials of tbe finest white alabaster; a name which it received from its extraordinary resemblance to the precious-stone of that name, though it was itself a marble of a very valuable description, found in the quarries of Upper Egypt or in the Libanus of Syria. In such immense quantities was this costly treasure obtained there, that long before the time of Christ, alabaster was in such general use, that the name was universally applied to boxes of perfume, whatever was the materia] of which it consisted.
(To be continued.)
"Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation."—
Tut examination of this passage will lead us into a nice yet interesting part of practical divinity. It is altogether experimental, and can therefore be intelligible only to those who hare some acquaintance with spiritual things. The degree in which we can enter into the spirit of it will form a good test of the state of our souls. But not to waste our time on the confines of so interesting a subject, we proceed to observe,
That we learn from the text, in the first place, tiiat fJiere is a joy in God's salvation.
In addition to the text, we might quote numerous passages containing commands, motives, and examples, to establish this first point, that there is a joy in G od's salvation; that is, that a persuasion that we are saved by the Lord is accompanied with a joy proportionate to the magnitude of the Messing, and the strength of the persuasion. These passages intimate, we are of opinion, fully more: they intimate, that salvation, when as fully and sincerely embraced as it is fully and sincerely offered, cannot fail to impart joy; that believers flight to joy in God, and that it is more or less characteristic of them that they do so.
Salvation itself, however, and the joy of it, must >e admitted by all sound and judicious thinkers to ie quite distinct; distinct in their own nature, and o actual existence. The former, so far as it conists in a state of safety and acceptance, is equal in 11 believers ; the latter, namely, the joyful persuaion of it, is not equal in all, being dealt out in varius degrees by the free Spirit of God, and, on some evasions, even entirely taken away for a time, on hat principle we shall afterwards see. It is specify his work, who applies unto men this salvation, to roduce in thorn also an assurance of it; and this 2 does, by "taking of the things of Christ, and lewinjj them unto them," so vividly, that they .n see in his work a sufficient satisfaction to the afher's justice for their sins, and can exercise on consequently such a degree of reliance as brings eir souls repose and peace; by "shedding abroad e love of God in their hearts, "the sure pledge reconciliation; and by leading them to delight his service and fellowship. All this, we are per;i<lc<l, he works, more or less, in every believer, • joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit; and it is
scarcely possible to have even a dim view of a free and full salvation without some comfort; but when faith can view it in all its freeness and fulness— and why should it not ?—then does it fill the soul with " all joy and peace.*.
Such is the blessedness of a state of grace even in this life. Salvation is not altogether future; God gives us a taste of it even here. Have you tasted of it? then you know what it is. It is more dear to you than any other joy. "There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord lift thou on us the light of thy countenance!" It is your best preservative against sin; having it, you need not go in quest of unholy joy; "the peace of God shall keep your heart." It gives you strength for duty and suffering; "the jov of the Lord is your strength." The world has altogether a false idea of religion, and for the honour of religion we must correct it. In this life, indeed, it confers not perfect happiness; there are many inward conflicts that accompany it. But still it does confer a happiness immeasurably above what the world can. There is,—there is even here, a joy in God's salvation, in the positive blessings it brings, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, communion with God, and in those inconceivable and unending blessings which it reveals.
But we learn from the text, in the second place, that this joy may be lost.
It was lost by the Psalmist, for he here prays that it may be restored; and we shall best illustrate this point, by adverting to his case. It is unnecessary, however, to be very explicit. Suffice it to say, that he had deeply sinned against God in the matter of Uriah. Notwithstanding this sad fall, we know that, in other respects, he was a man after God's own heart, and that he enjoyed the nearest and most delightful intercourse with him. But, in the circumstances under review, did this intercourse continue? No; we are assured it ceased, and for no short period too, till the exercise of repentance recorded in this psalm.
The Psalmist's mind during this intervening period must have been in a state of dormancy and indifference. Whether his outward form of devotion continued or not, it is impossible for us to ascertain; but of this we may be sure, there could be neither life nor joy in it. Yet in this state could he who once said, and said sincerely, " As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God;" in this state could he live, and that contentedly. Alas! alas 1 such is the natural effect of sin, even in the greatest saint: it destroys all moral feeling; it not only leads God to withdraw from the soul, in the way of judicial punishment—it withdraws the soul from God, and produces a dread and dislike of him. From this state of insensibility, in which, as to any will or power of his own he would have remained for ever, he was awakened by the Spirit of God, through the instrumentality of Nathan the prophet. Then was he made sensible of his sad apostasy: he contrasted the peaceful hours he once enjoyed with God; and their memory, instead of solacing1, served only to embitter the present: he now upbraided himself with his folly in throwing away the joy of God's salvation for the pleasures of sin, and he earnestly longed and prayed that it might be restored.
No one surely can fail to see the righteousness of the divine procedure in all this. The Psalmist had forsaken God, and was it not most just that God should forsake him? Which of the two first broke off the intercourse? Was it God or the Psalmist? It was the Psalmist. Yes; the Creator is never the first to withdraw from the creature, but the creature from the Creator. It was so in the first grand apostasy, it was so in this, and it is so in every similar case. When, therefore, God removed from David the joy of his salvation, he performed not a mere sovereign act, but what his righteousness and truth imperiously demanded. Had he not done so, he would have been virtually conniving at sin, a thing most abhorrent to his holy nature; he Would have been violating those immutable principles of rectitude on which he governs the world, putting no distinction between the righteous and the wicked. And besides all this, it is plain that the Psalmist could not, in the nature of things, have continued to enjov the favour of God. He had gohe in quest of unholy joy, and in so doing, had contemner! and rejected the holy joy of God's salvation; and even, therefore, although it had not been the judicial appointment of God that backsliders such as he should forfeit it, it would still have been true that He would have done so ih every instance, in the very nature of things; for Unholy and holy joy are obviously incompatible in the same mind at the same time, unless, indeed, there exist no moral distinctions at all. As it was with the Psalmist, therefore, so will it be with every believer who is similarly situated. When he offends God, he will lose the joy of his salvation. This is the general statement, upon which we deem it necessary, however, to make two remarks. The first is, that it is not every degree of sin remaining in a believer that will have this effect. We make this remark by way of encouragement, that we may hot seem to put the joy of God's salvation altogether or too much beyond ordinary attainment. It is consistent with Scripture and experience to say that it is compatible, in some gOod measure, with those remaining sins which still cleave to the flesh, though these do unquestionably impair it, and that they who walk, on the whole, humbly with God, and in reliance on his grace, ought not to shut themselves but from the comfort of the Gospel; for it is just to such humbled, convinced, believing souls who mourn for sin, and conflict with it, that all the promises of pardon, perseverance, and eternal life are made. The second remark is, that we may lose the joy of God's salvation without sinning so deeply as David did. We make this remark by way of caution, lest any one deem himself at liberty to go a certain length in careless walking, provided he do not, in his own appre
hension, go too far. It would be extremeiy dtngerous in one to calculate how far he may go in sin without forfeiting big peace. The truth is, he cannot go Jar. The peace of the Gospel is easily lost, but not easilv regained; and even »ben not entirely lost, it may be more or less diminished, and, in fact, will ever be in proportion to one's spirituality of mind. It may be diminishing evea when the person is not aware of it. For rot most part, the first deviations from holiness mat be so gradual as to be scarcely perceptible, and the peace of mind, consequently, little disturbed; ve: these inroads on his spirituality and comfort may. and will proceed, unless checked by divine greet. till they utterly strip him of both. It is not therefore only, perhaps chiefly, against grosser sins that believers need to be warned, but against those that are less obvious, because against these thev are less on their guard. Indeed, it is only bv experience they can learn that many things, apparently harmless, are really hurtful. There an many things which may appear doubtful, becau«* they are not forbidden in so many words; in such cases, this is the true and satisfactory test to > real Christian: What is their effect on his mbi after engaging in them? does he feel the ssm« ardour and pleasure in devotion? If not, he n«*i require no other intimation to abstain from them. The world has a great controversy with the peopfe of God about the lawfulness of many amusement*. It is impossible they can come to any agreement because the determination of the ]>oint depend so much oh spiritual discernment and feeling, c* which the two parties widely differ. "I can see no harm in this or that amusement," savs a mar of the world. "I both see harm and get harm/ says the Christian, " and that is enough for me/ It is impossible to lay down rules for every thinf■ Nor is it necessarv; there will be in every trn. Christian, who enjoys the peace of Got], a fint sensibility, which will render him keenlv, we zr.-. say, painfully, alive to whatever has the remote tendency to impair it, and which will make hrr, shrink, as it were, instinctively from the "appearance of evil." Of such a sanctifying tendenci :• this peac«: he that enjoys it in any g-ood mea.-.r is armed at all points; it "shall keep his heart." When we inquire more particularly into ;r reason why there is not more of the joy of salvation even among true believers, although we mr find one reason to be, a partial niisunderst&n !-~of the Gospel, its freeness and accessibleness. * shall find the more general reason to be, an at tachment to some secret or open sin, which. long as it exists, prevents God from bestowin. upon them the highest tokens of his regard. The." may be an undue attachment to the world, or unhappy temperament of disposition, such «s :■ described in the following passage:—" Grieve ».■' the Holy Spirit of God,"—the author of f* "let all bitterness and clamour, and evil speak--be put away from you, with all malice;" or a wirr of due diligence in improving grace, already n ceived: "We desire that every one of von<te ux diligence to the full assurance of hope ;" or, finally, a negligence in spiritual duty: "The effect of righteousness shall be quietness and assurance for ever." Seeing these charges may be brought with too much justice against believers, is it wonderful that spiritual life and joy are at so low an ebb? Many have tb complain of a grievous decay of life and joy since the period of their " espousals." This, indeed, may be, in some cases, accounted for by the circumstance, that first impressions are usually most vivid. But in too many cases it is to be accounted for in another way: they have again got entangled among the affairs of the world; they have not walked worthy of their vocation; they have been disobedient children, and their heavenly Father has, in fatherly anger, visited them with the usual tokens of his displeasure. "If his children forsake my law, then will I visit their transgression with the rod." God thus punishes his people with a view to their recovery and stedfastness. It is true he could accomplish this, as he could their salvation from first to last, without any instrumentality at all. But he has instituted a system of discipline, which commends itself to us as worthy of him, and admirably suited to our rational nature. For a more effectual way of punishing a believer and bringing him to repentance cannot be conceived. The loss of the joy of God's salvation is a loss that can be estimated' only by those who have experienced it, and the more largely it has been experienced, the more deeply will the loss of it be felt. But when there is not only the loss of it, but the positive infliction of Inward trouble, the wrath of God felt in the soul, then is there an infliction of punishment that is truly terrible. Ail this has been felt by God's people. "The arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit." "O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure; for thine arrows stick fust in me, and thine hand presseth me sore." The simple apprehension of these things cannot fail to fill believers with a holy awe of offending God, and the experience of them will teach them a lesson of circumspection not speedily forgotten.
All that has now been said refers to the joy of salvation, not to salvation itself; though the first may be lost, the last cannot i that is, the believer, once in a state of grace, cannot entirely fall from it. At the end of a passage, formerly quoted, where God threatens to punish the children of the Messiah when they go astray, it is carefully added that they shall not be finally cast off: "Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not take from him." Ps. lxxxix. 33. God the Father has made a covenant with Christ, the true David, that, his " seed,"—those given him and redeemed by him,—shall not one of them be lost. In respect of this covenant, he bears with them, and pardons their iniquity. He cannot, consistently with its terms, cast them out of it, but he can, consistently enough with its terms, visit them
with a certain measure of punishment, because the only end of such punishment is their sanctifiCation, and, consequently, the fulfilment of all his covenanted purposes towards them.
We proceed to observe, in the third place, that we learn from the text that the joy of God's salvation may be restored.
God has an end in view in removing it. It is to punish his people, and when they are punished in such measure as is necessary for bringing them to a just sense and acknowledgment of their sin, it will be restored. He, therefore, in furtherance of his gracious designs toward his people, by a new communication of reviving grace, brings them to a sense of their sin—for, as we have seen in the case of the Psalmist, sin deadens the soul, so that the first motions of repentance mtist be from God —and being awakened, they feel the loss of their peace, their consciences accuse them of folly and ingratitude, and how they hate, and on purpose forsake, those sins which have separated between them and their God. Their affections, after this temporary estrangement, return with greater force to him, whose loving kindness they have, in their bitter experience, found to be better than life; and he, who knows the heart, and who has himself wrought all this in them, satisfied with the depth of their repentance, forgets and forgives their ingratitude, and restores unto them the joy of his salvation. Such is substantially the way in which, as in this case, so in every other case, the joy of God's salvation is restored. The measure Of repentance, indeed, may be different in different cases, being always proportioned to the heinousness of the offence. When the sin has been deeply aggravated, as in the case before us, the repentance must be deep, very deep, and the joy of salvation may be long withheld; nay, sometimes the believer, though truly penitent, may go mourning to his grave; his peace may receive a wound from which it never recovers. Yet God does, for the most part, fully restore to them that are penitent the joy of his salvation. With a compassion truly astonishing and generous, he observes, he cherishes, the first motion of the heart towards himself. He sees his orice prodigal but now returning child a " great way off," and has compassion, and runs and embraces him. These views, we are persuaded, are quite scriptural, and besides commend themselves to us as in fine harmony with the pure and unsophisticated feelings of our nature.
But while we thus state, that it is on their repentance that God forgives and receives his backsliding children, it may be necessary to remark, that it is not regarded by him as any satisfaction to his justice; and that for many reasons:—1. Because it is only a return to the path of duty they ought never to have left; and the performance of present duty cannot atone for the neglect of the past. 2. Because it is freely wrought in them by the Holy Ghost; and it is a mockery to think of purchasing the favour of God with his own gratuities. And, 3. Because there is a real and sufficrent atonement nrovided
It is to those, then, who, by grace, are enabled only to repent, and cast themselves on his mercy in Christ, lhat God restores, as he did at first communicate the joy of his salvation: every revival or restoration being, in the opinion of our best divines, just of the nature of conversion. The backslider must be quickened by the same Almighty Power that quickens the unconverted, and he must just cast himself anew on Christ as a poor, helpless, perishing sinner, as though he had never done so before.
Do we address any who have lost the joy of God's salvation? You once loved and enjoyed the Lord; you could once joy in his salvation; you could once say to the world and sin, farewell; ye have no more attractions for us; we taste a blessedness you never gave, you cannot give; begone for ever. And yet, ah, tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the uncircumcised triumph; tell it not in heaven, lest angels weep; tell it not in hell, lest devils rejoice. You, base, perjured souls, belied those fine professions; ah, think you, were they sincere!—forgot your God and Saviour, and returned to the enjoyment, such as it is, of sin. Now, I conjure you, tell me why. In God's name I expostulate with you, and in his words: "Thus saith the Lord, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, and the love of thine espousals. What iniquity have you found in me, that you have gone far from me? Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or land of darkness?" Say not so, in your own defence. You once found God to be all your heart could desire, and he has not changed, but you. And have you changed for the better? Let me put you in remembrance, for, alas, these things exist now only in remembrance, they are gone like a dream. Contrast your present misery, with the life, the joy you once had, and say, if you are not ashamed to admit, "that it was better then with you than now."
We have adopted this strain to awaken you, if possible, from the lethargy in which you may be sunk; but having awakened you, we might adopt a different strain and encourage you, for the feeling that may naturally arise in your minds is, that you have dealt so ungraciously with God that he will not receive you. But hear his gracious words: "Return, O backsliding children, and I will not cause mine anger to fall on you; only acknowledge thine iniquities." Amazing grace!" Only acknowledge thine iniquities." See, he longs for you back to his embraces. Your departure has wounded his heart more than it has wounded yours. Be not afraid to return to him, for he will not upbraid you with your conduct; he will not ask any satisfaction; he only asks,— and is it not just ?—that you acknowledge your sin, grieve for having offended him, and cast yourselves on his mercy. And being restored to the joy of his salvation, prize it more highly, and guard it more carefully than before. Shall this painful lesson be lost upon you? Shun those temptations you can trace as the cause of your fall. Walk softly and circumspectly all the days of your life.
Feel more than ever your need of divine aid. While you pray, " Restore unto me the jov of thr salvation ;" pray also, " and uphold me with thy free Spirit."
Now, unto him that is of power to stablish ton according to the Gospel and the preaching of Jests Christ, to God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
ALL CHRISTIANS ARE NOT ALIKE.
CHRISTIANITY AS AFFECTED BY CONSTrrCTJOXlI
Men differ from each other constitutionally; tnd this leads to constitutional differences in personal religun. The doctrine of physical differences or temperaments has long been understood, and will be found discuaei in a variety of popular works. But we doubt, whether the influence of these on the actual experience of practical Christians, be generally understood or dub) attenM to. And as this is not so much a matter of abstract discussion, as of observation and detailed statemeat, we shall at once proceed to illustrate what we ma by observed instances.
An individual of somewhat melancholy tenseament, with a feeble and sensitive nervous systea, was reduced to such a state of spiritual, or rat)* mental, bondage, as to be often unable either to » gage in prayer or to ask a blessing on his food, not unfrequently was he tempted to doubt some the most essential and elementary truths of relij' and yet at these very times, would his conscience detected sin, in what to others appeared altogether eatter of indifference. Like some delicate instrument. sa> pended in a dark and cloudy day, his conscience uid him of sin, both in his own case and that of others, »i» to most around him it remained unnoticed. His rejid for the honour and ordinances of God was also deep «al tender, as the very life of his soul; and on some i these, he waited and watched, as would the beniettai traveller for the breaking of the day. And there *• seasons too, when, like the sun glistening through sci broken and watery cloud, God vouchsafed to hia newed tokens of his covenant favour. His race woi then brighten; his soul felt the return of spring; u although still humble, and in some respects clearinr ■ the dust, he nevertheless spoke and felt as one vbobai seen God. And when enabled to piay with some me> sure of faith, such was the felt nearness of hu 1i proaches to God, that we have been told by sucl»} heard him, that it seemed as if God were verily pi%
gent Some account of another precious Christian.*
dissimilar tendencies, may here be subjoined. HU ptyt sical temperament was perhaps not greatly differ*! but he was naturally a person of more enlarged ssjM standing, and greater strength both of body and loBB He had also the advantage of a liberal education, >» more lengthened experience. At the time to whin * refer, he was far advanced in life, and was rem»rs»>f humble and conscientious, and much given to spiiflw exercise of mind; and yet he was stsid and on»*"il|* his progress. To one who knew him but little, or> whom he had but little confidence, be seemed to merely a quiet, inoffensive, and unpretending ChrUtJj but nowise distinguished for any remarkable ment j yet was he at this very time, a rare speatD» matured Christianity, fast ripening for heaven.—" ther, differing from both of those, may be descriW *\ possessing naturally a medium temperament, wifist'''et powers of mind, and uncommon sagacity and originality. During health, and when a man of middle age, he was accounted pious; and we have no reason to think that this opinion was not correct; yet had he less of the religion of feeling about him than appeared in many others. But a tedious illness laid him aside from pursuing his wonted avocations, and yet allowed him leisure and the power of attending to the matters which concerned his everlasting peace. He now directed his mind more exclusively to the state of matters between God and his soul; and experienced for a time, difficulties which had not perhaps been altogether anticipated. These led to a nearer and more simple exercise of living faith, which yielded to his soul corresponding joy. For a time he grappled with the generalities of a doctrinal Christianity, but was afterwards led more fully to see the opposition of a self-willed, though apparently well-directed heart; and he was thus enabled to find, in the entire and childlike submission of the heart to God's teaching, the effectual key for opening the springs of divine love. At this period, we have seen him burst into tears, and, with a heart overflowing from a sense of divine favour, lament the waywardness and unteachableness of his own mind: And in this state of ardent and onward piety, he generally continued till he was removed by death.—Another instance may be given of a younger Christian, whose natural endowments and tendencies greatly resembled those of the last; but whose training and circumstances were different. Naturally possessed of a sound judgment and great vigour of mind, lie had been trained from the cradle to habits of piety, and had set before him a remarkable example of living und personal godliness. In the course of Providence, lie was also tried in worldly circumstances, and had to lind bis way among strangers at a comparatively early age. He had accordingly less of what may be called the rust of Christian character about him, than some of similar attainments, but had all its strongly marked features. His impressions of divine truth were deep and lively, yet were they rather as the awakening of principles long cherished, than as the receiving of any thing strictly ne w. He was remarkably free from prej udice; and yet such was the strong hold which he had taken of the precious Truths of the Gospel, and such his settled habits of belief respecting their importance, that every thing wanting in these was felt by him as wanting in Christianity itself. Moreover, so far as we either observed or learned, he was less subject to those extremes of feeling and agitating changes, than most of his associates. And this, we have reason to think, continued to be true of him till he died.—One other instance we will yet give of a farther variety. The person to whom we now refer was, at the time, far advanced in life, and waiting his departure. He was naturally, we are disposed to think, quiet in temper, and of active habits, with considerable shrewdness and knowledge of the world ; and he had long been a watchful and experienced Christian. He had also been much tried with domestic affliction, and was now suffering under an acute and lingering disorder, with no prospect of recovery. His acquaintance with the Word of God was extensive and minute, as might be expected. Hut what we especially remark?rl as characteristic of that acquaintance, was the experience which he had of the power of a great number of passages on his own heart. He spoke concerning many of these, as if God had at some time addressed Uim in their words. He felt, like Jacob, on looking I jack to all the ways by which God had led him, as if many of the declarations of Scripture had been given laini to lean on as a staff in the wilderness. And when } i e came to such passages, he seemed to pause, and reverentially to feel that God was near him. He had no doubt as to the certainty of his interest in Christ; yet such were his feelings of the awful evil of sin and the preciousness of the soul, that he seemed at times to be
overtaken with temporary uneasiness. Yet over such a state of feeling he would afterwards prevail, especially through the abiding sense which he had of the divine faithfulness, and through the help which he obtained from the staff of the divine promises. And so it was, that he passed through the valley and shadow of death. Often during sleep was he heard engaged in the exercise of prayer, and the praises of God would then ascend from his couch, when he himself knew not of it, till, from the feebleness of his voice, it again died away into the stillness of the night.
We do not mean to affirm that all the varieties which we have here described, are to be resolved into constitutional differences. Matters of observation in nature are not to be found with the simple conditions of a philosophical experiment. In all God's works there is the meeting of many causes, and we are able to trace some predominant cause, only from the leading features of the matter observed; and, in such cases as these, from the special shading of individual character. We have, therefore, even purposely, brought together persons actually resembling each other in natural tendencies and endowments, but differently circumstanced. And yet we are persuaded that the intelligent observer will not fail to see in each also natural differences.
Now, such facts as these ought to prevent Christians from judging in their own case according to the particular experience of others. There is doubtless much which is common to all Christians. The heavenly treasure is, beyond all question, the same in every case; but the discolouring earth of the vessel will, to a greater or less extent, be absolutely different in every case. The true believer may, and ought to find, in his own breast, all that is strictly Christ's in the breast of his fellow-believer j but when he asks, how it is that Christ, in himself and in others, putteth on the living and visible form of an individual Christian, then it will be as in all the other works of God. The stamp of divine wisdom, in an endless variety of form, will shew the work to be of God.
And precisely the same rule ought men to observe in judging of others. One excels in one thing, and another in something different; and just because they are all intended to serve so many special ends. Each flower in the meadow has its own special form, and the general effect of the whole is essentially dependent on this individual and classified variety. And so, in like manner, would God have the Church to exhibit a diversity of graces and attainments, as great as the number of her spiritual members, that she may together appear as a field which the Lord hath blessed.
EXPERIENCE OF THE HEATHEN.
HEATHEN GREENLANDER's DEMONSTRATION OP THE EXISTENCE OF A GOD. There is no quarter of the globe where God has left himself without witnesses to his own existence,—witnesses whose testimony is so emphatic and intelligible as to commend itself, almost intuitively, to the eonscience and understanding of every rational being. If, therefore, there be any man on the face of the earth, who has no faith in the existence of a God, it is not, either because there is no evidence to convince him, or because the evidence is so abstruse, as to lie concealed from the investigation of his moral and intellectual powers. He needs only to walk abroad amid the painting, and the music, and the statuary, of this beautiful