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THE CHRISTIAN CALLED TO REVIEW THE
DEALINGS OF GOD WITH HIM.
DEUT. viii. 2.
Thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee
these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no.
The Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, informs us, that the
66 a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things; "
Moses, the Legislator of that law, was a type of CHRIST; the Prophet like to him.
The Priest of that dispensation was a type of Christ, the Priest after the order of Melchisedec.—The sacrifices of atonement and expiation, the intercession and benediction, were typical of those of CHRIST.-The washings, purifications, &c., of the Jews were also typical.
The Jewish Church, also, was typical of the Christian ;--The bondage of Egypt, of the bondage of sin, Satan, the world, and the fesh;—The deliverance from Egypt, of our spiritual deliverance; The passage of Israel through the sea, of our passing through repen tance, and being baptized unto Christ as they were unto Moses, (1 Cor. x. 1, 2;)-The song of Moses, (Exod. xv.) of the Christian song, when redemption is obtained. (Isai. xii.; Psal, ciii. 1.)-Redeemed Israel, brought to Sinai to receive the law, was emblematical of all pardoned sinners brought into covenant with God, and under the law to Christ. Their state of sojourning and pilgrimage in the wilderness, exposed to inconveniences, wants, dangers, distresses, hardships, and sufferings, was an emblem of the state of all Christians on earth."
The enemies that attacked Israel were a figure of our enemies ;-their victories, of our victories ;Jondan represented death, and Canaan heaven.
Various passages of the New Testament countenance this view of things. We not only learn, in general, that “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope,”
(Rom. xv. 4 ;) but St. Paul, in 1 Cor. x. 1, mentions some particular instances, in which the ancient Israelites partook of blessings which were typical of the privileges of Christian believers; and also records some of their punishments, as examples to us, of what we are to expect, notwithstanding our profession of Christianity, if we act like them, by desiring evil things, or distrusting the care of Christ, and murmuring against his appointments, though afflictive. For all the events in the history of the Jewish Church were recorded for our admonition, who live under the last and most perfect dispensation of the will of God. (Heb. iii. 7, 8; iv. 2.)
The words of our text are addressed, primarily, to Israel; “ Thou shalt remember; thou shalt call to mind, and meditate
the wisdom and goodness of God towards thee, and the power exerted on thy, behalf; “ all the way which the LORD thy God led thee;” all the events which befell thee in the way, the miraculous protections, deliverances, provisions, instructions, which God gave thee, and withal the severe punishments of thy disobedience; “to know what was in thine heart;" that thou mightest discover thyself, and manifest to others the infidelity, inconstancy, hypocrisy, and perverseness, which lay hid in thine heart, the discovery and mani. festation whereof God saw would be of peculiar use, both to them and to his church in all succeeding ages. But, the words may be considered as, also, addressed to the true Israel of God under every dispensation; to all who are delivered out of spiritual bond. age, and brought into covenant with God; who are in the wilderness of this world, pilgrims and sojourners, and are travelling to the heavenly Canaan. All such should remember the way, by which God has hitherto led, and still leads them, that they may trust in him and cheerfully serve him. Observe,
I. THE WÁY IN WHICH WE ARE LED.-“ All the way.”
This is two-fold.The way of Providence.
Our whole past life, and all the circumstances of it; childhood, youth; mature and declining age; the various scenes of it. This is proper to be done frequently, especially at the close of one year, and at the beginning of another. It is necessary, that we may learn experience from it.---All the events, particularly the chief and leading events of our life, whether prosperous or adverse; the changes we have passed through ; as education, apprenticeship, entering on business, engagements in business, marriage; the birth of children, their sickness or death, their health and life, growing up, being educated, their becoming pious or wicked, giving us
comfort or trouble; the death of parents, of husband or wife. Our protections in danger, threatening our property, character, health, life, body, soul; those of our wife, husband, child or children, and our preservations. The direction experienced in our difficulties.Our deliverance out of, or support under, distress and trouble. The provision afforded for the supply of our wants, spiritual and bodily ; shadowed forth by the manna, with which the Israelites were fed, and the water of the rock, which they drank.--The corrections, chastisements of our disobedience.—None of these things come by chance. God as truly teaches us by his Providence, as by his works of creation, or by his word.
The way of Grace.
Consider when and how you were enlightened in the knowledge of yourself, what you are, whence you came, whither you are going; of God, his nature, his attributes, his relations to you, and your obligations to him.-When and how you were awakened to a deep concern about eternal things ;-convinced of your sinfulness, guilt, depravity, wretchedness, helplessness, alienation from him and enmity with him;-brought to genuine humiliation, contrition, sorrow,
repentance;-~brought to hate and forsake all known sins of omission and commission, and to endeavour in good earnest to bring forth fruits meet for repentance, and live in new obedience; --brought to believe, with the heart unto righteousness, on CHRIST, as a Mediator and Saviour, and in the mercy and promises of God through him. When and how you were justified, and obtained peace with God, adoption into his family, and were made heirs according to the promise ;-were regenerated, and created anew unto good works, so that the tree, being good, naturally and easily brought forth good fruit.—Consider the line of usefulness as well as holiness in which he has led you ;-how upon using your grace and gifts they have been improved and increased, and your sphere of usefulness enlarged.
II. THE END FOR WHICH WE ARE LED IN THIS WAY.
" To humble thee." Consider the vast importance of this in order to our obtaining, retaining, and increasing in grace; (Matt. v. 3, 4; Isai. lvii. 15; 1 Pet. v. 5, 6; Jam. iv. 6, 10;) This respects,
The judgment ; that we, with sincerity, think meanly of ourselves, of our grace, gifts, or any faculties we possess.—The will; that it be subjected to, and acquiesce in the will of God.—The affections ; that we do not covet, desire, or expect high things. The intention ; that we do not aim at them.
66-To prove thee ;” j. e. to try thee. The Hebrew word is the same with that used Gen. xxi. 1., and is there rendered tempt. See also Exod. xvi. 4.
GOD tries and proves the genuineness of our repentance when he causes, or permits temptations to sin to assault us, and suffers sin to wear a pleasing dress.-Of our faith, when difficulties seem to arise in the way of his making good, and fulfilling his declarations and promises. Of our trust in him, when dangers, wants, enemies, distresses assault us. Of our resignation to his will, in reproach and affiction, and in the affliction and death of those we love. Of our patience, in great and long-continued pain, or in a succession and continuance of troubles and calamities.-Of our contentment with our lot, in poverty and the want of all things.-Of our meekness, gentlenese, and forgiving spirit, amidst provocations, affronts, and injuries.-Of our long-suffering, amidst the follies and sins of those round about us. Of our love to mankind, and to our enemies, amidst the hatred and ill-will of others.-Of our love to God, when the world courts us, and we must of necessity abandon one or the other.-Of our obedience, when hard and difficult duties are enjoined, and we are called to deny ourselves and take up our cross. -Of our hope of everlasting life, that anchor of the soul entering within the veil, when both the wind of temptation and the tide of our corruption are „strongly against us, and threaten to bear us into sin and hell, and to prevent our ever gaining the port of bliss.
“ To know what was in thine heart.”—God, who searches the heart, and knows what is in man, infallibly knows what is in thine heart ; but thou must know thyself, and discover to others what is in the heart.
The inward evils with which we should be acquainted, are such as the fol. lowing ; namely, The secret unbelief of God's truth, of his declarations, promises, threatenings, and the infidelity lurking in our heart ;-The love of money, honour, and pleasure ;-—The aversion to holiness, and a life of entire devotedness to GOD;—The pride and self-will ;-The insincerity and falseness ; – The lukewarmness and sloth ;—The inconstancy and unsteadiness ;-—The hypocrisy; The perverseness and obstinacy.
And all this is to be known that thou mightest not trust thy heart, but watch over it, deny and mortify the lusts and passions of it, and keep and guard it with all diligence.
66 Whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no.”
Whether thou wouldest be brought to love him with all thy heart, as thou art commanded. To serve him with all thy strength.–To make his will thy rule in all thy actions.—To make his glory thy end, and not thy own honour, or interest, or pleasure.
To bring us to stand thus complete in all the will of God, is what the LORD has in view in all his dispensations. And, this end cannot be answered, in an intelligent and free creature, without consideration, and remembrance of the instructions, cautions, and warnings, &c., which God gives us by his providence and grace, as well as by his word. Therefore observe,
III. THE IMPORTANCE OF
REMEMBERING ALL THE WAY WHICH The LORD thy GOD HATH LED THEE,” &c.
ON COVENANTING WITH GOD.
DEUT. xxix. 10-13.
Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your God; your cap
tains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water : that thou shouldest enter into covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his oath, which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day: that he may establish thee to-day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
There are few things in the economy or usages of the Methodists, of the connexion of the late Rev. J. Wesley, which have been more misunderstood, or misrepresented, than our annual custom of meeting together, to renew our covenant with God. Not that this custom is enjoined in our Rules of Society, or was in use in the first rise of our institution. It was not till some years after societies had been formed in many parts of the kingdom, that it obtained at all, and then only in London, and but at one chapel. Afterwards it was observed at Newcastleupon-Tyne, and Bristol. That it has of late years been introduced into most of our principal societies is entirely owing to the experience which both ministers and people have had of its utility as a mean of grace, and of the good effects which it has pro