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revived our hopes and earnestness, prolonged our days, and afforded us means of grace and opportunities of usefulness. These and many more subjects may be thought of, in our private meditations, while we endeavour to enter on another year with thankfully acknowledging that “ hitherto the “ Lord hath helped us.”—We inquire then,
II. What is meant by “ Setting up an Eben
ezer,” according to the common, and not improper, use of the expression.
The nature of the case, and the example before us, concur in proving that it implies a disposition to give God the glory of all the blessings we have received. We do not ascribe the favourable difference between our situations, prospects, or character, and those of other men, to our own wisdom, management, or exertions; but to that God · from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed.' We pretend not to have merited the divine protection, guidance, and blessings; but feel that all was given us, as creatures, without our deserving any thing; and that every good thing bestowed on us, as sinners, is contrary to our deserts. We ascribe none of our deliverances or successes to chance, necessity, or second causes : but trace them all to the great First Cause; to him “ who doeth all things after the counsel of “ his own will.” Samuel gave not the honour of Israel's preservation to any of the servants of God, who had been raised up from the days of Moses ; nor did he take it to himseif; but ascribed it to the Lord alone. “ Who then is Paul, and who is “ Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, “even as the Lord gave to every man? I have
“planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the in
So then neither is he that planted any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that “ giveth the increase.”ı To set up an Eben-ezer therefore implies a disposition to say, in praise as well as in prayer, “ Not unto us, O Lord, not unto “ us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy “ and for thy truth's sake:"? and to ascribe all our blessings to the everlasting love of the Father, to the atonement and mediation of the Son, and to the sanctification of the Holy Spirit.
It implies also an open acknowledgment of our obligations to the Lord; a confession of our own unworthiness; and an endeavour, by all proper means, to perpetuate the memory of his great goodness towards us, in our families, and among all with whom we are connected. fession of the truth, with a consistent example and conversation, attendance on the ordinances of God, diligence in the instruction of children and domestics, and the improvement of our several talents to promote true religion, constitute such an avowal of our obligations to the Lord. These things tend to diffuse the knowledge of his abundant kindness, and to preserve the remembrance of it, for the encouragement of our brethren, and an inducement to sinners to seek the participation of our privileges.
We must not, however, be satisfied with thankful acknowledgments of the past ; but, when we set up an Eben-ezer, and say, “ Hitherto hath the “ Lord helped us ;" we should renew our dedica
An open pro
11 Cor. iii. 5-7.
? Psal. cxv. I.
tion of ourselves to him in respect of the future. “ Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy “ God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his “ statutes, and his commandments, and his judg
ments, and to hearken to his voice. And the “ Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his pe“culiar people, as he promised thee; that thou “ shouldest keep all his commandments: and to "make thee high above all nations which he hath “ made, in praise, in name, and in honour ; and “ that thou mayest be an holy people unto the “ Lord thy God, as he hath spoken.”! Having thus far experienced the Lord's faithfulness and mercy, the pleasantness of his ways, and the misery of departing from them; we thank him for the past, and express our purpose and desire of walking with him all the residue of our lives. Our review of the way which we have come invigorates these determinations, increases our simplicity of dependence on his continued grace, and teaches us the necessity of greater vigilance and circumspection ; that, “ whether we eat, or whether we drink, or “ whatever we do, we may do all to the glory of “ God." · In these respects the Lord's supper is a stated method of setting up an Eben-ezer. When, with serious recollection and self-examination ; with renewed exercises of repentance, faith, and love ; with humble confessions, fervent prayers, and thankful praises, we commemorate the sufferings and death of our Redeemer : we then join ourselves to the Lord and his chosen people ; we avouch him
| Deut. xxvi.
to be our God; we thank him for the past, and commit ourselves to his keeping for the future ; and we declare our determined purpose, by his grace, to walk in his holy ways during the remainder of our lives. It seems therefore peculiarly proper to begin a new year with this solemn act of adoring praise, this renewed dedication of ourselves to the service of our God and Saviour.
This review should likewise excite us to be “ fol“ lowers of God, as dear children, and to walk in “ love, as Christ also hath loved us." Our conduct towards others ought to be a constant imitation of the long-suffering, compassion, readiness to forgive and relieve, and persevering goodness, of the Lord towards us; that “we may never be
weary of well-doing,” or “ be overcome of evil ;" but that we may “overcome evil with good.”
Finally, the recollection, and thankful acknowledgment that “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us," should encourage our hearts to run with patience the remainder of “the race set before us." “The “ Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the “ lion, and out of the paw of the bear, will deliver “ me out of the hand of this Philistine." He, that hath preserved and assisted us in so many dangers and difficulties already, will“ never leave us nor " forsake us.” “He fainteth not, neither is weary.” His understanding is infinite, his resources inexhaustible, his faithfulness unfailing, and his mercy everlasting. We should therefore comfort one another with these considerations ; learn “ to “ cast all our care on him who careth for us ;” and
pour out our hearts before him : we should remember that “our Father knoweth what things “ we have need of,” and that “no good thing will “ he withhold from them that walk uprightly." “ Clouds and darkness are about Him,”and gloomy prospects may meet our view : but the perfections and covenant-engagements of the Lord are unchangeable; and “ we know that all things work “ together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” “He “ will never suffer us to be tempted above that we “ are able: but will with the temptation make a
way to escape, that we may be able to bear it :” yea,
the Lord shall deliver us from every evil “work, and will preserve us to his heavenly king“ dom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. " Amen." 1
These are some of the encouragements and instructions, which real Christians may receive from the subject before us. But how stand matters with our souls? Hitherto the Lord hath prolonged our lives, and we now enter on another year; while numbers have been removed to the regions of darkness and despair, and some to the realms of endless day. Many of our acquaintance or relatives are gone to their long home; yet we remain in the land of faith, of hope, of mercy, and of prayer. But “the time is short;" “the end of “all things is at hand.” A little moment, as it were, will terminate our season of probation and preparation for eternity ; the continuance of our
11 Cor. x. 13. - 2 Tim. iv. 18.