Imágenes de páginas

revealed will, and written too after his command constitute their title to enter on that enjoyment. had long been despised by men, it is still revealed We have all read and heard these words; this is the for their salvation. It is still an inviting, a plead-blessing offered. Some have 'kept' these words; ing, a forgiving word.

It not only keeps up the spirit of more ancient scriptures, it excels them. The offers seem to grow more free; the pleadings more importunate. The sun of revelation seems to grow more bright when near its setting. When its disc is ready to touch the horizon, it expands into greater breadth, and sheds down on earth rays of more attractive loveliness. No portion of the word tells more clearly the worth of the Lamb slain, and the glory of the saints' reward. No where else in the word do we see more clearly the value of the sacrifice by our High Priest offered, and the power now wielded by our exalted King.

We may consider this prophecy as a component part of the written word, and ascribe the blessing to those who know and obey the whole counsel of God; or we may take this prophecy by itself, and so full is the view which it gives of the great salvation, that he is blessed indeed, who reads, and hears,' and keeps it.


[ocr errors]

Blessed are those who read and hear the words of this prophecy. Blessed are they who enjoy the privilege of a written word, and a preached gospel. It is a blessing which we in this land largely enjoy. By the good hand of God upon us, the word has been put into our hands, and we have been enabled to read the word. Much has been given us; of us much will be required. It is a rich talent this which our Lord has left in our keeping; are we hiding it in the earth? It is a blessing offered, but has it been joyfully received? The good seed has been sown, and that too with unsparing hand; where are the fruits of righteousness? When it does not spring up, and grow, and bear fruit, it wastes in the soil and spreads infection round. When the word-the precious seed deposited, does not ripen into a blessing, it rots into a curse. Woe to those who handle the word deceitfully, woe to those who have received this grace of God in vain!

We might learn even from this text who are, and who are not really blessed in possessing the word, -not those who read and hear merely, but they who keep those things which are written therein.' The things written therein are the laws of the kingdom of heaven. We learn what sinners were by nature and by practice, and what the Saviour did to redeem them. We learn what salvation is, and how a sinner may be saved. We learn the fulness of Christ's work, and the freeness of Christ's offer. We learn what will make saints meet for the enjoyment of heaven, and what will

this is the blessing possessed. These doctrines taught are the germ deposited; in some it has sprung into life, and is bearing fruit to the glory of God; in others it has corrupted where it lay, and is hastening their destruction-aggravating their doom. Blessed are they who keep these words who believe the truth declared here, and hold by Him who is the Truth revealed here. Blessed they who receive this Saviourwho keep this salvation.

Keep the words of this prophecy, ye who have read and heard them, 'for the time is at hand.' What time? The time when the blessings promised shall be all bestowed; when the wrath threatened shall be all poured out. The time when the judgment shall be set, and the books opened. The words of this prophecy shall yet once more meet the eyes of every reader. It is a fearful thing to shut our eyes against that word now, for we must all look upon it yet. The time is at hand. A few days more, and our eyes grow dim that they cannot see it. A few days, and our eyes grow dim with disease-a few more, and they are shut in death. The next time we meet that word, it will be before the great white throne. It will lie open while the judgment goes on. The very light of God's countenance will shine down upon it, and all its meaning will be clearly seen. O blessed then will all those be, who keep the words of this book now! I will keep that word in my heart, and fix my heart on Him who hath spoken it. I shall not be afraid of evil tidings.


The time is at hand;' that is no evil tidings to me; for I know in whom I have believed, and that he is able to keep what I have committed unto him against that day. The time is at hand;' let it come, Lord Jesus; the time when thy saints shall be saved in thee, and thou shalt be glorified in thy saints!


'Gather the people together, men, and women, and

children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law; and that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it,' Deut. xxxi. 12, 13. Ar the time when this charge was delivered, Moses was an hundred and twenty years old. He

could no more go out and come in before the peo- righteousness. Gather the people together to ple. Also, the Lord had said unto him, Thou hear the word, and the sound, floating over the shalt not go over this Jordan.' It was the will worshipping assembly, will fall with deeper of God, that he who had led the people through solemnity on every ear. Gather the people togethe wilderness, should not enter the promised land. ther, that they may unite their voices in one loud Moses submitted. He was willing-ready to song of praise: by this outward act of adoration, depart. Though not permitted himself, to 'go many a heart may be stirred up; on the ascendover and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, ing incense of this offered sacrifice, many a devout that goodly mountain, and Lebanon,' he rejoiced emotion may rise to heaven. This ordinance conin the confident hope, that the promises of God tinues in the Christian church. The call still is, would be fulfilled to his people. In the confi- 'Gather my saints together unto me; those that dence of faith he declared to Joshua, The Lord have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.' thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will Saints in every age willingly respond to this call. not fail thee, nor forsake thee.' They acknowledge the public assembly as the appointment of God; and they find out in their own experience, that the appointment is wise and gracious. They that fear the Lord like to separate themselves often from the world, that they may speak one to another, about their common hopes and fears,—about their work on earth, and their home in heaven.

[ocr errors]

But though he trusted without wavering in the faithfulness of God, it was not without anxiety that Moses looked forward to the condition of Israel, when he should be taken away from their head. He knew that they were a stiff-necked and backsliding people. He knew their propensity to forget God and serve idols. His desire in behalf of Israel was, that the law of the Lord might be written on their hearts, and obeyed in their lives. He knew that this would be their only safety. Accordingly, in his farewell charge to Joshua, the prevailing theme is, how the people from generation to generation might learn to fear the Lord, and observe to do all the words of this law.' The aged prophet, when no longer permitted to march at their head, would cast them without fear on the world, if he were assured that the word of God would be hid in their hearts. Among other means of spreading and perpetuating in Israel a knowledge of the divine law, provision is made for reading it once in seven years, with peculiar solemnity, in an assembly of the whole nation. There is wisdom in this institution. It was well fitted as a mean to secure the desired end. Similar means are enjoined and employed under the Christian dispensation. On the very same principle proceeds the gospel command, Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.'

This gathering together must ever be an important mean of preserving and disseminating the truth. The sympathy of numbers is a powerful stimulus to energetic action. In the scriptures, this law of nature is taken up, and employed to advance the purposes of the covenant of grace. It is difficult to swim against the stream. Most men are content to glide along with it. If it can be turned in a right direction, it will be a powerful instrument of good. There is a natural power in a multitude to draw the individual, whether to good or evil. That agency which is so often perverted, may be, and is employed on the side of

Let them all come; let men, women, and children' meet together, whether it be the daily worship of the family, or the more public concourse in the house of prayer. Before God, all stand on an equal footing, and all have the same need. For this gathering, let all business be suspended; while it lasts, let all distinctions cease. While we bow before the Lord our Maker, we will learn to love one another with a pure heart fervently. Let rich and poor, old and young, meet at the altar. Parents should bring their children with them when they come to appear before God. The habits of children are formed by training. It will not do to tell children that when they grow up they must attend church like their fathers. They may never grow up; bring them to Christ now. Suffer little children to come unto him, and forbid them not. For this there is great encouragement in the experience of the church.

Many very young children have learned to know and love their Saviour. It is the Lord's way still to bring to nought the wisdom of the wise, and reveal himself unto babes. Parents, let your children kneel beside you in the family to pray; and bring them with you to worship in the church. Do not content yourselves with telling them that they should attend religious ordinances; train them up to it. Let the parents bring the children to church, and the ministers will thereby be reminded of their duty. If a minister has been in the habit of speaking only to the old, the very presence of the children will suggest the propriety-the necessity, of a word to them. When he sees them thickly sprinkled through the congregation, looking up

as if they would like to understand, he will be constrained to pause now and then, and try to reach their understanding and their hearts.

The command includes also 'thy stranger that is within thy gates.' God makes the stranger his peculiar care. There are many kind commands regarding them in the laws of Moses. Israel were bound by the law to bring the stranger with them to the solemn religious assembly, that he might learn the law of the Lord, and hear the offer of mercy. Surely the same obligation lies on us. When we were strangers, the Son of God came to seek and save us. If the Spirit of Christ be in us, we will be always ready to take a stranger by the hand, and lead him to the place where prayer is wont to be made. When one who is a stranger to God sojourns for a night in your house, take him with you when the church in the house' assembles; while he kneels beside your children, and hears you pray for his soul, the Spirit of all grace may descend, and overcome his unbelief;—he may be born in your house to the Lord.

naked, lying helpless in their pollution. When first he set his love upon them, there was nothing in them to attract his regard. He looked upon them in their lost estate. The first feeble motion of the dead was not a spontaneous impulse; the first doubtful quiver of a soul hitherto at ease in sin, was the effect of a drawing by the lovingkindness of the Lord. Come out!' O, when this invitation falls on our ear, we should eagerly yield obedience to the call. The call is to come out from sinners that we may not share their doom.

[ocr errors]

But the grand inducement set before us here, is the hope of admission into the family-the hope of being received into the number and having a right to all the privileges of the sous of God. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ'— this, in the New Testament, is the title commonly applied to the hearer of prayer. Of all the names of God, when the penitent is praying, this is the one that rises most readily to his lips. As the Almighty, I dread his power. As the Omniscient, I shrink from the searching of his eye. As the Judge, his unchanging righteousness makes me afraid. As the Eternal, it appears terrible indeed to fall into the hands of the living God. But as the Father of our Lord Jesus, he looks in pity on the lost, and the lost in confidence draw near. In nature, God is involved in And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Al- in flaming fire; but in the gospel, sinners may see impenetrable mystery; in the law, he is revealed mighty,' 2 Cor. vi. 18.


AFTER this manner therefore pray ye, Our Father-So then, we have a right to address the King Eternal by this endearing name. The Saviour has purchased for his people this privilege, and taught them to use it. When he would give his disciples a pattern of prayer, he selects from among the appellatives of Deity that one which is best fitted to dissipate their fears, to strengthen their confidence, and to enflame their love. Thanks to a compassionate Redeemer for this kind condescension to our weakness and our wants.

This aspect of Jehovah's countenance is in the word presented to men, to turn them away from their sins. The testimony of God to his chosen is, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee,' Jer. xxxi. 3. This is one of the means employed in the process of drawing' sinners to himself: 'I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters.'

This is a kind invitation—an encouraging promise. How strong the inducement to come out from among the unclean! Those whom God has chosen, and redeemed, and adopted-who and where were they? The miserable, and blind, and

him and live. In nature you weary yourself in vain, and cannot find his face; in the law his face, when found, is a consuming fire; in Christ the face of God is seen well pleased, and we may look upon it. When he sitteth on the circle of the heavens as the God of nature, clouds and darkness encompass his throne; when he descends on Sinai, all the emblems of terrible majesty are gathered round him. In the one aspect you cannot find; in the other aspect you dare not meet him: but in Christ, there is not the darkness to elude your search; nor the fury to repel your advances. In Christ he is revealed, and therefore you may know: he is revealed a Father and therefore you may love him. Of all the names whereby the Infinite is known, this sounds the sweetest in a sinner's ear. Our Father, we will hear thy voice: Our Father, we will come to thee.

'Ye shall be my sons and daughters.' 1. Of one lineage all. Born of the Spirit. Created again in Christ Jesus. 2. Equal in rank, and in privilege-kings and priests unto God. 3. Alike in the grand lineaments of their spiritual charac ter-All delivered into the same mould of the word, and all bearing upon them the image of him who created them. 4. One in their final

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

duties of sons and daughters. When God confers on any one the right of an heir, he imparts also the spirit of adoption. The children of the kingdom are distinguished by many marks from the men of the world among whom they dwell. While they are in this far country, they account themselves strangers, and hasten onward to their home. Their appearance, and manner, and pursuits, indicate that they are pilgrims passing over a stage in their journey. Though in tribulation now, they know that their rest remaineth. Though their bodies are bowed down in weak

weak in themselves, they are strong in the Lord. They appear to be poor, yet they have all, and abound; they appear to be sorrowful, yet they are always rejoicing. These are the children of a king; and soon they will enter on their high inheritance.

'Set your affections on things above.' This seems a reasonable command. Surely no one can say it is grievous. It does not lay a heavy burden on men's shoulders. It seems as if it were easy to yield obedience to this command; and yet with man it is impossible. A dead man cannot lift up the members of his body; neither can the spiritually dead lift up to God the affections of his soul. The heart must be made new, ere its emotions will rise habitually to heaven. The carnal mind is enmity against God. My soul cleaves to the dust, quicken thou me.'

The scripture speaks of the multitude of the redeemed, adopted, sanctified children, as the whole family in heaven and earth,' Eph. iii. 15. There is much consolation here-consola-ness, they lift up their souls unto God. Though tion to those members of the family who are still in the body. Though in a strange land, they are not accounted strangers. They rank as children. They are not distinguished by a different name, from the already blessed inhabitants of heaven. There is a distinction, not in the title of the children, but in the place of their sojourn. What think ye of Christ?' It is through him ye have this new name. He it is who hath made both one of Jews and Gentiles, two alienated families on earth; and it is in him that things in heaven and things on earth are gathered into one, so that those are made perfect around the throne, and those who are suffering in the body rank equal even now-all children of God, as safe as Omnipotence can make them; as highly honoured as sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty can be. It is a whole family. O that will be joyful, when they meet to part no more.' When a family are scattered on earth, they sometimes try to meet to meet by appointment once a year, under a father's roof. By and bye, one is taken; and the remnant meet next time a mutilated family; in mourning weeds they meet, and the meeting just reminds them all the more strongly of the missing one. When the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty come at last into their Father's presence, they come a whole family-not one of them shall be lost, when they get out of great tribulation, and into the presence of the Lord, their joy will be full-they go no more out.


'But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night,' Psal. i. 2.

Ir is a uniform law of Christ's kingdom, that those who have the title acquire also the character of children. Those who are admitted to the privilege, are also disposed to perform the

But it is not the only characteristic of the children of God, that in secret they set their hope in him: they keep his word in their memory, and regulate their lives by his law. They do not forget the words of God, but keep his commandments.' They keep the Lord always before them, and strive to do those things that are pleasing in his sight. Among other duties, the reading of the word holds a prominent place. The word dwells in a believer richly; day and night doth he meditate on it. Now, this is a thing with which a stranger cannot intermeddle. He cannot understand it. He has read commands to that effect, and has heard ministers say, that it is a duty daily to read and meditate on the word of God. He has never said any thing against this; but he has never been able to practise it; and he cannot understand how any man should be able. He may have done it for a day or two after he has been but soon it wearisome. grew At one time he puts it off to another opportunity, at another time he altogether forgets that there was such a thing to be done. Such a person cannot comprehend how any man can be so frequently employed in searching the scriptures; and the reason is,—



'Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding,' Prov. iii. 5.

this is one of the things of the Spirit of God, | fieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye and they are spiritually discerned. The secret that which is good, and let your soul delight of it all lies in this: The Lord's redeemed itself in fatness,' Isa. lv. 1, 2. adopted children love the Lord's most holy law. No man will read the word profitably, or regularly, who is driven to it for fear he incur the vengeance of God by refusing. Until he learn to delight in the law, the great things that are written therein must necessarily continue to be counted a strange thing. Where there is a living spring in the soil, the streams do not forget to flow. So, where there is a new heart created-a spiritual life imparted to the soul, the affections will not forget to flow out toward him who is altogether lovely. A man who is living, and in health, never forgets to breathe, or take his food; so, when there is life in the soul, and that life in vigorous | Creator has made us to differ from the beasts of exercise, there is no such thing as forgetting to pray, or to read the word. There is an appetite belonging to the spiritual life. Without it the life cannot be sustained. Where it is weak, the principle of grace will languish; where it does not exist, there is death.

The appetite for food is an instinct of our nature. We take our food, not because we have been told it is a duty, but because we have a desire for it, and pleasure in it. So with this word-this bread of life. There is an appetite, a part of the renewed nature. There is a thirsting for the living God communicated by the quickening Spirit, which will seek without ceasing for its appropriate gratification. This desire cannot well be explained. The only way of knowing both the appetite and what it feeds on, is to experience it. Let that blessed craving be implanted in the soul, and there will immediately be a seeking for its natural food. There will no longer be a complaint about the word being a weariness, and the ordinances barren. There will be an instinctive secking to the ordinances, not to feed on them, but on Christ in them. There will be an ever-active desire to search the scriptures, because they testify of him whom the soul loveth.

Alas! how little of this love is in our hearts; how little of this habitual bible-reading in our lives. We lose much by counting the word of God a strange thing. It is a great deep. By our searching we can never find out all the wisdom and love that are treasured up there. It is a fountain ever full-ever flowing. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satis

THIS power of understanding which we possess is a precious talent. The inspiration of the Almighty' has given it. It is one of the many good gifts which come from above-which issue from a Father's open hand. It is thus that our

the field. It has been bestowed for great purposes, and these purposes it is fitted to serve. By means of it we are enabled to mark the works of God, as seen in the world; and search the revelation of his will, as it is written in the word. By it, as an instrument, we are enabled to know ourselves. By it, when enlightened by the Spirit, we learn to know God. We are fearfully and wonderfully made; and the understanding' is the most wonderful part of our complex being.

The text does not make light of this gift. We do not find the word of God depreciating any of his works. The text has been written not to undervalue the human intellect, but to provide against a destructive error in its exercise. His own understanding' lies at the foundation of all that is excellent in man. Without it he is nothing. The text does not in the least derogate from the worth of this faculty; it is intended to guard against its abuse. The warning is, ‘lean not to thine own understanding.' It is sufficient for many things, but it will not do to lean on. Many who have leant on it, have found it a broken reed. Those who depend on their own understanding for the knowledge of God, and the way of salvation, spend their strength for nought; they have not yet reached the beginning of wisdom. If they have no other support to lean upon, they fall and perish.

Pride of intellect brings a snare, and many are entangled in it. In the concerns of our eternity, nothing is more fatal than this. This lofty look must be bowed down. While it lasts there can be no spiritual prosperity. They who are wise in their own conceit, cannot advance one step in the wisdom that is from above. Nothing more effect ually hinders the entrance of the word; nothing more effectually keeps the light of the glorious gospel from shining in upon the heart. It is easy

« AnteriorContinuar »