« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
Father so loving us as to give his Because our conscience tells us that Son to die for our transgressions; we have not sought for him to the Son undertaking and fulfilling become our friend. We are well the engagement; and the Holy Spi- aware that we have offended him by rit renewing our hearts, disposing our sins, and that we have not ap. us to lay hold of the hope of mercyplied to him for pardon and reconthus set before us through the blood ciliation. We too well know that of a crucified Saviour, and to live we are ready to seek our happiness to his glory in a cheerful obedience in any thing rather than in his fato his commands.
vour ; that we have no desire for Now, in all these ways we are communion with him ; that we side invited to acquaint ourselves with with his enemies, and do the things God; to arouse ourselves from our that he disapproves. Such is our natural indifference or dislike to state by nature ; and deeply does it sacred contemplations, in order to concern us to lay it to heart, and obtain a true and saving knowledge to turn to our justly offended Crea. of our Creator Too long have we tor. He himself has mercifully probeen ignorant of him—too long have vided the means of peace; for « God we neglected to study his character; was in Christ reconciling the world to reflect seriously upon his justice, unto himself, not imputing unto' his holiness, bis purity; his demands men their trespasses.” Nothing upon us; his judgments against us therefore remains but that we on as transgressors of his law; his pro- our part should avail ourselves of mises to receive us when we truly his offers of reconciliation. « We turn to him; his power and willing- beseech you in Christ's stead," says ness to pardon and sanctify us; and an Apostle, “ be ye reconciled to his pledge to make us his children, God." This divine peace must be and to receive us to everlasting glory founded upon an acquaintance with in heaven. Let us begin at length his character, his perfections, his to acquaint ourselves with him; no commands, his plan of justifying longer to be strangers to him who sinners, and his various relations to has shewn himself to be our best us as his creatures, the subjects of friend, and whom to have for our his moral government, redeemed enemy must prove our eternal ruin, with the blood of his Son, and He invites us to communion with bound to walk in his ways, and to him: let us not reject his offer, let live to his glory. Form then this us not do despite to his Spirit, let acquaintance; cultivate this peace. us not plunge our own souls into The Saviour has made peace by the eternal misery
blood of his cross; he was the 2. But, in order to obtain this Prince of Peace, exalted to be a sacred communion with God, it is Prince and a Saviour to give renecessary that we should be at pentance and remission of sins. peace with him. “ Aquaint thyself. Having thus procured peace for us, with him, and be at peace.” Igno- by his infinitely meritorious sacri. rance is not the only bar to a saving fice, he bequeathed it to us as his acquaintance with the great Creator, dying gift : “ My peace I leave with Lawgiver, and Judge of the world; you, my peace I give unto you." for, added to this, there is in our Shall we not then thankfully embrace fallen nature, a principle of hostility this offer of pardon and reconciliato him. “ The carnal mind is en- tion? Shall we not lay down the mity against God; it is not subject arms of our rebellion, and make to his law, neither indeed can be." it our chief object throughout the We shrink from his requirements; remainder of our lives to bewe dread his all-seeing eye; we are come loyal and obedient subjects unwilling to submit to his dominion. to the Majesty of heaven ? Shall We think him our enemy; and why? we not especially seek to become
endued with that saving faith in the forsake it; and while you “abhor Son of God, by which only we can that which is evil,” also “ seek that be justified, and obtain peace with which is good;” turn to God, imitate our Creator ?
the example of the returning prodigal 3. But there is yet another article son, and adopt his language : “I of counsel inculcated in the text: will arise and go to my father, and “ Receive the law from his mouth, will say unto him, Father, I have and lay up his word in thy heart.” — sinned against Heaven, and before Vain would be our speculative know- thee, and am no more worthy to be ledge of God, and deceitful our called thy son.” Study in future hopes of peace, if unaccompanied both to know and to do his will ; by obedience to his commands. We and make him, as is said in the are exhorted therefore to learn what verses which follow our text, your it is that God requires ; « Receive “defence" and your“ delight.” Bethe law from his mouth;" and hav- ing acquainted with his character, ing become acquainted with his will, as revealed in his word, being at to cherish it in our affections, as the peace with him, through the blood spring of our conduct : “ Lay up of his Son, the only Mediator behis word in thy heart.” For faith tween God and man, go on to live without works is dead : that divine- to his glory. “ Receive his laws,” ly implanted grace by which we be- assured that, however strict they come justified and obtain peace with may at first appear, if treasured up God, only for the merits and obe in faith, and love, and obedience, dience of Jesus Christ, is also the they will become the very joy of fruitful parent of obedience to God's your heart. By walking in them, commands. It inclines us to receive you will obtain peace of conscience, his law in its full extent and spiritual and possess a safe guide amidst all character, as applying to the very the snares of life. You will dwell thoughts and intentions of the heart. under the shadow of the Almighty ; It renders this law, wbich was utter- you will enjoy a peace which passly opposed to all our tastes and eth all understanding : the love of wishes while in a state of sin, de- God will be shed abroad in your lightful to us, so that we are not heart; animated by which enlivencontent to admit it only into our ing principle, you will find his sermemories and understandings, but vice to be perfect freedom, and will we deposit it in our hearts as a trea- delight in it as your privilege, your sure of inestimable value. “ Lord, solace, your unspeakable reward. how I love thy law ! it is my medi. These considerations lead us to tation all the day.” Such was the the second point proposed for our devout exclamation of the inspired meditation ; namely, the benefits writer of the hundred and nineteenth which will result from following the Psalm; who, in that long composic counsel in the text; “Thereby good tion of one hundred and seventy-six shall come unto thee." verses, has scarcely omitted in any “ Doth Job fear God for nought?" one to testify his veneration and was the exclamation of the tempter, affection for the law, the way, the when informed of the eminent chatestimonies, the commandments, the racter of that holy man. “ Hast precepts, the word, the truth, the not thou made a hedge about him, judgments, the righteousness, the and about his house, and about all statutes of the Supreme Lawgiver. that he hath on every side? Thou The whole substance of this law is hast blessed the work of his hands, implied in the last verse of the text : and his substance is increased on “ Return to the Almighty," and every side.” The remark was true, "put away iniquity from thy taber- though uttered with an evil design. nacles." Be not content with a bare To serve God is our bounden duty; acknowledgment of sin, but wholly but we do not serve him for nought. CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 269.
He has united our obligation with row, he has what infinitely counterour privileges, and has attached balances it: his iniquities are par« exceeding great and precious pro- doned, and his sins are covered ; mises " to a compliance with his he enjoys the love and favour of commands. He might indeed have God; he has tranquillity of conoverawed us by his frown; he might science, and a hope full of immorhave commanded our obedience on tality and glory; he has strength pain of his displeasure, without al. afforded him in weakness, guidance luring us by any gracious pledges in perplexity, and support in trial; of his favour ; but he has not acted he has communion and fellowship thus : while he asserts his authority with the Father of spirits, through as 'our Creator and Governor, he the merits and intercession of his also appeals to our affections, and Son, and the influences of the Holy awakens our hopes. To every com- Ghost. No affliction can befal bim mand to obedience is added the pro. but what could he see it in all its mise, " Thereby good shall come results, would be acknowledged to unto thee." But what is the good have been for his good. Even the which he offers for our acceptance ? last and saddest event which na“ Shall I," you may ask, “ become ture dreads, the temporary separaricher or more prosperous, more re- tion of soul and body in death, shall spected, or more beloved in the be to him but the entrance on a world? Will my days be lengthen- state of never-ending enjoyment, ed ? Shall I feel less pain or sor- beyond the reach of change or care. row? Will my earthly enjoyments Then shall he behold his glorified be increased ? In short, what sub- Redeemer, and be made like him ; stantial visible benefit shall I ensure and « he shall inherit all things; by an acquaintance and peace with and God will be his God, and he God?" Now, the answer to this shall be his son.” This is the great, inquiry is, that “ godliness is pro- the supreme good; for all other fitable for all things, having the pro- blessings are nothing in comparison mise of the life that now is, as well with the eternal presence and favour as that which is to come.” So far of the infinite Author and Bestower as any temporal gift is really good of every perfect gift; and this infor the Christian, it shall not be estimable blessing shall be the lot withheld ; but his chief privilege is, of all who acquaint themselves with that his merciful Father in heaven, God, and are at peace with him and who knows all his necessities, both receive the law at his mouth. for the body and the soul, makes In the case of Job, who lived at the latter the especial object of his a period in which God was often guardian care, and apportions his pleased to attach temporal rewards gifts not according to the ignorant to spiritual obedience, the good proand impatient desires of short-sight- mised was of a mixed nature, comed mortals, but according to his prehending both earthly prosperity own eternal goodness and wisdom, and prosperity of soul.“ If thou having respect to the highest and return to the Almighty, thou shalt everlasting welfare of the individual. be built up, thou shalt put iniquity He makes all things to work toge- far from thy tabernacles. Thou ther for his good. Having given shalt lay up gold as dust, and the his own Son for him, he will with gold of ophir as the stones of the him also freely give him whatever brook. Yea, the Almighty shall be can conduce to his best interests. thy defence, and thou shalt have All things are his, whether “ the plenty of silver. For then shalt world, or life, or death, or things thou have thy delight in the Alpresent, or things to come.” Even, mighty, and shalt lift up thy face therefore, should his lot in this unto God. Thou shalt make thy world be full of pain and sorprayer unto him, and he shall hear
thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows, him; long enough have we despised Thou shalt also decree a thing, and his offers of peace and reconciliait shall be established unto thee: tion; long enough have we rejected and the light shall shine upon thy the promised grace of his Holy ways." And, in general, in every Spirit to restore us, in virtue of the age of the world, God is pleased to merits and intercession of the Saaccompany with a temporal bless. viour, to that state of fellowship ing that moral, diligent, self-deny- with God which we had forfeited by ing and upright conduct which ne. our transgressions. Let us no longer cessarily follows upon true piety, be insensible to our duty, or blind Health, contentment, esteem, and to our best interest3. Let us " seek a moderate, yet cheerful enjoyment the Lord while he may be found, of earthly blessings, are, in the and call upon him while he is near: usual order of God's providence, let the wicked forsake his way, and attendant upon those habits which the unrighteous man his thought; true religion fosters. But, even and let him return unto the Lord, where, for infinitely wise and mer- and he will have mercy on him, and ciful reasons, the case is permitted to our God, for he will abundantly to be otherwise ; where sickness, or pardon," abject poverty, or bitter reproach is the lot of the faithful and consist. ent follower of Christ ; he has still
For the Christian Observer. within his breast a peace which the SCRIPTURE ILLUSTRATED BY INCIworld cannot take away, and he DENT AND EXAMPLE.-NO, II. looks forward with earnest expectation to those higher and never fail. HEBREWS ii. 11. “ He is not ashaming blessings which shall be his loted to call them brethren.”—There in a future world, knowing that is not a more distinguishing feature “ these light afflictions which are of the Christian character than but for a moment, work out for him condescension to men of low estate. a far more exceeding and eternal It was this which gave peculiar exweight of glory."
altation to the gracious interposition Have we then become acquainted of the Son of God on behalf of the with God ? are we at peace with fallen, wretched, degraded children him? and do we obey his command- of men ; and it will ever be found ments? If not, how vain our hopes ! foremost among the dispositions and how worthless our pursuits ! how habits of those who are in spirit and unsatisfactory our pleasures ! how in truth his followers. The excelgloomy our prospects! Living and lent Archbishop Whitgift was an dying unacquainted with Him, we eminent example of this Christian shall be banished for ever from his grace. He was made Archbishop presence; the direst misery which in the year 1583; and the ingenious can befal one of his creatures. If Sir Henry Wootton, who knew him we reject that sacred communion well, has left this character of him : with him to which he invites us “ That he was a man of a reverend upon earth, he will withdraw from and sacred memory, and of the prius the light of his countenance in mitive temper; a man of such a the eternal world, and consign us temper as when the church by lowto the blackness of darkness for ever. liness of spirit did flourish in highest And do we not tremble at the examples of virtue." The following thought that such may finally be is an instance in which he displayed our lot? Do we not repent of this temper, and shewed the assimi. our past folly and disobedience, and lation of his character to the exdesire to begin a new and spiritual ample of Him who was “meek and life? Long enough bave we lived lowly of heart.” He built a large in habits of practical disregard to alms-house near his own palace at Croyden, in Surrey, and endowed of Hooker describes him, like the it with maintenance for a master and Baptist, living in retirement from twenty-eight poor men and women: the world, yet an object of attrac. and this place he visited so often, tion to many, for his talents, his ex that he became familiar with all emplary piety, and primitive strict. their names and dispositions; and ness of deportment. He was the was so truly humble, says his biorector of Bourne, not far from grapher, " that he called them his Canterbury; and by the time he brothers and sisters." When the had been in that parsonage twelve Queen dined with him at his pa. months, his works, and the sanctity lace at Lambeth, which was very of his life became so celebrated, frequently, he would usually the that many turned out of the road, next day visit his poor brothers and and others, scholars especially, went sisters at Croyden, and dine with purposely, to see the man whose life them at his hospital. “ You may and learning were so much admired. believe,"adds his biographer, “there But, as our Saviour said of St. John, was joy at the table;" for, after the what went they out to see ? A man example of his Divine Master, “ he clothed in purple and fine linen ? was not ashamed to call them bre- * No," says honest Walton; “ but thren."
an obscure harmless man; a man Matt. xi. 7. - Jesus said unto in poor clothes, his loins usually girt the multitudes concerning John, What in a coarse gown or canonical coat, went ye out into the wilderness for of a mean stature and stooping, and to see A reed shaken with the wind? yet more lowly in the thoughts of But what went ye out for to see? A his soul, and his body worn out, not man clothed in soft raiment? Be- with age, but with study and holy hold, they that wear soft clothing are mortification.” And yet this man in king's houses! (whereas John had forgot all his timidity, when called but a leathern girdle about his loins, to reprove sin, and, like his great and his meat was locusts and wild exampler, could vigorously “lay honey.] But what went ye out for the axe to the root of the tree." ; to see ? A prophet? Yea I say unto A few instances of bold and fearyou, and more than a prophet; for less rebuke of sin may appropriately this is he of whom it is written, Be- close the present paper. hold I send my messenger before thy - Acts xxiv. 25. “ Paul reasoned face, which shall prepare thy way before Felix of righteousness, temperbefore thee."-A striking parallel to ance, and judgment to come,"_" and this character of the Baptist, was Felix trembled," as well he might conspicuous in the venerable, mor- do; for he is represented by Tacitus tified, and retired Richard Hooker. as liaving been guilty of all unIt is hardly possible to read the righteousness and intemperance: account of his life and habits, his “ Per omnem sævitiam ac libidinem fastings and devotions, and his con- jus regium servili ingenio in Judeâ stant subjection of his animal to his exercuisse.” How fitly therefore did spiritual nature, and not revert in St. Paul frame his discourse! Many thought to the example of the Bap- illustrious instances are on record of tist. He seemed habitually to aim ministers of the Gospel who have disat the imitation of this example, played a kindred courage and fidelity according to the spirit of our church, in the discharge of the duties of their when she assimilates the labours of sacred office. Among scriptural the " ministers and stewards of examples, we read of the reproof of God's mysteries," in reference to the man of God at Bethel to Jerothe second advent of the Saviour, boam, of Elijah to Ahab, Daniel to to the efforts of him who was the Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, special messenger of the Redeemer John the Baptist to Herod; and, at his first coming. The biographer though infinitely removed from all