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sun." Take heed to the thing which is right: for that shall bring a man peace at the last. The meaning of which text is, that by virtue of the wise connection which infinite wisdom hath established between antecedents and consequents, holy walking is the high road to holy comforts.
Your walk, perhaps, is strict and conscientious : and yet, it may be, you complain of doubts and darkness notwithstanding. Here, examine yourself: 1. Whether you do not work from legal principles, and to legal ends ? If so, no'wonder, that, like a slave with the lash at his shoulders, you toil all day and take nothing. Christ alone is the righteousness of them that believe. God will never set the seal of his gracious presence to the broken Sinai covenant. Whoever enjoys, or thinks he enjoys, comfort and peace from the works of his own hands, and from the duties he performs, is blinded and deluded into a fool's paradise, by the god of this world. The Lord meets his people in the way of duty, but not for it: as a father, who meets his son on a journey, at some appointed house, meets him in that house, but not for the sake of the house. Live upon what Christ is made to you of God, and you will find comfort. But if you seek happiness and establishment from yourself, or from any thing wrought by yourself, you will receive no solid nourishment from the breast of that sham conso. lation.
Or, 2. Christ may be all your hope, and yet your fears may continue to run high. Look narrowly into your own heart. See that there be no Achan in the camp, no beloved lust in the tent. I dare not say, that the sense of God's love is always connected with the actings of faith, and with the concomitant exercise of holiness. But I
But I suppose that faith and sanctification are the usual correlatives of joy in the Holy Ghost. Art thou melted by grace, into a filial fear of God? Go on to fear, to love,
and to obey, whether the Lord gild thy path with sunsbine, or darken it with gloom. He is the sovereign dispenser of his own comforts; and may withhold, or confer them, as seemeth good in his sight. But it is thy indispensable duty to follow the Lamb, and to do his will, whether he cheers you with his consolations, or not. Certain it is, from the infallible word of his grace, that to you who look unto Jesus, all the sweet privileges of the gospel belong : and joy is one of them. Though it tarry, wait for it; for it will not deceive thy expectation; it will surely arrive at the appointed season, and will not linger a moment beyond. O ye of fearful hearts, be strong: Your God will come with a recompence, he will come and save you. Your prayers may not be answered immediately; but they are all strung on the file of his remembrance, and shall be answered after many days. Your fears are in his phial-Your groans are noted in his book. Delight thou in the Lord, and he will give thee thy heart's desire ; hold thee still in the Lord, and abide patiently for him. Commit thy way to the Lord; put thy trust in him, and he shall bring it to pass.
I knew a most valuable Christian, who died in the year 1760; and in her last illness was greatly exercised with darkness of soul: which, however, did not finally continue. While God was leading her through the wilderness of mental distress, she still anchored on the promises, though she had lost sight of the promiser : and, as a proof of her absolute dependance on the faithfulness of a withdrawing God, she directed, that (instead of the usual inscription of name and age) the following text should be engraven (and engraven it was) on the plate of her coffin: Deal with me, O God, according to thy name, for sweet is thy mercy. Thus, as the great Dr. Manton long ago expressed it, “ Faith accepts God's bond, and patience waits for payment.”
GENESIS xlix. 10.
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come : and
unto him shall the gathering of the people be. This remarkable passage is a link of that grand chain of prophecy, which was delivered by the patriarch Jacob, on his dying bed. Such are the faithfulness and the condescending grace of God, that he frequently brightens the last hours of his people, with the richest displays of his power and presence: nor does any thing short of heaven itself, afford a nobler sight, than that of a believer standing on the verge of eternity, filled with the faith which casts out fear, happy in the assured possession of grace, and longing for the completion of that grace in glory,
Hence, I have often wondered how any considerate person can be an enemy to the doctrine of
There is but one thing, which can render death terrible; namely, our being at an uncertainty, as to the reception we shall meet with at the hands of God. Certainly, then, the knowledge of salvation, by the forgiveness of sin, through the tender mercy of our God (Luke i. 77.), is a privilege which well deserves to be wished and prayed for. To have the Spirit of God bearing witness to our spirits that we are children of God (Rom. viii. 16.), is, at least, a very desirable blessing. And, were our hearts thoroughly awakened to a sense of divine things, it would be impossible for us to sit down, easy and contented, without some degree of this exceeding great and precious gift. Surely, it behoves us to cultivate that, in life, which is the only infallible antidote against the terrors of death! I do not say, that assurance of my own personal interest in Jesus, is essential to my faith as a real believer in him: but I am positively clear, that it is essential to my
fulness of comfort. Assurance adds nothing to the esse justificationis, or to the being of justification : but it adds much to the bene esse justificati, or to the well-being of a justified person.
IIoly Jacob was fully satisfied as to the safety of his soul. He knew that his name was written in the book of life; and that his salvation was settled, in the eternal covenant of grace and redemption, He had a blessed conviction, that the Son of God, whose human nature was to descend from his loins in the tribe of Judah, had undertaken to atone for his sins; and to clothe him, by imputation, with a perfect righteousness. In consequence of this faith, when the time drew near that Israel must die (chap, xlvii. 29.), Jacob drew near to the time, with as much joy, as the time drew near to him with speed. For we find him (chap. xlviii. 21.) speaking of his own approaching death, with as much ease and complacency, as if he was only setting out on a journey of pleasure: “ Israel said unto Joseph, behold, I die.” He perceived the symptoms of advancing dissolution : and the prospect conduced, not to alarm his fears, nor to rivet him closer to the world; but operated like the shining of the sun, or the breathings of zephyr, on a flower. It expanded his hope; enlarged his desire for beaven; and diffused the fragrance of his faith, on all within the sphere of his conversation.
As greatly as this eminent saint longed to be dissolved, and to be with Christ; he would not die, until he had first taken a solemn leave of his family, by blessing them in the name of the Lord, and by predicting the fate of their posterities. At present, I shall only consider bis last address to Judah, his fourth son.
Judah, thou art he, whom thy brethren shall praise : i. e. thy tribe shall be the most conspicuous and distinguished, on various accounts. . In that portion of Canaan, which fall to thy descendants and to those of Benjamin, the city of Jerusalem shall be built, and the temple of God shall stand. But chiefly shalt thou be celebrated, as the progenitor of that spotless mother, from whom the Son of God shall derive his inferior nature: and, within the near neighbourhood of thy territory, shall he suffer and expire, for the salvation of his people.
Thy hand shall be in the neck of thy enemies, and thy father's children shall bow down before thee: referring to that valour, and success in war, for which this tribe became so eminent, and so respected by its neighbours. This is expressed, with still greater sublimity, at verse 9. Judah is a lion's whelp: though young, yet strong, courageous, formidable, and magnanimous. From the prey, my son, thou art gone up: victorious as that king of beasts, when he ascends with majestic pace, from the plains to the mountains; flushed with the conquest, and red with the slaughter of inferior animals. He stooped down; he couched as a lion, and as an old lion: who shall rouse him up? Implying, that this branch of the Israelitish nation should enjoy (as in fact they did) a long series of rest, honour, and prosperity; and that the tribe of Judah could no more be insulted with safety, than a sheep or a deer can rouse and irritate a lion with impunity.-- -What grandeur and vivacity of genius must Jacob retain, even in that hour when strength and genius usually fail, to be able to convey his ideas in such august terms, and in a flow of such highly poetic imagery! Who, that reads this chapter, would imagine, that elevated strains like these,