Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

ever.

concerns

space. This is no fauciful sentiment, , opinion of the Supreme Being, who but one which has often been felt and deem that he is incapable of bestowing expressed. The Psalmist exclaims, attention on the remotest parts of his “What is man that thou art mindful creation? while on the other hand, how of him, or the Son of man that thou greatly are our conceptions of his permakest account of him!”

fection magnified, when we consider The preceding argument may derive that even a withering leaf which is torn some confirmation, from the usages of from its parent stem and borne away the most enlightened heathen nations. by the violence of the torrent, finds not Their supreme deity was a being in- a resting place until its course has been finitely remote, if not from the con- marked by the eye of the Almighty cerns of empires, at least from those Father ? of families and individuals. Whether In estimating the extent of this they regarded him as a being whose particular providence, we are clearly attention was taken up in controlling forbidden, by our Saviour's words, and regulating the vast universe, or as to establish any exception whatso. one whose existence was nothing more The plain sense of all that than a state of the most perfect and he has said on the subject is, that unchangeable repose, it was equally no creature is so mean as to be utterly impossible that the circumstances and unworthy of his regard, nor any event

of a family or individual so trifling as altogether to escape his should become the objects of his care. attention. In the passage already These were, therefore, mostly assigned cited, he brings forward a creature so to subordinate deities ; by the family cheap in the sight of man that two of to the household god, by individuals them were not worth more than the to their tutelary genius or defender, to smallest piece of money ; yet so trifling which every person was supposed to a circumstance, as that of one of them be bound. If good fortune attended falling to the ground, could not happen any, these were the beings to whom it apart from the especial providence of was ascribed, and to whom prayers the Creator. We have already adverted and thanksgivings were poured forth. to the strength of the Saviour's inferIf evil was apprehended, to them were ence in this instance; and were it all supplications offered up to avert it; or he said on the subject, it might satisfy for its removal,ifitchanced to befalthem. the most faithless of men that he is Nor does it appear, that any connection individually an object of his Creator's was supposed between these beings, regard ; but to make the assurance such and the Supreme Ruler, more than ex- as to bid defiance to doubt and disists between the subordinate agents of trust, our blessed Lord has recurred to any human government and its head. the subject again and again, and on They seem to have been regarded, not every occasion, in language the most so much as acting under the imme- forcible and convincing. These are his diate controul and inspection of the gracious words in the sermon on the Sovereign Head ; but rather, an entire Mount, “ Behold the fowls of the air taking off his hands some portion of for they sow not, neither do they reap, the duties of universal government, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly and wholly relieving him of cares too Father feedeth them. Are you not minute for his attention, already fully much better than they?” On the same occupied by greater matters.

occasion, he enforces the same truth It may be thought, that even in this by a reference to things inanimate, account there appears to be some trace things which are entirely separate from of the notion of a particular providence; that scale of being which animal exbut it is a notion so unlike that reveal- istence is always understood to confer. ed to us in the Scriptures, that it Consider, he observes, “ the lilies scarcely merits to be called by that of the field how they grow; they toil name ; and it is a notion which goes as not, neither do they spin"—they do far to degrade and dispararge the Ma- absolutely nothing for themselves, but jesty of heaven, as the scriptural are only the passive subjects of God's representation of his government gracious care; and, yet, so far is he does to exalt and glorify Him in from disregarding or despising them, ourselves. How mean must be their that “ I say unto you, even Solo

mon in all his glory was not arrayed ration of those secondary causes, the like one of these.” Here again the in- Great Cause, to which all things apference is strong and beautiful. “If God | pear to be subjected, and think, that so clothe the grass of the field which having once begun this order, and esto-day is, and to-morrow is cast into tablished these forms for its continu. the oven, how much more shall he ance, the Creator takes off his hand, clothe you, oh ye of little faith?" withdraws his presence, and leaves his

The whole then of our Saviour's ar-creation to itself. But our Saviour gument on this subject may be briefly cites these wonders of nature in tesexhibited as follows;-if your heavenly timony, not only of the power which Father be so careful for the inanimate made, but of the providence which parts of the creation which are insen- | watches over all things. It is God, he sible of fatherly regard, if in a still saith, who every season clothes the higher degree his providence is integrass of the field, and gives to the rested for animals, or creatures en- flower its beauty; and who, therefore, dowed with animal existence, who, cannot overlook the least of those, for although they be insensible of his lov- whose use the herbs of the field, and ing kindnesses, are yet capable of the fruit of the tree, were designed, praising him according to the instinct and upon whom by the charter of he has given them—who shall express creation they were bestowed. his measure of concern for every crea- Let it further be remembered, that ture of his own rational creation ? he who spake these things was true Surely the least of them need not fear, and very God; he, therefore, describes for he is of more value in the sight of to us a providence, in the exercise of God than many sparrows.

which he partakes ; and from such an While the mistaken humility of some authority, upon such a subject, an apinclines them to doubt, whether the peal to others would manifestly be as suHigh and Holy One who inhabiteth perfluous as it would be unwarrantable eternity will humble himself to behold and impious. Indeed, by the good and the things that are in heaven and on virtuous part of mankind this doctrine earth ; and while the hard-heartedness is approved almost as soon as it is utof others hinders them from seeing how tered; it is so excellent in itself, and his existence can be so perfect as to ad- so full of comfort to mankind, that the mit of his personal regard to every indi- heart bounds with joy at the first hearvidual part and member of his creation, ing of it, and meets it with an irresistiit is of some consequence that the doc- ble impression in its favour. Where trine ofhis particular providence should is the man whose heart refuses to rebe fully and rightly understood. To joice in the belief that he is individually both one and the other, therefore, of an object of his Creator's regard ? Who these characters is recommended the does not feel that the whole character careful consideration of those discourses of his existence is affected by such a of our Saviour just recited ; and espe- doctrine ?—that with it, every changing cially, let the application of his words scene may be made to yield an extract be carefully borne in mind. It has of happiness—while without it, life often happened, it not unfrequently would become a burthen scarcely worth happens even now, that when men the bearing ? survey the beautiful appearances of Is there one here who prefers to connature—when they gaze upon the sider himself the sport and play-thing heaven above, and behold the sun when of fortune, or accident, or chance, let he shines, and the moon walking forth him distrust his heart, for it cannot be in brightness-or when they look upon for nothing, that he thus does choose the earth beneath, and see the wonders to live without God in the world ; but of vegetation, and the beauties of the because he has that within him which meanest flower—it often happens, I makes him overlook and dread the nosay, that men forget that those heavens tion of such a particular providence. do still declare the glory of God—that In a word, his heart condemns him, that firmament still showeth his handy and he naturally fears a God who is work—that this earth also is still the greater than his heart, and knoweth Lord's, and that he careth for all things all things. He therefore escapes, or that are therein. They lose, in admi- thinks he escapes, into the arms of fate or chance, or whatever else it be, that his ordering and disposal. There

may implies no reckoning for sin, and be, as there often is, much planning and threatens no account of the deeds done devising on our part, but he knows in the body. But whether men will how our plans and devices will end ; acknowledge God's particular provi- and also, that they will end only as dence or no, they must not think of he would have them. In a word, escaping it. Ourselves, our fortunes, what he wills, that must be done, in our pursuits, our times, all are in his heaven above and the earth beneath. hands.

Blessed be his name for the assurance Whatever be our condition for a we have, that he will do nothing for moment, we are not in it but by his us but that which is for our good ; concurrence; yea, although our own and he only knows what is truly for will may appear to be the only power our good: we know it not ourselves, concerned on the occasion. Where- however we may think to the consoever we remain, or whithersoever we trary. In this assurance lies the sego, we are never out of the limits of cret power which can carry us with his dominion : whether we repose in equanimity through all the changes of the bosom of our home, or traverse life, and strengthen us to meet with the regions of a country which is not fortitude the terrors of approaching ours; whether we abide in the fancied death—this it is that teaches us to be security of the land, or commit our- moderate in every period of happiness, selves to the manifold dangers of the and enables us to say, Thank God deep, whatsoever step we take, what- under every circumstance of affliction. soever course we pursue, it is subject to

Sermon

DELIVERED BY THE REV. B. NOEL,

AT ST. JOHN'S CHAPEL, BEDFORD ROW, JAN. 23, 1831.

1 Samuel xii. 20, 22.-"i And Samuel said unto the people, fear not : ye hare done all

this wickedness : yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serre the LORD with all your heart ; and turn ye not avide: for then should ye go after rain things, which cannot profit nor deliver, for they are riin. For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's suke : because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.

Those who have but little knowledge the words that form our text. They of God as revealed in Scripture, are had been previously governed by God apt to pass rapidly from a state of himself, who was their king at this presumption to a state of despondency. period. Towards the close of the life Both these states of mind are unjust of Samuel, when he was now grown to God; both being founded on ar aged, dreading an invasion from the ignorance of his real attributes. Pre- neighbouring people, the Amorites, sumption springs often from the idea they begged that Samuel would select that God takes no notice of common for them a king.

" Ye said unto me, affairs, and does not view sin in that nay, but a king shall reign over us. serious light in which he is represented To this they were prompted by the in Scripture to regard it; and then, hope, that their king being warlike, despondency comes from that doubt, and employing the various methods whether God is a pardoning and mer- which a warlike prince would have at ciful God, which persons in distress command, would be able to defend of mind are apt to entertain. It was them better against the perpetual in. so with the Israelites at the time when roads of the foes that surrounded them. the prophet Samuel addressed to them That these were their motives, you

.ye
ye

find, when in making the request to the Almighty, the other to be visited by Samuel, that he would appoint for man, were the same crime. The same them a king, they alleged this reason, crime that was committed against “We will have a king over us, that God, he being the king of the state, we may be like all the nations, and was committed against the law, and was that our king may judge us, and go punished as a civil as well as reliout before us, and fight our battles.” gious offence. This state, including Unwilling to trust the immediate pro- vast privileges to that people, they vidence of God, they hoped that by chose to reject, and on this, the prolikening their civil polity, and their phet Samuel, anxious to fasten upon military preparations, to those of the them the charge of guilt, collected enemies by whom they were encom- them shortly before his death, and passed, who were warlike and success- tells them,-“Now, therefore, stand ful, they would insure the same suc- and see this great thing which the cess themselves. The Prophet says, Lord will do before your eyes.” At “Before this time the LORD your God the voice of his prophet, he sent an was your King." He had previously unusual storm in the heavens which fulfilled this office, he had undertaken lasted for a considerable time, and to preserve them at home from inva- | evinced thus, by this miraculous insion, and to lead them forth in war. terference of Providence, that their Had they trusted his providence he sin was such as the prophet repre. would have fulfilled all the functions sented it to be. “I will call unto the of a King, guarding them against all LORD, and he shall send thunder and the evils to which they as a nation rain: that ye may perceive and see that might be exposed. When they, there your wickedness is great, which have fore, determined to have an earthly done in the sight of the Lord, in asksovereign, it was, because they could ing you a king.” From the impression not trust to their Divine King to per- produced by that miraculous interform the functions of government for ference of God,—that direct and obvious them; they, therefore, did virtually interference of Providence,—the people reject him; and this was the com- were immediately driven to great plaint which the Divine Being himself terror, lest the Lord should break made against them by his prophet forth in destruction on a people who Samuel. And the Lord said to had rejected him to be their sovereign. Samuel, hearken unto the voice of They said, therefore, to Samuel, the people in all that they say unto Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thee; for they have not rejected thee, thy God, that we die not : for we but they have rejected me, that I have added unto all our sins, this evil, should not reign over them.” Not to ask a king." that they meant to renounce the wor- Now, it was to them in this state of ship of God, but they rejected him as apprehension, that the Prophet adtheir king; rather trusting to the po- dresses the words before us; and there licy and military skill of an earthly is a very striking analogy between the sovereign, than to the direct promise relation into which God had brought of God, who had engaged to be their that people to himself by a national sovereign; and it was to this that the covenant, and the relation into which prophet Samuel referred when he said, believers are brought by the spiritual

Ye have this day rejected your God, covenant between God and them. We who himself saved you out of all your are continually in the old Testament, adversities and your tribulations : and the old covenant, receiving from the ye have said unto him, nay, but set a dealings of God with his people, illusking over us."

trations of the way in which he deals The civil government under which under the new covenant with believers. the Jews have lived since that time, and And it is manifest, that the same adunder which men live now, are there- dress belongs expressly, and can most fore greatly distinct from that theocracy suitably be applied, to those believers, under which the Jews had previously those disciples of the Lord, who on lived; and in which a crime against the account of committing sins are now state, and a crime against God, not as under apprehension of present or even

w distinct, the one to be punished by eternal wrath. To the people then,

« Fear

standing trembling before the wrath of | rapidly to another, and has often in its God; and to any of you, my brethren, sad train, sin after sin, plunged the who may dread the anger of God, on soul, if not into destruction, at least account of known and recognized sins, into perpetual and enduring sorrows. does our text contain four points of And for what is it that a person thus instruction. First, it urges upon such forsakes the Lord? What can he hope trembling backsliders that they should for by proceeding in this declension ? take care not to proceed one step fur- What are those things which he is in ther in their declension from God. such eager chase of, that he can for" And turn ye not aside: for then sake the blessings he has already enshould ye go after vain things, which joyed? Once he knew what it was to cannot profit nor deliver, for they are hold filial communion with God, he vain.” It directs then, Secondly, to was delighted in his way, he took pleaconfide in God with a sure and filial sure in the way of God; and the ordi. confidence, that they might not wan- nances of grace were sweet to him. It der from him by declension.

was not long since, when he found not: ye have done all this wickedness; himself consistently walking among his yet turn not aside from following the brethren, and enjoying with them a LORD, but serve the Lord with all Christian fellowship. It was not long your heart.” It assures them, in the since, he was useful in the church, and Third place, of the grounds on which in the world ; perhaps, the most flattheir confidence may rest, namely this, tering and delightful prospects of inthat God, whatever their sins may be, creasing usefulness were opening will not forsake them. “For the LORD around him daily. For what has he forwill not forsake his people.” And saken all these—for the backslider has Fourthly, it tells us why he is thus forsaken them all? Is it not for some gracious :- It is because his own glory "foolish and hurtful lust that drowns is involved in that mercy.

For his the soul in destruction and perdition?” great name's sake: because it hath The love of money it may be ; or it pleased the LORD to make you his peo- may be a lust after fame, or a love of ple.” With these truths we are most intemperance, or a love of pleasure, or of us familiar; yet on that account they 'some such foolish, hurtful and impetumay not be the less improving to us. ous desire, for which he has deprived When truth has been lodged in the un- himself of these great blessings. derstanding, it may serve as good a And are the things which he thus purpose, when we reflect seriously and eagerly and foolishly follows, are they with prayer upon it, as though new in- profitable? Can he say he is in a betstruction from the word of God were ter condition now, than when he walked communicated to us. In a serious sincerely with God? Can he say he strain of mind, with an earnest desire has found a higher state of happiness after the divine blessing, may we all or an enlarged degree of it. No; for attend to these points of instruction; if it is not profitable, and he cannot and, especially, they who are conscious say it is, the backslider knows what a that perhaps in their late conduct, they miserable exchange he has made. Can have in any degree departed from the he say that they can deliver him? The living God.

Prophet Samuel says,

“ These things The first point of instruction ad- are vain, and cannot profit nor deli. dressed to such is, THAT THEY SHOULD ver;" and I ask any backslider, who NOT PROCEED ANOTHER STEP IN THEIR may be here to night, whether those

Turn ye not aside : things he is in chase of can secure him for then should ye go after vain things, from perpetual chagrin and melanwhich cannot profit nor deliver, for choly? Can he find repose in the they are vain.” Every such backslider things he has sought? Can he protect from God, the first moment he disco. himself from the continual uneasiness vers his fall, should ponder, and stop, which he feels while departing from and turn again to the Lord, and take the living God? Oh, how often has the heed that he does not take another step backslider found it true what the in his declension; for in such a state, Psalmist says—"While I kept silence, we know full well, how very rapid the and refused to confess humbly and declension may be, how one sin leads sincerely my sin before God, my

BACKSLIDING.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »