Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

quire of their Master which of them shouldness, in waywardness, in pettishness. Have be the greatest ?

| you never met with persons whom it is imHow does our Lord reprove and instruct possible to please? Or whose importance and them? Instead of delivering a lecture on vanity are gratified by the perplexity of your the abstract nature and advantages of a state attempt? It is not because you employed the of mind with which they appeared to be al- wrong expedient that you were not successmost entirely unacquainted; "he called a lit-ful; any other would have met with the same tle child unto him, and set him in the midst fate. The more you allure, the further are of them and said, Verily I say unto you, Ex- they off-the very thing to which our Sacept ye be converted, and become as little viour refers. “Whereunto shall I liken this children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom generation? It is like unto children sitting of heaven.”

in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, Let us consider,

and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye

| have not danced; we have mourned unto you, I. THE TEMPER THAT DISTINGUISHES THE

and ye have not lamented." SUBJECTS OF DIVINE GRACE.

In all this we are forbidden to be found IL THE WAY IN WHICH WE ARE TO ATTAIN

like little children. And yet we are enjoined IT. III. THE IMPORTANCE OF POSSESSING IT.

by our Saviour to resemble them. How is

this? I answer, metaphors employed by the I. THE TEMPER THAT DISTINGUISHES THE sacred writers are not to be taken universally, SUBJECTS OF DIVINE GRACE. It is infantile. but in connexion with the subject that reWe must be “as little children." But it is quires illustration. It is sufficient that there not to be inferred that we are to resemble be a real and striking resemblance in the arthem in every thing

ticle of comparison. And this is unquestionWe are not to be like them in ignorance: ably the case here. “Be ye not children in understanding.” A For we may observe, that as soon as child. grayheaded babe would be an unnatural and ren are ushered into the world, they cry for a shocking sight: and yet there are persons the nourishment God has prepared for them. who have been many years in the religious And as it is in nature, so it is in grace. The world, who have never cultivated their minds, new creature has wants to be relieved, and nor improved their privileges and opportuni- appetites to be indulged: and there is provi. ties; and who may be addressed in the words sion suited to them in religion. Hence we of the apostle, “When for the time ye ought read, “ As newborn babes, desire the sincere to be teachers, ye have need that one teach milk, of the word, that ye may grow thereby." you again which be the first principles of the Again. Little children are teachable, and oracles of God; and are become such as have ready of belief. They receive with unsusneed of milk, and not of strong meat. For pecting confidence the declaration of their every one that useth milk is unskilful in the father. If any doubt arises, if any dispute word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But occurs, they run to him, and his testimony strong meat belongeth to them that are of full decides every thing. Thus should it be with age, even those who by reason of use have us. We are to receive the kingdom of heatheir senses exercised to discern both good ven as a little child. I was going to say, We and evil.”

cannot be too credulous when God speaks. We are not to resemble them in fickle- He cannot be imposed upon himself, and he ness: “That we henceforth be no more cannot deceive us: his wisdom forbids the children, tossed to and fro, and carried about one, and his truth the other. What one party with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight believes, and another denies, should have litof men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they tle influence over us; while we haye the judg. lie in wait to deceive.” Children are ex-ment of God, to which we can appeal. “To the tremely versatile. Though they are impress-law and to the testimony: if they speak not ed with a thousand things, and seem for the according to this word, it is because there is time incapable of growing weary of them, they no light in them.” When we find any thing pursue nothing with certainty and constancy. revealed in this book, we are not to hesitate And there are men, there are professors like in admitting it; we are not to reason upon it, them. They have no determinate sentiments; “How can these things be?" but with a ready they have no fixed plan; they live extem-mind yield up ourselves to the "obedience of pore; they wander from party to party, they faith ; and do all things without murmuring rove from preacher to preacher; you can or disputing.” place no dependence upon them; their at- Little children also are distinguished by a tachment and behaviour to-day are no proofs freedom from anxieties. Though they possess of their attachment and behaviour to-morrow. nothing adequate to their own support, and Let not such think to rise to eminence. Con- see not the resources from which their supsistency, steadiness, is essential to character.plies come, they feel no uneasiness; they rely “Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel.” with cheerfulness on the father to provide for We are not to resemble them in sullen- I them; and never question his ability or his

will. And shall we despond because we are they are to "condescend to men of low es not affluent? Shall we be miserable because tate." They are not to be ambitious of pre we are called to live by faith on the provi- eminence; they are not to be “desirous of dence of God? Shall we disobey that gracious vain glory; provoking one another, envying command, “casting all your care upon him, one another.” They are not to “ seek great for he careth for you?" "Shall we never re- things for themselves;" they are to learn in gard the address of our Lord to his disciples? whatsoever state they are, therewith to be “ Consider the ravens: for they neither sow content:" and, longing to be good rather than nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor to be great, feel the sentiment of David: barn; and God feedeth them: how much “ Lord, my heart is not haughty, por nine more are ye better than the fowls!" " And eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in which of you with taking thought can add to great matters, or in things too high for me. his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able Surely I have behaved and quieted myselt, to do that thing which is least, why take ye as a child that is weaned of his mother: my thought for the rest ? Consider the lilies soul is even as a weaned child." Having how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; considered the nature of this temper, and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all II. Let us inquire THE WAY IN WHICH WE his glory was not arrayed like one of these. ARE TO ATTAIN IT. It is by conversion. We If then God so clothe the grass, which is to must be “ converted," and "become as little day in the field, and to-morrow is cast into children." And this teaches us two things, the oven; how much more will he clothe you, which ought to be remembered. O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what First. The temper we are required to ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither possess is not in us naturally, but is the be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things consequence of a divine change. Inpate do the nations of the world seek after: and depravity is, alas! too fully established by your Father knoweth that ye have need of Scripture, observation, and experience, to be these things. But rather seek ye the king. denied. A man that knows himself will dom of God; and all these things shall be readily subscribe to the mortifying confession added unto you."

of David: “I was shapen in iniquity, and in Little children are devoid of malignity. sin did my mother conceive me;" and ac. The trifling resentments they sometimes feel knowledge, with Paul, “ In me, that is in my and discover are soon over, and they are “at flesh, dwelleth no good thing." This being one again," and as friendly as before. There admitted, it follows, that we are not made is nothing implacable in them: they easily Christians, but become such; that it is the forgive, and perfectly forget. For which rea- effect not of a natural but a spiritual birth. son the Apostle says, “In malice be ye child-/ Ye must be “born again." As creatures ren;" which is the same as saying, in another we are in Adam ; but if any man be in Christ, place, “ Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the " he is a new creature: old things hare sun go down upon your wrath: neither give passed away; and, behold, all things are beplace to the devil. Let all bitterness, and come new." In order to be religious, we wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil must be saved—“saved by the washing of speaking, be put away from you, with all regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy malice: and be ye kind one to another, ten- Ghost." —And since this conversion is de derhearted, forgiving one another, even as signed to produce in depraved beings such a God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." character as our Saviour describes, it also

But the thing principally, though not ex- follows that this conversion implies much clusively intended, is the humility of little more than a change of opinions, or a mere children. Hence our Saviour adds, “ Who- reformation of manners. It is a renovation soever therefore shall humble himself as this in the state of the heart; in our principles, little child, the same is greatest in the king- motives, and dispositions. It turns the whole dom of heaven." Little children have no bias of the soul another way, and proves by ideas of distinction till they are given them. its tendency that it is divine, according to They do not assume state, or stand up for the promise ; " Then will I sprinkle clean points of honour. If they were not taught water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from otherwise by their hopeful parents, they all your filthiness, and from all your idols, would be satisfied with the simplest fare and will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I the plainest raiment. Left to themselves, give you, and a new spirit will I put within the children of a nobleman would play fami- you: and I will take away the stony heart liarly with the child of a peasant.' They out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart have no great aims; no towering projects; of flesh. And I will put my spirit within they are pleased with little and common you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, things.

and ye shall keep my judgments, and do And Christians are required not only to them.” • wear humility, but to be "clothed” with it. ' Secondly. This change is to be judged of

They are to be sensible of their insufficiency; by its effect. Here many people err. They

endeavour to ascertain the time and the man-Iject before there can be enjoyment; if those ner, and the instrument of their conversion distinctions must be maintained which pre

-and distress themselves because they can- serve the moral order and harmony of the not determine. But the grand thing is to world; if we must be like God, before we inquire--whether the work be done; whether can hold intercourse with him; if light can we have passed from death to life; whether have no communion with darkness, and rightwe can say, “ One thing I know, that where eousness have no fellowship with unrightas I was blind, now I see?” On the other eousness--then, upon every principle to hand, persons may talk of a change that took which either reason or religion conducts us, place in them at such a period, under such a every unrenewed sinner stands inevitably minister-of the reality of which it would be excluded from the kingdom of heaven. difficult to find any present evidence. But An exclusion, Finally, the most universal. what has your supposed conversion done for There are few things in the world so invariyou? In what state, in what temper has it ably established as not to allow of some left you? Wherein do you differ from others deviations. Every general rule has its exand from yourselves? Whom do you now ceptions. Even the fixed laws of nature have resemble? The picture here pourtrayed ?- been changed; iron has been made to swim, Do you resemble little children by your and flames have been forbidden to burn. But spiritual desires, your faith in God's word, be not deceived; our Saviour here reveals a your reliance on his providence, the kindness law that admits of no change; and lays down of your disposition, the humbleness of your a rule that allows of no exception. There mind? And is your want of more conformity never has been, there is not, there never will to this model your chief distress? And are be, there never can be an instance even to you praying, as if nothing comparatively had qualify this assertion : “Except ye be conbeen yet done, "Create in me a clean heart, verted, and become as little children, ye shall and renew a right spirit within me?" not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

III. Let us observe THE IMPORTANCE OF Let us conclude with these additional rePOSSESSING THIS TEMPER. “Except ye be flections. converted, and become as little children, ye First. From our Saviour's address, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” | learn to improve from the various objects we -An exclusion the most awful; the most behold in the world of nature. If you wish unavoidable; the most universal. " to hold communion with God, you may be

First. The most awful. Many things reminded of him all the day long; if you court our attention that are by no means es wish to learn, you never need be at a loss for sential to our safety or welfare. We ought a teacher: “ Ask now the beasts, and they to be ashamed of the impressions they make shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, upon our minds; they are unworthy of our and they shall tell thee.” Hast thou a garhopes or fears; it is of little consequence den? And dost thou never walk in it but as whether we gain or lose them; and it will a creature-delighted with its flowers and be our wonder hereafter that we could ever its fruits? Dost thou never think of that have been so much influenced by them. But garden in which Adam fell; or of that garden to be deprived of the blessings of the Gospel in which Jesus suffered? Hast thou childispensation ; to be excluded from all the dren? They are cares; they may be comtreasures of grace and glory; to see infinite forts; but they must be instructers and adrichés, honours, and pleasures, and to hear | monishers, unless we are careless and stupid a voice saying, They are not for thee ! in the most criminal degree. “ There shall be 'weeping and gnashing of Secondly. We see what a difference there teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, is between the opinion of the world and the and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the king-judgment of God. The natural man admires dom of God, and you yourselves thrust out." the temper that will endure no insults; he If you do not deem these blessings of import- applauds the successful votary of wealth and ance now, it is because you never reflect power; he talks of a becoming pride, a noble upon them—but you will not always be able pride; to him it is a paradox that “all pride to banish thought: it is because you have is an abomination to the Lord;" that “the substitutes for them, and these divert, though meek shall inherit the earth;" that “the slow they do not satisfy—but all of them will soon to anger is better than the mighty; and he be torn from you : and what in a dying hour, that ruleth his own spirit than he that taketh and in a judgment-day, will you do without a city.” He wonders to hear, that if " he an interest in this heavenly kingdom! would be wise, he must become a fool that

An exclusion, Secondly, the most unavoid he may be wise;" that to sink in his own able. If God has said in the Scripture that esteem is the way to rise in the esteem of * without holiness no man shall see the Heaven; that he who “exalteth himself shall Lord;" if God must be true, and the Scrip be abased, and he who abaseth himself shall ture cannot be broken; if there must be a be exalted.” But such is the testimony of suitableness between the faculty and the ob- God; and his judgment is always according

to truth. Oh that we may take our views spared, and appear like olive plants around our of excellency alone from him; and make his table, we ought to be thankful, and to rejoice; estimate our own. “For not he that com- yet to rejoice with trembling. When we mendeth himself is approved, but whom the reflect on the tenderness of their frame, and Lord commendeth."

consider to how many accidents and diseases Thirdly. We congratulate those who have they are liable; and that many of their ear. the Spirit of Christ. The world knoweth | liest complaints cannot be perfectly asceryou not: you think meanly of yourselves, and tained, and may be injured by the very means you ought : for you are encompassed with in- employed for their relief-the wonder is that firmity—but you are heirs of the kingdom they ever reach maturity. which God hath promised to them that love Near half of the human race die in a state him; an everlasting kingdom; a kingdom in of infancy. Some have the allotment which comparison with which the renowned em- Job so passionately wished had been bisown: pires of the earth vanish into smoke--the " Why died I not from the womb? Why kingdom of heaven! What can you desire did I not give up the ghost when I came out more? How thankful, how satisfied, how of the belly? Why did the knees prevent happy you should live!

me? Or why the breasts that I should suck?" And how holy !-

| Others are dressed and appear on the stage Be concerned to maintain a behaviour an- of mortal life; but, long before the close of swerable to your state and expectation. You a single scene, withdraw, and are found no are princes. “ Walk worthy of God, who more. Others are spared longer, and mulhath called you unto his kingdom and glory." tiply attractions and endearments. Some

begin to open their powers, as well as charms.

You saw rising up the seeds of instruction DISCOURSE LVII.

you had sown; the child was forming into the companion—but you looked, and, lo! he

was not—and you sighed, “ Childhood and THE LOSS OF CHILDREN. youth is vanity!"-Some lose one child from And he said, While the child was yet alive, I among many ; and even this can ill be spared.

fasted and wept : for I said, Who can tell! What then must it be to lose an only one: whether God will be gracious to me, that the and perhaps not the only one in possession, child may live? But now he is dead, but the only one in hope! What a mortality wherefore should I fast ? can I bring him is there in some families. How often have back again? I shall go to him, but he shall some fathers and mothers been visited with not return to me.-2 Sam. xii. 22, 23, breach upon breach. Here, as I walk over

the mansions of the dead, I find two buried THERE is much to censure in David. Yet in the same grave, and inscribed above them, He, whose understanding is infinite, and “ They were pleasant in life, and in death whose judgment is always according to truth, not divided.” There I find six slumbering 1 has pronounced him “a man after his own the same bed of dust, and the stone thus heart;" and told us, that " he did that which / vents the anguish and submission of the pawas right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned rental beartnot aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the

" The dear delights we here enjoy,

. And fondly call our own, matter of Uriah the Hittite."

Are but short favours borrow'd now, The narrative of his crime has, it is to be

To be repaid anon," feared, been the occasion of hardening un- The death of David's child was predicted godly men in their iniquity. But this has | by Nathan, and was the consequence of the been the consequence of perversion. It was father's sin. « Because by this deed thou written not for encouragement, but for cau- hast given great occasion to the enemies op tion. It cries, “Let him that thinketh be the Lord to blaspheme, the child that is standeth take heed lest he fall;" it shows the born unto thee shall surely die.” But how is readiness of God to pardon the truly penitent it that the guilty father continues, and the who confess and forsake their sin ; and it ex- innocent bahe is cut off? “ The landlord, emplifies not only the efficacy, but the nature says an old writer, “may distrain on any part of genuine repentance.

of the premises he chooses." We would You will not wonder that I have referred rather say, that there are many cases in to this awful event in David's history, since which he requires us to walk by faith, ar the subject of our present meditation is de- not by sight : that he does all things well rived from it. Let us consider-RIS AFFLIC- even when clouds and darkness are found TION-HIS BEHAVIOUR UNDER IT-AND THE about him : we would say, that be under

TION HE GIVES OF HIS CONDUCT. nified this child by taking it to me. I. His AFFLICTION was the death of his while the father was punished, and suite child. The death of a child is by no means more relatively than if he had died hims an uncommon event. If our offspring are! The execution follows the sentence."]

Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bare Some disregard the duties of their stations unto David, and it was very sick."

and connexions in life; and weeping hinders II. Observe THE BEHAVIOUR OF DAVID sowing. But David knew he had a family WITH REGARD TO THE AFFLICTION.

that demanded his attention, and whom it It takes in prayer—"He besought God for behoved him to convince that the exercises the child.” What was so likely to enable him of religion can relieve and refresh the mind : to gain his wishes, or to bring his mind into “and when he required, they set bread before a state of preparation for a denial of them ? | him, and he did eat." Prayer is always proper: but how seasonable, Believers are “men wondered at;" and how soothing, how sanctifying, in the day they who are estranged from the life of God of trouble! Blessed resource and refuge! cannot comprehend the principles upon which may we always make use of thee. “ From the actions of believers turn. They consider the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, forgiveness of injuries as a proof of cowardice. when my heart is overwhelmed ! lead me to They mistake deep humiliation and fervent the Rock that is higher than I."-" Is any prayer for an inordinate attachment to creaafflicted, let him pray."

tures; and view acquiescence and thankfulHe also humbled himself: “He fasted, and ness under trials as senseless indifference. went in, and lay all night upon the earth."" Then said his servants unto him, What There was doubtless something peculiar in thing is this that thou hast done? Thou didst this case : the child was the offspring of fast and weep for the child when it was adultery. Much of David's distress arose alive; but when the child was dead thou didst from reflection on his sin: his grief was rise and eat bread.” the grief not only of affliction, but of peni-l “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, tence. And when are our losses and trials though he himself is judged of no man.” His purely afflictions? Is there nothing in our service is a reasonable service; his conduct sufferings to bewail but the smart? Is it not results from conviction and motive. David sin that has made this world a vale of tears? therefore explains himself: “And he said, Is it not our remaining depravity that con- While the child was yet alive, I fasted and strains a merciful God to employ such painful wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God dispensations? Are we not guilty of idoliz- will be gracious to me, that the child may ing or undervaluing the blessings we are live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I going to resign ? May we not charge God fast ? can I bring him back again? I shall go foolishly in the trouble we are going to enter? to him, but he shall not return to me.” Is it not desirable to know wherefore he con- This brings us to the tends with us? Humiliation is as necessary III. part of our subject.-“ And he said, as prayer.

While the child was yet alive, I fasted and We have seen David's behaviour before wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God the death of the child; let us remark his will be gracious to me, that the child may behaviour after it. His servants feared to live?”—He deemed the event uncertain. It tell him of the event; for they said, “ Behold, is obvious that he did not consider the threatenwhile the child was yet alive, we spake unto ing as absolute and irreversible. He knew him, and he would not hearken unto our that many things had been denounced convoice: how will he then vex himself if we ditionally; and he knew also that the goodtell him that the child is dead? But when ness of God was beyond all his thoughts. David saw that his servants whispered, David As there seemed a possibility of success, so perceived that the child was dead: therefore the desirableness of the blessing led him to David said unto his servants, Is the child avail himself of it. One might have supposed dead? And they said, He is dead.” And that the death of a child so young would not what does he ?

have been a very considerable affliction, espeSome disregard their persons, and affect a cially as he would have been always a memoa slovenliness in grief. But David “arose randum of his sin, and he could not have from the earth, and washed, and anointed questioned his future happiness; but he speaks himself, and changed his apparel.”

of his recovery as an instance of God's grace Some remain invisible; and even the tem- to himself—so great is the force of parental ple sees nothing of them during the season affection. His attachment indeed seems to that peculiarly requires their attendance: for have been extraordinary; and this was doubt“ God is known in his palaces for a refuge." less permitted of Heaven to render his corBut David “came into the house of the Lord rection the more severe. Such is the import and worshipped.” It was to acknowledge of his reasoning: “I should have deemed it a the hand of God in his affliction; it was to peculiar favour had God spared my child; and say, with Job, “The Lord gave, and the Lord while life remained, the indulgence of hope hath taken away; and blessed be the name of was not improper, nor the use of means unthe Lord :" it was to praise him, that his sin, lawful. Submission follows the event." though chastised, was forgiven; and to be- But what led him to assuage his grief? seech him to proceed no further.

What made him I will not say insensible,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »