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that believe. Let
us, beholding as in aed to the soul, and made the imprisoned inglass his glory, be changed into the same mate long for release. image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit He has done enough to secure your welof the Lord !
fare and happiness, whatever your outward Secondly. Think of this man; and suffer condition may be: for “ blessed is the man me to inquire how far his case represents whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sin your own. I would address you under a is covered.' Your trials are without a sting, fourfold supposition.
and will soon be removed for ever; and “the First. Are any of you distressed in mind, inhabitant shall no more say, I am sick." and body too; oppressed at once with disease Fourthly. Are there none here who are and guilt? It is a sad case; but the best freed from sickness and condemnation too? thing you can do is to go to him, and address Such was the distinguished privilege of this him in the language of one who has been in poor man. Thus it was with Hezekiah. In the same state before you. “ Have mercy his mercy, assurance of pardon and recovery upon me, O Lord, for I am weak: 0 Lord, from disease were combined.“ Behold, for heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast is also sore vexed: but thou, O Lord, how in love to my soul delivered it from the pit long? Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins save me for thy mercies' sake. For in death behind thy back.” If this be your case, rethere is no remembrance of thee: in the grave semble him. Say, “ The living, the living, who shall give thee thanks ? Look upon he shall praise thee, as I do this day : the mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all father to the children shall make known thy my sins.”
truth.” Say with David, after his remarkaSecondly. Has he healed thy body, and ble salvation, “ Return unto thy rest, O my not said to thy soul, “I am thy salvation ?" soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with O be not satisfied with the inferior blessing thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from Rest not till you are justified by faith, and death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet have peace with God through our Lord Jesus from falling. I will walk before the Lord in Christ. It would be infinitely better to have the land of the living.” Publish his praise, the forgiveness of sins, and be left languish- and constrain others to come to him. Say to ing under incurable disease, than to be re- your neighbours and friends, “ O taste and leased from the most dreadful malady, and see that the Lord is good : blessed is the man left under the guilt of sin. What are fifteen that trusteth in him. years added to our life, to go on treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God!
DISCOURSE LXV. Thousands have been recovered from the borders of the grave, and have afterwards seen not only the pit of corruption, but of THE WORK OF THE DAY DONE IN destruction. What are the nine ungrateful
THE DAY. lepers the better for their cure now! Many
As the city of every day required. never think of this. They are only concern
Ezra iii. 4. ed to escape from a bed of sickness. Whether TIME, with regard to many-I use the their souls are blessed or injured by the words of Solomon, is “a price in the hand visitation, is no inquiry with them. But it is of fools." They know not its value, nor the an awful thing to have an affliction removed importance of the things they could purchase and not sanctified.
with it, if properly laid out; and therefore Thirdly. Has he spoken peace to thy con- they barter it away upon trifles, or heedlessly science, and is thy body still under the in- lose it. But the talent is the same, notwithfluence of disease ? Be thankful that the standing the ignorance of the possessor. greater work is accomplished, and submit to Yes-time--time is unspeakably precious. his pleasure with regard to the less. You And this is readily acknowledged by all those may pray for ease and deliverance from your who know the worth of it by the loss. O affliction : but it must be conditionally; « Not what would the miserable in hell.give for a my will, but thine be done.” He may have little of that time which many consume in ends to answer by keeping you in atřiction doing nothing, or worse than nothing! O after he has pardoned you. He may design what thoughts of time has a dying sinner, to endear to you the scriptures and the throne who has lived without God in the world ! If of grace; to wean you from a vain world ; to heaven would lengthen his days, he would afford you opportunities to prove the tender- accept the boon on the hardest condition that ness of his care, and the supports of his could ever be proposed. Could he only but presence. Bodily infirmities, like breaks in live, he would be content to labour in a mine, a wall, says Watts, have often been avenues or beg his bread from door to door. Ah ! how through which the light of heaven has enter-| feelingly then does he admonish children,
friends, and neighbours to number their days, into these new scenes old habits that cannot and “ apply their hearts unto wisdom!" be changed; what wonder is it that they
No wonder, therefore, that the Apostle “ have no pleasure in them ?" We should should call upon us to “ redeem the time;" never sacrifice present happiness to future that is, to improve it, by devoting it to the imaginations. God, like a generous friend, purposes for which it was given. In doing this, is pleased to see his presents enjoyed to there is no one rule of greater importance enjoy is to obey." Yea, such is the goodness that that which we may lawfully draw from of our heavenly Benefactor, that he does not the words before us; in which we are inform- desire us, even by a sense of our unworthed that the pious Jews returned from Babylon, ness, to lessen our relish of his favours. But having erected an altar, kept also the feast let us be always joyful in him ; let us enjoy of tabernacles as it is written, and offered the all in God, and God in all. daily burnt-offerings by number, according to For, behold another thing that the duty of the custom, “as the duty of every day re- this day requires. It is gratitude. The more quired.” It is in the margin, “ the matter you have received from God, the greater is of the day in his day." This has grown into your obligation to him; and your language a proverbial saying among those who love should be, « Bless the Lord, Ő my soul, and Scripture phraseology; and teaches us that forget not all his benefits." In order to this, we should do the work of the day in the day. you must never sacrifice unto your own net, 1. WE MAY APPLY THIS TO LIFE IN GE- nor burn incense unto your own drag, bs
This is called “ a day"--and it is a cause by them your portion is fat, and your single day—a short day—a day which it is meat plenteous; but*" remember the Lord impossible to lengthen. And what is the lan- thy God : for it is he that giveth thee power guage of reason; of Scripture ? “Today if to get wealth. The blessing of the Lord, it ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart. maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with Behold now—is the day of salvation." And it.” Compare your circumstances with those what will be your language if the same mind of others, whose plans are equally wise, and be in you which was also in Christ Jesus? whose dependences seemed equally sure" I must work the works of him that sent me Compare your present with your former conwhile it is day; the night cometh, wherein dition; the “two bands" with the " staff" no man can work."
Compare your indulgences with your deserts: II. IT WILL APPLY TO PROSPERITY. This -and how can you be unthankful! is called " a day;" and Solomon tells us what And surely the duty of this day" requires is the duty of it." In the day of prosperity liberality. He had others in view as well as be joyful.” He cannot, we may be assured, yourselves, in all that he has done for you intend to countenance extravagance and ex- He has made you stewards, and not propriecess. The good creatures of God's provi- tors; and he will soon call you to give up dence are not given to be consumed upon our your account. This is your rule: “Let every lusts, or to degrade a man below the beasts one lay by him in store, as God hath prosper that perish. We are to use this world, but ed him. Charge them that are rich in this we are to use it as not abusing it.
world that they do good, that they be rich in The wise man would teach us to enjoy the good works, ready to distribute, willing to comforts our circumstances afford, in opposi- communicate.” tion to that self-denial that arises, not from III. IT WILL APPLY TO ADVERSITY. This religious motive, but from anxiety; from a also is called “ a day;" and it is said, “ in the disposition to live comparatively poor and des- day of adversity, consider.” This is the grand titute at present, in order to hoard up for the duty of the season. Whatever be your afilic future. Whereas the Apostle tells us, that tion, it is a solemn call to consider your ways; “God gives us all things richly to enjoy." to examine your hearts and lives; to inquire Those men are to be pitied who possess much wherefore he contends with you; and what and enjoy little; who have the blessings of he would have you to do life in abundance, but no heart to use them. consider the alleviations of your suffering; These generally promise themselves great how much worse it might have been ; and to enjoyment hereafter when they shall have compare your resources with
your obtained so much. But what is the result? Another part of the duty this "day" re Their souls are often required of them before quires is submission. This is what the apos the expected season, and then whose are tle Peter prescribes, with promise : "Submit those things which they have provided ?"- yourselves under the mighty hand of God
, When they do reach this period, they feel and he shall exalt you in due time :” and this the infirmities of nature, or the assaults of is that which
the apostle Paul so beautifully disease; many of their connexions, who enforces" Furthermore we have had fathers would once have shared their joys along with of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them, are lodged in the cold grave, while them reverence : shall we not much rather be those that remain are praying for their death: in subjection unto the Father of spirits and lives and when to all this we add, that they carry For they verily for a few days chastened us
You are also to
after their own pleasure; but he for our.pro- | from play, but in rendering instruction more fit, that we might be partakers of his holiness." personal and minute, by some kind of examiThis subjection does not exclude feeling, but nation and inquiry. In doing this, it is neiregulates it; keeping us, while sensible of the ther necessary nor proper to make the service affliction, from quarreling with Providence, long and irksome. It may be serious, and from charging him foolishly or unkindly, and yet short and interesting too. leading us to say, “It is the Lord, let him do “ What a dismal day have you described : what seemeth him good.” This, says an old . It is a hard saying; who can hear it?'”_ divine, turns the stroke of the rod into a kiss. But hard to whom ?--To you? If so—what
The duty of this day also requires prayer. can we think of your disposition !- And what “Call upon me in the day of trouble. "Is any can you think of spending an eternity in reafflicted? Let him pray.” The very exer- ligious exercises ?-Hard? To whom? Not cise of it will soothe him, while the answer to a Christian. These are his “ pleasant of it will deliver him. Indeed, prayer is the things." He does not say, “What a weariprivilege, rather than the duty, of sufferers. ness it is to serve the Lord; when will the Who ever tried it in distress and could not Sabbath be gone!" He resigns it with relucsay, “ It is good for me to draw near to God?" tance; and in the enjoyment of its privileges
IV. WE MAY APPLY IT TO THE SABBATH. he begins to enter “the rest that remains for This is called “the Lord's day” because it is the people of God.” When once a regard consecrated to the memory of his resurrec- for the Sabbath is gone, every thing serious tion, and is employed in his service. But as goes with it. Have we to learn this ? to advantage, it is our day. It " was made Lastly. IT WILL APPLY TO EVERY DAY. for man." It is a day in which we enjoy a No day comes without its appropriate duty. solemn repose from worldly employment; in There is something to be done for God; our which we lay in a store of spiritual supplies fellow-creatures; ourselves : something relifor the week; in which we meet God in his gious, and something secular. We are not ordinances, and see him in the sanctuary. even to neglect any of the duties of our civil
Such a season has peculiar claims upon us, concerns. We are to be diligent in our reand we are commanded “to sanctify it, call- spective callings. And not only so—but we ing the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the are to do every thing in its season ; to do the Lord, honourable; not doing our own ways, work of the day in the day; and not leave it nor finding our own pleasure, nor speaking till to-morrow. our own words.” Some profane it. Some First, because we may not live till to-mortrifle it away. And let me remind you, that row.
“ We know not what a day may bring it may be trifled away even in divine things. forth.” If you go to the house of God, but “leave
your Secondly. Each day will have its own souls behind ;" if with your mouth you show engagements, and it is wrong to surcharge much love, but your heart goeth after your one period with the additional work of ancovetousness ; if you hear his words, however other: “Sufficient for the day is the evil frequently, and do them not—in vain do you thereof." Note. It is unlawful to encumber worship him.
to-day with the care of to-morrow; and to Can this be doing all the.duty of the day ? encumber to-morrow with the work of to-day. Our obligation does indeed take in public Thirdly. Because, by this temporary negworship; and a Christian will say,
ligence, we have nothing to do, or too much;
whereas, by doing the work of the day in “With early feet I love t' appear
the day, we are never unoccupied, never opAmong ihy saints—"
pressed; we keep our affairs under easy ma“ How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord nagement, and never suffer them to accumuof hosts! A day in thy courts is better than late into a discouraging mass. a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in Fourthly. Because by this means the mind the house of my God, than to dwell in the is kept cool, and tranquil
, and cheerful ; and tents of wickedness." He knows that "faith we shall know nothing of the perplexities and cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word ill temper of those who are always in confuof God." He will therefore gladly hear; and sion and haste. he will take heed what he hears, and how he To verify this important maxim, let me lay hears. But this is not all. He will retire. down three rules. He will indulge in private reflection. He will First. Rise early. apply the truths which have been delivered Secondly. Grasp not so much business as to his own soul. He will pray that the Holy to " entangle yourselves in the affairs of this Spirit may bring these things to his remem- life.” brance, and enable him to reduce his know- Thirdly. Arrange a plan of life, and firmly ledge to experience and practice. And surely adhere to it. This will furnish you with something more should be done in the family means and resources which they know noon this day, than at other times; not only in thing of who go on as accident determines, or keeping servants from work, and children | humour inclines. You will find that “to every thing there is a season, and a time to which it displayed. But perhaps no death, every purpose under the heaven.”
recorded in history, approaches so nearly to “ Íf you look abroad into the world, you it as the martyrdom of Stephen. He finished may be satisfied at the first glance, that a his course with joy, a few weeks after his vicious and infidel life is always a life of con- Lord and master; and near the spot where fusion. Thence it is natural 'to infer, that the one was crucified was the other stoned. order is friendly to religion. As the neglect Let us bring the whole of his short history of it co-operates with vice, so the preserva- under our review. tion of it must assist virtue. By the appoint- Stephen was the first of the Christian ment of Providence, it is indispensably requi- Church that fell a victim to the rage of persite to worldly prosperity. Thence arises a secution. He led the van in the noble army presumption that it is connected also with of martyrs-that army, that “resisted unto spiritual improvement. When you see a blood striving against sin;" that army, that man's affairs involved in disorder, you natu- rose triumphantly to fame, not by the suffer. rally conclude that his ruin approaches. You ings of others, but their own; that army, that at the same time justly suspect, that the conquered, but conquered by dying! Stecauses which affect his temporal welfare ope- phen was employed in administering the rate also to the prejudice of his moral interests. alms of the church. The people had been “ Let every thing therefore,” says the apostle, influenced in their choice of him as a deacon “ be done decently and in order."
by his acknowledged piety and prudence: Thus you will resemble the greatest and he was full of the Holy Ghost and of wisbest of Beings, who condescends to propose dom.” And such qualifications should alone himself as your model. He is the God of or- recommend to all sacred offices. For a proper der. “He has fixed the bounds of the earth, behaviour in a lower and a private condition and given to the sea his decree, that the waters is the best pledge of, and the best preparation should not pass his commandment. The day for, a proper conduct in a higher and official is his, the night also is his. He has made situation. He " that is not faithful in little," summer and winter. He appointeth the moon is not likely to be faithful in much: "but to for seasons, and the sun knoweth his going him that hath shall be given, and he shall down." And under his government, every have more abundantly, while from him that thing arrives in its proper time and place. hath not shall be taken away even that which
May we be followers of him as dear chil- he seemeth to have.” dren, and carry away with us this reflection, Advancement in the state commonly proas one of the most important maxims of life duces envy; as it gives a man wealth, power
, and religion—That it highly concerns us authority, influence. But promotion in the and becomes us to be found doing as the duty church only places him more forward in the of every day requires !
battle, and exposes him to greater danger. And as of ourselves we can do nothing, but " Then there arose certain of the synagogue, “our sufficiency is of God," on him let us de- which is called the synagogue of the Liberpend, and to him let us apply, that we “may tines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with of need.”
Stephen.” Though they seem to have chal
lenged him to this debate, and were certain DISCOURSE LXVI.
of victory, they are completely foiled. " They were not able to resist the wisdom and the
spirit by which he spake.” . Argument fails THE MARTYRDOM OF STEPHEN. them--but malice does not. Then they
suborned men, which said, We have heard And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, him speak blasphemous words against Moses,
and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. and against God. And they stirred up the And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud people, and the elders, and the scribes, and voice, Lord, lay noe this sin to their charge. came upon him, and caught him, and brought And when he had said this, he fell asleep.- him to the council, and set up false witnesses
, Acts vii. 59, 60.
which said, This man ceaseth not to speak The words and actions of dying persons blasphemous words against this holy place
, are peculiarly impressive. If we have not and the law: for we have heard him say, been present to witness the interesting event that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this of their departure, we anxiously inquire how place, and shall change the customs which they behaved themselves; what they did, and Moses delivered us. And all that sat in the what they said.
council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his We often surround the cross, and contem- face as it had been the face of an angel!". plate the dying of the Lord Jesus; and it is It is no unusual thing for the judge
and the impossible to do it too often. No death is to spectators to observe the countenance of a be compared with his; whether we consider prisoner at the bar. It is frequently an indithe advantages derivable from it, or the graces I cation of guilt or of innocency. Stephen's
countenance would bear remark. It was nei- pronounced on one of his chaplains: “When,” ther flushed with passion, nor pale with fear. says he, “I hear my other preachers, they There reigned in it an unshaken confidence, always lead me to admire them; but Masilan undisturbed serenity; meekness and ma- lon always makes me dissatisfied with myjesty combined. Perhaps there was some- self.”—Convinced against their wills, and thing preternatural in the case. Thus we having nothing to answer, these wretches read of our Saviour, that “ as he prayed, the discover the very dispositions of the damned, fashion of his countenance was changed, and who are represented as “wailing and gnashhis raiment became white and glistering.” ing their teeth.” In them we see hell pourAnd it is remarked of Moses, that when he trayed and begun. But let us observe Stecame down from communion with God in Ho- phen, and behold in him the meekness and reb, “his face shone so that the Israelites, gentleness of Jesus Christ. could not steadfastly behold him for the glory But hehe being full of the Holy Ghost." of his countenance."
He was replenished with his influences and But the effect does not disarm or soften joys. It was this that preserved and sustained his adversaries. “Then said the High Priest, him. A Christian is not alone in his trials Are these things so ?" We must pass over and difficulties: there is something divine the speech of Stephen; only observing what that bears him up, when the world expects has frequently and justly been remarked, him to sink. For the world can see his afflicthat it seems not the whole of what he in- tions, but not his succours. These are invisible, tended to deliver. He was more anxious to but they are real; and they are wisely prosave his audience than himself; he thought portioned to his exigences, so that as the sufa dying testimony would be preferable to a ferings of Christ abound, the consolations train of reasoning, which they were in no abound also. temper of mind to receive; he saw they were He looked"-not upon the council, to see full of impatience, and would not suffer him if any was disposed to favour his cause; nor to proceed further; he therefore judged it around the hall, to see if there was any way wise to draw towards a conclusion, by a short of escape—but he " looked up steadfastly into but faithful address to their consciences. “Ye heaven"--as one that had already his converstiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and sation there, longed to spring from his moleears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as hill earth, and to begin the song of Moses and your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the the Lamb! What said that look ? “Saviour, prophets have not your fathers persecuted ? it is thy cause in which I am engaged. It is And they have slain them which showed for thy dear name I suffer. On thee I depend, before of the coming of the Just One; of to thee I appeal. O carry me through this whom ye have been now the betrayers and trying hour, and be magnified in my body, murderers: who have received the law by whether it be by life or by death!" the disposition of angels, and have not “ And saw the glory of God, and Jesus kept it.”
standing on the right hand of God.” Three This was intolerable. “When they heard things are here observable. First. He did these things, they were cut to the heart, and not see God. No man hath seen God at any they gnashed on him with their teeth.” time. He is as invisible as immortal—but he " The word of God is quick and powerful, beheld a splendour, the symbol of his presence, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and that intimated the place where he resides piercing even to the dividing asunder of and reveals himself-he “ saw the glory of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow; God.”. Secondly. When of old the prophets and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents saw the glory of God, it was always attended of the heart.” And it is a poor sermon that with angelical appearances
. Thus we find produces no resentment, either against the seraphim in Isaiah's vision, and cherubim in preacher, or against the hearer. Who can that of Ezekiel. These were then his agents; tell what rage and malice people sometimes ministers of his to do his pleasure. feel against a faithful minister? They wish the angels hath he not put in subjection the to remain asleep, and he rouses them; they world to come, whereof we speak?” Angels, wish to remain in darkness, and he flashes with every other class of creatures, are placed conviction into their minds; he demonstrates under our Redeemer's feet. He is head over their duty, and they hold fast deceit and re- all things unto his body the church. All fuse to return. Were it not for the laws of power is given unto him in heaven and in the land, such a man would often be dragged earth. And this is the source of the Chrisfrom the pulpit to the stake. But it is well tian's consolation and triumph, that his Sawhen people are made enemies to them- viour is now at the right hand of God. Hence selves; when they go home at war with their he knows that his sacrifice is accepted, that pride, their avarice, their indifference; when his enemies shall lick the dust, and that all they determine even “to crucify the flesh those who put their trust in him shall be with its affections and lusts.” It was a fine saved to the uttermost. “ Who is he that eulogium the French monarch Louis XIV. condemneth? Is it Christ that died, yea,
“ But to