Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

It is,

- They would rather die at their Saviour's speaketh, and clear when he judgeth; that we feet, saying, “ Carest thou not that we pe- have no reason to complain, whatever we sufrish ?”—They invite feeling; but this is their fer, for he has punished us infinitely less than language:

our iniquities deserve. In this way Daniel

gave him glory: “O Lord, righteousness be-
" What should I wait or wish for then
From creatures, earth, and dust?

longeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of
They make our expectations vain,

face, as it is this day.” So did David: “I know And disappoint our trust.”

O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and “ Where is God my maker, who giveth songs that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me." in the night? Therefore will I look unto the We glorify God in our afflictions, when we Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation, verbally and practically acknowledge my God will hear me. From the end of the His wisdom. “He is a God of knowledge;" earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is and this regulates his corrections, and even overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is every circumstance attached to them. It higher than I." This is well. It is there may not be easy always to see this, because fore enjoined, “Call upon me in the day of we do not fully know ourselves, our defects, trouble." But it is not enough to seek and our maladies; and therefore we cannot God in our afflictions—we must serve him. judge properly of the means employed to cure

and improve us. But of this we may be asII. THE DUTY HERE ENJOINED. “Glorify sured, that he never errs in the time, the ye the Lord in the fires."

place, the continuance, the instrument, the The glory of God is essential or declara- kind of affliction—it is precisely the very tive. We cannot add to the former. In this thing we need; and nothing could be altered sense, he is “exalted above all blessing and without injury. We glorify God in our afpraise. Our goodness extendeth not to him.” fictions, when we verbally and practically But “the heavens declare the glory of God: / acknowledge all his works praise him.” How? By the His goodness. For this is really the prinimpressions and displays of his perfections: ciple from which proceeds every sorrow that by showing us what he is, and what he de- / wrings the heart. Severity is often evidenserves.

tial of care and of regard. If God was not Thus Christians are appointed to “ show concerned for your welfare, why does he emforth the praises"-virtues-excellences ploy means to do you good ? Does the hus“of him who hath called them out of dark-bandman prune and manure the tree that he ness into his marvellous light:" which is done is going to cut down? No-but that which by their language and by their lives. Hence he wishes to save and to fructify. Is it kind it is easy to see that we glorify God in our to rebuke a friend, or to countenance his afflictions, when we verbally and practically faults? Is it kind in a father to suffer the acknowledge

child to have his own will, or to impose upon His agency-that nothing comes to pass him salutary restraints, and to urge his atby chance-that his providence is concerned tention to things which will qualify him for in all our trials—that “there is not an evil future life? “We have had fathers of our in the city, and the Lord hath not done it.” flesh which corrected us, and we gave them Many walk all through life and never meet reverence: shall we not much rather be in with God. Whatever occurs, whether it be subjection unto the Father of spirits, and pleasing or painful, never reminds them of him. live? For they verily for a few days chasWhen they experience a distressing event, tened us after their own pleasure; but he for they stop at second causes; they are kept our profit, that we might be partakers of his from God by the very instrumentality he em- holiness. Now no chastening for the present ploys. They exclaim, “Oh! It was that un- seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: neverlucky servant; it was that perfidious friend; theless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable it was that malicious enemy." But, if Eli fruit of righteousness unto them which are had met with it, he would have said, “It is exercised thereby.” If his aim in your afthe Lord, let him do what seemeth him flictions be to prevent that which is your disgood :" Job would have said, “ The Lord grace and ruin; if it be to promote that which gave, and the Lord hath taken away: What! is your glory and happiness; if it be to make shall we receive good at the Lord's hand, you wise, humble, tender-hearted, spiritually. and shall we not receive evil ?"_We glorify minded; to wean you from earth and fit you God in our afflictions, when we verbally and for heaven-how obvious is the love of God practically acknowledge

in sending them! But his love is to be acHis rectitude. “He is righteous in all his knowledged not only in the design of afilicways, and holy in all his works;" and none tion, but in its alleviations. These are nu. of our troubles can deny this. Let us always merous, and a grateful mind will look after be concerned to keep God free of all blame. them. “ It is trying—but it might have been Let all our reflections turn upon ourselves.worse. I have lost one comfort—but some I.et us own that he is justified when he have lost all. I am in trouble-but I have

the sympathy of friends; I have the promises ing. He called, and you came-not in the of Scripture; I have the presence of Him contemptible nature of a worm-but"a little who said, Fear not.”—We glorify God in our lower than the angels.” What wonders are afflictions, when we verbally and practically there in thy body! Yet this is the baser part. acknowledge

| You have conscience, reason, immortality. His power. This regards our support and He has taught you more than the beasts of deliverance, and is to keep us from all hasty the earth, and made you wiser than the fowls and dismal conclusions. For by nothing do, of the air. There is a spirit in you, and the we dishonour God more than by our despon- " inspiration of the Almighty giveth it underdency. Is any thing too hard for the Lord ? standing." And is all this to enable you to However dark the scene may be, he can turn labour for shining dust with the covetous ? the shadow of death into the morning. If To run after air with the ambitious ? To when he comes to save us, he finds no way dive into mud and mire with the sensual and of escape, he can easily make one. Read the i vicious ? Should you not " worship and fall history of Joseph, and of David. Observe the down, and kneel before the Lord your Marelief of Elijah in famine; and the deliver-ker?" By whom have you been upheld from ance of Daniel in the lions' den and learn the womb? At whose table have you been to trust in your almighty and wonder-working daily fed ? From whose wardrobe have you Friend. You say perhaps many of these been clothed? There is not a comfort in life things were supernatural. --They were. And but gives God a title to thy praise. But he that we are not to expect a repetition of mi- has greater, dearer claims. Go to the manracles. It is acknowledged. But he who ger, the garden, the cross. See him not performed these wonders is still alive, and sparing his own Son, but delivering him up the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. He for us all. See him exalting this Sufferer is as near to you as he was to his people of “to be a Prince and a Saviour; to give reold; and you are as dear to him as they pentance unto Israel and remission of sins." were. But, alas! we are not "strong in What has he done for thee in the application faith, giving glory to God.” Israel “ limited of this free and full redemption ? Has he the Holy One of Israel," and so do we; and opened thine eyes, and turned thy feet into like them we do it after the wonders he has the path of peace.-What has he done for shown us. We forget “the years of the thee since thou hast known him? He has right hand of the Most High," and every ever left thee? Has he ever turned away fresh difficulty chills our hope, and forces our thy prayer from him, or his mercy from thee? confidence to a stand. But this is wrong. And is it for you to be wrapped up in selfishWe ought to be peculiarly concerned to ness? How unworthy a creature; but how “ glorify God in the fires." —

much more unworthy a Christian! When a III. We proceed to examine THE REASONS. man is writing a book, says an old divine, he There are three. The first is derived from ought often to look back to the title, and see opportunity—the second from obligation, whether he is conforming to it, or deviating the third from hope.

from it; and so he tells us we should often First. You ought to glorify God in the turn back and inquire the end of our creafires, because you have the finest opportu- tion and our redemption, in order that we nity. The scene naturally awakens atten- may regulate ourselves by it. We oughttion, and fixes observation upon you. No we ought-to “reckon ourselves to be dead thing preaches like a fact. Nothing is so indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through impressive as the graces of a Christian in Jesus Christ our Lord.” trouble. Infidels have been convinced, the Thirdly. Hope should influence you. Such wicked have been reclaimed, the weak have a disposition to glorify God in the fires is probeen strengthened, the timid encouraged by ductive of your own advantage. God is a what they have seen and heard in the hour good master. Though we owe him all the of affliction. How much, therefore, should obedience we render, and it is impossible for you prize such a useful providence, and how any of our works to be meritorious, yet his anxious should you be to improve such an op- grace has made them rewardable—and “veportunity, to illustrate your principles, to ex- rily there is a reward for the righteous." We emplify the advantages of religion, to recom-cannot be losers by any thing we do for him. mend the master you serve! Let it not be a You may often study the wishes, and proprice in the hand of fools. It will be painful mote the interests of men, and meet with no to look back upon such a season neglected. suitable return. But he renders love for It will be dreadful to review such a season love, service for service, in a proportion inperverted. Yet this is often done by improper finitely increased. “ Them that honour me behaviour, by ungracious tempers, by pas- I will honour, and they that despise me shall sionate words.

be lightly esteemed." Secondly. The obligations you are under One of these two things is certain, as the to the blessed God, should induce you to glo- consequence of sanctifying the Lord in your rify him in the fires. Once you had no be- afflictions.

First: the removal of them. For when / rouse, how they extend, how they enlarge, the end is answered, the dispensation will how they refine our views and our sentie cease. As soon as we are silent, and submit, ments! They lead us backward; and we the rod drops out of our heavenly Father's behold the fair frame of nature springing out hand, and he cries, “Is Ephraim my dear of chaos. They draw us forward ; and we son ? is he a pleasant child ? for since I spake see the heavens passing away with a great against him, I do earnestly remember him noise, the elements melting with fervent heat, still: therefore my bowels are troubled for the earth also, and all the works that are there him; I will surely have mercy upon him, in burnt up. They tell us to look inward; and saith the Lord.”

| under this burden of flesh, this perishing Or, Secondly: Indemnification for them ; clay, we discern a spirit in man, immaterial, so that the continuance shall subserve our immortal, and able to subsist independent of welfare more than the withdrawment. And the body. They call us to look upward; and this can easily be done by the internal sup- drawing back the vail, they show us an order ports of grace, and the future recompenses of beings, far above human, and with which of glory.

Christians have the honour to be already conSuch are the arguments to enforce this nected. It is the testimony of the Apostle duty. But I hear you say

in the words before us. “Ye are come to an " Lord, can a feeble, helpless worm

innumerable company of angels." Perform a task so hard ?

| We are come to them five ways. We are Thy grace must all the work perform, come to them as FRIENDS—as ATTENDANTS And give the free reward."

as WITNESSES—as PATTERNS as AssociIt must. And there are two things I wish ATES.-As friends, from whom we were seyou to learn with regard to this grace. parated by the Fall-as attendants, whose

The one is, the necessity, the absolute ne- care is to follow us through life-as witnesses, cessity of it. Without this you can do no- whose observation we are to reverence-29 thing, suffer nothing as you ought.

patterns, whose example we are to imitatem The other is, the sufficiency of it for every as associates, with whom we are to blend our purpose in the divine life. It is shameful to future being, and from whom we shall derive hear Christians talking as if their duties no inconsiderable portion of our happiness. were impracticable, or their crosses intolera- I. WE ARE TO THEM AS FRIENDS, from ble. It is disgraceful to hear them excusing whom we have been separated by the Fall. their improper carriage in affliction on the Men and angels, in their original creation, ground of weakness; 0! who could help it; formed but one family; and though they difit was so trying! What do you mean by fered in nature and in residence, they had weakness? Your own strength separate from one father, and there would have been a free the succours of the Gospel ? Of this you can- and pleasing intercourse between them. But not have too deep a sense. But are you not sin destroyed the harmony of the world. Sin a Christian ? Are you not in union with one disunited heaven and earth. Sin separated who says, “My grace is sufficient for thee?" not only between God and men, but between Are you ever required to be strong" in your-angels and men. When man revolted from selves? No—but “in the grace there is in his lawful Sovereign, they remained in their Christ Jesus." And “in him all fulness allegiance: and as sin rendered God our enedwells." View, therefore, your difficulties my, so it rendered angels our enemies too. in connexion with your supplies. View his Accordingly we read of their being the execommands in connexion with his promises, cutioners of the Divine vengeance. As soon and courageously face all-saying with Paul; as Adam and Eve were expelled from Para“ I know both how to be abased, and I know dise, an angel rushed to the gate with a flahow to abound: every where and in all ming sword, to keep the way to the tree of things I am instructed both to be full and to life. An angel of the Lord smote all the be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. first-born in Egypt. An angel of the Lord, to I can do all things through Christ which punish David for numbering the people, goes strengtheneth me."

from Dan to Beer-sheba, and seven hundred thousand victims seal his angry commission.

An angel of the Lord in one night enters the DISCOURSE LXIX. camp of Sennacherib, and destroys one hun

dred and eighty-five thousand men. An an

gel of the Lord smote Herod, that he died. THE CONNEXION BETWEEN CHRIS. We pretend not to understand the prophecies TIANS AND ANGELS.

in the book of the Revelation, but it is cerWe are come to an innumerable company of

tain, that when the nations are angry, the Angela.--Heb. xii. 22.

| angels are to pour out the vials of the wrath

of Almighty God upon the earth. And per. How numerous, how various are our obli- haps, says a judicious expositor, if an inspired gations to the Scriptures of truth! How they history of our own eventful times were write

ten, the defeat of many a haughty worm of her who bare him; and how long is it be would be traced up to such an awful agency. fore he can estimate his obligations to a -Hence, when they have appeared to man, mother's vigilance! She can afterwards inthey have been objects of terror.

form him how she denied, and exposed here But in consequence of the mediation of our self for his sake; how she watched over him Lord and Saviour, the breach is healed. We by day and by, night; fled with him to a are reconciled not only to God, but to the an- | purer air, or snatched him from a burning gels. It is the meaning of the Apostle, when couch: but he was not sensible of it at the he says, “Having made peace through the time. And should he happen to be blind, blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all how much would be done for him all through things unto himself; by him, I say, whether life, which, though he would enjoy in the efthey be things in earth, or things in heaven. fects, he could never see. If we had organs That in the dispensation of the fulness of of perception adapted to the spiritual world, times he might gather together in one all what striking scenes should we constantly things in Christ, both which are in heaven, witness! But our incapacity does not render and which are on earth; even in him.” So them less true. The king of Syria had sent that the angels now view us again with de- an army to Dothan to secure Elisha. And light. They call themselves our fellow-ser- when the servant of the man of God was vants, our fellow-worshippers, our brethren. risen early, and had gone forth, behold, an Men and angels form again one family: they host compassed the city, both with horses remained in their original state ; we are re- and chariots. He therefore cried out, “ Alas, stored to it; and such is the disposition of my master, what shall we do?" He saw the those celestial beings, that they do not repine, danger; this was material. But Elisha knew like the elder brother, at the return of the the defence was as real as it was invisible. prodigal, but rejoice to welcome the younger" Fear not,” says he, “ for they that be with branches of the family home; “There is joy | us are more than they that be with them." in the presence of the angels of God over Where? says the servant. “And Elisha one sinner that repenteth.”

prayed, and said, Lord, open, I pray thee, his II. WE ARE COME TO THEM AS ATTEND- eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened ANTS, whose care is to follow us through the eyes of the young man; and he saw: life. The alarm that some religious people and, behold, the mountain was full of horses have taken at this doctrine, as if it interfered and chariots of fire round about Elisha." with the glory of God in their preservation, Thus the believer is safe in the midst of is absurd. God is the author of all good. He danger, “ kept by the power of God through is the guide, the guard, the strength, the faith unto salvation." And though he may consolation of his people: but does this im- be despised, and overlooked by his fellowply that he does not employ means in doing men because he is poor and needy, yet has them good? And may we not in this case he more glorious attendance than any wordly argue from analogy? He “spreads a table monarch. God's noblest creatures are his before us in the wilderness," but not imme- children's servants. "Such honour have all diately. He commands his sun to shine, and the saints." his rain to descend; yea, he requires our own The Scripture is express upon this subexertions to prepare the supplies of natureject. An angel fed Elijah under the juniper for our use. He employs us to aid each other. tree. An angel brought to Daniel an exWe are at once the subjects and the instru- planation of prophecy. An angel of the Lord ments of his goodness; he gives, and we dif- released Peter from prison; and comforted fuse. Have you never been in sickness; Paul in the storm. Angels carried the soul never laid on a bed of languishing? And has of Lazarus into Abraham's bosom. “ The no friend by sympathy, by kindness, by at- angel of the Lord encampeth round about tention, reminded you of the promise"I them that fear him, and delivereth them. will strengthen him upon the bed of lan- For he shall give his angels charge over guishing: I will make all his bed in his sick-thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They ness?" Thus too he makes use of ministers shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou to “turn us from darkness to light;" to be dash thy foot against a stone. Take heed “helpers of joy; to comfort us concering our that ye despise not one of these little ones : faith.” Why then should it be deemed a for I say unto you, that in heaven their anthing absurd, or incredible, that God should gels do always behold the face of my Father employ the ministrations of angels for the which is in heaven. Are they not all miniswelfare of his people?

tering spirits, sent forth to minister for them Neither is it an argument against this doc- who shall be heirs of salvation ?" trine, that the proofs of it fall under the ob- III. WE ARE COME TO THEM AS WITNESSservation of our senses. We walk by faith, Es, whose observation we are to reverence. and not by sight. How many things do we. It would be well for us to remember that admit as real, that are not visible! How lit- we are always in sight. The eyes of our tle is the babe aware of the fond attentions fellow-creatures are often upon us; and if they were always upon us, they would re- I would none of our counsel, they despised all strain us from a thousand sins. But invisible our reproof." beings always behold us." No consideration I see children brought forward as witnesses indeed is like the omniscience of God; “ Thou against their parents. Oh! how dreadful to God seest me!” We should, therefore, " set hear them say, “ You taught us to swear, but the Lord always before us.” But motives do not to pray. You led us into the dissipations not always impress according to their real of the world, but you never fixed in our importance. We are like children, upon minds the principles of the Gospel. In your whom various motives operate, according to lives we saw nothing but instances of levity, their age and disposition: the thought, there-inconsistency, irreligion. Unnatural monfore, that we are come to an innumerable sters, to bring us into existence, and leave us company of angels, may strike us even more exposed to eternal ruin !"—Thus children than a sublimer consideration. Now this is shall rise up against their parents, and cause the fact.

them to be put to death. We are a spectacle to angels as well as to But angels will be some of the principal men. The Apostle enforces a proper beha- witnesses, in that great and terrible day of the viour in religious assemblies, “because of the Lord. They have inspected you perfectly. angels." And charges Timothy not only They can distinguish between the circum“ before God, but his elect angels."

stances which confound us. There are cases The angels are our observers, and what in which two guilty individuals are implithey witness they will be called upon here- cated. They accuse each other; and no huafter to report. For the proceedings of the man being was privy to their wickedness great day will be judicial; we must "give But angels saw Abel and Cain when they an account of the deeds done in the body, were alone together in the field. They can whether they be good, or whether they be decide in an intrigue, who was the seducer, evil;" and we read that the books will be and who the seduced. What a world of priopened, and witnesses called to depose. You vate wickedness will they develope! despise my teaching, said our Saviour to the IV. WE ARE COME TO THEM AS PATTERNS, Jews, but you shall hear of it again. “The whose example we are to imitate. To these men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with models our Saviour himself leads us in the this generation, and shall condemn it: de- form of devotion he gave to his disciples : in cause they repented at the preaching of Jo- which he teaches us to pray, “Thy will be nas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. done on earth as it is done in heaven." And The queen of the south shall rise up in the even now, this prayer is accomplished. Ben judgment with this generation, and shall con-tween believers and angels there is a resemdemn it: for she came from the uttermost blance, though not an equality. Wherein parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solo | does it appear? mon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is It appears in the nature of their obedience. here.” And thus will it be with others. We are told that the angels, however great,

I see hearers brought forward as evidence find it their privilege to serve. Though they against their ministers—“ You never warned "excel in strength, they do his commandus to flee from the wrath to come. You ments, hearkening unto the voice of his word." never convinced us of the depravity of our And their obedience is ready, without delay; nature, and our need of the washing of re- cheerful, without reluctance; constant, with generation, and the renewing of the Holy out intermission ; and impartial, without Ghost.' You made lies our refuge, and lulled choice. The reason is, they love God, and it us to sleep on the brink of ruin. Cursed is his will alone they regard; whether, there watchman, you gave us no warning till it fore, he calls them to come, or orders them to was too late. Cursed physician, you withheld go; whether he requires them to ascend, or the only remedy; you administered poison !" descend; they are equally satisfied, as they

I see ministers brought forward as evidence have equally an opportunity of showing their against their hearers. “ Lord, I addressed submission to him. And whatever low idea them from sabbath to sabbath, with affection you may form of a Christian, such is, and and fidelity. I thundered the terrors of the such must be, his leading desire; and his preLaw, and whispered the promises of the Gos- vailing endeavour. . pel. I am clear from their blood. I warned It appears in their union. These beings and I wooed them, but they would not hear.” have various degrees among them. We read

I see parents brought forward as witnesses of “angels and archangels; of thrones and against children. Ah, cruel, but necessary dominions; principalities and powers. Yet task! “Lord, we established thy worship in these produce no contempt, no envy, no eagerour family. We led them early to know the ness to dictate, no backwardness to co-operate. Scriptures. We often prayed for them, and They perfectly harmonize. They have but with them. We bedewed them with our one spirit, one wish. The Scripture repretears. We set forth the blessedness of thy sents them as uniting their voices, and anways, and rendered religion lovely. But they swering to each other in their sacred songs.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »