« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified strength." Here is a foundation that will unto me, and I unto the world.”
not give way, a resource that cannot fail. And here we learn what is our duty: it is
not to hesitate, not to wait for fresh evidence DISCOURSE VI.
and assurance-but to believe what God has
spoken, to take him at his word, and to venCONFIDENCE IN GOD COMPOSING ture upon his engagements. In doing this, THE MIND.
we run no manner of risk : his word is called
“the faithful word;" it is said also to be “a Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind tried word, and those who have tried it most. is stayed on thee.--Isaiah xxvi. 3.
have the firmest persuasion of its truth. In many things people differ widely from Now this staying of the mind on God, seeach other, but in one thing they are agreed condly, “ keeps it in peace.” It does this, --they all wish for satisfaction, they all de- not only as it insures the Divine blessing sire inward tranquillity. And indeed what for God will honour them that honour him, is every thing else without this? What is and by nothing is he so much glorified as by ease of circumstances, and even health of our reliance upon him—but also by a natural body, if the mind be perplexed, distracted, influence and tendency. Let us specify a tormented? “ The spirit of a man will sus- few instances in which this confidence trantain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who quillizes the mind. can bear ?":
| This alone can calm the mind when conNow Isaiah tells us how we may obtain vinced of sin, and searching in dreadful disand preserve a blessed composure in a miser-tress for pardon. “We which have believed," able world. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect says the Apostle, “ do enter into rest.” “I peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” These am guilty," cries the awakened sinner; “but words require some explanatory remarks, and my condition is not desperate.” “I wait for will furnish us with some practical reflections. the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word
In explaining these words, it may be neces- do I hope." I hear a voice saying, “Behold sary to inquire,
| the Larnb of God that taketh away the sin of First, What we are to understand by stay- the world.” “The blood of Jesus Christ his ing the mind on God. And to this we an- Son cleanseth us from all sin." Here is swer, that it simply means, relying upon him something to stay the mind upon. He died or trusting in him. Man is an indigent and for the ungodly;" and such am I. Yea more, a dependent creature. He is not equal to his he invites "all that labour and are heavy own happiness; he feels a thousand necessi- laden to come to him," and promises to give ties which he cannot supply from his own them “rest”-and “mine iniquities are a stores; he therefore goes abroad for succour, burden too heavy for me to bear,” and I sigh and looks after something to lean on-and as and groan, “ () wretched man that I am ! the world always stands nearest, upon this he who shall deliver me from the body of this always leans first. And though he finds it to death ?” Sometimes this confidence is very be a “ broken reed,” which disappoints his feeble; it scarcely amounts to a probability hope, and “pierces him through with many it is merely a kind of peradventure—"who sorrows,” he returns to this miserable depend can tell ?"-I may succeed. But even this ence again and again, till Divine grace brings is attended with some effect. Like a twig to him to his proper rest, and enables him to say a sinking man, it serves to keep his head -"Now, Lord, what wait I for ? my hope is above water, until something else can be in thee." And thus are fulfilled the words brought strong enough to help him ashore. of the prophet: “ It shall come to pass in that Or, to vary the image, it will keep him from day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as giving up in despair the use of ineans and of are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no prayer." I will hang upon him till he shakes more again stay upon him that smote them; me off. If he drives me back, it is nothing but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One more than I deserve-but I will not go back. of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, If he is pleased to kill me, I shall have no even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty right to complain-but I will not be my own God."
murderer. If I perish, I perish;' but here Now that which, in these cases, we stay I will die.” In other cases this confidence the mind upon, is the word of God-consisi- rises higher; and however unworthy and ing of information and promises-revealing helpless the man feels himself to be, he is his goodness and his all-sufficiency-offering persuaded that God will receive him gracioushimself as our portion, and even commanding ly, and in due time appear to his joy. In us to depend upon him. Accordingly it is consequence of this, agitation and terror subsaid, “Trust in him at all times; ye people, side, and he “both hopes and quietly waits pour out your hearts before him : God is a re- for the salvation of the Lord.” fuge for us. Trust ye in the Lord for ever, This confidence also calms the mind under for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting delays. To pray, and receive no answer; to stand knocking-not, like other beggars, for to direct his steps." After repeated decepa few moments, but from day to day, and from tions, both on the side of our hopes and fears; week to week, and see no opening this is after many embarrassments into which our truly discouraging and the danger is, lest folly and rashness had plunged us, or to which we should withdraw, saying, with the unbe-| they had exposed us; we begin to say, in lieving nobleman, “Why should I wait for earnest, « The Lord shall choose our inheritthe Lord any longer ?" But she that believ- ance for us. I have now done. Lord, my eth maketh not haste." He will say_God heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty ; is a sovereign, I have no claims upon him-a neither do I exercise myself in great matters, delay is no refusal—perhaps he has answered or in things too high for me. Surely I have me already, and I have a substitute for the behaved and quieted myself as a child that is blessing implored-however this inay be, of weaned of his mother; my soul is even as a one thing I am certain, I must succeed at last: weaned child.” “ He never said to the seed of Jacob, seek ye. But the peace that flows from this trust in me, in vain."—Hence springs " the patience God is, thirdly, said to be perfect. It is not of hope."
indeed absolutely so, as if it were incapable This confidence composes the mind in the of addition-but it is so, first, comparatively. events of life and this is the thing princi- What is every other peace to this? What pally intended. We live in a world of changes is the delusion of the Pharisee, the stupidity and uncertainties. Disorder and confusion and carelessness of the sinner, the corn and seem everywhere to reign. Vice is often wine of the worldling-what is every thing triumphant, and virtue oppressed. And with else, compared with this peace? What can regard to ourselves, our wisest schemes are be so desirable, so excellent? It is “a confrequently thwarted, our fairest hopes de- tinual feast." stroyed, our choicest comforts laid waste. It is so, secondly, In relation to this confiThus we are liable to be perpetually ruffled Jdence. It is true, this peace rises and falls, but and dismayed; and there is only one princi- it is only because this confidence varies. All ple that can sustain and solace the mind-it the disquietudes which a Christian feels, is, holy confidence in God. Nothing occurs spring from the weakness or the want of by chance-God governs the world—if we faith in God. It is not from outward things. could see what God sees, we should do pre- These are often blamed, and these may be cisely what God does his people are his care very trying-but it is not the water without
-nothing can essentially injure them-yea, the vessel that sinks it, but that which gets in. “all things are working together for their The primitive Christians could say, “We are good." These are reasons for repose. Here troubled on every side, yet not distressed; the mind fixes, and feels peace: the peace of a sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing.” It is very child, who has only to mind his book; the possible therefore to have this peace within, Father will manage and provide: the peace while in the world we have tribulation; and of a traveller, who has one with him to order Christians are so accessible to fear, so preyed all the journey, and to bear all the expense. upon by anxiety, so depressed by afflictions It is a peace that flows from the absence of of various kinds, because they do not suffianxiety: the believer casts all his care upon ciently rely on God: “If ye will not believe, the Lord, who careth for him; he reclines his surely ye shall not be established.” . It is head on the soft bosom of Providence, and therefore true, that in proportion as the mind falls asleep. This peace peculiarly regards is stayed on God, he keeps it in perfect intricate dispensations; for these are the most peace. apt to perplex and discompose the mind. But Let us apply the passage thus explained to when the mind is stayed on God, the believer some practical purposes. is satisfied and serene, even in darkness. First. How safe and how happy are real Though I know not whither I am going, I believers! The people of the world are exknow with whom-my guide is infallible. I ceedingly mistaken respecting them. They will not "charge him foolishly," but confide imagine their life to be a sad, heavy, gloomy in his skill: “what he does I know not now, I thing; whereas it is the most free, and cheerbut I shall know hereafter.” I see much ful, and placid. While others are struggling wisdom in what is clear, but there is much in their own strength, and managing all their more in what is obscure ; it is the depth that concerns themselves, fretful when they meet makes it profound, and that renders it so diffi- / with untoward events, and always dissatisfied cult to fathom. This tranquillity is com- even when they succeed, the Christian monly preceded by many a struggle with self-“ casts his burden upon the Lord, and he suswill and self-conceit.
tains him.” He leaves his affairs with God, We naturally wish to have things accord and goes on, assured that he will order them ing to our mind, and make various attempts aright. His concern is only to please and to govern our own affairs. But by degrees glorify God in the circumstances in which he we are convinced that “the way of man is is placed; events are the Lord's. “He is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh, I careful for nothing; but in every thing, by
prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, I hold a “cloudy and dark day." The revoluhe makes his requests known unto God; and tions which have taken place, and the general the peace of God, which passeth all under-aspect of things at present, are dreadful to standing, keeps his heart and mind through those who have no God. Olet a sense of Christ Jesus.” “I hope in him for eternall our danger endear the only refuge, and the life, and it would be shameful not to trust in vanity of this world induce us to seek after him for every present supply. “He who the real happiness of another! Let us abanspared not his own Son,' will withhold no don the practice of sin, and no longer “lay up good thing' from me. It is comparatively a for ourselves treasure upon earth,” which matter of little consequence what befalls me only serves to debase the soul and fill it with here; I am only “a stranger and a pilgrim ;' perpetual alarms and let us ask for God my God ruleth over all;' and he has pro-* our Maker, who giveth songs in the night;" mised that he will never leave me nor for- let us depend upon him, cleave to him, live sake me.' "The Lord is my helper; I will in him. not fear.'"
On what else can we rely, that will not, " He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his instead of settling the mind, discompose it heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.”—Tell the more ? Is it Honour? What so precarious him, his substance is destroyed : No, says and variable as the praise of man! Is it afhe, my " inheritance is incorruptible and un-fuence?' “ The rich man's wealth is his defiled, and fadeth not away, reserved in strong city, and as a high wall in his own heaven for me." Tell him such a friend or conceit." But does not every day's observarelation is dead: but, says he, “ The Lord tion, as well as Scripture, cry, “ Trust not in liveth, and blessed be my rock, and let the uncertain riches, but in the living God ?" Is God of my salvation be exalted.” And you it Moral Philosophy; a strength of reasoning? yourself are decaying and dying: Yes, says There are circumstances in which the calmhe, I am sent for, and am going home. With est reflections and the noblest resolutions will regard to public calamities, he feels, and in be only as stubble before the wind. In the some respects he feels more than others. Di- time of trial, all other supports will fail : the vine grace produces sensibility, and excites storm increasing, will drive us from our holda public spirit. He knows the desert of sin, ings: there is only one “anchor of the soul, and the indications of approaching wrath sure and steadfast." It is, a scriptural hope make him shudder: “My Resh trembleth for in God. This will prepare a man for all the fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judg- vicissitudes of time; this will help him to go ments." But, strange as it may appear, there on his way rejoicing through all the troubles is a firmness and a composure of mind blended of life; and this will finally enable him to with all these feelings. He knows that “the look “ the king of terrors" out of countenance, Lord reigneth ;" that he is “doing all things," and to exult with the apostle, “Nay, in all and doing all things “ well;" that whatever these things we are more than conquerors becomes of other empires, the Gospel shall through him that loved us. For I am per. spread, the Church is safe : and these are the suaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, most important interests—these render the nor principalities, nor powers, nor things preworld valuable. He can therefore join with sent, nor things to come, nor height, nor Luther, who said, whenever he heard of any depth, nor any other creature, shall be able alarming intelligence, “Come, let us sing to separate us from the love of God which is the forty-sixth psalm— God is our refuge and in Christ Jesus our Lord." strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be
DISCOURSE VII. carried into the midst of the sea. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God shall help her, and that right early. The
SPRING. Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is
Thou renewest the face of the earth. our refuge. Selah.'"
Psalm civ. 30. Secondly. Let us seek after this blessed condition of the godly. Till the mind be All nature is a book, and the various parts stayed on God, it has no resting-place. It is of it are so many multiplied pages in which union with God that gives the mind solidity. we may read and consider “the wonderful How light is it, detached from God; it is works of God.” The Seasons of the year are blown about easier than the down of a thistle every way interesting. They are necessary in the wind. Out of him, as the sanctuary for the production of our food, and the preof the soul, every storm annoys, every trifle servation of our health. Their succession disquiets: and "man at his best estate is al- adds to the beauty of creation. Their reyotogether vanity." If any thing could add lutions furnish us with subjects of reflection, force to these reflections, it would be the na- and lessons of importance. ture of the times in which we live. We be-/ The season is arrived in which we behold the renovation of nature. Let us endeavour | leave the works of the Creator to bury themto render it profitable.
selves among those of the creature; and I. David was an attentive observer of the while professing to admire the beautiful and works of creation. Many a fine evening did the marvellous, disregard the wonders that he employ in “ considering the heavens, the are perpetually springing up around them! works of God's finger; the moon and the stars They will go any distance, incur any exwhich he has ordained.” He rose early, and pense, to see a piece of mechanism, sculpbeheld the “sun as a bridegroom coming out ture, painting ; while in their way they pass of his chamber, and rejoicing as a strong man by productions infinitely more curious, and to run a race," He looked abroad in winter, finished. They are struck with a fine robe; and exclaimed, “ He sendeth abroad his ice but never contemplate a lily: and yet “ Solike morsels; who can stand before his cold.” | lomon in all his glory was not arrayed like He rejoiced when more favourable weather one of these." When a man of fame anencouraged him to walk abroad: he observed nounces a design to perform any thing, thou“ the birds building their nests, the springs sands flock around him; while God, working running among the valleys, the grass grow-day by day the most astonishing effects, is ing for the cattle, and herbs for the service unnoticed; and no one is drawn forth to atof man," and, hailing the revival of a faded tend to him, though he has said, “I will that world, lifted up his eyes and said, “ Thou re- men magnify my works which they behold." newest the face of the earth."
II. It becomes us not only to observe naThere are few real lovers of nature; there ture, but to observe it devotionally, and as are few who so behold its scenes as to pause Christians. There is a difference between and admire, till they have imbibed a sympa- viewing and improving these things: there thy with them; till they feel themselves at is a difference between our studying them as home in them; till they are detached from mere admirers and philosophers, and applyevery thing human, and little, and debasing. ing them as men formed by divine grace for Let us go forth into the field to meditate : 1 a life of communion with God. It is the meditation is often better than books. Our command of the Apostle-"Whatsoever ye own thoughts will do us much more good do in word or deed, do all in the name of the than the opinions of others. Wisdom and Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the truth are shy in the world; but here they are Father by him." easily discovered and secured. Danger often See a Christian among the works of naattends our perusal of the works of men; ture. He looks after God in all--for he needs but there is no hazard in pursuing knowledge him in all: and he is enabled to find him. among the works of God. People complain Though familiar with the effect, he does not of the world, and confess whenever they re- disregard the cause. With him, common turn from its companies and diversions, that instrumentality does not conceal divine agen* all is vanity and vexation of spirit"-why cy. He maintains in his mind a connexion will they not come forth, and refresh them- between the author and the work; and the selves here? Why will they not leave the one reminds him of the other. He walks wilderness, and enter this garden of the with him in the ways of his Providence, as Lord ? Here I live in a world of my own- well as in his goings in the sanctuary; adores here I feel my independence and my free-him in the field as well as in the temple; and dom—here I can learn how I have been over- acknowledges him in the ordinary course of come, and where I must place a watch ånd a nature, as well as in the extraordinary disguard-here the good thoughts, which were plays of his power, and wisdom, and goodness. scattered and weak before, are collected into He also makes them images to remind him a powerful motive, and bear down all oppo- of better things. The rising sun brings to sition to duty-what was wavering before, is his thoughts “The Sun of righteousness now decided—what was timid, grows cou- arising with healing under his wings ;” a rageous. When I go into the field, I enter | flowing spring, the influence of the Holy my closet; I shut the door about me; I ad- Ghost; the rain and the dew, the doctrine of mit what company I please ; I exclude the the Gospel. Thus, by a holy chemistry, he vicious who would pollute, and the trifling extracts heaven from earth. who would interrupt; I hear not the folly of From these scenes he also derives motives the vain, or the slander of the malicious- to devotion, and encouragements to confithat world of iniquity which drops from the dence. For instance: does he view a proof tongue; “I pray to my father which is in se- of divine wisdom, he cries, “ how able is cret; mine eye poureth out tears unto God;" this God to teach me, to manage all my conI have an emblem of final repose_ here the cerns-how wonderful in counsel, how exwicked cease from troubling, and here the cellent in working !" Does he contemplate weary are at rest.”
a display of Divine power, “How able is this "God made the country, and man made the town."
God to preserve, sustain, deliver me! Isany
| thing too hard for the Lord ?!” Does he ola Nevertheless, how many are there who serve instances of his bounty, he asks—“ Can
he who hears the ravens that cry,' refuse “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and resupplies to his children ?"
new a right spirit within me." And we read Nor does he partake of the bounties of na- of the "renewing of the Holy Ghost;" and ture like a brute, only concerned to gratify of being renewed in the spirit of our minds." his animal appetite, and entirely regardless Thus “God beautifies the meek with salvaof him from whom every indulgence comes. tion;" and the change in nature is an imperHe receives them from the hand of his hea- fect representation of the change made in the venly Father; he tastes his love in them; he soul by divine grace. This can illuminate cries, " () that men would praise the Lord the darkest understanding, and soften the for his goodness, and for his wonderful works most rebellious will; this can tranquillize the to the children of men! Bless the Lord, O most troubled conscience, and sanctify the my soul-who giveth me all things richly to most depraved affections.--After conversion, enjoy,' and who provides, not only for my re- the people of God may have a winter season : lief, but my delight. I will live to him who their growth may be checked; every thing lives in so many ways for me, and by his may appear to be dead; they may feel the mercies I will present my body a living sa- chilling absence of the “ Sun of righteouscrifice, holy and acceptable unto him, which ness," and sigh, “() when wilt thou come is my reasonable service.'”
unto me?" But when he returns, all revives. IIÍ. Let us observe and adore this wonder- Then the believer is quickened, then he exworking God in renewing the face of the pands, and buds, and brings forth “much earth. How many times has he done this fruit." "He has life, and he has it more since the creation ! He does it every year. abundantly." The change is equally remarkable and pleas- Again. He can renew the body. Has ing. See the winter drawing off his army sickness invaded thy frame-art thou “made of winds, and frosts, and snow, and hail—and to possess months of vanity, and are wearispring succeeding the monarch of desolation. some nights appointed unto thee"-art thou Under his soft and gentle reign, all begins to saying, “my purposes are broken off" — smile: life in a thousand ways breaks forth : “mine eye shall no more see good ?"-Reall is verdure, and fragrance, and beauty; all member, “he killeth and maketh alive ; he is joyous. What variety of colours, what bringeth down to the grave and raiseth up." harmony of sounds! “The valleys stand Every disease is under his control, and thick with rising corn, and the little hills re- goes at his bidding. He can re-colour thy joice on every side,” while a voice from the cheeks, "strengthen thy weak hands, and fields and meadows calls—« Arise, and come confirm thy feeble knees, so that thy youth away; for lo! the winter is past, the rain is shall be renewed like the eagle's." Let the over and gone. The flowers appear on the body die—even then we are not hopeless earth; the time of the singing of birds is he shall renew it. “So is the resurrection come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is our land."
raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, | Let us remember, that he who renews the it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, face of the earth, can renew the Church. it is raised in power; it is sown a natural Think of any particular cause—however de- body, it shall be raised a spiritual body." "Acpressed, he can revive it; however small, he cording to this promise, we look for new heacan increase it. When his influences de vens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth scend, “his word comes down like rain upon righteousness." " And God shall wipe away the mown grass, as showers that water the | all tears from our eyes: and there shall be earth;" and his people are “filled with all no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, the fruits of righteousness”--the congrega- neither shall there be any more pain: for the tion is like a field which the Lord has blessed." former things are passed away." Or think of his cause at large. He can drive To conclude. The Seasons of the year away errors, and superstition, and animosities have often been considered as emblems of hufrom the nations of the globe, and bless the man life.- Youth is the Spring. Yes, my world with the Gospel of peace, and the young friends, yours is the season of which means of salvation-and the wilderness and nature, lovely nature, now reminds us. Think solitary place shall be glad for them; and the of this in all your walks. How pleasing and desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. | how beautiful is Spring ! But how short, how It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even fading! Yet how important! On this all the with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon year depends. If no blossoms now appear, or shall be given unto it, the excellency of Car- | if these blossoms be destroyed, no glory in mel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of summer, no abundance in autumn, no provithe Lord, and the excellency of our God." sion in winter.
He can also renew the soul. The Fall has My young friends, you are now forming reduced our spiritual powers to a state of de- your future destiny, and giving a character to solation the most deplorable. Now when a your future years. O seize these valuable sinner is led to see and feel this, he prays, hours for purposes the most momentous The