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improvement of your understanding the cor-| loved of Jesus no friend to attract the sam rection of your tempers——the formation of viour's regards-no protector to stand in the your habits—the enlargement of your capacity breach and keep back invading judgments to serve God and your generation-and, above no intercessor to draw down the blessing of all, diligence in “working out your salvation Heaven-no good example to reprove, encouwith fear and trembling."
rage, stimulate. What does an angel think And, O thou God of all grace, hear our when he passes by such an irreligious dwellprayer! “Let thy work appear unto thy ser- ing! vants, and thy glory unto their children, and It is a mercy to find even one pious indivilet the beauty of the Lord our God be upon dual in a house. And whoever that distinus: and establish thou the work of our hands guished character be, I would say to him, upon us; yea, the work of our hands esta- Be thankful; be circumspect; remember, eveblish thou it: that our sons may be as plants ry eye observes you, and every tongue is askgrown up in their youth, and our daughters ing, "what do ye more than others ?” Labour as corner-stones, polished after the similitude to be the happy instrument of the conversion of a palace." Amen.
of the rest. Render your religion amiable: “whatsoever things are lovely, and of good report, think on these things. For what know
est thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy DISCOURSE VIII. husband ? or how knowest thou, O man, whe.
ther thou shalt save thy wife?" But how hap
py is that family " where two or three can THE HAPPY FAMILY. gather together in his Name," and know that
he is “in the midst of them;" where the Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and whola nam
whole number “are of one heart and of one Lazarus.—John xi. 5.
soul;" where all are connected together by THE Scripture is not filled with the crea-claims more endearing than those of nature tions of worlds, the revolutions of empires, -by ties which death cannot dissolve, nor the palaces of kings, the intrigues of politi- eternity impair! And such was this family. cians, the exploits of heroes. In perusing it, But though these three were all beloved we are often led into common and private of our Lord, they appear to have differed from life; and are called upon largely to observe each other very considerably. Of Lazarus inindividuals who made no splendid figure in deed much is not said. He seems to have the eyes of mankind. But a character may been a serious, solid, established professor of be important and interesting without secular religion. But the two sisters are more stronghonours. He that is born of God is truly ly marked; more minutely characterized. great, and he that is beloved of the Saviour Mary, it is probable, had been lately called. is truly happy. Many persons of distinction She was full of those pleasing, but often tranwho once lived in Judea are now forgotten; sient emotions which generally accompany their names, their places of abode, their con- the beginning of the Christian life. Wondernexions, have all perished from the earth; buting at the gracious words which proceeded there is one family transmitted down to our out of his mouth, “she sat at the feet of Je own times with peculiar marks of regard, and sus." Of a devotional taste, a contemplative which will be had “in everlasting remem- turn of mind, she was disposed to give more brance." It resided at Bethany, and consisted time and attention to her favourite exercises, of a brother and two sisters. These three than perhaps prudence would justify. The happy individuals lived together in harmony reverse of this was the defect of Martha. She and in piety-and what crowned the whole was anxious, and eager. She was susceptible was this Now Jesus loved Martha, and of domestic vanity; and therefore too fond of her sister, and Lazarus." Let us consider- parade and expensive entertainment-"cumTHE OBJECTS of this love-THE NATURE of bered about much serving.” She was also it-and THE MANNER in which it was Ex- fretful, and by the loss of temper betrayed PRESSED.
into such indiscretion as to break in upon our I. The OBJECTS of this love were Martha, Lord's discourse, and petulantly to require and her sister, and Lazaras.
him to send Mary to her assistance, and thus It is worthy of our observation, that several drew upon herself the rebuke of the Saviour: of our Lord's immediate followers were re- “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and trou. lated to each other. Peter and Andrew were bled about many things : but one thing is brothers; John and James were brothers; so needful: and Mary hath chosen that good also were James and Jade. The ruler whose part which shall not be taken away from her." son our Lord cured, " believed, and his whole But our Lord loved Martha as well as Mary. house.” And here our Saviour had three dis- He knew her frame; he saw kindness reignciples in one dwelling, when perhaps the ed in her heart, and that she was no less at. whole village scarcely produced a fourth. tached to him than her sister, though she had
I pity the family where there is no one be- ! mistaken the best way of showing her esteem.
And hence we should do well to observe two congeniality peculiar to certain dispositions, things.
by which they immediately attract each other First. That the real followers of Jesus may and unite. Though the humanity of our Lord have their peculiarities, their mistakes, their was real, it was also sinless; and, as his mind imperfections. Christians are new creatures. was perfectly free from every improper bias, They really differ from others, and the gene-doubtless nothing engaged the preference of ral tenour of their lives shows that they have his regard but what was virtuous and of good not received the spirit of the world, but the report. The vicious, the sceptical, the worldSpirit which is of God.” But they feel in-ly-minded, we may be assured, had no charms firmities; and too frequently give proof to for him, whatever were their accomplishments. those around them that they are renewed but There is one thing we may learn from this in part. We do not mean to plead for sin ; part of his example it is, to justify the par. but it is obvious from the history of the first tiality of friendship. He would not have us disciples of our Lord and Saviour, that while to shut up our bowels of compassion against the grace of God has a holy influence, it sel any of our fellow-creatures; for we are to do dom if ever changes the constitutional com- good as we have opportunity unto all men; plexion; and that while it sanctifies the pow. but he teaches us by his own practice, that ers of human nature, it does not give us new we are not bound to take every one into our ones. It renders the possessor open to convic-bosom. We are at liberty to choose and setion, and makes him willing to retract what lect. Our Lord regarded all the Apostles; he has done amiss; but it does not lay him but John is called “the disciple whom Jesus under an impossibility of doing wrong. Hence loved." He was kind to all his followers; but a diversity of character in the Church of God. it is said, “now Jesus loved Martha, and her Hence a variety of degrees in the spiritual sister, and Lazarus." But to “know Christ life. Hence blemishes mixed with excel. after the flesh," and to enjoy his peculiar aflences, and defects rendered the more observ- fection under the advantage of his human naable by the neighbourhood of some very ture, was a privilege confined to few. . praiseworthy qualities in the same individual. There is therefore, secondly, another sense And hence, while religion appears to be di- in which he loved Martha, and Mary, and vine in its origin and its tendency, we can Lazarus, and in which also he has loved us. easily discern that it is human in its residence It is, with the divine love of a Saviour; a love and its exercise.
which existed long before we had a being; a Secondly. We should learn to esteem and love which sprang from no excellency in us, value imperfect goodness. Yea, an old divine but was entirely self-derived; a love not only goes further, and says, “ We should love one the most undeserved, but the most costly and another, not as saints but as sinners." Not powerful. It led him to undertake our cause, that we are to love sin, or cease to reprove to assume our nature, to suffer and die for it. This is not his meaning: but he would us. “He bare our sins in his own body on intimate, that we are to be tender and piti- the tree, that we being dead to sin, might ful; that we are to consider ourselves, lest we live unto righteousness: by whose stripes we also be tempted; that we are not to be indis-are healed. Greater love hath no man than criminate in our censures, but to praise as far this, that a man lay down his life for his as we can; and that the strong are to bear friends:" but he has discovered a greater: be the infirmities of the weak, and not please laid down his life for enemies; he “died for themselves. “For who hath despised the day the ungodly: while we were yet sinners, of small things?" Behold “the Shepherd of Christ died for us." The same love gave us Israel! he gathers the lambs with his arm, the Gospel, called us by his grace, and parand carries them in his bosom, and gently doned all our sins, for his name's sake. And leads those that are with young." Behold the same love will perform all our reasonable “the Lord mighty in battle! a bruised reed desires; make “all things work together for shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he our good;" and “ keep us by his power, not quench, till he send forth judgment unto through faith, unto salvation, ready to be revictory.” Behold the sufferer in the garden vealed in the last time.” But this leads us of Gethsemane! he compassionately apolo- III. To observe the manner in which he gizes for the infirmities of his followers: expressed his love to these three favoured in“What! could ye not watch with me one dividuals. Every thing is not recorded; but hour? the spirit indeed is willing, but the several circumstances are noticed, which will flesh is weak." "Be ye followers of him as prove instructive and useful. dear children." Remember, “ he loved Mar- First. He visited them. This interview tha, as well as Mary and Lazarus.”
was doubtless often refreshing to our Lord But II. How did he love them? I answer himself. While “foxes had holes, and the as a FRIEND-and as a SAVIOUR.
birds of the air had nests, the Son of man had First. Love is a passion of human nature. not where to lay his head;" he had no house It shone forth in our Saviour with peculiar nor room of his own: and we have reason to partiality. This is to be accounted for in the I believe, that sometimes at least, after preaching much, and journeying far, he was desti- | and scourgeth every son whom he receivtute of accommodations. Once we read that eth." “ he went up into a mountain, and continued But, Thirdly. His love suffered him in there all night in prayer to God.” In another their distress to treat them with apparent instance, we find him so wearied as to be neglect. As soon as Lazarus was seized, able “ to sleep in the hinder part” of a fishing “his sisters sent unto him, saying, Jord, bevessel, “ even in a storm!” But some knew hold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” Yet, inhis value, and ministered to him of their sub- stead of sending an answer, or repairing instance. At the house of Martha he was al- stantly to Bethany, it is said, “ when he heard ways welcome. And we may be assured, that therefore that he was sick, he abode two days he was a guest that always paid for his en- still in the same place where he was.” And tertainment. He honoured them, more than before he sets off, Lazarus is dead! A friend they could favour him. Who can imagine the is born for adversity; then we peculiarly need kappiness of Lazarus and his sisters when his presence, his assistance, his counsel, his they received the Lord of life and glory un- sympathy: and Jesus was their friend. How der their roof! Oh! to have heard him bless then is this indifference to be accounted for? the food-to have heard him perform family It was not indifference. So indeed it appearworship-to have heard him discourse! He ed to Martha and Mary; and no doubt it was was “ fairer than the children of men; grace very discouraging and perplexing; it gave was poured into his lips. Never man spake rise to many unkind thoughts—“What can like this man." With what joy would Mar- be the reason of this! surely he has relinquishtha and her sister, and Lazarus think of such ed his regard; we have presumed too much visits in prospect! how long would they fur- upon his friendship."-But he was not indifnish matter for conversation and remark af- ferent. He was only “waiting to be graterwards! How unwilling would they be to cious." His delay was no refusal. Every lose him! how earnestly would they press his thing is beautiful in its season. He knew stay!--Though removed from this world, as that "his time was not yet come.” Our exto his bodily presence, he will be with his tremity is his opportunity. No! He indifferpeople essentially, spiritually, peculiarly, to ent to their case! all the time he was thinkthe end of time. He visits them now. He ing of them, and caring for them. He enterthat hath my commandments, and keepeth ed into all their feelings, and, them, he it is that loveth me: and he that Fourthly, said to his disciples, “Our friend loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I Lazarus sleepeth ; but I go, that I may awake will love him, and will manifest myself to him out of sleep. Let us go unto him." Behim." Say not, “ Lord, how is it that thou fore he approaches the bereaved house he wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto comes to the grave—“Then, when Mary was the world ?" Judas—not Iscariot-once ask- come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell ed him this question: and “ he answered and down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if said unto him, if a man love me he will keep thou hadst been here, my brother had not my words, and my Father will love him, and died. When Jesus therefore saw her weep we will come unto him, and make our abode ing, and the Jews also weeping which came with him."
with her, he groaned in spirit, and was Secondly. His love admitted of their suf- troubled, and said, where have ye laid him? fering affliction. Disease invades the family They say unto him, Lord, come, and see. -“ Lazarus is sick." The sickness of the Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold brother is the distress of the sisters; they are how he loved him! And some of them said, filled with anguish, anxiety, and alarm. His Could not this man, which opened the eyes love could have hindered all this; and proba- of the blind, have caused that even this man bly we should have thought that it would should not have died ?" Again he groaned have done it—"Surely he will exempt friends in himself. At length, giving way to his he so highly regards from every thing trying compassion, he produced an undeniable proof and disagreeable." But his thoughts are not of his affection, as well as of his power as our thoughts, neither are his ways as our " Lazarus, come forth!"—And he walks home ways. His love is wise; it seeks our ever- between his sisters, who were filled with lasting welfare; it does not take pleasure in joy and gratitude. Thus all was overruled, our pain, but it does in our profit: and though not only for the glory of God, but for the good "no chastening for the present seemeth to be of Lazarus, the good of his sisters, the good joyous, but grievous, nevertheless, afterward of the disciples, the good of many, who, in it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness consequence of the miracle, believed. And unto them that are exercised thereby." Youthus we learn that he can do us and our conmay therefore share in his affection and be nexions much more service by the permission severely tried, relatively or in your own per- and continuance of our trials, than by preBons. A Lazarus beloved of Jesus sickens and venting, or immediately removing them. He dies, “ As many as I love, I rebuke and chas. “ does all things well. His work is perfect, ten. Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, I his ways are judgment.”
Let us then, satisfied that he has our wel. | than after we have long gone astray, and last fare in view, leave the means by which it is much of our time and strength for the jourto be promoted to himself. Let us ascertain ney. If invaluable privileges attend religion, an interest in his love, and say, “Behold, the sooner they are embraced, the more adhere I am; let him do to me as seemeth good vantage shall we derive from them. The to him."
Saviour is peculiarly pleased with your early Ah! some of you are ready to exclaim, devotedness to him. He considers himself This is what above all things I want to deter- more honoured by these voluntary offerings mine. Happy Martha, and Mary, and Laza- of the first-fruits, than by the constrained rus! Jesus loved you !-Oh that he loved me. services of worn-out age: and “them that This would be the cordial of atfiction, and honour him, he will honour." In every futhe cousolation of death. Loved of him, Iture period of life, in every distress, in every could bear reproach; I could endure all things. danger, in the hour of death, and in the day A fellow-creature may love me, and be un- of judgment, he will say—“I remember thee, able in a thousand cases to succour me; but the kindness of thy youth." his love passeth knowledge, and is attended by the exercise of infinite perfections. There is no enemy which he cannot conquer, no
DISCOURSE IX. wound which he cannot heal, no hope which he cannot realize. “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation." Does he love me? Can THE SIGHT OF CHRISTIAN FRIENDS I know this? Yes; and the case is more
ENLIVENING. easily decided than you imagine. The very solicitude you express shows that your indif
| And from thence, when the brethren heard of ference towards him is destroyed. And he
us, they came to meet us as far as Appia has said, “I love them that love me, and they
forum, and the threc taverns : whom, when
Paul saw, he thanked God, and took couthat seek me early shall find me." “ I love them that love me." —And do you |
rage.--Acts xxviii. 15. not love him? Do you not esteem him above
The case was this. From the malice of all, for the excellences of his nature and the his countrymen, Paul had “appealed unto blessings of his goodness? Do you not most | Cæsar.",
most Cesar.” He was therefore under the neearnestly implore his favour, his image, his cessity of going to Rome. In his voyage he presence? Are you not willing to live at his was shipwrecked on the island of Melita, now disposal: to obey him: to ask daily, “ Lord, called Malta, and which has been of late, as what wilt thou have me to do?" "Now, if well as in earlier times, so famous. After you love him, be assured that he loves you. continuing there three months, he renewed But, o blessed Saviour, what a difference. This voyage, landed at Puteoli, not far from what a disproportion is there between our
Naples, and went towards Rome. At Rome love and thine!
there were brethren; and when they heard
of his approach, they went down to “meet "Our love ao faint, so cold to thee, And thine to us so great.
him as far as Appii forum, and the three
taverns." This did them honour; it marked " Come, holy Spirit, heavenly dove, With all thy quick'ning pow'rs;
their zeal and their kindness. But observe Come, shed abroad a Saviour's love,
the effect of the interview on the mind of the And that shall kindle ours."
Apostle, Whom, when Paul saw, he thank" And they that seek me early shall finded God, and took courage.” me.” For there are some who cannot say, This teaches us, First, THAT CHARACTERS with confidence, “ I do love him." But their THE MOST DISTINGUISHED IN THE CHURCH OF “ desire is to the Lord, and to the remem-GOD, MAY SOMETIMES NEED ENCOURAGEMENT. brance of his name.” They mourn for sin. What made the Apostle now droop, we canThey hunger and thirst after righteousness. not determine. Perhaps he had heard what They go on praying_." Oh that I may win a tiger Nero had lately become; perhaps he Christ!" These are earnestly seeking him; began to feel some melancholy thoughts reand they shall find him-find him as “the specting the result of his trial. To appear pearl of great price"-find him to pardon, and before the emperor of the world, in the presanctify, and keep-find him here in all the sence of a thousand spectators, was enough supplies of grace, and hereafter in all the to make nature shudder--and there is nature treasures of glory.
as well as grace, and there are animal spirits But, 0 ye young! the promise has the as well as religious principles, in the best. most favourable reference to you. You can | Whatever was the cause, it seems the seek him early; not only, as it implies, Apostle was now depressed and desponding earnestly, but, as it more naturally means, -even he, who, in his epistle to the Romans, betimes. And though all who seek him could say, “if God be for us, who can be shall find, you shall find him peculiarly. It against us? nay, in all these things we are is better to have a guide at the beginning, more than conquerors, through him that
THE SIGHT OF CHRISTIAN FRIENDS ENLIVENING. 37 loved us"-even he discovers a dejection of Christian friend-one who will counsel us in mind, and a failure of courage.
our doubts, comfort us in our sorrows, animate People often imagine that the saints re-us by his example, and encourage us by his corded in the Scripture, were a race of men confidence! entirely different from modern Christians. How pleasing is it, when traveling to This is a mistake. Even they found them- heaven, to overtake those who will be “our selves in an enemy's country; they travelled companions in tribulation, and in the kingdom also through a vale of tears, pierced with and patience of Jesus Christ !” How overthorns and briers—without were fightings, joyed is a Christian to find some followers and within were fears. Our case therefore of the Lamb, when he has entered a town or is not peculiar-we neither sigh nor tremble a village; saying, with Abraham, “Surely alone.' Where are the hands which never the fear of God is in this place !" It has hang down, the knees which never become enlivened him, and he has exclaimed, “Well, feeble? Zion said, “The Lord hath forsaken there are more that love and serve my Lord me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.” Asaph and Saviour than I imagined.” What a glow said, “My soul refused to be comforted : 1 of satisfaction does a man, called by Divine remembered God and was troubled; I com- grace, diffuse in a church when he enters to plained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.” ask for communion and fellowship with them David said, “My soul cleaveth to the dust." They that fear thee will be glad when And Paul exclaimed, “O wretched man that they see me, because I have hoped in thy I am! who shall deliver me from the body of word.” How desirable is the Lord's day, and this death ?” If such was the experience of the Lord's house, in which we see so many characters so pre-eminent, what wonder that of our brethren! we are liable to the same exercises ? Secondly. LET US OBSERVE THE BENEFIT
" Lord how delightful 'tis to see
A whole assembly worship Thee! THAT IS TO BE DERIVED FROM INTERCOURSE |
At once they sing, at once they pray; WITH CHRISTIAN FRIENDS. When Paul saw
They hear of heaven and learn the way!" these brethren, he was inspired with new life; he dropped his melancholy gloom, and How charming will heaven be, where we marched forward with confidence and joy shall see “a multitude which no man can He “ took courage.” “Ointment and per- number, of all nations, and kindreds, and fume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness people, and tongues, standing, before the of a man's friend by hearty counsel. Iron throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with sharpeneth iron: so a man sharpeneth the white robes, and palms in their hands!" countenance of his friend.”
Thirdly. Let us remark, THAT WE MAY In no condition is it “good for man to be BE EDIFIED BY THOSE WHO ARE BELOW US IN alone.” Religion, instead of destroying the STATION, IN TALENTS AND IN GRACE. Thus social principle, refines and strengthens it. these private Christians helped an inspired Our Saviour has promised, that “where two Apostle="When he saw them, he thanked or three are gathered together in his name, God and took courage.” Apollos was an elo he will be in the midst of them." To cheer quent man, and mighty in the Scriptures; and animate each other, “he sent forth his but he was “ taught the way of the Lord disciples two and two before his face.” “Two more perfectly," by two of his hearers, Prisare better than one; for if they fall, the one cilla and Aquila. Naaman the Syrian was a will lift up his fellow: but wo to him that mighty man; but he was indebted for his cure is alone when he falleth; for he hath not to a little maid. “She had been taken captive another to help him up."
in war, and waited upon Naaman's wife, and Have you ever been in distress? Howshe said unto her mistress, would God my soothing was the presence of a tender and a Lord were with the prophet that is in Samapious friend ! Such a person was “a minis-ria! for he would recover him of his leprosy." tering spirit”—an expositor of the promise: "The king is served by the labour of the « The Lord will strengthen him upon the field.” bed of languishing; thou wilt make all his Let us learn then that there is no such bed in his sickness." Have you ever been thing as independence—that there is a conin spiritual darkness and perplexity ?—you nexion among men which embraces all ranks sighed, “No one was ever like me!" But a and degrees and a dependence founded upon Christian related his experience, and an- it; so that no being is above the want of asnounced the same feelings, and you were set sistance, and no being is useless or unimporto at liberty. Or have you in a scorching day ant. It is in the world, and it is in the been ready to perish for thirst? Like another Church, as it is in the human frame. “God angel, in the case of Hagar, “he opened your hath set the members every one of them in eyes, and showed you a well" —And you the body, as it hath pleased him-and the eye “went on your way rejoicing." God of all cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of grace! whatever thou art pleased to deny us thee; nor again, the head to the feet, I have while in this world, withhold not from us a no need of you that there should be no