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and let me pour into them the delightful And such a union as this is equally pleasmessage" Unto you is born this day, in the ing and profitable. It forms the man, and the city of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Christian. It blends duty and privilege Lord!" He is come to “seek and to save together. It keeps our devotion from growthat which was lost." He is come that you ing up into rank enthusiasm; and our dili"might have life, and that you might have it gence from sinking into the wisdom of the more abundantly." The Sun of righteous- world, which is foolishness with God. ness is arisen with healing under his wings." Let us not imagine that the force of this Exercise faith upon him. him there is example is inapplicable to us. What did our plenteous redemption. He is now asking, Saviour say to his disciples in the garden? Wilt thou be made whole ?"
“ Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptaLet not the nature or the number of your tion"—the very thing here exemplified by transgressions keep you from him. For what Nehemiah and his brethren: "Neverthelees is he come--but to save us from our sins? If we made our prayer unto our God, and set a you do not think yourselves too good, he does watch against them day and night.” Besides, not think you too bad to be saved by him. one of the most common and striking images Throw yourselves at his feet, and say, “O by which the life of the Christian is held Lord, undertake for me—Save me, and I forth is that of a warfare. A warfare we shall be saved; heal me, and I shall be healed; find it to be" without are fightings, and for thou art my praise.'”
within are fears." Like these builders, we Finally. What should be the feelings of also are opposed by various classes of enethose who are already saved by him?
-To mies who labour to hinder our work, and you, all this is more than speculation : it is are always endeavouring to get an advantage experience. You were once “ in the bond- over us. What then can be more reasonable age of corruption;” but “the Son has made than to betake ourselves to Prayer and vigiyou free; and you are free indeed.” Not lance ? that you are freed from all service and obedi- I. Let us MAKE OUR PRAYER TO GOD. On ence-but you now obey and serve a master him let us place our reliance; and bring all whose "yoke is easy, and whose burden is our perplexities, afflictions, and wants, and light.” From such an obligation you do not spread them before his throne. Nothing can wish to be delivered. You can never forget be done without prayer. what great things he has done for you. You Prayer is recommended by God himselfacknowledge his goodness in saving you “Call upon me in the day of trouble, and from indigence, from accidents, from diseases, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify from " wicked and unreasonable men”—but, me.” above all, you bless him for “turning you The very exercise of prayer is useful. It away from your iniquities."
calms the mind; it drives back our fears; it Thus delivered out of the hand of your strengthens the weak hands, and confirms the enemies, see that you "serve him without feeble knees. fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, Prayer-is the forming of a confederacy all the days of your life.” Feel your engage with God, and bringing down the Almiglity ments to him. Let the impressions of grati- to our assistance: and tude become every day more powerful. And “ Satan trembles when he sees to a wondering, or a despising world, say,
The weakest saint upon his knees." with the Apostle, “ The love of Christ con- He knows that he cannot contend with Omstraineth us; because we thus judge, that if nipotence; but he will never be afraid to one died for all, then were all dead: and meet you alone, however you may be armed. that he died for all, that they which live He will never be afraid to engage you in the should not henceforth live unto themselves, field if he can keep you out of the closet. but unto him which died for them, and rose This then is our wisest course, because it is again."
our safest—not to encounter the enemy sin
gle-handed, but when we are in danger of
any sin, feel any rising passion, or perceive DISCOURSE XXIV.
any approaching temptation—to say, “O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. Here
is a foe, and I feel my weakness and my igTHE UNION OF PRAYER AND WATCHFULNESS.
norance-o come to my succour; inspire me
with strength; teach my hands to war, and Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our my fingers to fight. 'O Lord, haste thee to
God, and set a watch against them day and help me!'” night.-Neh. iv. 9.
For let us remember that every thing is In this mode of defence we have an ex- under his control; and according as we please ample worthy of our imitation. It is equally or offend him, according as he interposes in expressive of piety and prudence; of depend our favour or refuses his aid, we fail or prosence upon God, and the use of means. per, “Except the Lord build the house, they
labour in vain that build it. Except the Lord of the power of Divine grace. Let his injury keep the city, the watchman waketh but in prove our security: " Let him that thinketh vain.”
he standeth, take heed, lest he fall." ** Trust Does a nation dispense with God, and place in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not their proud dependence on natural and ac- unto thine own understanding: in all thy quired resources ? He can “ lead away their ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct counsellors spoiled, and make their judges thy paths.” “Let us therefore come boldly fools." He speaks, and the tempest roars- to the throne of grace, that we may obtain and a navy sinks in " the mighty waters.” mercy, and find grace to help in time of He sends sickness; a general is laid by- need." and his absence occasions the destruction of a But what is the dependence upon God whole army, and the devastation of a whole which we recommend ?- It is wise, it is caucountry.
tious, it is active. And if vigilance be noDoes a man in trade dispense with God, thing without prayer, prayer is nothing withand rely upon the wisdom of his own under- out vigilance.We must therefore,. standing, the power of his own arm, or the II. SET A WATCH, BECAUSE OF OUR ENEMIES, claim he has on the friendship of others ?- NIGHT AND DAY. This is not so much attended How easily can God convince him of his de- to as it ought to be. For the help God afpendence upon Providence! He can touch fords is not designed to favour indolence, but an invisible spring, and a thousand occur- to encourage exertion; and in his wisdom he rences are in motion: the man wonders to has connected the means and the end tofind his plans crossed, his hopes disappointed. gether : and therefore to expect the end, withIt matters not what he gets-he gets nothing. out the use of the means, is nothing but pre“Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye sumption. eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but If people would exercise the same common ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, sense in religion which they discover in the but there is none warm; and he that earneth ordinary affairs of life, it would save them wages earneth wages to put into a bag with from a thousand mistakes. Behold the hus holes." Or he may succeed—but his pros-bandman. He knows that God gives the inperity will destroy him. The God he disre- crease—but he also knows how he gives itgards stands by, and as he drinks the poison, and therefore manures, and ploughs, and sous, says, “Let him alone." He would be rich and weeds. His reliance upon God tells him without consulting God—and he is rich that favourable seasons and influences are and falls “ into temptation, and a snare, and necessary, to raise and ripen the corn-but into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which he is never guilty of such folly as to go forth drown men in destruction and perdition.”. at harvest, and expect to reap where he has
Surely a Christian does not think of going not sown. Yet such is the folly of many on without God! Generally and habitually, with regard to religious things. Such is the ne does not. “Without me,” says the Sa- folly of a man who complains he does not viour, “ye can do nothing; and the believer profit by the word—but never tries to imis convinced of this—but not so much as he press his mind with the importance of the ought to be; and sometimes he seems en- duty in which he is going to engage; never tirely to forget the conviction. Let us take hears with attention and application ; never an instance. When our Lord forewarned Pe- retires to review what he has heard, and to ter of his danger, Peter deemed the premoni- make it his own. Does the word of God tion needless—“ Though all men should be operate like a charm, so that it is equally the offended because of thee, yet will I never be same whether a man be awake or asleep? offended; though I should die with thée, yet Such is the folly of a man who complains will I not deny.” And he was sincere. But that his children are not religious, when he though warm, he was not wise. He was not knows that he never trained " them up in the aware of his own weakness. He did not con- way they should go;" never prayed with sider how differently he would feel in new them; never instructed them early in the circumstances; he did not apprehend that a principles of the Gospel; never placed before little curiosity would bring him into com- them a good example in his own temper and pany, and company into danger; and that the life. Such is the folly of those heads of famiimpertinence of a maid-servant would induce lies who complain of servants-not considerhim to "curse and to swear, saying, I know ing that kind affections, expressions, and acnot the man.” Had he prayed where he pre- tions, can only be returned where they are sumed-had he said, “Lord, thou knowest received-that a harsh, unfeeling, tyrannical all things; thou knowest my frame, and re- master; that a haughty, niggardly, scolding memberest that I am dust; I bless thee for mistress—can never be served by cordial atthe merciful caution; hold thou me up and tention, and cheerful obedience. By failing I shall be safe,'"-he would have triumphed in their duty to their dependents, they set where he fell: and have been—not an in- the consciences of their dependents easy in stance of the weakness of human nature, but I the breach of duty to them. A poor man may
talk of casting all his care upon God, and | manner of spirit your are of.” Some are sing Jehovah jireh—“the Lord will provide,” more inclined naturally to sloth ; others, to anas long as he please ; but if he become idle, ger and impatience : some, to pride and vaniwandering about from house to house; if he ty; others, to wantonness and the pleasures omit opportunities of exertion, and lives be- of sense. There is a "sin that most easily yond his income-let such a man remember, besets us;" and this demands our peculiar that he tempts God, but does not trust him— circumspection and care. an inspired Apostle says, “if any man also Thirdly. Observe how you have already will not work, neither shall he eat." God been foiled or ensnared. He who would enknows our dispositions, and hence he is pre- counter an enemy successfully should be inpared to advise us—and he has commanded formed of his mode of fighting; and how is us “not to be unequally yoked together with this to be done but by observation and reflecunbelievers." If we disregard this admoni- tion? “How was such a place taken? How tion, and form irreligious alliances—all the did I lose such a battle? What rendered devotion in the world will never remedy the the last campaign so little efficient !--Let mischief or prevent the misery.
me look back upon my past life; and endeaHe then who, while he lives carelessly and vour to derive wisdom from my old follies, indifferently, hopes to be delivered from evil and strength from my falls. By what secret merely by prayer, is only “sporting himself avenue did sin enter? Have I not been tawith his own deceivings.” He who enjoined ken by surprise, where I deemed myself most prayer, never intended to make it the “sacri- secure? And may not this be the case fice of fools.” Prayer, when unaccompanied again? Are there not some places and comby a corresponding course of action, is tri- panies from which I never returned without fling with God; and prayer, when contra-injury? Shall I turn again to folly? Let dicted by our practice, is insulting God to his painful experience awaken memand keep face.
me awake.", And therefore, not only be prayerful, but Thirdly. Guard against the beginnings "sober and vigilant." And to enable you "to of sin. You should learn, even from an set a watch” successfully-take the following enemy; and take the same course to preserve directions.
yourselves, as the Devil does to destroy you. First. Impress your minds with a sense Now the tempter never begins where he inof your danger. The evil which lurks under tends to leave off. Would he induce a man every temptation is inexpressible. The de- to impurity ? He does not propose the crime sign of it is to make you sin; and to sin, is at once-but prepares for it by degrees, by to debase your nature, to defile your con- the cherishing of loose thoughts, by the inscience, to rob yourselves of peace and repu- dulging of improper familiarities, by the tation, and to destroy "both body and soul in courting of favourable opportunities. If he hell." I know there is a deceitfulness in sin; would produce infidelity—he first reconciles and that the enemy endeavours to represent the youth to read poisonous books, perhaps it as a liberty and pleasure; or, if an evil at for the sake of the style, or some curious all, as a trifling one. But take your estimate subject treated of; he draws him into the of all sin from the Scripture, from the Judge company of those who entertain loose notions himself who is to punish it and you will of religion, and ridicule some of its doctrines find that it is “exceeding sinful”--that its and institutions : from these, he joins the history, like Ezekiel's roll, is written within sceptic; and he prepares him for the scoffer. and without, with lamentation and mourning Guard therefore against the first deviations and wo."
from the paths of righteousness. Crush the Think of this—and common sense being cockatrice in the egg; or it will grow up your counsellor, you will watch; you will be into a frightful serpent. Cut off the shoots willing to make any sacrifices, any efforts, of iniquity; yea, nip the very buds: it will rather than lie down in everlasting shame otherwise " bring forth fruit unto death." and sorrow.
“If I conquer-I gain endless Finally. Avoid the occasions of sin. Nohonour and happiness. If I am overcome-I thing is more dangerous than idleness, or am undone for ever. And, O my soul, is having nothing to do. Our idle days, says there no danger of this? Are there not Henry, are the Devil's busy ones. And, says temptations in every situation? In my busi- another, When the mind is full, temptation ness? In my food? In my dress? Have I cannot enter; but when it is empty and open, not a wise and a powerful adversary, who the enemy can throw in what he pleases. "goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom Stagnant waters breed thousands of noxious he may devour ?" And is there not a subtle insects; but this is not the case with living party within, carrying on a traitorous corres- water. pondence with the world and the devil with- A prudent man looketh well to his going, out?-O my soul, awake, and watch !" and will think it at any time worth while to
Secondly. Study your constitutional weak- go round, in order to avoid a pit. “Remove thy ness and failings. Endeavour to know " what I way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house"-lest, by going nigh, you , in it that led hím comparatively to undervalue should be tempted to go in. “Can a man and even despise every thing else. And no take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be wonder. burnt? Can one go upon hot coals, and his What can be so suitable, so necessary, to feet not be burnt ?" Can a man wish the creatures in our circumstances, as the knowweeds in his garden to wither, and daily wa- ledge of the Lord Jesus? If we are exposed ter them? If a man prayed to be heavenly- – he is our refuge. If we are wanderersminded, would he go and wait in a place of he is our guide. If we are poor-he is rich. dissipation for the answer?
If we are nothing-he is “all, and in all." Sometimes Christians are called into situa- The Christian, feeling his necessities, and tions and circumstances, in the discharge of enlightened from above to know the source their duty, that are very trying. When this of his supplies, often exclaims, as he reads is the case, the business is the Lord's; and through this sacred volume, “ We have found he will take care of the servant employed in him of whom Moses in the law, and the proit. And therefore, in such instances, we have phets, did write; whom David, Joseph, Isaac, seen the weakest believers preserved. But pre-figured; who realizes, in his own characit is otherwise when you rush into such ter, the temple, the altar, the paschal lamb, dangers, uncalled of God. Is God bound to the ark.” He holds communion with him as work miracles as often as you choose to play the “Rock of ages," as “the Sun of rightthe fool, or to act the sinner? Are you jus cousness," as the “ Fountain of living waters," tified in bringing yourselves into a situation as the Tree of life, in the midst of the pawhere the alternative is either a supernatu- radise of God.” ral deliverance, or a shameful fall ?
Of this we have a striking representation Thus, then, let us make our prayer to God, in the words before us. John saw the new and set a watch. Let us impress our minds Jerusalem descending from heaven. It was with a sense of our danger-let us study our a city four-square. The gates, the walls, the natural dispositions—let us remark in what very foundations, were of precious stones. manner we have been injured already--let The pavement was of gold-for what we us guard against the beginnings—and shun adore, they trample upon. Thus far the al. all the occasions of sin. Thus shall we “stand lusion is taken from the world of art-but in the evil day; and having done all, shall nature also lends her combined aid—and here stand. Yea, in all these things, we shall be is a reference to Eden, the original residence more than conquerors through him that loved of man. In this residence, it is well known,
man drank pure water, and lived on fruit. Nor shall we be always in a state of war. Accordingly, a fine river watered the garden; fare. We shall soon exchange the toil of the and a tree, called “ the tree of life,” grew in soldier for “the rest that remains for the peo- the centre. Hence the water of life, and the ple of God.” Our praying and our watching tree of life, stand significantly for all the will soon be needless. We shall put off the supplies of the spiritual life. And here we helmet, and put on the crown. "Sing, 0 have both. “And he showed me a pure river daughter of Zion: shout, O Israel: be glad of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding and rejoice with all thy heart, O daughter of out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In Jerusalem! The Lord hath taken away thy the midst of the street of it, and on either judgments: he hath cast out thine enemy: side of the river, was there the tree of life, the King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the which bare twelve manner of fruits, and midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves more.”
of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
It will be necessary to premise, that the
tree of life which John saw, was not a single DISCOURSE XXV.
tree: for, then, how could it grow on both
sides of the river ? but a species of tree, or THE TREE OF LIFE.
many trees of one kind. There is nothing
forced or unusual in this language. We In the midst of the street of it, and on either should be easily understood were we to say,
side of the river, was there the tree of life, the cedar tree grows on both sides of Lebawhich bare twelve manner of fruits, and non; or the apple-tree flourishes best in such yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves a soil: and we should be understood to mean of the tree were for the healing of the na- -not an individual tree, but the kind of tree. tions.-Rev. xxii. 2.
And this is confirmed by a parallel passage, “ Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but taken from the visions of Ezekiel. And by loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of the river upon the bank thereof, on this side Christ Jesus my Lord.”. Such was the ex- and that side, shall grow all trees for meat, clamation of the Apostle. Such was the whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the judgment he formed of an acquaintance with fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth the Saviour of sinners. He saw an excellency new fruit according to his months, because
their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: takers of Christ” without resembling him. and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and we cannot receive a life-giving Saviour, and the leaf thereof for medicine." Upon the remain dead in trespasses and sins. If joinsame principle, it is not necessary to suppose ed to him, we shall be quickened by him, and the tree of life in Eden was a single tree; it walk in newness of life.” And it is owing was more probably a number of trees of the to the little communion we have with him same species, finely arranged, and bearing in that our religion is so languishing, and that abundance. This conjecture has to plead not there are so many “things in us that are only probability, but authority. The learned ready to die;" for he came not only " that we Doctor Kennicot has defended this opinion. might have life,” but “ that we might have
But however this may be-whatever the it more abundantly.". tree of life was to man in his innocency, The situation of this tree is worthy of our Christ is to man in his fallen estate; what attention. Endeavour to apprehend the that was to Adam under a covenant of works, scenery as it appeared to the eye of John. Christ is to man under a covenant of grace. The river softly rolled down the middle, and That insured life to obedience; he insures thus formed a street on each side of it; and life to faith. It is his own declaration, “God in the midst of each street, in a beautiful row, so loved the world, that he gave his only be- grew'the tree of life. So that the inhabitants gotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him could walk between the houses and the trees, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” and between the trees and the river, on each This is the new and living way opened in side. It was therefore not concealed, but the Gospel, and by which we can alone pass obviously seen; it everywhere met the eye, into a happy immortality.
and tempted the hand. Nor was it confined, Whether the tree of life in paradise was but easy of access to all who passed along, more than sacramental, affording a pledge of and to persons on either side of the river the continuance of life, while man remained“ In the midst of the street of the city, and in a state of obedience; or whether, in ad-on either side of the river, was there the tree dition to this, it had an innate virtue to per- of life.” petuate the immortality of those who partook And “ the righteousness of faith speaketh of it—we cannot absolutely determine. The on this wise, Say not in thine heart, who shall latter has been deemed probable by many, ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ from the words of Moses ; " And the Lord down from above :) or, who shall descend into God said, Behold, the man is become as one the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest from the dead.) But what saith it? The he put forth his hand and take also of the tree word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore thy heart that is, the word of faith, which the Lord God sent him forth from the garden we preach; that if thou shalt confess with of Eden to till the ground from whence he thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe was taken. So he drove out the man; and in thine heart that God hath raised him from he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Is Christ Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turn-hidden? Exposing himself to view in every ed every way, to keep the way of the tree direction, he cries, “ Behold me, behold me. of life. But we are sure that Jesus Christ Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends has not only procured for us a title to endless of the earth; for I am God, and there is none life, but actually communicates life to all else. Come unto me, all ye that labour and those who believe in him. “God hath given are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." Is he secluded from approach, and from And therefore it can only be derived from participation ? Few, comparatively, will parhim. And as what we live upon is previous- take of him, but he has told us the reason : ly destroyed, so that we literally live by death " Ye will not come to me, that ye might have —the death of fruits and vegetables, and ani- life.” Otherwise, none are forbidden: for mals—eo by his death we live. It is his own there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is declaration, though it may prove as offensive neither bond nor free, there is neither male to some who read it, as it did to those who nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus : originally heard it: “Then Jesus said unto for the same Lord over all is rich unto all them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except that call upon him.". Is he a fountain ? He ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink is a fountain opened. Was he represented his blood, ye have no life in you. For my by the manna? This fell all around the flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink camp, and all were equally welcome to go indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drink- and gather it up. Was he held forth by the eth my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. brazen serpent? This was suspended upon As the living Father hath sent me, and I a pole fixed in the centre of the camp, and it live by the Father: so he that eateth me, was announced, that every one that was biteven he shall live by me.”
ten, when he looked upon it, should live, And, therefore, we cannot be made “par-/Was he typified by the cities of refuge?