Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

because he would not have us deceived, en-Icessive messages of the word “Go," says snared, destroyed--because he would not God to some fiery trial, “ go and consume have us take up with this world as our por such an enjoyment-and he will soon be with tion, but keep our eye upon a better, even a me; soon be upon his knees, saying, "Do not heavenly country, and confess ourselves to be condemn me; show me wherefore thou constrangers and pilgrims in the earth.

tendest with me. Why am I thus? Lord, And when the believer comes to himself, what wilt thou have me to do?'” and considers these dealings of God with But here we particularly see that afflictions him, he exclaims, " • Lord, what is man, that are intended to be spiritual preventions they thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, are “ to keep man from his purpose.” The that thou shouldest visit him! What am I, people of God are not always aware of this to engross the attention of the Almighty! at first, and therefore, when they meet with Am I worthy of all these pains? Can I ever these obstructions, they sometimes fret, and bring forth fruit to reward this expense of think they do well to be angry even unto cultivation? What is man, that thou death: they think he is their enemy, while shouldest magnify him? And that thou he is proving himself to be their friend; and shouldest set thine heart upon him; and that that he is opposing their progress, when he is thou shouldest visit him every morning, and only hindering their wanderings. Disappointtry him every moment ?'”

ments in favourite wishes are trying, and we III. This brings us to remark THE BENEFIT are not always wise enough to recollectOF AFFLICTION. This benefit might be ex- that disappointments in time are often the emplified several ways.

means of preventing disappointments in eterAfflictions are designed to be trials. They nity. Our murmurings and repinings arise evidence the reality and the degree of our from our ignorances: we see not the precipice religion both to ourselves and others. When and the pit on the other side of the hedge or a person is surrounded with worldly posses- of the wall. sions and enjoyments, it is not easy for him I wish you therefore, above all things, to to determine whether he is leaning on these remember, that it is a most singular mercy or on God. But let them be removed, and for God to render the pursuit of sin difficult. his reliance will quickly appear. If he is If we are going astray-is it not better to placing his dependence on these, he will have the road filled with thorns than strewed sink when they are removed. But if while with flowers? Is it not better to have it he uses them, and is thankful for them, he rough and uninviting, than smooth and allurstill makes God “the strength of his heart, ing? If there are certain things in us, the and his portion for ever,” he will not faint in destruction of which is equally necessary and the day of adversity; but be able to say with difficult-is it a blessing to have them fed, or former sufferers, “We are troubled on every to have them starved? There are some who side, yet not distressed: we are perplexed, are now rejoicing because their plans succeed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not for- and every thing favours their wishes, who, if saken; cast down, but not destroyed. Al- they knew all, would see awful reason to though the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither weep and mourn--And there are others, who, shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the if they knew all, would no longer be sorrowolive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no ful because they cannot advance, but are meat; the flocks shall be cut off from the checked in every path they tread. They fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: would see that they are chastened of the yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in Lord, that they may not be condemned with the God of my salvation.”

the world. They would see that the loss Afflictions are excitements. They quicken of creatures is to lead them to ask more earto the exercise of grace, and to the perform- nestly for “ God their maker, who giveth ance of duty. When Absalom wished to songs in the night.” They would see that see Joab, he sent him a messenger, but he the sickness of the body is designed to be the would not come he sent a second time, but cure of the soul. They would see that earth he still refused. Well, what was he to do is imbittered, that heaven may be endeared. now Says Absalom to his servants, “See, Such a discovery of the design and conseJoab's field is near mine, and he hath barley quences of these exercises would change the there-go and set it on fire;" and he will whole face of the dispensation, and lead them soon come to know the reason. And so it not only to submit but to give thanks. fell out : “ Then Joab arose and came to But how awful is it when afflictions are Absalom, unto his house, and said unto him, useless; and even medicine is administered Wherefore have thy servants set my field on in vain! And there are those, who, like fire ?" Why, says Absalom, Not because I Ahaz in distress, sin more and more against wished to do thee an injury, but wanted an God. When He arms himself to withstand interview, and could obtain it in no other them in their mad career, they “ rush upon way. Thus, when we become indifferent to the thick bosses of his backler.” If they communion with God, and disregard the suc- I cannot pierce the hedge or the wall by which

U

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

he opposes them, they will lie down in sullen lieving, I entered into rest. Under every obstinacy and sin “ as they can'— to use the accusation, he was near that justified me. In words of the prophet, rather than yield. every duty, and in every trial, he encouraged “ Thou hast stricken them, but they have me by saying, My grace is sufficient for thee: not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.' they have refused to receive correction ; they Now I only see my sins and my enemies, have made their faces harder than a rock- but where is the Saviour and the helper they have refused to return."

then was it better with me than now ! But this shall not be the case with the Once I experienced the gracious influences people of God. The grace which employs of his Holy Spirit. By these I was enliventhe means will render them eflectual. Theved, refreshed, and enlightened. I saw clearly shall not only feel-but reflect—and resolve the path of duty. I could harmonize provi

Then shall she say, I will go and return to dences and promises. I claimed the privimy first husband, for then was it better with lege of a child and an heir of God. · But now me than now !"

the Comforter, who should relieve my soul, IV. We observe THE DIFFERENCE THERE is far from me. I have grieved the Holy IS BETWEEN OUR ADHERING TO GOD, AND OUR Spirit of God, by which I was sealed unto FORSAKING HIM. Behold the declining Chris- the day of redemption—Then was it better tian seduced by the world. When he was with me than now ! O what enlargements beginning to deviate-many a Samuel cried, of soul had I in his ordinances! How often “ Turn ye not aside: for then shall ye go did I find the sanctuary to be no less than the after vain things, which cannot profit or house of God, and the gate of heaven! How deliver ;-for they are vain.” But he disre- sweet was his word to my taste, yea sweeter garded the friendly counsel. Others had than honey to my lips! What a feast did I been drawn into this unhappy course; and enjoy at his table! His flesh was meet inthey had all told him the confusion and re- deed, and his blood was drink indeed! gret with which it had been attended.—But . Then was it better with me than now!" he would also try for himself-and, says God, And oh! with what cheerfulness I carried my Let him try_" that he may know my ser-cross! I could even glory in tribulation also; vice and the service of the kingdoms of the for as the sufferings abounded, the consolacountries." By-and-by he heard a voice say- tions did also much more abound. The storin ing—" ( that they had hearkened to my without raged in vain—for all was peace commandments! then had their peace been within—but now conscience knaws me like as a river, and their righteousness as the waves a worm-and the promises which should be of the sea !-Have I been a wilderness unto my support, are neither within reach nor Israel ? A land of darkness? Wherefore say within sight - Then was it better with me my people, We are lords; we will come no than now! There was a time that I could more unto thee?"

see him not only in ordinances, but also in And now he bethinks himself, and begins providences; not only in his word, but also to compare the present with the past. “How in his works. I could enjoy him in my creadifferent the scorching sands, the briers, and ture comforts. I relished his love in my serpents of this desert, from the green pas- daily food; I saw his goodness in all my contures in which I once fed, and the still waters nexions: but now I know not whether any by which I once refreshed my weary soul! thing I possess is sent in wrath or mercy; ] • that it was with me as in months past.' can find him in nothing : • Behold, I go forOnce I walked with God. I could behold ward, but he is not there; and backward, but his face with confidence. The glory of the I cannot perceive him; on the left hand, Lord was risen upon me, and I walked all the where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: day long in the light of his countenance, he hideth himself on the right hand, that I • Then was it better with me than now !' cannot see him !! Once I had free access to the throne of grace. "I cannot fully describe my case. All I I approached it with humble and holy bold- know is and this I feel by an experience ness; and there are many places that can too bitter to be expressedthat it is not with witness to the tears of joy and sorrow with me as it-once was ! which I poured out my soul before God. But Some of these feelings, in a lower degree, now the recollection fills me with dismay. are common to an apostate professor, who I have now little heart to pray. Conscience has left off to be wise and to do good. But indeed drags me along to the duty, but I enter the experience of such a man differs exthe presence of my God with a slavish fear ceedingly from the feelings of a backsliding or a chilling indifference_ Then was it bet- believer; for the judgment of the believer ter with me than now!' Once I had sweet was never drawn over from the Lord's side, communion with the Saviour of sinners. though it was not suffered for a time to be When oppressed with a sense of guilt, I saw heard ; and he has enjoyments to look back the all-sufficiency of his sacrifice, and the upon which a stranger never intermeddled perfection of his righteousness, and by be-/ with. He can remember not only the dread

fulness of a state of utter distance from God

DISCOURSE XXXV. by nature, but also the blessedness of being brought nigh by the blood of Christ. He knows what it is to live under his smiles and THE END OF THE SAVIOUR'S EXby his influences. And now that the charm

ALTATION. which deceived him is dissolved-now that he has leisure for reflection—now that he is

Him hath God exalted, with his right hand to separated from his very idols, no wonder he

be ( Prince and a Saviour, for to give reresolves if possible to return to a state in

pentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Acts v. 31, which it was better with him than now.

And let those who have been led astray ELEVATION is necessary to influence. Of and have fallen by their iniquity, adopt imme. what advantage is "a candle under a bushel ?" diately the same resolution. While you con--but place it "in a candlestick, and it giveth sider the melancholy change that has taken light to all that are in the house." While the place in your experience-remember two sun is below our earth, all is dark and cold things—

but when he arises, there “is healing under First, that it cannot be better with you his wings;" and from his loftiness in the skies than it is till you return to God; since it is he scatters his enlightening and enlivening by your departure from him that you have beams. When the shrub rises up out of the sustained all these losses and incurred all this ground, it rather requires than affords support misery. “ Set thee up way-marks, make thee and assistance_" but when it is grown, it high heaps; set thine heart toward the high becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air way, even the way which thou wentest; turn come and lodge in the branches thereof.". A again, O virgin of Israel, turn to these thy man in the obscurity and contractedness of cities,”

private life may feel dispositions prompting And, Secondly, while with weeping and him to do good—but he can only pour forth supplications you are disposed to seek him benevolent wishes and shed ineffectual tears. again, guard against that despondency which But give him pre-eminence, place in his hands would tell you that it will be in vain. It is the reins of empire, and at his disposal the not in vain. There is hope in Israel concern- treasures of the state, and lo! thousands are ing this thing. He waiteth to be gracious, refreshed by his shadow, protected by his and is exalted to have mercy upon you. “Re-power, and enriched by his bounty; his fame turn, ye backsliding children, and I will heal spreads encouragement; prayer also shall be your backslidings. Behold, we come unto made for him continually, and daily shall he thee; for thou art the Lord our God. Truly be praised. Thus Jesus “ascended far above in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, all heavens, that he might fill all things." and from the multitude of mountains : truly ! Or take another illustration. The life of in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel." Joseph is not only affecting as a history, but • Have any of you been restored ? Turn not also important as a type. Joseph was hated again to folly. Has it not cost you enough al- of his brethren; and they sold him as a slave ready? After all this, will not the very ap- to a company of Ishmaelites in order to prepearance of evil terrify you? Live near to vent the fulfilment of his dreams. But the God.-Your welfare depends upon it. means used to hinder his advancement termi

And as for those young converts who have nated in the promotion of it;- and in process just subscribed with their own hand and sur- of time he was made ruler over all the land named themselves by the name of Israel, let of Egypt. And it is worthy of our regard, these also beware. Now perhaps you think that his elevation was not only the aggranthere is very little danger of this cantion. dizement of himself—but also the preservaSuch at present is your attachment to the tion of thousands, and in a peculiar manner Saviour and his way, that it seems to be im- the salvation of his father's house. He was possible for you ever to forget the one or for the only dispenser of supplies to those who sake the other. But how many who once had were perishing with famine-and “Go unto the same confidence with yourselves, have Joseph”-was the order given by Pharaoh to since denied him or followed him afar off! every petitioner. * Wherefore let him that thinketh he stand-/ But a greater than Joseph is here. Thus eth, take heed lest he fall. Watch and pray, Jesus suffered from the hands of sinners: and lest ye enter into temptation: the spirit in- they acted only as enemies--but the curse deel is willing, but the flesh is weak." was turned into a blessing. His sufferings

- Now unto Him that is able to keep you led to his exaltation; and this exaltation was from falling, and to present you faultless be- not only a personal reward—but a relative fore the presence of his glory with exceeding glory. He is made head over all things “unto joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be his body the Church." He has power given glory and majesty, dominion and power, both him over all flesh, “that he should give eternow and ever!-Amen."

nal life to as many as the Father has given

him.” And him, says the Apostle, to the provided for him a ransom, and through a sufJews, " him hath God exalted with his right fering Saviour is willing to receive him hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to graciously. This dissolves the heart and give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of makes him “sorrowful after a godly sort." sins.”

For the tear of evangelical penitence drops Thus he is advanced as mediator, to the from the eye of faith; and faith while it grandeur and resources of his present station, weeps stands under the cross. “I will pour not only to govern, but to save; and to save upon the house of David, and upon the inhaby governing. Some are exalted as princes bitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and who are by no means saviours. They do not of supplications: and they shall look upon me study to secure the common rights of man- whom they have pierced, and they shall kind. They do not set examples of temper- mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only ance, humanity, and social afiection. They son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one do not cultivate harmony and peace. They that is in bitterness for his first-born." seem only raised up to oppress and to destroy. The pressure of these various feelings conMurder and desolation mark their progress. stitutes what we mean by having the heart The ruins of towns and villages, the tears of broken for sin. But the man has now new widows and orphans, are the materials of their dispositions and resolutions; and hence a new glory. They sacrifice the lives of their sub-course of life. He is delivered from the love jects to save their own-yea, they frequently of sin, the love of all sin, however dear besacrifice them to gratify their pride, their va- fore. He is freed from the dominion of sin nity, their avarice, their revenge. But he sa- so that it no longer “reigns in his mortal crificed himself for the welfare of his subjects body, that he should obey it in the lusts there_“I give my flesh for the life of the world." of. Neither yields he his members as instruThey are princes of war-but he is “the ments of unrighteousness unto sin ; but yields Prince of peace." They are princes of death himself unto God as those that are alive from -but he is “ the Prince of life.” They are the dead, and his members as instruments of princes and destroyers—but he is “a Prince righteousness unto God.” He avoids also and a Saviour.” He takes us under the wing the occasions of sin, and “abstains from of his protection; redeems us from the curse all appearance of evil."-And this is what of the law; delivers us from the wrath to we mean by having the heart broken from come; saves us from our sins. He makes his sin." subjects holy and happy-For “he gives re- And what is forgiveness? It is simply pentance unto Israel, and forgiveness of the removal of all obligation to punishment.

It does not render a man innocent of the Let us take three views of these blessings. crimes which he has committed; for a man -Let us consider--THEIR MEANING-THEIR can never appear otherwise to God than he CONNEXION—and THEIR SOURCE

really is; and it will be everlastingly true, I. Let us consider THEIR MEANING.—What that Job cursed the day of his birth, and Peter is repentance? Every one will see the pro- denied his master. But sin contracts guilt, priety of making this inquiry, who only re- and guilt binds over to punishment: now, flects that every thing excellent admits of forgiveness cancels this obligation and recounterfeit—that there are specious resem- stores the offender to safety. And frequently, blances not only of every moral virtue, but of at least among men, forgiveness extends no every Christian grace and that Pharaoh, further. But it does with God. He takes and Ahab, and Judas, and others, are said to pleasure in those whom he pardons as if they have repented, and after all died in their sins. had never sinned, and indulges them with the Perhaps a better definition of repentance was most intimate friendship. never given than by an old divine, one excel- When two individuals have been at valency of which is, that it is easily remember- riance, the hardest to believe in reconciliation ed. He tells us that “Genuine repentance is the offender. The blame is his: and judg. consists in having the heart broken for sin, ing under a consciousness of his desert, he and from it."

can hardly be persuaded that the party he has Be it then remembered, that the subject of injured does not feel like himself. History repentance is convinced of sin. He sees informs us that when a man had offended that it is the greatest evil in the universe- Augustus, the emperor, to show his greatness not only as it is the cause of his sufferings, of mind, declared that he pardoned him. But and has exposed him to the miseries of hell the poor creature, who expected only destruc--but because it is the pollution of his soul, tion, astonished beyond measure, and fearing and the degradation of his nature, and has the declaration was too good to be true, in rendered him vile and abominable in the eyes all the simplicity of nature, instantly desired of God. Hence he feels shame, self-loathing, his majesty to give him some present as a abhorrence, grief, and contrition-especially proof that he had really forgiven him. Thus when he apprehends the goodness of God, anxious is the awakened mind. Such a free which has spared him under all his offences, and full forgiveness after all his heinous pro

sins."

pocations seems incredible; he therefore de- have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he sires a token for good : and many pledges will abundantly pardon." of the most perfect reconciliation the God of III. We remark THE SOURCE OF THESE all grace affords in his dealings with his peo- BLESSINGS—" He gives repentance unto Isple. He hears their prayer; he is with them rael and forgiveness of sins." in every trouble; he delivers them and ho- | Some think repentance a very legal subnours them; he makes all things to work to ject, and are ready to condemn the man who gether for their good, and engages to receive preaches it, as a stranger to the Gospel. But them to glory.

there never was a greater mistake than this. II. Let us glance at THE UNION OF THESE For not to mention, that our Lord “came to BLESSINGS. Repentance and forgiveness of call sinners to repentance," and that the sins are mentioned together. Now let it be Apostles “ went forth preaching everywhere observed, that this is not a meritorious con- that men should repent"-I would observe, nexion between repentance and forgiveness— that repentance is a subject peculiarly evanas if the one deserved the other-for they are gelical. The law has nothing to do with reboth given—and how can one gift merit ano- pentance—it does not even command it-all ther!

it has to do with the transgressor is to conBut there is between them, First, a con- demn. It allows him neither liberty nor nexion of propriety. It would not accord ability to repent, but the Gospel gives him with the wisdom of God to deliver from hell both. And indeed to little purpose would it a man who would be miserable in heaven; give us the one without the other. But here is to forgive one incapable of enjoying or serv- our encouragement—the Gospel not only gives ing him-yea, one who abhors him. Without us space, but grace for repentance. What repentance we should never value the bless- in one view is a duty, in another is a priviing of forgiveness, and therefore we should lege: and what is cominanded is also proneither be happy in nor thankful for the pos- mised. The “ broken heart and the contrite session of it. If a servant or a child were to spirit" is not only a sacrifice which he will behave improperly, though goodness may in- not despise, but it is also a sacrifice which he cline you to pardon, you would naturally re- must provide ! quire a proper state of mind, and signs of And he does provide it. He “ gives resorrow, confession, and reformation; other-pentance unto life.” For having ascended wise your forgiveness would look like con- up on high leading captivity captive," he nivance at the transgression, or indifference received gifts for men, even for the rebellious to the offence, and encourage a repetition of also, that the Lord God might dwell among disobedience.

them.” The chief of these was the dispenHence there is between them also, a con- sation of the Holy Ghost. By his influence nexion of certainty. They are indissolubly the understanding is enlightened and the conunited-no one ever really enjoyed forgive science awakened; the heart of stone is taken ness without repentance; and no one ever away and a heart of flesh given; and sinners, truly exercised repentance without forgive-before weak and averse to holiness, are enness. And hence it follows that the best way abled to “walk in his statutes, and to keep to ascertain our state before God is not a his judgments to do them.” Thus the word reference to dreams and visions, sudden im- is rendered effectual; and the events of Propulses, and accidental occurrences of Scrip vidence are sanctified; afflictions make them ture to the mind-no-but an examination “ acknowledge their offence; and the goodof our character; a comparison of ourselves ness of God leadeth them to repentance." with the features of pardoned sinners pour And if repentance be not derived from ourtrayed in the Gospel. To know whether we selves—can forgiveness of sins? If the former are justified, let us inquire whether we are be a gift-can the latter be a purchase ?renewed in the spirit of our minds: and be “He gives repentance unto Israel, and forassured of this, that he is not the partaker of giveness of sins." And hence two things Divine forgiveness who is not the subject of follow. gengine repentance.

First, if we possess these blessings—we On the other hand, as there is an insepa-| learn to whom we are to address our praise. rable connexion between these, if you had “ Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I been humbled for your sins; if your hearts righteousness and strength." had been broken for them, and from them; Secondly, if we want them—we see to you should not despair of acceptance, but whom we are to address our prayers. Betake view this experience as the authorized evi- yourselves to the Friend of sinners, and say, dence of Divine favour. “Believe in God." | *Lord, remember me now thou art come He cannot deny himself. And he has said, into thy kingdom.' Heal me, and I shall “ He that confesseth, and forsaketh his sins, be healed; save me, and I shall be saved : shall have mercy. Let the wicked forsake for thou art my praise.' Lord, if thou wilt his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; thou canst make me clean.'—And hast and let him return unto the Lord, and he will thou not said, him that cometh unto me, I

« AnteriorContinuar »