Imágenes de páginas

Art thou, my fellow-sinner, ready to say, "I am cast out of his sight?" Look again towards his holy temple. Once more turn back, and address his throne; once more cry,

they are spoken of in the preceding verses: "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy and gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then

they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.” Does the sacred writer refer to travellers in general? Much of the Lord's goodness is to be seen in long and perilous journeys: but the language here employed seems too strong to justify such an application. Does he allude to the Israelites, when marching through the desert to Canaan? Of this we are na

And behold this sure defence; behold this sweet promise" a God ready to pardon!" The subject should afford consolation to those who have believed through grace. Believers are enemies to sin, and long to be delivered from it; but while they are in the body they are imperfect. They find it impossible to live without contracting fresh guilt. Their duties are defiled; and among their holiest exercises they must exclaim, "If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquity, Oturally reminded by some things in the deLord, who should stand?" But are they, scription: but a part of it does not harmonize while they mourn, to refuse to be comforted? with fact. They were taken from Egypt; Are they, while they are humble, to be hope- but not "gathered from the lands, from the less? "If any man sin, we have an Advo- east, and from the west, from the north, and cate with the Father, Jesus Christ the right- from the south." Does he refer to the return eous; and he is the propitiation for our sins; of the Jews from Babylon to Judea, in conseand not for ours only, but also for the sins of quence of the decree of Cyrus! We know the whole world." Instead of keeping away that Ezra, who led back a portion of them, from God under a sense of our unworthiness, says, "Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the as the enemy of souls would urge us, "let river Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves us," with ingenuous feelings, "come boldly before our God, to seek of him a right way to the throne of grace, that we may obtain for us, and for our little ones, and for all our mercy, and find grace to help in time of substance:" and after this, we also know, He is "a God ready to pardon!" they arrived safe at Jerusalem, "through the The subject demands our admiration and good hand of their God upon them." But praise. There is no character we esteem what evidence have we that this Psalm was and extol so much as that of the merciful, the written after this event? Or that it was not tender, the placable, the forgiving: "It is written by David? Or, if written by him, the glory of a man to pass by a transgression." that it is to be considered as prophetical How glorious then must God appear! "Who rather than historical? is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy."


But the subject calls upon us not only to admire, but to imitate. Is he a God ready to pardon? Be ye followers of God as dear children. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evilspeaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

"Yet save a trembling sinner, Lord,

Whose hope, still hovering round thy word,
Would light on some sweet promise there,
Some sure defence against despair!"


And he led them forth by the right way, that
they might go to a city of habitation.-Psalm

cvii. 7.

In these words, it is not easy to ascertain the persons immediately intended. Thus

But the difficulty there is in determining the persons immediately designed is a circumstance not to be lamented. It is even an advantage; it constrains us to a more spiritual and evangelical interpretation of the subject. And thus the whole representation is fully and easily imbodied. For the people of God are redeemed-redeemed from the curse of the law, the powers of darkness, and the bondage of corruption. They are gathered-gathered by his grace out of all the diversities of the human race; "out of all nations and kindreds and people and tongues." Whatever this world is to others, they find it to be "a wilderness;" where they are often tried; but their trials urge them to prayer, and prayer brings them relief. And being divinely conducted, they at length reach their destination: and this is the conclusion of the whole, and it ap plies to each of them; "And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation."

Let us consider-THE LEADER-THE WAY-and THE END.

I. THE LEADER. He led them. The

land to be given them is said to be "very far off;" and in a journey of such extent, such difficulty, and of such importance, who would venture alone? But the believer is not alone. He travels under the conduct of Jehovah; and can say, and sometimes he can even sing too; "This God is my God for ever and ever, he will be my guide even unto death."

In the everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure, the engagement runs, "They shall be my people, and I will be their God." As if he should say, "I dedicate myself to their welfare. I hold myself at their call." As he undertakes to be nothing less than "their God," there is divinity in every relation in which he stands to them. If he is their friend, he is not only a perfect, but a divine friend, and therefore an infinite one. If he is their guide, he is not only a perfect, but a divine guide, and therefore an infinite one. Let us more particularly examine this privilege. Let us connect it with his omnipresence; his patience; his power; and his wisdom.

for the country through which they pass is full of snares and dangers: and

Let us connect this guidance with his power. No other leader could defend them;

"A thousand savage beasts of prey,
Around the forest roam."

And what emboldens them? The voice of him who cries; "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest. Thou shalt walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. Thou shalt tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under foot."

Let us connect this guidance with his wisdom. Who knows what is good for a man in this life? Who can distinguish between appearance and reality? Who can determine that what he wishes to shun is not a blessing? Or that what he covets is not a curse? The way of man is not in himself. Hence the admonition and the promise;

Let us connect this guidance with his om-"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and nipresence. As his people travel from all lean not unto thine own understanding. In countries, and are remote often from each all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall other, no creature, if their leader, could be direct thy paths. I will bring the blind by a with them all at the same time: while he ap- way that they knew not; I will lead them proached some, he would withdraw, in the in paths that they have not known: I will same proportion, from others. But God is make darkness light before them, and crookeverywhere. He fills earth, as well as ed things straight. These things will I do heaven; he is constantly at hand, and to unto them, and not forsake them." Some each of his people a very present help in possess great talent, and have acquired much trouble. They shall never perish for want knowledge and experience: yet, no creature of seasonable aid: "It shall come to pass, is infallibly wise, and therefore we cannot that before they call, I will answer; and implicitly resign ourselves to him; but we while they are yet speaking, I will hear." may absolutely commit ourselves to God. His understanding is infinite. He sees the end from the beginning. He perfectly knows what we are, and what we want: and "though clouds and darkness are round about him, and justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne; mercy and truth go before his face."

Let us connect this guidance with his patience. No other being in the universe would be able to bear with our imperfections and provocations. The meekest man upon earth, and the most merciful angel in heaven, if intrusted with us, would soon abandon his charge. A Christian has sometimes such views of his depravity; of his omissions of duty; of his distractions in it; of his ingratitude, his unbelief, his perverseness-that he cries with Job, “Behold, I am vile," and abhors himself, repenting in dust and ashes. He then wonders that God does not cast him off. But his Leader is the God of all grace; he is longsuffering; he does not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth we are dust." And while, under a recollection of his past guilt, and a sense of his present unworthiness, he prays, "Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me;" his Leader replies, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."

II. THE WAY. "He led them forth by the right way." Many things seem inconsistent with this acknowledgment; especially the various trials with which they are exercised, and which often lead them to say with Gideon, "If the Lord be with us, why then is all this evil befallen us?" Are they persecuted by enemies, and betrayed by friends? Are they stripped of their substance; bereaved of their kindred; invaded by sickness; made to possess months of vanity, and have wearisome nights appointed for them? And, Is this the "right way "" In answer to this, it will be necessary to ask two questions:

First. According to what principle is it "right?" For a thing may be wrong in one view, and right in another. It is sinful to take away life; but there are cases in which it i lawful and praiseworthy: as in self-defence

and the execution of judicial policy. In the
system of nature, winter is as necessary as
summer, and night as day; though for some
purposes they are not equally good. A way
that winds about may not be valued for its
shortness, but it may be preferable for its safe-seen.
ty, or for the sake of avoiding a hill, or for touch-
ing at several places where the traveller
may do business. The correction which may
appear cruel, if considered only with regard
to the feelings of the child, appears very diffe-
rently when connected with his profit. We
do not extol medicine for the pleasure of
taking it, but for the effect resulting from it,
in the restoration of health. So it is here.
Many of the dispensations of Providence, if
viewed separately and partially, would be
objectionable; but right when considered in
connexion with their designs, and relatively
to the glory of God's name and the spiritual
welfare of his people. This is the rule by
which they are to be tried.

Secondly. According to whose judgment is it right? And to this we immediately answer, The judgment of God. He alone is capable of judging; and his judgment is always according to truth: what seems good in his sight, must be really good: for he cannot be deceived. But we are so ignorant, and can grasp so little of the plan-so occupied, and full of prejudices-we are so selfish, so carnal, so impatient-and are such very inadequate judges, that we often call evil good, and good evil.


Fourthly. There is one way of obtaining complete satisfaction even while we are in this vale of tears. It is to rely on his word when we cannot explain his conduct; it is to walk by faith when we cannot walk by sight. And what is it that you are required to believe in order to bring this heaven into your souls! Why, only, that He who spared not his own Son will deny you nothing that is really good for you; that he takes pleasure in the pros perity of his servants, and knows how to advance it better than you do; that he doth all things, and "doth all things well." Whe is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." "If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established." III. THE END: He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation." "It doth not," says the apostle John, "yet appear what we shall be; but this we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." From these words we learn that the glory to which the believer is advancing, is not wholly developed, and yet it is not entirely concealed. Indeed, some revelation is necessary; for we cannot desire what we are ignorant of and have no sympathy with. There are, therefore, some mediums through which we may catch a glimpse. Such are the evils to which we are now exposed. Imagine all these removed. "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Such are the imperfections we now feel. Imagine all these annihilated. Then, “that which is perfect is come, and that which is in part, in knowledge, holiness, and bliss, shall be done away. We shall be presented faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy." Such is the imagery the Scripture employs; and as our souls are now incarnate, and we acquire knowledge by sensation and reflection, our future condition will more powerfully impress us when it is held forth by things seen and temporal. Hence it is expressed by "rivers of pleasure; trees of life; crowns of glory; a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens; a city of habitation."

Four things, however, may be observed, in reference to this case.

First. It will be right, according to the judgment of the Christian himself, in another world. "What I do," says his Leader, "thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter." When in God's light he shall see light, he will join the acclamations of those to whom the mysteries which once perplexed them are explained; and say, "Marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints!" Secondly. The Christian is not wholly without satisfaction even now. There are some openings into the dispensations of Heaven which more than enable him to acquiesce. When the noise of the passions is subsided, and he can hear the small still voice; when he has wiped away the tears which bedimmed his light; "I can now," says he, "perceive the reason of such a defection of friendshipI was making flesh my arm. I see why the vessel was broken-I was forgetting the fountain. He planted thorns in my tabernacle, for I was in danger of saying, This is my rest. 'I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.'"

wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord." But we too often get down from our watch-tower, or fall asleep there; and the interpreter passes by unaddressed and un

Thirdly. We should be more satisfied with the rectitude of the Divine proceedings if we were more dutifully attentive. "Whoso is

This suggests magnificence. It is not a village, or a town, but a city of habitation. A

city is the highest representation of civil community. There have been famous cities; but what are they to all this? "Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God!" It is the city of the living God. It is the city of the great King. It is the city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. The foundation is of precious stones. The pavement is of pure gold. The gates are of pearls. "I saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it; and the Lamb is the light thereof." But who can estimate the honours, the provisions, the pleasures of the place? As it is written, " Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." It is to display the munificence of his goodness, and to prove to men and angels, that he has not called himself their God in vain. "But now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city.”

Not a city of inspection! Many-(Eternal God will it be any of this company?-) will look in; and "there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, when they shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God, and they themselves shut out." Not a city of visitation. Christians shall not only enter, but abide. They shall go no more out-It is "a city of habitation." This conveys the idea of repose. The Christian is now a traveller; then he will be a resident: he is now on the road; he will then be at home: "there remaineth a rest for the people of God."

It reminds us of a social state. It is not a solitary condition; we shall partake of it with an innumerable company of angels, with all the saved from among men, with patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, our kindred in Christ."These are fellow-citizens of the saints, and of the household of God."

very inadequate image of his grace. We sometimes see persons who "condescend to men of low estate;" but they are only men themselves, deriving their nature from the same original, inheriting the same infirmities, and doomed to the same corruption. God even condescends to behold the things that are done in heaven: well, therefore, when we meet with him on earth, may we exclaim, "Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?"

The subject requires from us an admiration of God. "His greatness is unsearchable." "He dwells in the light which no man can approach unto." "Heaven is his throne and the earth is his footstool." "Thousands minister unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stand before him." And what are we?" Of yesterday, and know nothing. Our habitation is in the dust. We are crushed before the moth.” Numbers will not relieve our meanness; all nations before him are as nothing, and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity-And will He make our concerns his care? His condescension admits of no comparison. A king deigning to lead a poor beggar; a philosopher stooping to teach an infant his alphabet-isa

We congratulate those of you who have reason to conclude that you are the people of God. We hail you, on the ground of your present privileges. You are under a Divine guide; and you are in the right way. One of these necessarily results from the other. If you are under the Lord's direction, though he may lead you in a strange and a thorny way, it will be-it must be-it is, a right one: and you cannot indulge too firm a confidence. You know his name; and should put your trust in him. What have you to do with to-morrow? Events are his. Duty only is yours; and in the performance of this, he allows, he commands you, to rely upon him for wisdom and strength. "Be careful for nothing: but in every thing, by prayer and sup plication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

But still greater reason have we to hail you, on the ground of your future expectation. Though you have much in hand, you have more in hope. He is now guiding you by his counsel, but he will afterwards receive you to glory. He is leading you by the right way; but the way, whatever may be said in praise of it, is not the city of habitation. But there-there the journey ends.

"See the kind angels at the gates, Inviting us to come;

There Jesus the forerunner waits, To welcome travellers home."

Unhappy sinners! How much are you de priving yourselves of while sacrificing all the present, and all the future advantages of religion! You may banish thought, and remain insensible of your loss for a while-but it can be for a while only-you must soon be convinced of your folly; and how dreadful, if you should learn your error when it is too late to be rectified! As yet, however, this is not your state. Your harvest is not yet past; your summer is not yet ended. You are yet in the number of those who are within the reach of mercy. May you "seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near."

And what says all this to you, my young friends? Will you not "from this time cry unto him, My father, thou art the guide of my

youth?" You are entering a world full of temptation. You are beginning life without the advantage of experience, and yet in all the strength of passion. How liable are you to err ! And yet how much depends upon every wrong step you take. Would you be wise, and safe, and happy? Yield yourselves unto God; saying, "Lord, I am thine, save me. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day."

Such there have been in every age of the world; for he has never left himself without witness. But do not all men love God! So far from it, that we read in the Scripture of the "haters of God:" a charge which, however dreadful, we have reason to fear will apply to the generality of mankind. Will it apply, my dear hearers, to you? In answer to this question, it is in vain for you to say that you are not haters of God, because you never speak against him: for there are works, as well as words, of enmity; yea, actions speak louder than words; and you are Be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto accustomed to lay more stress upon them, in those that love thy name.-Psalm exix. 132. judging of the disposition of a fellow-creature MAN is the subject of numberless wants and towards you. We read of our “being enedesires. He feels himself unhappy, and is mies to God by wicked works." And there therefore restless for a change. He supposes is a "carnal mind, which is enmity against the future to be better than the present, and God, because it is not subject to his law." Is is therefore alive to hope. He imagines the it true, that "God is not in all your thoughts?" condition of others superior to his own, and That you do not like to retain him in your hence the spirit that is in him lusteth to envy. knowledge? That the conversation is uninAnd how many are there who only envy teresting which turns upon his glory? That those upon whom the world smiles; or who, you have no desire to enjoy his presence? if ever they pray, are saying, "Lord, rank That you never strive to please him ?—In me with the healthful, the rich, the honoura- vain also, you say, that you join in his worble!" But there are some who have the ship, and do not find your attendance irkknowledge of the holy, and are made wise some. For, not to inquire whether this is unto salvation. These no longer ask, "Who true; whether your heart never rises up will show us any good?" But their language against the doctrine of the Gospel, the strictis, "Lord, lift thou up the light of thy coun- ness of God's commands, and the spirituality tenance upon us. "There is only," says of his service-let me ask, How do you feel such a man as this, "there is only one class towards the same Being, alone? Do you of persons I envy. They are those whom relish private devotion? If you were with a the world overlooks and despises. They are person you dislike, in a large and entertainthe redeemed; the pardoned; the sanctified. ing company-though even then, you would They are those who are blessed with all rather he was absent; the hour would pass off spiritual blessings in heavenly places in less disagreeably, perhaps, even pleasantly, Christ.' These, and these alone, I envy: not-because you would have other attractions that I grudge them their privileges, or wish and engagements: but suppose all the rest to deprive them of their portion; but I long were withdrawn, and you left with this indiabove all things to share with them. "Re-vidual only-your situation would then be inmember me, O Lord, with the favour that tolerable, and your only wish would be to esthou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with cape. The application is easy. It is little thy salvation; that I may see the good of thy proof of your regard for God, to intermingle chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of with a large and respectable congregation in thy nation, that I may glory with thine in- the sanctuary, especially where all the exheritance! Be merciful unto me, as thou terior of devotion is inviting; where the pulusest to do unto those that love thy name." pit is distinguished by talent and eloquence, and the preacher is "as one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an in


From these words we observe

I. THERE ARE SOME WHO LOVE GOD's NAME. The word name, in Scripture, is sig-strument." The question is, How do you nificant of person. Thus we read of "a few feel towards God in the want of all this? Do names in Sardis," which had not defiled their you love to meet him in solitude? There are garments; and when Peter stood up in the those who do. midst of the disciples, it is said, "the number of the names was about an hundred and twenty." As names distinguish, and make known, and recall to our minds, the characters to whom they are attached, it is hardly a

There are those who can say, "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.


figure of speech to make them stand for the individuals themselves. Thus it is with God. His name means his perfections, his nature, his being, himself; and they who love his name mean those who love himself.


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