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be light." Little did this poor woman expect to meet with such a glorious change in her circumstances at the funeral of her last comfort. "When the Lord turned again her captivity, she was like them that dream!" But he was pleased to bring her thus low before he helped her, to teach us never to think our case desperate, or to suppose that his interference can come too late.
But he does not deliver me! The time and the manner of relief are his own. There are cases in which he can do us more good by the continuance than by the speedy removal of our sorrows. But of this we may be assured, that he will not suffer us to call upon him in vain.
Let us apply this to a particular case. You say "I share in this woman's affliction, but not in her joy. My child is dead-but no Jesus says to me, Weep not." Yes, Rachel-" Thus saith the Lord; refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border." But he will not raise my child to this fond embrace? Yes-He who said to the young man, "Arise!" is "the resurrection and the life." Thy child shall rise again, and be delivered unto thee all over glorious; and no fear of separation shall damp the joy of your re-union. III. WHAT THINK YOU OF CHRIST? Does not his character combine every excellency and attraction? And is the relation of all this given us merely to gratify our curiosity? Are we to peruse the life of our Lord and Saviour as we would read the history of a Cyrus or Alexander? No-it is not written for our amusement, but for our profit. And then we peruse it properly, when we admire himlove him above all-depend wholly upon him -and feel the transforming efficacy of every view we take of his character, "changing us into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord."
Let us therefore "be followers of him as dear children." Let us cultivate benevolence, and do all the good we can, especially to the fatherless and widows. These he has pecaliarly recommended to our attention, not only by his example, but by his word. "Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless." We know you cannot work miracles—but you can | show mercy. Go-"visit the widow in her affliction." We know you cannot raise her dead son-but you can preserve her living one. Go and administer healing medicines and wholesome food; go and clothe his naked
body, and inform his ignorant mind; go and endeavour to snatch him from ruin, and render him the staff of his poor widowed mother's age. Go-go, and enjoy all the luxury of doing good. "When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me: because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for jov."
And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall sure ly die, because we have seen God. But his wife said unto him, If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burntoffering and a meat-offering at our hands, neither would he have showed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.—Judges xiii. 22, 23. SAMSON is the last of the Israelitish Deliverers recorded in this book. He differs very much from all his predecessors; for we never find him presiding over the council, or commanding in the army; but he was a tremendous scourge to the enemies of his country in his own person.
His history is full of wonders. An angel ushers him into the world. This angel first appeared to his mother, and foretold his birth. He soon after discovered himself also to his father, in company with his mother. His father immediately provided an entertainment for him-but the angel commanded him to offer it in sacrifice to the Lord. He did sothe angel ascended in the flame, and they saw him no more. By this they knew that he was a divine messenger, and in consequence of this apprehension, “Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God. But his wife said unto him, If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt-offering and meat-offering at our hands, neither would he have showed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these."
And what does this passage teach us? I. WHAT PECULIAR Impressions DivinE MANIFESTATIONS MAKE UPON THE MIND. II. THE DIFFERENCE THERE IS IN THE KNOWLEDGE AND experience of the Lord's peopLE. III. THE PROFIT THAT IS TO BE DERIVED FROM A PIOUS COMPANION. IV. HOW MUCH THERE Is In the Lord's deALINGS WITH HIS PEOPLE TO ENCOUrage them at all times if they HAVE SKILL ENOUGH TO DISCERN IT.
I. See the peculiar impressions which Di vine manifestations make upon the mind.
To a certain degree these impressions are proper. Such manifestations ought to strike our minds, to humble us, to produce reverence and godly fear. If an earthly king were to call upon us, we should be filled with awe as soon as he discovered himself-how much more should this be the case, when he approaches us, who is "King of kings, and Lord of lords." Hence Jacob exclaimed, "How dreadful is this place: this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!" Job said, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee: wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.' Isaiah also, in like manner cries out, "Wo is me! for I am undone: because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts." Thus awfully were these good men impressed, as soon as they apprehended the presence and glory of God."
But impressions, good in themselves, may become excessive; and the cause producing them may be misunderstood, and even deprecated. Thus Manoah reasons: We shall surely die, for we have seen God!" This was a common apprehension of old, and it is easy to account for it. Ever since man became sinner, an enemy to God, every approach of the Deity has awakened in him terror and confusion. Our consciences naturally tell us that we deserve nothing but heavy tidings from the invisible world: we therefore dread every messenger thence. And even when God comes to us in mercy, the same sentiment occurs, and sometimes leads us, like Manoah, to mistake his design, and draw a fearful conclusion from it.
Thus, when he comes to convince us of sin, and to humble the pride of our hearts, we imagine that we shall now die-But we are mistaken; he is only come to prepare us for the proofs of his love. He impresses us with a sense of our danger, that we may flee for refuge; with a sense of our pollution, that we may wash and be clean, in the fountain which he has provided. "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." Thus, when he comes in providence, and destroys our schemes, and visits us with breach upon breach; here again we imagine we are going to be undone! But we shall presently see that he came as a friend, though disguised, and only used means to wean us from the world, and bring us more entirely to himself as our exceeding joy.
Let us, II. Remark the difference there is in the knowledge and experience of the Lord's people. What surprises and terrifies one, is both plain and pleasing to another. What opposite conclusions do Manoah and his wife draw from the same event! He infers wrath; she mercy. The former looks for destruction; the latter for salvation. Thus,
there are degrees in grace. There is hope, and the free assurance of hope. Some have little faith; others are "strong in faith," "rich in faith." In the Church there are babes; and there are those "of full age, who by reason of use have their senses exercised to dis cern both good and evil.”
And this difference is not always to be judged of by the order of nature, or external advantages. "There are first that shall be last, and there are last that shall be first." We find here the weaker vessel the stronger believer. Nor is this a solitary instance. They were women, yea widows, who ministered to our Lord of their substance. The three Marys approached the foot of the cross, when the disciples forsook him and fled. These also appeared first at the sepulchre. Nothing is said of the father of Timothy, but the Apostle celebrates the "unfeigned faith of his mother and his grandmother." He also speaks honourably to the Philippians of "those women that had laboured with him in the Gospel."
Neither does this difference in their attainments affect the reality of their religion, or the safety of their state. The infant is no less a child than the young man. Our Saviour does not despise "the day of small things." "A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory."
Nevertheless, it is very desirable to be matured and established Christians-not only to be alive in religion, but lively; not only to be fruitful, but to bring forth much fruit; and to be "filled with all joy and peace in believing," that we may not only have hope, but "abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." And this is important, not only as the glory of God, and the comfort of your own minds, depend much upon it, but also as it prepares for usefulness, and enables you the better to "serve your generation," and the more easily to "speak a word in season to him that is weary.'
This leads us to notice, III. The profit that is to be derived from a pious compa nion. "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward of their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but wo to him that is alone when he falleth: for he hath not another to lift him up." Man is formed for society, and religion indulges and sanctifies the social principle. And if a man be concerned for his spiritual welfare, he will be glad to meet with those who are traveling the same road, and are partakers of the same hopes and fears: he will be thankful to have one near him who will watch over him, and admonish him; who by seasonable counsel will fix him when wavering, embolden him when timid, and comfort him when cast down. And it is to be observed, that in spiritual distress we are often suspicious of
our own reasonings and conclusions: we | offering he had not respect." Secondly, the know the deceitfulness of our own hearts, secrets with which he had favoured themand are afraid lest while they encourage" Neither would he have shown us all these they should ensnare. We can depend with things, nor would as at this time have told more confidence upon the declarations of our us such things as these." This regards the fellow-Christians. Only let them relate their birth of their son, his education, his deliverown experience, recall to our minds some for-ance of their country-If the accomplishgotten truth, apply some promise, or give a ment of this be certain, our destruction is new turn to a particular circumstance-and impossible. we are relieved and delivered.
Let us leave Manoah and his wife, and think of ourselves. It is a dreadful thing for God to kill us. What is the loss of property, of health, or even of life, to the loss of the soul! Men can "kill the body," but there
And happy is the man who has such a friend and helper in "the desire of his eyes." In various instances, the importance of the female character to the welfare of man appears. She will aid Manoah in bringing up" is no more that they can do; but God is able to destroy both body and soul in hell." "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
Hence it becomes unspeakably important to know how he means to deal with us. And, blessed be his name, there are satisfactory evidences that he is not our enemy, but our friend, and concerned for our welfare. Some of these are more general; others are more peculiar.
their children: and the earlier parts of education devolve almost exclusively upon her. She will assist him in the management of his estate: "the heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of his life. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness." "No man ever prospered in the world without the consent and cooperation of his wife." She will also help He has not left himself without witness him in the preservation of his character, of" in that he has done us good, and given us his health, of his peace of mind. Her sooth-rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling ing voice can charm away "the evil spirit;" our hearts with food and gladness." her soft hand can smooth the wrinkles of an anxious brow, and wipe off the mildew of an unwholesome evening. But she is found, in the noblest sense, "a help-meet for him," in aiding his piety; in adding flame to his devotion; in furnishing motive to his zeal, By prayer, by example, by conversation, she can encourage his resolutions, disperse his doubts, and "help his unbelief." Such was the hap-grand sacrifice which Jesus made upon the piness of Manoah: he had one who was an cross for us?-But we know he provided it; "heir with him of the grace of life." "But we know he accepted it; we know that it was his wife said unto him, If the Lord were an "offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetpleased to kill us, he would not have re-smelling savour." ceived a burnt-offering and a meat-offering at our hands, neither would he have showed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these."
He has borne with our provocations; and though he could easily and righteously have destroyed us, we are still in the land of the living, and we ought to "account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation. The goodness of God leadeth to repentance."
Had he desired the death of the sinner, would he have provided and accepted the
Whence, IV. We take occasion to observe, that there is always enough in the Lord's dealings with his people to encourage them, if they have wisdom enough to discern it. How well did this woman reason! How naturally, yet how forcibly! "Nay-let us not turn that against us, which is really for us. We shall not die, unless God be pleased to kill us; and surely the tokens of his favour are not the pledges of his wrath."
Her conclusion is drawn from two things. First, the acceptance of their sacrifice: "If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt-offering and a meat-offering at our hands." It is not his manner to accept the offering, and reject the person: "And the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering; but unto Cain and his
If he were pleased to kill us, would he have given us such exceeding great and precious promises-promises so rich, so general, so free? Would he have said, "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." "Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out."
Resolved on your destruction, would he have favoured you with such affecting discoveries? Like the man in the Gospel, though unable to tell every circumstance attending the operation, cannot you say, "One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see?" Has he not "called you out of darkness into his marvellous light?" Are you not filled with wonder-does not every thing appear new? Have you not seen an evil in sin which has rendered it odious and burdensome
-a depravity in yourselves, which has led | alter; they meet with unexpected difficulties; you ever since to exclaim, Behold, I am vile their purposes are frequently broken off-but and such a glory in the Saviour as makes it is otherwise here. The foundation of God you willing to follow him whithersoever he standeth sure, and the "top stone shall be goeth? "Flesh and blood have not revealed brought forth with shoutings-grace, grace, this unto thee, but our Father who is in hea- unto it!" It shall never be said of the God ven." of our salvation-"He began to build, but was not able to finish." "We are confident," says the Apostle, "of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
May you likewise be humbly confident of the same truth. May you be enabled to say, with David, "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the work of thine own hands."
Had his aim been your ruin, would he have produced in you such sentiments and dispositions-So that the heart of stone is removed: you mourn for sin, and for the sins of others, as well as your own. You "hunger and thirst after righteousness;" and as much long to be sanctified as to be pardoned; and pray as much to obtain purity as peace. You love the sceptre, as well as glory in the Cross; and your dependence upon the Saviour's death is accompanied by endeavours to imitate his example; and you can never be perfectly reconciled to yourselves, till "the same mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." If he smiles, you are satisfied to bear the frowns of the world; and can say, as you advance in duty and reproach, "If this be to be vile, I will yet be more vile."
And under your greatest discouragements, under every temptation to go back, have you not been enabled to persevere in the use of means? Though you have been strangers to comfort and freedom in duty, you have not restrained prayer before him; but, through many a benighted season, you have waited for him "more than they that watch for the morning." On the very verge of despair, something has afresh excited hope: "then I said, I am cast out of thy sight: yet, will I look again toward thy holy temple." You have had a degree of confidence-not only that you shall not seek him in vain-but that you have not sought him in vain: "I said, in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplication, when I cried unto thee." And thus, while powerfully drawing you, he has been secretly sustaining you; as in the case of David, who said "My soul followeth hard after thee-thy right hand upholdeth me."
Now all this is really his work. By the grace of God, you are what you are: it is "he that has made you thus to differ" from others, and from yourselves. And if "the Lord has a mind to kill you," why should he have done all this? The conclusion is as obvious as it is encouraging. He could have destroyed you without these exertions in your favour. Surely, he does not excite expectations, to disappoint us; or desires, to torment us. Surely he does not produce a new taste, a new appetite, without meaning to indulge, to relieve it. Besides as he does nothing in vain, so he does nothing imperfect. What he begins, he is able to finish; and when he begins, he designs to finish. With regard to other agents, we cannot certainly infer the completion from the beginning: their views
And "when you are converted" from your doubts, and fears, and dejections, "strengthen your brethren. Comfort the feebleminded. Support the weak. Be patient towards all men. Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make strait paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed."
THE PROFANE EXCHANGE.
Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."-Heb. xii. 16, 17.
THE history of the wicked, as well as of the righteous, is useful. By their crimes we are cautioned; and we are warned by their miseries. And as the Israelites fled from the tents of Korah, when "the ground clave asunder and swallowed them up," saying, "lest the earth swallow us up also"-so should we abandon the course of the ungodly world, lest we share in their tremendous ruin.
Anxious for our welfare, the Scripture addresses our fear as well as our hope, and holds forth instances of divine vengeance, as well as proofs of divine mercy. Hence the command of our Lord: "Remember Lot's wife." And hence the admonition of the Apostle: "Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."
And what is all this to us? "Much every way." I compare your privileges with his
privileges your sin with his sin—and your | he sold his birthright." It is obvious that doom with his doom.
the loss was voluntary and base. First, it was voluntary. No one forced it from himhe sold it. He was indeed tempted to part with it by the sensation of hunger, and the sight of pottage when he was faint: an ob ject was before him which promised the im
hovah revealed himself; and there he was adored and served, while idolatry prevailed over all the other nations of the globe. And such was once the condition of this unhappy character. Accordingly he possessed the birthright, and stood in a fair way to obtain all the advantages flowing from it. And these were great and numerous.
To the birthright belonged pre-eminence over the other branches of the family. To the birthright appertained a double portion of the paternal inheritance. To the birthright was attached the land of Canaan, with all its sacred distinctions. To the birthright was given the promise of being the ancestor of the Messiah-the "first-born among many brethren"-the Saviour "in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed." And to the birthright was added the honour of receiving first, from the mouth of the father, a peculiar benediction, which, proceeding from the Spirit of prophecy, was never pronounced in vain.-Such were the prospects of Esau.
I. Let us view Esau in his original stateand COMPARE YOUR PRIVILEGES WITH HIS PRIVILEGES. To stand supreme in the house of the patriarch Isaac was no trifling prerogative his house was "the house of God, and the gate of heaven." In this family, Je-mediate gratification of his sensual appetite. But he could very soon have obtained food upon far easier terms. And surely the birthright could not have a rival in a mess of meat! Where was reason? Does the man yield to the brutes-No: he was not compelled to sacrifice his claims. And who compels you to abandon your hopes of heaven? Who forces you into perdition? You say that you live in a world full of enticing objects; that the dominion of sense is strong; that it is not very easy to resist the impulse of the moment. But is it impossible to resist! Have not many overcome, though placed in the same circumstances, and possessed of the same nature with you? What is goodness untried? Have you not reason as well as appetite? Is not grace attainable by you? Is it not sufficient for you? And remember that you can never have so strong a motive to commit sin as to avoid it. The greatest difficulties therefore which you have to overcome, are those which are placed to keep you from hell. What is the applause of a fellowcreature to the frown of the Almighty? What is a momentary pleasure to endless pain? And you know you act freely: you know that all the men in the world cannot force you to will: you know that the tempter can do nothing more than propose-the determination rests with you. You cannot justify yourselves even now to your own consciences, and hereafter, unable to allege one excuse, you will be speechless! Here is the true cause of your ruin-"ye will not come unto me that ye might have life." 66 Ye have loved idols, and after them ye will go."
And what are yours? It is true, you were not born in the house of Isaac; but you have been brought forth in a Christian country, in a "land the Lord careth for," where the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth." You have the Bible; you have Sabbaths; you have sanctuaries; you have ordinances; you have ministers; you have the throne of grace; you have the promise of the Holy Ghost and all things appertaining to your everlasting happiness are now ready. You possess much; but all your present advantages are not to be compared with those glorious hopes to which you are called by the Gospel. You have the prospect of becoming a "kind of firstfruits of his creatures," of joining "the general assembly and the Church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven"-a primogeniture whose privileges far surpass those of the son of Isaac: a birthright which comprehends a "better country" than Canaan, even heaven, where we shall reign "kings and priests unto God," where "the Lord commandeth the blessing, even life for evermore!" But this pearl is not for the swine, who, ignorant of its value, tramples it under foot; but for those who, conscious of its incomparable worth, prefer it to every thing else, and, like the wise merchant, are willing to sell all to buy it. These high advantages may be sacrificed.
Secondly, it was equally base. For what is the price of the birthright? An empire? A crown?-A crown sparkles in the eye of ambition: a throne is the highest pinnacle of human pride:-Nothing like it—but a despicable trifle, "one morsel of meat"-" a mess of pottage❞—the dearest dish, says Bishop Hall, that was ever purchased, except the forbidden fruit. But I feel ready to dis pute this. Are not you more than like him? Do not you surpass him in folly? For what do you sell the treasures of the soul and eternity-but a thing of nought, a feeting indulgence, a false point of honour, an imaginary interest? Here is your eternal infamy and disgrace! "Ye have sold yourselves," says the prophet, "for nought." For what proportion is there between the things which you thus exchange? Duly consider the "un
II. Let us therefore view Esau in the surrender of his privileges, and COMPARE YOUR searchable riches of Christ ;" think what it SIN WITH HIS SIN.—“ For one morsel of meat | is to be "blessed with all spiritual blessings