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should exercise all possible vigilance to keep his counsels, and preserve inviolate his holy commandments.] 3. They should be kept ready for use
[It is not sufficient that we have reduced the counsels of God, as it were, to certain heads, and made memorandums of them in our books, so as to be able to refer to them when occasion requires : we should have them“ inscribed on the tablet of our hearts," so that they may be always at hand, ready to direct and regulate our ways. Conscience, by looking inward, should be able to see them in an instant, and to suggest the line of conduct conformable to them. Moreover, we should have them “ bound also upon our fingers,” so as both to be reminded of them at all times, and be ever ready to carry
them into execution. To this effect Solomon explains his meaning: “ Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee: for the commandment is a lamp, and the law is light: and reproofs of instruction are the way of life e."]
4. They should be guarded with the tenderest affection
[With persons standing in near and dear relation to us, we are accustomed to live in habits of intimacy, consulting them on any occasions of difficulty, paying considerable deference to their judgment, and easily influenced by their opinions. Now in this light we should view the counsels of our God: we should be familiar with them; we should consult them on all occasions, and yield them a willing ascendency over our hearts. Instead of standing aloof from them as strangers, we should claim, and glory in, our relation to them: we should " say unto Wisdom, Thou art my sister ; and call Understanding our kinswoman.” We should, by our conformity to the dictates of Wisdom, prove, and manifest, our relation to her; and constrain all who behold us to acknowledge, that God is our Father, and that Christ, “the Wonderful Counsellor," is our Friend.]
To encourage this acquaintance with the Divine counsels, we will proceed to state, II. The benefits which we shall derive from a due
attention to them— In our text itself, the great benefit of complying with the exhortation is stated, in short but comprehensive terms; “Keep my commandments, and live.” But in the verses following our text, a particular ad
e Prov. vi. 20—23.
vantage is insisted on, namely, the being delivered from the snares and temptations to which we are exposed. That we may comprehend both, we would observe, that by our attention to the Divine counsels, 1. We shall be delivered from evil
["From the way of the evil woman" is particularly noticed, both here and in the preceding chapter: and doubtless an attention to the counsels of Wisdom will eventually secure us against those temptations which lead captive so great a portion of mankind. But we need not confine our views to iniquities of one kind only: the advice here given is equally useful in preserving men from snares of every kind. From the inspired volume we learn the folly and malignity of every sin. The temptations of the world, the lusts of the flesh, and the devices of Satan, are all there exposed; and armour is laid up
for that we may successfully maintain the combat against them. Our blessed Lord himself, in whom was no sin, drew from this armoury the arrows and the shield with which he vanquished the tempter in the wilderness: and from the same source must we also be furnished. Thus David tells us : “ Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? Even by taking heed thereto according to thy word :” and again, " Thy word have I hid within my heart, that I might not sin against thee." Would you then be kept from evil tempers, and evil passions, and evil habits of every kind? Study the sacred records : treasure up in your minds the terrors of God's wrath as there revealed, and the declarations of his mercy as there promulgated. There see the wonders of redeeming love unfolded to your view, and the blessedness of those who have been monuments of converting and saving grace. Let every part of God's word have its proper bearing on your hearts and consciences, and it shall be effectual for your salvation. Whatever lusts you have hitherto indulged, you shall, through the influence of the word, and by the power of the Holy Ghost, be sanctified; as our Lord has said; “Sanctify them through thy truth ; thy word is truth :" and again, “ Now are ye clean through the word that has been spoken unto you.”]
2. We shall be carried forward in safety to everlasting life
[So says our text; “ Keep my commandments, and live.” So also says our blessed Lord: “I know that thy commandment is life everlasting?" We must remember, that it is not of mere morality that we are now speaking, but an impartial attention to the whole revealed will of God. And where this is, God will surely pour out upon the soul his richest blessings. Hear what our blessed Lord says respecting this : " He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him: ” yea, “We will come to him, and make our abode with him 6." What unspeakable benefits are these! Favoured with such communications, what can we want? --- But it is not in this world only that such persons are blessed: for to them are secured all the blessedness and glory of the world to come; according as it is written, “ Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have a right to eat of the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city h.” This right indeed is not founded on any merit of their own; but solely on the promises of God made to them in Christ Jesus. It is Christ who, by his obedience unto death, has purchased these blessings for us : but it is to his obedient servants only that these blessings shall ever be vouchsafed. They however shall inherit them; nor shall all the powers of darkness be able to rob them of their promised inheritance. Only " let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom'," and you shall never be straitened k, “nor ever fall; but have an entrance ministered unto you abundantly into the kingdom of our Lord aud Saviour Jesus Christ ?."]
f John xii. 19, 50.
& John xiv. 21, 23. h Rev. xxii. 14. i Col. ii. 16. k Prov. iii. 21-23. and iv. 12
1 2 Pet. i. 10, 11.
ADDRESS PREPARATORY TO CONFIRMATION. Prov. viii. 17. I love them that love me, and those that seek
me early, shall find me. THESE are the words of our blessed Lord”, who, under the name of Widom, addresses himself to the children of men', and urges them to receive instruction from him. But to the young they are more particularly directed: and it is for their encouragement more especially that I have selected them for our consideration at this time.
Two things they declare to us most explicitly; I. Who they are that already enjoy God's favour
God in some respects may be said to love the whole world, even in their present degenerate state:
a ver. 22–31. . ver. 4, 5. c ver. 32, 33.
for “ he so loved them, that he gave his only-begotten Son for them.” But there are some who are more particularly the objects of his favour. Mark, 1. The description given of them,
[“ They love the Lord Jesus Christ.” They know his character, as set forth in the Holy Scriptures; they know him to be the only, and all-sufficient Saviour of fallen man They have seen and felt their obligations to him, and have sought for redemption altogether through the blood of his cross — They live in daily habits of communion with him - - They have a good hope of acceptance with God through him And his very name is precious to their souls
-] 2. The love he bears towards them
[“ He loves them," and looks with peculiar complacency upon them, “ rejoicing over them with joy, and resting in his love, and joying over them with singing.” To them he delights to “ manifest himself, as he does not unto the world,” even to “come and sup with them",” and “ make his abode with them"
“ He rejoices over them to do them goods,” imparting all needful supplies of grace and strength to their souls”, and ordering all things both in heaven and earth for the promotion of their welfare i
He accounts them “ his jewels k” and “his peculiar treasure!;" and esteems the salvation of their souls a rich recompence for all the sufferings he ever endured m
- For them does he interest himself day and night in heaven; ever" making intercession for them" with his Father, and preparing kingdoms for them, which they in due season shall inherit, in glory and felicity similar to his own"-
0! who amongst you does not desire to partake of this blessedness? – -1
But as amongst you there must be many who are not yet in this blessed state, and who yet desire to participate this happy lot, we proceed to shew, II. Who they are that shall certainly obtain it-
In some respects it may be said, that “ He is found of them that sought him not, and made known to them that inquired not after him.” But no person is authorized to hope for an interest in his favour, unless he seek after it. The promise is, “ Ask, and ye shall have; seek, and ye shall find.” But
d Zeph. iii. 17. e John xiv. 21-23. f Rev. üi. 20. 6 Jer. xxxii. 40, 41. h John xv. 5, 7, 16. i Rom. viii. 28. k Mal. iii. 17.
1 Exod. xix. 5. m Heb. xii. 2. Isai. liii. 11. n John xiv. 2. Rev. iii. 21.
The persons to whom the promise is more especially made, are “ those who seek him early.”
Those who seek the Lord even at the eleventh hour" shall not be cast outo; but those who in the early dawn of their day are found desirous of entering into the service of their Lord, shall surely be employed by him. The very circumstance of their seeking the Lord while yet they are free from the cares of this life, and before their souls are vitiated with its sinful pleasures, whilst their consciences are yet tender, and their hearts open to every good impression, is a strong presumption in their favour: we should be ready, without any express promise from God, to say, that such persons “shall never seek his face in vain.” But we have an absolute promise in their favour: we can assure them from God himself, that they “shall never fail."]
They,” says our Lord, “shall find me”
[Yes, he will delight to visit them: they are “ the lambs which he will carry in his bosom P;" “ the little ones, whom he will never suffer to perish." Though they be weak both in knowledge and in grace, “ he will not despise the day of small things.” He says, “ Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.' And when he sees them flocking around him, he will “ take them up in his arms, and put his hands upon them, and bless thems!
When he saw only “ some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel” in the heart of young Abijah, he noticed it with a distinguishing mark of his favourt: and how much more will he, when he sees " the babes desiring the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby,” and actually growing in stature up to young men and fathers! Verily their hosannahs, however despised by men, shall enter into his ears with acceptance, and their prayers shall return in " showers of blessings” upon their soulsu
They shall “ find him” here an ever-present help, and hereafter their inestimable and everlasting portion --] ADDRESS 1. To the Young People here assembled[You are about to be confirmed. But do
know what confirmation is? You were consecrated to the Lord in your baptism; and a solemn engagement was then entered into in your behalf, that
should love him, and surrender up yourselves entirely to his service. This vow you are now going to
o Matt. xx. 6, 7. p Isai. xl. 11. 9 Matt. xviii. 14. Luke xii. 32.
r Zech. iv. 10. $ Mark x. 14-16. + 1 Kings xiv. 13. u Luke xix. 40.