Imágenes de página

manifestations are less sensible, he is as truly present in the Christian as in the Jewish sanctuary. It is insured by his promise, and confirmed by the holy and happy experience of all his people. Hence they feel this to be the principal attraction when they assemble together in his name. They love the habitation of his house, because it is the place where his honour dwelleth.

But what means this law of the temple to regulate the attendants in their ingress and egress? “He that entereth in by the north gate to worship shall go out by the way of the south gate; and he that entereth by the way of the south gate shall go forth by the way of the north gate; he shall not return by the way of the gate whereby he came in, but shall go forth over against it.”

First, it was to prevent confusion, and to keep order in their comings and goings. God is not the God of confusion, but of peace. He has not deemed it beneath him to enjoin, “Let every thing be done decently and in order." He is the example of what he requires --order pervades all his works. The heavenly bodies are called “the army of heaven,” to signify not only power but discipline; not only multitude but arrangement-"He brings out their host by number, he calleth them all by names." When Peter went into the sepulchre, he saw " the linen clothes lie, and the napkin that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself." This proved how unlikely it was that the body could have been stolen away in haste and fear, either by foes or friends; and shows the presence of mind and calmness with which our Saviour left the tomb—but does it not also show that he did nothing negligently and disorderly? All greatness, in proportion to its degree, demands order. Surely not only holiness but decorum becomes God's house for ever. How far this is often displayed in our assemblies, especially in entering and departing, we leave observers to judge.

Secondly, to express respect and reverence. It is deemed only polite and becoming for persons in leaving a room not to turn their back on the company. Courtiers always leave the presence of the king with their faces towards him—The very thing God here requires for himself. He will be sanctified in all that come nigh him.” “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him." The prohibition here by an outward and visible sign, shows the inward and spiritual obeisance and homage his infinite majesty demands and deserves. He complains of the want of it: “They have turned unto me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction." Therefore, says he, to express their punishment, under the same image with their sin: “I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will show them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.”

Thirdly--That you are not to turn back in serving God, but to go forward. “If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." “ But,” says the Apostle, we are not of them that draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul”-that is, who "continue in the faith,” “to life everlasting." We are not even to look back; but to say, with Paul, “Forgerting the things that are behind, and reaching forth to those that are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of my high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Fourthly-That we never go out of God's house as we go in. This was true of the Jews locally, it is morally true of us. As the departure of these worshippers was remote from the place of their entrance, so we withdraw from his ordinances further from heaven or hell than we entered in ; less meet for the former, or more prepared for the latter. Ministers are a sweet savour of Christ, both in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one they are the savour of life unto life; but to the other they are the savour of death unto death.

Who believes this? Who trembles at the thought ? Who earnestly, constantly prays, that our coming together “may be for the better and not for the worse ?”

March 11.—“The rich and the poor meet together.”—Prov. xxii. 2. When we think of the universe, we are immediately struck not only with the number of creatures in it, but the variety. If we enter heaven, instead of sameness we find “thrones and dominions, principalities and powers," angels and archangels. “There are also celestial bodies and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.” * All flesh is not the same flesh: hui there is one kind of flesh of men, another of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.” What an amazing diversity is there in the human species! No two persons are so perfectly alike in voice, form, and feature, as to be undistinguishable by close and accurate comparison. And yet all these constitute one and the same kind of beings; and the accordances among them are far superior in number and importance to their inequalities. Solomon remarks this, and says, “The rich and the poor meet together.”

He mentions," the rich and the poor,'' not exclusively, for there are many other human distinctions; but specifically. He specifies these for two reasons. First, because " the rich and the poor" are the most common and general division of mankind. They are every where to be found; and comprehend many more than any other discrimination. Secondly, because they are also the most influential division. What is there the multitude dread so much as penury, or desire so much as affluence? How many are there who would rather be wicked than poor, or rich than pious! How much cleverer, and handsomer, and even younger, is a woman with a fortune than without one! How much more is a man listened to, wbatever folly drivels from his lips, if he has a large income! How do the revolted tribes of Israel worship the golden calves! But “the rich and the poor meet together;" and if it be asked how ? and where? we answer,

In their original. Hence Solomon adds, "the Lord is the maker of them all.” We are the clay and he is the potter, and we are all the work of his hands. When Job speaks of his man servant, he therefore asks, “Did not he that made me in the womb make him ? and did not one fashion us in the womb ?" We have not only “one father," as God is the sole creator, but as Adam is the only founder of our race. Some have talked of Preadamites: but the Apostle speaks of " the first man Adam:" and says, “God has made of one blood all the nations of men.” This is not a mere truth but a useful one. It renders us all intimately related to each other. It is the cure of envy, pride, unkindness. Wherever I see a human being, I see a brother.

In their dependence upon God. In him all live, and move, and have their being. This is as true of the rich as of the poor. Yea, the inore we possess, the more dependent are we.

In their mutual need of each other. If the poor need the wages of the rich, the rich need the service of the poor. The king is served by the labour of the field. “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.”

In their fallen condition. They have turned every one to his own way; but all have gone astray. All have sinned. There is none 1 righteous, no not one. All therefore are guilty before God: all are unfit for his kingdom without being made ne.v creatures; and all are equally incapable of recovering themselves from their lapsed estate.

In the work of their salvation. There is only one name given under heaven among men whereby they must be saved. All are washed in the same fountain. All are healed by the same remedy. All are justified by the same blood. All are renewed by the same Spirit.

In the means and ordinances of divine grace. The rich and the poor meet together in reading the same Bible; in kneeling before the same Throne of Grace; in hearing the same servants of the most high God: in surrounding the same table of the Lord, and partaking of the same emblems of the body and blood of Christ. In the holy communion, the rich receive no better bread and wine than the poor; and as there is no preference in the sign, so there is none in the thing signified—“It is the common salvation."

In liableness to the same calamities of life. Family bereavements, bodily pains, eclipses of reason--how numerous the ills that flesh is heir to !-- befall the bigh as well as the low. Yea, if there be any difference, there is on the side of the former, more exposure to assault . and more acuteness in enduring.

In the sentence of mortality. In this war there is no discharge. Death is the way of all the earth. The grave is the house appointed for all living. " There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor. The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.” “ All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again."

In the proceedings of the last day. None are so little as to be overlooked; none are so great as to be excused. I saw, says John, the dead, small and great, stand before God. We must all, says the

Apostle, appear before the judgment-seat of Christ. Thus the rich and the poor meet together. What inference should we draw from this fact ? Read the next article.

MARCH 12.-—"The rich and poor meet together."—Prov. xxii. 2. What is the inference to be drawn from this fact? The subject is capable of abuse, and fertile of improvement.

It would be foolish to conclude from it that all conditions are alike in themselves, or with regard to us. As if a man was no more favoured who resided in a comfortable dwelling, than one who had not where to lay his head. Our Saviour himself said, “it is more blessed to give than to receive ;" and surely this shows at least one advantage the possessor has over the destitute. We teach our chil, dren to say,

“ Not more than others I deserve,

Yet God hath given me moreAnd are we not to be thankful for the exemptions and indulgences by which we are distinguished ? On the other hand, if we are deprived of certain outward comforts, we are required to submit to the will of God; but the submission does not imply indifference of mind; yea, the submission would not be a virtue, unless we were allowed to value what we are called to resign. The religion of the Bible is nerer enthusiastical; it never demands the sacrifice, but the sanctification of humanity and common sense.

But there is the inference of faction as well as of fanaticism“The rich and poor meet together”_" Therefore give up the ranks of life, and let us have an equality.” A certain equality if you please; that is, an equality of right to unequal things. Let the cottage have as full a right to protection as the mansion; and the peasant's cart be as sacred as the nobleman's carriage. This is reasonable and righteous; and this privilege we enjoy under the laws of our wise, just, and happy constitution. But it is far different with an equality of condition and possession. Indeed the advocates for this doctrine do not plead for it in all cases. You never find them zealous to level up, but only to level down. They would reduce those above them, but leave unraised those that are below them, Their servants must remain servants still. The absurdity of this principle is so great and obvious, that it seems unworthy of being reasoned with : otherwise we might observe-That such an equality is impossible: if men were made equal to-day, they would be unequal to-morrow, owing to the difference in their understandings, their diligence, and their self-denial-That it is clearly the will of God that distinctions of rank and circumstances should prevail : hence in his word he has described the duties of superiors and of inferiors; and commanded us to render to all their due-And that it is better there should be such distinctions, as they call upon men for many virtues, the exercise of which would be impossible in a state of equality.

Yet it is desirable that these distinctions should not be excessive, o carried to their extremes. The welfare of the community consists much in the various gradations between the very rich and the very poor. And surely it is not favouring the levelling scheme, to oppose a state of things in which some have every thing and others nothing. Let there be poor as well as rich, but let them not only exist but live; let there be poor, but let them have employment, and food, and clothing. Where this is not the case, a country has retrograded, something wrong has entered, and till it be rectified there can be no solid and lasting peace or safety.

The truth should also lower the impression of these distinctions upon our minds. This should be felt, First, in judging others. Let us not only or principally regard them by outward and adventitious claims, but by their moral and religious worth. Character is independent of circumstances. In our eyes let a vile person be contemned, however rich; and let us honour them that fear the Lord, however poor. Yet, says Solomon, the poor is despised of his neighbour, but the rich hath many friends. Secondly, in judging ourselves. Let us not suppose that we are nothing if we are poor. A proper self-respect is as far from pride as it is from meanness, and is even a source of duty. If we are poor, let us remember we are not overlooked; that we are not excluded from any thing essential to our happiness; that we are not prevented even from acquiring greatness and dignity. We can be great in the sight of the Lord. We can gain the unsearchable riches of Christ. We can be greater conquerors than Alexander. We can appear in a glory that will eclipse the splendour of the universe. The poor have the Gospel preached unto them.-Let us not imagine we are every thing if we are rich. There are many foolish as well as hurtful lusts which attend wealth. Let us beware of them, and not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. A man's life consisteth nol in the abundance of the things which he possesses. We may be rich, and yet weak and mean and wicked and miserable. Let us not be proud of our condition. Who made us to differ from others ? He who can easily bring us down; he who will soon call us to give account of our stewardship. Shall we disdain others? He that despiseth the poor reproacheth his Maker ; but he that hath pity on · the poor, happy is he. Our wealth is not designed for hoarding or ] extravagance; but that we may give to him that needeth in all good' things. If the clouds be full, they empty themselves upon the earth.'

March 13.—" I withheld thee from sinning against me.”—Gen. xx. 6. So said God to Abimelech the king of Gerar, when he sent to take Sarah, Abraham's wife. But it will truly apply to every individual of the human race, though not in the same circumstances.

All sin is against God— There is a propensity in man to the commission of it-and God's agency is necessary to restrain us from it. Some of our fellow-creatures have gone great lengths in iniquity; and have acted more like incarnate demons than human beings. These show us what our depraved nature is capable of, when placed in conditions favourable to temptation, and affording both opportu nity and power. And yet even these have some restraints. The worst characters that ever lived never committed a thousandth part of the wickedness they woull have committed had they not been checked and hindered. If God did not interpose there would be no

« AnteriorContinuar »