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extraordinary in the circumstances, and accompanied with terror and anguish. She was overcome by the smiles of mercy, and drawn by the cords of love. He, with the arrows of the Almighty sticking fast in him, and with a wounded spirit which he could not bear, was dragged to the judgment-seat, looking only for the sentence of conlemnation. Her heart the Lord opened, as the sun opens a flower in spring. His heart was stormed like a citadel, where the strong man armed kept his palace and his goods in peace.
Hence we see by what various methods divine grace operates upon different persons, and learn how improper it is to lay down any one of them as a rule from which there is no exception. Let us not judge of the reality of the religion of others by an invariable standard; or draw a conclusion against ourselves, that we are strangers to a work of grace, because we have not been led in the same way with others. The Saviour may come in the bosom of the storm : but his presence and agency are no less real, in the still small voice. Samuel was called by grace as well as Manasseh : and Watts was saved by grace as well as Bunyan. “There are differences of administration, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations : but it is the same God which worketh all in all."
The surest and best way to judge, is not by the manner in which the change has been accomplished, but by the effects produced and remaining. And happy they who are able, whatever that is curious or minute may perplex them, to say, one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, I now see; whereas I was once dead, I am now alive.
May 22.-"He shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God."-Micah v. 4.
If it be asked, of whom speaketh the prophet this ? the words immediately preceding will furnish an answer; for they announce the birth of our Saviour in Bethlehem, and call him the ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old from everlasting. Micah refers to him under the implied character of the Shepherd of his people, and expresses his work
He shall "feed.” The term is not to be confined to his furnishing bis flock with food: but to be taken as including the discharge of the pastoral office in all its parts-his causing them to rest-his leading them-his restoring them when they go astray-his healing them when wounded or sick-his defending and securing them. But observe the manner in which he is to perform his work.
He is to do it diligently and attentively-He shall stand and feed. We read of shepherds who le down, loving to slumber. And even the most dutiful and sedulous shepherd sometimes unbends; he must have his moments and hours of relaxation and repose, during which his vigilance is suspended. But Jesus is always in a posture of observance and care; his sheep graze or repose beneath his look; he withưraweth not his eyes from the righteous. He that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.
He is to do it ably and powerfully-He shall feed in the stength of the Lord. On carth he had power to forgive sins, and heal all manner of diseases, and call by his word whom he would, and they came unto him. He said to Zaccheus in the tree, make haste and come down; and to Matthew at the receipt of custom, follow me; and immediately they obeyed him. Has he less power pow he is in heaven? He has power given him over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as the Father hath given him. It is their happiness to know that they are under the charge of one who is mighty to save; able to save unto the uitermost. Their weakness requires this; their condition requires it. They are surrounded with enemies. Many of them are visible; but if our eyes were opened to see the invisiyle, we should be convinced that we could not be for an instant safe but as we are kept by the power of God. David reminded of his inequality to the foe he was willing to fight, said unto Saul; “ Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the Hock: and I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him." And what said the Saviour? “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.” His people do not always apprehend this; their fears are often great because their faith is sinall; and they draw the conclusion that they shall one day perish. At other times they can realize it; and then they feel secure, though in the midst of danger, and can say with Paul-"I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded ihat ke is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day.at :
He is to do it with grace and dignity-He shall feed in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. It does not refer to a temporal and worldly majesty. This he did not possess. He was born in a stable and laid in a manger. He was a man of sorrows. He was crucified as a slave and a malefactor. Thus he had no form nor comeliness, nor any beauty, that they should desire him. Yet even then there were those who beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. One of these could say, “ We were eye-witnesses of his majesty'_ He refers peculiarly to his transfiguration, when his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment became white and glistering, and Moses and Elias appeared in glory talking with him, and a voice from heaven cried, This is my beloved Son, hear ye him. Compared with this, how poor, how mean is the pomp of a king on the most splendid of his court days! His kingdom was not of this world.
Action is graceful when art is concealed, and ease and nature seem only to appear. Louginus admires as an example of the sublime, the sentence, “Let there be light, and there was light:” and nothing can be more striking than the immensity of the etlect joined to the simplicity of the cause. How far was Jesus from parade and effort in all his miracles! With what facility did he accomplish his mighty works-yet with what amazing gentleness and tenderness too!
Majesty is here connected with strength. Power is not always dignified in the possession or the display. Some conscious of their force, are concerned for nothing else. They only think of coercion: they delight to intimidate: they would rather be feared than loved. These are vulgar and base spirits. Paul speaks of the excellency of the power which is of God. And had not Jesus this very power ? How mildly, how kindly he exerted himself. He came down like rain upon the mown grass. He broke not the bruised reed; nor quenched the smoking flax. He paused to hear the cry of the beggar by the way-side, and commanded him to be brought to him. He raised the widow's son, and presented him to his mother. Grace was poured into his lips. O! to have heard the tone with which he said, “Woman, thy sins are forgiven thee"-" Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Yes, the world might have seen that Deity was come down in the likeness of men. What could be before them but the image of the invisible God?
But “with God is terrible majesty." This always Jesus displayed. His day is called the day of vengeance of our God: the great and terrible day of the Lord. Who, asks Malachi, sball abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth ! He detected hypocrisy. He separated between the righteous and the wicked. He denounced Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, because they repented not. He doomed Jerusalem to war and desolation, because she knew not the day of her visitation. And never will he fail to show that he is not to be insulted, or even neglected with impunity. He is holy as well as patient; just as well as merciful. Nothing is represented so dreadful as the wrath of the Lamb: “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand ?"
MAY 23._"Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near.”_ Isiah lvii. 19.
Here is the proclamation of the Gospel-Peace, peace. From this lovely word the Gospel derives its name and its character: it is called “the Gospel of Peace.” Peace is sometimes used in the Scripture for well-being, or happiness at large: but here it is to be taken in its most appropriate signification, as holding forth the idea of reconciliation. Riconciliation wiih whom? With God, through the mediation of him who loved us, and gave himself for us—"God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” We had offended and provoked him, and he could righteously have destroyed us: we had no claims upon his pity; and had we been told that he was forming a purpose concerning us, and was about to send a special messenger, yea, even his own Son, into the revolted province, what would have been the forebodings of our guilty consciences! “But God sent not his own Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him should be saved." And it is not the language of vengeance we hear from his messengers, War, war !-but “ Peace, peace !” He does not wait for our repentance and submission, but of his own will he forms and accomplishes the plan. There were difficulties in the way of our restoration to his favour; these he removes : a sacrifice was necessary; this he provides-He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all. He made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. And thus having opened a new and living
way into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, he arrays himself as the God of love, and comes and invites us to return. We were hid among the trees of the garden, whither fear had urged us, and the voice of thunder would have driven us further in ; but the small still voice of pardon, assuring us that with the Lord there is mercy, and with him plenteous redemption, draws us forth to his feet, and we are accepted in the Beloved.
Too well we know, from observation and experience, the evils of war. Who has not felt the wretchedness of discord ? Who has not tasted the bitterness of alienation ? And who has not relished the luxury of restored sentiments of kindness, tenderness, and friendship ?-Let him judge of the joy and peace of believing! Yet what is peace with a brother, a friend, a father, a king, compared with peace with God! In his favour is life. Who can describe or imagine the calm after such a storm! It is a peace wnich passeth all understanding. It is angels' food--It is more. They never felt a certain fearful looking-for of judgment, and fiery indignation. They never knew a wounded spirit and the anguish of despair, upon which descended, with healing under its wings, a hope full of immortality. But the Christian, throwing the arm of faith around the cross, can say, “We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” “O Lord, I will praise thee : though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me."
But to whom is it addressed ? “ Peace, peace to him that is for off, and to him that is near." This immediately regards the Gentiles and the Jews, as we are assured by the Apostle, who, speaking expressly of these parties, says, “ He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition be tween us; and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” The Jews were a people nigh into him, not as to his essential presence, but his special and gracious. He resided among them; they had his oracles, his house, his ordinances, his servants. The Gentiles were far ofl, because they were strangers to all these privileges, and without God in the world. But Christianity knows no outward distinctions; it regards men as creatures in the same fallen condition, and brings them health and cure. “The Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difierence between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him."
By a parity of reasoning, this distinction will include other classes. They who are afar off, and they that are nigh, represent persons possessing certain privileges, or destitute of them. Some are nigh-That is, they were born of godly parents; they were piously educated: from children they have known the Holy Scrip tures. Others are far off-That is, 'hey are the children of irreil. gious parents, who teach them to swear but not to pray; and lead them into sin, but never go one step before them in the way evera lasting.
Some are nigh--They are moral in their lives, amiable in their tempers, teachable in their disposition; they seem as free from pre judice as from vice, and only require information and decision. O
such a one, our Saviour said, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” Others are far off—They are grossly wicked and abandoned, despisers of those that are good, profaners of the Sabbath, swearers, drunkards, and seem beyond the reach of reformation.
Some are nigh— They are the young, whose lives are free from care and trouble, whose understandings are not yet filled with error, whose consciences are not yet seared as with a hot iron, whose hearts are not yet hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, whose memories are retentive, and whose affections are tender and lively. Otliers are far off—They are the old, whose indispositions are inveterate, whose vices are deep-rooted, whose habits of evil have become a second nature—“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots ?" “ With man it is impossible ; but with God all things are possible.”
We could enlarge the number of cases. There are many who have advantages which others are denied. Some are rich and others are poor-But tile unsearchable riches of Christ are accessible to all. Some are learned, and others illiterate-But none can know divine things without a Divine teacher: and under his teaching, the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein.
The proclamation of the Gospel is therefore addressed to all, without exception. And there is the greatest propriety in this : for if its language was not universal; if there were any exclusions or omissions, awakened souls, sensible of their desert, would be sure to appropriate them, and conclude that they had no part nor lot in the matter. But they cannot question whether they are sinners; and Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. They cannot uestion whether they have been spending their money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfieth not ; put these are invited to hear, that their souls may live. The Gospel affords a complete warrant for every man to believe on the Son of God. We are surely nigh or afar off : but the command is, “ Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth."
MAY 24.-"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”—2 Cor. ii. 17.
This is mentioned for two purposes. First, to characterize the Gospel. It is therefore called in the preceding verse," the ministration of the Spirit.” Secondly, to describe the Christian. Natural men have not the Spirit, and if they make a profession of religion, it is only the form of godliness without the power-But Christians possess the Spirit. The Apostle takes this for granted in the Episile to the Galatians, and therefore inquires not whether they had received the Spirit, but how they had received it : “ Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith ?"
But bow is it to be ascertained whether we are made partakers of the Holy Ghost ? Observe the reasoning of David ; *. That thy Name is near, thy wondrous works declare.” He proves the presence of God from the agency of God. We are to do the same here. The residence of the Spirit is to be determined by the influences and operations of the Spirit. The Spirit makes those in whom he dwells “spiritual”—They “live in the Spirit”-and“ walk in the.