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eternal state-to think of appearing before Purity itself--to be resigned and willing to go-to do well what can never be done again —to glorify God—to edify others--to be an example to the last, and above all at the last—"Lord--Lord! increase our faith.” “Count us worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of Thy goodness, and the WORK OF FAITH WITH POWER."
JANUARY 8.--"He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye." Zech. i1. 8.
How admirably adapted to popular instruction and impression is the imagery of the Scripture! It is not taken from the learned sciences, or even from the mechanical arts-unless from their most simple and common operations with which all mankind are familiar: but from the aspects of nature, the seasons of the year, the occurrences of life, and the parts, attributes, and functions of the human frame so fearfully and wonderfully made. Who does not in a moment understand and feel the allusion before us? “He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye.”
It reminds us of union. Sin had separated between God and us, and we were once far off. But we are made’nigh by the blood of. Christ. In Him we are reconciled to God, re-united to God, and become one with God again. And so entire is the connexion, that every kind of intimate union is employed to express it. We are one, as the father and the child, as the husband and the wife, as the head and the members are one-yea, as the soul and the body are one“He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit”-no wonder therefore that he that toucheth them toucheth the apple of His eye.
It shows valuation. Even a man's selfishness endears this member. The apple of his eye is a source of too much usefulness and pleasure not to be highly prized by him. He would part with a thousand things rather than lose this, or be injured in any part rather than be hurt in this. How precious to the Lord are his people! He calls them His portion, His jewels, His glory. They who attract and attach Him, are not the great but the gracious** To that man,” says He, “will I look, who is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word.” IIe "taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in them that hope in His mercy." “ He will rejoice over them with joy, He will rest in his love, He will joy over them with singing."
It bespeaks attention. As a man values the apple of his eye, so will he assuredly take care of it, and endeavour to defend it. ' And it is worthy of our notice how the Creator has fenced and guarded this little, but inestimably precious member from evil by the fluids and the coats, the lashes and the lids; and with what involuntary quickness nature teaches us to cover and secure it when exposed. Yet all this falls short of the care which God exercises over His people. The apple of the eye is not half so liable to injury as they are; but how superior is their protection! Lest any hurt them, He will keep them night and day. In two places Ilis vigilance is spoken of under the figure before us. In the one it is implored : "Keep me,” says David, “as the apple of the eye, hide me under
the shadow of Thy wings.” In the other, it is acknowledged : "He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye." How well kept are those whom God thus keeps!“Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places."
It expresses sympathy. The pupil of the eye is peculiarly delicate and sensible : and it is not necessary to run the point of a knife into it, in order to make the owner shrink. A mote, or, as it is here expressed, a touch, will offend, and instantly affect all his sensation, And is it not said, “In all their affliction He is afflicted ?" A friend sympathizes in a friend's sorrow: a mother feels a more sensible interest in a child's suffering. Yet Job says, “My friends scorn me:" and Isaiah says, the mother “may forget” her sucking child, and “not have compassion on the son of her womb." But a man's feeling with an injured member of his body, especially the eye, and the apple of the eye, is not only exquisite, but absolutely unavoidable. And not less certain, as well as tender, is the Lord's sympathy with his people—“He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of 'His eye." What a source of consolation is here! Especially when we remember that His sympathy is accompanied with boundless wisdom and almighty power. “He doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number—to set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety.” “Nothing is too hard for the Lord.”
Let the adversaries of His people learn their danger. They hate the godly, and endeavour to injure them; and though their malice is often restrained, the Lord looketh at the heart, and will deal with them according to their intentions, wishes, and endeavours. And He considers them as opposing Himself. “Why,” said He to Saul, “ why persecutest thou Me ?" He did not persecute Him personally, but he was injuring His followers. The head was above his reach, but it felt the wounds he inflicted upon the foot. They who suffer for His sake, may well leave themselves to Him, whose they are, and whom they serve. He will surely plead their cause-"He thai toucheth them toucheth the apple of His eye."
Let ibis encourage us to do any thing for the people of God-He feels it as done to Himself. He" is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” “He' said the Saviour, “he that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth Him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward."
Let His people also learn their duty. They see how He regards them, and is concerned for their wellare-How should they regard Him, and be concerned for His glory? They should feel His cause to be dear to them. They should be sorrowful for the : !!!
assembly. The reproaches of them that reproach Him should fall upon them.
Those that represent strict piety as needless precision, should remember that nothing less is required of us than to avoid the arpearance of evil, to walk circumspectly, and to be always abounding in the work of the Lord— We are to regard His word as we keep the tenderesi part of the tenderes: member of our body. “Keep my commandments, and live; and MY LAW AS THE APPLE OF THINE EYE."
JANUARY 9.-" Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.”—Psalm lxxiv. 14.
WHAT creature in the animal world is intended by leviathan we cannot absolutely determine. We have a general description of him in the book of Job; but even this leaves the learned divided, some pleading for the crocodile and some for the whale. But it is not necessary to be a naturalist in order to be a Christian; and it is pleasing to think that though in the Scripture there are things hard to be understood, they do not affect the foundation of our faith and hope. The truths contained in the sacred volume are plain in proportion as they are profitable, and we are at no loss for an answer to the question, What must I do to be saved? Though we know not where heaven is, we are clearly informed how we may attain it, Though we are uncertain about leviathan, we are sure of the Consolation of Israel—“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ, This is the true God, and eternal life.”
Whatever be the animal intended, his name is here used to represent Pharaoh with all his policy and power, as we see from the verse immediately preceding: “Thou didst divide the sea by Thy strength: Thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters." Then it is added: “Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness." Who were the people inhabiting the wilderness? First, the birds and beasts of the desert. These found a fine feast in the destruction of the king and his army, whose carcasses, thrown on shore and remaining unburied, were greedily devoured by them. Secondly, the Jews themselves. They might very properly be said to inhabit the wi.. derness, because it was their present residence, and because they were, instead of speedily travelling through it, to sojourn there for forty years. Now Pharaoh and his host became meat for them, literally and morally. Literally, as they derived from the spoils of the foe a supply of means to sustain them, of attire to clothe them, of weapons to defend them, of silver, and gold, and jewels, to enrich them. Morally, as they derived from the event food for their gratitude, faith, hope, and joy, not only for the time being, when they sang His praise, but in all future perils and exigences. Hence in the days of Isaiah we find the Church pleading with God in allusion to it: “Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon ? Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for
the ransomed to pass over? Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.”
There is a people now inhabiting the wilderness. They are Christians. Whatever the world may be to others, and who are called "men of the world," it is no better than a wilderness to those who are born from above, and bound to the land of promise. They feel and confess it to be such, not only from the privations and trials they meet with in it, but from the principles and dispositions of their new nature.
And is there no leviathan whose heads have been broken in pieces for them, and from which they have been furnished with meat? Are there no past deliverances, no former mercies, upon which their souls can feed? Let us think of the redemption of the cross. Here their Lord and Saviour seemed conquered, but he gained a complete victory. He bruised the serpent's head; and through death destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. Now, said He, is the judgment of this world, now is the Prince of this world cast out; and I if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. Angels are not concerned here, and yet the transaction seems food for their minds, and fills them with admiration, love, and praise; and therefore they desire to look into these things. What relief and satisfaction then must it yield to those who live thereby! To see the curse not only defeated, but turned into a blessing; to see where sin abounded grace much more abounding, and the fall made the occasion of improving their original condition—what wonder if they exclaim, God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!
We may also notice their deliverance from their natural state. He hath delivered us, says the Apostle, from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son. And we are to look to the rock whence we were hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence we are digged. The review will be every way useful. What can feed our humility more? or our gratitude more? or our confidence more? or our rejoicing more? or our zeal more?
There are also Providential interpositions. Who has not some of these to remember ; in which God turned the shadow of death into the morning; and made a way the most strange and gracious for our escape? Whoso is wise, observes these things; and in looking back upon life, is able to see how many events, which perplexed and alarmed him at the time, afterward ministered to his faith and hope in God. David could say, it is good for me that I have been afflicted. Paul had a thorn in the flesh; but it preserved him from pride, drove him to prayer, and obtained for him therassurance of all-sufficient grace. What pleasure and profit must Joseph have derived from all the difficulties that tried him, yet issued not only in his release, but advancement and glory! He can break the heads of any leviathan; and out of the eater bring forth meat
"Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace:
JANUARY 10.--"He is not far from every one of us." —Acts xvii. 27.
Is there a God? This is the first question in Religion. And the proofs of his Being are so numerous and convincing, that few are foolish and vile enough to deny it. The next question is, or at least ought to be, How does He stand related to us? Is He our friend or our foe? Is He inaccessible, or can we approach Him ? Is He near, or is He far off ? To this inquiry, we have here a full answer—"He is not far from every one of us."
He is not far from every one of us, in His essence. “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit, or whither shall I fee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there.” Well might David say, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it." Yet Deism itself allows that He occupies universal space, and that it is impossible to confine Him. Here is a broad, an infinite distinction between creatures and God. No creature, not even an angel, can be ever in two places at once. But God is everywhere, at the same time. And what a thought is it, that wherever we are, He is a God at hand, and not a God afar off ; about our path and our lying dying down, and acquainted with all the imaginations of our heart! Do we believe it? If we reduced our faith to practice, what manner of creatures should we be in all holy conversation and godliness! Could we ever sin with God standing by and looking
He is not far from every one of us, in His natural and providential agency-Therefore, adds the Apostle, “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being." And therefore, says he again : “He never left himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from Heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." And says David, “That His Name is ncar, His wondrous works declare.”' Can we behold the appearances around us—can we observe the vegetable world with all its variety and beauty-can we think of the myriads possessing animal life, visible and invisible, in air and earth and sea-can we reflect upon the human race so fearfully and wonderfully inade and endued-and know that not one of all these beings is self-produced, or self-sustained—that the eyes of all wait upon Him, and He giveth them their meat in due season, that He openeth his hand and satisfieth the desires of every living thing; and be senseless enouglı not to see, to hear, to feel that God is not far from every one of us ?
He is not far from every ove of us, in religious dispensation. In this sense the Gentiles were said to be far off: but the Jews were a people near unto Him-For what nation is there, says Moses, that hath God so nigh unto them ? He resided in the midst of them by His laws and ordinances. They could see his power and glory in His sanctuary. They could hear His voice in His Prophets. To them were committed the oracles of God. In every perplexity they could consult Him; and He communed with thein from off the mercy-seat. Thus we are equa’ly, yea, much more eminently privileged. Not that we have the same ceremonial splendour, or the same miraculous interpositions; but we have all their spiritual