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JANUARY 23.-"Clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.”—Rev. i. 13.
The dress was sacerdotal; and our Lord's appearance in this attire was to remind John that He was the High Priest of our pro fession. This is one of the three grand offices He sustains and executes in the economy of our salvation-He who is the prophet that was to arise like unto Moses, and the King in Zion, is also an High Priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. And we make no scruple to say, that the first and second of these offices derive their efficacy and even their existence from the third.
The High Priest under the law was a very remarkable and important character. He was the medium of all intercourse betv. een God and the people. Thus he was a striking emblem of the Lord Jesus as the mediator of the new covenant. But in tracing the resemblance we shall pass by his personal qualities, the mode of his consecration, the oil that was poured upon his head, and his vesture to the skirt of which were attached the golden beli and pomegranatein all of which truth inay find some analogy and fancy more: and notice only the three actions he had to perform. These were,
First, expiation. He offered not only gifts but sacrifices: and we know the design; it was to atone for the sins of the people. The slaughter of the victims showed at once the penalty of sm, and the way of deliverance from it-life for life-for without shedding of blood there is no remission. Herein the High Priest typified the Saviour: but see how the former is surpassed by "he latter! The one offered for his own sins as well as for those of the people: the other was harmless, holy, undefiled, separate from sinners. The one repeated his sacrifices often, because they could not make the comers thereunto perfect; the other, by the one offering up of Himself, perfected for ever them that are sanctified. The one made atoneinent only for the congregation of the children of Israel; the other taketh away the sin of the world.
Secondly, intercession. We know not whether the High Priest used any words; but what he did, spake loud enough. For after slaying the victim, he took the blood in a basin, and, wearing the names of the tribes of Israel on his breast, he entered into the holiest of all, and sprinkled the mercy-seat, and burnt incense; while He who sat between the cherubim smelled the sweet savour. And thus Jesus, after bearing our sins in his own body on the tree, and obtaining eternal redemption for us, entered into heaven itself, with his own blood, there to appear in the presence of God for us, presenting and pleading his sacrifice, and founding on his satisfaction his claims in favour of his people. “Wherefore He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” “We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, who is the propitiation for our sins."
Thirdly, benediction. While he was burning incense within, the whole multitude of people were praying without, and did not depart till he came forth and pronounced the blessing. The very words he
used are recorded : “ The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” This language was more than a mere wish on the part of the High Priest; it was the blessing of Him whom they had offended, and was nothing less than an acknowledgment that God was pacified towards them, that they were in favour with Him, and might go away joyful and glad of heart. So his church had not long to wait, when they saw Him enter within the vail in his accession to glory, before He came forth in the effusion of his Holy Spirit, and commanded the blessing, even life for everinore, in the preaching of the Gospel. which assures us that we are reconciled unto God by the death of his Son, that we are accepted in the Beloved, and shall be satisfied early with his favour. "Happy art thou, O Ísrael.” “Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance ; in thy name shall they rejoice all the day, and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.”
JANUARY 24.-"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight.”—Psalm xix. 14.
All human beings should have a governing aim to influence and regulate them. And all have such an aim : but all have not a proper one. All wish to please: but we may divide them into three classes. Some please themselves. Whoever is offended, they must be indulged. Whatever be the claims of others, they will have their own way, and humour. Some strive to please men. And this is not in all cases improper. A condescending and obliging behaviour is lovely; and, therefore, enjoined. “Let every one of us please his neighbour.” But it must be “ for his good to edification ;' and in all things lawful; otherwise, “if I seek to please men, I shall not be the servant of Christ." Some endeavour to please God. These are, indeed, comparatively few ; but we hope their number is increasing. Such were Paul and his companions : “ We labour, that whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him." And such was David: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight.”
By a figure of speech, all authors frequently use a part for the whole. David wishes to dedicate to God all his powers and actions; and to walk before Him in all his commandments and ordinances, blameless. But if we take the expression as it is, we see how he extends his pious solicitude. A natural man may regard his conduct, especially as it falls under the observation of his fellow creatures. But does he make conscience of his speech? Does he make conscience of his thoughts ? David's care reaches to the words of his mouth, and the meditations of his heart; and he prays that both may be acceptable in God's sight.
The prayer shows his humility. When we have done all, we are unprofitable servants. A faithful examination of our holiest things will destroy all confidence in them, and prove that they need forgiveness, rather than deserve recompense. "My performances are so poor, so imperfect, so unworthy, that it must be an act of grace in Thee to regard them. Deign, O Lord, to smile upon them. .
View them in the Son of thy love; and for His sake forgive the evil and accept the good
"I cast them at Thy feet: my only pica
Is what it was, dependence upon Thee.” The prayer shows his affection. All must acknowledge the importance of loving God. But what is the best evidence of it? 16 This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” And the Christian delights in his law. It is enough for him to know what He forbids, or what He enjoins. This, says he, will please Him; therefore I will pursue it. This will offend Him; therefore I will forbear. David was anxious that not a word nor a thought should displease his God.
The prayer shows a consciousness of duty. We are all under an indispensable obligation to please God, both on the ground of gratitude and justice. Who called us into being? Who has fed us all our life long? Who sought us when lost, and ransomed us from death and hell? We are not our own. For we are bought with a price. He is our father, our master, our king. And without a concern to please Him, can we be good children, good servants, good subjects? There may be a time when an obligation to please an earthly superior may cease to be binding upon us. He may require of us what is unreasonable and unrighteous. But God's perfect will demands nothing but what is wise, and holy, and just, and good.
The prayer shows a regard to self-interest. David was not mercenary; but he knew he could not serve God for nought. In serving God we more effectually serve our own welfare: and as God himself has placed the advantage before us in the Scripture not only as a truth, but as a motive, it cannot be improper to regard it. Many will entreat the favour of the prince, and every one is a friend to him that giveth gifts. But if we were sure of gaining his approbationthan which nothing is more uncertain-yet vhat is it when obtained ? But if we study to please God, success is not only sure, but glorious. The friendship of the mightiest monarch can do very little for us; our greatest exigences lie far beyond the reach of human aid. But God can supply all our need." He is able to do for us) exceeding abundantly above all we are able to ask or think.
It would be endless to specify all the benefits attached to pleasing God. Is preservation from sin a blessing? “Whoso please God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her." There is nothing too vile for us to fall into if we provoke our Defender to withdraw from us. Is safety and concord a blessing? “When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Is the answer to prayer a blessing? “And whatsoever we ask we receive of Him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." Is a removal to heaven desirable? “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death ; and was not found, because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." He went indeed in a chariot of fire; but an apoplexy, an accident, a dropsy, a sever, will not be amiss, that takes us from a vale of tears into the joy of our Lord.
JANUARY 25.-.We are the Lord's.”-Rom. xiv. 8. By the Lord here we are to understand the Lord Jesus: witness the words immediately following: “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord buth of the dead and living."
Now it we examine, we shall find that He has every kind of claim and right to us.
He has a right, derived from his creating power. If “all things were made by Him," He made us, and not we ourselves. In consequence of this, he has a propriety in us, not only such as no mun can have in a fellow-creature, but such as even no father has in his own children. They are his in a subordinate and limited degree; but we are the Lord's absolutely and entirely. He brought us out of nothing; framed our bodies; covered us with skin and flesh ; fenced us with bones and sinews; and formed our spirits within us. Suppose we were to return to him all that we received from himwhat would be left as our own?
He has a right, derived from his providential care. He has not only given us life and favour, but his visitation hath preserved our spirits. Why died we not from the womb ? Who sustained us when we hung on our mother's breast? Whose mercies have been new every morning? Who has given his beloved sleep? Who has inspiied our connexions with all the tendernesses they ever expressed towards us? Whose are we but His, in whom we live, move, and have our being? How vile and mean to enjoy the light of bis sun-to breathe his air—to eat constantly at his table-to be clothed from his wardrobe-and not own and acknowledge our obligations to Him!
He has a right, derived from his redeeming mercy. We are not our own, but bought with a price, and He paid it. To feel the force of this claim, it will be necessary for us to weigh three things. First, the mighty and dreadful evils from which He has delivered us; sin, the power of darkness, the present evil world, death, and the wrath to come. Secondly, the state to which He has advanced us; its blessedness, its glory, its safety, its duration, its immensity. Even the beginnings of it here, its earnests and foretastes, are indescribable and inconceivable-even now the joy is unspeakable and full of glory; and the peace passeth all understanding. Thirdly, the way, the infinitely expensive way in which he has thus ransomed us. All comes free to us; but what did it cost Him! Owing to our ) slight Wews of the evil of sin and the holiness of God, we are very little struck with the greatness of rede uption and the difficulties attending it. It was easy to destroy man; but to restore him, in a way that should magnify the law which had been broken, and display God as the just, as well as the justifier, was a work to which the Lord Jesus only was adequate—and what does it require even of Him? Not a mere volition, not a mere exertion, as when he delivered the Jews from Egypt, and spake the world into being. He must assume flesh and blood.' He dwelt among us. For thirty-three years he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Let us go over his history; let us survey his sufferings; let us meditate on bis agony in the garden; his shame on the cross; his abasement in
the lowest parts of the earth: and all this for enemies; and all not only without our desert, but without our desire-till we feel we are drawn, and bound with the cords of a man and the bands of love-a love that passeth knowledge. Herce
He has a right, derived not only from what he has done, but from what we have done; a right derived from our dedication. If Christians, we have ratified his claims, and have actually surrendered ourselves to him, renouncing every other owner, and saying, “Lord, I am thine, save me. Other lords beside Thee have had dominion over me; but henceforth by Thee only will I make mention of thy name." Thus the Corinthians "gave their own selves unto the Lord.” In this surrender, the main thing is the heart; for if this be given, nothing will be withholden. This therefore is the Lord's demand: “My son, give me thine heart." And perhaps some can remember the particular time when this surrender was first effectually made. Perhaps they had been pressed by an affliction that had threatened their frame, or laid bare their earthly hopes. Perhaps a friend had urged-perhaps a sermon. But the surrender was made“Here, Lord, I give myself to Thee, with all I have, and all I am. My understanding shall be Thine, to know Thee; my will, to choose Thee; my conscience, to fear Thee
"If there be passions in my soul.
And passions, Lord, there be,
My Jesus, all to thee-" My tongue shall show forth thy praise. My time, my property, my influence, shall all he employed for Thee. And this dedication you have often renewed since in the hour of retirement in the field of meditation-in the house of prayer-at the table of the Lord
And having opened your mouth unto the Lord, you cannot go back. Nor do you wish it. To whom could you go? He hath the words of eternal life, It is your highest privilege to belong to Him. If you are the Lord's, He will take care of you. He will provide for you. He will guide you with his counsel, and afterward receive you to glory—“If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
JANUARY 26.—"They have forsaken the right way.”—2 Peter ii. 15. We shall leave the persons of whom the Apostle here speaks, and call upon you to think of yourselves. Religion is, very properly, held forth by the “right way;" and we have accordingly six admo nitions to bring forward concerning it.
First-inquire what this right way is. If you err here, the labour of advancing will be in vain ; your progress will only lead you astray, and terminate in disappointment, regret, and wo. And Solomon tells us “there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." How surprising and terrible to fall from the expectation of heaven into the depths of hell! Yet this will be the case of some, yea many, who will carry their confidence to the very door, “saying, Lord, Lord, open to us;" "and He shall answer and say unto them, I know ye not whence