« AnteriorContinuar »
“standing before the throne,” and “falling down before the throne.” All is necessary to do justice to the subject. Their standing is a posture of readiness for service; and they serve him day and night in his temple. Their falling down is a posture of self-abasement, reverence, and adoration. But sitting shows distinction and privilege. Sitting in the presence of the king, especially when upon his throne, was limited to great favourites or near relations. “When therefore Bath-sheba went unto king Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah, the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king's inother.” And the Lord Jesus not only calls his people his friends, but his kindred—“ The same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”' Sitting is refreshment and resi-we sit when we come in from travelling or from toil. And they who die in the Lord "rest from their labours.” It is also the posture of festive enjoymentin allusion to which it is said, “Many shall come from the East and from the West, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven."
We have also their apparel-They were “ clothed in white rai. ment.” They had complied with the Saviour's invitation, who had counselled them to buy of him white raiment, that they might be clothed : and we are informed what this was; " the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” This is two-fold. It is their justifying righteousness, of which Paul speaks when he says, “ that I may be found in him; not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is of faith.” In this righteousness believers are not only absolved, but “exalted.” They bave more to appear in than Adam in Paradise : his righteousness was finite, theirs is infinite; bis was the righteousness of a creature, theirs is “the righteousness of God.”—And it is their sanctifying righteousness. We are required to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ," by a participation of his qualities, and an imitation of his example. The Scripture speaks of “the garment of praise;" and of being “clothed with humility." When we read of “ keeping our garments," and " not defiling our garments,” the reference is to our religious principles, and actions, and habits, which cover, and defend, and distinguish, and adorn the mind, as vestures do the body. And to these John refers when he says, “They have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb:" for the righteousness of Christ needs no cleansing. But their obedience is defective and polluted, and needs a sacrifice to render it acceptable, and grace to render it rewardable.
Finally; we are informed not only of their dress, but of their dig. nity. Persons may be clothed and not crowned; and they may be crowned, but not with gold !-But these “had on their heads crowns of gold.” The glory to which they are advanced is of the highest degree, and of the most durable and valuable quality-"Such honour have all his saints.” It shows the amazing goodness of God towards them; for originally they were nothing, and viler than the earth. They were guilty and depraved. But he not only spares them, but forgives them ; not only relieves them, but enriches and dignifies them. What a contrast between their lapsed and their restored condition! How'low the one, how elevated the other! “He raiseth
up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dung. hill; that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people."
Here is scope and food for ambition-true ambition-commendable ambition. Let us despise the groveling projects and pursuits of men of the world, who have their portion in this life, and, by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, honour, and immortality.
Oh! says the Christian, the attainment seems incredible-But, unworthy as I am, it is not too great for me to expect
" There shall I wear a starry crown,
And triumph in almighty grace;
Join in my glorious Leader's praise."
Joly 14.-"O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee : my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sunctuary."
Psalm lxiii. 1, 2. "As the man is, so is his strength :" and as the man is, so are nis desires. “They that are after the flesh do miad the things of the flesh; and they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Let persons therefore judge of themselves religiously, by their desires; and if the stream does not rise so high as they could wish, let them observe the direction in which it flows. Let them ascertain that their desire is to the Lord, and the remembrance of him; and the promise assures them, “ Blessed are they that do hun. ger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
Natural men live without God in the world. God is not in all their thoughts. If he attempts to enter their alienated mind, he is resisted as an intruder, and they say unto God, Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. But the spiritual delight themselves in the Lord. Their language is, “Where is God my Maker that giveth songs in the night?” “Whom have I in heaven. but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee." “It is good for me to draw near to God.”
We here see the strength of David's desire after communion with God in the discoveries and operations of his glory and power in his house and ordinances. Stronger terms could not be employed to express it. But two things served to excite and enhance it."
First, his present condition-“My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, in a dry and thirsty land where no water is." He was now driven out of his country, exiled from his inheritance, and deprived of the songs and services of Zion. And in this condition what does he only or chiefly mourn over? Not the loss of his domestic and civil advantages, but of his religious. “When I, remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone, with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that keep holy day.” How, says he, I envy the Priests and Levites—"Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, they will be still praising thee.” How I envy the companies that journey to Salim, whatever be the weather or the road—“Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them: who passing through the valley of
Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God." How I envy the little birds that flee, and feed, and build near the sacred place_“Yea, the sparrow hath found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God." There would . my nest be—the home of my heart—"My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.”
It has grown into a proverb, that we never know the worth of blessings till we know the want of them; and the poet sings
“How mercies brighten as they take their flight !" Thus sickness endears health. The Jews who had always been murmuring against Moses, mourned for him when dead many days; and no doubt sincerely, and even the more because of their former conduct. A minister may not be neglected: but it is when his hearers look up, and see his figure no more in the pulpit, and when they can no more hang upon his lips—it is then they begin to think how they have improved his labours, and are prepared for the next interview; it is then they recall his sermons, and borrow, and transcribe the notes which others have taken down. Children may not have undervalued a mother: but the full estimation of her im. portance is not felt till her ears are closed to all their complaints, and their cares find no longer an asylum in her loved bosom-upon this principle the Lord acts, and it will account for many of his dispensations. If we do not esteem and are not thankful for his benefits, he suspends or withdraws them. He can easily deprive you of any of those religious opportunities and advantages, from which you now suffer the most trifling excuses frequently to keep you. By the loss of hearing he can render you deaf to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. Accident or sickness may confine you from the place where his honour dwelleth. Or a change of business or residence may fix you in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is
Secondly, his former experience: “To see thy power and thy glory so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.” God is not confined to temples made with hands. His presence fills heaven and earth ; and David had seen his power and his glory in all his works; but he knew the special grace of the promise, “ In all places where I record my Name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.” And they who wait upon the Lord, and love the habitation of his house, hare always had proof of this, and can say with David_“I have seen him in the sanctuary. I am not to be disputed out of the reality of my experience. I have found him there, and communed with him as a man talketh with his friend. The influence and effect of the intercourse have vouched for the nature of it. It was not delusion, or enthusiasm. It has rendered sin odious; it has weaned me from the world; it has drawn me heavenward; it has taught me to rejoice in Christ Jesus, and to have no confidence in the flesh."
Others are strangers to this experience. It is what mere formalists and false apostates never knew. But it is an incomparable advantage to the possessor. It confirms his confidence in divine
truth: he has the witness in himself. It tends to preserve him in the way everlasting; and serves to recall him when he backslides. For he may be allured and drawn away for a time by other lovers; but he can never lose the relish he has had in the enjoyment of his God and Saviour: and the remembrance will excite him and reproach him, and make him long for it to be with him as in months past, when the candle of the Lord shined upon his head, and when by his light he walked through darkness; when as yet the Almighty was with him—" Then shall she say, I will go, and return to my first husband, for then it was better with me than now." Yea, this will always serve as a stimulus to urge him on in following hard after God. A person might have been ready to say, If David had seen God, why was he not satisfied ? But he was not satisfied because he had seen him. He did not indeed want more than God, but he wanted more of him. His enjoyment only increased his appetite, and his experience only provoked his desire—" To see thy power, and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary."
But what brings others to the temple? What brings you? Is it custom? or curiosity? Do you come to please your connections ? or to appease conscience? It is surprising that some of you attend the service of the sanctuary so regularly and constantly as you do. You never saw his power and glory there. You never prayed to see them before you went. You never inquired whether you had seen them after you returned. This has been the case with some of you twenty, forty years. Will such an attendance do for a dying hour? Where now are all the ordinances you have been favoured with all the sermons you have heard ? In the record of your guilt and condemnation, ready to be produced at the last day.
But a real Christian needs not threatening and authority to constrain him to attend the means of grace. He feels them attractive; he has found it good to be there— There he has found the house of God, and the gate of heaven, and can say
"I've seen thy glory and thy power,
Through all thy temple shine;
That vision so divine!
Can please my soul so well,
And in thy presence dwell.”
JULY 15.-" The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid."-Zeph. ii. 13.
Of the subjects of divine grace here spoken of we may remark
Their number : "a remnant.” A remnant is a small part compared with the whole. We should be liberal in our opinions of men, but we are not to sacrifice truth upon the altar of candour: and we should always speak, not from our feelings, but from our convictions; and always make our appeal to the law and to the testimony. Some think few are wicked enough to be turned into hell, and that very little is required to constitute a claim to eternal life. But the sentiment is very injurious. It allows them to be satisfied with the state they are in themselves, and keeps them from endeavouring to
save their fellow-creatures, whom they view as safe already. Nor is it less false. Take the characters of real Christians as they are found in the faithful word, and compare them with those who are living around you, and how few will come up to the representations? And does not the Scripture tell us that they are "jewels,” for their rareness as well as worth; that they are "a little flock" in a large field ; that they are “a garden" in a vast wilderness; that they are “as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uttermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof?” Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Yet God has never left himself without witness : he has always had a people for his Name; and this has been our case as a nation ; " for except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” But though the remnant has been small relatively, it has been considerable in the aggregate; and is now increasing; and will increase. We have seen great things; and our children will see yet greater; for “he shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit."
Of their sanctity: “they shall not do iniquity.” This must be taken with some restriction. We would not plead for sin ; but we must not oppose the testimony of God, which assures us that “there is not on earth a just man that doeth good and sinneth not.” “If we say we have no sin," says John, " the truth is not in us.” And James says, “In many things we offend all. But they are not “workers of iniquity," and "evil doers.” Sin does not reign in them; they do not obey it in the lusts thereof. There is no sin in which they knowingly live. They hate every false way; and esteem all his commandments concerning all things to be right. He that has “true holiness” cannot be satisfied without perfect holiness. He therefore prays to be sanctified throughout, body, soul, and spirit: and whatever falls short of this is matter of grief and humiliation to him.
Of their sincerity : “they shall not speak lies, neither shall a deceitsul tongue be found in their mouth." A part is put for the whole; and the quality of their speech is designed to express the inward temper of their minds. They shall be Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile. Every thing is lies with God that does not accord with the state of the heart; and only an upright spirit can maintain a deceitless tongue. The fruit partakes of the nature of the tree. What is in the well will be in the bucket : what is in the warehouse will be in the shop. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,” Infirmity is not hypocrisy. They are not mere pretenders. They do not draw on a fine white glove over a filthy leper's hand. They are not like a painted sepulchre, fair without, and rottenness within. They are not mere actors on a stage; but are really what they appear to be. Their integrity is peculiarly known by this—there is nothing of which they are more afraid than self-deception. They therefore come to the light. They examine themselves by the rule of the word. They implore the inspection of God himself: “Search me, O God, and know my