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to crown your application if you seek according to the true order. Only remember the time of finding is both short and uncertain. You cannot be happy too soon; and your safety leaves you not a moment to lose — " Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near."
NOVEMBER 20.--" Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angela" -Matt. xxv. 41.
What a contrast between this sentence and the language ad. dressed by the same Judge to those on his right hand! That says, “ye blessed of my Father;' this, " ye cursed.” That says, " Come; this, “ Depart.” That says, “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;" this says, “Depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
The words are not for declamation, but belief. This “terror of the Lord" was not intended to be defined and comprehended, but was to be left to those forebodings of imagination in which there can be no danger of excess—“Who knoweth the power of thine anger ? Even according to thy fear so is thy wrath." We shall not therefore dwell upon the duration, or the nature of this misery; but only remark three things.
The first regards the origin of this dreadful state. It was not it seems at first provided for the human race, but “ prepared for the devil and his angels." Yet being prepared, the abode could receive any other rebels as well as they; and those who will join his party in our world, and do the works of the devil, as they have shared in the same sin, must share in the same suffering with him and his followers. Thus the sinner renders their place his own ; as it is said of Judas," he went to his own place."
The second regards the certainty of the doom. The denouncement is not an idle tale; it is not the offspring of the nursery, or the creation of priestcraft. The consciences of men tell them this, and much more frequently and seriously than they are willing to acknowledge. The misery is such, that if there was only a probability, or even a possibility of incurring it, wisdom would justify a submission to all the self-denial and sacrifices the Gospel demands. The children of this world act upon this principle, where their temporal interests are concerned. They throw overboard the lading of the vessel when they are not sure, but only apprehensive of a shipwreck: and yield to the painful excision of a limb when the preservation of the whole body is not certain, but probable, and in some cases possible. But before a man can suppose that this misery is not possible, and even probable; before he can question the certainty of it, he must prove either that our Lord never uttered these words as the Gospel affirms, or that if he did utter them he is not to be depended upon. But he is the faithful witness; and the Scripture cannot be broken. What a task then has the infidel to perform before he can lay his apprehensions to rest, and bid defiance to this sentence-He must prove that the Bible is a lie, or Jesus a liar. Men may be ignorant of these things, but they must be willingly ignorant.” And they cannot be ignorant long. And, considering the uncertainty of life, how soon, very soon may they be convinced too late! Hobbs said, when dying, “ I yield my body to the earth, and my soul to the great perhaps.” Thistlewood the traitor said to one of his comrades as he was ascending the drop,“ We shall soon know the great secret” -He meant, whether there was another world; and after death the judgment. What wretched infatuation to leave the decision till the discovery and the remedilessness arrive together! It is hardly necessary to observe that the denial of the thing will not disprove it. Suppose a criminal by some delusion persuades himself that the assize will not be kept-He goes on—but while he is engaged or amused, hark! the trumpets sound, the judge is entering, and to-morrow he must appear. Men may reason, disbelieve, ridicule; but the scene neither slumbers nor lingers" The end is come; the end is come.”
The third respects the character of those who fall under the ma. lediction. And surely they must be persons charged with crimes too shocking for human nature often to commit: surely they can only be Cains, and Pharaohs, and Belshazzars, and Herods, and Robespierres. But no. They are not represented as tyrants, robbers, adulterers, murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers. Many of them were free from what is commonly called vice. They had negative virtues, and often boasted that they did no harm. But they led easy and indolent lives. They exercised no self-denial. They made no sacrifices not only for God whom they had not seen, but for their brother whom they had seen. They have judgment without mercy, because they showed no mercy. They had unfeeling hearts, and tearless eyes; their hands never relieved the necessitous; their feet never visited the door of affliction-It is the deci. sion of One too wise to be mistaken, and too faithful to misrepresent—" For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink : I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."
NOVEMBER 21.-"I went out full, and the Lowi hath brought me home again empty.”-Ruth i. 21.
THESE are the words of Naomi, who, from the famine which raged in her own country, had fled to Moab for succour, and had now returned back to her native place. In a village every occur. rence, especially the coming back of an inhabitant after years of absence, excites notice, and the news soon spreads through the neighbourhood. So it was here. The arrival of Naomi, accom. panied with Ruth, her daughter-in-law, awakens curiosity, and huddles together the rustics in little groups, pointing with the finger, and making remarks and inquiries—"So they two went until they came to Beth-lehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them; and they said, Is this Naomi?” At which she burst into tears, and said, “Call me not Naomi”-that is, pleasant; “call me Mara"- that is, bitter: " for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty.” Whence we may observe,
That when persons go from home, they little think what may befall them before their return. This will apply even to life itself. Some, like Elimelech, never come back. An accident demolishes their frame; or a disease arrests them too violently to admit of their removal : their relations arrive just in time to see them die, or they die in the midst of strangers. They little imagined that when they left their own door they were never to enter it again; and that the leave they had taken of their family was a farewell for ever! “ Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to-morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain : whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appear. eth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that."
It applies also as to character. Some have been converted while from home: they have met with a godly acquaintance whose conversation, or have attended an evangelical minister whose preaching has been useful to their souls; and they have returned with new views and feelings, and have become all anxious to bring their connections into the same state with themselves. Others, alas! hare gone out moral and returned vicious, profaning the Sabbath they had once revered as the holy of the Lord and honourable ; and ridiculing a book which they once regarded as given by inspiration of God. How many, in travelling, run uncalled for into dangers! And how necessary is it, even in lawful, because necessary jour. neys, to commit our way unto the Lord, and pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil!"
It also applies to our outward circumstances. Some go out empty, and come home again full. This was the case with Jacob. He left Beer-sheba with nothing but the charge and blessing of Isaac: and in his pleading with God in his journey, he only asks for bread to eat, and raiment to put on, and a return to his father's house in peace. But hear him on his return: “ with my staff I passed over this Jordan, and now I am become two bands." And thus it has been with many since. They set off with no raised expectation, and with no design formed, excepting to gain a humble subsistence: but difficulties vanished before them; the Lord pros. pered their way; blessed the labour of their hands; and gave them power to get wealth. Others have gone out with confidence flat. ) tered by the most pleasing prospects. But every enterprise failed i every dependance gave way; every comfort fled; till they were left like a beacon upon the top of the mountain, or a vessel stranded and wrecked upon the shore-Therefore we observe again,
That it is no unusual thing for the same individual to experience both fulness and privation. “ Ah," says Naomi, “ once I had a husband, now I am a widow. Once I had children, now I am child.
less. Once I had importance, now I am without influence. Once I had substance, now I am destitute-I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again einpty." Not only is there a diversity of conditions among men, so that while one is in splendour another is in obscurity, and while one is rich another is poor-but the very same person may successively be distinguished and neglected, be
wealthy and indigent. These transitions are sometimes gradual; ) Cand sometimes sudden and wholly unlooked for. But Scripture,
and all history and observation, more than remind us of the possibility of these changes : and wisdom admonishes us to improve them-First, by not depending upon our possessions and enjoyments. Shall we set our heart on that which is not ? Secondly, by using ) (them liberally while we have them. Riches make to themselves wings, and flee away: but, says an old writer, we may clip their ) wings by charity. And Solomon says, “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” So that not only is the principal safe, but the interest Divine. “Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt; find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight: for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.” And Thirdly, by being prepared for every vicissitude. “I know," says Paul, "how to be abased, and how to abound; every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” It is one thing to know what it is to possess, and what it is to lose, and another to know how—that is, how to behave in each as becometh the principles of a Christian. It is a great thing to prosper and not be exalted above measure; and to be reducedwithout being swallowed up of over much sorrow. To be full and not deny him, and say, Who is the Lord? And to be poor, and not steal or take the name of our God in vain. Yet this is possible; and through the grace of the Holy Spirit the soul may be braced up to such a moral strength of constitution, as to brave any climate or change of weather, however great or sudden.
See also how piety will acknowledge the hand of God in every event. An ordinary mind would have said, “I went out full, and am come back empty." But Naomi did not live without God with her in the world-Naomi says, “I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty." So Eli said, “It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good." And Job, instead of dwelling on the Sabeans and the elements, said, “the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
God is not the author of sin; but as to suffering—"Is there an evil in the city and the Lord hath not done it ?" Does not he make darkness as well as create light? There is nothing like chance, (especially in our trials; neither are we to think only or principally
of second causes. It is a view of God's agency alone that can 4 preserve us, either from sinning or sinking in the day of adversity.
But the cup which my Father giveth me shall I not drink it? I can! trust in him-He spared not his own Son-He has always my welfare at heart
"Good when he gives, supremely good;
Nor less when he denies:
O let me hold communion with him, not only in his word, but in his works: not only in his ordinances, but in his dispensations. ! Let me cleave to him as my exceeding joy, and my everlasting portion, in all the revolutions of time. And look forward not only to a pure, but a permanent state of blessedness
"All, all on earth is shadow-all beyond
NOVEMBER 22.- Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: mv oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready : come unto the marriage.”-Matt. xxii. 4.
God has provided for all his creatures according to their kinds: “the eyes of all wait upon him, and he giveth them their meat in due season.” Man is a compound being; for bis body there is the storehouse and wardrobe of nature. But in all this there is nothing for his nobler part, the mind. Here the Gospel comes in to meet his exigences--and with nothing less than a feast—and while every other feast is for the body—this is entirely for the soul.
The spirituality of this feast constitutes the excellency of it, and at the same time accounts for the neglect of it. If provision was made to gratify the animal appetites, or the desire for worldly riches and honour, it would easily excite attention. But men are earthly, and sensual; they are governed by things that are seen and temporal. Hence they hear of spiritual and everlasting things with inditterence. But is not this folly and madness? Is not the mind the man? Does not he who knew the value of the soul from the price he paid for the redemption of it, does not he ask, “What is a man protited if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul ? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?”
The feast here is not an ordinary one. It is a royal feast, a royal marriage feast, a royal marriage feast for the king's son. Yet what may we look for in such a feast as this, that is not to be found in the dispensation of the Gospel ?
Is it plenitude ? Here we have it. We read of "abundant mercy”-of“ plenteous redemption"--of a Saviour “full of grace and truth”-of all the fulness of God.” Is it variety? Here we have it. Our wants and hopes are not only numerous, but various;
and equally so are our supplies. Here is light for our darkness.. * Righteousness for our guilt. Strength for our weakness. Renova
tion for the heart. Peace for the conscience. The supply of the Spirit. The comforts of the Holy Ghost. Is it richness of entertainment? What else can be the meaning of the expressions, "a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined ?" God prepares dainties for his guests, and they are all supreme in their kind, and infinitely expensive. The Jews did eat angels' food: but what was the manna in the Desert compared with the bread of life? He that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Is it fellowship ? A feast is not a private meal, an individual indulgence, but an enter