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only exults in his success, is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, When he came to the well he was not only thirsty, but hungry, and therefore his disciples went away into the city to buy meat. When they returned they spread it before him, saying, “ Master, eat-But he said unto them, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of." Upon which, looking at each other and wondering, they said, “ Hath any man brought him aught to eat ?" He then said, “My disciples, since you left me I have had an opportunity to enlighten and convert, by my grace, a poor sinful wretch who came here to draw water; and she has left her vessel for my use; and has gone into the city to tell her neighbours; and is, as you see yonder, returning over the plain with a large number, who will receive my doctrine and become my followers. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest ? behold, I say up to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields ; for they are white already to harvest. Ah! my disciples, this is food! There is no repast like the satisfaction of doing good-My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work."
And when he sees the travail of his soul, is he SATISFIED ? Then behold his benevolence. The world knew him not: his own received ed him not. They persecuted him through life, and at length hung him on a tree. But God raised him from the dead, and he had the means to revenge himself—and it is said revenge is sweet. And it is sweet to a brute. It is sweet to a devil. But it is not sweet to a Christian mind. But it is sweet to exercise mercy, to pass by a transgression, to overcome evil with good. So Jesus derived his satisfaction not from the punishment of his enemies, but from their pardon, and deemed their happiness a recompence for all his sufferings.
Then we see the worth and importance of the salvation of the soul. We cannot alway infer the value of a thing from the pleasure it yields. Little things please little minds. We read of some who rejoice in a thing of nought. We know how men make gold their hope, and fine gold their confidence : and yet a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things that he possesseth. When therefore a work is performed we wish to know the opinion of one who is a perfect judge-Is he satisfied with it? It is a strong proof of the importance of salvation that the angels of God rejoice over one sinner that repenteth: for we cannot imagine that a mere trifle would throw into ecstasy those beings who are proverbial for their knowledge. But it is a stronger proof still that it is the satis. faction of our Divine Redeemer himself. O that we estimated ou souls as he estimates them! Every thing else would appear less than nothing and vanity compared with their salvation.
Then we may enlarge our notions of the number of the saved. True benevolence is the most encruaching thing in the world. A generous heart is never satisfied; it is always planning, alwars desiring to do something more. And would his soul, which is compassion itself, be satisfied with a few that should be saved ? How many must be made partakers of the benefit before he stays the process of mercy, and says, It is enough! If no more are called I am satisfied! But it is in reference to his claim and his disposition, that he is told by promise that his seed shall be as the stars of heaven, as the sand on the sea shore, and as drops of dew.
Then here is encouragement for faith and hope. Under a sense of unworthiness and guilt persons often fear whether he will receive them. But does he not invite them to come, and command them to come; and does he not complain that they will not come-yea, does he not assure them that it would yield him pleasure? We can therefore plead with you his interest as well as your own. You have offended him enough, grieved him enough: and surely if there be any thing by which you can yield him satisfaction you are bound to do it. Let him then see you at his feet, and hear you crying, Lord, save, I perish-This will charm him as much as the songs of angels-It is the travail of his soul, and when he sees it he is satisfied.
Then we have here a noble example to follow. Let the same mind be in us. Let his joy be fulfilled in ourselves. Let us spare no pains; let us grudge no sacrifices in order to be useful. And let the satisfaction arising from it be our reward_" Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him ; let him know, that he which converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins."
DECEMBER 12.-" O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”—Jer. x. 23.
JEREMIAH knew this. It was not with him a matter of opinion or conjecture, but of certainty ; and therefore he could address his conviction to God himself. “But he was a prophet, and might nave derived his confidence from an immediate inspiration." But we have no reason to believe this. He derived his persuasion from five sources, which lie open to ourselves.
First, dependence. We are not our own, and therefore the right of direction does not belong to us, but to another, in whom we live, and move, and have our being; and who has an absolute claim to us.
Secondly, ignorance. Vain man would be wise, but he is born like a wild ass's colt. His powers are exceedingly limited; he is liable to a thousand prejudices and delusions; and cannot be safely trusted to discern and distinguish between good and evil, appearances and realities.
Thirdly, observation. Read all history. See the consequences of Lot's choosing the vale of Sodom, “because it was well watered." See the sin and embarrassment to which David was reduced, when he went to Gath; yet he was so convinced of the propriety of this fatal step, as to say, " there is nothing better for me to do.” Look around you. What are you continually meeting with, not only in the conduct of men, but in the mistakes even of good men !
Fourthly, experience. Can any one look back upon life, and attentively review the events that have befallen him ; the enterprizes in which he has been engaged ; the anxieties, and hopes, and fears, and joys, and sorrows, which have excited and influenced him; and not be compelled to say, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself : it is not in man that walketh to direct bis steps."
Lastly, revelation. Here we have the testimony of the only wise God himself frequently interposed and expressed, in every kind of statement-"Who knoweth what is good for man in this life ?" “ The race is not to the swift, nor the baitle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, no yet favour to men of skill: but time and chance happeneth to them all.” “Man's goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way ?” “He performeth the thing that is appointed for me, and many such things are with him." "He worketh all things after the counsel of his own wili.”
So true is the doctrine before us. And who does not believe the truth of it? It is not the conviction we want, but the temper, the practice that becomes it, and which we might imagine would certainly be produced by it in rational creatures. But, alas! these rational creatures are also depraved creatures; hence they see and approve better things and follow worse. Yet surely this knowledge should be a principle, and we ought to derive from it gratitude. Have we been preserved from the dangers to which we were once unknowingly exposed ? Have we escaped the follies and evils into which wiser and better men than ourselves have fallen? Have we been sheltered and indulged in our course? Have we had comfort in our connerions, and success in our engagements? Let us not burn incense to ourselves, as if all this was owing to our own prudence, and caution, and care; but exclaim, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to thy name give glory; for thy mercy and thy truth's sake." It should also yield submission. We may pray with regard to an affliction, “If it be possible let this cup pass from me;" if we can add, with the Saviour, " nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Indeed we cannot know what the will of God is in any of our trials, till events discover it. But when it is discovered, we ought to bow to his pleasure; assured not only that he has a right to do what he wil with his own, but that he is too righteous and kind to injure us, and knows infinitely better than we do what our welfare requires.
If too “ the way of man is not in himself," it should check presumptuousness. This often appears in men with regard to their future expectations and designs. But wisdom says, “ Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." Hence James thus reproves a tradesman, not for any disposition to defraud and oppress, nor for the wish to improve his income; but for reckoning on the continuance of his being and his health, ana success in business, as if no uncertainty could attend him, and forming his scheme without any consideration of God, on whom every thing relied : “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 appeareth 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. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.” The certain rich man, whose ground brought forth plentifully, said, “This will I do; I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink,
and be merry." This is what he said_“But God said, Thou fool. this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided ?"
The fact should also teach us to apply to God for direction in serious and earnest prayer. “ Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." He is able to do it: he is willing to do it; yea, he is engaged to do it, if you repair with the case to him. “I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.”
It is thus alone we can live happy in a miserable world, and be calm and confident in every disturbance or alarm. But this will enable the soul to dwell at ease. The remedy has been tried, and was never known to fail. And no wonder--It is of God's own appointing and prescribing. “Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him, and he shail bring it to pass.” “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”
DECEMBER 13.--"And the princes offered for dedicating of the altar in the day that it was anointed, even the princes offered their offering before the altar.” - Numbers vii. 10.
These princes, "heads of the houses of their fathers,” were twelve. Their offering individually was this: “ One silver charger, the weight thereof was an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them were full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering: vne spoon of ten shekels of gold, full of incense : one young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering: one kid of the goats for a sin offering: and for a sacrifice of peace ofierings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year."
Some of these articles were for immediate use, such as the animals to be slain in sacrifice for burnt offerings, sin offerings, and peace offer
ings. Others were for fixed and standing use, such were the utensils begynt to be employed in performing the service of the sanctuary. These
were all of silver and gold. Was God to be served only in plate? The si costliness was not for his pleasure, but for the sake of the people in an inter early and infantile state of the Church; to impress their imaginations; Nu to remind them that he was a great King; and to teach them that DE they were to serve him with their best. The chargers were worth, i in our money, sixteen pounds five shillings--the bowl fifieen pounds
—the spoon, or ladle, seven pounds ten shillings. It is not possible bf to determine the value of the two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five
E lambs; but the presentation of two hundred and four of such animals, er and three hundred pounds in silver, and seventy-five pounds in gold, w was at this period, and in their circumstances, a vast donation.
And here the first thing that strikes us is the capacity of these donors. De We are amazed to think how they came by so much affluence as to
be able to spare for even one oflering so much treasure. They had dis all been oppressed and plundered in Egypt, and they were now in a Be wilderness, without merchandise, trade, or agriculture. But from Vol. II.
whatever source, or whatever way their wealth had been acquired, they had it; it was lawfully their own; they would not have been pious at the expense of justice; and they knew that God abhors robbery for burnt-offering. Those however who have riches commonly resolve to keep them; and as it is said that the ground is generally very barren about the silver and gold mines, so the wealthy often do less for the cause of God, not only comparauvely, but really, than persons of less resources. But it was not so here. Who can help admiring the liberality of these men ? And let it be obeerved, That they did this freely ; they were not called upon to do it; it was not the effect of any excitement, but of the forwardness and willingness of their own minds. Nor was this the first time of showing their generosity. It had been evinced in two instances before this. The first was when the tabernacle was in framing, " Then they gave onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod, and for the breastplate ; and spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense.” These were things much valued, and which could not be easily replaced. When also, the tabernacle was fully set up, and anointed, and sanctified with all the instruments thereof, “they brought their offering before the Lon, six covered wagons, and twelve oxen; a wagon for two of the princes, and for each one an ox: and they brought them before the tabernacle." Yet after this, immedia iely after this, they came forward again with the expensive donation before us.
With regard to this presentation we may remark three things. First, all the offerings were precisely the same in kind, quantity, and value. But were the donors equally rich ? This is not likely. Yet they were equally disposed; they felt an equal interest in the altar; and to prevent mortification on one side, and pride on the other, by pre-eminence or inferiority, they had agreed upon this measure. We differ in our stations and in our means, but though we do not give the same in fact, we may give the same in principle. The Lord looketh to the heart, and in his sight all who give propertionately give equally ; and the poor may be as liberal as the rich.
Secondly. The offerings were not to be presented at once. The solemnity continued twelve days: “ The Lord said unto Moses They shall offer their offering, each prince on his day, for the dedicating of the altar.” Wherefore was this? We are never more liable to mistakes than when we assign reasons for the conduct of the Supreme Being. Yet he has reasons for all he does. And may we not suppose that he would teach us to do every thing decently and in order ? As the work of God should not be done in a careless so neither in a hurried and confused manner. “Take time," sans the proverb, "and you will have done the sooner;" and if not, sua will surely have done " the better.” May we not learn also that we are not to complain of the length and repetition of religious services ? Here were twelve days of convocation immediately fola lowing each other. But did the pious Jews cry out, “WLai a weariness it is to serve the Lord ?” When will the work be over? Those who love the things of God call them “their pleasant things;" and in going from one ordinance to another, they onis go from strength to strength. And when health, or the engigements of duty, keep them back from going with the multitude to the