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safe, but tranquil; not only holy, but joyful; not only walking in the fear of the Lord, but in the comforts of the Holy Ghost; not only possessing real, but "strong consolation."

We Thirdly perceive, What a foundation is laid for the effectual solace of the subjects of divine grace. What more could God have done than he has done to meet their infirmities, and disperse all their discouragements?-We have not only his word but his oath. Surely he has not only given them "a good hope through grace," but provided amply for "the full assurance of hope unto the end." Surely confidence becomes them as well as self-abasement. Surely they ought to attain a certainty of mind, and to be filled with all joy and peace in believing. And why are they not decided? Why do they yet walk mournfully before the Lord?

"Whence then should doubts and fears arise ?

Why trickling sorrows drown our eyes!

Slowly, alas! our mind receives

The comforts that our Maker gives."

Lastly, we learn the perverseness and vileness of unbelief. There is nothing of which men are more tenacious than their reputation for truth. The least imputation thrown upon their veracity, rouses them to demand satisfaction for the unpardonable offence-though it has only regarded their mere word, and not the added solemnity and sanction of an oath. What has God, who is conscious that he is faithfulness itself,-what has he to bear with from us! Unbelief not only contradicts him; not only gives him the lie, but accuses him of perjury-"I no more depend upon thy oath than upon thy word"-And yet the thunder stays!

What do we in our retirement? To how little purpose do we humble ourselves, before God, unless we principally grieve over our slowness of heart to believe? Every thing else will be hacking at the boughs with a feather-We must "lay the axe to the root of the tree"-an "evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God." "Lord, I believe-help thou mine unbelief."


JUNE 1.-"Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort." Psalm lxxi. 3.

On what particular occasion this psalm was composed, it would not be easy to determine. Neither is it necessary; or perhaps even desirable. It is sufficient to see that David was in much affliction, but well knew that God was his refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore to him he turns, with this pathetic language; "Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually


It is well to take advantage of our present feelings and circumstances to aid us in our communion with God. Many have supposed that David was now suffering from the rebellion of his son Absalom. If there be truth in the notion, it is not difficult to imagine the scene. Behold him gray-headed; the fire of youth that had heroically encountered the lion, and the bear, and the Philistine, damped by the chillness of age; his chief counsellor betraying him; the nearts of the people stolen from him; his army inadequate to his

defence; himself forced from his palace; fleeing from place to place, an exile in his own country; and full of uncertainty as to the issue -at such a time how natural, and suitable, and satisfying must it have, been to realize God as his hiding-place, resting-place, dwellingplace the strength and the home of his heart!

What so pitiable as a homeless wretch? A Christian can never be in this condition. There is nothing for which we should be more thankful than domestic peace and comfort: and there are some whose abode abounds with every attraction and delight. But how different is the state of others. They have been stripped of "lover and friend" those with whom they "took sweet counsel together and walked to the house of God in company, are no more:" their means of hospitality and enjoyment are reduced to straits and privation; or they feel some heart's bitterness, known only to themselves, and which they are not at liberty to divulge-Thus " thorns are in their tabernacle," and they are ready to cry, "O that I had wings like a dove, for then would I flee away and be at rest." But you need not flee from your condition; rest may be found in it-in the bosom of your God and Saviour. And the less happiness you have in the creature, the more you should repair to his all-sufficiency. Your distresses are designed to urge you to him; and if they have this effect, it will be good for you that you have been afflicted. Thus fine weather leads us abroad, and we sometimes take long walks: but clouds and storms hasten us homeward.

David would find and enjoy God, not only as his habitation, but as his "strong" habitation-such an habitation as would not fall by decay, nor be thrown down by violence, nor be entered by any enemy; in which the inhabitant would not only be free from danger, but feel himself secure. But every earthly strong-hold, however befriended by nature, or indebted to art, is only a shadow of the safety the believer finds in the perfections and covenant-engagements of God. No force, no stratagem of men or devils can prevail to destroy or injure him who has made the Lord his trust. He is kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation: and when he can realize it by faith, his soul dwells at ease; and he is in quiet from the fear of evil.

He would also make use of him under the character of his strong habitation-"Whereunto I may continually resort." Would he then want to repair to him always? Our necessities, our work, our danger, require it constantly. We are commanded to pray without ceasing. And if while we acknowledge and feel the obligation, we are renewed in the spirit of our mind, we shall not lament it. Loving him as well as depending upon him, we shall find it good to draw near to God, and delight ourselves in the Almighty. And we shall never find him, when we want him, inaccessible. There is a way to our strong habitation, and we know the way. There is a door, and we have the key. No sentinel keeps us back: the dwelling is our own; and who dares to forbid us all its accommodations and contents?

Kings, however disposed, cannot be always approachable. Owing to the multitude of their claims, and the limitation of their powers, and the keeping up a sense of their dignity, they are only accessible at certain times, and with stately formalities. But the King of kings allows us to come boldly to the Throne of grace; and enjoins

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us n every thing, by prayer and supplication, to make known our requests unto him. We cannot be too importunate, or by our continual coming, weary him.

Who is like unto thee among the gods? Teach and enable me to improve my privilege. Thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

JUNE 2.-"They went to Baal-peor, and separated themselves unto that shame."-Hosea ix. 10.

THAT is, to that shameful idol. Many seem disposed to consider idolatry rather as a foolish and harmless thing, than as a serious evil. But the Scriptures speak of abominable idolatries, and always connect such worships with the most infamous passions and vices. History attest the same fact; and the more fully and faithfully the subject is examined, the more will idolatry appear to be nothing better than evil personified, the devil deified, and hell formed into a religious establishment. What a force must revenge, cruelty, drunkenness, and sensuality acquire, when not only exempted from punishment, but turned into acts of devotion, and considered as services which would render them acceptable to the divinity adored! We cannot enter into exemplifications-It were a shame to speak of those things which were done of them in secret. Who would not encourage missionary exertions! Who would not cry, day and night, Let thy ways be known on earth, thy saving health among all na


But what is said of Baal-peor will apply to any kind of transgression. When you addict yourselves to sin, you separate yourselves to shame. Hence, says God, “Thou shalt remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth more, because of thy shame;" that is, thy sin. Sin is very properly called shame, for it is the most scandalous business in the world, and sooner or later will cover a man with ignominy. It degrades every thing pertaining to him, and makes him viler than the earth. Indeed nothing else is truly shameful. It is not shameful that you are obliged to labour; though it is shameful if you do nothing, or have nothing to do—I would rather, says Seneca, be sick than idle. It is not shameful that you are poor; unless your indigence is the offspring of vice. It is not shameful to suffer, unless you are the martyrs of Satan-But it is shameful to be a sinner. Is it not shameful to go uncovered and naked? To possess reason, and play the part of an idiot? To be a coward, and flee when no man pursueth? To have liberty at command, and submit to be a slave? To be a thief, and a robber of churches? To be a traitor to the best of sovereigns; a betrayer of the kindest of friends? To be admitted by a benefactor to his table, and enjoy every supply and indulgence; and then oppose him, and endeavour to stab him to the heart? They who are familiar with the word of truth, know that these and many other images are employed by the sacred writers to express the disgracefulness of the sinners conduct.

We may consider the shamefulness of sin three ways. First, as a penal effect-This is principally future. Of Israel we read, "They


shall never be ashamed or confounded, world without end." And John tells us that Christians will "have confidence, and not be ashamed before him, at his coming." But the reverse is true of the wicked, and we are assured that they will "rise to everlasting shame and contempt." And no wonder-when they find what they have sacrificed, and for what they have parted with it; when they find what they have incurred, and how they were warned of it, and admonished against it, and might have escaped it; when they find how they are laid open from every disguise and concealment, and their secret sins published in the hearing of men and angels, as well as of the Judge-Then will they call upon the rocks and mountains, not so much to crush as to hide them from the scorn of the universe. But the penalty begins here; even here a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame; and when secured from legal inflictions, he draws upon himself disgrace, and has "many a curse."

Secondly, as a natural emotion. Thus, when Adam and Eve had transgressed, they hid themselves among the trees of the garden; This class of feelso closely did shame tread on the heels of sin. ings may in a great measure be subdued by continuance in sin, We read of some who "hide not which is of a hardening nature. their sin as Sodom." Jeremiah says, "Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Yea, they were not ashamed, neither could they blush.?" But though shame is not a universal, it is a very general sentiment; and it is not easy, or perhaps possible, to get rid of it entirely. Before their fellows, men may profess what is very inconsistent with their convictions alone: they may pretend to laugh, and enjoy self-approbation, while their understandings reproach them as much as their consciences condemn. Why do the wicked repair to corners and elude observation, if they were not doing what tended to their disparagement, for in many of these cases they run no risk unless with regard to their reputation. If not ashamed of their practices, why attempt to deny or palliate? why frame excuses and apologies? why plead ignorance, mistake, surprise, temptation? why ascribe their sins to necessity, or weakness, rather than inclination and choice, unless they deemed them reproachful?-Hence too the sinner cannot endure to be alone; and though naturally full of self-love and admiration, he slips away from his own presence, and shuns intercourse with his greatest favourite, himself, because he cannot bear reflecting upon his conduct. Hence, too, after a while he renounces the moral world, and mingles only with those of his own quality, where mutual wickedness prevents mutual accusation, and censure, and scorn.

Thirdly, as a penitential experience. This is the result of divine grace. It regards not so much the opinion of our fellow-creatures as the judgment of God; not so much our character as our guilt; not so much the punishment as the pollution of sin; not so much its consequences as its odiousness and desert. And this extends to every thing sinful. For some sins are generally if not universally offensive; but all sin is the abominable thing which the soul of a true penitent hates. When a man is enlightened to see sin in the glass of the law, and in connexion with the glory and goodness of God, and in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, what self-condemnation and reproach does he feel! The publican "would not lift up his

eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast." David cries, "Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me that I cannot look up." Ezra said, "O my God, I am ashamed to lift up my face to thee, for our iniquities are over our head, and our trespass is grown up into the very heavens." Blessed experience! If painful, it is salutary. It attracts the divine regard: it is a time of love in which he says unto us, "Live." "He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; he will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light." "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus: Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. Ís Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord."

JUNE 3.-"Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad." Acts xi. 23.

GRACE means divine influence; and is so called because it is derived from the free and undeserved communication of God. But is not this grace an internal principle? How then could Barnabas see it? He could see it only in the effects. We cannot see life in itself; but we can see the sparkling eye, and the ruddy countenance, and the outstretched arm, and the moving foot! We need not cut down a tree, and lay open the body, to see by the grain of the wood of what sort it is. There is another and a better way-it is to judge by the bark, the leaves, the blossoms, the fruit! "For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes." God says, "I will put my spirit within you"-But how can this be seen ? "And cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them"-This is discernible enough. James says, "I will show thee my faith by my works;" that is, I will evince my creed in my conduct, and my principles in my practice— And this is the most satisfactory mode of showing them.

God determines to get himself glory by his people in this world; and therefore it is said, "all that see them shall acknowledge that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed." But if his grace is to be thus seen and owned in them, there must be something in them more than experience. We are far from undervaluing experience. There is no real religion without it; and it is from your inward dispositions you must chiefly assure your own minds before God: but as to others, they cannot read your hearts-but they can read your lives; and therefore in your lives your godliness must appear. Therefore it is said " to the prisoners, go forth; to them that are in darkness, show yourselves: they shall feed in the ways, and their pasture shall be on all high places." And again: "Let your light

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