Page images

Let us therefore betake ourselves to him in | handmaid—and I have read them, hoping humble and earnest prayer. Let us beseech that you will individually make the reflechim to grant that we may be " in the Spirit tion your own. They can easily be rememon the Lord's day;" that his grace may be bered, because of their brevity : they should sufficient for us that we may worship the be daily thought of, because of their importLord in the beauty of holiness"—that we may ance. “not be forgetful hearers, but doers of the Let us see whether this reflection be not word”-that, in waiting upon him, our founded in truth; and show, by taking several strength may be renewed—" that we may views of it, how instructive and edifying it mount up with wings as eagles that we may be rendered. may run and not be weary, and walk and not Hagar was convinced that God saw her. faint."

Indeed he found her in the wilderness of Such a Sabbath will leave us prepared for Shur, where no human eye discerned her. the duties and trials of the week. "Such a By an angel he admonished her to return, Sabbath will lead us to say, “A day in thy and humble herself under the hand of her courts is better than a thousand : I had rather mistress; and predicted the character and be a door-keeper in the house of my God, condition of her child unborn—" He will be than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” a wild man; his hand will be against every Such a Sabbath will be a foretaste of glory, man, and every man's hand against him: and the beginning of heaven. What is heaven? he shall dwell in the presence of all his bre“ There remaineth,” says the Apostle, "a thren.” On this she called the name of the rest for the people of God.” It is in the mar- Lord that spake unto her, “ Thou God seest gin, “ a keeping of Sabbath.” Such is the me.”—But how much more striking is this representation of the happiness above: and to us! We are able to compare the accomoh! how instructive, how endearing is it, to plishment with the prophecy. The descendthose who love sabbaths below! By-and-by ants of this poor woman's child are the Arayour week-days will be over, and the Satur- bians; and they continue to this day a wanday evening of life will come. You will lie dering, uncivilized multitude. They live by down—and fall asleep-and open your eyes treachery and plunder; they are at war with on a Sabbath infinitely superior to any we all the world; no conqueror has ever subdued can expect on earth. Here we worship with them; while they spread themselves over a a few-there we shall join the general as- vast country, thirteen hundred miles in sembly—Here we often feel unsuitable length, and twelve hundred in breadth. Can frames, and our powers are always unequal any thing be hid from Him who declareth to our work--there our faculties will be the end from the beginning, and before a raised to the highest degree of perfection, babe is born can describe with unerring exand we shall “serve him day and night in actness the disposition and circumstances his temple.” Here our Sabbaths end, and of his offspring for a number of ages to we soon go down again from communion come ? with God into the vexing, debasing things His knowledge of all our concerns may be of the world--there the Sabbath will be eter- inferred from his universal presence. Effects nal; and we “shall go no more out." "We prove him to be everywhere—for everywhere shall be for ever with the Lord.” “Where- life is given and sustained—and this is the fore comfort one another with these words.” work of God only. Now if he be everywhere,

But should there be in this little assembly what can be placed out of his sight? Hence one individual who is a stranger to the plea- we read, “Can any hide himself in secret sures of devotion, and who dislikes the em- places, that I shall not see him? saith the ployment of God's holy day, let me ask-Is Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith he qualified for an eternal sabbath, who is the Lord. now groaning, as he passes from duty to duty, Besides, how could he judge the world in What a weariness it is to serve the Lord ! righteousness, unless he were perfectly acwhen will the Sabbath be gone? Can he quainted with all our doings? He could not enjoy even the thought of being for ever en- produce what he had never witnessed—but gaged in religious exercises, who at present we know that “God will bring every work feels a day, an hour, a few moments em-into judgment, with every secret thing, wheployed in them disagreeable and irksome ?ther it be good or whether it be evil.” The The question is awful—may the Lord help Scripture therefore tells us that “his eyes you to lay it to heart. Amen.

are in every place, beholding both the evil

and the good :" that “ his eyes are upon the DISCOURSE I V.

ways of man, and he seeth all his goings :"

that "there is no darkness nor shadow of THE EYE OF GOD ALWAYS death where the workers of iniquity may UPON US.

hide themselves. Hell is naked before him, “ Thou God seest me.”—Gen. xvi, 13. and destruction hath no covering. Neither THESE are the words of Hagar, Sarah's is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and open | is before him, and iny groaning is not hid unto the eyes of him with whom we have to from him." do.” Human inspection is very limited, and “Thou God seest me." This is a pleasing easily interrupted. I now see you—but place reflection when I am suffering under the between us only a screen or a curtain, and I suspicions of friends, or the reproaches of enesee you no more. I now behold you—but mies. Behold, my witness is in heaven, and let the sun go down, or this candle be extin- my record is on high. Lord, thou knowest guished, and for want of a medium of vision all things, thou knowest that I love thee." the eye seeks you in vain. Think, then, of “ Thou God seest me." This is a pleasing a Being, of whom it is said, “ Yea, the dark- reflection when I am in trouble. He knows ness hideth not from thee: but the night all my “ walking through this great wildershineth as the day: the darkness and the ness;" he knows where the burden presses; light are both alike to thee."

he knows how long to continue the trial; and What use then should we make of this by what means to remove it. In no condition undeniable truth?—“Thou God seest me,” am I hid from my heavenly Friend. He saw is a reflection very pleasing to good men Jeremiah in the dungeon, and Daniel in the --very dreadful to sinners—and very edify- lions' den. My circumstances are perplexing to all.

ing—“I go forward, but he is not there; and First. It is VERY PLEASING TO GOOD MEN. backward, but I cannot perceive him: on the -Hence, when David had been considering left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot the omniscience of God as compassing his behold him; he hideth himself on the right path and his lying down, and as acquainted hand, that I cannot see him—But he knoweth with all his ways, he exclaims, “ How pre- the way that I take: when he hath tried me, cious also are thy thoughts unto me, O Lord! I shall come forth as gold. The eyes of the how great is the sum of them!" IIis medi- Lord are upon them that fear him, upon them tation of an all-seeing God was sweet; and that hope in his mercy.” therefore it was frequent. How is it with Secondly. To the WICKED IT IS A VERY us? If we feel a satisfaction in thinking of AWFUL REFLECTION. Yes: what can be more this attribute, it is a good evidence of our awful than the thought—that God sees you sincerity. Now this is the case with the rise in the morning, goes forth with you, obChristian-he comes to the light, and instead serves you all the day long--that you have of shunning scrutiny, he invites it. If I am passed under his eye from infancy to youth, not right, says he, I wish to be set right. I and from youth to manhood—that he has beknow that he will discover in me much that held every plan you have formed, every is amiss, but he knows that I am willing to bargain you have made—that he has observed have it cured; and as he alone can heal, why not only actions but motives, not only words should I wish to keep my physician ignorant but thoughts, not only the evil you have comof any part if my complaint ? “Search me, mitted but the evil you wished to commit; all O God, and know my heart: try me, and the filthiness of your imaginations as well as know my thoughts: and see if there be any of your lives-all the difficulties you have wicked way in me, and lead me in the way had to overcome in pursuing a sinful course, everlasting."

every check of conscience, every rebuke of " Thou God seest me!" This is a pleasing Providence—and has noticed not only the reflection when I fear some hidden corrup- number but aggravations of all your crimes. tion which has hindered the answer of prayer,

what renders all this still more dreadful and often deprived me of comfort, but which is this—that he does not forget any thing he I cannot, after the most faithful investi- has seen. You have forgotten many of your gation, detect. He can discern it.—“Show transgressions, but he remembers even the me wherefore thou contendest with me." sins of your youth. Sometimes persons sin

“ Thou God seest me. This is a pleasing from custom and habit; and know not when reflection when I feel those infirmities which they do so—for instance, they know not when make me groan. He sees grace, however they lie or swear. If it were possible to small; he sees the disadvantages of my situa- secure all their evil words for one month, one tion, the influence of the body over the mind, year--and read it to them—what a surprise and of sensible things over the body; he sees would they express! Well, not one of them that the “Spirit indeed is willing when the has escaped the Divine notice: he has reflesh is weak.”. “He knoweth my frame, he corded them all in the book of his rememremembereth that I am dust.”.

brance. And to complete the terror of this “ Thou God seest me." This is a pleasing consideration—all he has seen he will pubreflection with regard to prayer. I often lish before the whole world: and he will also know not what to pray for as I ought; but punish all that he has seen “with everlasting he always knows what to give. I cannot ex- destruction from the presence of the Lord, and press myself properly in words, and words from the glory of his power." are not necessary to inform him who know- Thirdly. The reflection will be found very eth what is the mind of the Spirit-my desire) USEFUL TO ALL.

Useful as a check to sin. For can a person

DEATH-death the most dreadful of all sin while he realizes this ? can he affront the events, has often been rendered a blessing. Almighty to his very face !-Impossible. This The death of a BELIEVER has been useful. would restrain us even from secret faults, and it has encouraged and established those who make us as pure in the closet as in the sanctu- were walking in the way to Zion with many ary, for God is in the one as well as in the a trembling step, and many a shivering fear other.

how it would go with them at last. When "- may these thoughts possess my breast,

they have viewed a dying Christian, and have Where'er I rove, where'er I rest;

seen the grace of God, they have been glad: Nor let my weaker passions dare Consent to sin--for God is there."

their courage has been revived, and they have -Useful as a motive to virtue. The pre with me?

rejoiced in hope. Why may it not be so

“ The Lord is my helper, I will sence, the eye of one who is above us, and whom we highly esteem and reverence, ele- not fear.” His looks, his words, his experivates our minds and refines our behaviour: minds of the careless, which has never been

ence, have also made an impression on the and we desire to act so as to gain his appro- erased. After turning their backs on a serbation. A servant feels this when he is before his master, and a subject when he is be- mon, they have been convinced by a dying fore the king. 'One of the heathen philoso-denied, too solemn to be ridiculed. They

bed. There the evidence was too plain to be phers therefore recommended his pupils, as have admired and resolved to follow a Master the best means to induce and enable them to who is so good to his servants, and who does behave worthily, to imagine that some very not " forsake them when their strength faildistinguished character was always looking eth; but is the strength of their heart and upon them. But what was the eye of a Cato their portion for ever." —And the death of the compared with the eye of Jehovah! Who saint has proved the life of the sinner. would not approve themselves unto God? “In his favour is life.”—“I have kept thy pre- His expiring charge has never been forgotten.

The death of a PARENT has been useful. cepts and thy testimonies,” says David, “ for The thought of separation for ever from one all my ways are before thee.”

so loved and valued, has awakened in the son Finally. Useful as a reason for SIMPLICITY

a salutary fear. Returning from a father's and GODLY SINCERITY.

Oh! let it banish all dissimulation from our religious exercises; thou not from this time cry unto me, My

grave, he has met with God, saying, “Wilt and whether we read, or hear, or pray, or father! thou art the guide of my youth!” and, surround the table of the Lord, let us remember that “God weigheth the spirits.” If we said, O thou " in whom the fatherless findeth

turning into his closet, he has kneeled, and had to do with men only, a fair appearance mercy, I am thine, save me."-And the death might be sufficient; “ but the Lord looketh to of the parent has proved the life of the child. the heart.” And can we play the hypocrite

The death of a MINISTER has been useful. under those eyes which are as a flame of fire ? Some of the servants of God have laboured What will a name to live, a form of godliness, faithfully without seeing the fruit of their avail us with him who is “a Spirit, and seek

labours. One has sown and another has eth such to worship him as worship him in reaped. But the removal of our mercies, by spirit and in truth?" be led by sense, but let us live and walk by tious preacher. He has been little regarded Let us then no longer suffer ourselves to showing us their value, leads us to prize

It has been so with many a conscienfaith. Let this important truth sink down while living, but when dead his word has into our hearts--that the eye of God is always upon us. The truth indeed remains the dresses

, prayers, and tears, have been remem

come with power to the conscience; his adsame, whether we regard it or not—but if we bered by his people; and the expectation of lay hold of it by faith, and keep it present in our thoughts by meditation, it will be found meeting him at the last day has forced them

to exclaim, “How shall we escape ?"-And the noblest of all principles; it will preserve the death of the minister has proved the life us from sin; it will excite us to duty; it will of the hearer. make us " sincere and without offence till the

The death of a MARTYR has been useful. day of Christ."

His patience and fortitude; his joy and tri

umph; his forgiveness of injuries, and his DISCOURSE V.

prayers for his persecutors, have struck beholders, rendered a religion honourable that

could produce such marvellous effects, led to THE DEATH OF JESUS.

an examination of its evidences; and faith and (GOOD FRIDAY.)

zeal have been the result of inquiry. “The Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn wrath of man has praised God,”_" and the

of wheat fall into the ground and die, it blood of the martyrs has been the seed of the abideth alone : but if it die, it bringeth forth Church.” antich fruit.-John xii. 24.

But where are we now? We have an ex

“ Are

ample to produce, infinitely greater than all member that the likeness is now begun, and these. Let us leave the disciples, the mem- must be advancing, according to the words bers of “the household of faith,” and behold of the Apostle, “Beholding as in a glass the their Lord, “ the author and finisher of faith.” glory of the Lord, we are changed into the Jesus dies, and his death is the “ life of the same image, from glory to glory, even as by world.” The death of the believer has been the Spirit of the Lord." —He was not of the the life of the sinner; the death of the father world;" and Christians “are not of the world." has been the life of the son; the death of the It was his " meat to do the will of him that preacher has been the life of the hearer; the sent him;" and they also can say, " his comdeath of the martyr has been the life of the mandinents are not grievous." "He went beholder-But our Lord Jesus, as he was about doing good;" and they are endeavourgoing to be crucified, exclaimed, " I, if I be ing to "serve their generation according to lifted

up, will draw all men unto me." This the will of God.” He “ was meek and lowly is the meaning of the words which I have in heart;" and they “are learning of him. read : “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, except - The world knoweth them not, for it knew a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, him not.”—A Christian springs from Christ; it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth and he is like him. much fruit."

There is one thing here which we should Go forth and behold the process of vegeta- not overlook, for it will afford the benevolent tion. Take a corn of wheat—how small, mind a delicious pleasure; I mean the largehow insignificant, how useless it appears! ness of the crop-This corn of wheat, by But it is extremely valuable, and with care dying, bringeth forth“ much fruit.”. may be made to stock a field, a country! But there few that shall be saved ?" This ques. how does it thus multiply? Keep it in the tion was once proposed to our Saviour, and it granary, and it remains the same. It must is observable that he made no reply to it; be sown, to fructify and increase. Let it be but he did say to those that asked him, buried under the clods, and perish as to its - Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for present form and appearance and lo! it many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in springs up, and brings forth in some places and shall not be able.” And by this he has “thirty, in some sixty, and in some an hun- taught us that it is wiser to endeavour to dred fold.” And behold the mystery of the secure our salvation individually, than cucross, around which we are this day assem- riously to inquire after or controvert the bled! It was equally necessary for our Saviour number of the saved. If, however, the questo suffer and die. In death he becomes the tion were asked properly, we could answerprinciple of our life. By this he fills heaven No. He is leading “ many sons unto glory :" with praise, the Church with blessings, the and when he has collected them altogether, world with followers. This is the "fruit" | they will be found “ a great multitude which which by dying he brings forth"-an immense no man can number, of all nations and kindnumber of Christians.

reds and people and tongues.” Of him whose For you know, a grain of corn multiplies soul was made an offering for sin, it is said, by yielding other grains like itself. * That “ The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in which thou sowest is not quickened, except his hand :" “He shall see of the travail of it die: and that which thou sowest, thou his soul, and shall be satisfied.” And will a sowest not that body that shall be, but bare little good, a little success, satisfy the vastgrain, it may chance of wheat, or of some ness of his benevolence? O how many must other grain : but God giveth it a body as be delivered from misery, and restored to it hath pleased him, and to every seed his happiness, before he will say, “ It is enough; own body." If therefore Jesus be compared I am fully repaid for the anguish I endured to seed, and he be sown to multiply, he will in the garden and on the cross !" produce others like himself. If barley be Now all those who will be saved, owe their sown, barley comes up; if wheat be sown, spiritual being and blessedness to his death. wheat appears; if Christ be sown, Christians This is fully expressed. Had he not died, he are brought forth.—This is a very striking would have "remained alone"—and accordand a very useful thought. For it may be ingly while alive, he was comparatively alone. asked, What are Christians ? And the answer He had some followers; but they were few is, What was Christ? They are predesti- in number, and of one nation only: the Gennated to be conformed to him: and as they tiles were not addressed.—But lo! when he “have borne the image of the earthy, they dies, he brings forth much fruit: he becomes must also bear the image of the heavenly." considerable, and renowned as a leader: three Here, indeed, the likeness is not complete thousand were called under one sermon: but it will be perfect in due time: they “shall " and the Lord added to the Church daily be like him, for they shall see him as he such as should be saved." Mightily grew is"-as entirely like him as one gruin of corn the word of the Lord, and prevailed.” It resembles another, from which it was derived, spread from city to city, from province to in substance and in figure. But let us re-J province, till it soon reached the boundaries

of the Roman empire. Now this was adapt- And first. Let us rcnder the works of naed and designed to show that his sufferings ture instructive and edifying. Let us not be were to precede his glory; and that by dying of the number of those of whom the prophet he was to have a numerous "seed to serve speaks, when he says, “ seeing many things, him, which should be accounted to the Lord they observe not." Nor let us contemplate for a generation."

the creation with the eye of a naturalist only. And does not every thing that enlivens us, Let us go over it as Christians; let us hold and conforms us to our Lord and Saviour, communion with "things unseen and eterderive its existence and its efficacy from his nal,” by means of those which are seen and death ?

temporal.” Thus our Saviour has taught us Is the influence of the Holy Ghost needful to find the influence of the Gospel in the to convince us of sin, and renew us in the leaven hid in the meal ; the agency and comspirit of our minds ? This is the purchase, the forts of the Holy Ghost in the blowing of the reward, the consequence of his death. “Christ wind, and in rivers of living water; and the hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, efficacy, utility, and necessity of his death in being made a curse for us: for it is written, the sowing, corruption, and the revival of corn. Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Secondly. “God is wonderful in counsel that the blessing of Abraham might come on and excellent in working.” His thoughts are the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we not our thoughts, neither are his ways our might receive the promise of the Spirit ways." The enemy supposed he had comthrough faith.”

pletely succeeded when our Lord was cruci. Is deliverance from our spiritual enemies fied—“Now (says he) his cause is crushed, necessary to our "serving him without fear his followers will be dispersed and annihilated, in holiness and righteousness before him all and his name will be heard no more.” But all the days of our life? Here “he spoils prin- this was “according to the determinate councipalities and powers, and makes a show of sel and foreknowledge of God.” Death was them openly: "Now is the judgment of this the road to life, and shame to everlasting, reworld, now is the prince of this world, cast nown. They were sowing him, to make him out."

fruitful. In falling a victim, he conquerIs it necessary for us to feel a “lively hope" ed, and from the cross he passed to the posby which we "draw nigh to God ?” The session of a throne, in which he reigns king cross inspires it. “ Surely he hath borne our of saints, and will reign king of nations. grief and carried our sorrow; the chastise- Thirdly. What think ye of “Christ crument of our peace was upon him, and with cified ?" I know what prophets and apostles his stripes we are healed. He that spared thought of it. I know the importance his not his own Son, but delivered him up for us death occupies in the scriptures of truth. I all, how shall he not with him also freely know that when Moses and Elias appeared give us all things ?"

in glory, "they spake of the decease which Has gratitude an influence in forming the he would accomplish at Jerusalem.” I know Christian character? Here, here it is inflamed. an ordinance is expressly appointed to show " For the love of Christ constraineth us; be- forth his death;" that the preaching of the cause we thus judge, that if one died for all, Gospel is called “the preaching of the cross;" then were all dead : and that he died for all, and that the praises of heaven are ascribed to that they which live should not henceforth him as “the Lamb that was slain, and has live unto themselves, but unto him which died redeemed us unto God by his blood.” But for them, and rose again. Unto him that what are your views of this interesting subloved us, and washed us from our sins in his ject? " to the Jews" it was “a stumblingown blood, and hath made us kings and priests block;" to " the Greeks, foolishness;" and to unto God and his Father; to him be glory and thousands now it is a thing of no importance. dominion for ever and ever. Amen." Is it to you “the wisdom of God” and “the

Finally. Is an example of holiness indis- power of God ?"—Our creed and our expepensable? Here we behold a representation rience will be found very defective, unless of all the graces and the duties he recom- they have much of the sufferings and death mended. Here we see an entire obedience of Christ in them. and submission to the will of his heavenly Spirit of grace and truth ! take of the things Father-humility the most profound—pa- of Jesus, and show them unto us. lay we tience the most astonishing-forhearance the " know the fellowship of his sufferings.” May most free from revenge-the love of relations we be made conformable unto his death." and friends the most exquisitely tender. May we be enabled individually to say, " I “He suffered for us, leaving us an example am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; that we should follow his steps."— And thus yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the all the principles and assistances of the Chris- life which I now live in the flesh I live by tian life are furnished by the death of the the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, Saviour. Let us conclude by three reflec- and gave himself for me.”_"God forbid that tions.

I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord

« PreviousContinue »