Page images

be light." Little did this poor woman expect body, and inform his ignorant mind; go and to meet with such a glorious change in her endeavour to snatch him from ruin, and rencircumstances at the funeral of her last com- der him the staff of his poor widowed mother's fort. “ When the Lord turned again her age. Go-go, and enjoy all the luxury of captivity, she was like them that dream!" doing good. “When the ear heard me, then But he was pleased to bring her thus low it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it before he helped her, to teach us never to gave witness to me: because I delivered the think our case desperate, or to suppose that poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him his interference can come too late.

that had none to help him. The blessing of But he does not deliver me! The time him that was ready to perish came upon me: and the manner of relief are his own. There and I caused the widow's heart to sing for are cases in which he can do us more good by jov." the continınnce than by the speedy removal of our sorrows. But of this we may be as

DISCOURSE XVII. sured, that he will not suffer us to call upon him in vain. Let us apply this to a particular case.

FEARS REMOVED. You say—" I share in this woman's affliction, but not in her joy. My child is dead—but And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall sure no Jesus says to me, Weep not.” Yes, Ra- ly die, because we have seen God. But his chel—“ Thus saith the Lord; refrain thy wife said unto him, If the Lord were pleased voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: to kill us, he would not have received a burntfor thy work shall be rewarded; and they offering and a meat-offering at our hands, shall come again from the land of the enemy.

neither would he have showed us all these And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord,

things, nor would as at this time have told 23 that thy children shall come again to their

such things as thesè.-Judges xiii. 22, 23. own border.” But he will not raise my child Samson is the last of the Israelitish Deto this fond embrace? Yes—He who said liverers recorded in this book. He differs to the young man, “ Arise !" is " the resur- very much from all his predecessors; for we rection and the life.” Thy child shall rise never find him presiding over the council, or again, and be delivered unto thee all over commanding in the army; but he was a treglorious ; and no fear of separation shall damp mendous scourge to the enemies of his counthe joy of your re-union.

try in his own person. III. WHAT THINK YOU OF CHRIST? Does His history is full of wonders. An angel not his character combine every excellency ushers him into the world. This angel first and attraction ? And is the relation of all this appeared to his mother, and foretold his birth. given us merely to gratify our curiosity? Are He soon after discovered himself also to his we to peruse the life of our Lord and Saviour father, in company with his mother. His as we would read the history of a Cyrus or father immediately provided an entertainment Alexander ? No—it is not written for our for him—but the angel commanded him to amusement, but for our profit. And then we offer it in sacrifice to the Lord. He did so peruse it properly, when we admire him—the angel ascended in the flame, and they love him above all depend wholly upon him saw him no more. By this they knew that -and feel the transforming efficacy of every he was a divine messenger, and in conseview we take of his character, "changing usquence of this apprehension, “ Manoah said into the same image, from glory to glory, as unto his wife, We shall surely die, because by the Spirit of the Lord.”

we have seen God. But his wife said unto Let us therefore " be followers of him as him, If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he dear children." Let us cultivate benevolence, would not have received a burnt-offering and and do all the good we can, especially to the meat-offering at our hands, neither would he fatherless and widows. These he has peca- have showed us all these things, nor would liarly recommended to our attention, not only as at this time have told us such things as by his example, but by his word. “ Ye shall these." not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If And what does this passage teach us? I. thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at WHAT PECULIAR IMPRESSIONS DIVINE MANIall unto me, I will surely hear their cry; and FESTATIONS MAKE UPON THE MIND. II. THE my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you DIFFERENCE THERE IS IN THE KNOWLEDGE with the sword; and your wives shall be AND EXPERIENCE OF THE LORD'S PEOPLE. III. widows, and your children fatherless." We THE PROFIT THAT 18 TO BE DERIVED FROM know you cannot work miracles—but you can A PJOUS COMPANION. IV. How muCH THERE show mercy. Go—"visit the widow in her 18 IN THE LORD'S DEALINGS WITH HIS PEOPLE affliction.”' We know you cannot raise her TO ENCOURAGE THEM AT ALL TIMES IF THEY dead son—but you can preserve her living HĄVE SKILL ENOUGH TO DISCERN IT. one. Go—and administer healing medicines I. See the peculiar impressions which Die and wholesome food; go and clothe his naked I vine manifestations make upon the mind.

[ocr errors]

To a certain degree these impressions are there are degrees in grace. There is hope, proper. Such manifestations ought to strike and the free assurance of hope. Some have our minds, to humble us, to produce reverence little faith; others are “strong in faith,” “rich and godly fear. If an earthly king were to in faith.” In the Church there are babes ; call upon us, we should be filled with awe as and there are those of full age, who by reasoon as he discovered himself-how much son of use have tbeir senses exercised to dis mere should this be the case, when he ap- cern both good and evil.” proaches us, who is “ King of kings, and And this difference is not always to be Lord of lords." Hence Jacob exclaimed, judged of by the order of nature, or external "How dreadful is this place: this is none advantages. “ There are first that shall be other bat the house of God, and this is the last, and there are last that shall be first.” gate of heaven!” Sob said, “I have heard We find here the weaker vessel the stronger of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now believer. Nor is this a solitary instance. mine eye seeth thee: wherefore I abhor my. They were women, yea widows, who minisself, and repent in dust and ashes." Isaiah tered to our Lord of their substance. The also, in like manner cries out, “Wo is me! three Marys approached the foot of the cross, for I am undone: because I am a man of un- when the disciples forsook him and fled. clean lips, and I dwell among a people of un- These also appeared first at the sepulchre. clean lips : for mine eyes have seen the King, Nothing is said of the father of Timothy, the Lord of Hosts.” Thus awfully were but the Apostle celebrates the “unfeigned these good men impressed, as soon as they faith of his mother and his grandmother." He apprehended the presence and glory of God. also speaks honourably to the Philippians of

But impressions, good in themselves, may those women that had laboured with him in become excessive; and the cause producing the Gospel.” them may be misunderstood, and even depre- Neither does this difference in their attaincated. Thus Manoah reasons: “We shall ments affect the reality of their religion, or surely die, for we have seen God!" This was the safety of their state. The infant is no a common apprehension of old, and it is easy less a child than the young man. Our Sato account for it. Ever since man became a viour does not despise " the day of small sinner, an enemy to God, every approach of things.” “ A bruised reed shall he not break, the Deity has awakened in him terror and and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he confusion. Our consciences naturally tell us send forth judgment unto victory." that we deserve nothing but heavy tidings Nevertheless, it is very desirable to be mafrom the invisible world: we therefore dread tured and established Christians not only to every messenger thence. And even when be alive in religion, but lively; not only to be God comes to us in mercy, the same sentiment fruitful, but to bring forth much fruit; and occurs, and sometimes leads us, like Manoah, to be "filled with all joy and peace in beto mistake his design, and draw a fearful con- lieving,” that we may not only have hope, clusion from it.

but "abound in hope, through the power of Thus, when he comes to convince us of the Holy Ghost.” And this is important, not sin, and to humble the pride of our hearts, only as the glory of God, and the comfort of we imagine that we shall now die-But we your own minds, depend much upon it, but are mistaken; he is only come to prepare us also as it prepares for usefulness, and enables for the proofs of his love. He impresses us you the better to "serve your generation,” with a sense of our danger, that we may flee and the more easily to "speak a word in seafor refuge; with a sense of our pollution, that son to him that is weary.' we may wash and be clean, in the fountain This leads us to notice, III. The profit which he has provided. “They that be whole that is to be derived from a pious companeed not a physician, but they that are sick.” nion. "Two are better than one; because

Thus, when he comes in providence, and they have a good reward of their labour. For destroys our schemes, and visits us with if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; breaeh upon breach; here again we imagine but wo to him that is alone when he falleth: we are going to be undone! But we shall for he hath not another to lift him up." Man presently see that he came as a friend, though is formed for society, and religion indulges disguised, and only used means to wean us and sanctifies the social principle. And if a from the world, and bring us more entirely to man be concerned for his spiritual welfare, himself as our exceeding joy.

he will be glad to meet with those who are Let us, II. Remark the difference there is traveling the same road, and are partakers in the knowledge and experience of the of the same hopes and fears: he will be thankLord's people. What surprises and terrifies ful to have one near him who will watch over one, is both plain and pleasing to another. him, and admonish him; who by seasonable What opposite conclusions do Manoah and counsel will fix him when wavering, embol. his wife draw from the same event! He in- den him when timid, and comfort him when fers wrath; she mercy. The former looks for cast down. And it is to be observed, that in destruction; the latter for salvation. Thus, spiritual distress we are often suspicious of

our own reasonings and conclusions: we offering he had not respect." Secondly, the know the deceitfulness of our own hearts, secrets with which he had favoured themand are afraid lest while they encourage “ Neither would he have shown us all these they should ensnare. We can depend with things, nor would as at this time have told more confidence upon the declarations of our us such things as these." This regards the fellow-Christians. Only let them relate their birth of their son, his education, his deliverown experience, recall to our minds some for- ance of their country-If the accomplishgotten truth, apply some promise, or give a ment of this be certain, our destruction is new turn to a particular circumstance—and impossible. we are relieved and delivered.

Let us leave Manoah and his wife, and And happy is the man who has such a think of ourselves. It is a dreadful thing for friend and helper in the desire of his eyes." God to kill us. What is the loss of property, In various instances, the importance of the of health, or even of life, to the loss of the female character to the welfare of man ap- soul! Men can " kill the body,” but there pears. She will aid Manoah in bringing up " is no more that they can do; but God is their children: and the earlier parts of edu- able to destroy both body and soul in hell." cation devolve almost exclusively upon her." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of She will assist him in the management of his the living God." estate: “the heart of her husband doth safely Hence it becomes unspeakably important trust in her, so that he shall have no need of to know how he means to deal with us. And, spoil. She will do him good and not evil all blessed be his name, there are satisfactory the days of his life. She looketh well to the evidences that he is not our enemy, but our ways of her household, and eateth not the friend, and concerned for our welfare. Some bread of idleness.” “No man ever prospered of these are more general ; others are more in the world without the consent and co- peculiar. operation of his wife.” She will also help He has not left himself without witness him in the preservation of his character, of " in that he has done us good, and given us his health, of his peace of mind. Her sooth- rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling ing voice can charm away “the evil spirit;" our hearts with food and gladness.". her soft hand can smooth the wrinkles of an He has borne with our provocations; and anxious brow, and wipe off the mildew of an though he could easily and righteously have unwholesome evening. But she is found, in destroyed us, we are still in the land of the the noblest sense, “a help-meet for him," in living, and we ought to “account that aiding his piety; in adding flame to his devo the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation. tion; in furnishing motive to his zeal, By The goodness of God leadeth to repentance." prayer, by example, by conversation, she can Had he desired the death of the sinner, encourage his resolutions, disperse his doubts, would he have provided and accepted the and " help his unbelief.” Such was the hap-grand sacrifice which Jesus made upon the piness of Manoah: he had one who was an cross for us?—But we know he provided it; á heir with him of the grace of life.” “But we know he accepted it; we know that it was his wife said unto him, If the Lord were an “offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetpleased to kill us, he would not have re- smelling savour." ceived a burnt-offering and a meat-offering If he were pleased to kill us, would he at our hands, neither would be have showed have given us such exceeding great and preus all these things, nor would as at this time cious promises-promises so rich, so general, have told us such things as these.”

so free! Would he have said, “ Seek ye the Whence, IV. We take occasion to ob- Lord while he may be found; call ye upon serve, that there is always enough in the him while he is near. Let the wicked forLord's dealings with his people to encou- sake his way, and the unrighteous man his rage them, if they have wisdom enough to thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, discern it. How well did this woman rea- and he will have mercy upon him; and to son! How naturally, yet how forcibly! our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” “ Nay-let us not turn that against us, “Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise which is really for us. We shall not die, un- cast out." less God be pleased to kill us; and surely the Resolved on your destruction, would he tokens of his favour are not the pledges of have favoured you with such affecting discohis wrath."

veries? Like the man in the Gospel, though Her conclusion is drawn from two things. unable to tell every circumstance attending First, the acceptance of their sacrifice: “ If the operation, cannot you say, “ One thing I the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would know, that whereas I was blind, now I see ?" not have received a burnt-offering and a Has he not "called you out of darkness into meat-offering at our hands.” It is not his his marvellous light?” Are you not filled manner to accept the offering, and reject the with wonder-does not every thing appear person: “ And the Lord had respect unto new? Have you not seen an evil in sin Abel and his offering; but unto Cain and his which has rendered it odious and burdensome


-a depravity in yourselves, which has led alter; they meet with unexpected difficulties; you ever since to exclaim, Behold, I am vile their purposes are frequently broken off-but --and such a glory in the Saviour as makes it is otherwise here. The foundation of God you willing to follow him whithersoever he standeth sure, and the top stone shall be goeth? “ Flesh and blood have not revealed brought forth with shoutingsmgrace, grace, this unto thee, but our Father who is in hea- | unto it!" It shall never be said of the God ven."

of our salvation—"He began to build, but Had his aim been your ruin, would he have was not able to finish." "We are confident," produced in you such sentiments and disposi- says the Apostle, “of this very thing, that he tions ?-So that the heart of stone is removed: who hath begun a good work in you peryou mourn for sin, and for the sins of others, form it until the day of Jesus Christ.” as well as your own. You "hunger and May you likewise be humbly confident of thirst after righteousness ;" and as much the same truth. May you be enabled to say, long to be sanctified as to be pardoned; and with David, “The Lord will perfect that pray as much to obtain purity as peace. You which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, love the sceptre, as well as glory in the Cross; endureth for ever: forsake not the work of and your dependence upon the Saviour's thine own hands." death is accompanied by endeavours to imi- And " when you are converted” from your tate his example; and you can never be per- doubts, and fears, and dejections, “strengthen fectly reconciled to yourselves, till “the same your brethren. Comfort the feebleminded. mind be in you which was also in Christ Je- Support the weak. Be patient towards all sus." If he smiles, you are satisfied to bear men. Lift up the hands which hang down, the frowns of the world; and can say, as you and the feeble knees; and make strait paths advance in duty and reproach, “ If this be to for your feet, lest that which is lame be be vile, I will yet be more vile."

turned out of the way; but let it rather be And under your greatest discouragements, healed.” under every temptation to go back, have you not been enabled to persevere in the use of means? Though you have been strangers DISCOURSE XVIII. to comfort and freedom in duty, you have not restrained prayer before him; but, through many a benighted season, you have waited for him “more than they that watch for the

THE PROFANE EXCHANGE. morning.” On the very verge of despair, Lest there be any fornicator, or profane per. something has afresh excited hope: “then I

8on, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold said, I am cast out of thy sight: yet, will I

his birthright. For ye know how that afterlook again toward thy holy temple.” You ward, when he would have inherited the have had a degree of confidence-not only

blessing, he was rejected: for he found no that you shall not seek him in vain—but that

place of repentance, though he sought it you have not sought him in vain : "I said, in carefully with tears.”—Heb. xii. 16, 17. my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my The history of the wicked, as well as of supplication, when I cried unto thee.” And the righteous, is useful. By their crimes we thus, while powerfully drawing you, he has are cautioned; and we are warned by their been secretly sustaining you ; as in the case miseries. And as the Israelites fled from the of David, who said—“My soul followeth hard tents of Korah, when the ground clave after thee--thy right hand upholdeth me.". asunder and swallowed them up,” saying,

Now all this is really his work. By the lest the earth swallow us up also”grace of God, you are what you are: it is should we abandon the course of the ungodly • he that has made you thus to differ" from world, lest we share in their tremendous ruin. others, and from yourselves. And if “the Anxious for our welfare, the Scripture adLord has a mind to kill you," why should he dresses our fear as well as our hope, and have done all this? The conclusion is as holds forth instances of divine vengeance, as obvious as it is encouraging. He could have well as proofs of divine mercy. Hence the destroyed you without these exertions in your command of our Lord: “Remember Lot's favour. Surely, he does not excite expecta- wife.” And hence the admonition of the tions, to disappoint us; or desires, to torment Apostle: "Lest there be any fornicator, or us. Surely he does not produce a new taste, profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel a new appetite, without meaning to indulge, of meat sold his birthright. For ye know to relieve it. Besides-as he does nothing how that afterward, when he would have inin vain, so he does nothing imperfect. What herited the blessing, he was rejected: for he he begins, he is able to finish; and when he found no place of repentance, though he begins, he designs to finish. With regard to sought it carefully with tears." other agents, we cannot certainly infer the And what is all this to us?

Much every completion from the beginning: their views way." I compare your privileges with his


privileges-your sin with his sin—and your he sold his birthright." It is obvious that doom with his doom.

the loss was voluntary and base. First, it I. Let us view Esau in his original state was voluntary. No one forced it from him, and COMPARE_YOUR PRIVILEGES WITH HIS he sold it. He was indeed tempted to part PRIVILEGES. To stand supreme in the house with it by the sensation of hunger, and the of the patriarch Isaac was no trifling prero- sight of pottage when he was faint: an obgative: his house was the house of God, ject was before him which promised the imand the gate of heaven.” . In this family, Je- mediate gratification of his sensual appetite. hovah revealed himself; and there he was But he could very soon have obtained food adored and served, while idolatry prevailed upon far easier terms. And surely the birthover all the other nations of the globe. And right could not have a rival in a mess of such was once the condition of this unhappy meat! Where was reason? Does the man character. Accordingly he possessed the yield to the brutes ?-No: he was not combirthright, and stood in a fair way to obtain pelled to sacrifice his claims. And who comall the advantages flowing from it. And these pels you to abandon your hopes of heaven? were great and numerous.

Who forces you into perdition? You say that To the birthright belonged pre-eminence you live in a world full of enticing objects; over the other branches of the family. To that the dominion of sense is strong; that it the birthright appertained a double portion of is not very easy to resist the impulse of the the paternal inheritance. To the birthright moment. But is it impossible to resist ? was attached the land of Canaan, with all its Have not many overcome, though placed in sacred distinctions. To the birthright was the same circumstances, and possessed of the given the promise of being the ancestor of the same nature with you? What is goodness Messiah-the “ first-born among many bre- untried? Have you not reason as well as thren"—the Saviour win whom all the fami- appetite? Is not grace attainable by you? Is lies of the earth were to be blessed." And to it not sufficient for you? And remember that the birthright was added the honour of re- you can never have so strong a motive to ceiving first, from the mouth of the father, a commit sin as to avoid it. The greatest difpeculiar benediction, which, proceeding from ficulties therefore which you have to overthe Spirit of prophecy, was never pronounced come, are those which are placed to keep you in vain.-Such were the prospects of Esau. from hell. What is the applause of a fellow

And what are yours? It is true, you were creature to the frown of the Almighty? not born in the house of Isaac; but you have What is a momentary pleasure to endless been brought forth in a Christian country, in pain? And you know you act frecly: you a “land the Lord careth for," where “the know that all the men in the world cannot darkness is past, and the true light now force you to will: you know that the tempter shineth.” You have the Bible; you have can do nothing more than propose—the deSabbaths; you have sanctuaries; you have termination rests with you. You cannot jusordinances; you have ministers; you have the tify yourselves even now to your own conthrone of grace; you have the promise of the sciences, and hereafter, unable to allege one Holy Ghost : and all things appertaining to excuse, you will be speechless! Here is the your everlasting happiness are now ready. true cause of your ruin—"ye will not come You possess much; but all your present ad- unto me that ye might have life.” “ Ye have vantages are not to be compared with those loved idols, and after them ye

will glorious hopes to which you are called by the Secondly, it was equally base. For what Gospel. You have the prospect of becoming is the price of the birthright ? An empire ? a “ kind of firstfruits of his creatures," of A crown?-A crown sparkles in the eye of joining “the general assembly and the Church ambition: a throne is the highest pinnacle of of the firstborn, whose names are written in human pride:—Nothing like it—but a desheaven"-a primogeniture whose privileges picable trifle, “one morsel of meat”_"a far surpass those of the son of Isaac: a birth- mess of pottage"—the dearest dish, says right which comprehends a “ better country" Bishop Hall

, that was ever purchased, except than Canaan, even heaven, where we shall the forbidden fruit. But I feel ready to disreign “ kings and priests unto God,” where pute this. Are not you more than like him? " the Lord commandeth the blessing, even Do not you surpass him in folly ? For what life for evermore!" But this pearl is not for do you sell the treasures of the soul and the swine, who, fĝnorant of its value, tram- eternity--but a thing of nought, a fieeting ples it under foot; but for those who, con- indulgence, a false point of honour, an imagiscious of its incomparable worth, prefer it to nary interest? Here is your eternal infamy every thing else, and, like the wise merchant, and disgrace! “ Ye have sold yourselves," are willing to sell all to buy it. These high says the prophet, “ for nought." For what advantages may be sacrificed.

proportion is there between the things which II. Let us therefore view Esau in the sur- you thus exchange? Duly consider the “unrender of his privileges, and COMPARE YOUR searchable riches of Christ;" think what it SIN WITH HIS SIN. For one morsel of meat | is to be a blessed with all spiritual blessings

« PreviousContinue »