Изображения страниц

pray in vain.

gospel, and he needs only a proper knowledge of the present state of his own soul, and a clear view of the gracious decla. rations, which God hath made to his people, in his own word. And while the desires of his heart, arise from a sense of want, and these desires agree with the promises of God, he cannot Let a man always take care that he


for promised mercies, or let the promises of God be the measure and rule of his prayers, and he may rest assured, that' the ears of the Lord are open, yea, and his bountiful hand also, and he shall obtain every spiritual blessing which he shall ask, with a believing heart, at the hand of a gracious God', a God who hắth pleasure in the prosperity of them who fear him.

As a righteous man will thus pray for himself, so will he also offer up to God the morning and evening sacrifice in his family.. “God hath given me an house," saithi he, “I will turn it into a church, and I'will build an altar unto his sacred Name there. He hath given me a tongue, 'I will use it to his glory, and I will unite with all who sojourn under my roof, in calling upon his Name:" Here we see an house at unity it self, a whole family bowing together before the God of the spirits of all flesh, and devoutly worshipping before his thronę. See that blessed man, along with his amiable partner in life, his children, and his servants, (if he' have any,) solemnly praising God, for ten thousand blessings already received, and drawing down upon all that belong to him, the unsearch able riches of Christ, by his earnest and faithful prayers. Here is heaven begun upon earth, a whole family walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, and travelling hand in hand to the everlasting kingdom of God.

Come hither, ye earth-born souls, who are daily trying to feed upon husks; come, and see the peace, the pleasure, the unspeakable happiness, the followers of God enjoy! Alas! for you, poor, grovelling, fallen spirits ! vainly trying to fill your belly with the east wind ! Ye are utter strangers to peace in your own minds; pride, self-will, anger, evil desires, and turbulent passions, reign there. Ye are strangers to peace in your families; there you have strife and debate, ccntention, discord, and every evil work. God does not dwell with you, his glory is departed from you.

The righteous also unite with the great congregation; and throughout the whole, the ears of the Lord are open to their prayers. Here is all the encouragement they can possibly have: Let the righteous only take care to pray for purchased


mercies, and their pious labours shall not, cannot be in vain in the Lord.

0 ye praying, wrestling souls! také all the encouragemerit which your God gives you, and continue in this holy exercise. Pray down all the blessings, which Christ hath purchased, into your own souls; and all the blessings of the new covenaht into the hearts of your relations; and pray for the peace and prosperity of the church of God, till the Lord shall

bring it up out of the wilderness, clear as the sun," fair as the 'moon, and terrible as an army with banners."

As the holy apostles were appointed by our blessed Lord td act as spiritual guides to his people, being endowed with the spirit of wisdom, that they might point out the way in which the people should walk, and conduct them in safety to the peaceful regions of eternal felicity: He likewise intended that they should act as nursing fathers to his children; and to this end it is evident they were possessed of the sincerest love, the warmest affection, yea, the tenderest pity for the people awong whom they laboured. As they had an intense desire after their spiritual prosperity, so they tenderly sympathized with them in all their distressing trials, and were ever ready to administer all the spiritual comfort and encouragement to them in their power.

How does the Apostle diseover this unfeigned affection for the believing Thessalonians? It is hardly possible to find words within the whole compass of human language more expressive of the tenderest affection than his words are. “But we were gentle among you,” saith he, “ even as a nurse cherisheth her children, so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to impart, not the gospel of God only, but alsở our own souls, because you were dear unto us. Let every minister of Christ consider these words, and let him examine whether he be of the same spirit of this man of God!

St. Peter also manifests the same tender regard for his people; to whom he wrote this Epistle. These were in a suffering state, and well knowing the weakness and frailty of human nature, how liable we are to be overcome by our enemies; ånd how apt to faint in the day of trial; as a faithful minister of Christ, he wrote this letter to them. 6 The eyes of the Lord,” saith he, "are over the righteous, and his ears are Open to their prayers."

We come now to consider the third particular. How does It appear that no harm shall befał those who follow that which is good!


Speaking after the manner of men, much harm had already befallen these very people; they were hated and despised, yea, bitterly persecuted, nay, perhaps spoiled of their goods by their own countrymen, who were enemies to the gospel ; they were also tempted and tried by the devil, at the same time; and nothing of this sort can, with any degree of truth, be called good, simply considered. But as those trials had come upon them för righteousness sake, Peter well knew that they should not only do them no harm, but should all work together for their good, in due time: If ye suffer for righteousness sake; happy are ye, and be not afraid of their terror; neither be ye troubled.”

The Apostle is not to be considered as acting in the capacity of a private soldier in the army of our Lord Jesus Christ, but father in the station of captain-general" in the hosts of the Lord; being clothed with a complete set of spiritual armour ; having in one hand the sword of the Spirit, and in the other the shield of faith; being girt with the breast-plate of righteousness, and with the girdle of truth; having the helmet of salvation upon his head, and the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace upon his feet; and being inspired with spiritual courage by his divine Master, he starids forth at the head of the army of the Lord, and boldly bids defiance to all the hosts of the aliens. For although he speaks by way of interrogation, saying, “ Who is he that shall harm you?" Yet we are not to suppose he had any doubt upon

his mind, whether any of their spiritual enemies might possibly harm them. No; he is rather to be considered as speaking with an air of triumph, bidding defiance to all the enemies of God, ạnd of his people. As if he had said, “Who is he, or what is he, among all the song of the mighty, the most resolute and valiant of all the enemies of God or man, that will pretend to contend with those who steadily trust in the eternal Jehovah ; Let him stand forth, let him do his worst, he shall not be able to harm you ; Follow that which is good, and all you have and are shall be secure.”

But perhaps some will say, “ What is all this to us? We are not likely to suffer as the ancient Christians did ; we live under a mild and peaceable government, and as Christianity is established by law, we are in no danger.” The profession of Christianity is established by law in this nation, we allow, but

as to Christianity itself; no humán government under heaven can establish ít, by any laws they can make; only the Most High God himself can do this Nơnë of us can tell what is in the womb of providence, nor do we know what we


may be called to suffer, before we leave this poor world. However this we certainly know, that " inany are the tous bles of the righteous ;” and if any man will live godly in Christ Jesus, he shall suffer persecution, in a greater' or a less degree. It may therefore be profitable for us, to consider some of those trials which will befal us, while in the present world, and to shew, at the same time, that these shall be so far from doing us any harm, that the Lord will sanctify them, and they shall prove exceedingly profitable to us, if: we only folow that which is good.

It frequently happens, upon a person's first setting out in the way to the kingdom of God, that our Lord's words are fulfilled, “A man's foes are those of his own household : Those that we tenderly love, who are dear to us as our own souls; being strangers to the power of godliness, not only op, pose uş, but also endeavour to make our way as difficult as: they can. The husband becomes an enemy to the wife of his bosom; or it may be just the reverse, the wife proves a kind of tyrant to her husband, the parents mightily oppose their children, and seriously think that they are about to be ruined; or the children act the same part towards their parents. This must be acknowledged a very great and distressing trial, and more especially so to a person of an affectionate mind. We find it a very painful task to be under the necessity to grieve those whom we cordially love, and highly honour; we see them troubled on our account, and it cuts us to the leart: But what is ten thousand times more distressing, we know that in thus opposing us, they are fighting against God, and consequently increasing their own condemnation. We sce them strangers to the nature of true religion, and unconcern. ed about their everlasting, salvation: Hence we know, that they are in danger of falliog into the pit of destruction. This to a feeling mind, is a trial indeed, and in itself is a great and But distressing as it is, it shall do us no harm while


fol, low that which is good. But what is the good we are parti cularly called to follow, when thus circumstanced? Doubc+ less to cleaye unto the Lord with full purpose of heart, to live very near to God, to walk as in his sight, and to make no sinful compliance whateyer ; but to be universally conscientious, to be uniformly pious ; that we may couvince our friends, we only want to plcase God, and to save our souls. We ought not to do evil that good may come ; to gain our relations, we dare not meet them half way, as come speak;

sore eyil.

this would be to take the matter out of the hand of God, into our own, but it will never answer a good end, either to them or ourselves. O no, the way to gain our relations is to be stedfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.

To improve this trial we should be much in prayer, both for them and our own souls, inasmuch as we see the extreme danger they are in, and at the same time, feel how many weaknesses and wants we ourselves have : As we cannot converse profitably with our own family, we may retire the more frequently, and spend our time in secret, in reading, meditation, and prayer; and by so doing, we may perhaps live nearer to God, than we should do if we lived in a Christian family. And besides, when we consider the danger our dear friends are in of retaining their prejudices against the ministers of Christ, the people of God, and in truth, against religion itself; And how much depends upon our example, we shall see how necessary it is, that we should let our light so shine, that they may see the fruit of that change which God hath wrought in us. We must patiently bear with their perverseness; with meekness and gentleness endure all their hard and unkind speeches; and carefully and constantly watch over our own spirit and temper, that nothing may appear in us contrary to the meek, lowly, and loving mind which was in Christ : Our life should be a daily sermon, that they may be obliged to acknowledge, that religion is more than a name. :- It is an infinite mercy, when the Lord is pleased to call oni any one person in a family, and that one is found faithful; bearing all the evil treatment which he may meet with from his friends with unbroken patience, and unwearied resignation to the will of God ; steadily following the example of Christ, and taking the most proper measures to do good to those about him, by watching for opportunities to oblige them, to do them every kind office in his power, and by speaking a word for God, at the most seasonable times. When this course is taken, there is the greatest reason to believe God will make such an one the happy instrument of bringing the whole family into the way of salvation. Happy would it be, if all who are circumstanced as above, would seriously think how much the salvation of their relations depends upon their conduct.

Perhaps it may please God to try us a little farther, in the same way. We may suffer from our friends ; thosė upon whom we have depended for our support in life, and from

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »