« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
fellow-Christians is founded principally because they belong to him and wear his image. They love the habitation of God's house, because it is the place where his honour dwelleth. They call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord and honourable, because it is his day. And this is also the reason why they prize the Scriptures. There, says the Christian,
“There my Redeemer's face I see,
And read His love who died for me."
Aug. 16.— Watch
lest ye enter into temptation.
Mark xiv. 38. “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” In vain do we pray if we are careless and unwatchful, if we expose ourselves needlessly in dangerous places and company, if we leave without a sentinel our senses, appetites, and passions, and use not the means of preservation which are placed within our reach. Prayer without watchfulness is hypocrisy; watching without prayer is presumption. Our strength is in God alone. We should always manifest a lively concern for our spiritual preservation. Our prayer should ever be, “Uphold my goings in thy ways,” and, “Let not any iniquity have dominion over me.” “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” Whatever be our weakness, if he upholds us he will keep us from falling. Whatever be our inability and danger, if he holds us up we are safe. Now, this preservation, about which we are to be thus prayerfully solicitous, includes not only eventual security as to eternity, but stability and constancy as to time, our being steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. And the
very exercise of prayer will tend to secure us. And God has promised to hear and answer the prayers of his people. He will “strengthen us with might by his Spirit in our inner man.” And though Christians know God bas engaged to keep the feet of his saints, they also know that their safety consists in watching and praying; they know there is no perseverance without persevering; they know the certainty of the end includes the certainty of the means. A Christian hates sin, and believes it to be, as the apostle says, “exceeding sinful.” He not only hates it, but desires to depart from it. He loves heart-purity, and, feeling sin to be his abhorrence, he will not, cannot, bear his heavenly Father should plead in
vain, “Oh, do not the abominable thing which I hate.” Therefore he sees enough in the nature of sin, and in the accusations of conscience, to induce him to cry, “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.”
Aug. 17.— Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction.
Ps. lxxxviii. 9. ONE source of David's sorrows was affliction. He had many trials and troubles which his greatness could not prevent or eren alleviate. Oh, how happy was he in the village, in the retirement of Bethlehem, with his sheep, his harp, and his muse, going home in the evening to old Jesse, his father, and to the embrace of his loving mother, to whom he so often refers in his psalms. But when he had begun to rise in the world and to entertain the expectation of the throne, what did he? He soon found that it was “through much tribulation that he must enter the kingdom;" and when he had entered it he said, “Oh that I had wings like a dove, for then would I flee away and be at rest; I would hasten my escape from the stormy wind and tempest." Obliged to appear cheerful in public, yet when he had given orders to his generals, and audiences to his ambassadors, and had left the company of his courtiers, we find him alone, bleeding at every pore. And he makes no scruple to lay it down as a maxim, even under a dispensation which abounded with worldly promises, that “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” Nor are Christians to be insensible under these afflictions. Religion allows them to feel; religion requires them to feel. Their trials would never answer their moral ends without feeling, and feeling severely, too. There is no grace in bearing what we do not feel. There is neither patience nor resignation in a stone. If we look at our Saviour himself, shall we find that he was insensible under reproach? “Reproach," saith he, "hath broken my heart; and I looked for some to take pity, and there was none; and for comforters, and I found none. Did he deem pain no evil? “soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." He said, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." The affliction of others also drew forth his tears. And Paul says, “Who is weak, and I am not weak?
Who is afflicted, and I burn not ?" We are commanded not only to “rejoice with them that rejoice,” but “to
weep with them that weep.” And a woe is denounced upon those that are "at ease in Zion,” and who are “not grieved for the afflictions of Joseph."
Aug. 18.—This is his commandment, that we should believe on
the name of his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John iii. 23. This commandment is little thought of, and it is often despised by the many who talk much of their obedience: but it stands as a prominent command of the gospel; it stands at the entrance of the Christian life; and, until this command be complied with, we are neither in a disposition nor in a state properly to comply with any other, for we are not united to Christ, who is the head of influence as well as of empire. The Saviour, therefore, said, when the Jews asked what they must do that they might work the works of God, “This is the work of God, that ye
believe on him whom he hath sent.” The elder brother said to the father, “I have never transgressed thy command at any time,” while at that moment he was filled with the most hostile disposition towards his father's pleasure. Well, says the father, since you talk so much of your obedience, since you say you always obey your father, obey now, and go in and share with the family in the joy which arises from the recovery of my poor son and your
brother: “For this my son was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found.” He would not goin: he would have died, -yea, he would rather have perilled the salvation of his soul than have gone
in. There is an awful amount of enmity in the heart of the proud Pharisee against God's sovereign method of salvation, and it is that which keeps him from submitting himself to the righteousness which is of God by faith. But, says the apostle, it is “to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly.” If we flee for refuge to the hope set before us, it shall be a security from all condemnation; and the question, therefore, is, How we feel disposed towards this command?—a command that requires self-annihilation,-a command that requires that we look to Jesus, and to say, “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength."
Aug. 19.--He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
1 Cor. vi. 17. THERE must be likeness in order to fellowship. Every man that loves God will be constrained to be like him, will long to resemble him more and more. “He that saith he dwelleth in him ought himself also to walk even as he walked.” Not only gratitude and consistency require this, but proof. “If,” says the holy Saviour, “I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." For “what fellowship hath righteousness with uprighteousness, and what communion bath light with darkness, or what concord hath Christ with Belial?” Cbrist and Christians are not like Nebuchadnezzar's statue, the head of which was gold, while the subordinate parts were of inferior metal, down to the feet, which were partly iron and partly clay. But “ He that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one." He is a partaker of their nature, and they are partakers of his. They are not of the world, even as he is not of the world. They have the same mind which was also in Christ Jesus,—& sameness of sentiment and feeling, a oneness of heart and soul. A Christian, therefore, will never despise those instructions that call upon him to “deby ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world;" "to cleanse himself from all filthi. ness of flesh and of the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God;” but he will take all his temptations and his besetting sins to the foot of the cross, and then he will take them to the throne
and turn them into prayer; and while he knows that in the use of means the blessing of sanctification will be imparted, and must be breathed from the Spirit of God, he will live in the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit, remembering that this is his commandment:—“Be ye holy, for I am holy.”
Aug. 20.- I love my master : I will not go out free. Ex. xxi. 5.
Love, as the principle of obedience, renders it perpetual. At the end of seven years, under the law, the bond-servant was allowed to go free; but if he refused to avail himself of the privilege, if he came to his master and said, “I love my master: I will not go out free,” then the master took him to the door, and bored his ear through, with an awl, to the door-post,
signifying by this striking symbol that he was now a fixture, that he was now a domestic, and forever attached to the family. Our Saviour alludes to this custom when he says, “Lo, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me, Mine ears hast thou opened.” It is in the Hebrew and in the margin, “Mine ears hast thou bored;" as much as to say, “I am thine entirely: obedience is the course in which I am going to engage, and nothing shall make me swerve from it;” “Lo, I come;” “I delight to do thy will, O my God. Yea, thy law is within my heart." He was, therefore, “ obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.' He could
“ With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you, my disciples, before I suffer."
" I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished !” Herein the Saviour is an example to his people; they have the same mind in them which was also in him. They are, therefore, not detained in his service against their will. They are not impressed men. They are not conscripts, but they are volunteers. They have been “ made willing in the day of his power.” While duty renders it our medicine, love renders it our meat, to do the will of our heavenly Father. We take the one, we relish and enjoy the other. Our Saviour, therefore, when many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him, said to the twelve, trying their dispositions, “Will ye also go
y?” “Oh,” said Peter, in the name of the rest, “ go away! to whom shall we go but unto thee? for thou hast the words of eternal life." It is sometimes said of Christians who hold certain doctrines, “They live as they list." Nothing is more untrue and vile in the sense of their calumniators, who mean thereby that they do evil that good may come. But if they feel those doctrines which they profess, we will venture to affirm that nothing is more true in another sense, and that they do live as they list. They do observe the Sabbath; they “call it a delight, holy of the Lord, and honourable.” They do repair to the sanctuary, and they love to repair to it; they are glad when it is said unto them, “Let us go up unto the house of the Lord.” They do not find it their prison, but their palace, their home, their Father's house; and they can individually say, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after : —that I
dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” “Surely goodness