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God's house are forsaken-if, to all this, there be an indifference and unconcern of soul, can the solemn charge of our Lord be heard, “Thou hast been weary of me,” without pleading guilty? Be astonished, o heavens, at this! Weary in serving the Lord, may be the christian's experience, through infirmity; but to weary of the Lord himself, the Lord of every perfection, the God of all mercies, the Father of all consolation, the only Saviour of our souls, our only hope in time, our all in eternity; to be weary of and grow shy to such a Being, Oh, what shall one say? Truly love is patient and prayer powerful; but for the love of the Father, and the intercession of Jesus, such a soul might, ere this, have reaped his deserts in torment, and been weary of his punishment in hell. But, after such base conduct, Oh, hear the declaration of love, “I, even I, am he who blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins," verse 25. Therefore there is hope, grace reigns, yea grace abounds, superabounds, mercy is free, proclamation is made. "Return, [such a conduct must be changed, or death cannot be hopeful, or eternity desirable,] return to the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity,” Hosea xiv. 1.
APRIL 29.--Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.--Prov. xxiv.
Observation is the life of understanding. Experi, ence is the joy of faith. Learning good from others? harms is true wisdom. Can we look around us among the circle of our professing acquaintance, and not see the awful effects of slothfulness in the ways of God? What supine indolence to the cause of Jesus, and careless indifference for the health and prosperity of the soul, do we behold! A very affecting description of this the Spirit of wisdom here presents to our view: "I went by the field of the slothful,” [the once seemingly growing and shining professor,] "and lo, it was all grown over with thorns," (the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, have choked the word, Matt. xiii. 22.] “and nettles had covered the face thereof;" (the rank weeds of corrupt lusts, sensual gratifications, carnal pleasures and delights, overspread the life and conduct ;] “the stone wall of the vineyard is broken down;" (the soul lying open, and unfenced against the incursions of beasts of prey, Satan, the men of this world, carnal company; senseless of its danger, and slothful to all means of deliverance, the poor soul composes itself with] "yet a little sleep å little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep." Is not this a striking, though awful picture? do we not, almost daily, behold its original? How melancholy the sight! how alarming the conduct! how dread. ful the sentence! “So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth (with speed;] and thy want as an armed man,” [being without power, thou canst not withstand it.] See this, O soul I remember thy calling is to diligence. “Consider it well,” [what sad effects spiritual sloth produces.] “Look upon it, [as a frame and temper of soul to be constantly dreaded, and earnestly prayed against ;] receive instruction:" "For whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning." To show what has happened to others, should be ensamples to us; and "for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall," 1 Cor. x. 11, 12. There are "things that accompany salvation," Heb. vi. 9. Diligence in the ways
of God is one of these. Without this, we cannot enjoy “the full assurance of hope,” that we are “followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises,” Heb. vi. 12.
APRIL 30.-Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Acts vii. 56.
“Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.” As the trial and exercise of our day is, so shall our strength be. Saints shall have suffering grace for suffering times. Hours of great outward calamities often prove seasons of the greatest aboundings of inward consolation. It is said, “Stephen fell asleep." What! under a shower of stones? Yes : the sweetest sleep he ever experienced. It was preceded by a supernatural sight of glory. He awoke in the full enjoyment of it. He suffered first for Jesus, he is the first who is favoured with a view of the glorified Jesus, in his kingdom. How faithful is the Lord we serve! how great are his compassions ! how reviving to the soul is the spiritual sight of him! Whether patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs and confessors, as believers in all ages, the same Lord was the object of their faith; they were comforted by the same Spirit
, whose blessed office is; to glorify Jesus, in the view of believing souls. True,"No man shall see me and live, saith the Lord," Exod. xxxii. 20. Even highly favoured Stephen saw not the essential glory of Jehovah, but through the medium of the man Jesus. Whether with his bodily sight, or in the full vision of faith, and the Holy Ghost, he saw the glory of God, in the person of the glorified Son of man; this fired his soul with heavenly joy, and inflamed his heart with holy transport.
Faith's views of Jesus have a transforming influence upon the soul. While he is beheld, love is communicated. Ascending hearts to Jesus are favoured with descending love from Jesus. Love, received in the heart cheerfully, diffuseth its sweet savour around us. It enlargeth the feelings of compassion, and opens the mouth in prayer, even for its worst enemies. Thus Stephen prays for his very murderers. When for himself, he stands : when for them, he kneeled down;
as though more importunate for them than for him. self. How precious is the sight of Jesus to those who believe! how should our hearts long for clearer views of him! As in his love, so in his person, he is won. derful. He is ever the same, a man.
He appears in his human form before the throne. The same Man, who loved our persons, and bore our sins, still lives and pleads our cause, as our triumphant Conqueror, in our nature, over all our enemies. Thus daily conceive of, look to, and embrace in the arms of faith, thy Lord and thy God. So mayst thou ever comfortably say, “Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth," Psalm xxxi. 5.
MAY 1.-Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground ?—Isa. xxviii. 24.
"The Lord of hosts hath decreed to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honour. able of the earth," Isa. xxiii. 9. Therefore, his word sends us to common transactions in life, that we may gather instructions in humility, and bow to his sovereignty. Every dispute against the latter, is a strong evidence of want of the former. When the mouth is not stopped, but daringly opened against sov. ereign purposes and eternal decrees, it is an awful sign that the plough of God's law hath not cut deep into such sinners' hearts. For instead of pleading guilty, the pride of nature urges vain pleas against free-grace truths, everlasting love, the finished salvation of Jesus, and the certain glory of all his chosen members.
But verily, as the ploughman ploughs at a proper season, sows his seed at the appointed time, and as har. vest shall not fail ; so the church of Christ is God's husbandry," 1 Cor. iii. 9. By the ministry of the word,
the Lord ploughs up the uncultivated ground of unfruitful hearts, he opens and breaks the clod of pride and lust, he casts in the seed of eternal life, in the knowledge of Jesus : then the graces of faith, hope, love, and holiness take root downward and spring forth upward. But alas ! the seed is exposed to many dangers. Weeds may grow up and choke it. If refreshing showers, the warm sun, or purifying air be withheld, it will rot, and bring forth no fruit unto perfection. The poor sinner is not without his fears; yea, is at times at his wits' end, lest it should be so. But what can he do? He cannot command the clouds, call forth the sun, or cause the wind to blow. Boasting in self is at an end. Trusting to inherent grace is cut off
. Hence the soul is led in humility to see that all things are of
that if ever he reaps the harvest of eternal life, it must be wholly and solely owing to God's free gift by Jesus ; that all present fruitfulness is by the Spirit's energy and influence. Therefore, look not so much within, nor around thee, as above, to Jesus. Doubting disciple, from this inexhaustible fountain hope and encouragement flow. Though all within seems gloomy and distressing, all without opposing and discouraging, yet our God is over all, and above all. Ever remember, there is as great necessity for the heart to be deeply rooted in humility downward, as for the pleasing fruits of peace and joy to spring upward. Our God knows which is best for us. As the ploughman minds his work, and does his duty, so be thou diligent in thy work, humble in thy heart, knowing, “God giveth the increase," 1 Cor. iii. 7.
MAY 2.-That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.—Rom. iii. 19.
In our natural state, we are ever most backward to take guilt to ourselves, most skilful at self-excuses, most averse to self-examination, because we dread self-con