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before us, in the sacred oracles, the knowledge | loftiness of pride disdains to learn from the source which is necessary to make us wise unto salva- of revelation, as something altogether abject and tion.
useless; the presumptuous complacency of a selfThe subjects about which scripture is concerned, righteous spirit scorns to admitits humbling truths, though the farthest from the reach of mere human and rejects it as a libel on the character of human investigation, are of the highest practical moment nature; the boldness of impenitence and infidelity and of the most enduring personal interest to calls in question the justice and truth of its reevery member of our race. The being, the per- presentations, concerning the guilt and penalty of fections, and the counsels of God; the nature, the sin, and affects to compliment the mercy of God authority, and the sanctions of the divine law; the at the expence of his truth ; the love of the world demerit of sin; the method of restoration to the spurns the sacred principles which it inculcates as favour of God through a Redeemer; the regene- visionary and enthusiastic, whilst the lawless viorating and sanctifying agency of the Holy Spirit ; lence of vice and licentiousness blasphemes its the covenant relation in which God stands to his authority as a tyranny subversive of the natural people ; the unalterable love which he bears to liberty and happiness which are the prerogative them, and the ineffable blessedness to which he of man. shall exalt them, constitute an outline of the The doctrine, that all scripture is given by ingrand themes presented to our knowledge in the spiration of God, impresses a peculiar value upon divine testimonies. Every great and solemn every portion of the sacred volume, and should question which we can desire to have solved in secure the conviction that a design, worthy of relation to our duty, our interests, and our pro- infinite wisdom and righteousness, pervades all spects, as accountable beings, is satisfactorily settled it contains. Let us aspire to possess an eminently in the scriptures, and it is no slight demonstration sanctifying and comforting experience of the of their excellence that whilst they shed a copious majesty, the power, the purity, the wisdom, and light upon every subject truly interesting or the excellence which distinguish the sacred oraimportant, in a religious and moral point of view, cles. They are more precious than gold; yea, they utterly abstain from gratifying the idle in- than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey quiries of a mere fruitless curiosity. To derive or the honey comb. The main design of the benefit from the holy scriptures, we must read them Spirit of inspiration, in both the Old and the with reverence, humility, faith, penitence, and an New Testament, is to reveal Christ; to make earnest and prayerful spirit, that we may find them known his character, his offices, and his work to be to our souls a savour of life unto life. Re- as a Saviour; to invite sinners to come to him, linquishing the proud spirit of self-sufficiency, and believe on him, that he may be made unto which is so natural to the human mind in its them of God, “wisdom, righteousness, sanctifiunregenerate state, we should sit with the teach- cation, and complete redemption.' How solemn ableness of little children at the feet of inspira- are the warnings against despising the divine tion, and the sacred testimony, thus saith the testimonies, and rejecting Christ. Whosoever Lord,' should be decisive upon every subject, and shall fall on this stone, shall be broken, but on command the profoundest homage of our under- whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind them to standings and of our hearts. Whatever appar- powder.' ent difficulties we may find in any part of scrip
. Within this awful volume lies ture, we should reflect, that it ought to be ex
The mystery of mysteries. pected that the only wise God' should have
Oh ! happiest they of human race,
To whom our God has given grace discoveries to place before us beyond our capacity
To hear, to read, to fear, to pray, fully to conceive, and works to reveal past
To lift the latch, and force the way; finding out. A consciousness of our spiritual
But better had they ne'er been born,
Who read to doubt, or read to scorn.' blindness and liability to err on all subjects relative to salvation, should dictate a spirit of fervent and habitual supplication to the great Father of lights, from whom cometh down every good and
SECOND DAY.-EVENING. perfect gift. To how many does the power of indwelling corruption render the volume of in-But the Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost, whom spiration a sealed book, because they neglect the
the Father will send in my name, he shall teach duty to which they are called in this respect;
you all things,' John xiv. 26. • If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who It is the privilege of the redeemed to be exalted giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.' The to the most distinguished rank, and to the most
glorious prospects. Not only are they delivered | assert that they are insufficient of themselves, exfrom a state of condemnation, but they are ad-clusive of the power of the Holy Spirit, to make vanced to the dignity of the sons of God, and men wise unto salvation. They claim for them* receive the spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, selves no higher honour than that of being the Abba, Father.' And although the world knows sword of the Spirit,' the instrument which he them not, as it knew not their divine Master, wields for penetrating and subduing the soul of that renders not the communications with heaven, the sinner. The divine Author of Christianity which they are privileged to enjoy, or the bless- teaches us that it is the Spirit who quickeneth, ings from on high with which they are visited, the word profiteth little. And one of the the less real or the less precious. The Holy greatest apostles and ministers of the New TesGhost, the third person in the adorable God-tament has placed it upon record, that the nabead, is equally concerned as the Father and tural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit the Son in promoting the work of human re- of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither demption ; and it constitutes his special province can he know them, because they are spiritually to form the medium of communication through discerned.' The constant misapprehension of our whom Christ and the blessings of salvation are Saviour's own immediate disciples, it has been sealed and applied to believers. A knowledge well observed, of which we read so much in the of his person, and of his work, accompanied with gospel, was certainly due as much to their being an earnest desire to enjoy the benefits which he blind, as to their being in the dark; to their deconveys, is essential to salvation ; and, accord- fect in the power of seeing, as to any defect in ingly, the Saviour concluded not his personal the visibility of what was actually set before ministry, nor left the earth, until he had first in them. structed his disciples, that they were henceforth It is the province of the Holy Spirit to open to look upon themselves as placed more immedi- the heart, as in the case of Lydia, to attend to ately under the guidance, protection, and consola- the things that are revealed in the gospel, and tion of the divine Spirit, whom, at his interces- spoken by the ministers of Christ; to impress sion, the Father should send down upon them. convictions of sin, as took place on the day of The agency of the Spirit is distinguished by the pentecost, with the three thousand who were most consummate wisdom and grace, and he converted under the preaching of Peter; to imadapts his communications and blessings with ad- part faith, and to enable the sinner effectually to mirable suitableness to the various circumstances flee to Christ for salvation, as happened with the of the church, to the diversified exigencies of be- Ethiopian eunuch, the Philippian jailor, and lievers, and to the peculiar openings of providence, others; and to produce a growing experience of and to the state of the world at different periods. the power and efficacy of divine grace upon the On the day of pentecost, and during the age of soul, and a persevering devotedness in the Chrismiraculous interposition, he manifested his pre- tian life under all its duties, and under all its sence by affixing the seal of heaven, by signs, and trials, as was exemplified by the faithful disciples wonders, and mighty deeds, to the doctrines which of the apostolic and of every subsequent age. the apostles delivered. At all times his opera- When Paul would express his confidence, that tion is necessary to render the ordinances of the the Thessalonians had received the gospel, when gospel efficacious, that sinners may be convinced it was first preached to them, in a saving manner, and converted; saints edified and comforted; and he does so by ascribing their reception of it to the church built up in faith and holiness to eter- the agency of the Holy Spirit. · For our gospel nal life.
came not unto you in word only, but also in The necessity for divine teaching arises from power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much asthe corruption and moral blindness, together with surance. All vital godliness, all genuine and the alienation of heart from God, characteristic permanent religious principles, must then be imof human nature in its fallen state. It is not planted in the soul by the Spirit in every inenough to have the objective knowledge of divine stance; and his agency, and his blessing, must things set before the mind in the volume of in- also continue to attend the work, throughout all spiration, if the mind itself is incapable of rendering its progress, onwards to its final consummation in due attention to them, by an aversion which re- glory. The gift of the Holy Spirit, and of his pels the subject altogether, or by sinful prejudices precious influences, was the purchase of the Rewhich warp its vision, and prevent the truth from deemer's blood ; and it was in virtue of the effibeing fairly and distinctly felt. We do not depre-cacy of his atoning sacrifice, that when he ascended ciate the value of the divine testimonies when we up into heaven, he obtained his interposition to guide, and comfort, and sanctify his disciples. To most elevated and spiritual conceptions with repray for the Spirit, to cherish his indwelling gard to the unity, perfection, and the majesty of in their souls, and to walk in communion with Jehovah. And although this people were not him, constitutes the privilege and the duty distinguished for superiority in learning, or in of all who receive the gospel. But how much science, but the reverse, yet has science, in the is this privilege undervalued, and how exten- fullest manner, adopted and accredited their faith; sively is this duty neglected! The self-righte- and from the loftiest star to which she has winged ous tendencies of the heart are so strong, that we her flight, or the deepest laboratory of nature are habitually in danger of leaning to our own into whose recesses she has ever penetrated, has understandings, confiding in our own sufficiency, she brought back accumulated demonstrations to and resting satisfied with our actual state, how the doctrine that there is but one God. Every ever characterized by backsliding, lukewarmness where she finds herself within an empire which and spiritual degeneracy. If we felt aright our by the uniformity of its laws, the identity of its sinfulness on the one hand, or if we knew the institutions, and the symmetry and consistency grace of God on the other, and understood what of its administration, proves this great truth. The we would become by walking in the Spirit, and same force which causes a stone to fall, or a stream bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit, how should to flow, at the earth's surface, is found to incline we long and thirst for the influences of the Spirit and bend to the sun the largest and the most remote as our chief good! O let the solemn impression planet in our system; and to guide the course of these words be felt by every individual. “To of the erratic and far revolving comet, as it purbe carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually sues its mysterious flight, crossing over worlds minded is life and peace. Heaven is brought through the interminable fields of one unexplored down to every soul in which the Spirit has his immensity, unto the equally profound and inacresidence; and to the degree that his enlighten- cessible recesses of another. It is the same God ing, sanctifying, and comforting operations are en- who forms the dry land, and who holds the joyed, the joy of heaven is experienced, and its waters of the deep in the hollow of his hand; character and dispositions are formed. 'Ho, who weighs the mountains in scales, and the hills every one that thirsteth, come unto the waters in a balance ; who kindles into brightness the and drink, and he that hath no money; yea, host of heaven by the breath of his mouth; and come buy wine and milk without money, who has filled the whole universe with the harand without price. Wherefore will ye give monious indications of his all-creative and adoryour money for that which is not bread ? and able power. your labours for that which satisfieth not? The degradation connected with the idolatrous Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that worship of the heathen world, constituted a dewhich is good, and let your soul delight itself in cisive and melancholy evidence of the power of fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me; Satan over a fallen and blinded race. It was at hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make once the effect and the punishment of that spirit an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure of enmity and alienation which caused them that mercies of David.'
they did not like to retain God in their knowledge. Professing themselves to be wise they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorrup
tible God into an image made like to corruptible THIRD DAY.-MORNING,
man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and
creeping things. If the religious feelings and * Hear, 0 Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord,' dispositions of the human mind be not exercised Deut. vi. 4.
on their proper objects, and consecrated to the Although the Jews were not distinguished for worship and service of the true God, they will scientific eminence, like many other ancient be perverted to the most injurious and degraded commonwealths, yet they infinitely excelled them ends; and from being the glory become the disall in the knowledge of a sublime and pure theo- grace, and the bane of human nature. Hence an logy. While Egypt, Greece, Persia, and the undue love of the creature, an extravagant desire whole ancient world, was spell-bound by idola- for the pleasures and possessions of the world, trous delusion, how remarkable the contrast and the vain hope that a satisfying enjoyment among the posterity of Abraham ; who had a can be obtained in the multiplication of those law which not only prohibited the least approxi- objects which please and flatter the natural feelmation to the sin in question, but inculcated the ings and sentiments of the mind. The scriptures teach us to regard covetousness as idolatry, and surely then may we know that none of the chilupon a similar ground are we to consider every dren of men can ever be permitted to enter into unhallowed affection, as of this nature, which that heavenly kingdom of which Canaan was would exalt any created thing to that place in only an emblem and a type, unless they are first our esteem and confidence which is due only to washed from their sins in the blood of Christ, God.
and renewed in the spirit of their minds by the Spirit of God. The society, the employment, and the blessedness of heaven, can only be con
genial to those whom God has prepared for them; THIRD Day.-EVENING,
and it could constitute no real enjoyment to the
wicked, and the unregenerate, to be advanced to From all your filthiness, and all your idols, will those sacred seats, if they retained, and carried I cleanse you,' Ezek. xxxvi. 25.
with them, minds alien from all the piety and IDOLATRY and wickedness were invariably con- all the purity for which their inhabitants are disnected in the history of the people of Israel, and tinguished. Have you sought to be made meet no sooner did they depart, in any case, from the for the inheritance which awaits the saints in true God, and adopt the creed of the surround-life ; and that the very God of peace would sancing heathen, than they became characterized for tify you wholly; and that your whole spirit, and every thing flagitious, immoral, and abandoned in soul, and bouy, be preserved blameless unto the conduct. How untenable the sentiments of those coming of our Lord Jesus Christ ? Have you who attribute little or no influence to the reli- turned to God in a spirit of deep penitence, gious opinions which men may entertain, and who mourning over past sins, and earnestly enconceive that a high standard of virtue and moral treating that he would mercifully pardon and purity may coexist with heretical, sceptical, or graciously receive you? Have you felt your infidel principles. Before God would bring back obligation to love the Lord your God with all the captivity of Israel, and reinstate them in the your heart, with your soul, with all your strength, land from which they had been cast out for and with all your mind ? Has the love of Christ their sins, he showed them that he would constrained you thus to judge, that if one died effect a great spiritual change upon them, and for all, then were all dead; and that he died for cleanse them from all their filthiness, and from all all, that they who live should not henceforth live their idols. And in like manner are we taught to themselves, but to him who loved them, and in the New Testament, that before
himself for him? Is it your daily care to put in possession of the mercy of God in Christ, keep yourselves from idols, and to become more or of the inheritance which awaits the saints in and more dead unto sin and alive unto righteouslife, they require to become the subjects of a ness? Know you not that to whom ye yield change so great and decided, as to admit of being yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are expressed by terms no less emphatic than those whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of of being born again, and made new creatures. obedience unto righteousness ? But God be And hence the security provided in the economy thanked, that ye were the servants of sin; but ye of grace, that the mercy of God cannot be exer- have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine cised in vain ; or, as an eminent divine has which was delivered you. What fruit had ye strongly stated the subject, that the righteous- then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed ? ness of Christ can never be made the covering of for the end of these things is death. But now, a dead soul. There is a necessary and insepar- being made free from sin, and become servants to able connection between regeneration and justifi-God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the cation, and it is only in that heart which has end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is been renewed and purified by the power of the death ; but the gift of God is eternal life through Holy Spirit, that Christ can dwell, and that the Jesus Christ our Lord.' blessings of salvation can be effectually received and enjoyed.
To have restored Israel to the land of Canaan without, in the first place, renewing them to repentance, and cleansing them from their filthiness and their idols, would have been a course neither really beneficial to themselves, nor calculated to promote the glory of God. And how
any can be
our frame; it is to worship him with the devout
and holy affections which the divine Spirit im"God is a Spirit, and they who worship him parts, and not with the cold and lifeless formality
must worship him in spirit and in truth, John of a mere ceremonial observance; it is to prosiv. 24.
trate our hearts before him in deep humility and The particular truth which it was the design of self-abasement, and not to multiply idle genuour Lord to inculcate at this time, was that the flexions, or insincere and hypocritical confessions ; disputes between the Jews and Samaritans, about it is to present the sacrifice of praise and thanksthe place where they ought to worship the giving from a pure heart fervently, and not to burn Father, were on the eve of becoming altogether the incense of odoriferous perfumes, or of costly ob-groundless and inept, inasmuch as every thing lations. Let us ever bear in mind, when we merely ceremonial in religion was in the act of engage in the worship of God, that we appear being for ever abolished; and nothing but what was in the presence of the great Searcher of hearts, spiritual and moral, and therefore essentially im- and that it is impossible that any vail or covermutable, was to be permitted to remain. The ing can hide us from his inspection and knowdoctrine that God is not confined to temples built ledge. Keep thy feet when thou goest into the by the hands of men, but that he is every where house of God, and be more ready to hear, than present in the fullness of his perfections through- to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they consider out the immense universe, was uniformly ac- not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy knowledged, throughout all ages, by his en- mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter lightened and spiritual worshippers. Under the any thing before God; for God is in heaven, and Mosaic dispensation, however, it pleased God, for thou upon earth, therefore let thy words be few. wise and holy ends, to define and limit the mode To worship God in truth, includes two things: of observing his worship, and to specify the the one, that our worship have truth for its subtimes, and the seasons, and the localities, in which stance; the other, that it be true or sincere in its sacrifice, and some of its other more solemn duties, exercise; it must be founded upon, and consist required to be performed. But as the use of the with, the will of God as revealed in the holy typical and ceremonial institutions of Judaism, so scriptures, and it must also be engaged in with also their obligation terminated simultaneously unfeigned reverence and heartfelt solemnity. As with the death of Christ, and we find at that to the value and importance of truth, it is essentime the finger of God putting visible dishonour tial to every thing that has a claim to the conupon them, to show that they were for ever sideration of intelligent beings. It is truth which abolished. Thus the sacred vail which was only confers on science its dignity, gives to experience lifted up once ever year when the high priest its use, imparts to knowledge its worth, and inentered into the holiest of all, was rent in twain vests religion with its authority and sacredness. from the top to the bottom. And a short while It is the glory of God that he is a God of truth, after, when the Romans besieged Jerusalem, and it is the excellence of his word, and of his under Titus, voices were heard in the temple, as works, and of all his operations and promises, an ancient historian mentions, saying, “ Arise, let that they are replete with truth, and free from us depart;' and the very next day the abomination any mixture of deceit or error. As there can be of desolation was seen standing in the holy place, no subject more profoundly important and interand the whole of that splendid fabric was so esting than religion, we are not left to our doubtcompletely consumed with fire and overthrown, ful speculations regarding its doctrines, but have that not one stone was left standing upon another. received from heaven an inspired revelation, conAnd now, after the lapse of a long succession of taining every thing which is necessary to make centuries, the Mosaic ritual has been so com- us wise unto salvation. And accordingly Christ pletely set aside by providence, that notwith- announces himself to us, in reference to his threestanding all the zeal and pertinacity of the Jews fold offices of a Priest, a Prophet, and a King, as to resist the divine counsels, they have no where, the way, the truth, and the life. By his atonthroughout the whole world, a sacrifice, a temple, ing sacrifice he has opened up a way of access or a priest.
and return to the Father. By his word and The nature of the worship which God requires : pirit, he has set before us the truth, which is described under two particulars, spirit and should guide us in that way; and by his divine truth. To worship God in spirit, is to worship power he communicates spiritual life to those him with the soul, or thinking principle, in contra- who are dead in trespasses and sins, and will distinction to the mere body, or material part of | raise up to eternal life all his redeemed peo