« PreviousContinue »
Awful. To them on the left hand the Judge only with profound respect, but with affectionate shall say, Depart from me, ye cursed, into ever- acquiescence; they must be submitted to not only lasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.' from a sense of duty, but in the spirit of love. When, therefore, the great day of his wrath is To this effect it is enjoined, "These words which come, who shall be able to stand? Who among I command thee this day shall be in thine heart.' us can dwell with devouring fire? who among us
The words which God has commanded us decan dwell with everlasting burnings ?'
serve a place in the heart. They are the words But, blessed be God, there is still a way of of infallible truth, and merit our fullest confidence; escape. The time has not yet arrived of which it they are the words of eternal life, and claim our is said, “Then shall they call upon me, but I will warmest attachment. More to be desired are not answer. His patience continues to wait, and they than gold; yea, than much fine gold: sweeter his Spirit to strive. He calls upon us to “come, also than honey, and the honey comb. It is the for all things are now ready. Turn ye, why will heart that God looks to, and speaks to: and the ye die, O house of Israel? Let the wicked for- services we perform in obedience to his word can sake his way, and the unrighteous man his be acceptable and honouring to him in so far only thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, as they express the feelings of the heart. So long and he will have mercy upon him; and to our as it has not taken possession of the heart, the God, for he will abundantly pardon.'
word of God can produce no sanctifying effect on the character; and is in reality rejected. The good seed must be sown not by the way side, nor
on stony ground, nor among thorns, where it TWENTY-FIRST Day.-MORNING. would be either entirely lost, or exert only a su
perficial and temporary influence; but on the soil * These words which I command thee this day shall of a good and honest heart, where it will take
be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them dili- deep root, and bring forth fruit in some thirty, in gently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them some sixty, and in some a hundred fold. But as when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou it is man's duty to receive the word into his heart, walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, so it is God's work to put it there, and he has and when thou risest up,' Deut. vi. 6,7.
graciously promised to do his own work. “BeThe words which form the subject of this ex- hold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will hortation obviously refer in the first instance to make a new covenant with the house of Israel, the law of the ten commandments, which had on and with the house of Judah; but this shall be that very day been delivered to the people of Is- the covenant that I will make with the house of rael. "These words' may, however, be supposed Israel after these days, saith the Lord. I will to comprehend generally the whole of revelation, put my law in their inward parts, and write it in including both the Old and New Testaments; their hearts; and I will be their God, and they and in particular they apply to the record which shall be my people.' God has given of his Son Jesus Christ, which Having taken possession of the heart, the words unfolds a complete system of truth to be believed, which God has commanded us will necessarily and a perfect rule of duty to be followed, with all exert their proper influence in securing all those necessary means to be observed for the purpose practical effects which are intended or required. of enabling us to understand the one and to obey The memory will carefully retain them, the mind the other. Our duty in reference to the words will seriously reflect upon them, the mouth will of inspiration consists of two parts: we are com- loudly speak of them, and the life habitually cormanded to receive them for our own benefit, and respond with them. In particular, the reception we are required to communicate them for the of them for ourselves will produce the desire, and benefit of others. They demand in the first in- enforce the endeavour tostance a
Communicate them to others. This we are Cordial reception from ourselves. It is not directed to attempt in two different ways. enough that we put them in our houses, so as is by teaching, orto have constant access to them for reading and Instruction. “Thou shalt teach them diligently meditation; nor even that we have them in our unto thy children. Children represent the youth memories so as to be able to repeat them with ease of every family; and in this view the injunction and accuracy from beginning to end. They must is addressed to parents. To them has been not only be known and remembered, but under-committed the charge of teaching unto their chilstood and approved; they must be regarded not (dren the words which God has commanded.
For this purpose they should read and explain cometh down from above it will determine us to the bible to their children, and enable them to embrace every opportunity that may be presented, read and understand it for themselves. Other whether in public or private, of inviting the atbranches of knowledge may be useful and even tention of those with whom we associate to the necessary; but what shall these avail in the end things which belong to their
peace. if the one thing needful has been neglected? The Few points of character may be more safely work of parental instruction requires much time relied on as an evidence of personal godliness than and great labour; and it must be done not by the desire to converse on religious subjects. It is substitutes, but by parents themselves, in a course truly mournful to think how very seldom matters of diligent and well directed personal efforts. It of a spiritual nature find their way into our ordiis truly said that “a good man leaveth an inheri- nary conversation. The professing people of God tance to his children.' He may have nothing meet together and converse about many things; else to give, but if he has conferred on them the they talk on the state of the weather, or the news advantages of a religious education, followed up of the day, or on questions of national policy, or by fervent
prayer, and illustrated and enforced by the merits of public men, or the defects of private a consistent example, he leaves them an inheri- character, but have not a word to say respecting tance that is more valuable than any thing and the truths of the bible, nor the concerns of their every thing else. But “children' represent the souls, nor the realities of an eternal world. How rising generation in general, and in this view the different is the course which the authority of inprecept speaks to all without exception. Many spiration has dictated on the subject! Thou parents care not for the spiritual interests of their shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine families; in such cases it becomes the duty of house, and when thou walkest by the way,
and every professing Christian to endeavour, as far as when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. possible, to supply their lack of service. In no This practice has many advantages to recomother way can we do so much good at so little mend it. It is of comparatively easy observance. expence as by extending the blessings of a reli- Those who cannot produce a regular and well congious education to the ignorant and neglected nected discourse upon the truths of God, are yet youth. But another mode of communication is able to talk about them in familiar conversation. by talking, or
No man feels himself at a loss for something to say Conversation. Thou shalt talk of them. To when he speaks of subjects that lie near to his talk is to convey our thoughts upon any subject heart, for 'out of the abundance of the heart the in a simple, homely, and familiar style of address, mouth speaketh. Another recommendation is such as we are accustomed to employ in the com- the probability of usefulness. In this way
valuamon intercourse of domestic and social life. With- ble lessons of truth may be communicated, and out being necessarily coarse or undignified it has seasonable warnings administered, and serious imthe recommendation of being universally under pressions produced, no less extensively and no less stood, and of being calculated to attract and in- effectually than by more public and laborious interest the minds both of the learned and the ig- strumentality. “Cast thy bread upon the waters, norant. It is the style which God himself has for thou shalt gather it after many days. But adopted in the revelation of his will, for the scrip- personal holiness is an essential qualification for tures which contain it are distinguished through- religious usefulness. We must seek to have our out by their extreme plainness and simplicity. own hearts impressed with the truths of the What was the teaching of Christ but a series of bible, and then the work of communicating them conversations in which he talked familiarly with to others will be easy, pleasant, and successful. his disciples or with the Jewish people? Some talk on religious subjects evidently for no other purpose than to display their own attainments: but our design should be to instruct and edify TWENTY-FIRST DAY.-EVENING. others; and this requires that we should speak of them with the utmost simplicity, and at the That from a child thou hast known the holy same time with great fervour and frequency. To
scriptures, which are able to make thee wise obtrude these subjects officiously on the attention
unto saloation through faith which is in Christ of others, would invariably do harm instead of
Jesus,' 2 Tim. iii. 15. good. A word fitly spoken, how good is it! In We know very little with regard to the early this as in every department of duty 'wisdom is history of Timothy. One most important cirprofitable to direct; but if it is the wisdom that I cumstance has been recorded for our instruction. His father was not a Jew, nor a proselyte to the firmed than in the words of the apostle, who religion of the Jews, but a Greek, and conse- declares that they are able to make wise unto quently, if not hostile to the Jewish scriptures, salvation. They do this yet ignorant of them, and indifferent about them. By the discoveries which they afford. The Timothy had not been circumcised in his infancy; first step towards the attainment of saving wisdom but his religious education had, notwithstanding, consists in the knowledge or conviction of sin. been carefully attended to by his grandmother The scripture bath concluded all under sin, that Lois, and his mother Eunice, who were not only every mouth may be stopped, and that all the Jewish by birth, but, which is far better, de- world may become guilty before God.' But a cidedly pious women. Through the blessing of conviction of sin without the hope of forgiveGod upon their labours, young Timothy acquired ness could only lead to despair. The awakened an early and intimate knowledge of the Old Tes- sinner finds a refuge in the holy scriptures, which tament scriptures, and he was by this means assure him of an acceptable atonement offered for prepared to follow the example of his excellent the expiation of his guilt, of a perfect righteousmother by embracing the gospel, and devoting ness wrought out for the justification of his perhimself to the service of Christ. During the son, and an effectual influence provided for the whole of his subsequent life he continued to sanctification of his nature. Here is a redempcherish a grateful sense of the benefit which he tion alike honouring to the perfections of God, had derived from early parental instruction; and and suited to the circumstances of man, comprePaul, his spiritual father, took occasion to remind hending everything which we can possibly need, him, both as a ground of thankfulness to God, or reasonably desire, or profitably seek after, and a motive to perseverance in duty, that knowledge for our ignorance, pardon for our from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, guilt, love for our enmity, purity for our corrupwhich are able to make thee wise unto salvation, tion, strength for our weakness, hope for our through faith which is in Christ Jesus.'
fears, life for our death. The holy scriptures are Other writings make men wise, but not wise able to make us wise unto salvation by— unto salvation. The wisdom that may be de- The influence which they exert. Our Lord rived from them is valuable in a very high said of them, what cannot be affirmed of any degree, and capable of being applied to many other writings, “The words that I speak' unto useful purposes, and worthy of being sought after you they are spirit, they are life.' Paul had felt with ardour and diligence; but it is the wisdom this influence in himself, and from experience he of this world, which has to do only with the things could declare, 'I am not ashamed of the gospel of the world, and which, with the world, will at of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvadeath pass away and be forgotten. What can tion to every one that believeth. He had witall the wisdom avail us which the facts of history nessed it in others, and he could appeal to thousupply, or which may be derived from a minute sands when he said, “For our gospel came not acquaintance with the maxims of philosophy, the unto you in word only, but also in power, and in mysteries of science, or the rules of art, so long the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.' as we remain destitute of that wisdom which the But the holy scriptures can exert no influence light of inspiration has revealed? “Hath not unless they are believed. Articles of food may God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For be wholesome and nutritious, but in order to imafter that in the wisdom of God the world by part strength to the body they must be received wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the into it. Medicines may be calculated to effect a foolishness of preaching to save them that be- cure, yet the patient would inevitably perish if he lieve.
should continue to resist their application. Our The arrogant deist who denies the necessity unbelief cannot affect the truth of the scriptures, of revelation, labours under a delusion scarcely but it will prevent their efficacy. The influence more palpable and pernicious than the blinded which they exert is not mechanical, but moral: votary of the Church of Rome, who asserts its it is the influence of doctrines and precepts, of insufficiency. We know that the scriptures need promises and threatenings, addressed to the not the help of interpretations to clear up their understanding and the judgment, the conscience obscurity; much less do they need the help of and the heart. But these cannot operate unless traditions to supply their deficiency. The end they are felt; nor can they be felt until they are for which they were given, and their perfect effi- believed. Instead of being the savour of life cacy to the accomplishment of that end, could unto life, which they are graciously intended and not have been more clearly and conclusively af- | calculated to be, they become to all who reject them the savour of death unto death. And as it | parents remember the word which says, “ Train forms the chief aggravation of their guilt now, up a child in the way he should go, and when so it will constitute the bitterest ingredient in he is old he will not depart from it. The experitheir cup of suffering hereafter, that the holy ence of young Timothy serves to show how scriptures, which they have resisted, “are able to much a pious mother or grandmother may do for make wise unto salvation, through faith which is the salvation of children. To all who have enin Christ Jesus.'
joyed similar advantages, the apostle would say, After all, the holy scriptures exert only an Hold fast the form of sound words which thou instrumental power. They are perfectly fitted hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in to do their work, but being merely an instru- Christ Jesus. Those things, which ye have both ment, they can do nothing effectually without learned and received, and heard and seen in me, the agent. Since all men are by nature inclined do: and the God of peace shall be with you.' to reject the scriptures, and since, in point of fact, 'If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do the great majority of those to whom they have them.' been addressed do actually reject them, the question arises, How comes it to pass
any believe them? This effect results from the operation of a power distinct from the scriptures, and which TWENTY-SECOND DAY.-MORNING. makes use of them only as its instrument. To you it is given,' says the apostle to the Philip- ' And I will put enmity between theo and the pians, “to believe in his name.' And he speaks woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it elsewhere not of the things which he wrought,
shall bruise thy head, Gen. iii. 15. but of the things which God wrought by him The curse pronounced on the serpent consists of to make the Gentiles obedient in word and deed.' two parts, the one having a relation to its natural, Without the agency of the Spirit, Paul would the other to its representative character. An irrahave planted, and Apollos watered in vain. tional animal cannot be the object of moral blame. Hence the Saviour prayed for his disciples, The serpent was nothing more than the unconsci• Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is ous and involuntary instrument of corrupting Eve. truth. But as the scriptures are nothing with- Yet the serpent was made to share in the punishout the influences of the Spirit, so the Spirit does ment of her disobedience. From being probably nothing without the instrumentality of the scrip- both harmless in disposition, and beautiful in tures. Through them he begins his good work form, it was degraded into an ugly and venomous of grace in the soul, carries it forward, and brings reptile. Because thou hast done this, thou art it to perfection.
cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of We have an important duty to perform in re- the field, upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust gard to the holy scriptures. It is to cultivate shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. In conthe knowledge of them. “Thou hast known the sequence, the serpent has ever since been an holy scriptures: All the knowledge that is object of dread and detestation, and it continues necessary may be acquired by our own efforts in to this day to be shunned or destroyed as a danthe use of appointed means, by reading and hear- gerous enemy of the human race. ing, with diligence, meditation, and prayer. But But the curse of God, which extended even to be made wise unto salvation' implies that to the visible instrument of the temptation, we know the scriptures experimentally and prac- was chiefly directed against that old serpent, tically, and in such a way as to be sanctified by called the devil, and satan,' who was the invisible them. They can be savingly useful to us in so agent in the temptation. He tempted the wofar only as we mix faith with our knowledge of man by means of the serpent, and the divine them, by realizing their truth, and by having displeasure was accordingly conveyed to him recourse to them for principles to govern, rules through the serpent as his representative. Let to direct, motives to animate, and consolations to us view the curse in connection with its execusupport us under all the difficulties, and troubles, tion. and temptations of our present militant condi- The design of the tempter was to put enmity tion.
between man and his Creator, and he succeeded An early acquaintance with the holy scriptures in his diabolical purpose. In yielding to his soliis peculiarly necessary. How highly favoured citations, the woman accepted his offered friendare they to whom it can be said, "that from a ship, and promised a willing obedience. Sin child thou hast known the holy scriptures!' Let I entered into the world, and death by sin. The heart of man, which had till then overflowed with of time an angel announced to the shepherds of love to God, became hardened with enmity against Bethlehem. Our first parents did not deserve, but him. But satan could not retain the conquest greatly needed the comfort of such a gracious which he had made. The victim whom he had assurance. It has proved effectual in confirming deceived and enslaved was instantly torn from the faith, and animating the hope of God's people his grasp. To punish his treachery, and at the throughout all succeeding generations. same time to defeat his purpose, God said to him, They have in every age been exposed to the 'I will put enmity between thee and the woman' effects of satan's enmity. From this source have
But the evils of the first transgression de- sprung, more or less directly, all the evils either scended to posterity. By the divine permission from within or from without by which they have satan enjoys, to a limited extent, the influence he at any time been afflicted. By him the assaults had acquired. He has had in every age a num- of temptation are directed, by him also the flames erous offspring, who acknowledge him as their of persecution are kindled. Calumny, reproach, Father, and prove their descent from him by their ridicule, blasphemy, with every form and degree of devotedness to him. They breathe his spirit, bow violence against the truth and its friends, have all to his authority, exhibit his likeness, and execute their origin in the enmity of the serpent. "We his will. In particular, they all inherit that wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against enmity to God which actuates him; and are thus principalities and powers, against the rulers of distinguished from the seed of the woman, who the darkness of this world, against spiritual act under a different influence, and pursue an wickednesses in high places. The agency of the entirely opposite course. It is therefore added, tempter, indeed, does not visibly appear, but 'I will put enmity between thy seed and her its reality is notwithstanding unquestionable. seed.' The seed of the woman is confessedly no The voice of inspiration has asserted it, the lanother than the promised Messiah, the eternal Son guage of uniform experience has demonstrated it, of God, and the Saviour of a perishing world. the page of universal history bears witness to it. He undertook to repair the ruins of our fall; and His names express his enmity as well as his acts. in particular he came to destroy the works of He is satan the adversary, Apollyon the destroyer, the devil.' But in the seed of the woman' are the devil an accuser; he is a liar, a deceiver, a comprehended all the members of Christ's spirit- murderer, a roaring lion, seeking whom he may ual body, whom he redeemed on earth, and re-devour. presents in heaven, who resemble him in spirit But the enmity which pursues the members and character, and fight under his banner against of the church was directed chiefly against the the common enemy.
person of its divine Head. He who had seduced To the tempter the intimation here made was Eve in the garden assaulted Christ in the wilderfraught with disappointment and alarm. It re- ness. The opposition he encountered, the persecuvealed a purpose which involved his defeat and de- tions he suffered, the snares that were laid for gradation. He had gained a triumph, but it was him, the insults that were heaped upon him, the to be neither universal nor perpetual. A remedy resistance of avowed enemies, the treachery of was provided for all the miseries which he had pretended friends, were all the effects of satanic entailed on mankind. Even the woman who had enmity. His death was emphatically the hour fallen a victim to his treachery, was to commence and the power of darkness. The prince of this in her own person, and to continue in her pos- world seemed then to be triumphant. But “the terity a course of active and successful resistance seed of the woman' conquered by submission. to his authority. A far mightier than he was to He suffered an injury in the heel; but in return arise who should control his dominion, and inflicted on his adversary a mortal wound. It drive him from his throne, and cast him into shall bruise thy head.' everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his This he has done effectually in his own person. angels.
Through death he destroyed death, and him But the same announcement which spoke the that had the power of death, that is, the devil.' language of terror to the tempter conveyed a Having spoiled principalities and powers he made message of mercy to man. We read in it a clear a show of them openly, triumphing over them in and comprehensive revelation of the glorious gos- his cross.' This he will do actually in the expel of the blessed God. We behold in it the perience of his people. Believing in him they first ray of the Sun of righteousness which dawned participate in the honours of his triumph, and on our benighted world. We hear in it a publi- shall reap the fruits of his victory. Relying on cation of those glad tidings which in the fullness | him they are strengthened to maintain the con