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die? Am I prepared for the judgment ? If this The eyes of all wait upon him—and he gives night my soul shall be required of me, shall I go them their meat in due season. He opens his to heaven or to hell? O Lord God, thou liberal hand, and satisfies the desire of every knowest ; my hope is in thee.
living thing. Specially he is the Shepherd of his people, and they never want. All the circumstances of their lot most graciously and wisely
he orders: yea, he makes their very troubles SEVENTEENTH DAY-MORNING. work together for their good. And this is life eternal, that they might know sure of such knowledge as this—to some such
Now, it is indeed possible that to some mea*
thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ knowledge of God as my Creator and Preserver, I whom thou hast sent,' John xvii. 3.
might rise by my own native energies. In the Of all attainments, the first and the highest is book of nature the blindest may trace him: in the knowledge of God. Without this all other providence his love and bounty are daily felt by knowledge is worthless—not the less worthless all. Ah! but the grand question is, How may utterly, that the proud and the learned boast of God, as a just God and righteous, deal mercifully it. “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, with sinners? I know that he hath made me, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, and that he upholds me—but how can I know let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him as a Saviour—how can I be brought to know him that glorieth glory in this that he under- him, and to confide in him as at once vindicating standeth and knoweth the Lord. But how can his law and extending forgiveness to a guilty weak blind nature attain unto such understand- world? This knowledge unaided nature never ing? Never, never by its own strength. The in all time could have reached. It is derived poor heathen lived in darkness, and in darkness solely from revelation; it comes exclusively died. With all his toiling, with all his painful through Jesus Christ whom God hath sent. Out incessant searchings, his natural eye could not of Christ God is either looked upon as an inpenetrate the thick mists—thick as midnight_exorable Judge, taking sure vengeance on every that hung between him and the throne of heaven. transgressor, or more falsely still
, as a vacillating He was as a prisoner groping wearily round and Judge, exercising his pity at the expense of his round his dungeon wall, but incapable of catch- truth and to the confusion of his government. It ing anything more than a dim and scattered is only in the gospel of his Son that his Godhead glimpse of day. Yea, the more he thought of is fully exhibited to the world: no where else God—as himself sadly confessed—the darker, than in the gospel can we know God as a Father, the more incomprehensible, God appeared. Ah! a reconciled Father-just, yet justifying the unbut thanks be unto Jesus Christ that the Al- godly—with all his attributes united, and harmighty is now clearly revealed in his word to monised, and glorified in the salvation of men. man. The simplest child in a Christian land He who commanded the light to shine out of knows more of him than the wisest wits of old darkness,' says Paul, “ hath shined in our hearts Greece or Rome!
to give the light of the knowledge of the glory Come and let us meditate on God in the gos- of God in the face of Jesus Christ.' *All things pel: would that we felt aright what a privilege are delivered unto me of my Father,' said Jesus it is to be able to look up to heaven, and say, himself, “and no man knoweth the Son but the “Thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer! Father, and he to whom the Father will reveal
I have been taught in the bible to know God him. as the Creator of all things. The heavens de- This knowledge of God, revealed in the face clare his glory, and the firmament showeth his of his Son, is called by John "eternal life'—and handywork—by his wisdom he founded the well may it be so. It is the way to eternal life earth, and settled the mountains, and strength-—'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; ened the fountains of the deep. The gods of no man cometh to the Father but by me.' It is the heathen are idols: He alone is from everlast- the earnest of eternal life—“We all with open ing to everlasting—the only living and true God. face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
I have been taught in the bible to know God are changed into the same image from glory to as the Preserver of all things. He sits at the glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.' The helm of the universe which he made, and directs full fruition of it hereafter constitutes the essenit at his will. No one can stay his hand from tial glory of heaven— Beloved, now are we the working—or say unto him, What doest thou? | sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear | have already been vouchsafed to us that he has we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he not forgotten bis promises. Even now there is. O that the saving knowledge of God were are green spots in the wilderness. The plant of vouchsafed to us, that we might worship him renown is budding beautifully, and spreading and serve him aright-yea, love him too with abroad its branches. Already the Sun of righteour whole heart! Blessed Jesus, do thou teach ousness has arisen on the horizon of heathenism us! Show us the Father—and it sufficeth us. -and many a dark heart and rocky, on many •Whoso hath seen me hath seen the Father.' Re- a distant shore, has been melted and enlightened veal thyself therefore to us—and help us with by his rays. We will rejoice in what has been Thomas to cast ourselves down at the foot of thy done—and take it as a pledge of the more abuncross, and cry, My Lord and my God. Here dant glory that yet remaineth to be fulfilled. we are but pilgrims and strangers—our best days That little cloud not bigger than a man's hand are but vanity-few and evil, and soon gone. shall yet cover the heavens. Yonder stone cast Ah! but the life begun on earth of thy believing out of the mountain without hands, shall yet followers never ends: the life of faith issues in a become a great mountain and fill the whole life of glory. Lord, we believe; help thou our earth. And let us not forget that it is by human unbelief. Deliver us from the power of the agency that the wondrous work is to be wrought. grave: ransom us from death.
Not to angels but to men has the commission been given to extend and to perpetuate the gospel kingdom. · How shall they call on him in whom
they have not believed: and how shall they beSEVENTEENTH DAY.--EVENING. lieve in him of whom they have not heard: and
how shall they hear without a preacher: and For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge how shall they preach except they be sent?' And of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover let no one say that it is idle to expect a few such the sea,' Hab. ii. 14.
weak human agents to achieve the conversion of When these glorious words are realized, how the world. It is not in their own strength that beautiful will the earth be-how beautiful and they labour-but in the strength and through blessed! A seraph's pen were required to de- the grace of Jehovah. We have this treasure in scribe it; no human fancy can worthily, conceive earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power it, or language of man picture the wondrous might manifestly be of God. When it seemeth transformation. Eden will be restored again; good unto him he may cause whole nations to be earth will reflect as in a mirror the fairest hues born in a day. And surely it were grievous sin of paradise. And is it so that this can ever be? in us to keep back in unbelief or despondency Yea, verily it shall be-it must be—for the Lord from this work. It is a general law of the gosGod hath willed it and predicted it. Jehovah pel, that those who have experienced its power is truth itself : our God is the Lord omnipotent, themselves will not and cannot rest till they have and he cannot be withstood. Whatever he hath sought to bring others to experience it also. spoken must come to pass; heaven and earth There never lived a single sincere follower of the shall pass away, but not one tittle of his word Lord Jesus Christ who did not desire earnestly shall fail. Come then, and amid the ridicule of to have as many as he could united with him in the infidel, and the sneering of the world's wise the faith. Christianity is essentially communicamen, and the despondency of our own fainting tive and diffusive—it grows by means of free and faithless hearts, let us solace ourselves with distribution. Look to the dark ages of the the promises of the King of Zion. • It shall church, when no efforts were made to dispel the come to pass in the last days, that the mountain torpor that hung over the nations. She grew of the Lord's house shall be established on the cold, and torpid, and inert, and poor.
How top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above emphatically were the words verified in her the hills, and all nations shall fock unto it. And history, There is that scattereth, and yet inagain, Thou art my Son, this day have I be-creaseth; there is that withholdeth, but it tendeth gotten thee; ask of me and I shall give thee the to poverty!' And it holds exactly so with indiheathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost viduals. • The liberal soul shall be made fatparts of the earth for thy possession. And and he that watereth shall be watered also himagain, “ The earth shall be filled with the know-self. I look to the state of those to whom the ledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters gospel has never come—and I prize the more my cover the sea. Blessed be God, many tokens own privileges—I am filled with deeper gratitude to Him whose grace alone hath made me to dif- | I cannot penetrate; the more I meditate on it fer. Ay, and it is impossible to contemplate the the more mysterious it appears ! labours of patient and devoted missionaries with- Mary came up from Nazareth to Bethlehem, out being made better myself. How can I read great with child—she sought admission to an inn of them without feeling keenly how weak in but was repulsed from it-weary and sad she comparison has been my zeal in my Master's betook herself to the stable--and as the days were cause! How can I look to the lives and deaths accomplished that she should be delivered, there of such men as Schwartz, and Elliott, and Carey, she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapand Martyn, without desiring to catch somewhat ped him in swaddling-clothes, and laid him in a of that holy flame which burned so brightly in manger. their bosoms?
And so was born the Lord Jesus Christ! So And in what way may I aid in the missionary poor, so mean was the nativity of the Son of God! work? I may contribute of my money towards The town was full of strangers from all quarters it. I may unite in social meetings with those of Judah—but neither rich nor poor took any who seek to stir each other up in its cause. interest in this event, the strangest, the most Specially I can pray. It is by petitioning that astonishing which the world ever saw. The the windows of heaven are opened; prayer moves birth, like the character of Immanuel, was humble the hand that moves the universe. And that I and lowly—his entrance into the world was a fitmay be ready to distribute, and willing to com- ting emblem of the reception which awaited him municate, and more zealous in prayer, let me in it—too true an earnest of the humiliation cast my eyes abroad and survey what yet is to manifold in which his days in it were passed ! be done. Let me look to whole continents, over And this was He—lying down with the beasts which the shadow of death is hanging. If this of the stall, on whose vesture and thigh the name be too vast and too general a prospect, let me is now written, 'King of kings, and Lord of lords.' take a single solitary soul—without one ray of This was He without a place where he might lay light from the gospel of Christ to irradiate the his head, whom nations now delight to honour, at gloom in which it is shrouded—in life and death. whose altar every knee through all the earth shall Having contemplated this single soul, let me yet bow, and every tongue confess! Who can multiply it ten thousand thousand thousand declare the end from the beginning? From how times, and try to sum up the arithmetic of such small beginnings do the mightiest and most magmisery. And 0 surely hard, hard as adamant nificent results issue! "Unto what is the kingdom will my heart be, if it be not touched with pity of God like, and whereunto shall I resemble it? for the poor heathens, plunging race after race, It is like a grain of mustard seed which a man geneneration after generation, into a dark and took and cast into his garden-and it grew and unknown eternity at a venture! Blessed Jesus, waxed a great tree, and the fowls of the air take unto thyself thy glorious power and reign. lodged in the branches of it.' See of the travail of thy soul and be satisfied. Jesus was born in a stable, and laid in a manLet thy kingdom come; let thy will be done on ger! earth as it is done in heaven.
Let us contemplate, with adoring reverence, his marvellous love to men. All this strange humiliation he underwent for us—poor miserable sinners.
That we might be forgiven that we might be EIGIITEENTH DAY.--MORNING.
reconciled to offended justice, who were aliens and
rebels—that we might be raised from death to * And she brought forth her first-born son, and life, and instead of heirs of wrath should become
wrapped him in swaddling-clothes, and laid partakers of the blessedness of heaven, Jesus took him in a manger; because there was no room
on him our nature, and submitted to a degrading for them in the inn,' Luke ii. 7.
birth, and lived a life of poverty, and died an Draw near, O my soul, and behold this great accursed death : “ye know the grace of our Lord sight! The Lord of heaven and earth hath de Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our scended from the height of his sanctuary and sakes he became poor, that we through his tabernacled with dust and ashes! See the “ever- poverty might be made rich. And can we think lasting Father'a weeping babe—the Holy One of his love “passing knowledge' without in return and Blessed' a man of sorrows in the likeness of being filled with love towards him? Is it possisinful flesh—the Lord of glory the despised and ble to survey with careless and cold hearts the rejected of men! There is mystery here which I manger of Bethlehem, and the cross of Calvary?
O no! our hope is in thee, gracious Jesus, who
EIGHTEENTH DAY.-EVENING. hast done so great things for us. Thou art all our salvation, and all our desire. To the blessed • For we have seen his star in the east, and are come purposes for which thou camest into the world,
to worship him,' Mat. ii. 2. our earnest prayer ever is to be conformed. “If SAD as was the humiliation of the Lord Jesus in we forget thee, let our tongue cleave to the roof his early years, there were ever some scattered of our mouth, and our right hand forget its cun- rays that broke forth from the cloud, betokening ning.
his inherent glory. Angels heralded his birth,Jesus was born in a stable, and laid in a man- Simeon and Anna, in the Spirit, testified of him ger!
while yet a babe in his mother's arms,—and as Let us be convinced of the vanity of earthly we read here, a preternatural star shone over the distinctions. We are strongly tempted to give place of his nativity, and guided philosophers from too much of our thoughts to the riches of this afar to do him homage. world. Its greatness and glory fascinate the It is interesting to inquire into the motive
As we gaze on them from afar we which led these men to undertake such a journey. envy and repine. Ah! but how insignificant they It is well known that, about this time, over all appear in the light of the manger of Bethlehem! the East the expectation of Messiah's speedy comWhat contempt does it cast upon them! How ing prevailed: in this expectation doubtless the can we stand beside it in faith, and court them any sages shared, and it might have been strengthened more? If it had seemed good to Jesus he might by a partial acquaintance with the writings of the have invested himself with all the trappings of ancient prophets, or with some of the dispersed outward magnificence which the weak and vain Jews. But it was a star which more particularly idolize; but he rejected them—he cast them from attracted them; "we have seen his star in the east.' him. And does not this strikingly manifest their What this star was we cannot tell. Probably worthlessness in his eye? How can we call our- it was a meteor hovering over Judea. But how selves the followers of Christ, and yet seek great came they to connect it with the birth of Christ, things?
—to pronounce it his star ?' Some have thought Jesus was born in a stable, and laid in a man- that, as it was a common opinion among the an
cients that great events, such as the birth or death Let the proud man, therefore, humble him- of princes were betokened by strange sights in self. O why should pride dwell in any of our the sky, they were induced to consider this mehearts !
How inexcusable is it especially in the teor as referring in some way or other to that disciples of the Son of Mary! He condescended glorious person of whose coming there were so to men of low estate. Yea, though in the form of many rumours throughout the world. But this God, and counting it no robbery to be equal with plainly cannot account for their conduct. Some God, he made himself of no reputation, and took have thought that they were influenced by the on him the form of a servant, and was made in prediction of Balaam, a prophet of the East; . There the likeness of men. And shall we be puffed up shall come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall who have nothing save what he has given us ? rise out of Israel.' But neither can this account How dare we count any one as too mean for our for the strength of conviction which they maniregard, or any service too humble, by which we fested. The true explanation of the secret is, can benefit the poorest brother, and glorify our that they were brought to associate the star with God?
Jesus, by the very same influence which leads Jesus was born in a stable, and laid in a man- still every sinner to his Lord,—the influence of ger!
the Spirit of God. God kindled a meteor in their Let the poor man, therefore, be patient, and sight to testify to them of his Son,--and himself contented, and resigned. The low condition in revealed to them in some way or other, about which our Saviour appeared, was intended to which it were idle to speculate, what it meant. sanctify poverty to his followers in every age, These wise men then, on the appearance of the and to ennoble it, even amid its worst humiliations. star, left their native land, -and after the expense To the poor the gospel is preached out of the and fatigue of a long journey reached Jerusalem; ranks of the poor most have been chosen to para- and then not in doubt, not in conjecture, but dise. And who can murmur or despond in the with the fullest conviction of the truth, they put memory of these most touching words : •Foxes the question, "Where is he that is born King of have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Jews? for we have come to worship him.' the Son of Man had not where to lay his head ?' And we read in the remainder of the narrative
how Herod the king was troubled at the inquiry, succeeded: he is now at our doors,—his word is -how he gathered the chief priests together, and in our hands;—sabbath after sabbath in our sancfound from them that Bethlehem was predicted tuaries his gospel message bas been ringing in our as the birth-place of Messiah,-how he sent the ears. Ah, unto whom much is given, of them strangers to Bethlehem with a treacherous in- much shall be required! I fear that against many junction to return and tell him what they saw,- of us,-glorious as our privileges are,—these how they went to Bethlehem and worshipped eastern pilgrims will rise up and testify in the Jesus in his mother's house, and presented to day of judgment. him gifts, gold, and frankincense and myrrh,and how being warned of God in a dream, they disregarded Herod's injunction, and in faith, and hope, and joy, departed into their own
NINETEENTH DAY.-MORNING. country. 1. Let us see in this little history a proof that
• The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air Jesus was the light of the Gentiles as well as the
hace nests ; but the Son of man hath not glory of Israel.
where to lay his head, Matt. viii. 20. In old prophecy he was sung of as the Shiloh A CERTAIN scribe one day came up to our Lord unto whom the gathering of the nations should and said, “Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever be,—the root of Jesse which was to stand for an thou goest!' It was an excellent salutation ; no ensign of the people,—the star to whose light words could betoken a better spirit. But instead the heathen should come, and kings to the bright- of accepting his offer –instead of encouraging the ness of its rising. And scarcely is it known that man–Jesus replied, “ The foxes have holes, and he is born than prophecy hastens to its fulfiiment. the birds of the air have nests ; but the Son of See from the far east,—the land of idols,—a com- man hath not where to lay bis head. pany of heralds seeking Messiah,-proclaiming
There are two views which may be taken of him in the very streets of Jerusalem,—worship- the scribe's character. ping at his feet! Are not these witnesses before
1. We may suppose that his determination all men of the truth and faithfulness of God's pro- to follow Christ was hasty and inconsiderate. mises? These are the first-fruits of the Gentiles, He was charmed by what he had seen and the tokens and earnests of that plentiful harvest heard of the wonderful works, and blessed lessons, which the Lord shall go on gathering, till the and holy, benevolent life of Jesus—and grew whole earth be one vast field resplendent with his suddenly in love with his religion. Without glory.
inquiry, without contrition, without humble 2. These wise men opened out their choicest prayer—in a moment of excitement and entreasures to Jesus. O how doth it become each thusiasm—he cried, “Lord, I will follow thee one of us to put the question to ourselves, what whithersoever thou goest. Jesus knew that he have we given to the Lord?' If we must answer, had not counted the cost—that he was looking nothing, -vain are our professions,—vain utterly. only at the fair side of the Christian life—that Even now he is saying, “son, daughter, I died for he was influenced by a temporary impulse, and thee, give me thy heart. O God put it into our not by deep settled conviction. Jesus saw the hearts to respond to the touching appeal. Blessed disease of his heart—and instantly stirred it and Jesus I will present thee with gifts of the good laid it bare. In the simplest and most affecting liest things I possess,—the gold of faith, the language he spake of his poverty and humiliafrankincense of devotion, the myrrh of humble tion, leaving him to infer how hard a lot all must obedience;' whom have I in heaven but thee? and expect to lead who would followa Master so lowly; there is none upon earth whom my soul desires and it is likely that the scribe's hasty resolution besides thee.
melted away. There are many such scribes in 3. Let us remember how far more highly fa- the world still. At some period or other of their voured we are than these strangers. They were lives the most careless and godless are occasionguided by a flickering star to Bethlehem,--we ally awakened, aroused, alarmed, driven into live in the full light of gospel day. They saw confessions, and prayers, and most serious purhim but as a babe,—we can look to him now poses. Ah! but they are merely touched, not as he that is gone to his kingdom, -with the changed! They think not of the toils of the name on his vesture and his thigh, 'King of kings warfare which the believer is called to wage. and Lord of lords.' They undertook a long and They think not of the deceitfulness of their weary journey to find him, and with difficulty own hearts. They never deliberately weigh the