Page images
PDF
EPUB

thou gavest me,' and he says, “I pray for them, I ministers, and in secret prayer? Is it not that the pray not for the world. And yet it is equally holy loving Spirit desires you to turn to Christ, true that "God will have all men to be saved, and is “vexed,' and 'grieved,' and 'quenched,' by and to come unto the knowledge of the truth,' 1 your always resisting? Acts vii. 51. Why, above Tim. ii. 4. He is ‘long-suffering to us-ward, not all

, does Christ offer himself freely to every creawilling that any should perish, but that all should ture, why has he knocked at your door, and come to repentance,' 2 Pet. iii. 9: 'God was stretched out his hands to you all day long? Ah! in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.' read here the answer, which you will remember The gospel is truly and sincerely addressed to to your everlasting agony in hell, if you turn not, every creature under heaven.' The calls and How often would I have gathered your children invitations of God to wicked men are not mere together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens words of course, far less are they deceitful and under her wings, and ye would not!' Matt. xxvii. lying words; they are true as God is true. There 37. O sinner! the Lord Jesus Christ is like the is not even the shadow of falsehood in them. manna. It fell round about the tents of Israel Hear the words of a master in Israel: “There is every morning, so that no Israelite could go out all in God that is good, and perfect, and excellent, of his tent without either gathering it, or trampin our desires and wishes for the conversion and ling it below his feet. So the Lord Jesus is laid salvation of wicked men. As for instance, there down at thy feet. Thou must either take him as is a love to holiness absolutely considered, or an thy Surety, thy Saviour, thy Lord, or trample agreeableness of holiness to his nature and will; him below thy feet. or in other words, to his natural inclination. The

Come ye weary heavy laden, holiness and happiness of the creature, absolutely

Lost and ruined by the fall, considered, are things that he loves. These things

If ye tarry till you're better,

You will never come at all, are infinitely more agreeable to his nature than

Not the righteous, siuners Jesus came to call.' to ours. There is all in God that belongs to our desire of the holiness and happiness of unconverted men and reprobates, excepting what implies imperfection. All that is consistent TWENTY-SECOND DAY.-MORNING. with infinite knowledge, wisdom, power, selfsufficience, infinite happiness, and immutability,

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as Therefore there is no reason that his absolute

though God did beseech you by us: we pray you prescience, or his wise determination and ordering

in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God,' 2 what is future, should hinder his expressing this

Cor. y. 20. disposition of his nature, in like manner as we I. Meditate on the ground of the gospel mesare wont to express such a disposition in our sage, ver. 21. He hath made him to be sin,' &c. selves, viz., by calls, and invitations, and the like.' What a remarkable description of Christ is here O sinner! it is true that God has no pleasure in given, · He knew no sin.' He was pure in his your dying, but had rather that you would turn birth. The angel that came to Mary called him from your wicked ways and live. God honestly, 'that holy thing which shall be born of thee.' sincerely, and with all his heart, beseeches you to He was pure in his life, 1 Pet. ii. 22. · He did be reconciled through the blood of Jesus. He is no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth! willing this day to cover you with the blood and He was pure in his death, · He offered himself obedience of the Lord Jesus, so that he may con- without spot unto God. But here we are told sistently, with his just and holy nature, not he knew no sin.' He did not know the feeling impute your trespasses unto you. Why has he of sin. He did not know the swelling of pride, spared you out of hell to this day? Only because the burning of lust, the rankling of envy in his “he is not willing that you should perish? Why pure bosom. He knew suffering well, but he has he followed you with personal and family knew no sin. Learn, O my soul, the loveliness mercies, comforts, deliverances? “The goodness of Christ. "He is altogether lovely.' His loveliof God leadeth thee to repentance,' Rom. ii. 4. ness consists mainly in this, that he knew no sin. Why has he sent frowns of providence upon you, It is this that ravishes the hearts of the redeemed poverty, sickness, bereavements, disappointments, above while they sing, Who shall not fear thee, like wave upon

wave ? Is not this the answer: and glorify thy name, for thou only art holy? • Whom I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous Learn the suitableness of Christ. If Christ had therefore, and repent, Rev. iii. 19. Why has the had a spot of sin he could not have suffered for Spirit striven with you in the Bible, through ours. “Such an High Priest became us who is

holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from up on high he sent his believing followers in his sinners.'

name, John xx. 21. “Peace be unto you; as my But how did God deal with this sinless One? Father hath sent me, even so send I you. When · He hath made him to be sin for us. In Isa. he ascended up on high, he gave some apostles, liii. 6. we are told, “The Lord laid on him the and some prophets, and some evangelists, and iniquities of us all.” But here it is described in some pastors, and teachers, for the perfecting of a more dreadful manner. The Lord heaped upon the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the him the thousands and millions of our sins, till at edifying of the body of Christ.' Now then (all last he was so covered, in God's sight, that faithful ministers may say) we are ambassadors nothing but sin appeared. He was looked upon, for Christ.' by his Father, as one entire mass of sin. He was 1. This shows that ministers should speak dealt with by God as if he were all sin from the with authority. The people were astonished at sole of the foot to the crown of the head. Learn, the doctrine of Christ, ‘for he taught them as O my soul, the deep agonies of Christ; he knew one having authority, and not as the scribes.' no sin, and yet he was made sin. Nothing can be He spoke with a holy certainty and boldness, and more agonising to a pure mind, than to have sins so should ministers now. • These things comimputed to him. This was Christ's deepest sor- mand and teach; let no man despise thy youth, row. Hence the heart-rending cries recorded in 1 Tim. iv. 11, 12. A faithful minister should the 22d. 38th. 40th. and 69th. Psalms; cries that be like Jeremiah, (i. 18.) 'I have made thee this often resounded through the silent vale of day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen Kedron. Learn the amazing love of Christ ; 'it walls against the whole land.' He should hear God passeth knowledge.'

saying to him as he did to Ezekiel, (ii. 7.) Thou But why was he made sin? It was that we shalt speak my words unto them, whether they might be made the righteousness of God in him.' will hear, or whether they will forbear. How Just as Christ was so covered with our innumer- fearful is the curse threatened if we alter the able sins that in the eye of a holy God he appeared gospel of Christ, Gal. i. 8.; if we add to, or one mass of sin, so the vilest of sinners who con- take away from, the message committed unto us, sents to be found in Christ, is so covered with his Rev. xxii. 18, 19. glorious righteousness, that in the eye of God he 2. Ministers should speak with divine tenderappears one mass of divine righteousness. The ness. “God is love, and so should his ambassasinner is lost and swallowed up in the righteous- dors be. There is in the heart of God the deepest ness of Christ.

compassion for perishing sinners. Hear his words, O my sinful soul! what an amazing provision Deut. v. 29. O that there were such an heart is here set before thee for thy complete pardon and in them, that they would fear me, and keep all acceptance with God. As truly as Christ was my commandments always, that it might be well made the sin of men, so truly may I be made the with them, and with their children for ever," righteousness of God. As truly as our sin covered (compare xxxii. 29; Ezek. xxxii. 11). When him, so that none of his heavenly beauty appeared, God was manifest in flesh he showed this holy so truly may his righteousness cover me that none tenderness through his whole life, Luke xix. of my hellish blackness may appear. Christ held 41. "When he was come near, he beheld the down his head for shame on account of my sin, city, and wept over it, (compare Matt. xxiii. 37). I may hold up my head in peace on account of such should be the heart of every faithful minishis righteousness.

ter. Paul used to preach with many tears, Acts • Nothing in my liand I bring,

xx. 31. His tears often fell upon the parchment Simply to thy cross I cling;

on which he wrote his epistles, Phil. iii. 18; 2 Naked came to thee for dress,

Cor. ii. 4.
Helpless look to thee for grace;
Foul I to the fountain fly,

Surely if we could realize an eternal hell into
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.'

which the most are dropping, an eternal heaven II. Meditate on the gospel embassy, ver. 20 which the most are losing, and a divine Saviour “We are,' &c. Christ was God's greatest ambas- whom the most are rejecting, we would preach sador. He was "the messenger of the covenant.' as Jeremiah did, “O that my head were waters, Ile was sent to bind up the broken-hearted, to and mine eyes a fountain of tears,' ix. 1. We proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening would be mercifully bold, like the angels at of the prison to them that are bound. He was Sodom, laying hands on lingering sinners, and “the faithful Witness.' He was sent to tell men pulling them out of the fire. the way to the Father. But when he ascended 3. This shows the message which ministers bear. “We pray you in Christ's stead, be ye or a more lucrative situation is offered to him. His reconciled unto God.' There is a quarrel between attention is a little diverted from eternal things; sinners and a holy God. ‘God is angry with the he becomes more keen about the things of time. wicked every day. The dark heavy clouds of He begins to lose his fresh hold of Christ. He divine anger are resting upon their heads, ready to is letting slip the things which he heard. So it break every moment. Sinners are, angry at God. was with Lot. When he first came from Haran Their carnal mind is enmity against God. They he left all for God. He followed Abraham, a are night and day fighting against God. Now simple shepherd lad with staff in hand. But God sends his ministers with a white flag of when he got flocks, and herds, and tents, and truce, and he puts this word in their mouths, 'Be when he saw the plain of Sodom well watered ye reconciled unto God.' O my soul, hast thou everywhere, he went and pitched his tent toward heard and received the 'good tidings of great Sodom, Gen. xiii. So it was with Demas. At joy?' Have I submitted to the way of pardon one time he seemed to leave all for Christ. He here revealed? Then in a moment God's anger became the companion of self-denying Paul. But is all turned away, and my heart is changed from soon his eye was caught with the glitter of gold. bitter enmity to love and praise.

He lets slip the things which he heard. He bids farewell to the believer's joys and trials:

Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present

world.' 2 Tim. iv. 10. O my soul, "love not the TWENTY-SECOND DAY.—EVENING. world, neither the things that are in the world.

If any man love the world, the love of the Father Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed

is not in him.' to the things which we have heard, lest at any

2. A time of persecution. For every ten time we should let them slip,' Heb. ii. 1.

bodies which persecution has killed, it has slain Could we look into the secret history of believers, a thousand souls. We are told of the seed what woful declensions might be pointed out that sprung up so quickly in stony places, that How many, who began the conflict well, have when the sun was up it withered away, and fallen under the blows of Apollyon. How many Jesus explains this of those who, when triare there of whom God complains : What bulation or persecution ariseth because of the iniquity have ye found in me that ye are gone word, by and by they are offended,' Matt. xiii. far from me,' Jer. ii. 5. How many of whom 21. Some people are brought to Christ with Jesus complains, “I have this against thee, that little or no persecution. They attain "to joy and thou hast left thy first love,' Rev. ii. 4. The peace in believing,' no man forbidding them. They spring of all these sad declensions is to be found begin to think that the offence of the cross has in 'letting slip the things which we have heard.' ceased, and that the solemn warnings of tribula

I. Meditate on the times when Christians are tion to the believer were intended for a bye-gone in danger of letting the gospel slip.

generation. Suddenly their sky is overcast. 1. A time of worldly prosperity. An old divine They begin to be hated, and buffeted, and opposed says, “Quails often make a lean soul. He

prothem their request, but sent leanness into their spect is before them. Either they must breast souls.' When a man is under conviction of sin, the tide of scorn and reproach that is now divine things often absorb every other anxiety. flowing in upon them, perhaps from their dearest That text is ever before him, “What shall it profit friends, or else they must let slip the things man to gain the whole world, and lose his own which they have heard. Ah! how often, in soul ?' He becomes careless of his person, for he such an hour, the soul shrinks back from an feels that he would be decking a body condemned open confession of Christ before men, refuses to the burning. He becomes careless of his busi- to bear the cross, and falls into unholy comproness, for the matter of his forgiveness is unsettled. mise with an unbelieving world. Storms try the He walks among the things of time, looking vessel, and persecution tries the believer. When through them into the things of eternity. What Peter was in peace he could say, “Though all men a vain shadow is this world to an awakened soul. forsake thee, yet will not I. But when the hour 0! how that soul sickens at the vain companies of of trial came, he said with oaths and curses, “I an unbelieving world; how he loathes their dances know not the man,' and wanton songs. But when that soul has found II. Meditate on the remedy. We ought to true rest in Christ, sometimes the world begins to give the more earnest heed,' &c. smile again. He begins to launch out into business, 1. Increase thy diligence in the means of grace.

gave for their attachment to Christ. An awful

If you have truly found the Lord Jesus, be often A scrip on my back, and a staff in my hand,

I march on in haste through an enemy's land, at the spot where you have met with him.

The road may be rough, but it cannot be long, Every true disciple should often resort to Geth- And I'll smooth it with hope, and I'll cheer it with song.' semane, John xviii. 2. If you found him in the word, be faithful and diligent in meeting him there If you begin to let your Bible slip, you are beginning to let Jesus slip. If you found him in TWENTY-THIRD DAY.-MRNING. secret prayer, give the more earnest heed to meet him often there. It is a sweet trysting-place

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assur

edly, that God hath made that same Jesus, with Jesus, within the vail. If you let slip the throne of grace, you let Him slip who sits

whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ,

Acts ii. 36. thereon. Have you found Jesus in the sanctuary, then • love the habitation of his house, and the This is the strong and confident asseveration of place where his honour dwelleth,' Psal. xxvi. 8. an aged and unlettered fisherman, on whom a Has he revealed himself to you in the breaking greater change had within the last hour passed, of bread, then "continue stedfastly in the apostles' than could have been accomplished by the longdoctrine, and in fellowship, and in breaking of est and most effective moral and intellectual bread, and in prayer,' Acts ii. 4 '.

training Peter was one of those, who, a few 2. Feed on Christ in the ordinances. Many days before, had asked Jesus, “Lord, wilt thou love the ordinances who love not Christ. Many at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?' are occupied about the shell who never taste the and who, a few hours before, were so ignorant of kernel of the gospel. These are Sardians who the true nature of Messiah's kingdom, that they • have a name to live while they are dead. These might have repeated the question. But the day of are talkers about the gospel and its ministers; Pentecost had arrived, and was not yet half gone; but 'the talk of their lips tendeth to penury. If the promise of the Father had been waited for, you have found Christ in ordinances, give earnest and had just been obtained; the promise expressly heed to find him more and more. Penetrate made by our Lord to Peter, · What thou knowest through every vail to the living Saviour, and the not now, thou shalt know hereafter,' had just living God. Do not rest in a form of prayer if received its fulfilment; “the Spirit of truth which you find not Christ. "Bodily service profiteth proceedeth from the Father,' the Spirit of wislittleO my soul, abhor the cloak of formality. dom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,' It is an abomination to God and man. *It is had just been miraculously and by a visible sign, iniquity, even the solemn meeting.' But O how vouchsafed ; “they had now an unction from the sweet are ordinances when we can say, 'He Holy One, and they knew all things; the visible brought me into his banqueting house, and his had been accompanied with an audible miracle, banner over me was love.'

- they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and 3. Watch against occasions of letting slip. If began to speak with tongues, as the Spirit gave you knew the deceitfulness, the desperate and them utterance.' Peter, therefore, though an unsearchable wickedness of your own heart, and if aged and unlettered fisherman, and till now filled you knew the adversary who accuses you day and with the secular expectations and inveterate prenight, you would be soberand vigilant. Watch your judices of the Jews, became instantly and inti-' own heart, its infirmities and tendencies; “Keep mately acquainted with the true nature of Mesthy heart above all keeping, for out of it are the siah’s kingdom. A divine knowledge had entered issues of life,' Prov. iv, 23. Watch the roaring his understanding, and had suddenly revolulion; be not ignorant of his devices, 1 Pet. v. 8. tionized his long cherished views and expectaWatch the world, for you are in an enemy's coun- tions; the emblem of a divine commission had try, The whole world lieth in wickedness,' 1 sat, or, as some suppose, was still sitting on Jolin v. 19. Above all, keep your eye on Jesus. his head; a divine power had attuned his tongue You cannot hold him if he does not hold you. instantly to speak in languages he had never 'Cast all your care upon him, for he careth for learned, and with an energy which all the power you,' 1 Pet. v. 7.

of the adversary could neither gainsay nor

resist; he who formerly quailed before a timid Let doubt then and danger my progress oppose.

maid, so as to abjure his Lord, now fearlessly They only make heaven more sweet at the close, Come joy or come sorrow, whate'er may befall,

proclaimed to the confounded' and partly mockAn lour with my God will make up for it all.

ing multitude of strangers and fellow-countrymea around hiin, with all the authority of an

ambassador from God, and with all the certainty that come upon us which is spoken of in the and confidence of one who knew what he affirmed, prophets;' · Behold! ye despisers, and wonder and and testified what he had seen ; ' Let all the house perish! The house of Israel have beheld, and of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made wondered, and perished-perished from their that same Jesus, whom ye crucified, both Lord land; and thereby exhibited an irrefragable testiand Christ. His crucifixion may be to you a mony to the truth of his Messiahship, whom they stumbling-block, and all the more so, that ye despised and rejected :—perished in their sins in yourselves inflicted it. But let all the house of other lands; and thereby exhibited a painful tesIsrael know assuredly, that the cross hath timony to the guilt and inveteracy of an unbebecome a crown. That same Jesus whom ye cru- | lieving heart. But are the house of Israel the cified is Lord—the Lord of all. God hath only despisers that believe not, but wonder and highly exalted him, and given him a name which perish? To the impenitent and unbelieving of is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every age and nation, it may be said, Know assurevery knee should bow, of things in heaven, and edly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom things in earth, and things under the earth; and by your unbelief and sin ye crucify afresh, both that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ Lord and Christ;—both Lord and Christ, to save is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.' His cru- in this the day of mercy—both Lord and Christ, cifixion, you thought, bad disproved his Messiah- to destroy with a fearful aggravated destruction, ship, and you cruelly and tauntingly reviled him, if ye neglect so great salvation. God hath spoken: saying, “Let Christ the King of Israel descend ye may deny it, but ye cannot disannul it. God now from the cross, that we may see and believe.' hath spoken: ye may deny it, but the denial can* But Him, being delivered by the determinate not take away your sins, or give you comfort counsel and foreknowledge of God, though ye have under them. God too hath done it, and who taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and can hinder? Who can resist his will? He hath slain, God hath raised up, having loosed the pains made that same Jesus both Lord and Christ; and of death; because it was not possible that he all his works are done in truth,' his work is should be holden of it: and being by the right honourable and glorious, and his righteousness hand of God exalted, and having received of the endureth for ever. Ye may cavil at his work, Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath but your cavilling is sin; and it can no more affect shed forth this which ye now see and hear.' the certainty and stability of what he hath done, * Therefore let all the house of Israel know assur- than the impatient petulance of the blear-eyed edly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom child can arrest the rising of the sun, or bring a ye crucified, both Lord and Christ. He is Mes- cloud upon his mid-day brightness. Why do siah the Prince,'— the Lord and his Anointed.'ye not understand my speech? said Jesus to the

But who is this that is so highly and so assur- perverse Jews; even because ye cannot hear, that edly exalted ? He is that same Jesus, whom the is, bear my words. They are too pure, too offenangel of the Lord so named, because he would sive, too self-denying. “If any man will do his save his people from their sins—that same Jesus, will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be in crucifying whom, the Jews unwittingly ful of God, or whether I speak of myself.' filled the purposes of the merciful Jehovah. “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation per- TWENTY-THIRD DAY.-EVENING. fect through suffering.'

* Now, when they heard this, they were pricked in • He died to bear the guilt of men,

their heart, and said unto Peter, and to the rest That sin might be forgiven; He lives to bless them and defend,

of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we And plead their cause in heaven.'

do ?' Acts ii. 37. Ile is the Expectation of the Jews, the Consola- We may be brought to a conviction of sin and tion of the Gentiles, the Saviour of all—a light the felt necessity of a Saviour, by a prayerful to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of God's inquiry into the truth as it is in Jesus. But this people Israel.

is not the only means. Providence, by his angry Precious truth! More precious than gold, dispensations, sometimes thunders forth at once, yea, than much fine gold! For what is a man as from mount Sinai, the condemnatory sentence profited though he gain the whole world and which scripture contains, but does not force upon lose his soul! Oh! then, let us (beware lest I the attention, much less upon the faith of men.

[ocr errors]

6

« PreviousContinue »