Page images

purposes which

the relationships that he holds with his chil- Of the objects of creation, and the events of dren are theirs. As on the cross he said to the providence, the psalmist says, “all shall praise disciple whom he loved, · Behold thy mother;' thee, O Lord. All shall give occasion to thy and to his mother, “behold thy son;' so when saints to bless thee, by affording manifestations risen from the grave he said, "Go to my brethren of the glory of thy kingdom, and thy power. and say unto them, I ascend to my Father and As by their works we know the character of the your Father, to

God and


God.' He is disciples of Christ, so by the works of Jehovah not ashamed to call them brethren, he gives them we attain some knowledge of his character. power to become the sons of God. He sends Day unto day uttereth speech, night unto night into their hearts the spirit of adoption, he im- showeth knowledge. The invisible things of parts to them the confidence and the love of God are clearly seen, being understood by the children, he enables them to cry, “Abba, Father.' | things that are made, even his eternal power and Endearing then is this blessed name, both in Godhead. the assurance of God's paternal love, and of our 1. The endless diversity of objects and forms filial confidence and delight in him. “Ye are no in creation, the skilful mechanism of each, and more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens the harmonious adaptation of the whole—the with the saints, and of the household of God.' beneficial


tribe and every A name thus descriptive of the highest, and holi- ' object serves—the varied means by which these est, and most gracious attributes of God—a name purposes are fulfilled, yet the evident unity of so solemn, and sacred, and endearing—a name on design that animates, and actuates, and controls which are based all our hopes for eternity, should the whole, declare in language most expressive, not pass from our lips, even in the hour of prayer, and that cannot be misunderstood by any thinkbut with reverence and awe. Let us never hear ing intelligent mind, the wisdom, and power,

and it without deep emotion of soul, let us never beneficence of the one great and glorious Being utter it without the deepest solemnity of mind — whose works they all are. Without rising from let it never be found among the idle words for ' his throne, he said and it was done. His voice which we shall be judged at the last. And while was heard in all its power by the remotest star, in word we profess to bless him, let us not in heart his hand at once moulded the countless worlds, dishonour him as if he were not such as Christ occupying the immensity of space, fashioned the has revealed him, pure and righteous, merciful insect's microscopic form, and decked the lily and true. And I let us seek to get a personal with its evanescent hues. At its birth creation interest in him as our Lord, and our God, our awakened the praises of seraphim, They sang reconciled Father in Christ Jesus.

together;' and God himself resting from his work, pronounced it all very good,' worthy of the hand that made it. Though in blinded ignorance

we pass by the glorious works of God without TWENTY-Sixth Day.-MORNING. notice and observe them without admiration, or it

may be, impiously rail at them as the causes of All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee. They shall speak of know most fully the works of God, are ready to

woe; yet they who study most profoundly, and the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy confess that were but the jarring discord of sinful power,' Psal. cxlv. 10 u.

thoughts to cease, while all nature raised its voice The context leads us to understand that by the to tell of the wondrous perfections of its God, the works of the Lord, David means both the works rational offspring of the great Supreme would of creation and providence—the objects of nature, commingle their melodious strains in celebrating and the events of life. The territory and the the praises of him who dwells on high. David dominion of God, are intended in the phrase, “thy was filled with awe at the contemplation of God's kingdom. In this sense every thing that exists, mighty works, and so is every rightly constituted and every thing that occurs, is the work of the mind; therefore it is that the psalmist says, Lord, with the exception of sin, which is rebel- ; • thy saints shall bless thee.' lion against his authority. All things were made 2. As in nature so in providence, God's doings by him, and without him was not anything made and dealings proclaim the glory of his kingdom, that was made,' and 'he worketh all things after and show forth his power. His wisdom planneth the counsel of his own will.' 'Surely as I have all, his eye seeth all, his hand restraineth all, his thought so shall it come to pass; and as I have power brings all to pass. The resistless cnergy purposed so shall it stand.'

of providence, and the wonderful results efficted by an unseen agency, proclaim that the Lord God TWENTY-SIXru Dar-EVENING. omnipotent reigneth. The ever-watchful care of providence tells us that every thing is under his 'Because they regard not the works of the Lord, eye, and that the Lord knoweth them that are his.

nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy The revealed aim of providence displays him in the

them, and not build them up,' Psal. xxviii. 5. character of the good Shepherd, seeking the lost, The objects of creation, and the events of provior sitting like the refiner of silver, and purging dence, God claims and sets forth as “the operation away the dross. In short, the dealings of provi- of his hands. Let us inquire what is meant by dence in the present day, like scripture history, not regarding them. unfold and practically illustrate the character of

In general it is the absence or the opposite of God as revealed in the life and doctrine of Christ. that feeling which blesses God in them—the failAll, says David, “all shall praise thee.' In the most ing to acknowledge the manifestation of his chartrivial event there is a purpose, let us not despise acter in them, as worthy of adoration and praiseit—in the darkest dispensation there is a purpose, the not descrying his attributes of wisdom, power, let us not murmur or repine; the purpose is love, and goodness, as male known in the works which the end is gracious. Men by reason of blinded he hath made, or the things he bringeth to pass. ignorance may not see the design of heaven in dif- This spirit of disregard manifests itself in variferent occurrences, and they who · walk by sight,'ous ways; for instance : may rashly and impiously rail at Jehovah's doings, By not regarding the outward blessings of yet all God's works shall one day praise him. nature or providence, as of his operation and “Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall bestowment, and so giving to others the praise confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God which is due to God alone. the Father. But even here below thy saints By understating and despising his gifts as if shall bless thee.' Remembering all the way by they were of trivial value, and so failing to give which the Lord has led them—amidst the darkest thanks to him who claims our gratitude. dispensations and severest trials, strong in faith, By repining at outward hardships in our lot, a faith resting on promise and experience, they murmuring because God has ruled and directed boldly say, “the day will declare it. We will still it so, and thus insinuating or affirming that God speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of willingly aftlicts the children of men. thy power. 'He that spared not his own Son, will

By forgetting that they are the works of God, he not with him freely give us all things? Shall and so abusing them; using God's creatures for he not make all things work together for good ?' | the gratification of sinful desires, or turning proviIn the light of eternity we yet shall see the dences into opportunities of sin, as if we were the power and the loving-kindness of God.

lords of creation, and not the mere stewards of A spirit that breathes not thus—a spirit God's manifold mercies. that grumbles at its lot, or carps at any of the By disregarding the obvious lessons they are ways or doings of the Eternal, what does it but meant to teach, such as the vanity of time, the deny the wisdom, the power, the goodness of value of eternity, the existence of sin in the earth, him who avows these works to be his? What God's abhorrence of it, yet his willingness and does it? It profanes, it dishonours, it casts desire to deliver from its guilt and pollution; or, reproach on the government of the all-mighty, By not remembering that however delightful all-wise, all-merciful God. As we have there they may be, after all they are but the works of fore the volumes of creation and providence God's hand, the stream that flows from the founspread out before us, and as we read the lessons tain-head; and so loving the creature more than they are fitted and intended to convey, let us not the Creator, seeking enjoyment in them apart merely be satisfied with the absence of discontent, from him, cleaving to them in preference to him, and disapproval, or even with the feeling of and mourning over the loss of them, as if God resignation; let us go farther; let us strive and who bestows them could not, from his own fullpray to be enabled to bless the Lord who made ness, supply infinitely more than all creation can and who rules it so. "Speaking of the glory of yield. his kingdom, and talking of his power.' 0! let Those who cherish such a spirit, David says, , us see that it is out of the abundance and fulness God will not build

up, but destroy.' of the heart that our lips give utterance

Little do they know of God's character who see in this revealed purpose of heaven a frivolous decree, or one of needless cruelty. God has laid no more on man than what is right. His love,

his desire to save, is not lessened or set aside by to meet the state and the wishes of men—or they this decree. The great Lord who claims propriety must lay aside the old man, and be renewed in in and authority over all, whom no one can resist, the likeness of God. Unison and harmony in or may gainsay, might make the conditions of character and desire there must be, ere a cheerful life what he chose, might have attached the pen- obedience can be yielded to God's will, pleasure alty of death to the most unimportant command. taken in his service, or delight in his rewards. But surely he who sent his own Son to die for And are we then so utterly degraded-has the us, has not laid any needless barrier in our way God of this world so completely blinded us, that to glory; on the contrary, he has removed every we are at a loss in determining on wllom the obstacle, and has smoothed the path that leads to change must pass, or do we for a moment hesitate life. This decree of destruction against those which state to choose? The principles of the divine who regard not his works, does not belie his government are well and wisely planned; they are willingness to save. It is based upon unalterable like God himself, unchangeable; and he will not, truth, would have been borne out though these he cannot alter them to suit the views and please words had not been recorded, and betrays no the tastes of corrupt, and depraved, and rebellious unconcern about the welfare of man. By this men. And let it never be forgotten, that if in declared

purpose of heaven, God makes known eternity our hearts harmonize not with this unalthe character of those, with whom alone he can terable decree of Jehovah, if the seeds of disconassociate in eternity, who alone can find delight tent and rebellion are not uprooted, what can the in the exercises and enjoyments of heaven: 'Two issue be, but that we shall be crushed before the cannot walk together except they be agreed' sceptre of the Lord God omnipotent, that we There can be no concord betwixt Christ and shall be destroyed, and not built up?' In mercy Belial'—none betwixt the angels of light, and has our God proclaimed this dread truth in the those who love the unfruitful works of darkness. ears of wayward men, that through the atoning The throne of iniquity can have no fellowship blood of Christ they may seek by the Holy Spirit with God.

to be born again, and restored to the likeness and If then the character of God is manifest in his image of God. This is the accepted time. Toworks—if in them he declares his will—if that morrow who can answer for it? The hour of will is unalterably the same yesterday, to-day, death, how uncertain! The awful truth, “as the and for ever—if in eternity the same principles will tree falls, so shall it lie,' how plain! May the guide his counsels, and direct all his proceedings; truth here declared sink deep into our hearts, and if by disregarding his workings now, we 'thou shalt destroy them, and not build them up. betray a heart at enmity with God, a heart whose desires are at variance with his desires, how obviously true and consistent is the statement that no pitying tenderness—no relentings of com

TWENTY-SEVENTH DAY.-MORNING. passion, no extent of love, can prevail on an un- 'I will worship toward thy holy temple, and changeable and holy God to build up the way of such. If he is “the Lord; if his will is para

praise thy name for thy loving-kindness, and

for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy mount, they must be destroyed. As our Father,

word above all thy name,' Psal. cxxxviii. 2. our Lord, our God, who will demand beyond the grave (as he does now) our love, our reverence, our The psalmist was a most devout worshipper. service, whose presence will constitute the felicity Everywhere, and in all circumstances, he recogof eternity, how obvious is it, that for God to nized the presence, and celebrated the perfections delight in us, and we to delight in God, our desires of Jehovah. He saw God's power in the starry must breathe in unison. One of two changes must firmament, he beheld his goodness in the beauty take place, ere those, who regard not the works of lower creation. He heard God's voice in the of the Lord, can enter the heavenly Zion, or rolling thunder, he heard him also in the whisbecome citizens of the New Jerusalem. Either pering breeze. Every thing, and every place, God must alter his temple, to suit the tastes of was full of God. But in no place did he take those who are to be admitted, his service and such delight, as in the place of God's assemblies. rewards to harmonize with the desires of those And why? Because there his ordinances were who are to participate in them—or their desires dispensed, his presence and blessing promisedmust be renewed, their hearts changed. Either and no where else did he find himself brought God must compromise his will, lower his charac-into such close contact with God. He went to ter, and reduce the principles of his government, the temple to worship and praise God's name. But there were two features of the Deity that he And yet reason's light and nature's discoveries here speaks of as specially rising to his view, viz., are unable to lead us into the mysteries of the the loving-kindness, and the truth of God, the Godhead, and not till God himself speaks, and mercy that was hid in God, and the mercy that not till he draws aside the curtain, and discloses was revealed by God-goodness in possession, himself to view, have we clear, and full, and cerand goodness in reserve. He had present experi- tain, and just notices of the Deity. That God ence of God's loving-kindness, and the faithful-is, that he is great, and wise, and just, and ness of God was a sufficient guarantee that what good, we may perchance know from nature's regarded futurity, and was the subject of the light, but how great, how wise, how just, and divine promise, would all be made good in God's how good he is, we cannot know till we consult appointed time. This personal experience, and the oracles of the living God. But there is one his trust in God's truth, led him thus to express feature of the divine character that to all eterhimself in the 23d psalm : “Thou preparest a nity must have remained hidden, but for divine table for me in the presence of mine enemies, thou revelation, and that is the mercy of God to anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth perishing sinners, the way of deliverance from over; and then with assured confidence he adds, death and hell by the mediation of the Son of ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all God. It is only in the word of truth that the the days of my life, and I will dwell in the intimation of a Saviour is given, or could be house of the Lord for ever.' Jehovah had made given, that the method of salvation is unfolded. with David an everlasting covenant, and no- You may just as hopefully look for light without thing that had gone out of his lips had altered the luminaries of heaven, for life without creative or failed. Every word had been accomplished, energy, as the knowledge of a Redeemer without every promise had been made good, in spite of the immediate inspiration of God. The light of all the difficulties that lay in the way, and which nature may discover the disease, but it cannot appeared to men insuperable. Meditating, in the disclose the remedy; it may show the danger, but sanctuary, on the loving-kindness and the truth it cannot point out the way of escape. But how of the Almighty, he is filled with holy admir- clearly, and fully, and satisfactorily is this unation, and he exclaims, “thou hast magnified folded in the word! It seems to be the grand thy word above all thy name,' thou hast magni-object of God, from the beginning to the close of fied thy faithfulness in the fulfilment of thy pro- the sacred volume, to show how an offended God mises to me, more than any other of the glorious could be reconciled, a fallen creature restored, a perfections by which thou art known.

lost sinner saved, a guilty rebel pardoned, and a But this declaration of the psalmist affords polluted outcast sanctified. And surely of all intiroom for meditating on the peculiar excellency of mations to man, this is the most important, and the word, for showing that it gives us discoveries of all the works of God this is the chief; and this of God's nature, and character, and dealings, being revealed in the word of life, that word which we in vain search for any where else. It acquires a peculiar excellence and glory, and it is peculiarly glorious in his sight, and we may may justly be said to be magnified by God above affirm that it is the chief and the leading witness all his name. Yes, the wonders of grace far for God. The Almighty has, indeed, never left exceed those of nature, and what is discovered of himself without a witness in this lower world. God by revelation is greater far than what is disHe has written his name on every created object, covered by reason. and he speaks to us of himself in every passing But it is not only in its discoveries that God's event: "The heavens declare the glory of God, word excels in glory; but God has employed it the invisible things of God are clearly seen, being as the chief instrument of his power in bringing understood by the things that are made, even his salvation near to sinners' hearts. He has magnieternal power and Godhead. And we are evi-fied it above every other means for the subverdences to ourselves of God's wisdom, and power, sion of Satan's authority, and for the extension of and goodness. So that even when there is no Christ's kingdom, for the convincing and convertvision, no written record, men are left without ing of sinners, for the edifying and building up of excuse: for with such faculties and endowments as saints.' "The gospel is the power of God unto they possess, with the law of God written in their salvation. Divine wisdom has not merely emhearts, and with such a volume of evidence spread ployed the word, as the means of promoting the out before the eye, and with reason's finger point- salvation of individual sinners, but of extending ing heavenward, every rational being is inexcus- the triumphs of the cross everywhere. It has able in not giving God the glory,

been mainly by the word read and preached, that

souls have been aroused, enlightened, sanctified, was comforted, and the other tormented. The confirmed, comforted, and ripened for glory; it is poverty, that is here spoken of, is spiritual poverty, by it that grace has commenced, been advanced, which is not in the least degree influenced or and perfected. And it is just by the same instru- regulated by outward condition. It arises from a ment, wielded by the Spirit of God, that the sense of our own weakness, our own dependence, wilderness has been gladdened, and by which our own insignificance, our own ignorance, our we hope for the universal triumphs of Christian- own guilt, our own sinfulness. It implies a feelity. Yet, awful to think, this pearl of great price ing sense of our constant need of God's aid both is despised, this most precious gift of God to for soul and body, time and eternity, mercy to man is neglected, disbelieved, contemned, ridi- pardon, and grace to help and sustain. It is culed, and held up to sport. Awful profanity! such a spirit as the publican manifested, as the Contemner of God, beware! The time is draw- apostle Paul discovered, both feeling their own ing near when by that word thou shalt be tried, nothingness and sinfulness in the sight of God. and by that word thou shalt be condemned.' 2. He is contrite in spirit. Contrition flows

from humility. The person, that is lowly in his own estimation, will be grieved on account

of his transgressions; and no other can be so TWENTY-SEVENTH DAY.-EVENING. affected. A proud, a self-righteous man, can

have no sorrow for sin, because he does not feel *To this man will I look, eren to him that is that he is a sinner, and can see nothing in himpoor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at self that ought to awaken distress of mind. Light my word,' Isa. lxvi. 2.

and darkness are not further removed in naturo Tue Jews in Isaiah s time boasted of the mag- from each other, than self-righteousness and nificence of their temple, and their temple ser- humility, than pride and contrition. There must vice. Jehovah here shows them its perfect be a complete revolution in the views, and sentinothingness in his sight, levels all their lofty ments, and feelings of a self-righteous person, ideas, and humbles their vain imaginations. And before he can mourn for transgression. But he this he does by reminding them of the glories of who has obtained the grace of humility, whose his own nature, the splendour of his own abode, eyes have been opened to see the holiness of God, ver. 1. and then he points out the character of that the purity of God's law, the state of his own worshipper that should find acceptance with him, heart, and the course of his own life, cannot but thus letting them see that his ideas of things lie low before God, confess his guilt, and bewail were very different from theirs—that while they his many, his aggravated offences. aimed at ostentatious show, he demanded inward Godly contrition, let it be remembered, is purity—that while they chose as the objects of not excited by the opinion of the world, or by their regard, the rich and the gay, and the exalted any thing that is created. The truly contrite in rank, he chose the man who was poor, and of soul sees God, and God alone, in all its offences a contrite spirit, and who trembled at his word. and transgressions. Against Thee only have I There are three features in this character which sinned, does it exclaim. It is not a sense of is the object of the divine complacency.

danger, or a fear of punishment, that awakens 1. He is poor. This does not mean poverty it, or keeps it alive, but it arises from the fear of state or condition. There are of those who are of offending a Friend, a Benefactor, a Father, covered with rags, that have a worldly, an unsanc

a Saviour. It is not the consequences of sin, tified, a proud, an unsubdued heart, notwithstand but sin itself, that a broken heart bewails, not ing their many earthly privations. And there are merely outward transgression, but inward corof the most elevated in this world who feel their ruption—not mere omission, but short-coming in nothingness in the sight of God, and are like duty, not positive rebellion, but want of heavenly wcaned children. It was not because Lazarus was graces, yea, the weakness of grace in the soulcovered with sores, and clothed in rags, that he is not mere indifference, but the languor of his love, now in Abraham's bosom- —nor because Dives was that awakens the grief of his heart. It is because clothed in purple, and fine linen, and fared luxuri- he has broken God's laws, misspent precious ously, that he lifts up his eyes in hell. God forbid ' time, abused divine mercies, perverted the grace It was because the poverty of the one chastened of the gospel, not been duly affected by a Saviour's his heart, and brought him nearer to God, and love, and not lived as a ransomed sinner, as an the prosperity of the other lifted up his soul, and heir of glory, that a contrite soul mourns. alienated his affections from God, that the one 3. The acceptable worshipper trembles at

« PreviousContinue »