Page images

God's word. In everything that bears the stamp TWENTY-Eighth Day.-MORNING. of divinity, there is something so exalted and full of majesty, that it cannot be regarded by a mind 'If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to that is rightly constituted without a degree of

heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the reverence and holy awe. The stupendous works

Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon and the wonderful doings of Jehovah fill us with

you, and I will curse your blessings : yea, I veneration, and the same will hold true respect

hare cursed them already, because ye do not lay ing God's word wherever the heart is properly

it to heart,' Mal. i. 2. enlightened and suitably impressed. There is the first verse of this chapter shows that this such a sublimity, and grandeur, and importance solemn warning and threatening is specially adin the revelation of God, that that man who can dressed to the priests, the sons of Levi. They read or listen to its declarations, without solem- were an order of men set apart, and consecrated nity of feeling, has no genuine conviction of its to the Lord's service. Holiness to the Lord was truth and importance. Were God to speak to engraven on their character, their office, their very us, face to face, and address us in all the splen- garments. They were the interpreters of the law, dours of divine majesty, we must be over the ambassadors of the Lord of hosts, the instiwhelmed; and yet in his written word God is tuted medium, through whom, God and the people speaking to us individually, and the only differ- were to hold intercourse. The most exalted, even ence betwixt the one mode of communication kings and princes, had no right in virtue of their and the other, is in the manner, not in the rank or authority to intermeddle with their matter. In the one he condescends to the sacred duties, touch the vessels of the sanctuary, infirmity of our nature, and addresses us in a still or interfere in the administration of divine ordismall voice; while in the other we must be nances. Much therefore depended on the priestaddressed as with the voice of thunder. Now hood, for instructing the people, extending and if we had a believing impression that God, in his keeping alive the knowledge of God, and things written word, is addressing us, surely our per- divine. Their sacred office called on them to usal of the word, our listening to the word, would maintain the purity of God's worship, to promote be with reverence and humility, with anxiety vital godliness, and to advance the interests of pure and godly fear. And such will be our feelings and undefiled religion. If they became corrupt, of mind if we are suitably impressed. Never if they declined in their duty, the consequences will a Christian take the word of life into were most ruinous. And thus it has happened his hand, without reflecting that it is heaven's in every age, that, whenever those who are vested legacy to him; never will he peruse its sacred page with the sacred office, have lost sight of the awful without bearing in mind that Jehovah therein ad- responsibility of their situation, have become cordresses him; and he will never attend the minis- rupt in principle and practice, it has told most try of the word and the divine ordinances with fearfully and fatally on mankind. Society through out saying, Speak, Lord, for thy servant hears. all its grades have been affected thereby—the He reads the word, and he hears the word, with interests of religion have declined, and morality solemnity of mind, because it is not the word of has sunk to the lowest ebb. And how can it be man, but the word of the living God.

otherwise? When the fountain-head, or even the And what a rich reward has every such wor- channel, is poisoned, death must be the conseshipper. To him God looks. Much is included quence to many. Now it would appear that the in this declaration and promise--God approves priests, in Malachi's days, not merely neglected and accepts his sacrifice, God watches and defends to give right instruction in God's covenant, but, him, God delights in him to do him good, like Eli's sons, despised God and caused others and God will abundantly reward and bless him. to do so too; spake contemptuously of what was O! may we ever seek, in all our approaches to most sacred, disregarded the Most High, and God, to be under the influence of his Spirit, that thus degraded themselves, and ruined multitudes. his favour may come to us, in peace and com- We have this account of them in the foregoing fort in life, and in those blessings that are to be chapter. And because they neglected to glorify found at his right hand through eternity. God's name, they defeated the great end of their

institution, made men abhor the offering of the Lord, brought religion into discredit, and thus subjected themselves to the righteous displeasure of God. If they did not hear, and repent and turn unto the Lord, he would send his curse upon

them, curse their every blessing, and visit them ruinous. What I have just read I believe to be with his most dread judgments; yea, says he, perfectly true, that the inconsistencies of the I bave cursed them already,' the sentence has popish priesthood, has made Italy a land of infigone forth, and the indignation of the Almighty is dels--the myriads of souls which they have kindled against them.

murdered cannot be reckoned. O! let the proNow what is written here is written

as a testant ministry tremble at falling into similar solemn warning to the ministers of religion in condemnation. “Woe to the shepherds that feed every age. Though the dispensation of the gospel themselves, but feed not the flock. Read the is different from that of the law, yet the work of denunciations contained in Ezek. chap. iii. 18; the ministry now, is similar to that of the priest- xxxiv. 1, &c. “What guilt so awful as that of hood in former times; their charge is the same, a faithless pastor, what character so despicable, their character is the same, their responsibility is what fate so fearful! His conduct tells upon the same; and whatever is recorded, whether in thousands, and upon generations yet unborn. O! the

way of warning or encouragement, ministers it is not limited to time, it extends to an endless now-a-days may take it home to themselves. unbounded eternity. They are the anointed priests of the Lord, the But though priests may suffer, people shall heralds of salvation—the accredited ambassadors not escape-though carelessness, and faithlessof the King of Zion. 'Tis theirs to speak to ness, and profligacy may be the reproach of shepmen in the name of the Lord, to seek the glory herds, and the calamity of the flock, yet it will of God, and to advance the interests of the not save or excuse the flock. People need not Redeemer's kingdom. "Tis theirs to preach the perish, though their teachers do. In this land gospel, to watch for souls as those that must particularly, men have the word; it is not give account, to warn every man, and to teach buried, it is not locked up; and they have every man—and by word and doctrine, by life reason, and understanding, and the power of judgand conversation, to win souls to Christ. The ing; therefore whatever guilt may be contracted “priest's lips should keep knowledge, and the by pastors, and whatever delusion may have people should seek the law at his mouth, for he been practised by them, or whatever bad effects is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. As it is may have been induced by ministerial faithlessby a preached gospel, by proclaiming a full and ness and inconsistency, still this will not excuse a free salvation to perishing sinners, by being the hearers of the word. Pastors may perish, examples to the believers in word and conversa- but the flock shall suffer along with them. When tion, that the end of a gospel ministry is gained; the curse has got its commission from God it shall should the Christian minister prove, in any way, seize upon both, and consume both. unfaithful to God, or to men’s consciences, the injury that is done to the cause of truth, and to precious souls, is incalculable. Should he by any means corrupt the seed of the word, and poison TWENTY-Eighth Day.-EVENING. the water of life, should he give false or garbled views of divine truth, should he withhold or keep For I have told him that I will judge his house out of sight any doctrine or precept that is essen

for ever, for the iniquity which he knoweth; tial to salvation_should he cover the wound, or

because his sons made themselves vile, and he cure it slightly, should he preach, for the doctrines

restrained them not,' 1 Sam. iii. 13. of God, the commandments of men, or should he The sin of which the sons of Eli, who belonged entertain perishing sinners with dry philoso- to the priesthood, were guilty, was one of a phical discussions, or glowing descriptions of the peculiarly daring, self-willed, and carnal nature. beauties of virtue, instead of the spirit-stirring, It was a profanation of those sacrifices of blood the heart-affecting lessons drawn, from mount that were presented unto the Lord, and was Sinai, or Calvary's hill, he would prove himself to aggravated by the consideration that those sacribe an unfaithful steward. Or should the trumpet fices were emblems and typical representations give an uncertain sound, or nothing but a cold, of a coming Saviour, and of his one sacrifice for barren, lifeless orthodoxy issue from the pulpit, sin. It is the same sin as that spoken of in Heb. or should the messenger of the Lord be char- x. 29. They "trode under foot the Son of God, acterized, by carnality and crime, by carelessness and counted the blood of the covenant an unholy and indifference, his life being inconsistent with his thing.' Eli regarded it in this light when he office, and giving the lie to the doctrine which he said, “If a man sin against the Lord, who shall proclaims,-then the effect on men's souls is entreat for him; plainly intimating that he knew it to be that sin, of which the apostle after will not exercise a father's authority, an authority wards wrote, when he said, “ There is a sin unto with which God had invested him, and for the death, I do not say he shall pray for it.' Theirs exercise of which he must give an account. was a sin without remedy, as it was a profana- Nature teaches us the parent's duty in contion of the only remedy for sin. They must die trolling his offspring. The frailty of infancy, " without mercy,' and not even a father's voice the ready submissiveness and docility of the could be raised to heaven for them, if they con- youthful mind, declare the responsiblity of the tinued to defile and pollute the only channel parent. Revelation declares that God has through which mercy could flow. All sin renders | clothed parents with this power, and implanted the perpetrator of it vile, but this sin most pecu- this docility in the young mind, in order to liarly so. All men who make themselves vile enable godly parents to restrain their children. by defacing the image of God shall fall beneath And because of this the constitution of our the divine curse; but doubly awful shall that nature, he commands children to obey their curse be, against those who render the priestly parents, and parents to rule well their houseoffice vile in their persons. Their punishment is bold, for the glory of his name, "These words just, for their iniquity is peculiarly aggravated. which I command thee this day, saith the Lord, “I have sworn,' says Jehovah, “that the iniquity shall be in thine heart, and thou shalt teach them of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice unto thy children,' &c., Deut. vi. 6,7. Personal nor offering for ever.' But this verse leads us to religion pure as Eli's is not enough ; ardent prayer consider the judgment brought on Eli, because of and godly example, like that of Eli's, is not enough; his being a partaker in the sin of his sons. the spiritual welfare of our families must be

We cannot doubt, from the character of Eli, endeavoured after, by all means diligently, conthat in early youth he had instructed his children stantly, painsfully, and with heartfelt anxiety, in their duty to God, and that he set them an and the command of authority must follow the example of what was right. It was not there request of tenderness. Not guiltless surely would fore through ignorance that they perverted the that mother be, who, rather than restrain the instituted worship of God. His language in the wayward fancy of her infant, would allow it to foregoing chapter intimates, that he prayed for sport beside the devouring fire; and not less them also, and likely cherished the hope that his guiltless, if in the knowledge of determined sin prayers would be answered. He did not altogether in his child, a father refuses to employ the wink at their sin, he did not think lightly of it, authority with which God has clothed him; guilty he did not give countenance to it. On the con- first of disobedience to the command of God, and trary he was greatly grieved by it, tenderly, guilty also of his children's sin, inasmuch as he yet solemnly warned them of its magnitude did not what in him lay to prevent it. I know and inevitable consequence. Would that every not how to characterize the cruel tenderness, the professing Christian parent could truly say as hard-hearted softness, of those parents, who by much, in regard to those of their children who sinful indulgence will endanger the loss of their profane the name of God! But though sorrow children's souls, and submit to see and hear the of heart, like Eli's, delivered Lot from the charge name of God dishonoured by those, whom they of partaking in the sin of Sodom, yet it did not might, and could, and ought to have restrained. deliver Eli from the guilt of his sons. He was If such they be who read these lines, let them responsible for their sin, because, as their father, he pause and solve this question : ‘Is it thus with had authority and power, and was bound to restrain you, because you are indifferent about the saltheir profanity. It is the simplest and most vation of your children's souls, and care not obviously just conclusion, that a man is guilty whether in eternity they stand on the right hand of that crime, which he has been commanded, of God, or depart to endless woe? Is it thus delegated, and clothed with power to prevent, with you, because you are indifferent about the yet fails to do so. This was Eli's case, this honour of God, and think their sin but trifling? was Eli's sin. He knew his sons' profanity, he or is it thus with you, because you have not realknew that they were guilty of most heinous trans- ized the certainty of judgment, the magnitude of gression; he knew, that as their father he was eternity, or the character of God as an all-seeing required, and had authority 'to restrain them,' and sin-detesting Judge?' If not from one or yet from a foolish tenderness of heart, he would other of these causes, whence does your neglect not ‘frown upon them,' (so the word may be ren- proceed? If you knew the blackness of sin, and dered). He speaks to them, he reasons with them, realized the dread eternity, and truly loved your but he will not command them, like Abraham; he children, you would not, you could not be slow in exercising your authority to restrain their way- the apostle assigns a prominent place to the want wardness, and bring them back from their folly. of natural affection. Jeremiah, weeping over the Without much encouragement, and even against defections and the dire calamities of Israel, comhope, you would leave no means untried. But plains that the mothers of Jerusalem were where is your excuse if it appear from scripture, deprived of natural affection. “Even the sea and be confirmed by all experience, that the pro- monsters draw out the breast, they give suck mise of success is almost commensurate with the to their young ones, but the daughter of my command to obey ?

people is become cruel like the ostriches in the If then as parents you disown the relationship wilderness? And, among the keenest reproaches subsisting betwixt you and your children, treat- that can sting the heart of a neglectful mother ing them as you should not treat a stranger, O! is found in the inquiry: "Can a mother fortake heed that your Father in heaven disown not get her sucking child, that she should not have you; lest it happen to you according to the compassion on the son of her womb?' And true saying, “With what measure ye mete, it shall of all the strong, endearing, and expressive be measured unto you.'. Say not in regard to emblems by which the Almighty points out the your children, “Am I their keeper?' Nature and tenderness, the constancy, the steadfastness of scripture acquaint you that such is your office. his love to us, the most affecting and interestFear then lest God suddenly coming to judge ing is that, which exhibits him as our Father you, say, "Give an account of thy stewardship, for in heaven, and enables us as children with confithou mayest no longer be steward.'

dence to approach him as a Father, all-wise, allmerciful, all-gracious, all-powerful. Yes, if there be any comfort in the emblem and promise of

adoption, the duty of parents is abundantly TWENTY-NINTH DAY.-MORNING.


As an illustration, and example of parental "And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified attention and imitation. Little need be said to

care, the conduct of Job is highly deserving of them, in

, offered burnt-offerings according to the number recommend it; it finds an echo and response in of them all; for Job said, It may be that my ful of the duty, here set forth, cannot withhold

every breast. Even those who live most neglectsons have sinned, and cursed God in their

the approval of conscience, as they read this verse. hearts. Thus did Job continually, Job i. 5.

The infidel himself, who may smile at all religion The instinct of nature, the voice of reason, and as a dream, is constrained to acknowledge, that the revelation of God, all combine in affirming, as believing, as Job did, in the existence of a sina solemn duty, the constant, habitual, and earnest hating God, and in the importance and efficacy endeavouring, after the welfare of those to whom of sacrifice as a mean of atonement, he had been a we stand related as parents and guardians. And heartless parentindeed, had shown himself a worthwhile to infidels it might be necessary to show the less character, had he manifested indifference to his reality of an after existence, and its superior value children, or failed to propitiate the Deity in their to the life that now is, it is a plain and self-evident behalf. In strong and happy contrast, is his con proposition to all, who acknowledge the truths of duct, with that of Eli, which last evening engaged revelation, that if tender, and watchful, and self- our attention. He knew not of any open profanadenying endeavours after our children's outward tion of God's name with which his sons could prosperity be laudable, much more when these be charged (which was not the case with Eli), regard their spiritual, their eternal well-being. but yet his affectionate heart yearns for them, Whatever men's actual practice may be, this must and he trembles, lest the pure eye of God should be their conviction; for just as much does the one have seen that, within them, which had not disexceed the other, as the soul is preferable to the covered its disformity to his eye, or to the eye body, as eternity is longer than time, and the of man. *It may be;' he did not know that it enjoyment of God is a higher portion than all the was so: “It may be;' he knew the frailty of man, enjoyments of wealth, or honour, or scientific lore. the corruption of the human heart, and he was The tender care of parents, especially as regards filled with parental anxiety, lest any of his children the souls of their children, is a duty strongly should dishonour the God whom he loved, lest any pointed out in the word of God. In the cata- of them should sin, and curse God, and thus perish logue of crimes by which those are characterised eternally. “It may be,' and therefore he will use who have reached the lowest depths of depravity, the appointed means. Ile did so, when the days


of feasting were gone about.' But it was a habi- TWENTY-Ninth Day.-EVENING. tual exercise with him, to sanctify and offer burntofferings for all, and each of them, and that con- 'O Lord our Lord, hor excellent is thy name in tinually:

all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the •It may be that my sons have sinned, and

hearens,' Psal. viii. 1. cursed God in their hearts.' What parent To little purpose, indeed, have we now been so may not make this language of Job his own? long contemplating the glorious and fearful name What parent may not feel similar anxiety and of the great God—his works and his ways, if we fcar, to that which agitated and possessed Job's have not caught one spark of the holy fire that heart? O! how few are blessed in the remem- glows in these words of David, or do not trembrance that by early culture, and early promise, ble at the thought of dishonouring or casting it is only a ‘may be,' or only a question, if they reproach on such an Almighty and exalted Being. have done so 'in their heart.' But how few have A surer evidence of a carnal mind cannot be found, been under the influence of such fear, have been than, that in the contemplation of his character concerned about the atonement for their children's and perfections, we still see no loveliness in him, sin, or sincere repentance being awakened in their no cause of adoring praise, none of lowly reverhearts. Will it content or justify the mother, ence and solemn awe; unless indeed it be, that, that she does not actually know that her child though convinced and intellectually enlightened, has fallen from yonder clift. If she knew that .it no chord of praise responds in the deadened feelmay be’ so—will she sit still with folded arms ings of our hard and unsanctified hearts. If thus till she learn that it is so? And can a godly adorable in all his names and attributes, not only parent, who himself has felt the temptations and is the profanation of Jehovah's name forbidden, snares of youth, with indifference allow his child but the same argument demands as loudly that to wander unwarned and unwatched amidst the we yield him praise and glory. Not enough is flowers which the destroyer scatters in the path it, that in word and outward action we refrain of ruin. 'It may be that my sons have sinned,' from the irreverence of those things whereby he is enough at any time to fill him with anxiety, makes himself known to us—not enough that, in who knows the nature and the consequences of heart also we be conscious of no irreverence, or even sin, enough to make him exert all his parental indifference, but love and admiration should burn authority to bring his children to the only sacrifice in our hearts, and the song of ardent praise should that can cleanse the soul from sin.

proceed from our lips. No one can really behold Mark then the conduct of Job and follow in his the beauty of the Lord without rapture; can have steps. 'Send' to them not only in the day of sick- a just apprehension of the divine perfections, ness, but after feasting, and in the midst of glad without being filled with admiration. As light

'Send' to them, making your anxiety for is suited to the eye-as melody delights the ear, their souls a matter of more than casual or chance so the contemplation of the great, and glorious, conversation—'Send' to them, even when they and gracious Jehovah entrances the soul. It have passed the days of boyhood, and dwell in glows, it burns with joy unutterable, it seeks homes of their own— send' to them that they relief in praise; but language fails, and thought may sanctify themselves, so training them, that is feeble, and after summing up all its powers, your message will not be set aside—'send' to and making every effort, the enraptured soul can them, not only to inform them that you pray but say, "IIow excellent is thy name, O Lord, in for them, but also that you desire them to pray all the earth, thou hast set thy glory above the with you. And while thus you ‘send,' let your heavens. This is the language of all who have personal ardour and sincerity manifest itself like any just ideas of the divine perfections, on conJob's. He rose up early in the morning, and templating these, as revealed in God's works, and offered burnt-offerings according to the number in his word. But 0 what new, what enlarged, of them all. Let your dread of sin be seen, but what interesting and affecting themes of praise no less plainly your persuasion of the grace of crowd in upon the heart of him who, looking God in Christ Jesus. And let your conduct upwards, can on good grounds say of this great show that yours is no formal duty, but the deed Almighty Being, my Lord and my God, my of one, who runs so as to obtain, who worships Father in heaven—my reconciled Father—the that he may accepted, who sends on such an God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ. Thus errand, in order, that at the bar of God he may to feel is to have kindled within us the fire of be able to say, 'Here am I, and the children divine love, is to have awakened the first note whom thou hast given.'

of the melodies of heaven, is to know somewhat


« PreviousContinue »