« PreviousContinue »
with abhorrence, and the necessary determination employed could be properly used by, and to, no to punish as an accursed thing,' that which “bis other. While we remain in our natural state of soul hateth with a perfect hatred. Let us pray alienation from God, the eyes of our understandearnestly, that the same mind may be in us, ing being darkened, we are utterly incapable of which was also in Christ Jesus,' who magnified spiritual vision. The Lord with whom we have the law, and made it honourable ; and then we to do, though we rightly know it not, is a being shall regard it as a perfect system, and see that who hideth himself from us, and we engage in
offending in one point,' necessary infers that we any pursuit, except that of seeking after him, “are guilty of all.' It may be that before we if haply we may find him.' The primeval curse attained to the knowledge which we now have, resting on us, and displaying all its corrupting much precious time was lost which we thought and blinding effects in us, we are dead in treswe were improving ; many golden opportunities passes and sins, fulfilling the desires of the flesh, passed away which we supposed had been use and of the mind, the children of wrath even as fully employed, and deeper additional guilt con- others.' Terms more precise, cannot be found tracted of which we had no idea there was the whereby to describe that state of mental darkness least fear of accumulating. Still, there is hope and moral perverseness, in which the home-born in Israel concerning this thing. The bible is yet slave' is placed; and it is a convincing evidence open to us : the Holy Ghost is still the great of our having been rescued from this state, when teacher : the throne of grace is still occupied by we are able to perceive that this is the condition the Mediator; the mercy-seat is still without a of every man, and still more, that it was our own. cloud upon it, and the breathings of the humble By the new light which has dawned on us from and contrite spirit,' still 6 rise in sweet memorial above, we have been led to see what we were before God. Self is now annihilated, and the before the Lord, who pitied and brought us from Lord alone exalted. The scales of ignorance a fearful pit, out of the miry clay, and set our feet having fallen from our eyes, because of the upon a rock, establishing our goings.' It is a anointing,' we are enabled to see all things further proof, that God has been merciful unto clearly'—the absolute purity of the divine nature, us, and redeemed us for his name's sake, that so and our own spiritual wretchedness; the com- far from rejecting the doctrine of original sin, as prehensiveness of the divine law, and our own derogatory from the dignity of man, we believe liability to punishment as the effect of our vio- and receive it just as it is revealed in the word, lation of the least of its commandments; the and confirmed by our own experience. Pride of all-sufficient remedy provided, and the way in intellect, and the exalting of natural reason, to a which it must be applied in all its healing efficacy sphere in which it is altogether unfitted to move, to our souls ; the reality of heaven's blessedness, are two of the most fatal effects of our inherited and the means whereby we are to become pre- depravity, and contribute very materially to pared for 'glory, honour, and immortality. We establish the melancholy fact, without the belief are now satisfied that whosoever is not ‘for God, of which there can be no salvation, because there is against him, and that whatsoever is not of is no felt need of it, that we personally, with all faith is sin. We are now, but never till now, our faculties, and aspirations, and excellencies, are qualified aright for the performance of duty, and children of wrath even as others.' How dreadknowing whom we have believed, and in whom ful this state appears to those who bave been is all our confidence, for time and eternity, we made acquainted with it, as the very state in which hope continually, and will yet praise him more they were born, and from which they have been and more.'
delivered, not by human power,' or created "might, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.' Such persons, and such only, see it in
all its sinfulness, misery, and danger, and the THIRD Day.-MORNING.
more clearly do they see it, in proportion as they
are removed farther, and yet farther from it, by Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling unto righteousness.
' How careful should we be
being "enabled to die daily unto sin, and to live the desires of the flesh and of the mind ; and to apply these truths to ourselves, that we may were by nature the children of wrath, open as
fully ascertain, whether we have passed from death others,' Eph. ii. 3.
unto life, and are in Christ Jesus new creatures! The apostle, as a converted man, speaks here to Has a complete revolution then been effected, in those who had been also converted. The language the moral empire of our understandings and bearts? Have old abuses been done away, and
THIRD DAY.--EVENING. inveterate corruptions cut up by the roots? Have
• This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all the tyrants who ruled us with a rod of iron, been banished, and their unworthy ministers along
acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the with them? Have new privileges been granted
world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.'
1 Tim. i. 15. to us, as fellow-citizens with the saints, and new rights secured to us, as our own certain possession, So deep is the sense of sin in the enlightened conand our children's inheritance, as the seed of the vert, that knowing it in his own heart, as he blessed of the Lord ! Is our Deliverer now our cannot know it in any other, he is willing to King, mighty as he is merciful, and in his days, regard himself as the chief of sinners. And if and he shall reign for ever and ever,' shall this was the state of the apostle Paul, who among righteousness flourish, and abundance of peace, the disciples of Jesus, stood, and stands, and will while the moon endureth? And when the sun rer stand, pre-eminent for holiness, self-denial, and the moon shall be blotted out from the things and devotedness to his Master's cause, how much which are, have we the promise that the Lord more must it be the state of us, who can lay no shall be our everlasting light, and our God our claim whatever to his “ revelations,' his peculiar continually increasing glory? If such be our privileges, and his direct communication with the state beyond the reach of change, because he Lord of glory, who in his sovereignty, and from who hath begun the good work in us, will per- eternity, had made him a chosen vessel unto form it unto the day of Jesus Christ,' then have himself, to bear his name before the Gentiles, and we the animating and ennobling assurance given kings, and the children of Israel. How precious, us by Him, who hath perfected that which con- because “faithful, then, is the saying,' that cerneth us,' that we are adopted into the house- Christ Jesus came into the world to redeem the hold of God, and · built on the foundation of the guilty, and how still more precious, because it is apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being worthy of all acceptation, that he was manifestthe chief corner-stone, in whom all the building ed in the flesh to save me, who am the chief of fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple sinners! Did the eternal Son of God leave the in the Lord.' We now recollect with a joy glory which he had with the Father from everwhich the Christian feels, but is unable to ex- lasting ages, and descend to the earth, inhabited press adequately, the time when we lingered by a fallen, condemned, and perishing race of among our worldly pursuits and pleasures, un- intelligent and immortal beings, that he might by willing to leave what had been so long dear to humiliations without a parallel, and sorrows, us, and when Jesus laid hold on us with his which he alone could endure, satisfy the righteous saving right hand—the Lord being merciful demands of insulted and incensed Deity, and open anto us,' and brought us forth, and set us with up a way of reconciliation, for the chief of out the city' of destruction; and that it came sinners,' to the holiness which they had defied. to pass,' when he bad placed us in the way of And was I, O my soul, in the number of the safety, he said unto us, with all the earnestness apostate, the revolted, and the obdurate, who of one that watched for our souls, · Escape for called forth the exhibition of such astonishing thy life, look not behind thee ; neither stay thou condescension, and such unutterable love! Were in all the plain : escape to the mountain, lest thou my sins of every shade and dye among the causes be consumed.' And ( what praise is due to the of all that Emmanuel endured in the days of his riches of his grace, that when we were without flesh, when he offered up prayers and supplicastrength, incapable of self-motion, and might have tions, with strong crying and tears, unto him that stood there a monument of his just indignation was able to save him from death,' and drew these for ever, the everlasting God the Lord, the words from his bursting heart, “ Now is my soul Creator of the ends of the earth, who • fainteth troubled : and what shall I say? Father, save me not, neither is weary, enabled us to run and not from this hour; but for this cause came I unto be weary, to walk and not faint,' till we arrived this hour?' I bless God, who has revealed his at . Zoar,' our house of refuge, and our souls did Son in me, that I am at last enabled to see guilt, live.'
where I never saw it before, and to feel that I ought 'to hate, even the garment which is spotted with the flesh.' I rejoice that I am now led to take a very different view of myself; my condition, principles, motives, and prospects, and to experience my spiritual destitution, poverty, and
wretchedness, that I may thus be constrained to the agony of his last moments, when there never have recourse to the almighty Physician, and was any sorrow like unto that sorrow wherewith to say from under a deep sense of my indwelling the Lord afflicted him in the day of his fierce corruptions, of my exceeding weakness and anger,–0 when we dwell on such scenes as dangerous disease, Lord, if thou wilt, thou these, and know that sin in general, and our sins canst make me clean' I exult on hearing his in particular, were the cause of them all, shall we voice uttering the reviving words, and at the henceforth take pleasure in or countenance any same time increasing my faith, and supplying me thing which contributed to such an accumulation with strength to lay hold on his promise, “I of woes, or wilfully be guilty of any one transgreswill: be thou clean.' I adore Him that “stand-sion that added to the anguish of Him who eth in the midst of the throne, having the appear-saw that there was no man, and wondered that ance of a Lamb as if it had been slain,' that he has there was no intercessor, therefore his own arm completely satisfied me of the utter insufficiency brought salvation unto him, and his righteousness and worthlessness of my own fancied “righteous- it sustained him?' Let us remember that the evil ness, which I went about to establish, not submitt- heart of unbelief, in all its modifications, is ruin. ing myself to the righteousness of God, even that Let us pray fervently and perseveringly, that the righteousness which is of God by faith,' and that Lord the Spirit may take every root' of it he has brought home to my understanding, and entirely away; that we may taste and see that securely lodged there, the belief that if I would God is good, and be more and more established see his face in mercy, and be for ever with the in the present truth,' that it is indeed a faithful Lord,' I must cast myself unconditionally on his saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ grace, depend unreservedly on his infinite merits, Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom and take him alone for my rock, and my for- we feel that we are the chief.” tress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.' Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt
FOURTH DAY.-MORNING. bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and
The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness my feet from falling. •I will walk before the
hath surprised the hypocrites: who among us Lord in the land of the living.' Shall I any
shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among longer continue in the commission of any thing
us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?' ls
xxxiii. 14. which the bible declares contrary to the law of God, or in the reglect of any duty which the It is indeed a melancholy fact, that there are same authority pronounces to be indispens- sinners in Zion, hypocrites among the sincere serable as the evidence of faith, when it has been vants of the living God. None are more regular made known to me by the teaching of the Spirit, perhaps in the observance of ordinances, and none that I am inexcusable, and can expect nothing more apparently serious and attentive when enbut greater condemnation, if after I have been gaged in the services of the sanctuary. They join 'made acquainted with the truth, and escaped the in celebrating the praises of God for his creating pollutions of the world, through the knowledge power, his preserving goodness, and redeeming of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I am again mercy. They unite in the prayers offered up as entangled therein and overcome, and thus the if they really felt all the spiritual wants expressed, latter end shall be worse with me than the begin- all the unworthiness confessed, all the guilt dening, convinced as I am that it had been better plored, all the anxiety for pardon breathed out, for me not to have known the way of righteous- all the desires for conformity to the will of God ness at all, than after I have known it, to turn uttered, and all the confidence in Jesus, as aluve from the holy commandment delivered unto me?' able to redeem, professed by him who acts as When we behold Jesus in his incarnate state the interpreter of their thonghts at a throne when we think on the persecutions to which he of grace. They hear the word read as if they was exposed; the dangers through which he were intimately concerned in its declarations, and passed; the calumnies that were heaped upon as if God's statutes were the joy and rejoicing of him; the injustice to which he was subjected; their heart. They listen as if they were interthe cruelties which he experienced; the mockings ested in the truths drawn from the sacred records, by which he was set at nought; the malignity of and explained in simplicity, and pressed upon the spiritual enemies by whom he was assailed; them with earnestness and solicitude for their
edification. They do not confine their religious the heart, that sinners are no longer at ease duties to the temple or to the Sabbath. They in Zion, and that fearfulness hath indeed surprisstatedly, it may be, engage in family worship ed the hypocrites. We know; yes, the most imduring the week. And yet they are hypocrites perfectly informed among us know the threatenstill, having a form of godliness but denying ings denounced against the obstinate sinner; the power thereof. They have private ends to threatenings which by every rule of interpreserve. They see that a religious profession gives tation, and according to the plain meaning of respectability. They are in hopes that what it plain words, can be understood only as relating has done for others it may do for them. Self, in to what is eternal; and if we continue to live at some of its forms, is the centre of attraction, and ease in Zion,' and to act the part of “ • hypocrites,' draws towards it every scheme in which they do we not provoke the eyes of God's glory, and embark, and every plan that they either devise dare we complain of his government when, in or assist in carrying into effect.
terms of his own solemn declaration, he appoints But such a course, though often successful for us to utter destruction? When the books shall a time, must end in detection. "The triumphing of have been opened and examined, and the fearthe wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite ful, the unbelieving, and the abominable’ separbut for a moment. Conscience has long been ated from those whose names are written in the quiet, and its possessor imagined that its deep Lamb's book of life,' the Judge pronounces the sleep was peace.
But at the command of its sentence which fixes their unalterable state. With Lord it has shaken off its slumbers, and the a countenance beaming with love ineffable, and dreadful conviction of having dealt treacherously completely satisfied with the travail of his soul, with the Omnipotent, fills the stoutest hearted he welcomes those on his right hand to their rest; sinner that ever was at ease in Zion' with terror, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the and causes ' fearfulness to surprise' the completest kingdom prepared for you from the foundations *hypocrite that ever said, “How doth God know, of the world. What then, O sinner, must be and is there knowledge in the Most High?' What the feelings of those on the other side of the consternation will seize the guilty soul when august tribunal, when instead of looks of inexGod's threatenings against Jerusalem shall be pressible affection, He who sits thereon turns on fearfully executed! • What then will ye do in them eyes in which justice is lighted up without the time of visitation? To whom will ye flee mercy, yes, O my soul, Jesus, even Jesus, withfor help, and where will you leave your glory?' out mercy! and utters the withering soul-conEscape is impossible; for the Lord himself has vulsing words, Depart from me, ye cursed, into awaked to judgment, and guards every avenue everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his by which the doomed objects of his displeasure angels. God in Christ forbid that we should might hope to find a way of deliverance. They ever experience the agonies of that dreadful mohad made him to serve with their sins; they had ment! But the word is gone forth, and it is wearied him with their iniquities. He is now irrevocable. In vain they call on the hills to about to bury them in the ruins which his out- fall on them, and cover them from the wrath of stretched arm is undermining, and causing to the Lamb. The hills are no more, and the place totter to their fall. And over whose heads are the appointed by the Almighty for the scene of their erumbling and trembling masses impending? Over endless torment, opens beneath them ; it receives the heads of those who were perfectly aware of their them, and hides them for ever. •Who among us danger, for they had been unceasingly warned by shall dwell with the devouring fire ? Who the Lord's messengers to avoid the spot on which, among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings ?' if they continued to stand, they must inevitably Now is the accepted time: now only is the day be crushed, and bidden from the face of the living of salvation.' wurid, and from the face of God in mercy for ever. Extend thy thoughts, () sinner, to that state where the Lord hath forgotten to be gracious,
FOURTH DAY.—EVENING. and mercy no longer rejoices against judgment. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is Think what it must be to “dwell with the devour- The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is ing fire,' what they are enduring who dwell
mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with everlasting burnings.'
with joy; he will rest in his loce; he will joy
Could we draw aside the veil that covers futurity, with what
over thee with singing,' Zeph. iii. 17. overwhelming force would the truth be presented The Being here so beautifully and affectingly to the mind, and press closely on every feeling of described is the Messiah, the Branch, the Lord
our righteousness, and as is very usual in pro- tains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but phetic language, he is spoken of as if he were my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither already come, and actually engaged in his glorious shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith and gracious undertaking. His supreme divinity the Lord, that hath mercy on thee? Since thou is recognised in the title given to him. He is the wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourLord thy God,' the Father's equal, “who was from able, and I have loved thee.” “Who is this that everlasting by him as one brought up with him, cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from and daily his delight, rejoicing always before Bozrah ?" The brightness of the Father's glory; him. He is therefore ‘mighty to save them the Head of all principality and power; the who are at ease in Zion, hypocrites, and the Angel Jehovah, who conversed with man in chief of sinners.' How striking and attractive is paradise, when man was holy and happy; the prothe picture here presented to the mental eye, and mised seed of the woman in the hour of sorrow; conveying its spiritual charms to the renewed the messenger from heaven to the patriarchs who heart! Every expression shows not merely the “rejoiced to see the day of his incarnation afar intensity of the Redeemer's love, but also the off,' the Redeemer who liveth, and is to stand pleasure which he felt in its manifestation. He at the latter day upon the earth;' the King had from eternity'set' his people “as a seal upon who is set on his holy hill of Zion, and declares his heart, as a seal upon his arm;' and his desire the decree, The Father hath said unto Thou to save them was as unchangeable as the nature art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask and attributes of himself, “the same yesterday, of me, and I will give the heathen for thine to-day, and for ever.' He foresaw their fall and inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth its consequences. But he had predestinated for thy possession ;' the Lord,' in short, “whom them unto the adoption of children.' His love his people had long sought, the desire of all to them, then, was an everlasting love, and,' nations, who was to come suddenly to his temple, therefore, with loving-kindness did he' determine in whom they who waited for consolation in to draw them' unto himself, that they might Israel delighted, and of whose fulness the chilbe one with him, even as he and the Father are dren of his adoption, sanctified through the truth, one.' But with what a price must their ransom his own by purchase, in every age of his church be paid? The Son of God must “appear in the were to receive, and grace for grace.' Can there likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemn sin be love like this, any where else? Can there be in the flesh. “He came to his own, but his own one more able and willing to redeem all the received him not.' Still he knew whom he had pledges of his love?-love that was felt for us chosen, and his thoughts were still thoughts of when we were altogether unlovely, and meriting love. Many waters could not quench it, neither any thing but love?-love that was awakened in could the floods drown it. Grace, sovereign, the breast of him who was in the beginning with free, all-subduing grace, when the hour of the God, and who is God,' for creatures degraded, sinner’s redemption has arrived, must lay the foun- lost, and ruined; and the influence of this love so dation; grace must raise the building; grace must mighty, all-conquering, and overpowering, that strengthen the bulwarks, and grace must crown to express, satisfy, and gratify it, the Creator of the battlements, for they are the Lord's. Such, all things visible, and invisible,' became a man, and () my soul, is thy Redeemer's love, eternal, im- as a man submitted to and endured every trial by mutable, and innextinguishable. And who is which the world could testify its hatred of godlithis that cometh up from the wilderness, whither ness, and its firm determination to die the death, he had descended in the fulness of time, that he rather than turn from its ungodliness and live. And might ‘turn the dry land into water springs, to if we have formed any thing like an adequate idea give drink to his people, his chosen ; that the soli- of this love which, in its whole extent, is “untary place might be glad for them, and the desert searchable and past finding out,' is it possible to rejoice and blossom as the rose; that the glory conceive of any fact recorded, in the history of of Lebanon might be given unto it, the excellency heaven or of earth, so admirably calculated to of Carmel and Sharon;' that they, his eternally constrain us to believe that “the Lord our God in loved and elected ones, might see the glory of the midst of us is mighty ; that he has saved us, the Lord' in their immovably fixed redemption, that he rejoices over us with joy; that he rests * and the excellency of our God,' satisfied with in this love, that he joys over us with singing. the meritorious sufferings of the Heir of all Love is as powerful as ever in the heart of things,' and therefore repeating and confirming the glorified Saviour in his heavenly kingdom, the declaration of his purpose, that the moun- ! *thrones and doniniors be subject unto him,' and