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every day—to search into its meaning—to pon- How then ought we to hear the instruction der what it breathes. But you regularly attend which Wisdom hath revealed and teaches in the to the nourishment of the body; is it absolutely word? Let the Messiah himself answer; -watchimpossible for you to do so with regard to the ing daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of soul? Nay, the busier that you are with worldly my doors.' The gates of the Messiah, and the occupations, you need so much the more fre- posts of his doors, are any means which he has quently to apply to the word of God. For the appointed for obtaining a knowledge of his will; more business you have to do, the more need you but chiefly they are the places of public worship, have of guidance and direction; and the more you and the ordinances in which men unite to praise are occupied with worldly labours and pursuits, the the Lord, and receive instructions from his word. more you need to come in contact with the scrip- And how is attendance to be given there? tures, to prevent you from becoming altogether - Blessed is the man that heareth me,' saith Jesus worldly minded, and utterly forgetting your im- Christ, ' watching daily at my gates, waiting at mortal interests. But then the time,—where is the posts of my doors.' Can the systematic halfthe time to be found by the labouring man, or by day hearer lay any claim to the blessedness of him who is exceedingly occupied with an extensive which the Messiah here speaks? It is quite business? Find thou the will, my friend, and I enough, he says, to go to church once a-day. shall have little difficulty in finding thee the time. He goes because he thinks it decent to go. He If you are to have time for any thing, you should goes not to be made wiser or better, to enter into have time for taking counsel of God in his word. communion with God, to delight himself in Jesus
Say not that the scriptures are full of mys- and his salvation. Is there anything like watching teries, and that you cannot understand them. To at WISDOM's gates in such an attendance on ordinalmost all those who allege this as an excuse for ances ?-anything like waiting at the posts of neglecting it, the bible is a mystery just because Wisdom's doors? Verily of waiting and watchthey do not search it. There are indeed in it ing there is none. And consequently of the mysteries which none of the people of God have blessedness which Wisdom mentions, there can be ever fathomed, and the opening up of which is none. perhaps intended to minister to the enjoyments But a man may go a step farther in hearing, of the saints along the ages of eternity. But and yet come short of the blessing which Messiah much that you deem mysterious would become connects with hearing. All the sabbath instrucclear as noon-day, and beautiful as the truth of tions may be attended, and still in that attendGod, if you were daily, and diligently, and hum- ance there may be neither watching nor waiting. bly to search the scriptures.
The sabbath comes weekly round, and as a matter of course men dress themselves in their sabbath attire, and go forth and occupy, with due regu
larity, their accustomed pew in the house of God. FOURTEENTH DAY.-EVENING.
But with that they rest satisfied. Some popular * Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching day. But as for going to receive instruction, or to
preacher may sometimes draw them out on a week daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my worship God in Spirit and in truth, on a week day, doors,' Prov. viii. 34.
that is a thing for which they have no inclination, The Wisdom who speaks throughout this chap- and which they deem altogether unnecessary. So ter, and in various other parts of the book of they think. Can they claim the Messiah's blessing? Proverbs, has generally, and beyond question ---the blessing of those who hear him, watching rightly been understood to be the Messiah. daily at his gates, waiting at the posts of his WISDOM is one of the Messiah's names. And doors? Let themselves give the answer. Watchthere is plainly good reason for that name being ing daily and waiting imply earnest desire and given to him. For the scriptures tell us that diligent endeavour. Where there is earnest • in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom;' he desire, it will not be pent up within the limits of reveals to us the character and the will of God, one day. It will often be going forth in search and thus makes us wise unto salvation; and he is of its object, and be watchful to discover and expressly called “the Wisdom of God.' It is embrace every opportunity of obtaining its gratiJesus Christ who speaks to us in all the scrip- fication. And whilst the Lord's day is chiefly tures, whatever the instrument be which is more honoured by the believer, he will seek, as he has immediately employed, whether it be priest, or opportunity, his daily spiritual bread; he will prophet, or evangelist, or apostle.
certainly prefer an hour in the Lord's house, before one spent in worldly vanity; and he will | Messiah speaks not of me when he says, ' Blessed strive to redeem from his business a small por- is the man that heareth me, watching daily at tion of time for his soul's refreshment. When my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.' you look at the thin attendance at most of our week-day sermons, and see the multitudes of idle saunterers who meanwhile throng our streets, and the similar multitudes who, though occupied
FIFTEENTH DAY.-MORNING. with business, might ofttimes redeem an hour
Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abrafor their souls good, think ye that Messiah
ham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to speaketh of any of them when he says, ' Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my
you is the word of this salvation sent,' Acts xiii.
26. gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.'
But then, there are numbers who think that THESE words of Paul, addressed, through the their acquaintance with bible truth is great, and Spirit, to the people of Antioch, embrace also us, that there remains little farther for them to learn. and persons of every age and country. AbraWhen the things that Messiah, in the word, ham's spiritual seed, and whosoever feareth God, teaches, are stated to them fully and plainly, they —to them is the word of this salvation sent. reply that they know all that. But hast thou The salvation spoken of is that of which Paul had peace of conscience ? Is thy soul at rest? Hast been discoursing, and of which Jesus Christ is the thou found a satisfying portion ? If not, then author. It includes all the benefits which flow there is something in the scriptures which thou from Christ's death—all the blessings which by hast not yet learned. There is a knowledge to him, and through him, are bestowed on the chilbe drawn from them to which thou hast not yet dren of men—all the precious and glorious things attained. There is an acquaintance with the promised in the scriptures. The way to get bible to which thou art yet a stranger.
clear, powerful, practical, comforting views of this How much carelessness and indifference is there great salvation, is to take up its promises, its in the ordinary hearers of the word, through an declarations, and its blessings separately; and opinion that there is little more for them to learn to remember that God writes beneath each proin regard to divine truth! And yet such an mise or declaration this text, “To you is the opinion is utterly groundless. Who of the most word of this salvation sent. Let us select a learned has exhausted human knowledge, or any few of the glorious truths of the gospel, and branch of it. Strange folly, then, to think of add to them the faithful declaration of God, having learned all divine truth! In the bible kindly encouraging us to appropriate an interest there is food for babes, and strong meat for strong in them to ourselves. men. There are truths which those who have Jesus Christ saith, “ye have not chosen me, only just been born of the Spirit can easily com- but I have chosen you.' And it is written, ‘God prehend, and there are things into which the hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.' angels desire to look. Diligent waiting on ordi- "He hath chosen you in Christ, before the founnances, careful study, prayerful meditation, and dation of the world. Are not these glad tidings honest obedience, lead to continued progress in to such as see in themselves no merit before God? divine knowledge, grateful to the understanding, God hath saved us, and called us with a holy and exercising a sanctifying influence on the calling, not according to our works, but accordaffections and the life. Hence the blessedness of ing to his own purpose and grace, which was which the Messiah speaks, and which consists in given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began.' the life, the light, the vigour, the holiness, the Now, whosoever among you feareth God, to you happiness of the soul.
is the word of this salvation sent. What is my character ? Am I a half-day Our sins are more numerous than the hairs of hearer, and think that I do very well indeed in our head, they are various, and in some instances being so. Or am I one who confines my waiting they are very aggravated. To give real peace, on religious instruction to the sabbath day, and pardon must extend to all our sins: it must be has no relish or desire for spiritual refreshment full and complete, applying to every thing which at other times? Or do I think that I already we have done, and reaching to every place in know enough, or all that is to be known of these which we can be found. It must be free, for we matters, and am therefore indolent or indifferent have nothing to merit it. It must be irreversible, about farther knowledge? If such be my char- else we will always be in the dread that it may acter, then let me understand and reflect that the be recalled, and the awful punishment of our sins
at last overtake us. Now, such a pardon as this, The Christian may go over each and all of the God bestows on sinners, through faith in his blessings of the gospel in the same way—the Son Jesus Christ. How delightful to think of adoption of sons, the resurrection from the dead, it! How inspiriting to go forth, lightened of the the happiness and glory of heaven, with all the load of divine wrath-to pass on one's way promises given in the scriptures, and respecting through the things of this world, and at last each one of them God says to him, “to you is the enter into the world of spirits, possessed of the word of this salvation sent.' well-grounded belief that, at no period, and in no And what is the conclusion to be drawn from place, shall
any of our sins find us out—that go all this? Is it not that the gospel salvation is to where we may, through the universe of God, or be estimated by what God has revealed of it in enter how far soever into the depths of eternity, the scriptures, and not by what we have embraced immunity from suffering on account of the sins of it? It is too commonly the case with believers that we have committed shall attach to us still ? that they count on what they have in hand, and Yet such is actually the precious, the glorious not on what they have in the promise and in the pardon purchased for us by the death of Christ. word. When the believer accepts of Christ, It extends to all sins, of all kinds, for ever. For can he stumble at any blessing of salvation on thus saith the Lord, “The blood of Jesus Christ, account of its greatness, or of his own unworthithe Son of God, cleanseth from all sin. 'I will ness? When Christ is given to the believer, be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their what good thing will God withhold? He who sins and their iniquities will I remember no spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for more! Whatsoever reader of this feareth God, us all, how shall he not with him also freely give to him is the word of this salvation sent. us all things?' The whole of the gospel salvation
The Holy Spirit takes away the hard and is offered to the saints. Judge not, then, O stony heart, which the most affecting manifesta- friend, of God and the gospel salvation by what tions of redeeming love could not touch or move, thou sensibly feelest, but by what is revealed and he gives a heart of flesh, which feels every and recorded in the bible. The salvation that is word of God, and receives an impression from it. by Jesus Christ is not the narrow stinted thing He cleanses the fountain whence the affections that thy unbelieving heart would contract it arise, and then they flow forth pure and spiritual. into. It is the broad, free, glorious thing that He enters into the most secret chambers of the the declarations and promises of scripture set it soul, and detects and mortifies the corruption which forth to be. Exercise, then, a vigorous and comattempts to hide itself there. He presents to prehensive faith. Take the word of God in its the mind clear and delightful views of the divine divine simplicity, and as it presents to thee character as revealed in the scriptures, and another and another feature of the grand scheme awakens into lively exercise the sweet sentiments of thy redemption, remember that God hath of love and gratitude. This great work of the said, “to thee is the word of this salvation sent.” Spirit, in creating man anew, and renewing him in the spirit of his mind, appears to the Christian to be exceedingly marvellous. He can scarcely believe that God will condescend to dwell in such
FIFTEENTH DAY.—EVENING. a polluted abode as the soul of man—that he will condescend to take so much notice of a
* Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and polluted worm—that he will indeed give his
your soul shall live,' Isa. lv. 3. Spirit, his own Spirit, to dwell in the sinner, and Taus saith the Lord, “Incline your ear, and to work in him a new spirit and a new nature. come unto me.' God speaks; let us attend. He Nevertheless, it is found so written in the word does not say, depart, ye accursed :' not yet. of God. Read, believe, wonder, and adore. 'A But he says, "come unto me. And wherefore new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I are we to come? Is it to be informed that there put within you: and I will take away the stony is no hope, no place for repentance, no pardon for heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an us, no love for us even in the breast of Infinite heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within Love? Is it to hear God telling us of the future you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and miseries appointed for us? Were it for such a ye shall keep my judgments and do them.' This purpose that we are called to come to God, well is the precious, the glorious truth. Our God might we be unwilling to obey the summons. saith to those who fear him, "to you is the word When Adam and Eve had committed their first of this salvation sent.'
sin, soon as they heard the voice of the Lord God
walking in the garden, they hid themselves. And hear, and thy soul shall live. Those who come when the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, God will in no wise cast out. He unto him, Where art thou? a consciousness of his does not speak to them as their offences deserve. transgression doubtless made Adam tremble, and He instructs them in the way of life and peace. linger among the trees of the garden.
One comes under an almost overwhelming sense But it is not as an offended being that God of sin: to him the Lord says, Hear my word, and here addresses us. It is not as a king speaking to let thy soul live; “though thy sins be as scarlet, rebels against his authority. It is not from a they shall be white as snow; though they be red judgment-seat that the voice comes. It is from like crimson, they shall be as wool.' Another God sitting on a throne of mercy. It is from our comes in almost despairing weakness, and to him Father in heaven, the God and Father of our the Lord says, Hear thou my word, ‘my grace Lord Jesus Christ, and in him our covenant God, is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made and gracious Father, who has just been saying, perfect in weakness.' Another comes fainting, • Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the and sorely tempted to murmur by reason of waters; and he that hath no money, come ye buy severe trials and afflictions; and to him the Lord and eat: yea come, buy wine and milk without says, Hear my word; "there hath no temptation money and without price. Therefore let us draw taken you but such as is common to man; but near to him, not as crouching slaves, not as tremb- God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be ling criminals, against our will ; but with all holy tempted above that ye are able.' Cast thy reverence and confidence, as children to a father. burden on the Lord, and he will sustain it.' The character of God as revealed by Jesus Christ, O when there is the hearing ear, there is life inspires confidence. The Lord, the Lord God, to the soul in the word of the Lord. That word merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abun- is quick and powerful. It is full of love to every dant in goodness and truth?—when he says, “come one who having come to the Lord, opens his ear unto me,' why should we be afraid or unwilling to receive it. It gives liberty, it enlightens, it to go?
enlivens, it comforts, it guides, it sanctifies. The But how are we to come to God? What is Lord
says us, 'Hear, and
soul shall live.' it to come to him? When we have come to a Faithful is that promise. No one ever heard as person we are near him, we have some knowledge the Lord here invites us to hear, and failed of life. of him, and more or less intercourse with him. But have I inclined my ear to the gracious To come to God means that we have a true invitations of God calling me to come to him? knowledge of him, which is to be obtained only Have I rightly heard what he saith to the from the bible; that our minds realize his exist- children of men? Have I seriously considered ence and presence; that we believe what he reveals the duty which the invitation imposes on me, or to us regarding himself; and that we have such have I rejoiced in the promise which is joined to intercourse with him as it becomes creatures to that invitation? Life, how sweet! Eternal life, have with their Creator, and as it becomes sinners how desirable, amazing, glorious? If I come not to have with their Saviour. Naturally our soul to God, if I receive not, believe not, obey not his is alienated from God-far off by wicked works. word, that life never can be mine. Eternal death, It has him not in its thoughts. It gives him and all the misery included in these awful words, none of its love. It has no intercourse with him. must be my portion. And let me remember But in obeying his invitation, and coming to God, that it is only over this earth, and to earth's inthe soul, in the exercise of its renewed powers, habitants, that this invitation goes forth, and this thinks about God, knows him, loves him, trusts promise is addressed. It reaches not to hell. in him, communes with him, listens to him.-0 Between those who have once gone to that place my soul, hast thou so come to God? He saith, of torment, and the blessed God, there can be no • Incline thine ear, and come.' Hath thine ear intercourse. Between them and life there is a great been open to that word ? and are all thy motions impassable gulph fixed. My soul, what art thon now toward the gracious and ever blessed God ? doing? Is there spiritual life in thee, spiritual Hast thou already, to thy great comfort, ap- affections, spiritual desires ? Art thou rendering proached him? and art thou drawing closer and to God spiritual homage, and spiritual services ? closer? thy knowledge, thy reliance, thy desires, Art thou receiving from him spiritual comfort? thine affections becoming more and more exercised O Holy Spirit, enable me to be deeply sensible of about God?
my God's condescension and kindness, when he For after God invites the sinner to come to says to me, “Incline thine ear, and come to me; him, he has something farther to say to him :hear, and thy soul shall live.'
its combination with the body, willing, directing, • Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest unable to ward off disease, or command the de
governing; yet in some things utterly powerless, well: the devils also believe, and tremble;' Jam.
parture of pain, or forbid its own separation from ii. 19.
the body at last! Did this soul of mine make THERE are various truths of religion necessary itself? No!
In the most decided manner it to be known and believed, in order to salvation, refuses to advance any such claim. It adopts the and yet many come short of salvation who know language of the poet, “I am; and since I am, conand believe them. Of these truths the existence clude something eternal;' and the still more full of a God is one. To be saved, it is absolutely and explicit language of scripture, “Know ye that necessary that a man believe that there is a the Lord, he is God; it is he that hath made us, God; but he may have that belief, and yet perish and not we ourselves.' eternally. Nay, rising above the belief in the Prophecy and miracles also testify that there existence of many gods, which sunk the nations is a Being who knows the future; who arranges in idolatry, and laid the foundation for so many all things, so that his word and events entirely gross immoralities, he may believe that there correspond; and who can interrupt and suspend is but one God, and still live and die under the ordinary established course of things. This the wrath of that God. These views will come Being must be God. more fully out in a meditation on this passage of Indeed the evidence for the existence of God the word, “Thou believest that there is one God; is complete. Wherefore, O my soul, thou believest thou doest well: the devils also believe and that there is one God. In believing this tremble.'
2. Thou doest well. For such a belief lies 1. “Thou believest that there is one God. We at the foundation of all religion. He who do not see God. No man hath seen God at any cometh unto God must believe that He is.' It is time. But that is no reason for not believing in his absurd to talk of coming unto God, unless we existence. The works of creation and providence believe in the existence of a God. It is the conduct the mind to the belief that there is, that first step towards saving faith to believe that there must be, a Worker of these works. The there is a God, for saving faith has a regard to watch which tells me the hour, must have had an God's testimony; and there can be no belief intelligent maker; no one, even for a moment, of the testimony of a Being of whom we know supposes that it made itself. But the world in nothing, or whose existence we deny. This which I live is a far more complicated machine belief is also a step towards true religion, because than my watch; and I am irresistibly led to believe, by it we acknowledge a Being above us who that the world, too, has had a Maker of Almighty challenges our worship, and has an undoubted power, of infinite wisdom and intelligence.—The title to our adoration. Ignorance of God, or a apple does not fall from the tree in consequence denial of his existence, thoroughly shuts a man of a deliberate determination to do so; the tree out from all religion. And, therefore, it is said, does not take counsel of itself how, and when, it Thou doest well, when thou believest that there shall grow, or with what fruit it shall be covered; is one God. But, nor the flowers how they shall unfold their beauty, 3. “The devils also believe, and tremble. By and send forth their fragrance. And yet these, and this I am taught, that a belief in the exissimilar things, are evidently directed by an intelli- tence of God is a principle common to true gence existing somewhere, with a precision, a Christians with those who are entirely destitute regularity, and a power which far surpass human. of religion. Many wicked men have it. The
I myself am fearfully and wonderfully made. very devils have it. There are no atheists in hell. My body, how numerous are the parts of it; The inhabitants of that awful place are convinced, how nicely fitted these parts are to one another; by experience, and without doubt, of the existhe most tender of them how carefully protected, tence of God, and they tremble under a dread of how wonderfully preserved! None of these things his displeasure, and of the punishment which come of myself. And I know not to what other their wickedness merits at his hand. conclusion I can arrive, than that a most powerful And hence none are entitled to think well of and wise Being contrived and fashioned my frame, themselves simply because they believe in God. caused and watched over its growth, and pre- Even where this belief is followed up by a reserves and guards it with a constant care. And gard to God, and a delight in sundry of his then my body's mysterious tenant, my soul! the attributes, it comes far short of saving faith. I living, thinking, intelligent, reasoning principle- may talk about the greatness and goodness of