Page images
PDF
EPUB

us, who can be against us? Ah yes,—mighting the world unto himself, not imputing unto some doubting disciple reply, 'if God be for us?' men their trespasses. But is he' for us,' of a truth? is he on the side of 2. “How, then, shall he not with him freely. one so poor, feeble, worthless as I? will he in the give us all things. As if the apostle had said, face of all the manifold provocations wherewith The conclusion is inevitable; having given us the I have grieved his Spirit, continue to vouchsafe greater gift, how can it be imagined he will that grace and strength of which I am every hour, refuse us the less? Having bestowed upon us that every moment, in need, and without which I must which was inconceivably infinitely the most dear inevitably perish? The answer is ready, and it and precious, how is it possible he should deny is as complete as it is gracious. He that spared us whatever else may be needful for our final not his own Son, but delivered him up to the death salvation?' for us all, how shall he not, with him, freely give · With him.' Whatever good gift the believer us all things.'

receives must come to him, not only through The argument consists in a pointed reference Christ as the channel of all grace and mercy,— to what God has already done,-as involving in but with Christ. In other words, until we it of necessity the assurance that he will with receive Christ himself, we can receive no blessing hold no good thing' from his people,—that he from God. Till then we are and must be withwill supply all their need out of his riches in glory out God and without hope in the world. Acby Christ Jesus.

cordingly, it is himself Christ offers to all to whom 1. “He spared not his own Son. When the the message of the gospel comes. • Behold I redemption of a lost world was to be achieved, stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my when the souls of fallen men were to be rescued voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, from sin, and death, and hell, he counted no and will sup with him, and he with me,' Rev. iii. sacrifice too great for such an end. To secure it 20. “I am the living bread which came down a price of infinite value must be paid,—his own from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he Son must be the ransom,—and even at such a cost, shall live for ever. And the bread that I will his purpose of mercy was fulfilled. “He spared give is my flesh which I will give for the life of him not.' Though he had been in the bosom of the world. Without Christ, we are wretched, the Father from all eternity,—as one brought up and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. with him, and who was daily his delight rejoic- But with him,' God will. freely give us all ing always before him, He freely surrendered things.' He exacts nothing as an equivalent for him that he might become the suffering substi- the inestimable blessings of pardon, and peace, tute of perishing sinners. Yea, he allowed not and purity, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Christ “the cup to pass from him, even when it was full has purchased them for his people with his own of the wrath of the Almighty. Not one act of blood, and therefore with him’ they are all humiliation, not one tear of sorrow, not one groan freely bestowed. He is the “heir of all things,' of agony was diminished from the full weight and and all his people, even the very humblest and measure of what was due to the offended justice meanest of their number, are ' heirs of God and of God. “He delivered him up to the death.' | joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Therefore let no Not until the career which began in the manger man glory in men, forall things are yours; whether at Bethlehem, had been carried forward to the Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, cross of Calvary, and consummated in the anguish or death, or things present, or things to come; of that awful hour which drew from him the all are yours. And ye are Christ's; and Christ mysterious cry, "My God, my God, why hast is God's,' 1 Cor. iii. 21–23. thou forsaken me?' Not till then was he permitted How marvellous is the love of God !-truly to say, “It is finished.

it passeth knowledge. To meditate upon it is And for whom was this sacrifice made? On both most pleasing, and most profitable to the whose account was it that God thus delivered up believer's soul. This love is the prime motive, his own Son? It was for us all.' Even for the the grand constraining principle which the gospel very chief of sinners. Whosoever believeth in employs, to subdue the enmity and to soften the him shall not perish, but shall have everlasting impenitence of man's hard and stony heart; to life. “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, dislodge the fears and to engage the confidence of barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free. His righte- his unbelieving mind. And just in proportion as ousness is unto all and upon all them that believe. we are enabled to comprehend with all saints No one that cometh to God by him will he in what is the length, and breadth, and depth, and any wise cast out. For in Christ he is reconcil-) height of the love of God to us,—will that love to God which is the fulfilling of his law be shed /ning. Events may fall out altogether contrary abroad in our hearts. While we remain ignorant to our anticipations, breaking up our best laid or distrustful of the love of God, conscious guilt schemes, and disappointing our fondest hopes will fill our minds with fear,—that fear which our most deeply cherished desires. And were hath torment. But there is no fear in love; per- we left to sustain a shock so unexpected and fect love casteth out fear. And it is only those severe in our own strength,—were we abandoned who are rooted and grounded in love,' that are in circumstances so unlooked for and so agitating, • filled with the fulness of God.' Now unto him entirely to our own resources, how little hope that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all would there be of a way of escape? But the that we ask or think, according to the power that | Lord seeth under the whole heaven. The most worketh in us. Unto him be glory in the church sudden of those turns of fortune, of those cross inciby Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world with- dents which so confound the wisdom of man, and out end. Amen,' Eph. iii. 20, 21.

so baffle all his powers of calculation, surprise not him whose understanding is infinite. The 'end and measure of our days, and the whole

course and complexion they are destined to take, SECOND DAY.-EVENING.

were present from all eternity to that Omniscience “And as thy days, so shall thy strength be," Deut. of a leaf, and the dissolution of a world.

which foresees, with equal certainty, the falling xxxiii. 25.

2. But the promise implies, not only that he who OFTENTIMES when the Christian turns his eye hath given us this promise, knows with infallible forward upon the future, and attempts to pene- certainty what shall befal us; it implies further, trate the thick shadows that rest upon it, his that nothing shall or can befal us without his mind is oppressed with anxieties and fears. will. Our days' shall be such, as in his own Already he has had painful and humbling experi- infinite wisdom, goodness, and faithfulness, He ence of his utter insufficiency for any good thing; hath himself appointed them to be. He numof his proneness to err, his readiness to give way bereth even the hairs of our head, and without to temptation, his tendency to grow weary in our Father not a sparrow falleth to the ground. well-doing, his constant danger of becoming a "The Lord reigneth,' said the psalmist, “let the prey to the devil, the flesh, or the world. The earth rejoice,' Psal. xcvii. 1. And what a cause knowledge of these infirmities, and the recollec- of rejoicing is it to be assured, that all things are tion of the many sins and short-comings into under the constant, irresistible control of him, which they have already betrayed him, fill him who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in not unfrequently with much disquietude, and working! His way, it is true, appears on many make him to tremble for the safety of his soul. occasions, to our view, to be in the sea, and bis And truly, had he nothing better than his own path on the great waters, so that his footsteps might and prudence with which to meet the dan- are not known,' Psal. lxxvii. 19. The designs gers that beset his path, well might he be alarmed. of his holy providence may be, by us, inscrutable; But the real secret, both of his peril and his per- clouds and darkness may seem to be round about plexity, is his forgetfulness of the presence and his pavilion; but that the dispensation, whatever power of him whose grace is sufficient for the it be, has emanated from the counsels of eternity, severest trials of his people, and whose strength —this is enough to inspire the child of God with is perfected in their weakness. And accordingly, unwavering confidence in its absolute rectitude; it is by leading back the believer's thoughts to for shall not the Judge of all the earth do right! the only source of security, that God graciously are not justice and judgment the habitation of seeks to dispel his terrors, and to re-assure and his throne? It is a realizing conviction of this comfort his fainting heart. You know not, it is truth, that he and all his concerns are in the true, what lies before you. You cannot tell what hands of God, which enables the believer both even a day or an hour may bring forth. But let "to hope, and quietly to wait for the salvation of this one word from a faithful covenant-keeping God,' Lam. iii. 26. It is this which strengthens God, be your ground of confidence—as thy him to say, even under the sorest adversity, “Thy days, so shall thy strength be.'

will be done.' 1.This promise reminds us, that though the future 3. But once more still, while the promise of be hidden, and that in great wisdom and mercy, the text implies, that the Lord knows of what from us,—it is all naked and open in the eyes of nature our days shall be, and that all the 'orderthe Lord. He knoweth the end from the begin- I ing of our lot' is from himself; it at the same

escape, that

time expressly assures the Christian, that grace

THIRD DAY.-MORNING. will be given in proportion to the exigency of his

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord case. As thy days, so shall thy strength be.' What encouragement, what unspeakable consola

will give grace and glory: no good thing will tion is this promise fitted to convey? How closely

he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth does it connect the believer with his Lord? How

in thee,' Psal. lxxxiv. 11, 12. strongly does it assure him of the watchfulness, the sympathy, the care of his gracious Redeemer? The word 'for' which begins this passage of *The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out scripture, shows that here we have the grounds of of temptation,' 2 Pet. ii. 9. "The trial of their some previous statement,—the reasons which had faith is to him much more precious than of gold chiefly moved the psalmist to utter those expresthat perisheth, though it be tried with fire,' 1 sions which the preceding context contains. At Pet. i. 7. "God is faithful, who will not suffer the period when this song of Zion was composed, you to be tempted above that ye are able; but David was an exile from his city and bis throne. will with the temptation also make a way to And nothing speaks more strongly of the depth

ye may be able to bear it,' 1 Cor. x. 13. and fervour of his piety, than the fact that of all the If it be the duties of our place and station that losses he had sustained in that season of sore adverfill us with solicitude,—if their number seems to sity, none pressed so heavily upon his heart as the surpass the resources of our strength and time, loss of the public ordinances of the house of God. if their difficulty defies our wisdom,—if the His soul longed, yea, even fainted for the courts responsibility they involve presses heavily on our of the Lord,' ver. 2. One day in the courts of conscience,—let us cast our burden on the Lord the sanctuary, was to him better than a thouand he will sustain it. • Ask and ye shall receive, sand. The meanest attendant in the temple, occuseek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be pied, in his estimation, a place of honour. And opened unto you,' Luke xi. 9.

in his own state of separation from the tabernacle If it be trials, in our person, our families, our of the Most High, he envied the very birds that fortunes, we are called to endure; we have not had found nests for themselves beneath the altars only an example of patient suffering set for us by of God. And why this delight in the place where him who “endured the cross, despising the shame,' God had put his name, and in the services which and to whom therefore we do well to look, 'lest bring the creature into close communion with the we should be weary, and faint in our minds ;' but great Creator? For the Lord God is a sun and we have an explicit assurance, that he will not shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no leave us comfortless, that he will come to us. In good thing will he withhold from them that walk all his people's afflictions he is himself afflicted. uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man He will be a very present help in time of trouble,' that trusteth in thee.' Psal. xlvi. 1.

our considIf it be temptations to sin to which we are eration. I. What God is. He is a sun and exposed,—if the cares of this life, and the deceit- shield.' II. What he does for his people. He fulness of riches, and the lusts of other things,' gives grace and glory, and withholds no good be threatening to enter in, and to entice us away thing from them that walk uprightly.' III. The from God; he who hath himself suffered being confidence which, for these reasons, ought to be tempted, will not fail to succour his people when reposed in him. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the they are tempted. He will teach those who man that trusteth in thee.' make him their refuge to say with Paul: “I know I. "God is a sun and shield. Both compariboth how to be abased, and I know how to sons are strikingly appropriate. To the natural abound; everywhere, and in all things, I am world the sun is the grand source of light and life. instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both And God in Christ is the light and the life of to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things men. This accordingly is the testimony of the through Christ Jesus which strengtheneth me,' Lord Jesus, when he was manifested in the flesh.

Three things in this passage

invite

'I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. Moreover, it is this very light which gives life to the soul. For every regenerate soul is born ‘not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.' As the natural sun vivifies and enlightens

l'hil. iv. 12, 13.

the earth, so the Lord, who is the Sun of righte- complete and wonderful. 'It doth not yet appear ousness,' sends out his living light and health into what we shall be; but we know that when he men's dark and perishing souls.

shall appear we shall be like him, because we * But the Lord is also a shield. Though in shall see him as he is,' 1 John iii. 2. the moment of his conversion, the sinner is truly But if we would hope to enjoy this grace in brought from darkness into light-he is not in time, and this glory in eternity,—we must 'walk the same instant removed from all danger. He in the light, as he is in the light,' and have no is now in the “right way, the way to a “city of fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. habitation. But his course is through an III. What confidence should these consideraenemy's country; and at every step of his pro- tions prompt us to repose in God! (0 Lori gress his path is beset by the foe. The devil, as of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee. a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may "They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount devour. The world lieth in wickedness. His Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for own heart is deceitful above all things and des- ever. As the mountains are round about Jeruperately wicked. But the Lord God is a “shield.' salem, so the Lord is round about his people, from

Behold,' therefore joyfully exclaims the believer, henceforth, even for ever,' Psal. cxxv. 1, 2. ‘God is my salvation: I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation,' Isa. xii. 2. II. What God does for his people. He gives

THIRD DAY.-EVENING. them grace and glory, and he withholds no good For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor thing from them that walk uprightly.' He gives them grace. This is their provision by the way.

life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, It is a provision abundantly adequate to their

nor things present, nor things to come, nor necessities, however urgent and oppressive these

height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall may be. “My grace is sufficient for thee; for

be able to separate us from the love of God, my strength is made perfect in weakness,' 2 Cor.

which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,' Rom. viii. xii. 9. It is a provision which is never exhausted.

38, 39. He giveth more grace,' Jam. iv. 6. It is a pro- In the immediately preceding verses Paul had vision dealt out with unerring exactness, as he been expressing, in a strain of holy confidence and knoweth that their several cases require. For joy, the strong and blissful conviction which the

unto every one of us is given grace, according to gospel had given him, of the present security and the measure of the gift of Christ.' It is a pro- final triumph of all the people of God. In themvision infinitely rich and various. For to one selves, it is true, they are unprofitable servants, is given by the Spirit, the word of wisdom; to less than the least of all his mercies. “But who another the word of knowledge by the same shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?" Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit,' 1 Cor. Tried, indeed, by their own merits they have all xii. 8, 9. “My God,' says the apostle Paul, sinned and come short of his glory. But it is

shall supply all your need, according to his riches God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? in glory by Christ Jesus,' Phil. iv. 19.

In the world, it is not to be denied, they have He gives them 'glory.' This is their final and much tribulation; for many of them in those times eternal reward; when they shall have fought the of trial and persecution had been, so to speak, good fight and finished their course, they shall killed all the day long,-accounted as sheep for

receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away,' the slaughter.' But could the enmity of ungodly 1 Pet. v. 4. "The glory,' said Jesus unto his men separate them from the love of Christ,Father, 'which thou gavest me, I have given them; from the love of that Saviour who laid down for that they may be one, even as we are one; I in their sakes his life upon the bloody and ignomithem, and thou in me, that they may be made nious cross,—and who was now within the vail perfect in one,' John xvii. 22, 23. This partici- at God's right hand, with an all-prevailing voice pation in the glory of Christ shall extend both to making continual intercession for them? No! the bodies and the souls of his people. The let the violence of the ungodly do its worst,—let body, which is sown in corruption, shall be raised all the evils which malice or misfortune could in incorruption; sown a natural body, it shall be accumulate, be heaped in succession upon their raised a spiritual body: sown in dishonour, it shall heads,—let tribulation terrify, let distress grieve, be raised in glory, 1 Cor. xv. The soul, on the let persecution wound, let famine waste, let other hand, shall undergo a transformation equally nakedness expose, let peril endanger, let the sword

[ocr errors]

destroy, 'in all these things,' exultingly exclaims that which shall be. The round of time's agenthe apostle, “we are more than conquerors through cies, and circumstances, continues to revolve. Christ that loved us.'

Now they are the past,—now the present,-—now 1. Neither death nor life' can separate the the future. But however various they be, tho believer from the love of God. Life has indeed people of God have ever withstood them all. many snares to entangle the followers of Christ, Time may shake and remove things temporal; and withdraw them from their allegiance;—its but the love of God to his people is one of those vanities, its pleasures, its cares; and Satan well things eternal, which cannot be shaken, and which knows how to use them, so as to seduce, if it shall remain. And space is as powerless in this were possible, even the elect. But an unseen attempt as time. Neither height nor depth ;' power—the power of Omnipotence, is around nothing above, though the universe be searched them,--a power which says to every adversary, to the highest summit of heaven; nothing beneath, "hitherto shalt thou come and no farther.' They though hell be challenged to its lowest abyss ;dwell under the shadow of the Almighty. Death nothing throughout all immensity can be discovis the king of terrors. He can dissolve all earthly ered of efficacy to check, even for one passing ties,—he can tear asunder the most endearing of moment, the full and flowing tide of God's unfahuman relationships,—he can wrench from our thomable love. grasp the most loved of our worldly treasures. 4. ·Nor any other creature,' can separate us But he cannot separate us from the love of God. from the love of God. The apostle has now, as He can crumble into dust the earthly house of it were, reached the limit of all imaginable things, our tabernacle ;—but only that we may exchange by which the soul might be threatened with it for a building of God, 'an house not made with separation from the love of God. He has sent hands, eternal in the heavens.' He can close our his soaring mind, guided and elevated by the eyes to all which they here behold, and our ears Spirit of God, abroad over earth, and hell, and to all they now hear; but only that we may open heaven ; with the calm eye of faith, touched into them on sights and sounds, such “as eye hath not penetrating clearness by an unction from the Holy seen, nor ear heard;' such as it hath not entered One, he has ranged over the whole visible into the mind of man to conceive.

and invisible world; all nature, animate, and 2. Neither 'angels, nor principalities, nor powers,' inanimate, has passed in review before him; and can separate us from the love of God. The world from this far reaching survey, he has gathered of spirits has no inhabitant of might sufficient to back one united testimony to the glorious truth, make a breach in that covenant, which shelters that creation has not within it any power to the believer; that covenant well ordered in all things divide the believer from that love of God, which and sure; within which he reposes upon the love of is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. a reconciled God. The principalities and powers, -the thrones and dominions,—whether those that sway the sceptres of this world, or that hold their dark confederacy at the gates of hell ;' are

FOURTH DAY:-MORNING. impotent, however vehemently they may strive

Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted to shake what stands established upon the love

repentance unto life,' Acts xi. 18. of God. Why do the heathen

rage,
and the

people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the These words indicate the arrival of a period earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel which had long before been expressly foretold. together against the Lord, and against his anointed; The sacred volume is introduced by an account saying, Let us break his bands, and cast his cords of the great work of creation, and of the covefrom us.

He that sitteth in the heavens shall nant by which, under God, man was set over laugh, the Lord shall have them in derision. ... But scarcely is this covenant announced, Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, thou together with the blessings by which the keeping shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. of it was to be attended, when we arrive at the ... Blessed are all they that put their trust in detail of its impious violation, and of the consehim,' Psal. i. 1–4, 9, 10.

quent influx of that tide of sin and misery which 3. Neither things present, nor things to come, from that fatal hour has continued to overflow neither height, nor depth,' can separate us from and defile this whole world in all its succeeding the love of God. T'ime has nothing in all its generations. It is, however, precisely at this ample store of resources, that can undo the pur- early stage in the inspired history we meet with poses of eternity. The thing which hath been, is the first faint and obscure intimations of what it

it.

« PreviousContinue »