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turning of our eyes in prayer. The graciousness their proper field, and full range, for the expanof every promise indeed has its most ample proof sion of their capabilities in the contemplation and manifestation in the threatening with which of eternity alone; and just inasmuch as they fall it is accompanied; and the yearnings of divine short of heaven on the one side, and hell on the love after the straying sheep of Israel, are other, or the uttermost that either the mercy or most visibly revealed in the fierceness of the the wrath of God can do to an immortal soul, are vengeance suspended over the neglect of divine they defrauded of their natural food, and curtailed mercy. We are thus taught to think that in of the aim for which they were contrived. Hence avoiding the mercy-seat of God while he is wait- are the scriptures chiefly made up of promises ing to be gracious, we are in reality defrauding and threatenings, that, merely grazing as it were his benignant Spirit of its banquet; shutting him the present world, in their course, have their aim out from the exercise of his favourite attribute, and fulfilment in the infinite beyond the grave. and putting a seal on a fountain of mercy, so It is a besetting sin of our nature, however, pleasant to himself in its flowing, that, to give it that we are slow in gathering fear from the darkunhindered issue, he gave his only-begotten Son est forms of futurity, or hope from its brightest to the death; and averting the vials of his wrath visions; and still more remarkable perhaps is that from our guilty race, poured their concentrated perverseness of disposition that hurries, at one torrent on the head of our innocent Redeemer. time, our trust in the mercy of God, and at another,
O may God then perfect upon us his own gra- the alarms of an awakened conscience, to a dancious gift, and through the mighty power of the gerous excess. It is the will of God that we Saviour's blood, save us from the scarlet sin of shall use all diligence in working out our salvastopping our ears to the invitations of his grace, tion with fear and trembling, rejoicing in the and despising the mercy in which he delights. lively hope to which we have been begotten Let us seek the Lord while he may be found, through the resurrection of Christ from the dead;' and call upon him while he is near. And let us and in the assurance that, all the while, it is the seek him now just with all the greater assurance Spirit of God who worketh in us to will and to of faith, because we know that his Spirit will do of his good pleasure. But just as, at one time, not always strive with man; and that the sun of the Father of lies lulls us into the belief that we his mercy is not far from its setting. We know can be saved without Christ, so do we allow him, that he is merciful now—that he is at this in our moments of fear, to persuade us that we moment waiting to be gracious; yea, that he is cannot be saved, even with him. For at no bowing his heavens and coming down to meet us moment of life is the arch-enemy of God and more than half-way, and stretching out his hand, mankind more busy with our ears, than just when and calling unto us to seek him while he may he sees us, for the first time, turning round to the be found, and call upon him while he is near.'| mercy of the Father manifested in the Son; and Why else are these words at this moment under with the very same hope that in the fulness of time our eye? How do they happen to form the kept him continually hovering about the Retheme of our present meditation? O this is just deemer's steps; will ten thousand spirits of darkthe way in which God speaks to us—the way of ness and evil, in a moment at once so critical and his word and his Spirit !
perilous, flap their bat-like wings between the trembling soul and the countenance of God, in the full assurance that if they suffer us but once to
behold the face of the Father, as it is seen in Christ, TENTH DAY.-EVENING.
we are for ever lost to Satan and to hell. And no · Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrigh- fills up his place, with a change of form and
sooner is one of them driven away, than another teous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon hovering right before his eye, in whatever direc
aspect suited to the sinner's changing case; and him; and to our God, for he will abundantly tion he seeks to lay hold on the mercy of the Lord. pardon', Isa. lv. 7.
The self-same spirit of lies which, in his days of Ir is a remarkable circumstance, that the two ease and carelessness, represented his sins as harmpassions which exercise the greatest influence on less, trivial, and far beneath the notice of the our conduct, in regard to the life which now is, divine eye, will now dash them with such a depth of namely, hope and fear, are likewise most promi- crimson that no hyssop can wash them out; and the nently called into action by the cares of the same foul fiend who before spake of no attribute spiritual world. They seem, indeed, to havel in the divine nature but mercy—who for all the hesitations and compunctions of his human dupe side of heaven and the grave that all the mercy had always the same drivelling answer ready in of God is dispensed and applied: and verily just his mouth—God is merciful—will now talk of because God is infinitely more merciful than we no attribute but his inviolable holiness, justice, are inclined to have him. For he will not only and truth; and of no passion but his anger, with bestow upon us that rich inheritance of honour, its treasures of tribulation and anguish for every glory, and immortality, which Christ has pursoul of man that doeth evil. All the while, more- chased for us with his blood, but qualify us for over, is the inborn spirit of unbelief just as busy the enjoyment of them, by a sanctification of our in the sinner's own bosom, persuading him that nature, a refinement of our taste, and an elevahe is not in all God's thoughts—and that, weary tion of our desires, without which heaven would with the long waste of words, discipline, and ten- be unto us a poorer inheritance than even the derness, the Lord hath given him over to waste, earth itself with all its sorrows. We, in a word, in turn, his tears upon the desert, and sow the would seek only to be saved from the penalty of wind with his vain complaints.
sin, but God wants to save us likewise from its The frequency and fervour indeed with which the power. assurances of divine mercy are repeated and pressed Let us begin then the work of salvation, upon our notice in scripture, are at once a proof like every other, at the right end, and commence of its own abundance, and of our slowness to believe with saying unto every besetting sin, 'Get thee in its sufficiency. No devil surely can make us behind me, Satan.' believe that God does not know his own mind; and just from his own word, and from his own Spirit, do we derive the most solemn assurances, confirmed even, in many instances, with oaths
ELEVENTI Day.—MORNING. that he has grace sufficient for our utte ost need, and mercy in store for the chief of sinners.
• Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance,
Matt. iii. 8. Need we go farther than the precious passage which is at this moment under our eye? Its Of all spiritual vices the most loathesome in the words are addressed to the wicked and the unrigh- sight of God is indifference. And just as odious teous of all grades, and of all generations, without should it be in our own eyes, if we viewed the distinction, and to them goeth forth the assurance concerns of the soul, and the vast interests of that God has mercy and abundant pardon, ready religion, in the same light as the cares of the to meet the uplifting of their eyes to his throne body, or the business of the present life. In
temporal affairs the incitements to activity are so Lift up
thine eyes, then, thou downcast mourner numerous and powerful, that we regard a sluggard in Zion, to the holy habitation of God, and be- folding his hands, in the midst of his most urgent hold, to thine amazement, that over his counten- necessities, for yet a little sleep and a little ance there spreads, at the meeting of his eyes with slumber, with equal surprise and abhorrence ; thine, the joy and the tenderness of a father who and turn away, sick at heart, from the broken has long been watching for the return of his prodigal fences' of a 'field overgrown with thorns, and a son, and waiting to be gracious. To know if'any vineyard covered with nettles. Just inasmuch, good thing can come out of Nazareth, thou must however, as the vast idea of eternity overshadows "come and see ;' and so must thou taste and see the thought of time, should our contempt of that that the Lord is gracious, ‘Come unto him, all spiritual indifference, which is the sloth of the ye that labour and are heavy laden, and he will soul, surpass our scorn of a sluggishness, limited, give you rest. “Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, at the worst, in its consequences, by the slumber, and ye shall find; knock,' at the door of grace, and corruption of the grave. and it will fly open. Blessed opening! It is The repentance to which we are called, let us the gate of heaven, with its green pastures—its never forget, is positive, as well as negative; comliving waters, spreading to infinity behind it. prehending, in its wide and woful survey, the guilt
But O let us beware of mistaking the mercy of of our omissions, as well as our actual sins; and, God, or twisting it round to the bent of our own however bitterly we may bewail the heinoustess sinful inclination. Hah! we are apt to confine of our actual transgressions, yet, ever to the sad our views of mercy to these gates of heaven; array of our neglected duties will the Spirit of and in our very prayers to think only of mercy truth direct the main flowing of our tears. The dispensed from the throne of judgment on our renouncing of sin is indeed but a small part naked souls. O! it is not there it is on this repentance, and if not followed up by a fruit
of Let us
fulness of faith, and abundance of good works, is of any actual sin whatever, either small or great; moreover but a mere delusion. For there is in for the whole judgment turns upon the things that reality a moral impossibility lying directly in the have not been done: to the confusion of those who way of every endeavour to put off the old man think it enough to lead a harmless life, and
go with his deeds,' without putting on the new with down to the grave unstained with the guilt of his works of righteousness. Of all the muscles positive iniquities. in the human frame, the heart is the most active: With this indictment already before us, let us by night and by day, asleep and awake, it is in- be wise in time to consider our latter end; and cessantly at work, like a clock, wound up at our prepare our pleadings for that hour of awful trial. creation, to tick and beat, and keep pace with And O! if we would rejoice in having an advotime, till it runs down at death. So is it with cate in our Judge himself, let us seek to secure an the mind. We cannot cease thinking if we interest in his pleading before we go hence. To would, any more than, by stamping on the earth, this end, the like mind must be in us, as was we can stop its motion. It is an awful consider- likewise in Christ Jesus: for if we have not the ation too, that this mind, this heart of the spirit- Spirit of Christ, we are none of his.' ual man, is wound up, once for all, at its begin- look to his life of labour and love, while he sojournning, to beat, and go, and hope and love, or hate ed among our fallen race, in the form of sinful and fear, and suffer or enjoy, to all eternity. man: and though he thought it no robbery to Sleep does not suspend its action, and death, make himself equal with the Father, yet, stooped or the long slumber of the grave itself, is no to be a servant,' and to go about from door to door interruption to its activity. Energy is its nature, continually doing good.' There was no indoland working is its mode of existing. Mere ces
Mere cesence in his love; no rest in the energies of his sation therefore from sin is a logical contradiction. Spirit; no pauses in the working of his mind. We are always either sinning on, though it may be Even when he slept his heart was awake, and in a different way, or perfecting holiness in the fear when his disciples awoke him in the storm, he and the service of the Lord. Our blessed Lord tells reproved them for their want of faith, but not us that we cannot serve both God and Mammon; for disturbing their Saviour's repose. but gives us, at the same time, to understand, that look to him as he sits in glory on the throne of just as little can we serve neither, for he immedi- heaven. Is there any pause in the workings of ately adds that,' if we hate the one we will love his mind? O one long serious look of the soul at the other.' How familiar do we find this princi- its God, should cure it for ever of sloth, and 'ple in the mouth of the apostle. • But God be consume every thought of ease or indolence in a thanked,' says St. Paul in his epistle to the fire of shame. If God cease for a moment from Romans, 'that ye were once the servants of sin, working, our hearts must cease to beat; if he take but ye have obeyed from the heart, that form of his rest in heaven, we must die of hunger. If doctrine which we delivered unto you; being then our exalted Redeemer relax his efforts to work made free from sin, ye became the servants of out our redemption; if he cease from working in us righteousness. We have therefore every sort to will and to do of his good pleasure, then begins of authority for assuring ourselves, that so our backslidings on the way to Zion, to end in long as we have not entered with full earnest- tumbling over the precipice, it may be with our ness of purpose, and perseverance of endeav- face to heaven. There is nothing above us, or our, on a career of practical godliness, and the around us, or beneath us, in a state of reposediligent discharge of active duties, we are not all heaven, and earth, and hell, and every atom yet delivered from the yoke of sin, but drudging of dust, is continually at work--and shall we be on as before—under new names and altered idle? Idle we cannot be, but shall we be idle in appearances, perhaps, in the bondage of Satan. serving? Olet our working be all on the right
It is a most remarkable fact, moreover, and may side. Of all sloth may we most abhor that of the be stated as the crowning illustration of the princi- soul; and of all services be most ashamed as well ple in question, as well as the strongest incitement as afraid of sloth in the service of Him, who to the practice of all good works that our blessed gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from Lord in bis description of his own judgment-seat, all iniquity; and purify unto himself a peculiar has confined his condemnations entirely to sins of people, zealous of good works. omission or unfruitfulness in the service of the cross. Not a single count in the whole indictment, with which he has already been pleased to serve us, consists of crimes, or positive iniquities, or
have not known. But O! let us read his mercy "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil it to our double condemnation. It is the sinner
aright, and tremble at the thought of perverting of your doing from before mine eyes ; cease to let us never forget, and not sin, with which God
do eoil ; learn to do well, Isa. i. 16, 17. is willing to be reconciled; and in the seeking to The nature of God is essentially pure, and raise us from our low estate, to his own habitaconsequently abhorrent of all pollution. In the tion, he begins with assimilating our nature to metaphors of scripture, he represents himself as his own. Let this renewal of our nature then be of purer eyes than to behold evil, or to look our immediate aim; and while our thoughts upon iniquity,' and upon the flesh of our hearts travel to the rest that awaiteth the people of God
, has he impressed the same picture of his nature let us beware of overlooking the way that leads in strokes of inextinguishable fire. It is from to its blessed repose. O! there is a heaven upon this inherent sense of the divine purity that arises earth sufficiently worthy of our first ambition; and the uneasiness of all moral defilement; the vain, that is the growing likeness to God and particithe persevering endeavour of guilt to shun the pation of the divine nature; which is the brightest eye of God. No sooner had the first taint of sin promise of the life that now is, as well as the settled upon the hands and the hearts of our first surest earnest and foretaste of the glory that is parents, than this repugnance between the two yet to be revealed. principles of purity and pollution, began to mani- It is surely, moreover, a most abundant source fest itself in action; and at the first sound of of gratitude that God has himself opened up this their Creator's step in the garden, they fled in way of return, and brought the renovation of his shame and fear to hide their guilt in a bush. The own image in our souls within the bounds of same uneasiness of sin and shrinking of the un- possibility. Hopelessly polluted as we are, eren clean soul from the light of the divine eye, has beyond the power of imagining a remedy for the ever since familiarized itself in the experience of pain of our own defilement, is there not a surprise all transgressors; even to the fearful excess of of joy in learning that, in the fulness of grace, banishing the very memory of their Maker from there is a fountain prepared for the washing of their thoughts, and saying in their hearts, there the heart, which is continually sending forth its is no God.'
purifying streams to our habitations, with an Unto this God, however, all flesh must come; abundance and a power equal to the need of and however intolerable we may feel, or imagine, all? Do we not hear as it were the sound of the purity of his holy eye, it is even now, in the many waters, even of the river that flows around" midst of our sins, continually upon us, observing the throne of the Lamb, in the voice of our God not only our doings, but the innermost secrets of commanding us to wash and make ourselves our souls; for · I know the things that come into clean?' your mind, every one of them, saith the Lord.' The very peremptoriness of the command imWe are, therefore, only saying 'peace, peace, when plies the abundance and sufficiency of the means. there is no peace,' and muffling ourselves up in a It is issued with the tone and the authority of an night, which the Lord is all the while making absolute king; and just so much the more joyous round about us like unto the day, when we strive in its sound, because we know it is the King to shun the brightness of his eye, and seek in sin invisible, immortal, and eternal, who is here issuan ease incompatible with a sense of the divine ing the imperial edicts; and know therefore, likepresence.
wise, that from the inexhaustible resources of his And yet, if left to our own resources, this is in grace have issued the means of obedience before sad reality the only course left open to us; for the command was uttered. · Wash you, and just as little as the leopard can change his spots, make you clean,' saith the Lord. Are we asking or the Ethiopian his skin; can they that are where is the water? O there is a sound not only accustomed to do evil learn of themselves to do as of flowing water, but of blood too, in the good.
words; for the speaker is the God and Father of What inexpressible reason then have we for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Is it then thankfulness in learning that, while we are flying the pollution of guilt, the blot of our many transfrom the God, unto whom nevertheless all flesh gressions, that dismays us? There is one short must come, and seeking a most treacherous peace and simple sentence in holy writ sufficient to cure by shutting him out of our thoughts, he is just as us of this fear, “The blood of Christ cleanseth diligent pursuing us with kindness, and seeking from all sin. But O! when our guilt is washed to reconcile us to himself, by 'a way that we clean away, and, through the expiation of the cross, we are blest with the free pardon of all our end in self-condemnation; for in the very sentence transgressions; do we shudder at the review of our that enjoins the duty of a self-searching inquiry, own unaltered hearts; and from the bitter experi- does the prophet, without any alternative conence of the past, omen for the future nothing but dition, exhort usto immediate repentance. And a running up of new debts; with a long succes such a verdict, alas ! may we always, without the sion of broken resolutions going away one after gift of inspiration, foretell as the issue of every another, ' like the early cloud and the morning inquiry into the state of our hearts. Hence arises dew?' “Wash you, and make you clean,' saith our natural repugnance to enter upon this duty. the Lord; ' cease,' he continues, “to do evil, learn at all, as well as our tendency to deal dishonestly to do well.' Once more, there is strength and not with ourselves in carrying it through; for just as weakness, comfort and not fear in the command, the heart is "desperately wicked,' so is it 'deceitfor it is the edict of the same God who hath said, ful above all things.' • I will create a clean heart, and renew a right If we would estimate the importance and spirit within you.' To despair of our own necessity of such an inquiry, however, we can strength then, is to charge God with weakness; have no surer or safer measure than just this and to omen nothing but a register of broken reluctance of our nature to engage with it; and resolutions, is to doubt the faithfulness of an we can hardly have a more sufficient proof that Almighty Saviour; for his grace is sufficient for our ways are wrong, than the tendency to deceive our need; and his strength is made perfect in our ourselves in comparing them with the will and weakness. Let us look unto God with the the ways of God. Let us come close up then to earnestness and importunity of prayer in our faces the light of the searching scripture before us; and and our hearts, and the holy eye that is continu- learn, as the preface to its revelation, that even in ally upon us, will strengthen us for the fulfilment a state of grace, and in the very act of coming up of his will. “Put away,' says our King, “the evil from the wilderness, under the holy banner of of your doings from before mine eyes; and if in our faith, we have a continual tendency to backour humble but sincere endeavours to do his bid- sliding; and that even after the call of the Spirit ding, we seek unto his sufficiency of grace for the has made itself effectual, in turning our hearts needful strength; then shall the consciousness round to the bright and morning star; times withthat all our doings are before his eyes, be unto out number must we hear and obey the self-same us a source of strength ; and ours in the end be voice crying, 'turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die?' the blessedness promised to the pure in heart, The sinner's road to heaven is not a straight one; • for they shall see God.'
nor is there much exaggeration of figure in calling it from beginning to end a continual turning. O! if in the moment of its first and decisive conver
sion, the heart were truly turned right round to Twelfth Day.—MORNING.
God, like the sunflower to the rising sun; were • Let us search and try our ways, and turn again benignity of the divine countenance, and into close
all its sensibilities brought immediately under the to the Lord,' Lam. iii. 40.
and clear contemplation of the divine glory; then “To know one's self' was regarded by an ancient might we suppose that direct as the path of the sage as the beginning and the end of wisdom. In turtle dove in the air, or of the fiery chariot that selecting this maxim as the motto of his philo- bore Elias to heaven, would be the course of that sophy, he signifies at once the importance and the heart through all the thorny perplexities of life to difficulty of the lesson it conveyed. But when its home in the habitation of holiness. Such in we take eternity into the account, and the simple, the course of time and the history of ages has but vast, consideration that the present life is but been the path of one single soul, unto whose first a school for the next, the importance of the lesson prayer our Lord answered, "to-day shalt thou in question is immeasurably dilated; and it con- be with me in paradise.' sequently stands out before us, in the pages of But 0! let those who defer their first repentscripture, in a greatness of size, and interest, ance till the day or the night of turning their face to which it never could assume in the writings of a the wall, bethink themselves, that many times must heathen, whose wisdom aimed no farther than their repentance be repented of, and their tears the grave. In the scripture before us, it is very washed away with tears ever purer and purer, remarkable too, that the result of the inquiry is before they shall hear a voice from the cross here taken for granted; and we are given to crying unto them, To-day shalt thou be with understand, before we commence it, that it must me in paradise.'