Page images
PDF
EPUB

MARCH.

FIRST DAY.-MORNING.

'Christ our passover is sacrificed for us,' 1 Cor. v.7. WERE an inspired teacher to go through the Old Testament in a series of comments upon it, there can be little doubt that he would find and preach Christ in every part of it, and that he would discover types of his person and work where, did an uninspired interpreter find them, he would expose himself to the charge of following his own fancies. Who, for example, would have seen a type of our Lord's death in the elevation of the brazen serpent in the wilderness, or of his lying in the grave, in the history of Jonah, had not our Lord himself condescended to notice it! True, the interpreter of scripture must beware that he do not yield to his imaginations, where he has not an inspired guide to lead him. But the necessity of this caution arises only from his incompetency. And we are well persuaded, that when the light of the upper world bursts upon our view, and when in it we contemplate the ancient law in its ceremonies and institutions, it will be found to reflect the glory of Christ in a much fuller degree than we ever saw it before, that it will be seen to exhibit his person and work in places where these did not formerly appear to us; in short, that in the law, as in every thing else, Christ is all. He is the treasure hid in the word of God, and it is only when we find him there that our search for it has been successful.

But our attention is now confined to a single type or illustration, the ancient passover. And how striking the form of expression used to point out its reference to Christ. He is called our Passover, intimating that the substance of the ceremony was Jesus Christ,—that whatever other purposes it may have served, it was designed mainly to be typical of him, and illustrative of his person, and history, and work. Hence, the mind of the apostle naturally passes away from the ancient ceremony to the great feast of the gospel, in which Christ is manifestly set forth crucified And both are represented as having all their meaning and design in setting forth his truth and glory. They are two spectators, gazing upon the same object; two witnesses, testifying to the same person; two columns, bearing like inscriptions; two signs, pointing the same way.

among us.

Let us then for a little, contemplate the passover as illustrative of Christian doctrine.

We

1. And who will not here think of the paschal lamb? It must be chosen from the flock with care,-the best of its kind,-free from every blemish,-and in due time sacrificed and eaten. have not been left to conjecture in finding here an emblem of Jesus Christ. Even the apparently trivial command, 'neither shall ye break a bone thereof,' is afterwards quoted in the history of Christ, as having been designed to have reference to him, and a whole train of circumstances is put into order and motion to bring about the intended allusion. 'These things were done,' saith the historian, 'that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.' We would not have seen this meaning had it not been pointed out. And O! how fitting is the type. Jesus is indeed well set before us as 'the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.' The emblem is tenderly illustrative of his character, and history, and work, and well expresses his innocence, and patience, and sacrifice. Particularly does it exhibit him as the satisfying food of the believer's soul, and in this point the lines of the Jewish and the Christian passover meet, and both proclaim that the slain Lamb is the sacrifice to be eaten.

2. Equally clear and united is their testimony to the great blessing that has been obtained by the sacrifice which has been offered. They both commemorate deliverance. Of the one we are told, it is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses.' That was a great deliverance. They cried by reason of their taskmasters, and God heard them and rescued them from bondage. But even that deliverance was only typical of a better. How largely is the language descriptive of it employed to set forth the higher deliverance of the soul from the dominion of sin and satan! Often do the prophets commence with the one theme, and then rise to the other, elevating our minds from things temporal to those that are spiritual, and teaching us to see in the former the greater blessings of the latter.

3. The very manner of deliverance is strikingly in unison, under both dispensations. The last and awful judgment upon Egypt was the death of the first-born. There was a great cry in

Egypt, for there was not a house where there | language, yet containing the profoundest sentiwas not one dead.' And who will not think of him, by whose death it was that deliverance has been obtained for guilty men? The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin, because he is the Son of God. He is the only begotten of the Father, his first-born, and therefore did his sacrifice avail to procure the freedom of his people.

4. The very sign employed in the time of Israel's deliverance is full of meaning and instruction. 'Ye shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side-posts with blood.' This was the sign to the destroying angel to pass by and leave the inhabitants within unhurt. And it is by the sprinkling of blood the sinner must now be preserved from the destroyer. The mark of Christ's blood forbids his entrance upon the security and peace of the believer.

the

5. Nor let us omit to notice in what manner passover must be eaten. 'Thus shall ye eat it, with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; ye shall eat it in haste.' Emblem of the believer's condition upon earth! He is a pilgrim and a stranger here. Earth is only a lodge, heaven is his home, and he must maintain the spirit of one who is travelling to Zion.

6. In the passover they must use unleavened bread, with bitter herbs. And the meaning here is plain. Bitterness of soul, in exercises of deep humiliation, is well becoming in him who commemorates the death of Jesus as the sacrifice for his sins. While towards others there must be the suppression of evil passion, and no leaven of iniquity allowed to disturb the soul, well is it enjoined by the apostle, 'let us keep the feast, not with old leaven; neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.' And this agrees to our Lord's own lesson, ‘if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift, first go and be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.'

FIRST DAY. EVENING.

And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead,' Rom. i. 4. How many and how weighty are the themes of meditation here. The passage bears the ordinary mark of the word of God, clothed in the simplest

ments, truly apples of gold in pictures of silver.' The Son of God-declared to be the Son of Godwith power-according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead. Help us, O Spirit of truth, to apprehend and receive these gracious announcements.

'The Son of God.' A title which belongs exclusively to Jesus Christ. True, Adam is called the son of God, so are angels, and even sinful men; but not in the sense in which Christ is so called. He is the only Son of God, in the sense of being a partaker of his nature, and an equal sharer of his glory. The phrase is habitually so employed in the scriptures, and was understood in this highest acceptation by the Jews. For when Christ called himself by the name of the Son of God, they charged him with blasphemy, alleged that he thus made himself equal with God, and proceeded to inflict the punishment of the law for blasphemy, even to stone him to death. In this name let us receive and adore him for

6

'He has been declared to be the Son of God.' Declared ! The term is well chosen, and is fraught with meaning and deep allusions. By the resurrection he has been declared, not made, to be the Son of God, as some would teach. And this peculiar style of language accords with what we observe in another place, where the angel, announcing the miraculous conception and birth of Christ, says, that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God'called, not made the Son of God at that time, nor by that means. In all such passages the allusion is to the eternal generation of the Son of God. As Son he is eternal. And it is only upon this principle we can interpret many portions of the word of God. It is written, 'God gave his only begotten Son.' Then he must have been the Son of God when the Father gave him, and this was from eternity. How blessed is our privilege to have such a Saviour, one whom we call the Son of God, and with whose name we associate the honours of the Godhead. And for what purpose is he thus announced? Glorious reply!

He is declared to be the Son of God 'with power.' As Son of God he is proclaimed to be Mediator, and as Mediator all power is given to him in heaven and in earth. As Son all power belongs to him essentially, but as Mediator all power is delegated to him for the salvation of his people. How often are these two thoughts brought together in the scriptures, the sufficiency of Christ, and the security of his people. It

[ocr errors]

In this fact of the resurrection we are furnished with the proof that the work of Christ is complete and accepted with the Father. He said on the cross, 'It is finished,' and he proved his saying true when he rose from the dead. Now, therefore, may we come to him with confidence for the ends of his mission. He is exalted a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and remission of sins.'

pleased the Father that in him should all full- to commemorate the event, has come down ness dwell-and by him to reconcile all things to our time, an imperishable monument, bearing to himself.' In him dwelt the fullness of the upon it, indelibly engraven by the finger of Godhead bodily-and ye are complete in him history, the fact of Christ's resurrection. which is the Head of all principality and power.' His glorious title now is, 'Head over all things to the church.' Not over the church merely, but over all things for the church's benefit. Over the material world-all its elements which he employs as he will. Over all mankind—influencing them according to his pleasure. Over the devils for they are all subject to his control. Over angels for he is at the right hand of God, angels, and principalities, and powers being subject unto him. His power is unlimited, sovereign, and absolute. So testifies the great Being whose office it is to bear witness unto Christ. For we read

We too shall be raised from the grave in virtue of his resurrection. 'The hour is coming, when all that are in the grave shall hear his voice, and come forth; they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation.' Gracious God! enable us to embrace Jesus as our Saviour now, that we may meet him at last with joy as our Judge. May we be found in him now by faith, and at length be partakers of his glory!

SECOND DAY.-MORNING.

He is declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness.' Such testimony is borne to him by the Holy Spirit according to his office and custom. For he has always been engaged in so witnessing to Christ. It was he who dwelt in the ancient prophets, and instructed them in the knowledge of the coming Saviour. Their predictions are his testimonies. He met him when he appeared in the flesh, and publicly announced him to Israel, visibly descending on him as a dove, while the Father declared him to be his beloved Son. He attended him in 'Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that all his ministry, in which we see the accomplishhe loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiament of ancient prophecy, enabling him in his tion for our sins,' 1 John iv. 10. humanity to utter predictions, work miracles, and Love is not strictly an attribute of God, it is sustain the burthen of his ministry. Hence, saith more correct to say that the nature of God is Christ, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, be- love. Hence when the apostle, who speaks most cause he hath anointed me.' He continued with of love, exhausts his thoughts upon it, he relieves him in his sore conflicts, his bloody sweat, and himself, and sums up the whole subject, saying, his bitter death, ever sustaining his own charac-God is love.' How then shall we meditate ter as the Spirit of holiness, and recommending upon the love of God? Jesus as the Saviour of men. But the best and surest evidence which he gave was subsequent to his death. He was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holi

ness

'By the resurrection from the dead.' And as that was the grand proof, how clearly has the Spirit caused it to be substantiated. The evidence is irresistible. The witnesses were numerous they were intelligent-they were honest-they endured hardship for the truth-they suffered death for their testimony, and could not be induced to conceal the fact of the resurrection of which they were witnesses. They who denied it were obliged to forge the most absurd stories in order to evade the force of evidence. And the Christian sabbath, then established, and designed

[ocr errors]

Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven, what canst thou know? Deeper than hell, what canst thou do? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.' The apostle Paul discovers the same incapacity to grasp the theme of divine love. His prayer for the Ephesians is that they may be enabled, with all saints, to comprehend what is the length, and breadth, and depth, and height of the love of God,' adding, which passeth knowledge.' And so in the passage before us the form of expression is very peculiar, Herein is love.' Herein, as though in nothing else it could be found. And, comparatively speaking, this is true, for there is no love like the love of God. It is like himself, and the vast, incomprehensible character

[ocr errors]

6

of this love will soon be felt by us, while we | its guilt. By this mediation he became a proendeavour to catch some of its features.

[ocr errors]

1. It is eternal. How deep the thoughts, how elevated the conceptions of the apostle Paul when, meditating on the love of God, as exercised towards man in eternity, he exclaims, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love!' Here is love in all its condescension, entering into the case of man, long before he had existence; love in all its ingenuity, providing against his condition as a sinner. What importance this view attaches to the expression of Jehovah's love. It made sure the redemption of his people before they became men or sinners. The whole plan was laid and fixed in eternity.

2. As the love of God is eternal in its origin, so is it immutable in its nature. This is only what should be expected as a natural and necessary consequence. For if God set his love in eternity upon his people, it is not to be expected that he would suffer its great design to be frustrated by the accidents of time. His love is occupied in time carrying out and consummating the plans it formed in eternity. Those whom he then chose, he now effectually calls. And having called them in his sovereign pleasure, he keeps them by his almighty grace. It is thus we are to account for their still abiding the objects of his love, notwithstanding their provocations and unworthiness. I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.' 'Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.' 'Saints are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.' But let us not abuse this feature of the divine love. In eternity it chose its objects that they might be holy, and its immutability maintains and confirms their holiness. If the love of God changes not, that is not merely an argument why our love should not change, but it is a security that it shall not change. And our Lord makes our perseverance an essential mark of our discipleship, saying, 'If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.'

3. In the exercise of this eternal and immutable love, God sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.' His Son was chosen; for no other being was competent to the work, and the Father freely gave him up. He came as the messenger of the Father's love; and to carry out purposes of his grace he assumed our nature, stood as our surety, bare our sin, and expiated

the

pitiation, reconciling his people to their offended God. He provided that the sentence of death should be reversed under which they lay; that their souls should be quickened and made alive unto God; that they should have opened before them the prospect of eternal life; and that, finally, they should be possessors of an inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.' Surely herein is love! Well may we acquiesce in the emphatic language of our Lord, God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but might have everlasting life.'

[ocr errors]

4. And for whom did God thus signify his love? For sinners. And how is it enhanced by this consideration! Hear how an inspired apostle regards it, 'When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.' God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.' Helpless, ungodly, sinful-these were the features of that creature upon whom God set his love. Not only was there nothing to attract, but everything to repulse. How lothesome to a renewed mind is the conduct of the ungodly; and how distressing to be obliged to hold communion with them. And if this be the case with believers, who are still men encompassed with infirmity, and bearing about a body of sin and death, how must it be with that pure and holy God who cannot behold evil nor look upon iniquity. This truly is the mystery of mysteries, the love of God for sinners.

O that this love may be shed abroad in our hearts, and that we may live continually under its constraining and sanctifying power!

SECOND DAY.-EVENING.

We love him, because he first loved us,' 1 John iv. 19.

THE great secret of the gospel, in its influence upon the sinner, consists in its use of the principle

of love. God is there manifested to the soul in the exercise of love, and that discovery produces love. The apostle Paul, proceeding upon this principle, thus states the great burthen of his ministry, ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;' and then on the ground of this revelation, addresses himself to sinners, saying, 'we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.' So close is the

connection between a right apprehension of the | him with rapturous praise, and yield him a cheerlove of God towards us, and the exercise of our ful and devoted service. love towards him, that it is laid down as a universal principle, 'we love him, because he first loved us.'

It is not inconsistent with the gospel to love God on account of the benefits which he has conferred upon us. True, we ought to love him for his own excellence, independent of his kindness to us. But we are not forbidden to be influenced by a sense of our obligations to him. Gratitude is a principle natural to man, and ought to be cherished by lively exercises. Where it is wanted we expect nothing that is good. The gospel is both designed and calculated to call it forth, and the blessings which it confers highly aggravate the guilt of ingratitude. If we do not love God for what he hath done in Christ, we can have no evidence of the enjoyment of his favour. Our love to him is an indispensable token of our participation in his love to us.

Let us then entertain the question of our Lord to Peter, 'Lovest thou me?' and remembering the solemn emphasis by which it was thrice repeated, let us examine our love to Jesus. We put the inquiry in the form of love to Jesus, for this is substantially the same as love to God, and it seems more easy to our weak apprehension.

More particularly, love is ever found ardently to desire the presence of its object. And nothing can be more natural than the exercises of the church, in this respect, as described in the Song of Songs. By night, on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth. I sought him but I found him not,' earnestly desiring communion with him. "I will rise now and go about the city; in the streets and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth; I sought him but I found him not.' Ah no, Christ was not to be found in the concourse of sinners. The watchmen that go about the city found me; to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?' These were the ministers of religion. It was but a little way that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth. I held him and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.' This is the enjoyment of Christ in the ordinances of the church. I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please. Every thing is avoided that might disturb the sweet communion of the soul with Christ.

If then we really love Christ we ought to be But let us not suppose that love is merely senconscious of the existence of this affection in us. timental. It is an active, moving, mighty prinThis was never questioned by Peter, when our ciple, urging to deeds of noblest daring, and calling Lord inquired at him, but in the simplicity of an forth other affections of the soul to vigorous and honest heart he replied, 'Lord, thou knowest all sustained exertion. It animates with indomitable things, thou knowest that I love thee.' It grieved zeal. See the apostle Paul, and hear how he him to think his love to Christ should be ques- spoke and acted under its influence: 'Whether we tioned. Nor are we at any loss to determine be beside ourselves it is to God, or whether we whether we have love toward any of our fellow-be sober it is for your cause. For the love of creatures. Why then should it be counted weak Christ constraineth us.' It induces a spirit of and fanatical to speak of our love to Jesus? We self-denial. Many waters cannot quench love. may and ought to be conscious of its existence, Any thing will be borne that can secure the faand its exercise, and never rest until we are so. vour or enhance the happiness of those we love. But if this be thought an evidence too refined Nor is there any principle but this that will acand unsatisfying, let us remember that love will count for the hardships and privations which the show itself by the marked preference which it servants of Christ have borne for his sake, and ever gives to its object, and especially so, when not merely borne with patience, but rejoicing that object is Christ. I count all things but loss that they were counted worthy to suffer for his for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ name.' Love prompts to unwearied efforts in beJesus my Lord.' Such was the language of Paul, half of the people of Christ. A tender interest is and the same is the sentiment of every true felt in all that concerns them for his sake. 'WhoChristian, placing Christ above every other object, soever loveth him that begat, loveth him also that and renouncing every thing inconsistent with his is begotten of him.' Our affection for the parent service. In the Song of Solomon the church is binds us to his children. And as we love Christ made to say, 'my beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.' He has attractions for her above every other being,-causing her to think upon him with great delight, to speak of

so shall we love his people, and delight to do them good. This Christ requires at our hand, and he has distinctly forewarned us that he will look for this distinguishing mark in the day of judg

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »