« PreviousContinue »
of that joy which fills the courts of the upper sanc-, while nature's light everywhere discloses a pretuary with adoring and eternal praise.
sent Deity, and bespeaks the excellency of God's When David beheld the excellency of Jehovah's great name—let our leading prayer ever be that name as that was written in legible characters on the name of our Emmanuel, which above all is every object of nature, and every event in provi- excellent, and, to know which in truth, is life dence, displayed in all the earth, and to the eternal, be made known, wide as earth's surface, utmost verge of God's dominions—when he be that men may everywhere worship the Son, and held its excellency, as discovered in the immensity give him glory as they honour the Father—that and magnificence of creation, as manifested in his his name may be glorious from the rising to the guiding the sun in the firmament, and sealing up setting sun. the stars, as ruling over all, and swaying the 0! that grace from above were so largely and sceptre of the universe, he might well exclaim in continuously imparted to our souls, that, in our wonder and amazement, "What is man that thou spirit and lives, nought were found to contradict art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou this the song of our lips ; but that rather, by our shouldest visit him? Contemplating the divine trust, and hope, and cheerful acquiescence in the greatness, David and every devout soul is led to Lord's dealings, our light might so shine forth, think on his own worthlessness and insignifi- that others might catch our spirit, and learn from cance—and reflecting on his own nothingness, he our lips this song, and unite with us, in glorifying cannot but be astonished at God's unbounded our most exalted and all-glorious Father, our condescension; and it is in this condescension most gracious and adorable Redeemer! that to man his excellency appears most conspicuous and wonderful. In this his love is made manifest, and in this, there is a mystery and depth of love that angels do desire, and may
THIRTIETH DAY.—MORNING. through eternity desire to look into and explore. There is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O How excellent is thy name! Could heart now
Lord, thou knowest it altogether,' Psal. cxxxix. feel or tongue express the full measure of that excellence, it could not, in that case, be what God declares it will be—the source of endless praise. For us to realize the truth contained in these Much as the ransomed soul now feels; strong, words, is to possess a powerfully constraining and ardent, and ecstatic, as is its song of praise motive against all profanity in word or action. —the excellency of the divine glory that we have We say action, because our life and manner speak seen is as nothing, when compared with that as plainly and distinctly as our tongue; and it which still remains unknown.
see may be said as truly, that “out of the abundance but darkly, and all that we learn of the excellency of the heart the hand moveth, as "the mouth of God's name is, that it “passeth understanding.' speaketh.' But let us view these words specially But even the full vision of the upper sanctuary in reference to the tongue. will not discover all its beauty, the unclouded Of all sins men think most lightly of the sins vision of souls made perfect, as they gaze through of the tongue. It is the common excuse of the eternity, will not fully descry his glory: nor shall profane swearer, that his oaths and profanity are ransomed sinners find one moment, through eter- mere words, an empty breath, a meaningless sound, nity, without cause to veil their faces before to which his heart responds not; and hence he Jehovah's brightness, as it advances in effulgence. infers that God takes no cognizance of them,
Let us then, while we tarry here below, attune neither are they offensive to him. To such it our hearts to those praises which we hope to sing, might be sufficient to reply that the very letter in higher strains, in the heavenly world. Here, of the law describes their very case; and while it in the lisping accents of the infancy of grace, let doubtless extends to the feeling of the heart, it us begin the hymn of glory. Moreover let us expressly, and in so many words declares, “Thou strive and pray, that, as there is no corner of the shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in earth, where men may not read the excellency of vain;' shalt not use it but for a good and holy Jehovah's
name, so in every kindred, and in every purpose ; nothing whereby Jehovah has made tongue this song may echo through all the earth;' himself known, shall by thee be treated with irrethat as God's glory covers all the earth, and verence; 'not a word in thy tongue’ expressive of reacheth even above the heavens, so it may be God's names, titles, or attributes, shall by thee recognized and confessed by men, when, to con- be regarded as idle and meaningless. This plainly forss his name, is the salvation of the soul. But implies that the glorious and fearful name of God
is profaned when not used with that reverence chiefly, and more powerfully, when in company aud solenin awe which so well becometh him. with others; he tempts us to sow the seed when
But while this may be enough in reply to we stand upon ground where it can take root; those who make such vain excuses, it may be his object being to dishonour God, and, through well to deepen our convictions as a preventative us, to lead others on to sin, and thus to dissever from a sin into which many are so prone to fall, and us from God. •Behold how great a matter a as an incentive to a duty which we are too ready little fire kindleth. The tongue is a fire, a world to forget,—the sin of speaking lightly of Jehovah of iniquity, so is the tongue among our menibers, and his ways, the duty of speaking reverently of that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on him, and all that he does. For this purpose fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of observe:
hell. This being the case, who will say that 1. That the tongue when it speaks thought- God does not take cognizance of our idle words, or lessly, and gives utterance to idle words, is the will not hold those guilty who under any pretence great mean by which profanity is disseminated. take his name in vain.
The outward senses are the appointed means 2. This verse leads us also to note the great of communication betwixt man and man, and they means or motive that will restrain impiety and are adapted to convey to the mind those influen- profanity of language. When we bow the knee tial impressions of good or evil which form the in prayer, or realize the presence of God, we feel character and dispositions of the heart. We all no inclination to give utterance to irreverent know the power of language in awakening the words. A believing and quick sense of the divine dormant feelings of the heart. Insulting language, presence controls our lips by solemnizing our or jeering words, even when known to be spoken hearts. Levity of thought being checked, levity in jest, raise a storm of passion in the most placid of speech is restrained—the one gone, the other breast, which the strongest efforts of self-control is absent—the fountain-head being dried up, the can scarcely restrain. The remembrance of our stream ceases to flow. Let us then realize the youthful days may teach us that the deepest prin- solemn truth, that “there is not a word in our ciple will not altogether guard the young-that tongue, but, lo, he knoweth it altogether;' not by hearing the idle or ribbald oath of the profane, only knoweth it, but taketh notice of it, recordeth their purity of language will be endangered. The it in the book of his remembrance, and is much experience of every age testifies aloud, that the and grievously offended with it. Let us realize children, the associates, or the servants of the pro- the presence of God in every company, and in fane talker are in peculiar danger of corruption. every place, and in every possible situationHis words cannot be listened to with impunity— realize it as fully as we do in the hour of prayer, or they are like sparks of fire falling on the withered in the house of God, or at the communion tableherbage; like the miasmata of an infectious pesti- realize it as fully as when standing by the deathlence, the most healthful cannot resist the subtile bed of a Christian friend, or ourselves placed on poison. But this is not all; not only the words of that couch whence we shall never rise-let eterprofanity on the lips of others, but especially in our nity rise to view, and we will feel no more own, fan the flame within us. He whose feelings inclined to the utterance of profane words in the have scarce been moved by the tale of wrongs ordinary scenes of life than we do on occasions which another told, no sooner begins to set it such as these. forth himself than his bosom swells with deep Let our deep and ever-present conviction be, emotion; and he, whose sense of duty is scarcely Thou, Lord, seest me. «The Lord hears, and lessened by the levity with which another speaks hearkens;' hears as truly and fully my idle words of it, no sooner himself begins to speak of it in a as my praying voice. And let us live under the slighting tone, than his heart assumes the charac- deep and abiding conviction, and dread rememter of his voice. So it is emphatically with all brance, that since the most idle and vain word profanity. To the very last it is repulsive in the may be to ourselves, or others, the seed of promouth of another, but in our we lose fanity, there is not an idle word for which we shall sight of its blackness. Like deformity, we only not have to give an account at the last day. Fearful see its hideous aspect in another's face or form, will be their doom, and bitter their agony of soul, but forget or excuse it in our own. That pro- whose idle words have unintentionally spread fanity of language is thus the fruitful seed of around them the contagious pestilence of profanity, profanity of heart, is obvious from the diligence infecting as with leprosy all brought into contact and manner of Satan's tempting us to its commis- with them, their children, domestics, associates, sion. He tenipts us not when alone merely, but! and friends. O! that our conversation werv
always (seasoned with salt,' and savoured of we dishonour him in his works; as the God of grace! then the effect would be blessed. Instead Providence, by impatient, discontented, and fretful of corrupting it would spread around us the feelings and thoughts of his dealings; as the God benign influences of piety, peace, good-will, and of ordinances, by the irreverent or careless use comfort—and thus our tongue would become the of them, or by the neglect of them; as the God instrument of good, and by our “words we should of the Bible, by our slighting it, carping at its be justified.
truths, or despising its teaching. In one or other, or all of these ways, do we profane the glorious attributes which he hath revealed and made
known; questioning his wisdom, doubting his THIRTIETN Dar.- EVENING.
love, braving his omnipotence, not duly impressed
with the conviction of his omnipresence, his "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the holiness, his wisdom, lis tender mercy.
This door of my lips,' Psal. cxli. 3.
very day, how often have not merely vain and UNDER a deep conviction of the dangers which sinful thoughts intruded, and been cherished in we ourselves lave encountered from the profane our minds; but how often have we spoken unadlanguage and vain words of others—under a lively visedly with our lips, uttering that which was impression of the power of mere words to not right of God, that which was dishonouring awaken emotions in the heart, and sensible at and displeasing to him; and, dread thought! who once of our own corruption, and the corruptible- can tell what fruits may be found at the harvest ness of others, how fearful is the responsibility of eternity, as the growth of those seeds of prounder which we lie to regulate our words aright; fanity which we have thus recklessly scattered how truly righteous is our God in declaring that abroad. And now that we are convinced of our for
every idle word we must render an account; sin, who can answer for another day? who can and how fervently will every one, who desires say that he will at all times feel, as perchance he the glory of God, and the good of souls, and his may do at this moment; feel so reverently, that own peace and purity, entreat, with the psalmist, his thoughts will impart a reverential character that the Lord would ‘set a watch before his to all his words? “The tongue can no man tame, moutli, and keep the door of his lips."
it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.' But Out of the heart proceed blasphemics, and let us not make our frailty an excuse for sin, for every evil and base thing that degrades humanity.
divine grace can effect what man cannot do. “My This is the well-spring of all that is outwardly grace is sufficient for you,' is the promise of God. sinful, the fountain whence issue irreverence, and He never said to any, Seek my face in vain. If corrupt, and corrupting, and impious words. not straitened in ourselves, we are not straitened What watchfulness, then, should characterise us, in God. If we will but truly pray, 'Set thou, O in regard both to the inward and the outward Lord, a watch before my mouth, and keep the man; and if we would have the life boly, and the door of my lips;' and combining watchfulness with tongue kept under restraint, let us keep the prayer, and firm purpose of soul with stedfast heart with all diligence.' In us, that is, in our reliance on God's promised grace, we shall soon flesh, there dwelleth no good thing; the carnal learn, and be able to make the apostle's song our mind is enmity against God. He is not in all own : “Most gladly, then, will I glory in infirthe thoughts of the natural man. And while we mities, that the power of Christ may rest upon live on earth, we, alas! are more or less burdened me; I take pleasure in infirmities, for when I am with this fleshly tabernacle; even God's people weak, then am I strong.' are sensible that much of the old man remaineth "Set a watch, O Lord,' lest, through our often in them. What a warfare do we maintain against infirmities, our unworthy, or fretful, or irreverthe flesh! what efforts do we ceaselessly require ent thoughts of thee should become the means of to put forth, in order to restrain our murmuring, awakening or confirming sinful thoughts in the or discontented, or repining thoughts! what pain. corruptible hearts of others. “Set a watch, O ful endeavours to banish levity, and awaken rever-Lord,” lest, through our hasty and inadvertent ential feelings, even at the hour of prayer! and words, these thine enemies, who watch for our oh, how much more amid the business or plea- balting, should find occasion to mock the name sures of ordinary and every day life! Ever and of thy professing people. Set a watch, O Lord,' anon we feel sinful thoughts of God rising to our lest, by our use of irreverent words, we come to lips, light thoughts of him imparting a levity to indulge in irreverent thoughts, and imperceptibly our words; as the God of creation, low often do slide into greater and increasing profanity. “Set
a watch, O Lord,' lest thine own holy name be we may also enjoy thee for ever! So fill our dishonoured, and lightly esteemed on earth. “So hearts with a sense of the glories of thy name, keep the door of our lips,' that no profanity may that there shall be no room for one indifferent, ever at any time, or in any place, or in any com- far less irreverent, thought of thee. So unvail pany, proceed from them. “So keep the door' from thyself to us, that from the overflowings of love, which our words flow out, that nothing but praise as well as the tremblings of holy fear, the thought may ever issue thence. So keep the door,' that of thee shall never leave us, and in our gayest profanity and vanity shall never reach even the moments, we still may live as in the solemnities lip. So watch, and keep us by thine omnipotent of thy presence, and amid the untold riches of and ever present grace, that we shall fulfil the thy grace! Lord, atune our hearts and lips, for great object of our being, by glorifying thee, and those triumphant songs on which seraphs and this not of constraint, but willingly and cheer- saints have entered, and in which we hope ere fully; that while we thus glorify and praise thee, long to engage!
J U L Y.
The sabbath being signalized by the express FIRST DAY.-MORNING.
appointment of the divine Lawgiver, we next ' Remember the sabbath-day, to keep it holy. Six inquire into the perpetual obligation of this sacred
days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: day. And this appears from the manner in which but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord While the ceremonial law, which was typical of the
the Lord gave the commandment to the Jews. thy God,' &c., Exod. xx. 8—10.
coming Saviour, and the civil or national code, The divine institution of the sabbath throws which was to be the guide of the Jews in secular around the subject a sacredness which is fitted matters, were conveyed to them by the lips of deeply to awe the minds of all those who have Moses; the ten commandments were given in a any respect for God's authority. Who can think separate and more solemn form. These Jehovah lightly or speak irrevently of that day, which is wrote on two tables of stone, to point out their called by Jehovah himself “the sabbath of the Lord perpetuity—they were written with the finger of thy God? While we may canvass with perfect free- God, to signify their vast comparative importance dom, the institutions of men, however hallowed they were written on both sides, on the one side by ancient usage in the church, or approved by and on the other, to signify that none should add to, the experience of God's people, it is very differ- or take away from them. ent when we venture to sit in judgment on the Of these ten commandments, this which we waysand purposes and institutions of the Almighty, are now considering is one. It holds no suborthe Eternal, the all-wise God. Ilere a holy dinate place in the decalogue. It is not distinreverence and awe becomes us; here we must guished from the rest of the commandments, be still and know that Jehovah is God; when he unless it be by the emphatic warning, 'Rememspeaks we must be silent. The very words with ber—by the more full and minute detail of which the decalogue is introduced, and prefaced, its requirements, and the reiteration of its injuncare fitted to awe and solemnize the mind, in tions. And the solemnity of its closing appeal regard to every injunction : The Lord spake to obedience, is not surpassed by that which all these words.' The Lord whom we profess to is annexed to any of the rest. Though there honour and adore, the Lord in whom we live and were then no other mention of the sabbath in move, the Lord who is to judge us at the last scripture, though this had been its first and day—He spake them. Applying this consid- its only institution, he would be a bold man ineration to this fourth commandment, who will deed, who in virtue of his own inclination, or venture to question God's right, to appoint such pretended wisdom, would dare to erase that set times as he sees fit for his own service; and which the finger of God has engraven on a table who will deny his wisdom, in appointing a weekly of stone, or should alter the injunction, and make sabbath, a seventh day of hallowed rest ? it run thus : Forget the sabbath-day, and do
not keep it holy, seven days shalt thou labour, The duty here set forth admits of a brief but and do all thy work; for there is no day a holy comprehensive definition. It demands that one sabbath unto the Lord thy God! Why was it that whole day in seven be withdrawn from the God wrote this commandment on the table of stone, ordinary avocations of life, and devoted to the and placed it among these other precepts, which are Lord, to his worship and service. The law of universally allowed to be purely moral, and of per- morality binds us to holiness of life every day, petual obligation, and laid it up in the ark of the and forbids the immoderate pursuit of worldly testimony, if it was not a part of the moral law? business and carnal pleasure at all times. If Why had it not its place amid the ceremonial and therefore this commandment does not free us from national institutes which God gave the Jews, if it such obligation on the six days of the week, it was merely ceremonial? The inference is plain, requires a special and peculiar sanctity on the it was not a mere Jewish enactment, but a com- sabbath. mand obligatory on all mankind, in all ages, and The practice of ancient times explains what is under every dispensation, because a command meant by sanctifying any thing, or keeping it moral like the others.
holy to God. Persons, and places, and vessels There are various other considerations which were so sanctified under the law, i. e., they were set forth the perpetuity of the sabbath, viz., 1. set apart from ordinary purposes, and were exIts institution from the foundation of the world, clusively devoted to the service of God. These Gen. ii. 1-3. 2. Its aptitude to the physical were profaned, not only by being used for sinful condition of man and beast. 3. God's requiring purposes, but also by being used as commonthe Gentile and the stranger to yield obedience, not only by being used for ordinary purposes, but as well as the Jew. 4. The universal practice by not being used in the service of God. So it of all Christendom, from the days of Christ to is with the sabbath: we profane it, when we the present time; and, 5. The reasons by which make its rest an opportunity for sin, when we do God enforces it, all of perpetual and universal not rest from ordinary duties or pleasures, howobligation, if they have or ever had any bearing ever lawful on other days; we profane it also on the subject at all. And in addition to these, when by lengthened slumbers or lazy apathy, the very words of the commandment impress most we loiter out the day in idleness, and we profane powerfully its obligation on our minds. “Remem- it when God is not sought and worshipped, and ber the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy.' There is our souls are not cared for in the ordinary instisomething peculiarly emphatic in the admonition, tutions of his grace, in the sanctuary, the family, Remember. It is the only commandment that and the closet. has this memento attached to it; as if Jehovah There is an exception to the rest and pious provided against that proneness in man to forget occupation to which we are summoned on the its obligation, divert it from the purpose for sabbath, viz., the portion of time required for the which it was designed, and appropriate it to works of necessity and mercy. Though these Iiis own secularities. Remember the sabbath, works may interrupt our rest, yet they are to be for you are apt to forget it-Remember it, for performed as duties. Christ has taught us this; it is due to me, the Lord your God-Remem- but let us not forget that he has taught it not as ber it, for I have blessed it, and it will prove an improvement upon the fourth commandment, a day of spiritual growth and gladness—Re-but as implied and required by God, under the member it, so that all your secular work may
Jewish dispensation. be ended, before its arrival-Remember it, Alas! alas ! for fallen man, that he has so lost throughout all its hours, so that it may be kept all relish for the presence and the service of his holy_Remember its author, its requirements, God—that he calls the Sabbath a weariness, and its advantages, its propriety—Remember it when speaks of its rest as burdensome, Tremble, ye it is past, to recall its lessons, to fulfil its vows, who feel in your hearts this enmity against God. to avoid the sins then confessed and wept over, Tremble for eternity, for how shall two walk and to exercise the grace then received-Remem- together, except they be agreed. Nor think that ber it; it is the sabbath of the Lord thy God, the because the dispensation of grace has superseded memento of creation, the memorial of redemp- that of the law, the privilege of believers contion, the type of that rest on which Jesus entered sists in devoting fewer of its precious hours to when his work here below was finished—Remem- God, and giving more of them to the world. God ber I have appointed, and you have need of its forbid that Christ, who came to bring us back to holy rest, need of it for your bodies, especial need God, should have abridged, by one hour, that day of it for your ever-during spirits.
of hallowed rest, that sabbath which God has