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be it. Take and use it.” But let God touch it, to take any part of it away, and how distressed, and well nigh desperate it makes some who profess to be Christians! and how unlike a thing sacred, and by our act made sacred to God, we use it. " Holiness to the Lord” we inscribe on all our property, and then utterly disregarding the label, we use it exclusively for ourselves.
So also we devote life to God. But he must not on any account take it. How we tremble when we apprehend that he is going to receive what we offer to him! O death, can it be that thou hast lost thy sting? Blessed Jesus, how reluctant thy disciples are to have thee come and take them to thyself! Forgive us—we know not what we do.
Once more, what strange, inconsistent beings wa are! If it be one characteristic of the righteous man, that he "sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth, not,” how much more essential to rectitude must it not be to comply with the terms of the oath, which we have sworn, not to man, but to God; and when the tendency of the oath is not our hurt, but our greatest, and most lasting good! As Christians, we have sworn to God. We have taken the sacrament and that often, and not without deliberation. Many oaths are on us. And now shall we change? Shall we draw back ? Shall we refuse to perform, or, as the case may be, to submit, because of some trifling inconvenience, some transient evil, which God can
and will make to conduce to our ultimate and eternal good ?
36. The Pity of the Lord.
There is a great deal of the Bible which seems not to be believed even by those who profess and suppose that they believe it all. And this is true, if I mistake not, of what some would call the best parts of the Bible—those parts, for example, which speak of the kind feelings of God towards his creatures, and especially towards those of them who fear him, I suspect that even Christians read them with a sort of incredulity. They seem to them almost too good to be true. But why should not God feel towards us as he says he does ? Is he not our Father? Has he not nourished and brought us up as children? Why should it be thought' a thing incredible with us, that God should feel as a father does towards his children? I never read that 103d Psalm, but I stop at the 13th verse: Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him;" and I read it a second time, and I find myself asking, not merely in admiration, but with some degree of unbelief: “ Can it be that the Lord pities us, and pi
ties us like as a father his children? I know the Lord is good to all. How can he, who is love, be other than benevolent? It were contrary to his nature not to be. But pity expresses more than goodness—more than benevoience. There is an unmovedness in mere goodness. But in pity the heart melts, and the eye weeps and the whole soul is moved as from its seat. And this is especially true of a parent's pity. Can it be possible that God pities after that manner ?” O yes, it is possible; and it has passed out of the limits of possibilities into the circle of facts. The Lord pitieth them that fear him-pitieth, as a father, you, if you fear him. His feelings towards you are fully up to those which you can conceive, or from experience know to be those of the most tender parent towards his children. Yes, God pities you. That nature which is love, feels and exercises compassion towards you in your sorrows and trials. That great heart is affected by your misery and griefs, as our hearts are, when at the sight of suffering we weep. Yes, Christian, God is sorry for you. Oh what a thought this for an hour of trial! What a sentiment this to bear sul. fering with! What if thou dost suffer? Is it not enough that God pities thee? We should be willing to suffer, if he will sympathise. We should never know what divine sympathy is, if we did not suffer This one consideration--that Gad pities, is worth more than all philosophy.
There is much that is interesting and lovely in pity, whoever be the object of it. There is, however, a peculiar tenderness, which belongs to the pity felt for suffering children. Nothing goes so keenly to the heart as the child's tear and tale of sorrow. And is the pity of the Lord like this? Yes. It is not said that he pities, as man pities man; or as one pities children; or even as a parent pities children; but as
1 a father pitics his children, so the Lord pities. “Like as a father.” Like as one who most affectionately loves, pities the dear object of his love, his child, his own child, when that child is sick, and he looks
upon his altered countenance, and with a weeping eye watches over him day and night, and hears his moans, and is imploringly appealed to by him for relief, which it is not in his power to give; like as he pities, so the Lord pities. So inexpressibly feels he towards them that fear him. Such deep and undefinable emotions as a parent's heart is occupied with, when he says “my poor child.” So the Lord pities. Can it be? It is even so. Well then, come want, come sickness, come sorrow, if such pity may come with it. The relief exceeds the suffering. The support is greater than the burden. It not only bears
the soul. But how does a father pity! Does he pity so as rever to chastise? Oh no. " What son is he whom his father chasteneth not ?" He chastens out of pity. But he so pities that he is infinitely far from tak
up, but lifts
ing delight in the smallest sufferings of his children, even when it becomes his duty for their good to inflict them. It hurts him more to chastise, than them to be chastised. In all their affliction he is afflicted; and more afflicted than they. Have
you never correc ed a child, and gone away and wept in pure pity for him? Have you never denied him something, and found it a greater self-denial? Is such your heart toward
children? Such is God's toward his "He doth not afflict willingly.”
Again, a father so pities that he would spare or relieve his child, if he could; that is, if he had the power; or having the power, it were proper he should exercise it. A parent sometimes has the power to relieve and does not exert it. The principle of benevolence within him which
greatest good of his child for the longest period, forbids that he should yield to the impulse of compassion, which calls for the rendering of immediate relief. He pities his child too much to relieve him. So the Lord pities. He has always the power to relieve. And of ten he exerts it. He always would, if it were, in view of all considerations, proper and benevoleni that he should. He, who for thee spared not his own Son, would spare thee every sorrow thou hast, and would relieve thine every pain, but“ whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth.”
A father so pities his children that he would, if he could, even suffer in their stead. More than one