« PreviousContinue »
be said, that there is to be found any where an | displayed; when mortal shall put on immortality, arrangement, or an object, having no beneficial and corruption incorruption, and death shall be use, and whose sole and ultimate end is to pro- swallowed up of victory; and the saints of God duce misery. Whence then has evil been derived, set free, shall rise and reign in the kingdom of wherefore has it been permitted to enter ? This is the Father for ever and ever. a mystery which the scriptures explain in the most explicit manner. By one man's disobedience sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death hath come upon all men in that all have
First Day.—EVENING. sinned.' But the visible creation forms as it were only
"It is good for me to draw near to God,' P's. a platform for the exhibition of a still more
lxxiii. 28. glorious work, the work of redemption. In it The benefits of religion are incalculably great the perfections of God as the Saviour, as well as and precious. It constitutes the safety, the the Creator of man, are revealed. The purest blessedness, and the ornament of our nature, to justice blends with the richest mercy; and the cherish its spirit, to taste of its joys, and to folholiness of the lawgiver is seen in unison with the low its counsels. Of all religious duties, to tender compassion of our Father in heaven. The draw near to God’ is the most sacred ; and whengift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our ever it is rightly engaged in, it cannot fail to be Lord. At first man was made to be as it were accompanied with benefits which will enable the the priest of the glorious temple of creation ; and sincere worshipper to join in the auspicious acwith rational soul, articulate speech, and spiritual knowledgment of David, it is good for me to service, the duty belonged to him of celebrating draw near to God. It is eminently a spiritual the worship and praise of the great Author and duty; and consists in realizing with more than Governor of all things. But what, alas, has man usual solemnity and awe the divine presence; in become, and what does he continue to be, until resting with vigorous faith and confidence in the washed from his sin in the blood of Jesus, and divine word; in feeling and confessing our deep renewed in the spirit of his mind after the image unworthiness and guilt before him who is of of him who created him? He is an apostate purer eyes than to behold iniquity; in laying hold from the kingdom of righteousness, an alien from of the righteousness of Christ, and confiding God, a slave of sin and Satan, and the devoted in his all-prevailing intercession and infinite victim of condemnation and death. And how merits ; in exercising the privilege of transacting wonderful the interposition of sovereign grace; with God in prayer, and praise, and other reliwhether we regard the state in which it finds us, gious duties; and in drawing from his excellencies or the rank and the honour to which it designs and perfections motives for love, for hope, and for to raise us. The work of God, in reconciling a joy in God. guilty world to himself, not imputing to men their When compared with any of the other pretrespasses, stands forth to every reflective mind vailing employments of life, what an enhancement who devoutly regards it under an aspect as pecu- is conferred upon that which is here commended liarly divine, as the astonishing operation by which to our adoption, whether we consider its nahe formed all things out of nothing. To educe ture or effects. There is a social principle in from a state of moral evil, such as this world pre-| human nature, and rightly exercised it may be sents, those glorious results which the gospel con- productive of much good; but how often does templates, to convert rebels into sons; to give man employ it to evil. What baneful lessons them the victory over sin, and Satan, and death; may be learned in the society which is most conto advance them to the enjoyment of a glorious genial to the ungodly mind; and how injurious are immortality, and to set them at his own right the effects produced by an indiscriminate mixture hand in heavenly places, manifests an infinitude of with the world. But wisdom, grace, and holilove and mercy, of unparalleled grandeur, such ness, the blessing which addeth no sorrow, the as no created mind could have conceived, until it joy unspeakable and full of glory, and which was actually revealed. When the heavens and the maketh not ashamed, form the portion of those who earth were made, the morning stars sang together, habituate themselves to wait upon God, and who and the sons of God shouted aloud for joy; but seek his face in spirit and in truth. Like Moses what higher and intenser acclamations of delight on descending from the mount, who bore upon his and praise shall distinguish that day, when all countenance and his person the indication of that the glory of the work of redemption shall stand glorious presence in which he had stood, they will carry with them unto the duties, the labours, and It is also good to draw near to God, as your the trials of life, a sacred influence which will at Preserver; to celebrate his goodness every mornonce dignify their characters, and strengthen, and ing, and his faithfulness every night. He is the comfort their minds. For whether it be to temper strength of our lives, and the length of our the gaiety of youth with discretion, to abate the days; he compasseth our path and our lying pride and presumption of a fleeting prosperity, to down, and is acquainted with all our ways. “The check the repining murmurs of a state of distress, Lord reigneth, let the earth be glad, and the to soothe the sorrows of bereavement and desola- multitude of the isles rejoice. What contenttion, or to cheer the bed of affliction and of death; ment, security, gratitude, and resignation, would how good is it to draw near to God.
it not inspire, to cast all our care upon God, and But farther, as a sacred duty, how appropriate to acknowledge the righteousness, the faithfulness, and just is the acknowledgment, here made, in and the mercy with which he governs all his regard to drawing near to God. There is a con- creatures, and makes all things work together for scious enjoyment in following the dictates of truth his own glory and the best interests of those who and righteousness; and in acting in unison with the love him. principles of an enlightened conscience; whilst, on It is good to draw near to God as your Rethe other hand, there is a sense of bitterness and deemer; to supplicate the aids of his grace, to self-reproach attendant on the neglect of known treasure up the promises and consolations of his duties, and the violation of sacred and acknow- faithfulness and loving-kindness, to meditate upon ledged obligations. We cannot, and we ought not, y all the excellence of his character, all the riches indeed, to draw near to God, to minister to a self- of his grace, and all the glory of his kingdom. nighteous and self-complacent spirit. We need for- In fine, it is good to draw near to God as your giveness, even for our best duties; and our devo- Judge; to examine yourselves by his holy word, to tional services, no less than our ordinary actions, can implore, in the spirit of unfeigned penitence, the only find acceptance with an infinitely holy God forgiveness of sin, and an interest in his grace; to through the merits of the Saviour. At the same beseech the sacred guidance of his wisdom and the time, 'to draw near to God' with a sincere and powerful efficacy of his Spirit amidst the snares humble desire to serve him acceptably, through and temptations of life ; and to devote yourselves, Jesus Christ, cannot fail to be accompanied with both soul, and body, and spirit, to his holy and comfort and joy ; for it shows to the extent that blessed service. Now unto him that is able to we are enabled to do so, that our hearts are im- keep you from falling, and to present you faultless pressed by divine grace, that we are alive to a before the presence of his glory, with exceeding sense of our spiritual duty, and that we have be- joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory come reconciled to God through the blood of the and majesty, dominion and power, both now and Cross. A knowledge of this should dictate the ever. Amen.' earnest and habitual prayer that God would quicken us by the Holy Spirit to love and serve him; that he would draw us, by the cords of love, into a state of closer and more spiritual com
Second Day.—MORNING. munion, and that he would increase in us that faith without which it is impossible to please God. I ' All scripture is given by inspiration of God, 2 It is good to draw near to God as your
Tim. iii. 16. Creator; to realize your dependence upon him, How endlessly diversified, and even opposite, have to reverence his high and glorious perfections, and been the views and sentiments of those reputed to stir up your minds to gratitude, adoration, and the wisest men by the world, upon subjects of thanksgiving, towards him, as the supreme source the highest and most sacred importance. What a í all being, and of all blessing. How delightful labyrinth the history of the schools and sects which to be able to see God in all his works, and to from time to time have risen, flourished, and then find incentives to praise him in the glory of the passed into oblivion. We need not wonder, alheavens, and in all the fullness of the world.' though a mind perplexed and bewildered with the The inspired psalmist exhibits, in many interest- endless mass of incongruous tenets which have ng passages, how the pious mind may hold con- been promulgated, should almost sink into despair verse with God, through the medium of his about the possibility of ever finding truth. But Forks, and offer up the tribute of an intelligent the gracious Author of our being, he who gave praise in behalf of universal nature, to its Creator | man understanding, has mercifully interposed to and its King.
remedy this great and sore evil, and has placed before us, in the sacred oracles, the knowledge | loftiness of pride disdains to learn from the source which is necessary to make us wise unto salva- of revelation, as something altogether abject and tion.
useless ; the presumptuous complacency of a selfThe subjects about which scripture is concerned, righteous spirit scorns to admit its humbling truths, though the farthest from the reach of mere human and rejects it as a libel on the character of human investigation, are of the highest practical moment nature; the boldness of impenitence and intidelity and of the most enduring personal interest to calls in question the justice and truth of its reevery member of our race. The being, the per- presentations, concerning the guilt and penalty of fections, and the counsels of God; the nature, the sin, and affects to compliment the mercy of God authority, and the sanctions of the divine law; the at the expence of his truth; the love of the world demerit of sin; the method of restoration to the spurns the sacred principles which it inculcates as favour of God through a Redeemer; the regene- visionary and enthusiastic, whilst the lawless viorating and sanctifying agency of the Holy Spirit ; lence of vice and licentiousness blasphemes its the covenant relation in which God stands to his authority as a tyranny subversive of the natural people ; the unalterable love which he bears to liberty and happiness which are the prerogative them, and the ineffable blessedness to which he of man. shall exalt them, constitute an outline of the The doctrine, that all scripture is given by ingrand themes presented to our knowledge in the spiration of God, impresses a peculiar value upon divine testimonies. Every great and solemn every portion of the sacred volume, and should question which we can desire to have solved in secure the conviction that a design, worthy of relation to our duty, our interests, and our pro- infinite wisdom and righteousness, pervades all spects, as accountable beings, is satisfactorily settled it contains. Let us aspire to possess an eminently in the scriptures, and it is no slight demonstration sanctifying and comforting experience of the of their excellence that whilst they shed a copious majesty, the power, the purity, the wisdom, and light upon every subject truly interesting or the excellence which distinguish the sacred oraimportant, in a religious and moral point of view, cles. They are more precious than gold; yea, they utterly abstain from gratifying the idle in-than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey quiries of a mere fruitless curiosity. To derive or the honey comb. The main design of the benefit from the holy scriptures, we must read them Spirit of inspiration, in both the Old and the with reverence, humility, faith, penitence, and an New Testament, is to reveal Christ; to make earnest and prayerful spirit, that we may find them known his character, his offices, and his work to be to our souls a savour of life unto life. Re- as a Saviour; to invite sinners to come to him, linquishing the proud spirit of self-sufficiency, and believe on him, that he may be made unto which is so natural to the human mind in its them of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctifiunregenerate state, we should sit with the teach- cation, and complete redemption. How solemn ableness of little children at the feet of inspira- are the warnings against despising the divine tion, and the sacred testimony, thus saith the testimonies, and rejecting Christ. “Whosoever Lord,' should be decisive upon every subject, and shall fall on this stone, shall be broken, but on command the profoundest homage of our under whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind them to standings and of our hearts. Whatever appar-powder.' ent difficulties we may find in any part of scrip
« Within this awful volume lies ture, we should reflect, that it ought to be ex
The mystery of mysteries. pected that the only wise God’ should have
Oh ! happiest they of human race,
To whom our God has given grace discoveries to place before us beyond our capacity
To hear, to read, to fear, to pray, fully to conceive, and works to reveal past
To lift the latch, and force the way: finding out. A consciousness of our spiritual
But better had they ne'er been born,
Who read to doubt, or read to scorn.' blindness and liability to err on all subjects relative to salvation, should dictate a spirit of fervent and habitual supplication to the great Father of lights, from whom cometh down every good and
SECOND DAY.—EVENING. perfect gift. To how many does the power of indwelling corruption render the volume of in- ' But the Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost, whom spiration a sealed book, because they neglect the
lect the the Father will send in my name, he shall teach
the Father will send in my duty to which they are called in this respect; you all things, John xiv. 26. * If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who It is the privilege of the redeemed to be exalted giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.' The I to the most distinguished rank, and to the most
glorious prospects. Not only are they delivered / assert that they are insufficient of themselves, exfrom a state of condemnation, but they are ad- clusive of the power of the Holy Spirit, to make vaneed to the dignity of the sons of God, and men wise unto salvation. They claim for them' receive the spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, selves no higher honour than that of being the Abba, Father. And although the world knows “sword of the Spirit,' the instrument which he them not, as it knew not their divine Master, wields for penetrating and subduing the soul of that renders not the communications with heaven, the sinner. The divine Author of Christianity which they are privileged to enjoy, or the bless- teaches us that it is the Spirit who quickeneth, ings from on high with which they are visited, the word profiteth little. And one of the the less real or the less precious. The Holy greatest apostles and ministers of the New TesGhost, the third person in the adorable God-tament has placed it upon record, that the nahead, is equally concerned as the Father and tural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit the Son in promoting the work of human re- of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither demption; and it constitutes his special province can he know them, because they are spiritually to form the medium of communication through discerned. The constant misapprehension of our whom Christ and the blessings of salvation are | Saviour's own immediate disciples, it has been sealed and applied to believers. A knowledge well observed, of which we read so much in the of his person, and of his work, accompanied with gospel, was certainly due as much to their being an earnest desire to enjoy the benefits which he blind, as to their being in the dark; to their deconveys, is essential to salvation ; and, accord- fect in the power of seeing, as to any defect in ndy, the Saviour concluded not his personal the visibility of what was actually set before ministry, nor left the earth, until he had first in them. stracted his disciples, that they were henceforth It is the province of the Holy Spirit to open to look upon themselves as placed more immedi- the heart, as in the case of Lydia, to attend to ately under the guidance, protection, and consola- the things that are revealed in the gospel, and tion of the divine Spirit, whom, at his interces-spoken by the ministers of Christ; to impress aun, the Father should send down upon them. convictions of sin, as took place on the day of The agency of the Spirit is distinguished by the pentecost, with the three thousand who were Dost consummate wisdom and grace, and he converted under the preaching of Peter; to imulapts his communications and blessings with ad- part faith, and to enable the sinner effectually to mirable suitableness to the various circumstances flee to Christ for salvation, as happened with the of the church, to the diversified exigencies of be- Ethiopian eunuch, the Philippian jailor, and nerers, and to the peculiar openings of providence, others; and to produce a growing experience of nad to the state of the world at different periods. the power and efficacy of divine grace upon the On the day of pentecost, and during the age of soul, and a persevering devotedness in the Chrismiraculous interposition, he manifested his pre- tian life under all its duties, and under all its
toe by affixing the seal of heaven, by signs, and trials, as was exemplified by the faithful disciples randers, and mighty deeds, to the doctrines which of the apostolic and of every subsequent age. the apostles delivered. At all times his opera- | When Paul would express his confidence, that ons is necessary to render the ordinances of the the Thessalonians had received the gospel, when
pel efficacious, that sinners may be convinced it was first preached to them, in a saving manner, and converted ; saints edified and comforted; and he does so by ascribing their reception of it to the church built up in faith and holiness to eter- the agency of the Holy Spirit. “For our gospel life.
came not unto you in word only, but also in The necessity for divine teaching arises from power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much as| corruption and moral blindness, together with surance. All vital godliness, all genuine and
alienation of heart from God, characteristic permanent religious principles, must then be imhuman nature in its fallen state. It is not planted in the soul by the Spirit in every inmagh to have the objective knowledge of divine stance; and his agency, and his blessing, must tangs set before the mind in the volume of in- also continue to attend the work, throughout all
ration, if the mind itself is incapable of rendering its progress, onwards to its final consummation in top attention to them, by an aversion which re- glory. The gift of the Holy Spirit, and of his Date the subject altogether, or by sinful prejudices precious influences, was the purchase of the Rewhich warp ite vision, and prevent the truth from deemer's blood ; and it was in virtue of the effi'ng fairly and distinctly felt. We do not depre-cacy of his atoning sacrifice, that when he ascended azte the value of the divine testimonies when we / up into heaven, he obtained his interposition to
Twenty-first Morning—Man made after the image of God, Gen. i. 26. .
Evening—End of Creation—God's glory, . Rom. xi. 36. . 52
.. • Evening —Help meet for man, . . Gen. ii. 18. 58
Evening —Watchfulness and prayer, . Mat, xxvi. 41.
Thirtieth . Morning—Israel, a sinful nation, . Isa. i. 4.
Evening -None that doeth good, . . Eccl. vii. 20. 77
Evening — A new heart will I give you, . Ezek. xxxvi. 26.
Evening ---Deliverance from the power of darkness, Col. i. 13. .
Evening - Redemption from the curse of the law, Gal. iii. 13..
... . . Evening —Blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin, 1 John i. 7..
... . . Evening -Christ from above, and above all, John iii. 31. . 100