Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

• seen with our eyes, and “heard with our ears,' and óbe-Jof truth, and will be more displeasing to him than the absence lieved with our hearts,' we will regard him as our only “re- of all acknowledgment of his excellence and supremacy. fuge in the time of trouble,' and cling to him as one who is Whatever we say to him; whatever declarations we make of *mighty to save," and worthy to be the confidence of all the dependance upon his bounty, or of submission to his power; ends of the earth.'

whatever pledges we utter of future devotedness to his service Nor will we rest satisfied with a mere consciousness of this and glory ;-it must all be the faithful expression of our conunlimited reliance upon God; we will give it free expressionvictions and our feelings. We must be conscious of the vow in those cases, which are calculated to call it forth, by applying that we intimate in words having its origin, and its purpose, to him for the help or the deliverance that we need, in the and its meaning within us. And He to whom it is offered language of devout and fervent supplication. We will be- must see it to be the effusion of a sentiment which goes forth seech him to preserve us : to preserve us from the temporal with the full approbation of our understanding, and with the adversities that would otherwise distress and overwhelm us; unreserved consent of our will, and with the cheerful tribute but above all to preserve us from the spiritual calamities by of our affections. which our souls are put in peril of present discomfort, and And, aware of our aptness to forget what we have resolved • everlasting destruction. We will beseech him to preserve and promised in reference to God, we must frequently remind us from the workings of inward corruption, and from the our souls, as it were, of the ties by which they are voluntariwiles of the wicked one, and from the snares and temptations ly and solemnly bound to him, and of the consequent obligaof an evil world. We will beseech him to preserve us from tions which they have to fulfil. It is of infinite importance the sins that most easily beset us,- from avarice, or from sen- for us, both as to comfort and improvement, never to lose sight suality, or from worldly mindedness, or from indifference, or of the fact that we are not our own but his.

But there are from sloth. We will beseech him to preserve us from dis- many weaknesses and corruptions within us, and there are trusting his providence, and from slighting his grace ; from many temptations and delusions without us, which tend either Judas's heartless treachery, and from Peter's cowardly denial; to enfeeble the impression of that fact, or to efface it altogethfrom the unbelief of the Sadducees, and from the hypocrisy, er. And, therefore, we cannot be too careful to prevent it from and self-righteousness, and bigotry of the Scribes and Phari- being impaired; we cannot be too vigilant against the apsees; from the iniquity that injures men, and from the proach or influence of any thing that would injure it in the impiety that dishonours God, and from the intemperance least degree; we cannot be too anxious to add to its native that degrades ourselves; from the indulgences that im- vividness and strength; and with a jealousy of its fading pair our love to the Saviour, and the prejudices and pur- away, and with a desire of increasing its practical effect, we suits that weaken our faith in his merits; from the fear should often and seriously put ourselves in remembrance of of man, which bringeth a snare,' and from the fear of death,' what we have done, saying, like the Psalmist, O my soul, which makes us subject to bondage ; from the backsliding thou hast said unto the Lord, thou art my Lord.' which fills us with present remorse, and from the apostacy Here, however, there is another evil to be guarded against. which terminates in irretrievable ruin. We will beseech him When we have consecrated ourselves to God, and when reto preserve us from such evil as these; and we will enforce collecting this, we are active in his service, the Pharisaical • Preserve me, O God, for in thee do I my trust.' We feel of; that our labours may be beneficial to whom they are that in ourselves we have no resource, and that there is no rendered ; and that on account of these, we are entitled to his help for us in man. But we have found in God an all-suffi- favour and protection. There cannot be a greater or more cient refuge. In the exhibition of his character which he has pernicious mistake. Nothing that we are capable of doing afforded us, and in the manifold declarations which he has ad- can be of advantage to God. It can neither increase the sum dressed to us in his word, he exhorts, he encourages, he com- of his blessedness, nor the perfection of his character, nor the mands us to place our sole dependance upon Him, and to flee lustre of his glory. He is infinitely above us, and he stands to him as our strong hold in the day of trouble. And, there in no need of us. Supreme in the happiness of his being; unfore, when we cry to him for preservation and deliverance, it bounded in the attributes of his nature; self-existent, eternal is right that we should appeal to all that he has said, and to and unchangeable, he can derive no benefit from our services, all that he has promised ; and plead the confidence which he even though we had been as sinless as the angels in heaven, himself has taught us to rest on his mercy which never fail- and as distinguished by wisdom and by strength as they are. eth, on his wisdom whose depth is unfathomable, on his And how much more impressively should we feel the force of strength which is mighty and everlasting, and on his “truth this statement, when we recollect the ignorance, and the which he has magnified above all his name.'

weakness, and the pollution which adhere to us amidst our "O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my highest attainments in piety and virtue! The vilest thing on Lord. Here the Psalmist intimates that he had taken the earth may, of itself, or in its combinations, be useful to the Lord to be his Lord; and surely it is impossible for any of mightiest monarch that ever swayed a sceptre, because they us who are at once acquainted with our duty, and our interest, stand in the relation of one creature to another creature. But to make a better or a different choice. He is entitled to the as creatures we are removed at an immeasurable distance supremacy over us in every respect in which that supremacy from the Creator, and on this account, we cannot be profitacan be either exercised by him, or acknowledged by us. And ble to our Maker, as he that is wise and kind may be profitawhen we refuse him any measure of homage or submission ; ble to his neighbour. Whatever we have, or whatever we do, when we do not acquiesce in his disposal of every thing that that is entitled to the name of goodness, is the gift of his own concerns us; when we do not cheerfully commit ourselves bounty, bestowed upon us that we may have wherewithal to to him to be governed and treated according to his sovereign make a practical acknowledgment of our dependance upon pleasure, we forget what is due from the creature to the Crea- him, and to render the homage which is due to so great and tor, and are guilty of rebellion against the all-perfect ruler of gracious a God. And whether we offer to him the tribute of the universe. But it is not only our duty; it is also our in- our hearts or the praises of our lips, or the labours of our aeterest to take the Lord for our Lord. Surrendering ourselves tive life, we must still say to him, All things come of thee, to the dominion of any other being, or asserting our own inde- and of thine own have we given thee.' pendence, as if we were divinities, we provoke the holy dis- But while our goodness extendeth not to God, so as that pleasure of omnipotence, and must sink under its overwhelm- it can be useful to him or meritorious in his sight, it exing weight. But yielding implicitly and unreservedly to God, tendeth,' says the Psalmist, to the saints that are in the who is not more the holder of all authority, than he is the earth, and to the excellent in whom is all our delight.' fountain of all good, we must be safe, and we must be happy; There are saints in the earth. Alienated as men naturally because in that case there is nothing to interrupt the current are from God, and pervaded as their general character is by of his favour, and his favour must secure for every one who moral transgression, there are those of them to whom this enjoys it, guardianship from all evil, and the possession of appellation may be justly applied. They are saints; they every blessing.

are holy; they love what is holy in their hearts, and they It is necessary, however, that in this dedication of our practise what is holy in their lives. Their holiness indeed selves to God, the heart be really and chiefly concerned. It has much imperfection mixed with it, and comes far short of is the soul that must say to him, Thou art my Lord.' Mere what the divine law requires of them. But still it exists in language of this sort is easily employed; and in the estima- their principles, in their desires, in their endeavours, and in tion of those before whom it is used, it may have all the tone, their actual acquirements; and, therefore, it confers upon not only of sincerity, but of fervour, and it may procure for us them their leading and distinctive character. They are the reputation of personal and decided piety. But going out saints,-transformed and sanctified by divine grace; sepaof feigned lips,' it can meet with no acceptance from the God rated from a world that lieth in wickedness ;' made to see

[graphic]
[graphic]

a

a

and to feel the evil of sin; redeemed from its reigning is still in a body of corruption, and still in a world of temppower; animated to struggle against its temptations, and to tation and of trial. deny themselves to its indulgences; taught to love the The Psalmist not only asserts the excellence of the saints, character of God, and to obey his will, and to take delight but declares that in them was “all his delight.' And such in his commandments; and guided by his Spirit into a decid- will be the case with us, if our minds are actuated and ed, cordial, habitual, and persevering cultivation of those qua- governed by right sentiments. In the first place, and in the lities of the mind and conduct which constitute true holiness. highest measure, we will delight in God as the centre of all

Being thus saints, they are excellent.' They may be perfection, an as the fountain of all good. And in the next lightly esteemed among men; they may be made the subjects place, and in a proportionate degree, we will delight in such of ridicule and reproach; they may be accounted and treated as of his creatures as are entitled to our complacency from the the basest of hypocrites. And indeed a more striking and la- resemblance which they bear to him, or from their being mentable proof that such is actually the case, cannot easily be suitable to those affections which he permits us to cherish. conceived than this, that the very term which the Spirit of God Among these the saints will hold a distinguished place. employs to designate them in the Scripture, is the very term They are adorned with all those features of moral beauty, by which worldly men direct against them their malignity and which are fitted to secure our attachment, and to awaken in their scorsi, and by which they hold them up to general detesta- us emotions of satisfaction and pleasure. These indeed are tion and contempt. But it is a small matter to be thus possessed by the angels in a much higher style; but though judged of men's judgment; there is one that judgeth, even we must be gratified with meditating on the existence, the God.' And in his revealed word, while he denominates attributes, the employments, and the bliss of such exalted them saints,' he at the same time pronounces them to be and sinless beings, we cannot delight in them as we delight . excellent.' And how can they be otherwise than excellent in those of our fellow-men, who wear the same holy likein the true sense of that word? God is the standard of ness to God which they wear, and do his will upon earth as excellence, and they are like God. They are renewed after they do it in heaven; who, while they are thus clothed with his image; they conform to his will; they imitate his cha- those graces of piety, and purity, and benevolence, which racter; they love what he loves, and hate what he hates ; place these celestial spirits so near the throne of love, are and though by reason of natural and moral infirmity they still bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh;' who are the are frequently overtaken in a fault,' and sometimes fall into subjects of that redeeming mercy and of that sanctifying grievous sins, they yet sorrow for their unworthiness in his grace, by which they and we are united to one common head, sight, and according to his appointment, they apply to the and in one common hope ; and whose very failings and errors blood of atonement for the expiation of their guilt

, and put not only fill them with that penitential sorrow which only themselves under the sanctifying and guiding influences of endears a fellow-creature the more to our regard, but serve the Spirit of all grace, and labour with all their heart and to excite in us a deeper sympathy and a livelier interest in with all their strength to be every thing which the God of their behalf, and thus to enhance the joy that we feel when truth and purity requires. Thus .upproving the things that we see them keeping themselves pure from the corruption are excellent,' and thus doing the things that are excellent, that is in the world, cultivating the habits of godliness and they are the objects of God's affection, and are honoured virtue, and beautified with the salvation of the Gospel. with his favourable testimony.

But if we imitate the Psalmist, we will not simply delight And while this is the most satisfactory mode of demonstrating in the saints-in them will be all our delight. We will their excellence, it may be also illustrated by contrasting them take no delight in the wicked,—in those who have rebelled with their fellow men. It is neither their duty nor their habit against God, who have rejected the Saviour, who are conto assert their own superiority by making such a comparison. tinuing in the pollutions of sin. Even them, indeed, we But the comparison is stated in Scripture, when it is affirmed will not regard with sentiments of hatred or dislike. So far that the righteous is more excellent than his neighbour :' as they are blind to their own welfare and in danger of perthose who have not experienced the renewal which he has expe- dition, we will view them with deep-felt compassion, and rienced, and do not maintain the character which he maintains, withhold from them no expression of kindness and humanity are plainly destitute of those properties which assimilate the which their situation may demand from us. Nay, we will creature to his God, and make him worthy of the esteem and ad- look with an indulgent eye on every thing that is amiable in miration of every holy intelligence. Nay they are polluted and their temper, and dispositions, and conduct; following the degraded by qualities whose intrinsic turpitude, whose con- example of our Redeemer, who is said to have loved a young trariety to the supreme will, and whose mischievous and man that showed he had some good thing in him, though he ruinous effects expose them to the divine condemnation, and preferred the riches of the world to the service of the Saviour, alienate from them the regards of the wise and the good, and thus evinced that he was not of the number of the both in heaven and on earth. That unregenerated world, of saints. But we cannot delight in them, because they have which they form a part, and which so often puts good for not those principles, those affections, those substantial marks evil, and evil for good,' may admire and applaud them for of God's people, which we have learnt to prize as the only the very actions in which their spiritual debasement is em- legitimate causes of devoted and complacent regard. This bodied; but this is only an additional proof of their degene- kind and this degree of regard we will confine to the saints' racy, and imparts not one tittle of worth to palliate or to or the excellent ones of the earth :' the outgoings of our redeem their essential demerit. And even the most specious hearts will be to them, and to them alone. In the contemand comely appearance which their deportment may be made plation of their personal worth, we will feel a pleasure with to assume,-all the decencies, and honesties, and charities, which the most splendid endowments, and the most heroic that may find a place in it, and all the beneficial influence exploits of the ungodly, can never inspire our breasts. which may accidentally emanate from it,-cannot conceal And from those who are great, and wise, and happy in this from us its inherent depravity, and its total worthlessness, world's vocabulary, but not in the word of God, we will when we search into its spirit and principles, and apply to turn away to feast our minds, and nourish our virtue, amidst the the determination of its merits that test which is furnished faith, and the patience, and the righteousness of the true by the word and the law of God. But of how much purer Christian,-though, like his divine Master, whom he adores, and more elevated a cast than this,-how completely differ- and who has made him what he is, he be despised and ent from it, indeed, is the deportment of the saint! The rejected of men,' and have not where to lay his head.' latter has not only the aspect but the reality of excellence. Now, it is to the saints, who are thus excellent, and in It is excellent not merely in the estimation of fallible mor-whom we take delight, that our goodness extends. If we tals, but in the judgment of righteous, omniscient, and have just views of the relation in which they stand to God, unerring God. It is excellent in the effects which it pro- and of the character which they maintain; if we cherish toduces; in the deeds of which it consists; in the motives wards them those sentiments of love and admiration to which by which it is regulated; and in the source from which it their excellence entitles them; if we really rejoice in them springs. And while the deportment of the worldling has as God's children and as our brethren in Christ Jesus; it folworthlessness for its general character, and while any por- lows as a matter of course that we will do them good, actions of it which seem to be exceptions to that general cha-cording to their need and according to our ability. Their cirracter, are not so in truth, the deportment of the saint is cumstances are such as to admit of our services being benepervaded by excellence, both in its spirit and in its actings, ficial to them; and these services, so far as they are requirand the imperfections by which it is partially or occasionallyed, we are under indispensable obligations to render to the tarnished, are merely indications that he whom it charac- full extent of our capacity. Feelings of attachment and terises, though raised from the death of sin, and made a words of sympathy are well enough in their own place; but new creature, and consecrated to the service of his Maker, they are of no avail, unless accompanied with the doings of

6

6

[graphic]

a cordial and a practical benevolence; and by such doings our treatment of the saints must be habitually distinguished.

LECTURE V. It is incumbent on us, indeed, to do good to all men as we have opportunity;' and he is not a true and enlightened Christian that is a stranger to the exercise of this expanded Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another God: and universal charity,--that does not imitate his heavenly their drink-offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their Father who makes his sun to shine on the evil and the good, names into my lips. The Lord is the portion of mine inherand his rain to descend on the just and on the unjust. But itance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines it is peculiarly incumbent on us to do good to them who are are fallen unto me in pleasant places ; yea, I have a goodly of the household of faith.' Between them and us there is a heritage. I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel ; spiritual and intimate relationship, which not only warrants,

my reins also instruct me in the night-season.'—Psalm xvi. but calls for the exercise of a kindlier affection and the com

4-7. munications of a richer liberality, than what can be considered as due to those who are still • far from righteousness,' and The Psalmist had declared his trust in God, and upon that • far from God.' And we will be especially careful to let our ground applied for the divine protection and support. He goodness extend to them, when they are suffering persecution had reminded himself of his having taken the Lord for his on account of their marked separation from the world, and portion, and of his having promised to be his faithful and detheir faithful adherence to the cause of truth and duty. In voted servant. But in the midst of those happy and elevatsuch a contingency we will do what we can to invigorate their ed feelings which this was calculated to awaken, he did not faith, to preserve their stedfastness, to animate their hopes, forget the humility which it became him to cherish and to to comfort and encourage them in their way to Sion. We express. He acknowledged that all his doings, however exwill remember them in our prayers; we will assist them by cellent they might be in their own nature, and however beneour counsels; we will stimulate them by our example. And ficial in their effects, were utterly unprofitable to his Maker, while we thus attend to their spiritual necessities, we will and could merit no favour for him from that supreme and honot be unmindful of their temporal wants and circumstances. ly source. At the same time he acknowledged that his goodWe will study to protect them from the violence, and to vin-ness extended to his brethren of mankind, and especially to dicate them from the slanders, of unbelieving men. And by the saints, or the excellent of the earth ; that he was under countenancing their honest exertions, ministering of our abun- obligations to promote their comfort and welfare by every dance to them in their times of need, and consoling them when means in his power; and that to a sense of duty there was they suffer from injury or from neglect, we will endeavour to added the more persuasive motive of the pleasure that he had realise in their experience that maxim of the Bible which says in contemplating their worth, in holding intercourse with that godliness is profitable unto all things, having the prom- them, and in communicating to them whatever benefits he ise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come.' was able to confer.

All this we will do, in obedience to the claims of that com- At the beginning of the passage that we have now read, munity of faith and hope which we hold with our brethren the Psalmist introduces the subject of idolatry, and forms rein Christ Jesus, and in a wise adaptation of our conduct to specting it a worthy and decided resolution. Their sorrows the exigencies in which their religious profession may occa- shall be multiplied that hasten after another God; their sionally place them; and we do it from a solemn view to the drink-offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their account which we have to render at the last day, and to the names into my lips.' He here speaks of the misery of such specified character which we must have if we would be wel- as attach themselves to the worship and service of false gods: comed by our Judge in these cheering words: Come ye. Their sorrows shall be multiplied. Not only shall they be blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you subjected to calamity, but their calamities shall be manifold. from the foundation of the world. This sentence will rest One evil shall come upon them after another, till there be upon the fact that those on whom it is to be pronounced had such an accumulation of suffering as utterly to overwhelm been minutely careful to make their goodness extend to the and destroy them. And this arises from two causes. In the saints, and to the excellent of the earth, whom Christ thus first place, the gods in whom they have placed their configraciously condescends to identify with himself: • For I was dence are mere imaginary beings, who, of course, can do an hungered and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave nothing for them, and by their dependance upon them, they me drink; I was a stanger and ye took me in ; naked and ye are led into many dangerous and fatal errors. And, in the clothed me; I was sick and ye visited me; I was in prison second place, by forsaking the true God, they have forfeited and ye came unto me.' "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto all the advantages which trust in him, and obedience to him one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto would have certainly produced ; and by giving to another the me. Let all true Christians bear this continually in mind, glory which is due to him alone, they have provoked his holy and be determined by it not only to cultivate that charity indignation, and rendered it essential for the honour of his which goes out in deeds of beneficence among all the suffer- character and his government, to inflict upon them condign ing children of Adam, but especially to cultivate that bro- punishment. While they lose all the satisfaction and haptherly kindness which cares for the poor afflicted members of piness which results from believing the doctrines, and perChrist's body, and which, as manifested towards them, he forming the duties, and cherishing the hopes of true religion, will consider and reward as manifested towards himself. they also incur all the wretchedness that is so plentifully en

And let those who are in the habit of ridiculing and tra- gendered by the absurdities, the immoralities, and abominaducing the disciples of Christ, who persecute instead of pro- tions of a false and idolatrous system of faith. And even tecting them, and who draw the weapons of their reproach though no visible judgments, and no penal consequence of out of the armoury of the divine word, attaching the nickname any magnitude should befal them in this world, it is not posof saints to such as, if there be truth in the Gospel, God de- sible that having forsaken the true God to hasten after another lighteth to honour;' let those who speak and act thus, if un- god-having contracted guilt so heinous and aggravated as susceptible of generous feelings, and uninfluenced by any re- this implies, they should escape the divine condemnation in spect for that consistency which, as professing Christians, it the world to come. becomes them to observe, be persuaded by the terrors of that On account of the sinfulness and misery of such conduct, Lord' whom they insult as often as they traduce his people, the Psalmist determined that he should not be chargeable to desist from their cruel and unhallowed mockery, and to with it. He had too jnst a horror at its enormity, and adopt the more honourable, the more rational, and the safer too strong a sense of its enmity to his peace and safepart, of throwing the shield of their protection over those who ty, to allow himself to indulge in any of the forms or practhough subjected to suffering are now the sons of God,' and tices of idolatry. He was surrounded with its votaries, will soon enter into their heavenly inheritance. They may and many of his people had joined them; but the displeasure • reject this counsel,' but if they do, it is against themselves, of heaven had been so severely manifested against them, and and verily they shall have their reward :' for most assuredly the threatenings of the law bore upon them so expressly and a decree of condemnation will go forth against them from the so awfully, that neither vicinity nor example could induce judgment seat of Christ, since he can annex to the sentence him to partake of its rites, or to give it any portion of his which will seal their fate for ever, ‘I was an hungered and countenance. He would not unite with the heathen in offerye gave me no meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me no drink; ing their drink offerings of blood. Nor did he merely abstain I was a stranger and ye took me not in ; naked and ye cloth- from this most expressive proof of attachment to their false ed me not; síck, and in prison, and ye visited me not: Inas- and degrading worship: he refused to do or say any thing much as ye did it not to one of the least of these my brethren, that could be supposed indicative even of forbearance of inye did it not to me.'— And these shall go away into ever- difference towards it. He would not so much as take the lasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.' names of their gods into his lips. He would not utter their names in such a way as to intimate any thing like belief in ture for your guide, and are to be determinded in your judg their existence, or respect for their character; he would not ment by its principles and maxims, I do not see how you can speak of them in any other way than that which might dis- view the subject in any other light. Your conduct is idolatinctly declare that he denied their reality as much as he trous and criminal in the eye of reason. When the benightabhorred the services that were paid to them, and that, in his ed Gentile falls down and worships the sun in his meridian view, those who gave them homage were blinded in under-splendour, or the moon in her midnight brightness, this is standing, depraved in heart, and lost to all that was best, and not more offensive and revolting than the conduct of the propurest, and happiest in the universe.

[graphic]
[graphic]

fessing Christian, who adores his gold in the character of a You may probably think, my friends, that all this is inap- miser, or of the professing Christian, who kneels at the shrine plicable to you; and that as you are not liable to the offence of fashion in the character of a man of pleasure, each of them against which the Psalmist so scrupulously guarded, it can being devoted to a false divinity, and neither of them having be of no use to inculcate upon you the sentiments which he the true «God in all his thoughts. And in the real spirit entertained, and according to which he acted. But herein and import of the divine law, He who rules over all must be you are mistaken. It is very true you are in no great danger considered as speaking in reference to both classes of idolaof becoming idolaters in the literal and original sense of the ters, when he says, “Thou shall have no other gods before word. But the word has a more general sense, which is me.' • Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve recognized in Scripture, and in which it is frequently exhibited them; for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God.'. in human character, and is the besetting sin of most men. Beware, then, of the guilt of idolatry, and of the venTo be guilty of idolatry, it is not necessary that you make gods geance which impends over those who indulge in it. See to yourselves, as the heathens did—that you deify the heroes that you not only renounce it in general, but that you keep of your country—that you invest the objects of nature with yourselves free from it, in all its particular forms; that you the attributes of divinity—and that you build real temples, abstain from it, not merely in its grosser and more aggravated and give formal worship to these creatures of your vain ima- instances, but even in those instances in which it assumes ginations. You may have knowledge and philosophy enough the aspect of cordial friendship, of intellectual ambition, of to preserve you from such gross absurdity; and yet you may universal philanthropy. Say with the Psalmist, Their be chargeable with the offence of which the Psalmist speaks drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their with such just and decided abhorrence. The substance of names into my lips.' Say with Ephraim, What have I to the crime is contained in your feeling and showing a stronger do any more with idols ? Say with the inhabitants of Juattachment to some other being than to the Supreme Being; dah, 0 Lord our God, other lords besides thee have had in giving to something else an influence over your mind and dominion over us; but by thee only will we make mention conduct, greater than what you allow to Him; in recognizing of thy name.' Say in the spirit and language of every real in the works of his hands an excellence and a claim to your Christian, “Lord, I am thine, for thou hast made me; thou hast deference and submission, which by your actions, if not by preserved me; thou hast redeemed me. Occupy the throne your words, you deny to exist in himself. This is idolatry, of my heart, and reign there with unresisted and undivided according to the nature of the case, and according to the de-sway: I confess that I have given too much of my regard clarations of Scripture.

to objects and pursuits, in which thou wert but little acknowIt is of no consequence what it is to which you thus pay ledged, or not acknowledged at all. Pardon my homage to the homage and give the glory which are due to God alone. the creature ; and help me by thy grace to serve it no more. Still it is idolatry. That to which you are devoted, or to Subdue me to thiyself, as alone worthy of all my reverence, which you give the preference over him, may be quite inno- and all my love. Give me to feel the solemn and endearing cent in itself, and a regulated and subordinate affection for it obligations which I owe to thee, my chosen and redeeming may even constitute a virtue and a duty; and yet your merely God. And make me willing, and obedient, and devoted, in giving it the preference involves you in the guilt of idolatry. the day of thy power.' For that is to serve the creature more than the Creator.' It It is in conformity to the import of the Psalmist's resoluis to deprive God of his supremacy, and to put another in tion, which we have been considering, that he goes on to his place. It may be worldly honours ; it may be power; say, as in the fifth verse, “The Lord is the portion of mine it may be riches; it may be pleasure; it may be literature inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.' The and science; it may be parents, or children, or friends; in all Lord is the portion of our inheritance' in a future life. Having these cases, if you set your heart upon them in such a man-chosen him for our portion ; accounting his favour the highest ner, or to such an extent as to exclude God from your regard, and richest blessing we can possibly enjoy; and having an inor to give him but a secondary station in it, you are characterest in it through faith in the blood of atonement we can look terized by idolatry, and are as liable to the divine displeasure forward to heaven as our best and everlasting abode. He has as are the blinded heathen, who literally bow down to stocks secured it for us; he has promised it to us; he has prepared it and stones. It is said of the heathen, that though they for our reception. And how comfortable, how encouraging, originally knew God, they did not like to retain God in how delightful to reflect, that whatever be our condition in their knowledge, but changed the glory of the incorruptible this world ; however destitute and despised we may now be; God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to though we should suffer the loss of all things' here below, birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things; and that there is reserved for us on high an inheritance which is therefore he revealed his wrath from heaven' against those incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away:' And who thus held the truth in unrighteousness.'° And think that, as it is the Father's good pleasure to give us the you that any better character belongs to you, or that any kingdom,' as the expression of his unmerited bounty, the better fate can await you, if, knowing God, as he has made gracious recompence of our labours, the appointed result of himself known in the Gospel, you do not like to retain him our sufferings in his service, so his immediate presence will in your affections ; if, instead of loving him with all your constitute at once its happiness, its glory, and its stability, heart, and soul, and strength, and mind, you love him less and that from such a bountiful and inexhaustible source of than many of your fellow-mortals; if you permit the gains, or excellence we may confidently expect to derive every thing the amusements, or the vanities of this passing world, to that can carry our nature to its highest pitch of perfection engross the time that should be occupied, and the efforts and felicity! O let us often anticipate heaven as the land that should be made, in his worship and service; if, in the towards which we are travelling ; let our ambition perpestudy and admiration of any of his works, you forget the tually point to it as the end of our high calling ;' let our tribate which you owe him as the all-perfect maker of the hopes fondly dwell on it as the final resting place from our universe, and the bountiful giver of those very faculties toils and sorrows; and remembering that God, holy as well as which fit you for contemplating and for relishing its beauties; good, is the fountain of all its blessedness, let us not only if, listening to the voice of temptation, you are seen going be comforted with the prospect of dwelling in it forever, but after your covetousness,' and your sinful indulgences, and also be animated to prepare for it, by studying to conform in your vain fancies, regardless of the commandment of him all things to his righteous will, by leading a life of faith on whom it is your highest honour to obey, and who by the the merits of his Son, and by purifying ourselves even as Gospel of his Son has called you to glory and to virtue?" he also is pure. Think you, that in acting and living thus, you are not guilty But the Lord is not only the portion of our inheritance in of idolatry; and that your idolatry is not as heinous and ag- a future life; he is also the portion of our cup in the life gravated as that of the heathen on whom God is said to have that now is. If we are his true people, we have chosen poured out his fury?'

him as to every thing that concerns our well-being, and he You may not be accustomed to view the subject in this has assured us that he will be our guide even until death.' light, but if you think justly and seriously, if you take Scrip. In all that happens to us we will recognize the operation of

« PreviousContinue »