« PreviousContinue »
something to lean upon ;-that whether we are brought into suffering and deep feeling for ourselves as accountable beings, or in the spirit of christian sympathy and love, into feeling one for another, or for the prosperity of the church of Christ Jesus, and the advancement of the kingdom of our dear Redeemer in the earth, there may be experienced a spring of divine consolation.
When that deeply tried and tribulated servant of God was in the midst of his sufferings-his servant Job-—when he had looked around for consolation, and found trouble when he had found an increase of affliction, even from the sources from whence he looked for sympathy, commisseration, and comfort, Almighty God was pleased, in a marvellous manner, to appear as his instructor, and in the course of divine interrogation, in order to instruct him in his own weakness,
own unworthiness, and the wisdom, power, and sovereignty of God, he opened lessons of deep instruction; first presenting to his view his own weakness, his utter inability to command for himself the blessings that he desired. “Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days, or caused the day spring to know its place, canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?"
He brought into view, also, the limited range of knowledge which he possessed ; 6. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth, when the corner stone was laid, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy,” and not only so, but he brought into view the necessity of an entire submission to the dispensations of God, in the exercise of his wisdom and sovereign power: “ Canst thou disannul my judgment, hast thou an arm like God, or canst thou thunder with a voice like him ?”
Now, my dear friends, whatever may be our causes of discouragement, or occasions of suffering, if we are brought down and thoroughly reduced and abased, we shall be brought to feel, as that tried and tribulated individual felt, when he made that reverent and humble acknowledgment, though no doubt it was mingled with a feeling of consolation and living hope, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee, wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes :" yet there was a feeling of trust in that God, whose wisdom, power, and sovereignty had thus been conspicuously displayed before him.
Thus outwardly through various forms of expression, and illustrations in the previous ages and dispensations, man was brought to trust in God, and to feel the necessity of an entire dependance upon him, and a full confidence in the wisdom of his dispensations, in his unfailing providence, and almighty power. And in the giving of the law, in the institution of that ritual, by which the mind was pointed to those pleasant things that were to come, the proclamation was made again and again, “ I am the Lord thy God;" and believing in him and his divine character, his institutions and revelations were received and practised, on the ground of faith. By faith it was, that in the infancy of the human race, an acceptable sacrifice was offered to Almighty God ; by faith it was that Noah was preserved ; by faith the patriarchs and prophets were enabled to look forward to those good things that were to come, to be persuaded of them and to embrace them.
And when in the fulness of time, He to whom the institutions of the law and the testimony of
prophets pointed, and in whom they were fulfilled when he came, then, dear friends, in
the course of the divine dispensations, a deep shade of discouragement was experienced by the little company, the flock and family of Christ; when was fulfilled that prophecy, which in prophetic vision, seeing into future ages, had declared, “I will sinite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered."
When the Lord Jesus Christ in his humiliation, in the accomplishment of that great work which he took upon himself, for the redemption of the children of men, submitted to be taken and to be arraigned as a malefactor—to be buffetted, to be spit upon, to be crowned with thorns and crucified, well might his little company and flock be astonished and confounded when they saw Him in whom they had believed, thus taken, thus buffetted and crucified, and when they themselves were scattered from home, seeking a refuge and concealment; well might they, I say, be astonished and confounded, for the sun itself was darkened, the earth quaked, the rocks were rent; and, in the developement of the mighty power of God, and the nature of the gospel dispensation, the graves were opened ; and not only so, but the veil which concealed the mysteries of God, was rent from the top to the bottom.
In that awful and memorable period, the disciples of our dear Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, scattered and confounded, were apprehensive of being totally crushed and overwhelmed ; but what was their consolation, what the feeling of their joy and their triumphant rejoicing, when the intelligence was not only conveyed to them, but confirmed, of his resurrection from the dead ! God having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of them, when the angel descended from heaven, and rolled
away the stone, and sat upon it; when the guards, placed there in anticipation-in remembrance rather, of the prophecy which the Lord Jesus Christ had declared, that he would rise from the dead; and in order to prevent this, there was a guard placed around the body of the Lord Jesus. But in that display of the mighty power of God, which he 'wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, the keepers became as dead men ; and well they might, for it was indeed the mighty power of God, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places, far above all might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things, to the church, which is his body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.
When this great truth became unfolded in the dispensations, and by the operation of the mighty power of God, when the disciples had heard the welcome intelligence of the resurrection of their dear Lord, and when they not only had heard the tidings with astonishment, but that some of them had themselves seen him.
How wonderful is the condescension of Almighty God to the children of men, that in our weakness, and clothed with infirmities as we are, we are met in the way of divine condescension, for the confirmation of our faith, and for our final triumphant rejoicing; for there was one of the disciples of our dear Lord who doubted ; but being embodied with his brethren, being gathered with them when they again assembled, -O what a lesson my friends there is here, of the advantage of being embosomed in religious society,-he was with them, and
the Lord Jesus Christ appeared amongst them, and making his appeal to him, he said, “ Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hand, and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side, and be not faithless but believing." O the importance of faith; humbled and convinced his reverent language was, however he might have been distressed and sunk in discouragement before, his language was, “My Lord and my God."
But he was pleased, not only to shew himself unto them, making them eye-witnesses of his resurrection from the dead, by which he was declared to be the Son of God with power, but he was pleased to give them instruction, and to give them consolation also, when he declared, power is given unto me in heaven and in earth : go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;" and, as appears by the several Evangelists, he gave them a very comprehensive command, in regard to the broad extensive ground of christian doctrine. “ Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you ; and O what a blessed promise, what a gracious assurance did he add, not only to them, but to every humble believer in Him, even to the remotest period of time, “ Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world;" and though they were then in a peculiar manner, as sheep among wolves—though they had to encounter the bitterness of persecution from their own countrymen, and from the heathen world, they felt no discouragement nor dismay, for they had seen that their dear Lord and Saviour had risen from the dead, proclaiming his mighty power, his constant presence, and never failing regard, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the