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character more conformed to the perfec-, of holy refinement and devotion they feel tion of his Saviour. The exercises of little or nothing of religious sorrows or devotion become a more frequent and fears; the most rigorous duties of mortificapleasing employment.' The Divine pres tion to the world and conflict with sin are ence is approached with increasing con comparatively easy and pleasant; their senfidence and joy as & refuge from every timents and affections, and the services they trouble, frequented as the source of light perform in obedience to their Master in and grace, as a pure and serene repose for heaven, are consoling and felicitous. These his wearied and guilty mind; where fresh are the graces and enjoyments which cominspirations are imparted, fainting hopes pose the living and immortal spirit of revived, distresses mitigated and soothed, piety in its highest form of attainment the fascinations and enchantments of the below the skies. When thus elevated and world dissolved; a scene where the pros refined by a long course of regular and pect of eternity is opened, the ineffable devout cultivation, it appears invested with touches and communications of the Deity | a portion of its Divine loveliness; it received, and the soul engaged in the exhibits much of the lustre and delight of most blessed and lofty employment that the world to which it belongs, and will will delight it for ever in the world to soon emerge into the light and perfection come.
of heaven. When Christians have reached this state
(To be continued.)
BY THE REV. CORNELIUS ELVEN. SITTING in his study, a few days since, and turning his head to the window, which looked towards the east, the writer saw a magnificent rainbow; and the text thus seen on the page of the firmament readily suggested another on the page of inspiration. “I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth” (Gen. ix. 13). · As also another: “ And there was a rainbow round about the throne” (Rev. iv. 3). In itself, our readers are aware that the rainbow is but a natural effect of a natural cause: the sun shining from one point of the heavens on a dark cloud on the opposite side; there being descending drops of rain between them, which so refract and reflect the sun's rays as to exhibit the seven prismatic colours, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. There is no occasion, therefore, to suppose, as some have done, that this appearance of the rainbow was seen for the first time after the Flood, or that it was formed then and there for the especial purpose of confirming the covenant made with Noah; for the same relative positions of sun, and cloud, and rain, would at any previous time have produced the same phenomenon. We might as well say there was no bread and wine before the institution of the Lord's Supper, when our Lord adopted them as symbols of his dying love. Both the rainbow and the bread and wine were in prior existence, but neither of them signs till thus Divinely appropriated.
Our design in this article is simply to regard the rainbow as suggestive of the lovingkindness with which our covenant God has illumined the darkest dispensations of his providence and grace. Indeed, its very form speaks of mercy rather than of judgment. True, it is a bow, which we are aware was among the ancients a weapon of war. “ For lo, the wicked bend their bow; they make ready their arrow upon the string,” &c. (Ps. xi. 2). But this bow in the clouds is a bow without an arrow and without a string; and not only so, it is an inverted bow: the head from which the arrow should be impelled is turned from us, so as
to awaken in the heart of a pardoned sinner the song of Isaiah, “ O Lord, I will praise thee, for though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.”
Let us, for a moment, contemplate this radiant bow on the dark cloud of the Fall. The origin of moral evil is certainly now, and it may be for ever, impermeable to finite minds; yet if we cannot penetrate the cloud, we may gaze upon the bow that is set upon it. Little as we know, and little as it becomes us to inquire, why sin was permitted to enter into our world, and dark as the cloud may be, yet the rainbow is there, and in its light we discern the first gleam of hope for our fallen race. That the “ seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head” was a gracious intimation that this great calamity would form å grand occasion for the display of the Divine all-sufficiency in providing a remedy. So that the final evolutions of the introduction of moral evil into our world may be the securing an immensely larger revenue of happiness to man and of glory to God.
But for this dark ground of the Fall, we might never have discovered the glorious doctrine of the Trinity! The electing love of the Father could have had no place in a world in which all were righteous. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, in his incarnation, in “ his agony and bloody sweat, his cross and passion, his precious death and burial, his glorious resurrection and ascension," could never have been known but for the awful necessity of the Fall. It is equally true that the regenerating and sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit would have been as unknown as unneeded, had man retained his primitive purity.
Moreover, it is not only that each person in the Godhead is thus revealed, but as in the rainbow all the varied rays of light are distinctly yet harmoniously displayed, so in the great redemption, consequent on the Fall, are manifested all the Divine perfections. Here mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Nor is this all: the very perfections as revealed in nature shine with greater lustre in redemption. In the former we see simply power, but in the latter “ the exceeding greatness of his power.” In nature we discern wisdom, but in grace “ the manifold wisdom of God.” In creation we see goodness, but in redemption that same attribute shines as “ the exceeding : riches of his grace;" “ the height, the depth, the breadth, the length of the love of God, which passeth knowledge.”
May it not also be profitable to contemplate the bow of hope on the dark cloud of providence ? Unbelief looks at the cloud, and disregards the bow; for, as Elihu said, “ Men see not the bright light which is in the clouds.” It was 803 with Jacob when he said, “ Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and now ye will take Benjamin away : all these things are against me.” It was so with Naomi, a when, bereft of her husband and sons, she said, “ Call me not Naomi (that) is, pleasant], but call me Mara [that is, bitter]: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me ” (Ruth i. 20). Not only bitterly, but " very bitterly.” She perceived not the faintest shade of the bow in the cloud, yet there was mercy in store for her; for ere long the poor, desolate, and desponding widow exclaimed concerning Boaz, “ Blessed be he of the Lord, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and the dead.” And as we know, there was in all the trials of Naomi an under-current of mercy. Ruth, the heathens damsel, was by a marvellous train of providences to be brought to the knowledge and love of the God of Israel, and to become the ancestress of the Messiah.. Some poor widows, or bereaved ones, may cast their eyes on these lines; and it 80, we say, see you not the bow in the cloud ? Look up, ye disconsolate ones, and read there, as in letters of light, “ A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.” Indeed, in the whole history of the Church, from the day of Abraham's trial to that of John's exile in Patmos, it has been made manifest, concerning the providential government of God, that
although “ clouds and darkness are round about him, righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.” Many of our readers, like ourselves, have been under the shadow of the dark cloud of bereavement and sorrow. The wife of our youth, the sympathising sharer of our tears and our smiles, the chil. dren in whom we delighted, the parents whom we reverenced, and the friends we loved, are laid in the cold and silent grave, and we look there instead of looking upwards to the rainbow of hope and promise in which are so legible the soultranquillizing words, “ I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me sball never die” (John xi. 25, 26).
There are also clouds of spiritual darkness, on which faith alone can discern the bow of hope. One is a penitent sinner, who yet has seen nothing but the cloud on Sinai's top, and, like Bunyan's pilgrim, he is “afraid to venture further, lest the hill should fall upon his head.” He hears the curses of that awful mount in pealing thunders, and sees the wrath of God in flashes of forked lightning. Thus it was the great heart of Martin Luther quailed, and, like Moses, he did “ exceedingly fear and tremble.” In his new-discovered Bible he read of the guilt of man, so deep that no tears could wash it away, and of the holiness and justice of God, so awful that no sinner could meet it. He saw no beam of mercy, no light in the cloud ; and, in the anguish of his soul, he cried out, “ Oh, my sin ! my sin! who can forgive my sin?” And there, a pale, shivering spectre, an emaciated monk, did he wander, with bowed head and a bleeding heart, amid the cloisters of the gloomy convent, a sad but truthful illustration of that solemn text, “A wounded spirit who can bear?" But, as Bunyan's pilgrim met with Evangelist, so did Luther meet with Staupitz, who told him that “the righteousness of Christ is the only righteousness that can make the sinner just.” The smoke of Mount Sinai from that time began to clear away, till at length he could see in the rainbow “ the glory of Christ as the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” His broken heart was now healed, his wounded spirit bound up, and, in the joy and gladness of his soul, he exclaimed, “Oh, happy sin, that has introduced me to such a salvation !" Or he might have said, “Oh, blessed storm-cloud, but for which I should never have seen this rainbow of light and joy !”.
Some other reader may be under a cloud of desertion; may have known what it is to have walked in the light of God's countenance; to have found his word “sweet as honey ; yea, sweeter than the honeycomb;" to have hailed the Sabbath as the pearl of days, the jewel in the ring of the week; to have enjoyed the communion of the saints, the means of grace, and the hope of glory. But now no beam of the Sun of Righteousness breaks in upon the gloom of his soul, and he says, “Even to-day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him!” Dear brother, taking your case to be one like Job's, in which you cannot be justly charged with bypocrisy or apostacy, but under a cloud of darkness, and assailed by a storm of temptation, only permitted for your good, that “when you are tried you may come forth as gold,” be assured that behind that gloomy cloud God hides a smiling face, and that to you belongs the promise, “ Though sorrow continue for a night, joy shall come in the morning.” Look up and read the bright letters of the promise they are written for thee: “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light ! let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God” (Isa. 1. 10).
Art thou a backslider ? a penitent backslider, groaning, like David, with his broken bones,-weeping bitterly, like Peter, because thou hast denied thy Master P“Ah,” you say, “ the dark cloud that overhangs my guilty head is the cloud of my sins, the witness of my transgressions : mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, that I cannot look up." Like the man in the iron cage, you are saying, “I once was a fair and flourishing professor, both in mine own eyes and the eyes of others. I was once thought fair for the celestial city, and had even joy at the thoughts of getting there ; but I am now a man of despair, and am shut up in this iron cage.” Now, although good Bunyan has given no key to unlock that cage, He that “ hath the key of David, He that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth," He, the Lord himself, who heard the cry of his prisoners David and Peter, will hear you also. The cloud that overhangs you is dark indeed; but repenting, hating, and forsaking your sins, He will forgive you, although you can never forgive yourselves. Oh, then, look through your briny tears, and read in the letters of the rainbow those precious words, “ The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin !” · Art thou a careless, prayerless sinner ? Then, although the cloud of Divine wrath is over thire head, there is no rainbow upon it,-not a ray of hope or comfort, living or dying, for an impenitent sipner! May this thought, applied by the Holy Spirit, induce the heartfelt cry, “What must I do to be saved?" And then, even for you, the promise shines forth, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
Christian pilgrim, here in the wilderness you will have alternate light and shade; but soon you will pass over Jordan, and enter the new Jerusalem, where you will see Him whom you love, where there is “a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” And there, with the elders, you will cast your crowns before the throne, saying, “ Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power, for ever and ever. Amen."
Bury St. Edmunds.
LIFE IN TWO ASPECTS.
BY TIE REV. W. ABBOTT. « For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you.”—1 Pet. i. 24, 25.
CHRISTIANITY is the only sure teacher in relation to life, death, and eternity. All other guides, and there are many, are delusive. It is a great satisfaction that there is one true guide. To this let us give earnest and thankful heed. It may be, it is 80, that its utterances are far from being congenial with the feel. ings, tastes, and prospects of many. But the defect and disagreement is not in the teaching of the Gospel, but in the power of depravity over the intellects and hearts of men. In the Gospel is the truth, pure, intelligible, comprehensive, and immutable. Rest in its teaching with all thine heart, and it shall be well with thee! In the verse before us the apostle presents human life in its true aspect, and directs attention to the better life-life eternal by Jesus Christ.
I. THE LIFE THAT IS NATURAL AND PERISHABLE. -"For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away.” Grass is used in several verses in the Scriptures to picture human existence—the brevity and vanity of that existence. “ The grass withereth,” and so does man-withers by adversity, the cares of life, affliction, the decay of nature, and death.
All the glory of man's existence is compared to the flower of grass. This may include all the different positions and distinctions of men ; whatever men may pride themselves in, or give the preference to, or feel to be their element. It
may be symmetry of person, social disposition, courtesy and civility of manners, intellectual power, vivid imagination, nicety of taste, business tact and enterprise, scientific pursuits, literary fame, the accumulation of wealth, the indulgence of pleasure, the position of honour. These comprise much of the glory of human existence, and are like the flower of grags that fadeth away. 5 Man cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down."
The idea sought to be impressed on man is the frailty and vanity of life; that life is short, uncertain, and unsatisfying. The period of human existence is characterised by brevity. The entire history of man is short: he is born-he lives—he dies ! The active days of the longest life are few, and fly fast, and death soon comes. The dying room, the dying day, the home for the dead, the grave, have all solemn aspects and serious lessons. Death is the common lot of all, and nothing can possibly exempt us. It is a commonplace subject, yet one of momentous interest and importance, and one that individually concerns us. And here we need Christianity to give her light, her touch, her salvation.
But while we thus look at life, it is a blessing, and there is a Divine purpose concerning it. Life is given us for good ends; but man abuses it, and perverts them. He aims at pleasing himself instead of pleasing God : he gratifies the creature instead of glorifying the Creator. Destitute of the principle of the Divine fear, he lives to himself, and not to the Lord, and therefore misses the good of life, and has not the good hope for eternity. “There be many that say, Who will show us any good?"
1. The Christian, however, feels that it is a mercy to live. To him the mercy of God is the source of life, with all its comforts and prospects. He lives an individual, a social, a useful, and a happy existence, and the mercy of God influences him in all his life. He is a daily recipient of the common mercies of Pro. vidence, and also of that richer mercy which pardons and saves his soul by Jesus Christ. To him days of health and activity are days of mercy; days of sickness and pain are also days of mercy; and that because the “ Father of mercies” sends and sanctifies both.
2. The Christian, too, feels that it is a mercy to die. The sound of death does not seem to have a whisper of mercy in it, nor has it apart from the Saviour's name. The fact that Jesus is the Saviour makes death an event of mercy to the Christian. There is much that is painful about dying—the dissevering of soul and body ; the separation of the dying and the surviving ; the dissolution of the body in the grave—but the mercy of Jesus sustains and animates amidst it all. “ Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus unto eternal life.” But as Christ has died for the believer, why is he subject to death? Sin is the cause of death. Jesus is the Saviour from death: he takes away the sting of death, the bitterness of death, and gives us the lively hope of salvation. Thus death is not a punishment to the believer, but a necessity ; for so the heavenly Father ordains that he shall pass through death to glory.
II. THE LIFE THAT IS SUPERNATURAL AND IMPERISHABLE.—This life is in direct contrast to that we have just noticed. It is the superlative existence, eternal life.
1. The source and principle of this life is the grace of God. “By grace are ye saved.” God has shown us favour, undeserved kindness, by Jesus Christ, who is our life and our salvation. The gracious principle which the Holy Spirit produces in the soul, is that power by which it rises from moral death to spiritus life. The soul is thus made alive to God, to know, love, enjoy, and glorify Go The great and happy change thus produced is a new creation, and the subjerry, it is become “a new creature in Christ Jesus.” “And you hath he quick and who were dead in trespasses and sins; hath quickened together with (fond and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly plnd no Christ Jesus."
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