Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

with them who, as partakers of the first resurrection, shall put on the crown of Paradise, and reign in “the might" of Emmanuel over a redeemed earth ? I need not ask, surely, what "might” can the creatures of the dust and of a day speak of in the presence of God, and the works He has made ? Tell me, O man! hast thou an arm strong as His? Canst thou thunder with a voice like His? He touches Horeb, and the mountain smokes! He divides the sea, and dries up the rivers ! He sends out His wind, and a fabric that science deemed superior to all casualty is broken like a thread, without witness or warning! Yea; and the earthquake is the Lord's, and the lightning, and the avalanche, and the flood !

But there is a third temptation against which we are counselled by the text, for it adds, “Let no one glory in his riches," and this is a caution which we all should ponder. Men certainly give money large room in their thoughts and were it not for money, the world would come to a pause. Look at the thousands that crowd to any region where gold is to be found ! Look at the competition which unhinges all trades, and is too often not less dishonest than egregious! Look at the infatuated avidity with which many seek investments in stocks or loans that are wrought by unscrupulous gamesters !— brethren, look at these things, and be convinced that the world, over all its ranks, is madly set on “riches.” Or, hearken to what it is that all classes at once begin to talk of when thrown together, and you will find that it is profit or loss, on every occasion, long or short. Is it not also the case that parents will not wait in these days to finish the education of their children, as was once the case, but thrust them into business, when, for their effectual training, they should be at school ? And more lamentable than even this, we know that “riches” cover the most shameful delinquencies, whilst the stigma of righteous poverty is more fatal to advancement than the brand of meanest vice!

It is not to be denied, then, that men "glory in their riches," at once with the enthusiasm of a passion, and the depth of an instinct, and the tenacity of a habit. Nor does the charge hold true only of one land, or one epoch; for it is the universal characteristic of humanity, the dark reproach of our time; and if it be the unhallowed spirit of the world, like a foul leprosy it is fretting out the strength, the beauty, and the life of the Church itself.

But how foolish, as well as provoking, is this earthward ten

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

dency; for what affinity is there in “riches” to the nature of a soul, and how can they nourish and promote our immortality ? How difficult, too, is their acquisition; and what care it takes, either to keep or to use them! So precarious are they, beside, that they leave us in a moment; and hence is it that the apostle, in 1 Timothy vi. 17, pleads with us, “Trust ye not in the uncertainty of riches," as if “uncertainty were their distinctive attribute. Shall I'not be permitted even to insist that, if there be a bearing of the heart opposed to God, it is the love of “riches”—and who can tell what evil has flowed from this source ? In the nature of “ riches," or in their possession, there is no inevitable defilement, for the son of God was rich ;” but to love them, is that covetousness which is idolatry, and on this account the averment of Baxter is very true, if it be startling, “that one single act of drunkenness, or murder done in an evil moment, speaketh not such a malignant turning away of the heart habitually from God, as the love of money."

We have seen what our text condemns, and let us be admonished. We may be “wise”—and there is no law against that; but let us not “glory in our wisdom !” We may be “strong" and there is no law against that; but let us not "glory in our might!” We may have “riches”—and there is no law against that; but let us not “glory in our riches!”

On this dull path of restraint and inferiority, we shall have few to join us. But what though we are singular, if we obey God, and escape His frown? For many a day we hang the head, and our bright dawn is as a troubled sunset; but Justice will give us our reward soon, and at length we shall have no need to repine. Often have we been taught the end of all that is not in harmony with the mind of God; and well may we stand in awe of “Wisdom," and "Might," and "Riches," that are unsanctified and unblest. Yonder is Nebuchadnezzar, eating grass in the open fields; and that is the end of his defiant "might !Renowned Alexander, having subdued a world, now drinks himself to death; and that is the end of his godless wisdom !Splendid Herod, too, is eaten of worms, with his silver robes about him; and that is the end of his unconsecrated “riches !“Glory not,” then,

! brethren, in the “wisdom," or the “might," or the “riches” which are not of God; but rather let Christ be made to you of God, “ Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification," and in Him will ye obtain endless "redemption !”

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

II. Consider now our duty, as it is indicated by these words of the text: Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me; that I am Jehovah, which exerciseth loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness on the earth ; for in these I delight, saith Jehovah.

1. Israel are aware that the invader is at hand, and that when he has come it will be unavailing to“ glory” in their own resources of “wisdom, and might, or riches." Nevertheless, the nation

, of David is not left without a shield; but when all glorying in aught earthly or human is futile, let them “glory in God,” as their safe and open path. The object of trust will now be changed, but not the act. Just as they ever did, Israel are to trust; but henceforth it is God” on whom they are to depend, and all confidence in themselves must be relinquished. Happily, “God was known” to them—known in the testi

mony of their prophets"; and they also “understood” Him, from their experience, as a people. Nor was God merely “known and understood " in Israel, He was known and understood in His nature, as Jehovah; for they "knew and understood Him” in His mercy, or His “loving-kindness ;” in his severity, or His " judgment;" and in His purity, or His “Righteousness.All that God was, in being and perfection, Israel had been made acquainted with; and here was the wing under which they were to take shelter. They were to recognise God as God, distinctly, fully, vividly; and, doing this, they were not forbidden, and could not fail, to “glory in Him” with deep tranquillity of soul, -afraid of no one, because having no fear of Him who ruleth over all !

More, however, than this, were Israel to do. For, whilst realising God in all the fulness of His name, this also were they to keep in mind, that God delighted” in His revealed perfections, and would ever act only in accordance with them; for, cries the prophet, “ Let Israel glory—that they know and understand Me; that I am Jehovah, who exercises loving-kindness, and judgment, and righteousness, in the land; and that in these I delight.

2. As was with Israel, however, so is the law regarding ourselves ; and if, as men, we must, in virtue of our constitution, "glory," -as men born again into a higher nature, we must “ glory in God.Something to “glory in” we all are necessitated to seek for; and therefore to “glory,” as we already observed, is not indiscreet, but laudable ; it is a noble impulse, and

a

in no way a fallen propensity. Nothing,—however, temporary, or mundane, or finite, -will be a tower to lean on amid change, and tribulation, and perplexity, and death. GOD alone will suit the necessity of our case, and the weakness of our nature. God, in all His compass of attribute, is the portion that will alone fill every void, and satisfy all our cravings. But is it not in God that the believer glories?

Yet, mark, it is not merely “the knowledge” of God that we are to aim at, though we must “know” Him; it is not simply " the understanding” of God we are to rest in, though we must

understand ” Him. It is not even “ the love” of God that will serve our purpose, though, truly He “loves” us. No: it is not something in God, nor from God, which we are to “glory in.”It is God, God Himself, and all that makes God the God He is. For this is the command of the apostle: “Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me.

We do not conceal that iniquity has come between us and God, and that God condemns us. But through Christ Jesus all who believe in Him are reconciled, and peace is theirs. Let us accept the truth touching the Son of God, who died for the lost; or rather, I should say, let us accept the Son of God who died for the lost, as set forth in the truth concerning Him, and now aré we brought back and united to God. If, however, we are brought back and united to God, then have we found the centre of our being, and we glory in God” himself. God is once more our inheritance; and, having Him, we have all! His attributes are ours; His promises are ours; His covenant is ours; His Spirit is ours; His angels ours; and His glory ours !

But if Christ is ours by faith, and God ours through Christ, then have we something real to boast of, something strong to lean on, something blessed to “glory in,”—and who should be happier than we, or more stable ? Riches !ye have taken wings. “ Might ! ” thou art smitten to the dust. Wisdom !how blind art thou! Yea, where is time? And where is the world ? And where is life? The visible, and the human, and the earthly have passed swiftly away! But God is mine; He is in me and around me; and there is no mutability with Him! The living God is mine, and His life is my city of refuge! The loving God is mine, and His love is a canopy of sunshine over me!

At the same time, though at rest in God, the believer must be prepared for discipline and a change of temperature. The faithful of Jeremiah's day were not exempted from trial, and neither shall

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the righteous with us. One event happeneth to all; and the breeze which makes the fir-trees of the world to moan will bend the Cedars of the Church. Nevertheless, through his “ knowledge and understanding of God.”—better, perhaps, were I to say, “ through God known and understood,”—the believer, as our text shows us, is able to gather grapes from off thorns, and to sweeten even the springs of Marah. He “understands God” to be what He is, and he “knows Him” as His own God. So that amid darkness around, it is light within. Evil will always be evil, and the rod is the rod to the just as well as to the unjust. But then the believer views God as Arbiter of providence, and feels satisfied that there can be no confusion, nor excess, nor mistake, in the Government of His empire.

Let them, therefore, who are in Christ be at ease, though the sea be rising and there is anger in the clouds. Ye are perplexed: but be sure that "God exercises loving-kindness," and abide in His unfailing compassion. You are faint and weary! but realise God as “ the God of judgment,” and find no fault with His chastening. Fix your eye, afflicted one, upon “the righteousness of God," and, amid all vicissitudes, lose not your confidence in the stedfastness of His gracious covenant! Nay, beyond all this, be thoroughly persuaded that “our God delights in ” the manifestation of His character, and is well able to vindicate the procedure of His sovereignty!

Bear this, however, likewise in mind, that all who thus "glory in the Lord” make no secret of their confidence, but “glory” with a loud voice, and declare all the day what a stronghold they have found. They are epistles of holiness and anthems of joy, read and heard of all men. With no reserve, they tell friends and neighbours that Christ has brought rest to their souls; and with lip and look they sweetly sing, “Thou hast put gladness into the heart, more than in the time when corn and wine increased!”

Yet forget not, beloved, the caution given by Paul in connection with this frame, inasmuch as he has warned us, "we both endure labour, and are reproached, because we trust in the living God." Unregenerate men will not bear with any who make their possession of God seen and felt-palpable and impressive and they scornfully demand, what right has one man to God more than another? If He be yours, they will affirm, He is ours as much, and they forbid us to boast as John taught, "we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness." Nevertheless,

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »