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words of our mouth. We are at a loss for spiritual discourse, just in proportion as our minds are destitute of spiritual meditations.
Meditation on God and divine things, prepares us to resist temptation. If, by this exercise, we set the Lord always before us, we shall not be moved. See Pg. xvi. 8.
Meditation in God's word, has a tendency to prepare us to obey all the precepts which it enjoins. When Joshua was commanded to med. itate in the book of the law, day and night, this reason was given to enforce the command; “ That thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein.” Without this exercise, the heart can not be kept with all diligence : and what can be more important than a diligent keeping of the heart; since it is the fountain from which pro. ceed all our words and actions.
(3.) Holy meditation is very useful in promoting our improvement and enjoyment, both mental and moral.
The improvement of our minds and hearts, is a thing of great impor. tance; and this depends very much on the kind of thoughts which commonly occupy them. Thoughts about worldly things are some. times necessary, to enable us to transact that business which reli. gion itself requires us to do. But it is undesirable that our minds should be taken up with these things, any more than is requisite for the transaction of that business ; since they are not expanded and pu. rified by secular thoughts, as they are by those which relate more im. mediately to heavenly things. How can that mind be much improved, or greatly assimilated to heaven, whose thoughts are all confined to the things of earth ? Had the Psalmist regarded nothing but the expan. sion of his own mind, he might with propriety have said, I hate vain thoughts. They who are meditating in the law of God day and night, are doing that which constitutes a preparation for the heavenly state ; and their cherishing such meditations, seems to be one thing that is implied in their being in the posture of servants, waiting for the com. ing of their Lord. Surely, they who are not so much as thinking of Christ and the concerns of his kingdom, have not their loins girded about and their lights burning; ready to open unto their Lord, when. ever he shall knock. See Luke xii. 35, 36.
Meditation on divine things contributes much to our mental and moral enjoyment. “My meditation of Him shall be sweet,” said one of the highly favored children of God: and so will all those say, who truly bear the image of their Maker. They all love God; and there. fore they are made happy by thinking of him. They all delight in his word; and therefore they take pleasure in meditating in it, day and night. Much of the happiness of the men of grace, arises from holy meditation. They can not always be in the sanctuary, nor at the do. mestic altar, nor in the closet; they can not always have the Bible in their hand, nor be in the company of the saints; but when there is a suspension of the enjoyment of these privileges, they can still have the comfort of thinking on God and divine things. This is a kind of per. petual feast, which may last all the day, and all the week.
The question here presents itself-Is meditation on God and divine things, a certain evidence of a renewed heart ? One thing is clear; that a destitution of such meditations is an evidence of a graceless
heart. It is concerning the wicked man-him who, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God, that the declaration is made, God is not in all his thoughts. It is not possible that God should be the supreme object of our affection, and not be the subject of many of our thoughts. Can it be that we prefer Jerusalem above our chief joy, and yet so far forget her interests as scarcely to have a thought concerning them? Can our treasure be in heaven, and our hearts be on the earth?
On the other hand, could we know concerning any individual, that, through all his life, his thoughts had been much employed on divine subjects; this, if not counteracted by forbidding cir. cumstances, would induce us to place him among the pious. Yet this alone would not be sufficient evidence of his piety; for there are other things, besides a relish for religion, which may turn a man's thoughts to divine subjects. Mere legal convictions will do it; and such convictions are not unfrequently protracted for months sometimes, even
But those meditations on religious subjects, to which unrenewed men are impelled by the fear of future misery, are as destitute of holiness, as those will be, which they will have when actually en. during that misery. Their contemplations of God will then, as now, be painful, and against their will : they will not be able to divert their thoughts from their miseries, nor from Him who in justice has inflicted them. Merely meditating about God does not, therefore, constitute an evidence of godliness. If we do not delight in thinking of him and the things of his kingdom, it is because his love has not been shed abroad in our hearts. If we do not love to have Christ in our thoughts, we are none of his.
Here it may be asked, whether all delightful meditations on divine subjects, form conclusive evidence of a gracious state. To this it may be answered: if false converts can receive the word with joy, (which was the case with the stony ground hearers in the parable,) there is nothing to prevent their afterwards having joyful meditations on divine subjects. Delightful musings about God, afford no evidence of true piety, unless his holy character is the grand thing which renders them delightful. When the Psalmist said, “ My meditation of him shall be sweet, I will be glad in the Lord,” we are to consider him as having his contemplations fixed on the character of Jehovah. And when the righteous man is said to delight in the law of the Lord, and to medi. tate in it day and night, we are to understand the unabated law, the unadulterated word, to be that in which he delights and meditates. That meditation which is an evidence of true grace, is fed with truth, and with nothing else. The spiritual man beholds the glory of the Lord exhibited in the word of truth, and while he is employed in contemplating it, he perceives it to exert a transforming influence on his heart: he is changed into the same image. Such meditation is pecu. liar to the man of grace.
There certainly can be no discord between this and any other branch of experimental religion ; nor between this and any doctrine which
is according to godliness. There are five of the Articles in the exper. imental system, with which the one now under consideration has a manifest agreement. The Articles referred to, are the second, fifth, sixth, eighth, and eleventh. If Christians, as was shown in the second Article, delight in God and all holy beings, and in every thing of a holy character, how perfectly natural it must be for them to meditate on these things. If, according to the fifth, they live by faith on a Savior whom they have not seen, is it strange that this unseen Savior should often occupy a place in their thoughts? If they hope for a hearenly inheritance, (as represented in Article sixth,) will they not, by holy meditation, oft times penetrate to “ within the vail," where their hope is anchored ? What more natural, than that they who are jour. neying towards a country where they have, possessions, and where they expect permanently to reside, should frequently muse about their distant home. And how can they hunger and thirst after righteousness, (as the eighth Article shows they do,) without thinking much on heav. enly things,-without ever and anon sending up devout ejaculations to the great Author of their being? A hungry man can not but think of food; nor can a thirsty man help thinking of drink. How, then, can one be spiritually hungry, and not have his thoughts dwell upon that “ bread which cometh down from heaven !"-spiritually thirsty, and not think of that “ well of water which springeth up into ever. lasting life?”—Again, Christians can not exercise true thankfulness to God, (the subject matter of the eleventh Article, unless they medi. tate on him, his works, and his word. Such meditation is admirably adapted to excite gratitude ; and this, in turn, is a good preparative to devout meditation.
There is entire harmony between the subject of this Article, and doctrinal truth. Destroy the latter, and there would be nothing to sustain the former. As well might a hungry man be nourished with juiceless husks, as a holy soul be satisfied with meditations which do not rest on the truth of God. But as bread is both pleasant and nour. ishing to men in health, so is divine truth, to such as have been re. covered from the dominion of sin. Will not all such be pleased to meditate on those leading doctrines, which are comprehended in the First Part of this work ?-What a theme for devout contemplation is the existence and infinite attributes of Jehovah. And how must the godly admire that display of boundless power, wisdom, and beneyo. lence, which is made in the works of creation and providence. What a theme for holy meditation is the law of God,-a law which is the picture of His own heart,-a law which, were it kept by all the subjects of moral government, would produce the most entire harmony through the intelligent universe. It is as pure as God himself. On this part of the system of truth, the good man meditates with great delight. It is a matter of rejoicing to him, that this perfect law is to be the eternal rule to direct all his affections and conduct. But from this delightful contemplation, his mind is turned to a painful subject; a subject, however, which he does not choose to pass over, without devoting to it many a serious thought. He does not choose to forget man's defection from God, by the transgression of his holy law. He views himself as involved in this unreasonable rebellion. Meditation
on this subject, lays him in the dust before the Supreme King: it also prepares him to become more interested with the wonderfu) and glo. rious doctrine of atonement, made for the sin of men, by the death of the Son of God. On this theme, angels delight to contemplate. In the atonement, justice and mercy are blended. It evinces that God is determined fully to maintain his law, without the abatement of a sin. gle jot or tittle; and yet that he exercises unbounded compassion towards transgresso
ssors. From the contemplation of the vicarious sacrifice for sin, the Chris. tian's mind is naturally led to go forth with the servants, who are commissioned to bid as many as they find to the marriage. What an interest does he take in the work which is committed to these servants. And this brings him to take a view of another dark shade in the pic. ture; not, however, the darkness of an erroneous doctrine: no, there is no truth which he regards as more incontrovertible than that contained in the seventh Article, namely; that all men are, by nature, wholly averse to accepting the proposals of mercy, tendered them in the gospel. But the very fact that this doctrine is true, and that he him. self was once a living example of its truth, gives to his meditations a tone of penitence and humility. As, however, a view of man's apostacy prepared him to contemplate Christ's propitiatory sacrifice with deeper interest, so does the universal rejection of the gospel overtures, which he is now considering, pave the way for his meditating, with profound gratitude, upon that renovation of heart by the power of the Holy Ghost, whereby is secured the sinner's voluntary acceptance of those overtures. And now he is led to contemplate that free and rich grace, which is displayed in the conversion of sinners. He ascribes their transformation to God's everlasting purpose, and to grace given them in Christ Jesus, betore the world began.—The doctrine of free justification through the redemption of Christ, furnishes him another delightful theme for holy meditation. A hell-deserving creature is justified, without the deeds of the law, and yet the law is not repealed, nor even abated; but is magnified and made honorable.—The certain perseverance of the saints, or the infallible connection between grace begun and perfected, is also a pleasing subject of meditation to him. It is pleasing, not only because it assures him that the gates of hell will never prevail against him, but also because it reflects so much honor on his Savior, as one who is able and faithful to save, unto the uttermost, all those who come unto God through him.—The resurrec. tion morning, and the day of judgment, furnish him much matter for devout meditation. A consideration of this closing scene, gives a sol. emnity to the transactions of this mortal state : "For God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
When the pious mind has taken a view of the whole system of divine truth, from beginning to end, and has seen the harmony subsisting between its various parts, how forcibly is it impressed with the consistency and preciousness of the closing Article of our doctrinal series. What a theme for delightful meditation is this :-a divine PLAN, embracing every thing belonging to the creation, without er cepting the smallest insect, or the minutest particle; and every event
in providence, even to the falling of a sparrow, or of a hair from our head: and this plan going into complete operation, by the all-controll. ing energy of Him in whose infinite mind the plan was originated ! And how pleasing the thought, that the whole is so contrived and executed, that all things in creation and providence combine together to make the best display of the Creator's glory; and at the same time,
to give a permanent existence to a most holy and blessed society of = intelligent creatures.
One important difference between saints and sinners, consists in their thoughts. The two classes are alike in this, that they both have thoughts, yea, an uninterrupted succession of them; but with regard to the character of those thoughts, and the subjects on which they are employed, there is a striking dissimilarity. The scripture testifies that the thoughts of the righteous are right;" and that the thoughts of the wicked are abomination to the Lord.” They have laid up their treasures in different worlds ; and where their treasures are, there will their hearts and meditations be also. Though our thoughts may be hidden from human observation, they are all visible to God; nor does he look upon them with indifference, any more than upon our words and actions. It is said, “ The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise,” (that is, of the worldly wise,) “ that they are vanity.” He sees very many of his creatures on earth, who either wholly exclude him from their thoughts, or who think contemptuously of him and the interests of his kingdom. But he sees another class, who contemplate these subjects with great frequency and delight. At the great day of account, all the thoughts which occupied men's minds while here below, will be disclosed ; and then it will be seen, that one particular in which renewed men had differed widely from the unrenewed, was in the nature and subjects of their meditations.
2. With this Article before us, we can see why Christians are not rendered as unhappy by their privations as other men. Their spiritual meditations are sweet. While the votary of pleasure is ren. dered gloomy by being left alone, the child of God often covets solitude. Many a Christian has felt what one has thus expressed; that he was never less alone, than when alone. The Christian's best Friend is always near him; and to think of that Friend, is a source of much of his enjoyment. In journeying, he often prefers to travel alone, be. cause it gives him a more favorable opportunity for devotional thought. He can be cheerful when surrounded by the darkness of night; for it does not hide from him that infinite Being, to whom the darkness and the light are both alike. If his sleep departs from him, he remem. bers God upon his bed, and meditates on him in the night watches. Ps. Ixiii. 6. If tho sense of hearing become so blụnted, that he can no longer be fed with the provisions of God's house, or be cheered by the conversation of his friends, still he can refresh his mind by rumi. nating on what he has already heard. Is he deprived of sight, and can he no more behold the face of man, nor the beauties of creation? The