« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
There were six of these at certain distances ways in winter, as well as in summer-per from each other, that, in what part soever of haps he bears most in winter, or at least more the country the man-slayer lived, he might is then gathered than at any other time. Our soon reach a place of safety. They were external troubles, and our internal distresses, situated on high hills, or on extensive plains, endear him, and urge us to make a more that the avenger of blood might not overtake earnest application to him. But the Apostle him, while searching for them. The roads tells us that he found him answerable to all leading to them were fifty-eight feet four his varying conditions: “I have learned, in inches wide, and well repaired, that nothing whatsoever state I am, therewith to be conshould hinder his progress, or stop him for å tent. I know both how to be aba sed, and I moment. Where rivers would have checked | know how to abound : every where and in all their course, bridges were thrown over: and things I am instructed both to be full and to where crossways would have perplexed their be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. minds, directing posts were fixed, with their I can do all things through Christ which extended arms pointing and crying, REFUGE, strengtheneth me.' If we prosper, he can REFUGE !—The application of all this is easy. keep us. If we fall into adversity, he can Oh! think of it, ye who are disposed to "flee sustain us. He can bless you in social for refuge to the hope set before you !" Here scenes; and also in solitary seasons. Joseph is strong consolation and spiritual distress enjoyed him in the prison, and Daniel in the requires it.
lions' den, and John in his banishment. And Behold further, the fertility of this tree. when nothing else looks green and fair-he
First. It is said that it bears “twelve man- affords succour and supplies. And therefore ner of fruits.” Other trees yield only after says the Christian, whose faith and hope are their kind. To a vine we go for grapes, to fixed on him; “ Although the fig-tree shall a fig-tree for figs. But suppose a tree that not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; should bear both these, and ten more sorts the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields of the most delicious fruit! Would it not shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut excite your curiosity? Would you not even off from the fold, and there shall be no herd go far only to see this wonder of nature ? in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I
"Turn your eyes towards me," says the will joy in the God of my salvation.” Hence, Saviour, "I am all this. I am the child in a case more distressing to a good man than born,' and “the everlasting Father.' 'I am any other; I mean, when his family yields the root and the offspring of David.' 'I am him no comfort, bears nothing, yea, discovers alpha and omega, the beginning and the end- no marks of spiritual life-he can pluck ing. I am he that liveth and was dead.' I something from this tree, which is always am the Lamb slain from the foundation of bending with fruit: “ Although my house be the world,' and the lion of the tribe of not so with God; yet he hath made with me Judah.' Such a combination of perfections an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and blessings, O man, did thy salvation re- and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all quire! Though all thy miseries flow from my desire, although he make it not to grow." one cause—sin; thy wants are various, and And when we are taking a farewell of life
, demand various relief. You are enslaved, and all the powers of nature fail-he is the and need redemption--and I give my life a strength of our heart, and our portion for ransom for sinners.' You are guilty, and ever-And hence the same tried and triumphneed justification—and my blood cleanseth ant believer exclaims, “ Yea, though I walk from all sin. You are unholy, and need through the valley of the shadow of death, I sanctifying grace—and •a new heart will I will fear no evil; for thou art with me: thy give you, and a new spirit will I put within rod and thy staff they comfort me.” you.' You are weak-but.my strength shall When our Saviour, as he came from Bebe made perfect in weakness.' You have thany, hungered, he saw a fig-tree, and went tribulation in the
world—but • in me you shall up to it, hoping to find fruit thereon, and
Thus God supplies all our found none, " for the time of figs was not yet." need according to his riches in glory by But he himself will never occasion such a Christ Jesus." Thus we are “ blessed with disappointment in those who apply to him, all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Come when we will, it is always the time of Christ."
fruit. The tree bears "every month.” Ye Secondly. The produce is not only abund- young, you cannot come too soon.
Ye aged, ant but continual. "It yielded her fruit "every you cannot come too late. It is necessary: month.” This is not the case with our trees. however, to observe that this is true only of They bear only once a year. And hence the time of your continuance in this world. our spring is so important-we go out and If you drop through life destitute of the blessanxiously look for the buds and blossoms; and ings of his salvation, your opportunity is over, if we find none, our hope is cut off, and for and will never return. You are therefore twelve months we impatiently wait for the admonished to seek the Lord while he may return of the season. But this tree bears al- be found, and to call upon him while he is
near. Behold, now is the accepted time: eous men have desired to see those things behold, now is the day of salvation.” which ye see, and have not seen them; and
Observe, finally, what is said of the leaves to hear those things which ye hear, and have of this tree. They “are for the healing of not heard them.” Not only are these means the nations." Other trees have leaves, and instrumental in awakening us at first, but they are by no means useless. Not only do they are useful to revive, to refresh us; to they add to the appearance and beauty of the strengthen our weak hands, and confirm our tree-for how would a tree look without feeble knees, all through life. Here, like them!—but they serve to screen the new Hannah, we pour forth our sorrows, and leave born naked bud from the cold by night, and them behind us. Here, with Jeremiah, we the excessive heat by day; they catch the find his word and eat it, and it is the joy and dew and the rain; retain and guide the mois- the rejoicing of our hearts. Our doubts are ture; and thus they aid the preservation and solved. Our peace is restored. Our resolugrowth of the fruit
. The leaves of a tree tions are invigorated. Our “strength is reafford a comfortable shade to those who not newed. We mount up with wings as eagles, only wish to partake of its produce, but want we run and are not weary, and walk and are also to stand out of the sun. The Church not faint." therefore says, “I sat down under his shadow Secondly. Let us be concerned for the exwith great delight, and his fruit was sweet tension of these privileges to others. Let us to my taste.” Leaves, especially in the earlier exert all our influence in diffusing them. Let ages of the world, were frequently applied to us endeavour to spread them, not only in our wounds, and many of them are to this day own neighbourhood, and in our own country, reckoned medicinal.
but in all “ the regions of darkness, and of the What then are the leaves of this tree, here shadow of death." O when shall these leaves distinguished from the fruit—but the institu- be for the healing of “ the nations!” How tions of religion, the ordinances of the Gos- much do they need the influences of the gospel, which we commonly and properly call pel of peace ! How are they enslaved; how are the means of grace? These derive their be- they bruised; by tyranny, by war, by superstiing and their efficacy from him, as leaves tion, by the God of this world !" Hear how from a tree. In the use of these he has pro- they groan; see how they blced and die! How mised his blessing: by the application of them, many millions of your fellow-creatures are he brings us health and cure. What are our there who never heard of the name of a SaSabbaths? What are our sanctuaries? What viour! They feel the same depraved disposiare the ministers of the word? What is this tions with yourselves, but know nothing of book-What are the leaves of this book ?— that grace that can create a clean heart, and but “the leaves of this tree, which are for the renew a right spirit within them. They are healing of the nations ?"
burdened with a sense of guilt, and many of When we are perfectly recovered, and re-them make costly sacrifices, and go toilsome moved to that country, “where the inhabi- pilgrimages, to get relief_but they never fants shall no more say, I am sick," these heard an Apostle saying, “Behold the Lamb means and ordinances becoming unnecessary, of God that taketh away the sin of the world!" will be laid aside. There will be no more Let us therefore pray that God would pity prayer; no more sermons; no more bread and the nations, and communicate to them the wine, the emblems and memorials of a Sa- same means and privileges which he has beviour's death. The end of all will be fully stowed upon us. It is easy to see how healaccomplished in our happy experience. ing the institutions of the Gospel are to a
In the meani time, they are of unspeakable nation, even when in numberless instances importance, and we should be careful to show they are not effectual to salvation. Where our regard for them two ways:
they prevail, they civilize the multitude. First. By being thankful that we are in- They tame the fierceness of their passions, dulged with the means of grace ourselves. and the savageness of their manners. They Let
us hear what the saints of old said, who tend equally to secure the prerogative of the lived under a dispensation far inferior to ours. prince, and the rights of the subject. The “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord same way be said of all the other relationis in of Hosts ! -Blessed are they that dwell in thy life. They expand the affections, quicken honse; they will be still praising thee. Blessed sensibility, and promote benevolence. There is the man whom thou choosest, and causest was no hospital in the heathen world. The to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in philosophers of Greece and Rome never thy courts: he shall be satisfied with the planned an infirmary. But in this country, goodness of thy house, even of thy holy tem- so highly favoured by the Gospel, it is hardly ple.” As soon as ever our ministers end their possible to move without being struck with discourses, we should remember the words of the monuments of christianized humanity. our Lord: “ Blessed are your eyes, for they Here the blind are led into an asylum. There see; and your ears, for they hear. For verily 1 orphans are snatched from ruin. There the say unto you, that many prophets and right- victims of seduction are hid from infamy, and
encouraged to repentance. And here the much ingratitude and unbelief; they often sick are made whole.
complained and murmured, and sometimes What then would a nation be-if all its talked of making themselves a leader, and inhabitants were christians indeed! A single returning back into Egypt. Nevertheless sentence of the Gospel, if every one would God here speaks of it comparatively with agree to be influenced by it, would be enough honour-" I remember thee, the kindness of to turn a country into a paradise—"Whatso- thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when ever ye would that men should do to you, do thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a ye even so to them!”
land that was not sown.” He was acquainted Lord Jesus, put this law into our minds, with all the disadvantages of their situation. and write it in our hearts! Increase daily He considered how material things affected the number of those who shall make it the the body, and how the body influenced the rule of their lives ! - Thou art fairer than mind. He knew their frame, and rememthe children of men: grace is poured into thy bered that they were dust. lips : therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.
" He saw their flesh was weak and frail, Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, 0 most He saw temptations still prevail; Mighty-and in thy majesty ride prosperously,
The God of Abraham loved them still,
Aud led them to his holy hill." because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness. O King of saints, become the king
While we admire this tenderness, let us of nations—and reign for ever and ever!" learn also to resemble it. Let us excuse and Amen.
approve as far as we can; and in examining
characters let us observe the good more DISCOURSE XXV I.
largely than the evil. Let us beware of indiscriminate reflection; of speaking severely
of persons in the gross; of branding a whole BACKSLIDING REPROVED. course of life with the reproach of a particuGo and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, lar action. A man may redden with a blush,
Thus saith the Lord ; I remember thee, the or turn pale with a fright—but what should kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espou- we think of the painter, who in his delineasals, when thou wentest after me in the wil. tion would secure this temporary incidental derness, in a lund that was not sown.—Jere- colour, instead of his natural and common miah ii. 2.
complexion? When the angel appeared to This address employs a figure of speech Abraham, Sarah behaved very unbecomingly; very common in the Scripture, especially in she hid herself behind the door; she listened, the prophecies. It consists in representing she disbelieved, she laughed, and she dethe state of a nation by the various ages, nied the whole. There was only one good changes, and circumstances of a single indi- thing; one thing commendable and exemvidual.
plary on this occasion--and the Holy Ghost When the Jews left Egypt, and began has seized and mentioned this only to her their journey in the desert, it was the time honour: “Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, of their “ youth." And when, in Horeb, God calling him Lord, whose daughters ye are as claimed them as his peculiar people, and they long as ye do well, and are not afraid with said, all that the Lord commandeth us we any amazement.” Job, in the paroxysm of will do, it was the season of their “ espou- his grief, cursed the day of his birth; but he sals." Since that interesting period, they is proposed only as an example of patience; had become more remiss and degenerate. “ Ye have heard of the patience of Job.” NotAnd Jeremiah is commissioned to cry in the withstanding the imperfections remarked in ears of Jerusalem—“I remember thee, the the seven churches of Asia—they are still kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espou- called the seven “ golden candlesticks." sals, when thou wentest after me in the wil. Secondly. “God remembers the past." derness, in a land that was not sown.” Our memories soon fail us. How little can
Yet surely these words are not less suited we now retrace of all the busy concerns in to an individual than to a nation ; or less true which we have been engaged! How few of Christians than of Jews. Let us then of our actions, and how much fewer of our consider them two ways. I. AS THEY PUR- words, and of our thoughts, are we able to NISH US WITH REMARKS. II. AS THEY APPLY recover from the oblivion of time! But all TO CHARACTERS.
of them are with God. Old impressions soon These words supply us with several useful give place to new ones, and we often find it remarks.
difficult to recall, without assistance, an ocFirst. Behold in God a disposition to currence that happened a few months, or a commend, rather than condemn; to praise, few weeks ago. But "a thousand years are rather than to censure. To a person who in his sight but as yesterday, when it is passed, reads the history of the Jews, their early be- and as a watch in the night." haviour in the wilderness will appear very As he observes every thing, so he reimproper and blameworthy. They discovered tains it; and what with us is past, with him
- is present. It was a persuasion of this that | under declensions in religion. It is said of led David to pray, “Remember not against Jehoshaphat, that he walked in the first me the sins of my youth.” For he can easily ways of David his father.” This is an intishow us that he remembers them. He can mation that his first ways were his best : that write bitter things against us, and make us the king never equalled the shepherd. This possess the iniquities of our youth. He can is awful. But the case is not peculiar to him. bring back old sins by afflictions; and he can Backsliding is no uncommon thing. For it bring back old sins by convictions. He can should be remembered that where there are tell us all things that ever we did. Trans- no gross and scandalous deviations from the gressions committed forty years back, he can path of duty, there may be many secret revive, even in their aggravations and cir- alienations of heart from God; and where cumstances, with all the freshness of recent iniquity does not abound, the love of many guilt
. And it is well to be convinced of this may wax cold. Let us imagine the Supreme truth, in a way of mercy, and while we can Being, by his ministers, addressing such chaapply for pardon. For he will certainly con-racters as these :vince every impenitent sinner of it hereafter, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth in a way of justice, when he will publish to -- I remember thy simplicity. One motive the world all the private wickedness of his influenced and decided you. If God was heart and life, and fill him with shame and pleased and glorified, and you could enjoy his everlasting contempt.
siniles and his presence it was enough; and Thirdly. It is well to be informed of what the applause or censure of worms was less we once were, and to be led back to our for- than nothing and vanity. You rejoiced that mer history and experience. It is useful for you were “counted worthy to suffer shame a preacher sometimes to cry in our ears, and for his name;" and binding the reproach of rernind us of our natural state ; that we may the cross as an ornament upon your brow, " look to the rock whence we are hewn, you said, If this be to be vile, I will yet be and to the hole of the pit whence we were more vile. One thing you desired of the digged.” It is needful for him to remind us Lord, and that you sought after-it was a of the dispensations of Providence which have participation of the portion of his saints. attended us in former years:
Therefore, regardless of all other things, you
prayed, “Remember ine, O Lord, with the " Why should the wonders He has wrought Be lost in wonder, and forgot !"
favour thou bearest unto thy people: O visit
me with salvation; that I may see the good It is well for us to raise our Ebenezers, and of thy chosen: that I may rejoice in the to inscribe upɔn them, “ Hitherto hath the gladness of thy nation, and glory with thine Lord helped me.” Such memorials God him- inheritance." "You did not think of stipulatself prescribes. “O my people, remember ing for any thing else-with this, having only now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and food and raiment, you could learn to be conwhat Balaam the son of Beor answered him tent. But, alas! since this period, how often from Shittim, unto Gilgal; that ye may know have you looked aside after the friendship of the righteousness of the Lord. And thou the world! how often have you yielded a little shalt remember all the way which the Lord of your firmness to avoid the reproach of the thy God led thee these forty years in the wil- cross! It is not sufficient for you now to derness, to humble thee, to prove thee, to have “God for your portion"-you are miseknow what was in thine heart
, whether thou rable unless you are in a fair way of adding wouldest keep his commandments or no."- house to house, and joining field to field. A It is desirable to bring back to the mind our little disappointment in worldly things fills former frames and feelings in religion. We you with fretfulness and despondency--as if need every thing that is favourable to self- all was gone or going--and, like Jonah, you examination and self-knowledge. We ought sometimes exclaim, when a gourd withers, to be able to judge of our progress, or of our " I do well to be angry even unto death.”. declensions, in the divine life. The state of -I remember thy attachment to the means our souls in particular circumstances and of grace. O how you loved his word: it was seasons should be secured, that after the your meditation all the day !-How welcome lapse of years, it may be reviewed. A com- was the preaching of the Gospel! Then a parison of our present, with our former ex- trifling indisposition; a little rain or cold; periences, will in some instances encourage; the unseasonable calling of a friend—did not and in more condemn.
keep you from the courts of the Lord-nor But we need reproof. It will be profitable did you hear half asleep. How you prized for us to afflict our souls. “ The sacrifices the Sabbath! How you numbered the interof God are a broken spirit: a broken and a vening hours that should draw it on! How contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." you hailed it when it arrived—“This is the
This brings us, II. To consider those words day which the Lord hath made : we will reAS APPLICABLE TO CHARACTERS.
joice and be glad in it!" And O how pre. And First. They will apply to Christianscious were those seasons in which, around the table of a crucified Saviour, you received | admonitions given to the declining Churches: the dear memorials of his dying love! In the Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, reception you said— His flesh is meat in- because thou hast left thy first love. Rememdeed! and his blood is drink indeed!" and in the ber therefore from whence thou art fallen, review_" I sat down under his shadow with and repent, and do the first works; or else I great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my will come unto thee quickly, and will remove taste!" Then Christians appeared like an- thy candlestick out of his place, except thou gels. How attractive, how edifying, was the repent. Be watchful, and strengthen the communion of saints! If two of you walked things which remain, that are ready to die: towards Emmaus, you took sorrowful and for I have not found thy works perfect before sweet counsel together; the Redeemer was God. Remember therefore how thou hast your theme and your companion; and when received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. you came to the village whither you went, If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come you said one to another, “ Did not our heart on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know burn within us while he talked to us by the what hour I will come upon thee.” Lay way, and opened to us the Scripture!" "And these things to heart. Say, “O that it was when alone, was not your meditation of him with me as in months past." Carry thy case sweet, and therefore frequent ? Could you to the Scriptures; to the cross of Christ; to not say, with David, “ How precious are thy the throne of grace; and pray—“Create in thoughts unto me, O Lord; how great is the me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit sum of them! If I should count them, they within me. Restore unto me the joy of thy are more in number than the sand : when I salvation, and uphold me with thy free Spirit
. am awake, I am still with thee.”
Open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show I remember thy holy and active zeal :-forth thy praise. Wilt thou not revive us how you abounded in the duties of obedience; again, that thy people may rejoice in thee? how you daily asked, “ Lord, what wilt thou Show us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy have me to do?" How dissatisfied you were salvation.” in the service of God, unless you could " draw Secondly. The words will apply to those near even to his seat;" how the bitterness of who promised fair in their youth, and are now repentance made you loathe sin; at what an become irreligious. Many a fine morning awful distance you kept yourselves from its has been overspread with clouds, and followapproach; how you shunned" the very appear- ed by foul weather. Many a tree in spring ance of evil;" how, when the name of God has been covered with blossoms, which have was blasphemed, you could not sit “ like a never settled into fruit. And thus it has man in whose mouth there are no reproofs,” been with many a youth who has discovered but spoke for God, and defended his cause; amiable and pious propensities. Thus it was how “ jealous" you were “for the Lord of with the young man who came to our Lord hosts;" how your bowels yearned over pe- as an humble inquirer concerning eternal rishing sinners; how you 'longed to teach life: it is said, “When Jesus saw him, he transgressors the way in which you were loved him.” Thus Joash was remarkable for walking; how you seized every opportunity early goodness; and was preserved in it to invite others to taste and see that the Lord during the lifetime of the excellent Jehoiada ; is good ; how to relations, friends, neighbours, but, upon the death of his guardian, he was you said, “Come with us, and we will do you drawn aside by evil company and counsel good; for the Lord hath spoken good con- And, from this and various other causes, there cerning Israel!"-I need not proceed. Such are many young persons in the same condiis the change.
And has God deserved it? Have you gain- Perhaps you say—“But we are not vicious ed by these declensions from him? Šlave and profligate." So far it is well. And oh you not compelled him to say, “Have I been that this was true of all! but, alas! we have a wilderness unto Israel-a land of darkness ? swearers now, who in their youth feared an O that they had hearkened to my command- oath; we have sabbath-breakers now, who in ments! then had their peace been as a river, their youth revered the sacred hours; we and their righteousness like the waves of the have sceptics and scoflers now, who from a sea !"
child knew and admired “the Scriptures, How dreadful is it that, when every thing which are able to make us wise unto salvarequires our advancement, we should be sta- tion." You say, “We are not like them." tionary! that, when means und ordinances, But they were not thus drawn aside all at once; mercies and trials, unite to urge us forward; they became wicked by degrees. This is that, when our obligations to God are daily I always the course of sin. They “ proceed increasing, and the day of account every hour from evil to evil:" they “ wax worse and approaching—we should not only stand still worse.” The way to hell is down hill; once -but even draw back!
in motion, it is easy to go on, and you know Surely it is high time to awake out of not where you shall stop. You say, “We sleep! Declining Christian! attend to the are not like them.” But let me, my dear