Page images
PDF
EPUB

the counsel of peace shall be between Have all believers an interest in them both,” Zech. viii. 13.

Christ's priesthood ?-Yes: for “we Is he a priest that needs a suc- have a High-Priest over the house cessor ?-No: for “this man, be- of God,” Heb. x. 21. cause he continueth ever, hath an Is this an encouragement in our unchangeable priesthood,” Heb. approaches to God ?-Yes: “ Let vii. 24.

us, therefore, come boldly to the Is he a priest that needs a sacri- throne of grace,” Heb. iv. 16. fice for himself ?-No: for “the law And is this that which we must makes men high-priests which have depend upon for our acceptance infirmity; but the word of the oath with God ?-It is : for “spiritual makes the Son, who is consecrated sacrifices are acceptable to God only for evermore,” Heb. vii. 27, 28. through Jesus Christ," 1 Pet. ii. 5.

Redemption by blood is the doctrine of the Scriptures, and the Gospel of salvation. However that doctrine may offend the pride of man, none other can bring true peace to his conscience, and deliver him from the wrath to come.

This alone is “the power of God unto salvation” to every believer. It may be a stumblingblock to one, and foolishness to another, but to him it is both “the power of God, and the wisdom of God." His blood can alone remove guilt, and faith in it can alone bring righteousness. To remove the offence of the cross is to cut down the hope of man, and to extinguish the light of the world. Let every reader, therefore, exclaim with the apostle, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

Personal Religion. .

BENEFITS OF AFFLICTION.

A Letter to a friend. DEAR SIR, I truly commiserate God. “I form the light, and create your variegated calamity, and heart- darkness; I make peace, and create ily wish I could suggest anything evil; I, the Lord, do all these which might be the means of admi- things,” Isa. xlv. 7. They spring nistering some ease to your af- not from the dust, are not the efflicted mind, and of assisting you fects of a random chance, but the to reap ample benefit from your dis- appointment of an all-wise, alltressed situation.

foreseeing God, who intends them You well know that all afflictions, all for the good of his creatures. of what kind soever, proceed from This, I think, is the fundamental

66

[ocr errors]

argument for resignation, and the grand source of comfort. This should be our first reflection, and our sovereign support.

He that gave me my being, and gave his own Son for my redemption, he has assigned me this suffering. What he ordains, who is boundless love, must be good; what he ordains, who is unerring wisdom, must be proper.

This reconciled Eli to the severest doom that was ever denounced. “It is the Lord;" and though grievous to human nature, much more grievous to parental affection, yet it is unquestionably the best; therefore I humbly acquiesce, I kiss the awful decree, and say from my very soul, “Let him do what seemeth him good," 1 Sam. iii. 18.

This calmed the sorrows of Job, under all his unparalleled distresses. The Lord gave my affluence and prosperity; the Lord has taken all away; rapacious hands and warring elements were only his instruments; therefore I submit, I adore, I bless his holy name.

This consolation fortified the man Christ Jesus, at the approach of his inconceivably bitter agonies. “The cup which,” not my implacable enemies, but “my Father," by their administration,

" has given me, shall I not drink it?

It is your Father, dear sir, your heavenly Father, who loves you with an everlasting love, that has mingled some gall with your portion in life, Sensible of the beneficent hand from which the visitation comes, may you always bow your head in patient submission, and acknowledge, with the excellent but

afflicted monarch, Hezekiah,“ Good is the word of the Lord concerning me,” 2 Kings xx. 19.

All afflictions are designed for blessings,—to do us good at the latter end, however they may cross our desires or disquiet our minds at present. “ Happy," says the Spirit of Inspiration, and not wretched, " is the man whom God correcteth," Job v. 17; and for this reason, because his merciful chastenings, though not “joyous, but grievous, yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby," Heb. xii. 11. God's ways are not as our ways.

The children whom we love we are apt to treat with all the soft blandishments and fond caresses of profuse indulgence; and too, too often humour them to their hurt, if not to their ruin. But the Father of spirits is wise in his love, and out of kindness severe. Therefore, it is said, “ whom he loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth,” Heb. xii. 6.

Would you not, dear sir, be a child of that everlasting Father whose favour is better than life? Affliction is one sign of your adoption to this inestimable relation. Would you not be an “heir of the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away?” Affliction is your path to that blissful patrimony. “Through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of heaven," AQ xiv. 22. Would you not be made like your ever-blessed and amiable Redeemer? He was

66

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;” and every disciple must expect to be as his Master.

[ocr errors]

anxieties, crosses, teach us to long for those happy mansions where all tears will be wiped away from the eyes (Rev. xxi. 4), all anguish banished from the mind, and nothing, nothing subsist but the fulness of joy, and pleasures for ever

but

more.

[ocr errors]

Perhaps you may think your affliction peculiarly calamitous, and that if it has been of some other kind, you could more cheerfuny submit, more easily bear, it; you are in the hands of an all-wise Physician, who joins to the bowels of infinite love the discernment of infinite wisdom. He cannot mistake your case. He sees into the remotest events, and though he varies his remedies, always prescribes with the exactest propriety to every one's particular state. Assure yourself, therefore, the visitation which he appoints is that most suited to your's. Any other would have been less fit to convey saving health to your immortal part, and less subservient to your enjoyment of the temporal blessings which may, perhaps, be yet in store for you.

Do you inquire what benefits accrue from afflictions ? Many and precious. They tend to wean us from the world. When our paths arestrewed with roses, when nothing but music and odours float around, how apt are we to be enamoured with our present condition, and forget the crown of glory,—forget Jesus and everlasting ages! But affliction, with a faithful, though harsh voice, rouses

us from the sweet delusion. Affliction warns our heart to arise and depart from these inferior delights, because here is not our rest. True and lasting joys are not here to be found. The sweeping tempest and the beating surge teach the mariner to prize the haven where undisturbed repose waits his arrival, In like manner, disappointments, vexations,

Afflictions tend to bring us to Christ. Christ has unspeakable and everlasting blessings to bestow, such as the world can neither give nor take away; such as are sufficient to pour that oil of gladness into our souls which will float above the waves of any earthly tribulation.

In Christ Jesus there is pardon of sins. Sin is a burden incomparably sorer than any other distress. Sin would sink us into the depths of eternal ruin, and transfix us with the agonies of endless despair. But Christ has, at the price of his very life, purchased pardon for all that fly to him. He has borne the guilt of their sins“ in his own body on the tree," 1 Pet. ii. 24. Have they deserved condemnation ? He has sustained it in their stead. Are they obnoxious to the wrath of God? He has endured it as their substitute. He has made satisfaction, complete satisfaction for all their iniquities (Rom. iii, 25, 26), so that justice itself, the most rigorous justice, can demand no more. Oh, that distresses may prompt us to prize this mercy! may incite us to desire ardently this blessedness! Then it will be good for us to have been afflicted (P:a. cxix. 71).

ize the

gift of the Holy Spirit (Gal. iii. 2), to sanctify our hearts and renew our natures. An unrenewed carnal

mind is ten thousand times more to be lamented, more to be dreaded, than any external calamities. And nothing can cure us of this most deadly disease, but the sanctifica. tion of the Spirit. This Divine Spirit alone is able to put the fear of God in our souls, and awaken the love of God in our hearts (Jer. xxxii. 40). His influences suggest such awful and amiable thoughts to our minds, as will be productive of these Christian graces. This sacred principle subdues our corruptions, and conforms us to our blessed Redeemer's image. How is this best gift of Heaven disesteemed by the darlings of the world, who have nothing to vex them! But how precious is it, how desirable to the heirs of sorrow ! They breathe after it, as the thirsty hart panteth for the water-brooks. They cannot be satisfied without its enlightening, purifying, cheering communication. This is all their request, and all their relief, that the Spirit of Christ may dwell in their hearts (Rom. viii. 9), may enable them to possess their souls in patience (Luke xxi. 19), and derive never-ending good from momentary evils.

Before I close these lines, permit me to recommend one expedient, which yet is not mine, but the advice of an inspired apostle: “If any be afflicted, let him pray.” Dear sir, fly to God in all your adversity, pour out your complaints before him in humble supplication, and show him your trouble (Psa. cxlii. 2). When I am in heaviness, says a holy sufferer, I wiil think upon God (Psa. lxi. 2); his omnipotent power,

his unbounded goodness,

whose ear is ever, ever open to receive the cry of the afflicted. Whon the Poaluuist was distressed on every side, without were fightings, within were fears, the throne of grace was the place of his refuge: “I give myself to prayer” (Psa. cix. 3), was his declaration. This method, we read, Hannah took, and you cannot but remember the happy issue (1 Sam. i. 10). Let me entreat you to imitate these excellent examples ; frequently bend your knees, and more frequently lift up your heart to the Father of mercies, and God of all consolation, not doubting but that through the merits of his dear Son, through the intercession of your compassionate High-Priest, he will hear your petitions, will comfort you under all your tribulations, and make them all work together for your infinite and eternal good.

In the meantime, I shall not cease to pray that the God of all power and grace may vouchsafe to bless these considerations, and render them as balm to your aching heart, and as food to the divine life in your mind. I am, dear sir, with much esteem, compassion, and respect, your very sincere well-wisher,

J. H.

[ocr errors]

COMMUNION WITH GOD. A MONARCH vested in gorgeous habiliments is far less illustrious than a kneeling suppliant ennobled and adorned by communion with God. Consider how august a privilege it is, when angels are present, when cherubim and seraphim en. circle with their blaze the throne, that a mortal may approach with unrestrained confidence, and converse with heaven's dread Sovereign! Oh, what honour was ever

conferred like this ? When a Christian stretches forth his hands to pray, and invokes his God, in that moment he leaves behind him all terrestrial pursuits, and traverses on the wings of intellect the realms of light; he contemplates celestial objects only, and knows not of the present state of things during the period of his prayer, provided that prayer be breathed with fervency.

GOD. THERE is a beauty in the name appropriated by the Saxon nations to the Deity, unequalled except by his most venerated Hebrew appellation. They call him “ God,” which is literally, “ The Good,”the same word thus signifying the Deity and his most endearing quality. --Sharon Turner.

Biblical Yllustration.

SWIFTNESS OF LEOPARDS.

“Swifter than the leopards.”—Hab. i. 8. The swiftness of the leopard is pro- the perfection of his power. There verbial in all countries where it is is an interesting account of a cheefound. This, conjoined with its tah hunt in Forbes' “ Oriental Meother qualities, suggested the idea, moirs”(i., 170—175), from which it in the East, of partially taming it, appears that the cheetah, when the that it might be employed in hunt- prey is in view, endeavours to steal ing; and Harmer ingeniously con- undiscovered within the distance of jectures that the image here em- seventy yards before it starts against ployed by the prophet may have the game, and seldom perseveres in been the more familiar and striking the chase if it does not overtake it to the people, from their having had in a very short run, which, howopportunities of witnessing the pro- ever, it seldom fails to do. “When digious feats of leopards used in the the cheetah resolves to exert himroyal hunts. He would have con- self, his velocity is astonishing; for sidered this the more probable if although the antelope is esteemed he had known that the leopard was the swiftest species of the deer, and certainly thus employed in ancient the course generally begins at the Egypt, as appears from existing distance of seventy or eighty yards, paintings.

yet the game is usually caught, or Leopards are now rarely kept for else makes his escape, within the hunting in Western Asia, unless distance of three or four hundred by kings and governors; but they yards, the cheetah seldom running are more common in the eastern a greater distance, and in that I parts of Asia. Osorius relates that have measured repeated strokes of one was sent by the king of Portugal seven or eight paces. On coming to the Pope, which excited great up with the game, especially if a astonishment by the velocity with doe or fawn, it is difficult to describe which it overtook and the facility the celerity with which it overthrows with which it killed deer and wild its prey. But the attack of an old boars. Le Bruyn mentions a leopard buck is a more arduous task : his kept by the pasha who governed great strength sometimes enables Gaza and the other territories of him to make a hard struggle, though the ancient Philistines, and which seldom with success; for although he frequently employed'in hunting I have known a buck get loose two jackals.

or three times, yet I never saw one But it is in India that the cheetah, escape after having been fairly or hunting leopard, is most fre- seized.” quently employed, and is seen in

« PreviousContinue »