« PreviousContinue »
the flood came and took them all away. In the midst of a profane and thoughtless world, the little flock of Christ will find their description and their promise in those words of the prophet, Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened and heard it; and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day, when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not.
To a mind, which is under the influence of religious principles and feelings, the most pleasing as well as improving object of contemplation is, the love of God; his creating, preserving, and redeeming love. But it is sometimes, and to the careless always, profitable, to think of his terrors; and to regard the instances, which are recorded in Scripture, of his more signal judgments upon impenitent sinners, as pledges and earnests of the fiercer wrath to come.
man delude himself into a belief, that the Lord
7 Mal. iii. 16.
will not be as exact in fulfilling his threats of vengeance, as he will be gracious in fulfilling his promises of mercy. He declared to Noah his intention of destroying a sinful world, and he did So. He announced to Abraham that a fiery deluge should descend upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and it did so. He told his chosen people that they should be carried into captivity, and be trodden under foot of the Gentiles, and so it was. He warned the unbelieving Jews of the approaching desolation of their holy city, and their own dispersion; and his warning was fulfilled to the letter. How, then, can we attempt to soften down and mitigate the terror of those awful declarations, which speak of future retribution to the ungodly, fire and brimstone, everlasting burnings, the worm which dieth not, and the fire which never will be quenched? No, my brethren; be assured that God will be true not only to his promises, but his threats. The flood came, and the day of the Lord will come. face of the earth was once destroyed; but in that day, the earth itself and the heavens shall pass The world that then was, says St. Peter, being overflowed with water, perished; but the heavens and the earth, which now are, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against
the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up. Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness?9
Let us seek for grace to live, as though we knew that the day of the Lord were close at hand to all and each of us; and as though we remembered the strictness of that rule by which we shall be judged, according to the measure of our receipts, especially of those spiritual advantages which in a Christian, at least in a Protestant country, are common to all; the faithful preaching of the pure word of God; the right administration of his sacraments; the public service of a scriptural Church; ample opportunities and means of learning the will of God, and of obtaining grace to perform it, of labouring in his vineyard, and of securing our reward. Blessed is that servant whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing.
2 Pet. iii. 6.
92 Pet. iii. 10.
PHARAOH'S HEART HARDENED.
EXOD. X. I.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh : for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might show these my signs before him.
If the Bible possessed no other claim to be considered the best and most valuable book in the world, it would be enough to say of it, that it is the only book, which gives any authentic and trustworthy account of God's providential dealings with mankind. From no other source do we know, with certainty, the manner in which he has from time to time interfered in the affairs of men, and specially directed the course of events to particular ends. There are many transactions recorded in the history.
of former times, of which the pious and reflecting reader is inclined to say, 'Truly this was the Lord's doing: surely this must have happened under the immediate direction of that allwise and allpowerful Being, who ruleth all the kingdoms of the earth, and beholdeth all that is done in the world.' But we cannot be certain, as to any particular fact, of its import and bearing, with respect to the purposes of God's providence, although we know that he exercises a general superintendence and control over human affairs.
But in the Bible we have the faithful picture of God's dealings with his creatures, pourtrayed by holy men under the direction of his own Holy Spirit. We there see remarkable events distinctly traced up to their first cause and origin, and pursued to their remotest consequences. We are told, how the Almighty interposed his power, and why: we are taught, in what a wonderful way he protects his faithful servants, and rescues them from danger and trouble; and we are taught, that which is more admirable still, how he sometimes renders the passions and vices of ungodly men subservient to the ends of his wisdom and mercy, and so maketh all things, even the seeming evil of events, work together for good.