« PreviousContinue »
me entreat all those to whom this has been either an excuse or a hindrance, to consider attentively and prayerfully what is said by that "God who cannot lie." "All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient people." "The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked." "Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?" And as you pause over these solemn assertions and tender entreaties, look at what the Lord Jesus says: "All the words of my mouth are in righteousness ; there is nothing wreathed or perverse in them” (Prov. viii. 8, marg.) Oh! there is something in that passage which seems sufficient to silence every lingering objection. The Lord's words are not as man's words,-all that is said, is meant. Connect that
text with every one which has hitherto proved a difficulty, and if you cannot square all with your conceptions of the Divine character, bow down before what the Lord declares of himself; bow down, and believe "that there is no unrighteousness in Him." He is the God who welcomes the returning sinner.
Oh! that all your hard thoughts of him may vanish before the simple and straight-forward statements of his word. May you see that the unwillingness is yours; the willingness, His. The hand that is stretched out, "beseeching you to be reconciled," is the hand of that God whom you have offended. Where then is the obstacle? And when he says, "Ask, and ye shall receive;" -"A new heart will I give you;" what becomes of your cannot? May you be led to seek and you shall find to your joy—that there is a hope which will stand the fire.
THIRSTING FOR GOD.
THE man after God's own heart is not afraid to own, even to his Maker, an ardency of love for Him, which must be expressed by the significant metaphor of thirst; and that, such a thirst, too, as makes the panting hart, by naturalists observed to be a very dry creature, bray, as I remember the Hebrew has it, for those refreshing streams, whose want reduces her to an almost gasping condition. My very soul," says he, "thirsteth for God."
And we know that thirst is not only so violent an appetite that it lessens the wonder of that monarch's bargain, whom history records to have parted with his kingdom for a cup of water— but thirst doth so confine our longings to what it craves, that 'nothing else can satisfy them: the wealth of both the Indies would not excuse the want of a needed cup, suppose their possessor tormented with an appetite which cannot be quenched but by drink. To which I must add, that the uneasiness of unrelieved thirst is not, like that of other inconveniences, lessened by continuance, but grows, by lasting, the more insupportable. -Hon. Robert Boyle.
THE GREAT REFINER.
HE whose Spirit inspired the prophets, is in the last of them represented under the notion of a Refiner; and it is not the custom of refiners to snatch the beloved metal out of the fire as soon as it feels the violence of that purifying element: nay, nor as soon as it is melted by it, but they let it long endure the brunt of the active flames, actuated by exciting blasts, till it have stood its due time in the fire, and there obtained its full purity and splendor. And I hope you will give one, that converses with furnaces, though he be no pretender to the philosopher's stone, leave to employ a chemical metaphor, and observe that though in afflictions, especially national or public calamities, God oftentimes seems to make no distinction betwixt the objects of his compassion and those of his fury, indiscriminately involving them in the same destiny; yet his prescience and intentions make a vast difference where his inflictions do not seem to make any; as when, on the same test and with the self-same fire, we urge as well the gold as the blended lead or antimony, but with foreknowing and designing such a disparity in the events as to consume the ignobler minerals, or blow them off into dross or fumes, and make the gold more pure and full of lustre. -Hon. R. Boyle.
GOD, THE FIRST CAUSE.
THE God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, the God whose wonders Moses has recorded, did not merely arrange the world;
he created it absolutely, both as regards matter and form. fore he gave it being, nothing existed but himself: he is represented to us as the God who made all things by his word, and without trouble; it cost him but a single word, for he had only to will that it should be.
Moses has taught us that this Almighty architect created the universe in six days, to shew that he did not act from necessity, or by a blind impetuosity, as some philosophers have imagined. The sun, by a single burst, sends forth all its rays, keeping back nothing of its glories; but God, who acts by intelligence and with sovereign freedom, applies his power where he pleases, and to any extent; and as, in making the world by his word, he shewed that nothing gave him trouble, so, in fashioning it by degrees, he lets us see that he is master of his materials, his conduct, and his whole undertaking, and that he has no other rule of action than his sovereign will and pleasure.
This conduct on the part of God shews us also, that every thing comes immediately and directly from his hand. Those men and philosophers who have supposed that the earth mingled with water, and assisted, if you please, by the sun's heat, produced of itself, and by its natural fruitfulness, plants and animals, are grievously mistaken. The Bible gives us to understand, that the elements themselves are sterile until God's word renders them productive. Neither the earth, the air, nor the waters, would have produced the plants or animals we see among us, unless God, who at first made and elaborated the material, had given it a productive power, and imparted to every thing the means of continuing its species to all generations.-Bossuet.
THERE are some objects which, at first sight, appear altogether uninteresting, and to contain nothing to invite the notice of the beholder, who merely casts a hasty glance and then passes on. Such are a recently ploughed field, a crawling insect, and a multitude of the works of God, which are full of wonders. To an unreflecting mind, even the ocean would be regarded with indifference, and elicit nothing more than the mere exclamation, "It is only the sea!" and yet the sea is an object that astonishes the
more, the more it is studied. It connects the inhabitants of the world, by its being the means of communication: it brings to our shores the produce of distant lands, and without detailing other blessings, it is the medium of conveying the tidings of grace and salvation to nations, and kindreds, and tribes, enwrapped in the darkness of ignorance, and reposing in the shadow of death. "Who came to the door just now?" said Mrs. Norman to her child Henry. "Only a man, mamma.' 'Only a man! and what is a man, my child? who made him ?" "God." "What was he made of?" "Dust." "What does he consist of?" "Body and soul." 'And how long will he exist ?" "His body will go to the grave, but his soul will exist for ever.” "Where?" "In heaven or hell!" 'You see, my dear Henry, that man is a wonderful being, and the more he is examined, the more wonderful he appears." In this simple manner Mrs. Norman endeavored to implant in her son a habit of reflecting upon words and things, so that every object became more or less the subject of his inquiry, and thus he gained knowledge.
How much there is in a word! A lady, returned from a card party, found her servant reading a pious book. She looked over her shoulder and said, "Poor melancholy soul! what pleasure can you find in poring over that book?" She retired to rest, but could not sleep, but sighed and wept. Her servant took the liberty of inquiring the cause; at length she burst into a flood of tears: "O," said she, "it was one word which I saw in your book that troubles me, the word ETERNITY.' How happy should I be if I were prepared for Eternity!" From that time she laid aside her cards, forsook her gay society, and began seriously to prepare for another world. A word in due season how good is it!"
The word at the head of this paper is in very common use. We hear it from the lips of all ages and all classes. It is employed by the sacred writers to convey some of the most solemn truths, and to arrest the attention of the gay and thoughtless, as well as the sober and reflecting.
1. "Nothing," is applied to express the folly of idolatry. "Behold," says the prophet Isaiah (xli. 24), “ye (idols) are of nothing, and your work of nought; or worse than nothing, for an abomination is he that chooseth you." "We know,"
says the apostle (1 Cor. viii. 10), “that an idol is nothing in the world. Idols are not deities, but imaginary things-mere figments of human error, which have no power to sanctify or pollute things offered to them. The Jews called them vanities and nullities. This is beautifully and strikingly illustrated by the prophet, (Isa. xliv.)
2. "Nothing," is applied to human life, (Psalm xxxix. 5), "Mine age is as nothing before thee; verily every man, at his best estate, is altogether vanity,”—nothing when compared with the immeasurable extent and the unnumbered days of eternity; every hour from that of our birth brings us so much nearer to our death. Every moment then should be well employed in giving all diligence to be found of Christ in peace. Youth should not presume on long life, but seek the Lord now; for
"A flower may fade before 'tis noon,
And you this day may lose your breath!"
Nothing," is applied to a person destitute of the power of religion, (1 Cor. xiii. 1.) "Though I have the gift of pro
phecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." All mere attainments, all high pretensions to religion, arising from extensive acquaintance with the Scriptures, an attachment to any outward form of worship, or association with any body or denomination of Christians, will be of no avail without the influence of Divine love in the heart, and the manifestation of that love in the life. Many may say, "the temple of the Lord are we,” but while their hearts are devoted to the world, and not wholly given up to God, they are nothing; their religion is nothing, their hope is nothing. They may be something in their own eyes, and something in the eyes of others, but in the sight of God they are nothing; and living and dying unconverted to him, they will appear as the ungodly, represented by "the chaff which the wind driveth away," (Psalm i. 4.) If a man think himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself;" and hence the necessity of your examining yourself, dear reader, whether you be in the faith.
4. "Nothing," is applied to vain rites and ordinances, when they are the ground of a hope of heaven,-" Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping the