Page images

a Father, where is mine honour ?” The Jews of that age, both priests and people, kept up all the forms of public worship; but they even tried how cheaply they could maintain them. Hence God remonstrated thus: “Ye brought the torn, and the lame, and the sick : thus ye brought an offering Should I accept this of your hand, saith the Lord ? But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the Lord of Hosts." Mal. i. 13. Ezekiel gives the same account of this lip-honour and money-loving: “ With their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness." Ezek. xxxiii. 31. Thus one great cause of their hearts being far from God, whilst their lips honoured him, was the love of money.

His service, as he enjoined it for his own honour, required both healthy sacrifices at the altar, and hearty free-will offerings at the treasury of his temple ; but they grudged the expense of both. Their own temporal interests lay nearer their hearts than his public honour; but, as they did not deem it quite safe to do nothing for his cause; they tried a compromise, and talked much, but

little. “ These things were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world are come.” And if a lame, torn, and sickly offering, or the cheapest sacrifice that could be purchased, was a base insult at the typical altar of atonement, however coupled with singing all the songs of Zion, how much more ungrateful it is to try how little will suffice as an offering at the high altar of the cross ! That altar sanctifies indeed both the giver and the gift, however poor either may be, if they are only honest and cheerful. It is not the amount, but the proportion of what is given for his honour, that God looks to. He would reckon it no honour, but indeed an insult, to receive a gift out of money which man had any debt-claim upon, or out of an income inadequate to the real wants of a family. God “hates robbery for burntoffering.” Mites are millions in his estimation, when a mite is all that can be honestly or prudently cast into his


be more

treasury. He is however jealous about the proportion and spirit in which we honour him ; and we ought to be so too.

In the present day, it is peculiarly necessary to settle the general question, What can I really afford “to do for the honour of my God and Saviour ?" So many particular claims come before us, one by one, and at separate times, that we can hardly tell whether we be giving too much or too little, until this question is fairly settled. For on the one hand, we give so often, that the amount may seem to us greater than it really is; and on the other hand, although we do not miss our mites whilst they are given from time to time, yet their gross amount at the end of the year may than we could afford. And it is really more, if we leave any proper debt to man unpaid, or not in a fair

way of being honestly met. It therefore becomes, yea behooves us, to unite with singing, “ Honour unto God and the Lamb," a conscientions calculation of what we can give to honour them, “ with our substance, and with the first-fruits of all our increase.” Now, the New Testament form of all this old commandment is, “ Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him." 1 Cor. xvi. 2. Thus, wherever Providence has given nothing beyond the bare necessaries of life, grace calls for no laying out or laying by at that time for the cause of God. When a Christian can do nothing for God in the way of giving, without injuring his family or his neighbour, he has no occasion to be afraid or ashamed on that account, to appropriate the full confort of the New Song unto himself. He needs it all, when thus low; and he is welcome to it all, in his low estate. When God however prospers us much, or so much that we are above want, then grace

does call for a liberality proportionate to the bounty of Providence. And according to this rule, we shall have occasion to say, at one time, “For brass, I will bring silver ;” and at another time, “For silver, I will bring gold;" and at another it may be equally our duty to reverse this ascending scale, and to say, "For gold, I must bring only silver;" or, "For silver,

I must bring only brass.”. For the honour of God being the final object, the descending scale, when thus conscientious, is as honourable in his estimation as the ascending scale of free-will offerings. When however we really can afford to sing the New Song to a golden harp, a silver harp should not be seen in our hands. There might be more harps of gold around the cross, when all who sing, “ Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us,” are glorying in the cross. Silver harps make indeed good practical music in the grand chorus of this Doxology, when they join it often and regularly; but the New Song will not, cannot spread fast nor far, until the wealthy " thousands of Israel" drop them, and say, “For silver, I will bring gold." Your gold will rust in spite of you, if you hold back any that you can really spare : for all you can spare

is now wanted. The third note of the Doxology is, “ Glory unto God and the Lamb." And this also must be practical, as well as cordial.

No words nor feelings, however good or glowing, can be a substitute for glorifying actions. All who are redeemed, or hope to be redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, must glorify God with their bodies, as well as with their spirits ; by their practice, as well as by their faith.

This is no hardship, and therefore we are not in a right spirit when we think it one. A really rignt spirit before God, would try to break away from its wrong tendencies, exclaiming in the face of all temptation and custom, “Who would not glorify thee, thou King of saints, for thou only art holy!" I am but too fully aware that all this is not easy. There are however harder tasks than self-denial or self-control. When God arises to punish for, and to purify from unholy habits or tempers, the furnace of such sanctification is often as dark as it is hot. The chastened child cannot see a father's heart, nor recognise a paternal hand in the fiery trial of faith ; his faith becomes so weak, or what is the same thing, he finds it so difficult to believe for himself, when all things seem against him. Then, however willing or able to glorify God and the Lamb by his life and

VOL. 11.-26


conversation, he is almost afraid to try lest his services should be rejected, as too late or too reluctant to be accepted.

If you understand this hint, you will feel at once the tremendous import and emphasis of that solemn warning“Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and while

ye look for light, he turn into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness." This-God will do, in the case of all his children who do not try to glorify him, and especially in the case of professing parents who take no effective nor systematic measures to train


their offspring in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. God will bring them to their senses, by answering their prayers" with terrible things in righteousness." He has indeed forgiven such parents; but he has taken “vengeance on the inventions" by which they long evaded parental duty, and brought them to it by whips of scorpions.

I am not pleading for too much, whilst thus enforcing the duty of glorifying God by breaking through sloth and shame and selfishness, in order to be useful in our families and relative circles. If we do nothing for souls there, we can eapect nothing: and who is prepared to hazard the consequences of seeing some cut off, for whom they are responsible to God, and through eternity can never forget! Parents ! have mercy on your children, if ye


any mercy upon yourselves. Relatives ! save yourselves from "blood-guiltiness," if you would be saved by the blood of the Lamb. Neighbours ? say not, “Am I my brother's keeper ?" if you would be kept from the curse of being unprofitable servants. By all means, sing “ Glory be unto God and the Lamb;" but at the same time, do something to glorify them, if you would have their presence with your own soul in life or death.

Besides : only consider for what this duty is usually neglected? For nothing that will bear to be told at the bar of God. Yea, the indulgence, the sloth, or the worldliness which set the duty aside, may themselves prove fatal to life, health, or reason. For why should Providence keep watch and ward, or indeed care any thing about the temporal welfare of those, who care nothing about the eternal welfare of others? Where is grace promised either to keep or cheer the hearts of those, who take no interest in the glory of God ? O be assured, that the time is gone past in the church for ever, when it was safe or sufficient to keep up the New Song as doctrine and devotion. The worthiness of the Lamb must be spread now, at home and abroad, or not be enjoyed in the closet or the sanctuary. The New Song has fallen now on new times. Not that redemption is less the free gift of God now, nor that the redeemed are brought under any directly new obligation: we are only brought back to more of primitive times, than our immediate fathers enjoyed. Providence has again thrown open the world to the chariots of salvation, as when they had their first highway over the three continents. Our fathers had enough to do in their time, to rescue and keep the ark of the covenant out of the hands of the Popish and Socinian Philistines. It cost them both blood and treasure to preserve the truth as it is in Jesus. Now, however, the ark is safe, and the world open ; and these new times call for new, or a renewal of the original efforts, to bear it in triumph around all the seats of idolatry, and into all the scenes of ignorance and vice.

And what is expense? It is here as in every thing else a mere thing of proportion. What the spread of the gospel will cost, is sure to be taken from us in judgment, if it be not given by us in mercy. God can enlarge or limit our means, as he chooses. What have the great body of merchants and ship-owners gained during this winter? As a body, they have never done any thing effectual for the religious or moral improvement of seamen: and, in a few months, they have lost more money than would have been requisite to furnish all their ships and harbours with adequate means of grace. Thus, God settles all ill-kept accounts with the claims of his glory.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »