Page images

liberally bestowed upon them, and which they, by constitution, were most inclined to, and by patient perseverance in well-doing, most particularly cultivated; but we do assert, that he was a most superior man in a most declining age. There are none of his faults recorded; but a shining constellation of bis virtues. As Melchisedec was without father, and without mother, and without descent; so he is held forth as without wickedness, and full of godliness. He walked with God, is a singular description from the pen of inspiration. Though Moses was preaching, as it were, his funeral sermon, (a sermon that has been handed down, when all the ephemeral productions of these too often encomiastic orations are carried down the stream of oblivion,) yet he pronounces no panegyric. Soine men, even now-a-days, walk partly with God; but so far as the sacred historian records, he walked wholly and constantly, from the morning to the meridian of life. As a testimony to his unparalleled worth, he was not allowed to see these evil days come, and these years draw nigh, in which he should have been compelled to say, he had no pleasure in them. His sun went down ere it was noon, according to the then average of human life. Ere he was aware, in the concise and emphatic language of my text, he was not. He was not ! This is a mode of expression, so far as we recollect, used only concerning Enoch by the Holy Spirit. Something akin to it is employed by Jacob in the inimitable history of Joseph,-a history which, whoever can read without emotion, is destitute of feel. ing, -and by Jeremiah, when he puts the language which would have resulted from the agonized feelings of Rachel, into the mouths of her posterity, when their infants were butchered in the massacre at Bethlehem. Joseph, as his father thought, was torn in pieces. Some wild beast, he believed, had devoured him. His brethren having gone down to Egypt to buy food, Simeon was detained in Egypt, as a pledge that his brethren would return, and, at the same time, to make him remember his faults ; first, in barbarously slaying the Shechemites along with his brother Levi, which caused their father, when specially inspired in his last moments, thus to address them :Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruinents of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret ; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united ! for in their

anger they slew a man, and in their self-will they digged down a wall. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel. I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel. Besides calling this barbarous and insidious action to his remembrance, it was intended, when he was grinding in the fetters of affliction, to cause bim recollect how he had acted towards his brother Joseph, when he, with his brethren, sat down to eat bread, and Joseph was left to perish in the pit. Simeon, perhaps, had been one of the chief actors against him ; at any rate, he did not interfere for his rescue, like Reuben and Judah. They had before now said, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.

As Simeon was likely of a cruel disposition, Joseph wished, and the God of Joseph wished to humble and try him. He was, at least, confined in Egypt; and Jacob mnight never again see liim; and Joseph he never more expected to behold. The simple narrative, therefore, tells us, that as they emptied their sacks, behold, every man's bundle of money was in his sack; and when they and their father saw the money, they were afraid. And Jacob their father said unto thein, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away. All these things are against me. Jeremiah puts similar language into the mouth of Rachel, then long dead; but used by her descendants; which had, perhaps, its first accomplishment when the Jews were carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar 605 years before Christ, and was finally fulfilled 600 years after, when Herod the tyrant slew the babes of Bethlehem, hoping to cut off among them the lately born King of the Jews,--the Saviour of sinners. Thus saith the Lord, A voice was heard in Ran.ah, lamentation and bitter weeping ; Rachel weeping for her children, refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. that it primarily had a reference to the Babylonish captivity, it is immediately subjoined, Thus saith the Lord, Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears : for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord ; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their border. When this prediction received its ultimate completion, there could be no reparation, and therefore there was no voice of consolation. It is thus narrated by Matthew,Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. This singular node of expression, wherever it is used by men who wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, denotes, that the persons were gone, never, or not likely to return.

To prove Simeon and the captive sons and daughters of Zion might return ; but to the persons who uttered the complaint, it was very improbable. They were still in this world ; but the one might be detained upon some other pretence, a hostage for ever, (as Abd-el-Kader, the Arabian Emir, inost likely will be by Louis Philippe, the Barrier Count d'Orleans, King of the French till 22d to 24th February 1848, whereas he was only raised himself in 1830 ;) and the others, in all likelihood, were never to return to their own border.

It applied to them, therefore, in a different sense than to Joseph, and to the infants of Bethlehem ; but to Enoch it applied as it never had done to any other, and as it only could have been applied to another, after he was carried in a chariot and horses of fire to heaven. Enoch had, indeed, passed the precincts of time. He was not, indeed, cut off by pining sickness—the cold sweat of death never stood like the drops of dew upon his brow-his lips never quivered, nor did his tongue refuse to perform its office_his eye never fixed as it does in the last agony, nor did he ever heave the sigh that is repeated no more-he experienced none of the awful forerunners of death, he never beheld the approach of the pale horse and his rider-his eyes never saw the king of terrors-he never walked through the dark valley of the shadow of death-his foot was never dipt in the swellings of Jordan-yet he was not. He was nowhere to be found in the land of the dying. They might have acted, at his exit, like the foolish sons of the prophets, when Elijah mounted on high in one of the chariots of God. They said unto Elisha, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master; lest peradventure the Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon some inountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send. And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men ; and they sought three days, but found him not. How Enoch was translated, we dare not almost couljecture. It would be, in our opinion, before competent wit

some delightful day, when all was calm and serene-when the odours of earth were rising in grateful adoration before God; on some Sabbath-day, most probably, while he was engaged in, or had just concluded the services of the sanctuary-while he was offering some sacrifice typical of that which we have been this day commemorating-when he was, by the performance of all the appointed njeans, in dependence upon the only end, and especially, by the Spirit of Christ, prepared for his last end-after he had, by anticipation,

nesses ;


given his dying charge to his wife, and his long-lived son, Methuselah, and the rest of his family-while a multitude, both of saints and sinners, beheld, he would be wafted, in the flames and smoke of the sacrifice, to heaven. They would stand with admiring gaze, following him as the disciples of his Master did their Lord, till he vanished froin their view in the cloudless expanse, or until a cloud received him out of their sight. His wife, and family, and connections, would cry after him, My husband, my husband ! My father, my father! as Elisha afterwards did after Elijah. The thoughtless and vicious would be struck with awe, and would exclaim, Verily there is a reward for the righteous ; verily He is a God that judgeth in the earth. What was written concerning his deParture, is swept away by the waters of the flood, or devoured by the all-destroying teeth of time; but what the legislator of the Jews has recorded, shall endure as the days of heaven, while sun and inoon endureth, throughout all generations. When the heavens are rolled -together as a scroll, and the elements melt with fervent heat, and the earth, and the things thereon are burnt up, it shall outlive the universal conflagration, and shall be remembered and rehearsed on the new heavens, and new earth, whereon dwelleth righteousness. Whatever way we leave the world, after we have left it, we are not. When the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit unto God who gave it, then we assuredly are not. Nay, the moment the spirit takes its departure, we are not. The body is only, as it were, the earthly tabernacle of the soul. The inhabitant, the instant after separation, is gone, the clay cold habitation is all that then remains; and depart, sooner or later, quicker or slower, we all inust; for it is appointed to men once to die. There is no discharge in that war. This is not our rest; for it is polluted. We must either sleep in the dust till the heavens be no more, or we must be changed. With respect to all the generations that have been, it must now be said, They are not. Your fathers, where are they ? and the prophets, do they live for ever? Where are those who have rejoiced when it was said, A man-child was born unto then ? or those who remembered their pains no more for joy that a man was born into the world ? Those who dandled us on the knee, and locked us in their fond embrace; those who instilled into our minds the elements of Christianity-who fed us at the breast with the pure milk of the Word ; and those, also, who nurtured, reproved, exhorted, and instructed us, are alike silent in the grave. They who fondly thought they saw & father's features in our countenance, and a fatber's form in our structure, and a father's spirit stirring in our breast, are now in the land of deep forgetfulness. Alas! they are both gone-gone never to return. We may rise to honour, but they are unconscious of it; we may sink in infamy, but they feel it not. The joys and sorrows, the love and hatred, the hopes and fears of this short and uncertain span, they participate in no more.

There is something in the expression, He was not, as well as in the former, Enoch walked with God, which is too high for us to attain unto it. His friends had him no longer to cherish and attend, nor his enemies to withstand and endea. your to destroy. We, too, soon shall not be ; and then it shall be recorded of us in the book of remembrance, either that we walked with, or walked contrary to God. Concerning the state of Enoch, there can be no dubiety; for it is not only said, He was not, as it shall soon be said of us; but it is added, -and we would all, one day, like to have the all-important addition, -for God took him. This was the

Second thing to be illustrated in our text, namely, The signal reward of grace conferred upon Enoch for his walking constantly and closely with God. From which this doctrine is held fortli, - Those who walk with God, God will take. This is not the way of the world. Those who walk with the world, the world will not defend, and, in distress, will not rescue nor receive. The friendship of the world is not only enmity with God; but the friends of the world are at enmity with each other. Those whom God loves, He loves unto the end. He will never leave nor forsake those who put their trust in Him. The expression of Moses is very singular,-God took him. He does not enter into detail concerning the mode of his translation. He does not launch out into the bappiness of those who walk with God. All that he says is, that God took him. How much, nevertheless, is contained in this short sentence. If God took him, he had all that man can desire-all that God can bestow. Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his, is all that the votaries of this world wish, when they can enjoy the world no more. Enoch never expressed the vain wish which the unbelieving and the ungodly express; but he walked in that new and living way which necessarily brought him to this desirable end. He entered into the strait gate by faith and repentance, and walked in the narrow way of holiness. He knew that one thing was needful, and he chose that better part which shonld never be taken from him. As, by divine grace, he had chosen God as his portion, so God took hiin, in a miraculous way, to be for ever with him. This

« PreviousContinue »