Page images

for them any deliverance,-should the father and mother of their childhood have been taken from them, unobserved and unlamented, as if it had been only a common occurrence,-should no tear start in the eye, or no pang rend the heart, at the mention of their name, and the remembrance of all their kindness and all their woe,-should we never have contrasted our frowardness and naughtiness with their tenderness and unabated affection,-should the face never flush, nor the heart throb, at the recollection of the vanity, and folly, and vitiosity of our early years, should the companions of our childhood and youth, our acquaintances and friends, have fallen unheeded, and evanished unregretted, like the leaves of autumn, the mantle and wreath of snow, or the rainbow's lovely form, the token of the covenant of mercy,-should all the momentous changes in the lot of individuals, families, societies, churches, and kingdoms, have passed by us unnoticed, or unheeded, like the solemnities of a funeral procession,-should we, in the conflict of life, have trampled over the bodies of friends and foes, with as little concern as the warlike horse, or his anxious, fearless rider in the heat of battle,-should the cup of prosperity never have been dashed from our hand when it was raised to our head, and we were saying, in the fulness of our self-sufficiency, To-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant,-should our feeble little bark have hitherto sailed down the stream of time, to us, at least, perfectly unruffled, while all the oars of friends were plying, and colours of hope flying, to bring us to our desired haven,-still let us remember, that this height of happiness hath fallen to the lot of scarce one of a thousand; and yet, for all these mercies, we are bound to say, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

But, my friends, I am scarcely keeping within the bounds of possibility in my picture. The thread of life is not so evenly spun, nor the web of life so equally woven. I returned, and saw under the sun, says the wisest of men, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. For man, also, knoweth not his time; as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them. All things come alike to all; there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good, and to the clean, and to the unclean: to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.

This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all; yea, also the hearts of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead. Since, according to the testimony of another inspired author, man that is born of a woman is of few days; and these, few though they are, full of trouble. We must all either have experienced, or, if we live, shall experience the vicissitudes of human life; and, therefore, whenever we experience the interposition of the right hand of the Most High, which is stretched out for the protection and preservation of sinners as well as saints, we ought to adopt the language of the man after God's own heart, who witnessed, and has recorded, many singular providences,-Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving-kindnesses and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

I hope I have made it evident, that we all have good cause to be grateful, and to express our gratitude for all the bounties of Providence. But these, although they are more than can be numbered, and more valuable than can be estimated, shall all, like the earth on which they are received, decay, and come to an end. Methuselah, during the lengthened period of his temporal existence, must have received eight hundred and nine more temporal benefits than any man living can do,-receiving them in the same proportion and same time; yet they are all to him, long since, of no avail, and must be soon, to ail of us, equally unimportant and unavailing. Spiritual blessings, though, by the many, less esteemed, are infinitely more valuable, because they are more satisfying, and of longer duration. Those of us, therefore, and, I trust, the number is great, whom God hath loved with an everlasting love, have greater cause to be grateful, and are better disposed and qualified to shew forth our gratitude, than those who have merely received temporal benefits. If these spiritual blessings, however, have been ever offered to us, yea, if they have been urged upon us; and if we can shew no other reason why we do not enjoy them but because we would not receive them, then we are bound to be equally grateful, while we have not the least inclination, nor the smallest ability, (though it is entirely our own fault,) to shew forth our gratitude. If the Saviour, and all the infinite benefits of His everlasting salvation, have been offered

us, and we have refused and despised God's most unspeakable gift, we have not (and yet God hath the undoubted right to require of us) gratitude for the salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ. Despisers of God's grace place themselves in the most awful and irremediable condition. They will reproach themselves through eternity, that they might have been raised to heaven, while they are sunk down to hell. Think of this, ye that forget God, lest He tear you in pieces, while there is none to deliver.

Those highly favoured few who are now hearing me, who have received a new heart and a right spirit, who, being once dead in trespasses and sins, have been quickened and made alive unto God through Jesus Christ,-those of us who have been effectually called, and turned from the error of our way,those to whom Christ has been made of God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and complete redemption,-those who have received the faith of God's elect, that precious and saving faith which unites unto Jesus, which derives from Him every blessing, and which rests upon Him for salvation, from sin, and death, and hell; that faith which worketh by love, which purifieth the heart, and which inclines and enables to all holy obedience, those who have obtained from Him, and have been enabled to exercise toward Him, that godly sorrow which worketh repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of,-those who have obtained that all-directing, all-subduing principle of supreme love to God, and subordinate love to man, -those who, disclaiming and renouncing entirely, and for ever their own righteousness, and own holiness, and own obedience, and own sufferings, trust wholly to that all-perfect righteousness, all-glorifying holiness, and all-pacifying blood, of the only-begotten and well-beloved Son of God,-those, in short, who have received Jesus, and every blessing derived, and to be derived from Him, and are daily walking with, and in Him, in all the ways of holy obedience, they can say, Although my house be not so with God, yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although He make it not to grow. I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me. Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off

from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth, who is He that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea, rather, that is risen again; who is even at the right hand of God; who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we_are_more than conquerors, through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Although by free sovereign grace they have reached this height of happiness, they count not themselves to have attained, or to be already perfect; but forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, they press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. And besides this, giving all diligence, they add to their faith, virtue, and to virtue, knowledge, and to knowledge, temperance, and to temperance, patience, and to patience, godliness, and to godliness, brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, charity. Finally, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, they think on these things. Having the good-will of Him that dwelt in the bush-having the everlasting arms underneath them-being able to say, The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my strength, in whom I will trust, my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower-feeding upon the heavenly manna-drinking of the river of the water of life, the streams whereof make glad the city of God-clothed with the wedding garment, while they are all glorious withinknowing, that if their earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, they shall have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens-in fine, all things being theirs, whether the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come,-can they refrain every step of their journey to say, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us. (Psal. cxxxvii. 5.)

Believers, make this language your own,-say, in the language of inspiration, What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me? When you are sleeping

in the dust, and inhabiting the house appointed for all living, when you are buried in the graves of your fathers and inothers, let it then be found, that you have erected your Ebenezers while you were strangers and sojourners on earth. Young men and maidens, let every day, and week, and month, and year, be a remembrancer to you, that the Lord hath helped you hitherto. Mark the dispensations and ways of God towards you. Observe all the changes of your lot, that they may put you in mind of your last, your greatest change. Let no occurrence, however small, seem too trivial to you, since He who sitteth in the circle of the heavens, and to whom the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers, noticeth and ordereth them every one. Every circumstance and change in your condition hatli a tongue, if you can understand its speech. Listen to their unanimous voices; for they all address you in some such language as the following:Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come, or the years draw nigh, in which you shall say, I have no pleasure in them. Commit your way to Him, and He shall bring it to pass; yea, He shall give thee the desire of thine heart. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy steps. Praise the Lord, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people. The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice, let the multitude of the isles be glad. Ye aged disciples, wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your hearts; wait, I say, on the Lord. Hearken to His expostulation and consolation, Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God. Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary; there is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might, He increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint. Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb; and even to your old age, I am He; and even to hoary hairs will I carry you. I have made, and I will bear, even I will carry and will deliver you. Say, then, of Him who has redeemed you from all adversity, and who has guided even to grey hairs, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

« PreviousContinue »