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which it shall have been employed. I dare not claim a right to dispose of the property of others, not even to obtain the honour or pleasure of contributing to every benevolent design, I would not rob a creditor to give to the noblest inission in the world : but, as far as thou hast put it in my power, to subserve the promotion of thy cause, thou knowest, O Lord ! it is not a task, nor a burden; but a pleasure, and a high gratification. As David accounted it an honour to prepare liberally for that temple which he was not permitted to builci, and said, “Who am I? and wbat is my people, that we should be able to offer willingly after this sort ? for all things are of thee, and of thine own we have given thee;"—so do I feel inyself greatly indebted to God, both for the power and the inclination to honour him with iny substance, and with all the fruits of mine increase. Yea, o Lord! I am glad to deny myself in other respects, that I may the oftener enjoy this sweet pleasure of promoting the cause of Christ. Fain would I adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour in all things; and recommend the religion of Jesus to all around me. Noibing pains me so much as to hear or see any thing that tends to the dishonour of the gospel; or that gives the adversaries of thy truth a handle to misrepresent thy holy religion. “When I behold transgressors, I am grieved, because they segard not thy Jaw." But when my Lord is “ wounded in the house of his friends," it fills me with peculiar distress; and surely I had rather meet with the heaviest trials of whicli I can conceive, than be left thus tu dishonour thee myself. I would never be satisfied with any present attainments; but would follow hard afier thee, O Lord ! The more I know of thee, the more do I long to know thee myself; and that thou mayest be known, and loved, and adored by all around me; yea, I long for the knowledge of my Lord, to fill the whole earth as the waters fill the bed of the ocean! Yes, I trust, I often pray, as I wish to do always, according to the spirit (if not in the words) of that prayer which our Lord taught to his disciples; that“ thy name may be hallowed, ty kingdom may come, thy will may be done on earth as it is in Heaven;" and would be more importunate and carvest in these petitions, than even in asking for my“ daily bread."
THE VALLEY OF BACA.
Tue word Daca is to be found in Psalın lxxxiv. - a psalm well calculated to excite devout affections; and will be admired so long as a spirit of devotion shall exist in the world. The Psalmist is supposed to have penned it when driven from JeruBalcın by the rebellion of Absalom. His wait taught bini more
THE VALLEY OF BACA.
and more the worth of God's tabernacles; his very soul fainted for them. He pronounced the man blessed, not only who ducit there, but even those whose hearts were in the way thither. Love to the house and ordinances of God, helps over many ditficulties, which are found in the way to thein. Many of the pious Jews lived at a distance from Jerusalem ; but at the appointed seasons, they left their secular concerns to the care of Providence, and urged their way through all dilliculties, to worship at the holy city. In their way they had to pass through the Valley of Baca.
This word Baca is Hebrew*. Lexicographers render it by the Latin word Morus, which signifies a mulbriry-true; and, to illustrate the word as used in Psalm 1xxxivth, some critics have remarked that the mulberry-tree grows best in a dry sandy barren soil; and so the Valley of Baca, or Mulberry-trees, signifies a dry sandy barren valley, ditlicult for travellers to pass; but such was the love and pious zeal of ancient worshippers, that they surmounted all difficulties, and made, or accountel, Baca a well; or, as if it had been a well. But the learned Parkhurst refers us to Miller's Gardener's Dictionary, under the word Morus, which does not support the above remark respecting the growth of the mulberry-tree; hence, he thinks, the word Baca means a large shrub which the Arabs still call by that name; and which he supposes might be so named, from its distilling an odoriferous gun. It appears to be nearly related to the word Bace ť, which signifiesto weep; and the Seventy render the word Baca, by one in the Greek, which siguities wréping; hence the word may signity a“ rugged valley, embarrassed with bushes and stones, which cannot be passed without labour and tears.”
It is generally agreed, that this “ Valley of Baca” might be a striking emblem, that, in the way of duty, men may expect to meet with difficulty. That the way to the Heavenly Jerusalem is through vales of thorns and tears. This is not surprizing, for ever since the entrance of sin, the cross has been the way to the crown: in all ages, faith has been a fight; from the days of Adam, the seed of the serpent has opposed that of the woman. Moses had affliction to endure with the people of God; David observed and experienced, that many were the afHictions of the righteous'; the ancient worthies had heavy trials; they were mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, såwn asunder, tempted, and slain with the sword. They had to wander about in sheepskins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, and tormented. They wandered in desarts and mountains, in dens, and in oaves of the earth. When Christ was upon the carth, he told his followers, that, in the world, they must have tribulation. When he was gone to Heaven), his apostles continued on the earth to inform the primitive Christians, that through inuch tribulation they must enter into the kingdom of God.
Sach has been the experience of believers ever since the days of the apostles. Even in the present times of public ease and tranquillity, there is no going to Heaven with the wind anel tide of the fashion of this world. The life of the Christian is still a wartare. Admitting that the sign of the cross is'a Popish ad dition to the ceremony in baptismn, still it is true, that whoever is baptized with the Holy Ghost, must of necessity take up the cres of Clirist; he inust pass through the Valley of Baca beo fore he arrives in the Heaven' of Ileavens. In his was, he must espect the rage of Satan; that chenny who beguiled Eve, , through his subtilty; who put it into the heart of Judas to letray Jesus; and filled the heart of Ananias, and Sapphira his wite, to lie against the Boly Ghost: that same enemy, on the very same principle, continues to evert his utinost endeavours to keep men asleep in their sins; to prevent the opening of their суеѕ,
and the shining of the glorions Gospel in their hearts. If once the thunder of the law, accompanied by the energy of the Holy Spirit, souze the lethargic soul, so that, seeing its danger, it Hy for retuge-then this adversary, unwilling to lose his slave, sets all his engines and agents to work, to prevent liis escape. Pharaoh could not be more hostile to the departare of Israel out of Egypt, than Satan is to those who set their faces Heaven-wards. It, in spite of all his rage, the soul wing its way to the Saviour's arms, and there yet securc, still lie will buffci, silt, tempt, lay shares, and even change himself into the appearance of an angel of light, the more effectually to beguile and deceive the unwary soul. lle daily and nightly acis his part as the eneinr of all righteousness and father of lies, in attacking the faiths of believers, and labouring to turn thoun from the faith back again to fully. After many wrestlings and severe conflicts, they have the delicity to triumph over the enemy.
But in their way to Paradise, they have also a fiowning world to face. They are not of the worki, but testify against it, that its deeds are evil: as such, the world hates them. The people of the world otten take counsel against the people of God, they consult against his hidden ones. Such is the eminity of their hearts, that, were it not for a kind Providence, they would enact sanguinary laws, to intlict corporal punishments; and treat them as the Jews did the Lord Jesus, saying, " Away with them, crucity them, crucify them!" While they are not permitted to go such lengths, they cease not to do all in their power to binder the serranis of the Lord in their heavenly pursuits. At one time they tiatter and allure; at another, they will not allow them even a good word; they threaten and ridicule: they defame and scaudalize their characters : in short, they are loriars and thorns in the way of saints, and make part of that livey of Baca through which they pass to the heavenly Jerusalem.
I must add, That in their way to glory, they have the flesh to crucity. In all ages the flesh has been found the most dangerous foc to grace; it lusterhı against the spirit; there is nothing
THE VALLEY OF BICI.
15 so treacherous, deceitful, ensnaring and bewitching, as its motions are : they who follow them, refuse the cross of Christ, leave the path of duiy, and treasure up wrath against the day of " rath. “In my fleshi," said an apostle, “ dweilerh no good thing;” but if no good dwell in the ilesh, inany evil things dweil there; it is earthly, sensual, and devilish. Besides, it is ever present; it accompanies the Christian like the shadow the subsiance, and shews itself more active in opposition to him when he would do good; it strives to clog his winged zeal, and cool bis burning love; to excite a spirit of inpatience in time of atfuction, and of warm resentment for real or supposed injuries; it is a worse enemy than either the world or Satan; it gives thein great intinence and advantage in their opposition to the soul. When the prince of this world came to Christ, he found nothing in hiin to take with bis temptatious; he was izoly, harmless, and undefiled. För otherwise is the case with the best of Christians; in thein is much fuel for his fire in all ages they have groaneil heavily, being burthened with the body of sin and death. In mortifying the deeds of the body, and crucifying the tesh with its affections and lusts, they have had pains to endure, not improperly expressed by those which are ich by the cutting ott a right hand, and piacking out a right eye. They do sured violence to themselyes when they take the kingdom of Heaven by force. If it be asked, Who is suthicient for these things? it may be answered, A feeble saint, through Christ strenyihening him, shall wiu the day !--shall come off conqueror. Such have in them a supreme love to the Divine Being, and a love to divine things, proportioned to their importance. Now, love is couragcous; it is not intimidated by difficulties in the way of its object. “Many waters cannot quench it, neither can the floods drown it: it is stronger than death.". The Hearlien
The lleathen poet could sing, Amor vincit omnia : “ Love conquers all things." The true believer can sing the same; his love makes liiin bold; it alleviates his burthen, and shorters the duration of the heaviest afiliction. This was seen in the worven who were so early at our Saviour's sepulchre; it was scen in Jacob, who loved and served; but above all, in Jesus, who loved and died. We daily see that men, to gratify corrupt affections, set all their wits and engines to work; they spare neither pains nor expence to indulge and grati'y themselves. Is it not fair and rational then to expect, that the supreme atlection, set upon the supreme object, must surmount al! difiiculties in the way to its enjoyinent ? Tiom this efficacious principle, men have gloried in tribulation, and fought their way through the world to the kingdom of God. They have made the Valley of Bacil, as it were, a scil. Scurborough.
REFLECTIONS ON ISAIAH LXIII. 9. In all their asiliction he was afilicted, and the angel of his pre
sence sared them : in his lorë and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bure them, and he carried then alt the days of old.
The sublimity and elegance of the Prophet Isaiali, deserve the utmost attention. The glowing warmth of his expressions is a clear evidence that his lips were touched with a live coal from the sacred altar. The above passage is inimitably beautiful, and highly consolatory. There are three prominent features which may engage our attention.
į. That Lord who suffered for his people, will certainly sympathize with them in all their afdictions. — Four passages of Scripture may be especially urged in support of this consolatory' wuth : “I have seen, I have seen the afHictions of my people, and am come down to deliver them *."-"I have surely heard Ephrain bemoaning himself t," &c. " Why persecutest thou meš." “ He (Christ) is able to suiccour them that are tempted ll."- If it be objected, that true believers often complain of the Lord's absence, and of great darkness, there are two passages which may serve to elucidate and explain the matters.
· 2. The love of Jesus Christ is grand beyond all description, and exalted above all praise. It is so, inasmuch as it disposed him to become incarnate. Wbat condescending goodness! admire it, () my soul!'and adore his blessed name for ever
The same love disposed him to sutler and die for our sakes! to work out a righteousness to justify, us, and to procure the blessed Spirit for our sanctification : to reascend his native beavens, and there, as our Advocate and Intercessor, to plead our cause.
3. His arm has been the support of his ancient people ; and it is still the same. - Let this
encourage the weak and helpless. God has, for our sales, laid help upon One that is mighty; and his strength is made perfect in weakness. Let the tempted take encouragement, and let the tearful hope in his salvation **
Oh! how great must their blessedness be who are in the hands of Jesus Christ ! he is well able, and he is equally determined to preserve and secure them to life everlasting! How vile is sin when committed against such a Saviour ! a Saviour who pitied and who loved us in our low estate! We may be assured, that all who come to him, “ weary and heavy lasien,” shall meet an hearty welcome. If the bleeding, dying love of Jesus Christ has its proper effect upon us, we shall feel our hearts * Exod. iii. 7, 9. + Jer. xxxi. 18. 19.
| Acts ix. 4. !! Heb. ii. 18.
♡ Jer. xiv. 8, 9. Isa. liv. 7,8. ** See Isa. x li. 13, 14. ; and xl. 10, 11.