« VorigeDoorgaan »
had reason to complain, with Job, “My Blessed Jesus ! we know thou hast loved us; brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, but we know not how much-and angels and as the stream of brooks they pass away; know not how much—It “passeth knowwhich are blackish by reason of the ice, and ledge.”. wherein the snow is hid: what time they II. HERE IS A DESIRABLE ATTAINMENT. It wax warm, they vanish : when it is hot, they is to know it. are consumed out of their place ?" But lov- But does not the Apostle say, that his love ing his own who are in the world, he loves “passeth knowledge ?" How then does he them unto the end, and will afford them proof pray, that we may know it? Can we know of it whenever they need his aid. He has that which is unknowable? I answer, we said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake may know that in one respect which we canthee.” “ For this is as the waters of Noah not know in another; we may know that by unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters grace which we cannot know by nature; we of Noah should no more go over the earth; may know that, in the reality of its existence, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth which we cannot know in the mode; we may with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the moun- know that, in the effects, which we cannot tains shall depart, and the hills be removed; know in the cause; we may know that, in its but my kindness shall not depart from thee, uses, which we cannot know in its nature; neither shall the covenant of my peace be re- we may know that increasingly, which we mouc, saith the Lord that hath mercy on cannot know perfectly. vee." Nothing appears to the Christian Let us apply this to the subject before us. more wonderful than this. • 0,” says he, Though the love of Christ passeth knowledge, • how have I tried him! How incorrigible we may know much more of it than we do. have I been under affliction ! How ungrate- The knowledge of a Christian is gradual, and ful for all my mercies! How unedified by growing. He is always a learner. He will means and ordinances! How often have I know many things in eternity of which he is charged him foolishly and unkindly, while ignorant in time. He will know many things he was displaying his wisdom and goodness; as he advances in the divine life of which he and blamed him for doing the very things I is ignorant at the commencement. There had a thousand times implored! O, had he are many things which, for a time, he cannot human passions! Were he a creature only! receive; but in proportion as divine grace I had long ago been forsaken. But he is works in him, to humble the pride of his Gol, and not man; therefore I am not con- heart; to render him willing to be saved in sumed.”
the Lord's own way; and to place himself Witness the tenderness of its regards. To under his guidance ; crooked things are made know this you must be familiar with the lan- straight, and rough places plain. Thus his guage of the Scripture; your very souls must path resembles " the shining light, that shinmelt into such expressions as these : “He eth more and more unto the perfect day.” shall come down like rain upon the mown Thus it is promised : " Then shall ye know, grass. He shall gather the lambs with his if ye follow on to know the Lord.”' An in arm, and carry them in his bosom, and gen- stance of which we have in Nathanael: he tly lead those that are with young. A bruis- had little knowledge; but he was “an Israel ed reed will he not break, and smoking flax ite indeed, in whom was no guile;" he was will he not quench. In all their affliction he open to conviction, and willing to come to was afflicted. Ile that toucheth them touch- the light; and therefore, says our Lord, “ Becth the apple of his eye. He is touched with cause I said unto thee, I saw thee under the the feeling of our infirmities." You must fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater be I was going to say, a father, and a ten- things than these. And he saith unto him, der one—“Like as a father pitieth his child | Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye dren, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. shall see heaven open, and the angels of God For he knoweth our fruie; he remembereth ascending and descending upon the Son of that we are dust." You must be—I was man.” We therefore observe, with regard going to say, a mother, and the tenderest to your knowledge of this love, that ever breathed" As one whom his mo- First. Your ideas of it may be more clear ther comforteth, so will I comfort you.” You and consistent. There is a kind of mistiness must hold communion with him, you must be which envelops the minds of some people: intinate with him, in order to know—the they see every thing dimly; or, like the man, inildness of his censures; the gentleness of when his eyes were half-opened, who saw his reproofs; the kindness of his communica-, en as trees walking. A confusion seems to tions; the delicacy of his encouragements. reign in all their religious conceptions : they Oye models of sensibility: ye Josephs! ye have no distinguishing views of the differJonathans! ye Davids! ye Rachels! be ence between the Law and the Gospel ; jusashamed of your tears! Your hearts are flint tification and sanctification, the ground of compared with his: “his heart is made of the one, and the means of the other. They tenderness; his bowels melt with love!” | cannot reconcile duty and privilege ; depend
ence and activity; a sense of our unworthi- | kings and p
ith his benefits." ness, with a confidence of our acceptance. It be glory af
not only the is impossible for us to determine, with how Amen."
the author of much ignorance in the judgment real grace HI. This
the convicmay be found connected, yet it is very desir- CONSEQUEN
possess, able to have judicious and consistent views the fulness of divine things; a clear and full knowledge of his natura
Jalar, the Gospel. “ It is a good thing,” says the his glorifi Apostle, “ that the heart be established with Apostle s grace.”
gracious Secondly. Your views of it may be more original confidential and appropriating. Your doubts He is not wnuu and fears, with regard to your own interest will be. His state is neither unga in it, may yield to hope; and that hope may but dawn: the darkness is going off, and the become the full assurance of hope. The Sa- splendour is coming on. He is thankful for viour you now admire you may be able to what he has; but he wants more of the preclaim as your own; and to exult, “This is sence and the image of God. He wants to my beloved, and this is my friend. I will be “filled (I use the language of Scripture) greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be with the Spirit;" to be filled with all joy joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me and peace in believing;" to be “ filled with with the garments of salvation, he hath co- all the fruits of righteousness, which are by vered me with the robe of righteousness, as Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of a bridegroom decketh himself with orna- God.” This is what the apostle Peter rements, and as a bride adorneth herself with commends, when he says: “Giving all diliher jewels.”
gence, add to your faith virtue ; and to virtue Thirdly. Your views of it may be more knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; impressive, more influential. It is to be la- and to temperance patience; and to patience mented, that our speculative religion so far godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindexceeds our experimental and practical. How ness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For often does the will refuse to bow to the dic- if these things be in you, and abound, they tates of the judgment. What a war is there make you that ye shall be neither barren nor often in our bosoms, between conscience and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jeinclination. Who knows not the difference sus Christ.” This is what Paul exemplified there is between a principle slumbering in in his own person : “ Not as though I had althe head, and alive in the heart, and at work ready attained, either were already perfect: in the life? “The living know that they but I follow after, if that I may apprehend shall die,” that their time here is short and that for which also I am apprehended of Christ uncertain, and that “what a man soweth, Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have that shall he also reap.” But where is the apprehended : but this one thing I do, forgetefficacy of the belief? And though they look ting those things which are behind, and for such things, how few are there who live reaching forth unto those things which are in a state of holy preparation for them! We before, I press toward the mark for the prize find no difficulty in admitting that God does of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." all things well
, in the government of the And this is what he here means by "all the world, and in the management of our indivi- fulness of God.” dual concerns. The natural consequence But what has the knowledge of the love of would be, to preserve us from murmuring and Christ to do with this? It is indeed easy to envying; to induce us to cast all our care see how it will add to the plenitude of our upon Him who careth for us; and to feel a comfort: how it will inspire us with “ a joy peace“ which passeth all understanding, that is unspeakable and full of glory.” And keeping our heart and mind through Christ need you be told, that "the joy of the Lord Jesus.' But whose creed gets into his tem- is our strength :" and that the Christian is per, and actuates his conduct ?- The grand never so active in duty as when he enjoys a thing is, so to know the love of Christ, as to sense of his privileges ? walk becoming it; to be what it requires ; for But take it with regard to holiness. Some all our feelings to echo back the language of would suppose that the knowledge we have the Apostle: “ I am crucified with Christ : ne- been speaking of is a mere notion; or, if it vertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth has any tendency, it is of a licentious, rather in me: and the life which I now live in the than of a sanctifying nature; that it must flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, tend to set men loose to duty, rather than to who loved me, and gave himself for me.” For make them practical Christians. Hence they our whole life to be a kind of shout—"Unto imagine the Christian an Antinomian, where, him that loved us, and washed us from our if they could read his heart, they would find sins in his own blood, and hath made us in him most of the devotedness of real piety.
had reason to concannot make these things If you would make proficiency in this brethren have deand unexceptionable to the knowledge, the following things are necesand as the stregor " the natural man receivethsary: which are blats of the Spirit of God : for they Retirement is necessary. “Through dewherein thmess unto him: neither can he sire, a man, having separated himself, seeketh wax warrem, because they are spiritually dis- and intermeddleth with all wisdom.” This are con. But he that is spiritual judgeth all is peculiarly the case here. This subject is ing hys, yet he himself is judged of no man.” not for the crowd, but the closet. Friendship thee knows others, though others know not deals much in secrecy; especially the friend Ohim. The reason is, he has been in their ship between the Saviour and the soul. “I
state, but they have never been in his. They will allure her, and bring her into the wil. are not, therefore, acquainted with the na- derness, and there will I speak comfortably ture and force of those principles and mo- unto her.” It is thus that he manifests himtives which are peculiar to him as a new self to his people, and not unto the world. creature. But he feels and glories in them. Application is necessary. You must not Paul knew that the only way to be filled only retire, but place the subject before your with the fulness of God, is “ to know the mind. You must survey it in its attributes love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” and relations. You must learn to meditate, It was this that fully possessed and governed and meditate till the exercise becomes hahimself and his fellow-labourers : “ The love bitual and delightful. Then you will be able of Christ constraineth us; because we thus to say, My meditation of him shall be judge, that if one died for all, then were all sweet. How precious also are thy thoughts dead: and that he died for all, that they unto me, O God! how great is the sum of which live should not henceforth live unto them! If I should count them, they are themselves, but unto him which died for more in number than the sand : when I them, and rose again.” “ And my expe- awake, I am still with thee." rience,” says the Christian, “ confirms it. If Intercourse is necessary. There are Chrismy heart is contracted, this love enlarges it; ( tians far superior to you in age and attainif cold, this love inflames it; if burning, this ments; and these are not confined to your love adds fuel to the fire. This makes diffi- own level in the world. Many below you in cult things easy, and bitter ones sweet. This condition may be above you in experience; turns all my duty into delight. This deter- and have much to tell you of a Saviour's mines me to confess him before men, and grace. By mingling with them your doubts emboldens me to go forth to him without the may be removed, your confidence strengthencamp, bearing his reproach. This induces ed, and "your hearts comforted, being knit me, not only to avoid, but to abhor sin. This together in love, and unto all riches of the disarms temptation of its power, and weans full assurance of understanding, to the acme from a world that crucified my Lord and knowledgment of the mystery of God, and of Saviour.
the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." " His dying crimson, like a robe,
Reading is necessary. We forbid not other
books; but the Scripture is the word of Christ, And all the globe is dead to me."
which is to “dwell in you richly in all wis
dom.” This testifies of Him; and of nothing What remains then, but to make this love so much as his unexampled love. your lesson, and your study ? For this pur- Hearing is necessary. If the minister be pose, daily impress your minds with the im- a Christian minister, (and it is at your peril portance of knowing it. Remember that all to place yourselves under any other—for you other knowledge is dross, compared with this are to take heed not only how you hear, but gold. A man may know much, to his own also what you hear)—he will “determine to pride, and the admiration of others: he inay know nothing among you, but Jesus Christ be familiar with the secrets of nature; he and him crucified." may have the knowledge of the arts and Prayer is above all things necessary. In sciences; he may be a deep politician, and a other schools the pupils learn sitting ; but in profound linguist; he may know the Scrip- the school of Christ they all learn upon their iure, in the history; and Christianity itself, knees. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him in the theory—and live and die a fool. A ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, man may go to hell, silently, by hypocrisy; and upbraideth not; and it shall be given openly, by profaneness: he may go self-right- him." ' Hence Paul prayed for the Ephesians eously, with the pharisee; or learnedly, with |--Hence your ministers pray for you--God the scholar! A man knows nothing with re- help you to pray for yourselves" That you gard to his soul and eternity, if he knows may know the love of Christ, which passeth not the love of Christ, which passeth know- knowledge and be filled with all the fulness ledge—" This is life eternal,”
DISCOURSE LXXXV. says David, “loadeth us with his benefits.”
In these declarations we see, not only the
plenitude of these mercies, but the author of BLESSINGS UNIMPROVED RESUMED tion, that God is the giver of all you possess,
them. To establish in your minds the convicBY THEIR OWNER.
I could add a number of testimonies from the
sacred writers; and remark, in particular, For she did not know that I gave her corn,
and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver that our Saviour has taught us to pray for and gold, which they prepared for Baal. them—“Give us day by day our daily bread.” Therefore will I return, and take away my But it is needless to enlarge. There is one corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the thing, however, concerning which it is of im
“Never suffer season thereof, and will recover my wool and portance to admonish you. my fiax.-Hosea ii. 8, 9.
instruments to keep your thoughts from God."
There is, First, unconscious instrumentIf you are accustomed to reflection, two ality. This takes in what we call nature. subjects must often present themselves to The sun, the air, the rain, the earth, the seayour minds. They are—the goodness of God, sons, are all essential to the welfare of man. and the wickedness of man. These subjects are But how could this do us any good, without equally obvious and common; and though the God? Their operation, and their very being, one is as painful as the other is pleasing, we depend upon him. “ He maketh his sun to must not turn away from it. Nor must we, rise on the evil and on the good. The day is in the exemplification, so think of our fellow- his, the night also is his. He hath made creatures as to forget ourselves. We frequently summer and winter. His paths drop down condemn the Jews for their unbelief, ingrati-fatness."'_“It shall come to pass in that day, tude, and rebellion; yet, instead of casting I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the stones, it would be better to kneel and con- heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and fess
the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, “Great God, how oft did Israel prove
and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel.” By turns thy anger, and thy love;
There is, Secondly, voluntary instrumentThere in a glass our hearts may see
ality. Thus our fellow-creatures may do us How fickle, and how false they be."
good in a thousand ways; and are we to feel They were fair specimens of human nature, towards them, only, as we do towards a and we have no reason to believe that we bridge that carries us over a river, or a spring should have been better than they, had we that refreshes us in our journey? They act been placed under the same dispensation : knowingly and freely in relieving us, and yea, have we not proved ourselves worse, display the noblest principles of their nature. under superior advantages ? Let us consider, And we are not only allowed, but required to I. THE SOURCE OF OUR MERCIES.
be grateful towards them. And a man that II. OUR GUILT IN THE USE OF THEM. is destitute of gratitude has no good principle
III. THEIR REMOVAL “For she did not that we can rely upon. But here again, God know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, has higher claims upon us :-for, who placed and multiplied her_silver and gold, which these friends and benefactors in our way? they prepared for Baal. Therefore will I Who endowed them with their ability? Who return, and take away my corn in the time inspired them with their disposition? Who thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, gave us favour in their eyes? and will recover my wool and my flax." There is, Thirdly, personal instrumentality.
I. THE SOURCE OF OUR MERCIES. I gave Few of the good things of this life are obher—" I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, tained without some exertions of our own. and multiplied her silver and gold.” Indeed, if they were, they would not be half
Here we do not refer to those blessings, so sweet: it is what a man gains by his own which we call spiritual. These it should be skill and diligence that is so peculiarly dear our principal concern to obtain: for these and precious" Thou shalt eat the labour of alone can afford satisfaction to the soul, and thy hand.” But are we then to turn Chalyield us a hope beyond the grave. If the in- deans? of whom it is said; “ They take up quiry concerned these, I trust we should be all of them with the angel, they catch them prepared to join in the acknowledgment of in their net, and gather them in their drag: the Apostle: “ Blessed be the God and Father therefore they rejoice and are glad. Thereof our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us fore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places incense unto their drag; because by them in Christ.” But we now speak of temporal their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous.” good things. He who is the Saviour of the But from whom have we derived our natural soul has provided also for the body; and his talents and the prudence which results from bounty ministers, not only to our support, but experience and observation ? “Give ye ear, our delight. He giveth us," says the apos- and hear my voice; hearken and hear my tle, “ richly all things to enjoy." "He daily,” | speech. Doth the plowman plow all day to
sow? doth he open and break the clods of his | The fire had begun to consume your property. ground? When he hath made plain the face The disease had suspended you over the thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, grave. The accident had scarcely missed and scatter the cummin, and cast in the prin- the child's life; and the Lord, in delivering, cipal wheat and the appointed barley and the made s bare his arm.". And yet, perhaps, rie in their place? For his God doth instruct you were only struck with the wonderfulness him to discretion, and doth teach him. For the of the event, or your gratitude was a mere fitches are not threshed with a threshing in- notion, vanishing “as the morning cloud, and strument, neither is a cart wheel turned about early dew.”? upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten For a distinction is here necessary. There out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod. are two kinds of knowledge; the one specuBread corn is bruised; because he will not lative, the other practical. The former is ever be threshing it, nor break it with the nothing without the latter: it is no better wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horse than ignorance; and as such it is always conmen. This also cometh forth from the Lord sidered in the Scripture. Thus the apostle of Hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and John tells us, “He that loveth not, knoweth excellent in working.” Whose providence not God." And again, “He that saith, 1 fixed us in a situation favourable to our ef know him, and keepeth not his commandforts; and ordered those opportunities, with ments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." out which our attempts might have been in When a man is really convinced of sin, and vain? Where is the wisdom of a man, who is taught the truth as it is in Jesus, though sees not that his plans depended upon a mul- he had often read of it, and heard of it, he titude of events over which he had not the naturally says, “I never knew this before." least control; any one of which might have It is said, the sons of Eli were sons of Belial, rendered foolish that scheme which now ap- “and knew not the Lord;" it cannot mean pears so wise—and that undertaking fatal that men of their education and office were which now appears so flourishing? Where unable to distinguish the God of Israel from is the piety of the man who does not own the idols; but they did not act as those who were agency of God in his most successful endea- acquainted with him, and professed to serve vours, and say with Solomon, “The blessing him. “Know them that labour among yon, of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no says the apostle: that is, own them, and consorrow with it?" This is the grand lesson duct yourselves properly towards them.-It which Moses gave to the indulged Israelites: is in vain, therefore, to say, this charge does “ Lest, when thou hast eaten and art full, not apply to us: we are not ignorant; we and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt there- know that God gives us all we enjoy. Yes; in; and when thy herds and thy flocks mul- but do you know, so as to be impressed and tiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multi- influenced by it? This is the accusation; plied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; they know not, so as to feel, and speak, and then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget live as if they knew. "The ox knoweth his the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth owner, and the ass his master's crib; but out of the land of Egypt, from the house of Israel doth not know, my people do not conbondage; and thou say in thine heart, My sider.” power and the might of mine hand hath got- But here is a second charge. It is perret ten me this wealth. But thou shalt remem- sion." She knew not that I gave her corn, ber the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver thee power to get wealth.”
and gold, which they prepared for Baal." IJ. This brings us from the source of our Instead of using them in the service and for mercies, to OUR GUILT IN THE USE OF THEM. the glory of God, they appropriated them to “For she did not know that I gave her corn, the use of idols! This is worse than the and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver former, as insult exceeds indifference, and and gold, which they prepared for Baal.” | opposition, neglect. What would you feel Here are two charges : ignorance, and per- more provoking, than for a man to borrow of version.
you, in order to publish a libel upon your First. Ignorance. “She knew not that I character? What would you have thought, gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multi- if, when Jonathan gave him his sword and plied her silver and gold." God does much his bow, David had instantly wounded him more good in this world than is ever known. with his own weapons ? Yet is not God thus He has done each of you countless acts of perpetually affronted and dishonoured ? Does kindness, of which you have never been not the swearer employ the very breath he aware. For instance-From how many evils continues, in blaspheming him? Does not have you been preserved, by night and by the drunkard take what was designed for his day, abroad and at home, of which you were nourishment and refreshment, and offer it in not sensible, because the danger was hidden, sacrifice to his vile appetite, to the injury by the very interposition that hindered it. of his health, and disgrace of his reason? Is But sometimes you have seen your danger. I not the raiment, given to cover and sereen