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rías you more particularly belong, you are, in the best sense of the phrase, a member of the established church.
• The Hi zhest hinsel shall establish you, — shall establish you for ever; shall establish you in righteousness.” David rejoiced in this privilege. “I waited patiently for the Lord,” says he, “ and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me
also out of a horrible pit, ont of the miry clay; and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. This blessedness belonged not to David exclusively. All “ they that trust in the Lord sball be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.” Has God made
Hlas God made you a spiritual member of his church, and are you, in threatening seasons, afraid lest you should be overcoine by your foes, and finally perish? Blessed be the name of your gracious God, there is no scrip tural ground for these fears. You may be " confident of th. very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” « God is faithful; by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his son Jesus Christ our Lord ; who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” You hare the same ground of security as the whole church has; and as soon might the whole church be destroyed from off the eartlı, as one member of it perish. You are not secured from outward trials and civil juegments. The church at large is exposed to these, and you with her.
You are not established beyond the possibility of wavering, of backsliding, or of losing the comfortable sense of Gol's gracious presence; but you are established in the love and favour of God, with all the blissful consequences thereof. Your happy state and your renewed nature shall for ever remain; and your sublimest hopes shall not be disappointed. You are built on an inmoveable fourdation, the person and mediation of Christ. On this rock the church at large is founded;" and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it.” And do not your hopes rest on the same basis? Are ye not as lively stones built on him? le himself must gise way before you can perish. But this is impossible. “Behold,” saith Jehovah, “I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation ; he that believeth shall not be confounded." Your defence is inpregnable. The purpose and promise of God stand engaged for your establishment. Can you desire or possess a stronger security? Having positively declared that he himself will confirm you to the eni, all his perfections are concerned for your safety. “He himself is as a wall of fire round about you ; you are kept by bis power, as your almighty garrison, through faith unto salvation. And what foe is there without or within that can prevail, when God himself stands engaged to preserve? Away then with every alarming appreheusion! llambly rejoice in your security. You are a menn
TRUE GRATITUDE EXEMPLIFIED.
99 ber of the church which God himself hath established for ever; and in a little time, your holiness and your happiness shall be equal to your security.
TRUE GRATITUDE AND REAL GREATNESS
In the frequent visits Elisha' made to Mount Carmel, it is probable he had often to pass by Shunam, a city in the tribe of Issachar. Here he was kindly entertained by a person of respectability. Observing how fond he was of retirement, she proposed to her husband to build him an apartment in a situation congenial to his taste and employment. The proposal is no sooner made than it was cordially acceded to. This chamber was neither formed nor furnished after the similitude of a palace ; but every way suitable to a man who lived above the world, was content with a little, and who, with the presence of his God, found contentment, whether in a cainp, a cave, or a wilderness. The event we particularly refer to, happened in the kingdom of Israel, during the reign of Jehoram; and soon after the prophet's remarkable interposition with his God, in behalf of the combined arınies of Israel, Judah, avd Edom. The prophet, at the close of one of his visits, probably the last he made to the house of this Shunamite, commanding his servant to call her, she is thus addressed:- Thou hast been careful for us with all this care, what is to be done for thee? wouldst thou be spoken for to the hing, or to the captain of the Host? And she said, I dwell among mive own people *." From these words, and the connection in which they stood, are we not taught, That where persons are in casy or aftuent circumstances, they ought to be generous and hospitable? Irom this woman's proposal to build a chamber upon the wail for the prophet, and, from the prophet's offer to speak for lier, or her husband, to the king or the captain of the host, it is not improbable but that her husband was either commander over the city of Shunam, or that his residence was in some castle. But this woman, though“ rich in this world,” needed no “ charge to do good, to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, or willing to communicate.” She was a lover of good inen; glorified the grace that appeared in them, and esteemed them amiable, in proportion as holiness shone forth in them. Though an inhabitant of Israel, where idolatry was then established,
2 Kings iv. 13•
her heart seems to have been riglit towards that God who was worshipped at Jerusalem. As a wife, she fulfilled the part of a good helpmate, consulting her husband in what she
did, and freely proposing to him what, she apprehended, they · were in duty and obligation bound to do. God had blessed
them with affluence, though not with children ; and thereby they had greater opportunnies, and were under greater obligations, “ to do good to all ; but especially to those who were of the household of faith.” Their house and their hearts were always open to all good men; and whenever such approached their door, probably something like this was the kind invitation,—“Come in, ye blessed of the Lord, wherefore stand ye without ? Let all your wants rest upon us : God has not only given us the ability, but the disposition and the desire also to do good. He has blessed us, that we may be rendered blessings to others : and, from long experience, we have found that it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Their example holds out to us this lesson, “ Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained an. gels unawarcs.*" Not to dwell upon the instances of Lot and Abraliam, - the two disciples who supposed Jesus to be a stranger, by urging him to tarry with them, found by happy experience, that the Lord of Angels--the Fountain of Truth, and the Saviour of their souls, was with them. Truc, that exhortation might have a inore particular respect to a season of persecution, when the followers of Jesus were scattered every one from his own place. Such asyiuns in this wilderness, many of our forefathers found when separated from their beloved flocks; while those who entertained them, experienced the truth of our Lord's declaration, “ Ile that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet's reward; and be that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink to one of these little ones, a cup of water only, in tlic naine of a disciple, verily, he shall in nowise lose his reward 4." Real christians, however low they may be in circumstances, by their prayers and godly conversation, will be found like sheep, which benefit the pasture upon which they have been ted. “ The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth, shall be watered also him
From this narrative it appears also, that “Good men need very few accommodatious in their passage through a world, in which they have been taught to consider themselves as strangers and pilgrims." A bed, a stool, a 'table and a candlestick (or lamp) were all the furniture provided for this good
* Heb. xiii, 2.
t. Matt. x. 41, 42,
| Prov. xi, 25,
TRUE GRATITUDE EXEMPLIFIED.
101 man. Food,.raiment, residence, and a little suitable society, make up the inventory of our real necessities. “ For we brought nothing into this world ; and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Having therefore food and raiment, let us therewith be content.||” Our imaginary wants are more numerous than our real ones. For
Man wants but little ; nor that little long.* This prophet had plain fare; but it was accompanied with a blessing. He “ate his meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all” around him. Whether he ate or drank, or lied down or rose up, his aim was to glorify God. How would Elisha's heart overflow with gratitude, after the day's journey, as he sat down upon his stool to rest his wearied limbs! Scarcely had he entered his chamber, but the table would be furnished with food convenient for him :- when nature was satisfied, and the “ shadows of the evening were stretched out,” his lamp would be lighted, that he might read and meditate on God's word:-- and then, after committing himself to the care of the keeper of Israel, lying down upon his bed, his sleep would be sweet unto him. He found that
Solitude is oft the best society. † For happier was Elisha in his chamber on the wall, than the king of Israel in his palace, regaling on all the delicacies that bis kingdom could produce. The prophet felt no anxiety “what he should eat or drink, or wherewith he should be clothed;" sensible that his Heavenly Father knew that he needed all these things; and confident that they would be provided for him. Those persons, perhaps, are found to live the nearest to God, who lived on bin by the day; and who are taught that divine art of " casting all their care upon him.” Such see his hand, --trace his steps, -and enjoy their mercies with a peculiar sweetness.
We conclude, this prophet did not find such a friend in every place, nor such accoinmedations in every city; but, like "Elijah before him, had sometimes to drink of the brook, or take up bis lodging's under the canopy of heaven. O that the trials which have been, and still are experienced by many of God's children, may make us more sensible of our mercies, and of our obligations to God for them! And may we never forget that He, who had a suriicient price to lay down for the ransom of our souls, was himself hungry, thirsty, and had not a place where to lay his head! * Though he was rich, yet, for our sakes, he became poor,
Tim. vi. 7, 8.
that we, through his poverty, might be made rich.” And still
There's ne'er a gift his hand bestows,
But cost his heart a groan. I Further. Returns of gratitude are due to those from whom we have received peculiar instances of kindness. Elisha telt liis obligation, and wished not only to express, but, if possible, some way to retwn it. Like Peter and John, he might say, “Silver and gold have I none;" but if there be any way in which I can serve thee or thy husband, command ye me. What shall I render? is the language of every grateful heart, whether it have God or man for the object. To apply this mark to ourselves :
It children, our parents bave been careful for us with a great, a constant, and a long continued care; and ought it not to be a question with such of us as are grown up, What is to be done for them? Let deep rooted affection,--symp ukizing tenderness towards then, under growing infirmities, and actual support where it is needed, return the answer. Let them have full evidence that their labour's of love have not been lost upon us. May we honor them, comfort them, and send them to their graves rejoicing in our filial affection, and in our growing concern to follow them to a better country.
Oi, are we attendants under a gospel mivistry? Let us not forget what a debt of gratitude we owe to those who, with much and constant care, are labouring for our souls in word and doctrine. « Remember them who have spoken to you the word of God, whose faith follow. *" For if their word has been blessed to our conversion, anri if that faith be the support of our souls, as their spiritual children, they may say to us, as Paul to Philemon, " Ye owe to us yourselves.”" What is to be done for our minist's i The apostle shall answer the enquiry, “ Brethren, pray for us." Yes, we will pray for thein, that their understandings may be more illumined, their hearts inore enlargeri
, their private studies more pleasant, and their public labours more profitable. We will pray that the word of thic Lord may run and be glorified.” Again,
The liberal mind will be treanently occupied in devising liberal things. • What,” said Elisha, shall be done for thee :" It is probable we might all of us be more useful in the world than we are, were our thonghts more directed to the means of being ucetila This key of consideration would open many an untried lock, and admit us into many an unexplored field for usefulness. In order to this, let us look more around us, turn our thoughts more directly to the subject, and enquire of others bow to become more useful in our day and generation; ünitating him whom we profess to honour; who “ went about doing good.” Again, Where a good man has interest in the favour of those who I Watts,
lleb, xiii, 7.