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SHOW ME A PENNY."
LUKE, xx. 24. The distinction between the sacred writings and human compositions, becomes more strikingly obvious the oftener we peruse and meditate upon those Holy Scriptures given by the inspiration of God; the most prominent feature is the simplicity with which facts are stated. The evangelists record a simple narrative of facts ; neither opinions nor surmises of their own intermixed therewith. This simplicity we particularly remark, when led to contemplate the character of our blessed Lord. Where is the high-sounding panegyric, the lengthened eulogium, the studied phrases, which decide how the reader is to estimate the character delineated ? No, facts decide, facts elucidate, simple statements bring the character before us unadorned by human commendation; an occasional exclamation from the witnesses of his power and the participants of his mercy, is all the eulogium we observe. But the Holy Spirit, in inditing the word and moving holy men to write, did uot conclude his work ; he is the revealer of Jesus to the soul, and to him is left the application of the word. He must open the understanding to see Jesus as the pearl of great price, or he remains as a root out of a dry ground; he must show the Lord as the one altogether lovely, or there is no beauty seen to desire him. It is then to the simple facts that we come to behold the characteristics of our divine Redeemer—the acts developing his various attributes. The circumstance to which we now allude, recorded in the 20th of Luke and the 12th of Mark, to our view manifests so much wisdom, related so simply, that we seldom read the passage without feeling overpowered with the combination of wisdom and simplicity displayed. A question is asked in subtility of him who spake as never man spake, “Is it lawful to give tribute to Cæsar ?” What are the arguments resorted to ? Where is the lengthened detail of reasoning ? Where the proof after proof to substantiate the reply? "Show me a penny" is the argument the Saviour of sinners, the Wisdom of God propounds ; from which he deduces all his proofs, answers the query, and gives the decision. “Whose image and superscription hath it ?” the simple question proposed to his crafty questioners. “Render to Cæsar the things that be Cæsar's, and to God the things that be God's,” decides the case, and causes these questioners of earth to marvel and hold their peace. There is such wisdom in the act, such dignified authority in its simplicity, such incontrovertible decision in the answer, that no reply can possibly be given by his wily adversaries, who sought to entrap him in his words. After contemplating a part of the character of our Lord, as seen in this simple statement, let us seek a word of application from it. Reader, whose image and superscription do you bear? That you bear the image of the first man Adam, there is no question ; and when you entered this life, “death and sin ” were written, in legible and certain characters, upon your mortal body. But the question is, as you have borne the image of the earthy, do you bear the image of the heavenly? If the image of the old Adam has been defaced by the image of the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, the superscription which you bear is, “Holiness to the Lord ;” you are a vessel of mercy set apart for the Master's use, to be made meet for the kingdom of heaven. Blessed privilege indeed! from free and sovereign mercy, unmerited favour, did this blessing spring. What, then, can you render unto the Lord ? O! see that you render unto God the things that be God's, and give to Cæsar that only which is his due ; do not mix the things of the world with the hal. lowed things of God. Contemplate the image of the holy Jesus; and, as he bears you upon his breast, do not give thy heart, which is his due, to things of earth. It is a sad state to be self-satisfied; but to be always viewing the old Adam keeps the soul in bondage and despair. We can do nothing in our own strength ; but he, whose image and superscription the true believer bears, exhorted his disciples to ask, to seek, to knock, and their heavenly Father would surely give his Holy Spirit to those who ask. The contemplation of ourselves and our sins, like evil associations, contaminates the mind; while the contemplating all that is lovely, all that is excellent, all that is pure-in short, all perfection as seen in the character of Christ the Lord, bears the soul heaven-ward, and keeps the world, the flesh, and the devil in chains at the feet of Jesus. God worketh in us the will and the power ; and we do not work for that salvation which was obtained and secured by the precious death and glorious resurrection of the Beloved, but we desire to do all things for Christ's sake, to manifest " whose we are and whom we serve.” May the Lord the Spirit make us prayerful and watchful, rendering unto God that which is his due, for Christ's sake. February, 1841.
GOD WILL BE GRACIOUS TO HIS CHILDREN.
(Concluded from page 76.) He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.—Ps. cxii. 4.
But, perhaps, there is another poor tried and cast-down soul may be saying, “O that the Lord would speak some sweet and gracious word to me, and show me that he has a love to me.; for I am so tried in providence that I know not what to do. I have got so far into debt, and things are getting worse and worse; I pray and cry unto the Lord, but I cannot get any answer – nay, the more I pray the worse it is. O I am afraid that I shall get into debt and never pay it off ; that my wife and children will be sent to some Union, and I shall be a vagabond on the earth, and shall bring a scandal on the cause altogether.” Ah! poor soul, I know thy path well, and what thy fears are ; therefore, do as I have done, go to the Lord with thy trouble--and, if he does not seem to take any notice of thee, and if it gets worse and worse, and the devil tells thee (which he will be sure to do if the Lord does not answer thee soon) that thy prayer is sin, go to the throne of grace, plead hard the promises ; and if there is a firm persuasion in thy heart that the Lord can deliver thee, and thy little faith has taken hold of some gracious promise (such as “ Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass”), then rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him. This promise the Lord gave me, and enabled me to plead it from day to day ; it was a gracious promise, and so it is now, and ever will be, to every child of God.
When thou art driven to thy wits' end, and know not what to do for a bit of bread, get fast hold of such a gracious word as this, poor soul, and it will hold thee up; “ The young lions do lack and suffer hunger, but (O precious promise) they that seek the Lord shall not (mind, shall not) want any good thing.” Again, “ Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” O what gracious words to a poor tried soul! You may be greatly tried and greatly afraid, but as the Lord God of heaven and earth liveth, you shall not want any good thing. Heaven and earth shall pass away before such a poor praying soul as thou art shall be forgotten ; for the Lord is gracious and full of compassion towards thee, therefore fear thou not, but pray on and never give up.
“Depend on him, thou canst not fail,
Make all thy wants and wishes known;
Ask what thou wilt, it shall be done." Another poor soul may be saying, “I am afraid that the Lord is not gracious to me ; for I have so many besetting sins that are trying me by night and by day--go where I will they follow me : and there is one that I am so easily beset with, the devil tempting me day after day, and year after year. I pray against it, but the more that I pray the more I am tempted. Surely I cannot be a child of God; will God ever suffer his children to be driven about as I am ? And I am so afraid that, one day or other, I shall fall into it.” Poor soul, this very cry shows that thou hast the fear of God in thy heart ; this very temptation works for thy good-it makes thee afraid of thyself, it drives thee to the Lord, and the cry of thy heart and soul is, “O Lord, hold thou me up, or I shall fall ! O let me not sin against thee !” And do you think that the Lord will not hear ? ( yes, he hears you. “Ah !” say you, “you cannot tell what a wretch I am ; I am one of the blackest wretches out of hell ; I am one of the greatest sinners that ever walked upon the earth, it seems impossible that ever I can be saved. I have sins in me that no one knows anything about ; and Othat sin of unbelief! I seem more like an unbeliever than a child of God-nay, I am full of unbelief. Sometimes I cannot believe that there is either heaven or hell, God or devil; I seem to be a complete infidel, I canņot make myself out. Sometimes I think that God will damn me as an unbeliever.” Ah! poor trembling soul, this is the work of God the Holy. Ghost upon thy soul ; it is he that convinces of this dreadful sin ; it is he that shows thee that thou hast no more power to believe in Christ than thou hast power to raise the dead. Dear Hart knew what it was, when he said
“ If unbelief's that sin accurst,
Abhorred by God above;
It fights against his love."
Ah ! poor child of God (for that thou art, since never any one but a child of God knows what it is to 'groan under this sin of unbelief), wouldst thou not be rid of it if thou couldst? O yes, thou wouldst. He will be gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry, for he is full of compassion ; and as for your being the greatest sinner upon the earth, it is plain that you are a child of the living God, and it was for such great sinners that the dear Lord shed his precious blood ; for “ It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”-and the very chief. Can you say that you are the chief of sinners ? O bless the Lord for it! It is a know. ledge of thy sinnership in the feeling of it, that endear's a precious Saviour to thee.
“ Sinners can say, and none but they,
How precious is the Saviour.” Go to him, poor soul, with thy sins; his blood cleanses from all sin -all manner of sin. Go to him with thy hard and unbelieving heart ; he is exalted as a prince and a Saviour to give pardon of sin. Confess thy sin whatever it is, for he has said, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” Are not these gracious words, and full of mercy ? O yes, they are sweet indeed for such a poor sinner as you ; and he is faithful, if we confess our sins, to forgive, and to cleanse us from all (mind that all) unrighteousness. I have something to say to thee, poor fearful soul, and mind what it is. It is this ; that, if thou hast confessed thy sins from the very bottom of thy heart, thou art saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation ; and Christ can as soon perish as thou canst, for thy very cry is the gift of God. And it is a clear proof that thou wast loved before the foundation of the world ; and the Lord will, sooner or later, speak these sweet and gracious wordsunto thy poor soul, “Be of good cheer ; thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven thee.” Therefore groan out thy poor soul unto him; give him no rest until thou knowest for thyself that thou art his child. “For shall not God avenge his own elect which cry unto him day and night, though he bear long with them ?” Yes, he will, when the set time is come to favour thy poor downcast soul ; and thou shalt be brought to sing
“O, my Jesus, thou art mine,
With all thy grace and power ;
When time shall be no more."
But there are others that can say that the Lord has been gracious unto them ; that know, though they are great sinners, they are pardoned sinners, and can say from heartfelt experience, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name ; who has forgiven all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases.” O it is sweet to have a hope in his mercy ; but it is sweeter when the soul can say, “He loved me, and gave himself for me”-died for me. O matchless love that looked upon me! “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the Righteous Judge shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing."
O how sweet it is to have only a taste of his love here! What will it be when I shall see him as he is, when he shall wipe away all tears from my eyes! No more death, no more sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
THE GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANTS.
MATTHEW, xxv. 20—23.
In searching the Scriptures, we never find any contradiction in the Holy Spirit's testimony concerning the first man, “whose foundation is in the dust” (Job, iv. 19); for the Lord God formed man dust, or of the dust of the ground, and then he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul (Gen. ii. 7). The reader will observe the man was formed of the dust before he had a soul : in confirmation thereof, in the first Epistle to the Corinthians the Holy Spirit saith, “that the first man is of the earth, earthy ;” and the first man was made a living soul (1 Cor. xv. 47, 45). But here it may be proper to notice the intermediate verse-namely, the fortysixth ; for the Holy Spirit is testifying to the saints of the glorious change which they will enjoy, for he states the image they have borne, and also the image they will hereafter bear. And having in the fortyfifth verse declared that the first man Adam, whose image they have borne, was a living soul ; and that the last Adam, whose image they are to bear, is a quickening spirit, he farther testifies, “Howbeit that was not first (namely, the first man or image) which is spiritual, but that which is psuchikon, soul; and afterwards that which is spiritual” (1 Cor. xv. 46). And it is a remarkable fact, to the confusion of all false witnesses, who hate the dust of Zion, that in the New Testament the Greek word psuche (soul) is never rendered spirit ; nor is the Greek word pneuma (spirit) ever rendered soul ! The distinction, therefore, between the first and last Adam is very important ; because the first Adam, a