Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

the great and good Shepherd, whose they are, and what are his sweet promises to them; and we cast ourselves afresh on him (Isa. xl. 11; Ezek. xxxiv. 13–16). While such are frequently our Sabbath-morning feelings, our Sabbath evenings often bring with them an inexpressible load and weight, much greater than that of the morning; arising from a sense of the renewed testimonies which the day has afforded, of our insufficiency for so high, so heavenly, so holy, so spiritual a calling, as that in which we have been en.. gaged, while our wearied minds and bodies seem incapable of the exertion required to get and keep sensibly near to our blessed Lord and Master, in a posture of humility at his feet, to own and confess the poverty of the service which we have offered him, and have our heart broken and melted in the remembrance of Sabbaths passed away. We know nothing of self-satisfaction from any of our own performances, and least of all from that of preaching the word. We preach under a feeling sense of the indwelling and never-ceasing work of sin in us (of all the sermons which most distress us on hearing others, which though we rarely do, are those which aim at the production of creature holiness in the hearers, calling it a Christian requisite and essential), hanging in our own minds all the time upon that blessed, precious Jesus, who is the sum, the substance, the all of our Gospel. We speak from a deep sense of sin in us, and a consciousness of being utterly destitute of all creature holiness, that all the holiness we have, or ever can have, is Jesus (1 Pet. i. 13 -16). Thus there is no room for creature satisfaction on the Sabbath evening. We are conscious, indeed, of abounding infirmities, which, while they humble us and weigh us down, yet we do hope make way for the power of Christ to be manifested and owned in and by the word preached. For while there is so much in the creature which we are conscious, humanly speaking, is calculated to hinder the word's access to the heart, and any good thereby to the soul; yet we cannot deny but that we do believe souls are fed. A blessing yet is found, and in the midst of all being said of the defectiveness of the instrument, there are souls blessing, praising, and glorifying the God of Israel for good received, for sweetness tasted, for power felt, for support and encouragement from the truth heard ; and at times for a feast of fat things, of wines on the lees well refined. At seasons when we have been the most cast down ourselves, we have known the cry of some to the “Bridegroomto have been as you read (John, ii. 10); so that we are content, as it regards ourselves, to let it be as the Holy Ghost declares that it is (1 Cor. i. 27-29).

Our texts on the last Sabbath-day were from Job, i. 10, in the morning; “ Hast thou not made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side ?And in the afternoon from Hosea, xiii. 5, I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.”

They were brought to us, or we were led to them, on the Saturday morning. There was a time when the possession of a text or texts on the precious day to which we were called to minister, was essential to our peace; but the Lord has, in some measure, broken us of this our childishness. We well remember one particular occasion, when the Lord greatly tried us in this respect, and then set us at liberty by bringing to our mind, in a very powerful and not-to-be-misunderstood way, these words, “ Without me ye can do nothing." Immediately there was a full and feeling subject for the following morning, with a heart melted for the time, to prepare us for the preaching it; this was followed with the words of the apostle, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." We have had many stages in our Christian course, to which when we look back we can see that there was an invisible hand directing us into paths unknown to us before ; we see this hand now, when we look back and retrace the way which the Lord has led us these many years through this wilderness. What a mystery are the journeyings of the Lord's Israel through the wilderness of this world to the promised land !

When first put into possession on the Saturday morning, of the two subjects for our last Sabbath-day's discourses, it was curious how the mind wrought with them; sometimes a little light shone upon them, and we seemed as if we could see a way through which we might travel in discoursing from them. Then again they were enveloped in clouds and mists, and there seemed no other prospect but that we should inevitably lose our way if we attempted to set out, where all was so intricate, and no clear path to be defined. This was our state of mind; we could retain nothing which one minute suggested or seemed to make clear, till the arrival of the next. Much rose up at times, yet nothing could be arranged in any order ; or if there appeared anything like order or arrangement of thought for one moment, all was confusion the next. Night came, and in the absence of sleep we again tried our subjects, but nothing would remain. The morning came, and found us in a frame of mind with which, alas ! we are too familiar, and which we are wont to consider peculiarly our own. There was but the one course to be pursued, casting our helpless, carnal, wretched, sensibly dead self, just as we were, upon the Lord; in the renouncement of everything but his own blessed sell, looking at the reality of his lovingkindness and mercy to his own dear blood-bought ones, as our hope and confidence. The time allotted for meditation and prayer, previous to going forth to meet the Lord and his people in the courts of his house, arrived and passed ; we thought we saw our way more clearly, yet still there was no retentive holding of anything connected with our subject. Just as we were setting out, our mind was quite drawn away for a time from our subject, as though purposely so ordered by the Lord. But, blessed be his holy name, the subject to which it was drawn was a very sweet one-namely, the great goodness of the Lord in his providential orderings for, and care over, the several tried members of his beloved family on earth. It was what (speaking after the manner of men) we should call an accidental circumstance, led our mind to this subject at this particular moment. With a heart full from a lively sense of the Lord's great goodness in this respect, we entered upon the services of the day.

We found much power in the sweet portions of Scripture appointed to be read-namely, Psalms cxx. to CXXV., with 1 Sam. ii., and Luke, x.; 1 Pet. v. 5-11, with Luke, xv. 1-10. We were much struck with their suitableness to our intended subject of discourse, while we found much refreshment in the more spiritual and scriptural of our Church prayers.

You will do what seems good to you with the crumbs we purpose sending, as there is no necessity intended to be laid upon you in the matter, but that you should use your own free judgment. While we remain, my dear brother in the bonds of Christian love, yours to serve in the Lord, Elmley, near Wakefield, June 29th, 1841.

Robert Pym. CRUMBS FROM ELMLEY, OF JUNE 27th, 1841. Hast not thou made an hedge about him,' and about his house, and about all

that he hath on every side ?-Job, i. 10. IMMEDIATELY on giving out the text, the mind was powerfully impressed with the greatness of the blessing of really and rightly estimating the truth ; that truth which God has revealed in his word, whereby in the discovery and application of it with divine power to the soul, he accomplishes his purposes of love in the minds of his chosen (Luke, xvii. 21). We spoke of the value of the truth as truth, and from thence pointed out the greatness of the blessing of being able, in any measure, duly to appreciate it. We contrasted the state and condition of those who, instead of valuing, despise and hate the truth ; particularly those of this class who are religious professors. We then appealed

to all natural characters before us, if it was not that they had an inexpressible hatred to that particular truth, to which Satan bore his testimony in the text -namely, that God, of his grace, had set a hedge round a chosen people in Christ Jesus. Considering the text in this light, we proposed the following heads of discourse :

I. The credit to be given to this testimony of Satan.
II. The truth itself to which he bore testimony.
III. The use which the Lord's people may make of this truth.

In speaking of the credit to be given to this testimony of Satan, we pointed out, first, that it contained a sweet recommendation of God to the believer ; that Satan would never lie, when his lying would be to recommend God to his people. We referred to Satan's misrepresentations of God to the mind of Eve (Gen. iii. 1-5), and to our own experience of his never-ceasing endeavours to prevent our receiving as truth God's testimony of love to his chosen people, which we have in the Gospel. We spoke of the power of God over all things, even over the devil, so as to make the testimony of the father of lies subservient to his own purpose of confirming the confidence of his own dear people in himself. The second thing from which we took an estimate of the credit which this testimony of Satan deserved, was the circumstances under which it was given. Here we held forth Satan in his true character, of hating both God and man-God, beyond whose sight and control the devil never is (Jude 6), had no doubt been privy to all the jealous feeling with which he had watched Job, and how actively he had been engaged to cause his halting. It was, as privy to this, that we considered God put the questions of verse 8 to Satan.

Satan, determined not to acknowledge the grace of God, which he knew to be in Job, and the cause of his holy walk and conversation, could not deny the testimony which God bore to Job's character, but insinuated that his conduct arose from some selfish motive (see v. 9, 10). Thus, in his enmity against Job, and desire to injure him before God, Satan let out the truth concerning him, and became a witness to a blessed and glorious truth of God's Gospel respecting all his elect. We then, thirdly, inquired by what means Satan had discovered this truth. Satan had, no doubt, desired Job's destruction, and had been, no doubt, incessantly watching an opportunity to ensnare him to his ruin; but he had been defeated. Wherever, in whatever way, by whatever means, at whatever time, under whatever circumstances, he had endeavoured to carry his plots and schemes into execution for the ruin of Job, he had always found Job so hedged in by God, that without God's permission there was no assailing or assaulting Job to his hurt. Now, need we surer testimony to the truth declared, than that of Satan's in the text; need we a better, a more efficient witness ? Satan's testimony was from his experience, that God had defeated his every attempt to injure Job, by means of a hedge he had made about him, and about his house, and about all that he had on every side. Doth not thi's agree with what our Lord said to Peter (Luke, xxii. 31, 32)? Look also at what Peter himself, speaking experimentally on this subject, and under the direction of the Holy Spirit, has left on record (1 Pet. v. 8, 9), and notice his particular expression, speaking of Satan"whom he may devour."

Having enlarged on these things, as showing that the testimony of Satan in this particular case was worthy of the most implicit credit, we proceeded to the consideration, secondly, of the truth itself to which Satan had thus borne testimony-namely, that God had set a hedge about his elect, so that Satan was unable to get any advantage against them without God's special permission (see ver. 12, also‘ch. ii. 6). We showed this hedge to be one of love, power, and providence; of protection, defence, and support; and its security to be covenant faithfulness : that it was a hedge of sovereign grace, and that the Lord Jesus Christ was that hedge ; in whom the church was chosen in eternity, and consequently designated in the word by the immortal distinction of the preserved in Jesus Christ” (Jude, 1). We showed the church to have been always within the protection of this hedge (Eph. i. 3— 6); that the fall of man had taken place in subserviency to God's purpose, in having thus hedged the church around with his grace in eternity. We considered the fall as making manifest this act of God's grace towards his church, and traced to the existence of this hedge, that the fall, with all its sad consequences, was unable eternally to ruin the elect. We particularized some of the ways in which Christ was this hedge, how the blood and righteousness of Christ was a hedge around the elect, to prevent them ever coming under the eternal curse of the law in their own persons; exposed and liable to it in the fall, the same as the reprobate world, yet it could never reach them on account of the unceasing interposition of Christ between it and them. Whatever their sins, however numerous their actual transgressions, or heinous their guilt-under whatever circumstances of aggravating desert of the law's curse, yet it could not reach where was the wall of Christ's blood and righteousness. We spoke of the beautiful garments in which God the Father had presented the church to Christ in eternity (Psalm xlv. 13, 14); how these had, and ever would keep off the wrath and vengeance of God from his church ; how they always had been, and always would be, beheld by God and Christ as beautiful in him-pure, spotless, holy, harmless, and undefiled ; how a sanctification in Christ would keep from hell, while it fitted for heaven (1 Cor. vi. ll): that to this hedge of grace in Christ around the chosen, they were to trace their being securely kept unto that eternal life to which they were ordained (Isa. iv. 5, 6). We showed it to be a hedge of protection from enemies within, as well as enemies without; that it kept the church from overstraying those boundaries and limits which God had assigned to her, as fallen in the first Adam in wandering from him. That this was seen, in that it was not possible for the elect to be guilty of the sin against the Holy Ghost. This hedge has and will continue to keep each one of the elect from ever rejecting Christ with a personal hatred of him, and ascribing of the doctrines of the Gospel to the devil, while they at the same time acknowledge him to be the Messiah. This was the rejection of Christ of old, which constituted the sin against the Holy Ghost (Matt. xii. 31, 32), while it was that from which Paul declares he was kept (1 Tim. i. 13). This hedge thus keeps the elect within certain bounds and limits, over which they cannot pass; is the means to which we trace it, that no one of Christ's sheep ever so far strayed away as not to be restored, and that to which we ascribe the Scripture truth, that the wayfaring man in God's highway, though a fool, shall not err therein " (Hosea, ii. 6, 7; Isa. xxxv. 8).

Having thus spoke of the truth to which Satan bore his testimony, we said a few words in conclusion of the use to be made of it. We noticed that God had said, he would leave in his church “ an afflicted and poor people, who should trust in the name of the Lord(Zeph. iii. 12); that this people were to receive all the testimony of the word, come from what quarter it might, to this blessed truth we had been considering; that God had set a hedge, such as we had attempted to describe, around his elect. Though in themselves an afflicted and poor people,” there was an important promise, that he would turn to this people a pure language (Zech. iii. 9).

That this pure language from God to them in his word and by his ministers, was one chief means by which they were enabled to realize the actual existence of this hedge around themselves individually-yea, that this pure language forms a part of the hedge; for it delivered, or protected the elect

E

« EdellinenJatka »