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us, then, call in our scattered thoughts, and raise them up to the most high God.”
It is thus, my brethren, that God tempers the displays of his terror with the displays of tendemess. He did so with Elijahwhen preceded by the tempest, earthquake, fire; he made himself known as a God of mercy, by the still and small voice. He did so with Isaiah-when, trembling and confounded by the voice of the seraphim, and the seven thunders that uttered their voices, he exclaimed, Woe is me—one of the seraphims is commissioned to touch his lips, and say, By this is thine iniquity taken away. He did so when Jesus became incarnate, and we beheld his glory, full of grace and truth. He did so in the case of the dying thief, amidst the terrors of the crucifixion. To. day shalt thou be with me. He did so when Jesus appeared to the beloved disciple. When I saw him, I fell at his feet, as dead : and he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not, I am he that liveth.
And he does so still in the hour of the sinner's conversion: when, alarmed with a sense of guilt, he is ready to sink under the thunders of a broken law, he hears the sound of mercy in the gospel—when he conducts him to the cross, and says, I, even I am he that blotteth out. Come now, and let us reason. He does so still—when he supports in sickness, sorrow, death.
II. THE AMPLE PRACTICAL LESSONS THE HISTORY CONVEYS. It teaches,
1. That there is much in the divine dispensations to his people, to attract, and repay, the attention of ecery decout and intelligent mind.
In the visible universe around us, we see much of God. In the pages of his blessed book, we see much of God. In the mystery of redemption, we see much of God. In the daily conduct of his providence, we see much of God. Our religion is a religion of wonders. All the works of God are wonders: all his works are mysteries. But his love in our redemption is of all wonders the most wonderful, of all mysteries the most mysterious. Infinite wisdom was employed in the contrivance of
it; infinite love in its accomplishment; infinite power in its application-God, who commanded light, &c.
Religion has its great sights; revelations of power, and of mercy which have struck with astonishment the first angels of light. Providence has its great sights; its displays of wisdom and benevolence to the church at large, and to every individual member of it. He who has been dealing in judgment, and in mercy, with thousands of our race, will deal with us in like
He is about our bed, and about our path. It is of great consequence to us, therefore, that we know the laws of his operation, the principle and rule of his government and providence, that we may act upon his plan, and conform to his wise and holy designs. Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and li ve ? An architect who would build a great fabric, must make himself acquainted with the laws of nature, or it may be that those laws will go against him, and his building will not stand. We are building for eternity. To attain wisdom there must be reflection.
2. That God puts honour upon those who seek to improve the opportunities of religious contemplation and communion with him in the various walks of life.
6. When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him.”
It would have little argued the wisdom or piety of Moses had he continued feeding his flock without noticing the astonishing miracle before him; and it argues nothing for our wisdom, when we can suffer the greatest events and transactions to
before our eyes unchallenged or unimproved. There is a dull and senseless wonder, which leads to no result, and is connected with no blessing.
God would have us enquire into the methods of his dispensations, and the design of his providences, for spiritual purposes, and with a view to spiritual improvement. Show me wherefore thou contendest with me, said Job; surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, Then shall we knon, if we follow on to know. In this sense, to him that hath shall be given, God condemns the contrary: Because they regard not his operations, he shall destroy them, and not
ир. And God pronounces his blessing upon those who
examine, and meditate upon, and enquire into, the design of his dispensations in providence and in grace. “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even he shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.”
Many persons speak and act as though they thought that religion had nothing to do with the mind, or as though the mind had nothing to do with religion. They expect to be acted upon in some mysterious manner, without mental effort, and almost without conscious volition of their own: whereas the
influence and result of divine grace upon the heart will always be displayed in a strenuous desire to put forth all the earnestness and vigour of our spirits, both to understand and perform the known will of God. The supineness and apathy of the church and the world are, as we have already seen, solemnly condemned by God himself. None saith, Where is God my Maker, who giveth songs in the night? There is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth himself up to take hold of thee.” On the other hand, God is described as coming forth to meet those who go
forth to meet him, whether in his ordinances or his providences. Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways. It is to the active and wakeful state of the mind that all the promises are made: whereas it is a fearful judgment to have “the spirit of a deep sleep” poured out upon us. Improved opportunities invite higher manifestations, and attract the gracious approbation and notice of the great Head of the church. When the Lord saw Moses turn aside to see, God called him out of the bush. Devout thoughts would make every place a sanctuary. Were we truly spiritual, we might trace God in every bush, as Moses beheld him in that at Midian, which burned without being consumed. We learn,
3. That divine manifestations either find us humble, or make us so.—“Take off thy shoes from thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." Whilst there is every thing in the gospel to inspire hope, there is nothing to encourage presumption. In approaching that throne of purity and of love, “where angels tremble as they gaze,” the emotion of reverence and godly fear is the most appropriate to our sinfulness.
4. That the displays of God's kindness and mercy may often prooe no less profitable in the retrospect than in the enjoyment. In his last prayer, Moses thought of the good-will of him that dwelt in the bush.
PLAN OF A SERMON ON THE NATURE OF THE
ACTS XVI. 17.
THESE MEN ARE THE SERVANTS OF THE MOST HIGH GOD, WHO
SHOW UNTO US THE WAY OF SALVATION." The testimony here borne to the first preachers of Christianity, was not the less correct because from one under dæmoniacal agency-the design with which it was given proves its correctness, which was to promote the credit of the party from whom it came. It is the most just and comprehensive description of their character and office.
I. THE WORK OF ALL MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL.
1. They are to show the way of salvation. This is the great object they should ever have in view. 2. The
way of salvation they are to show is, by faith in Christ. He is the object to be most prominently exhibited ; in his person, offices, and work; grace and glory.
3. They are to show the way, not the ways of salvation. There never was, and never will be, but one way, though revealed with different degrees of clearness; as it is the same sun at the dawn and meridian.
This their work implies, They ought to know it themselves—men do not naturally know it, nor would of themselves seek it out and find it-the mind is indisposed to retain this knowledge-it is the duty of men to regard it – ministers can only show the way, not force men into it.
“ Servants of God.”
1. It denotes that they are sent by him to this work. As talent and station do not constitute a man a magistrate, but appointment to the office; so gifts and grace do not constitute men ministers, but the call of God—the Spirit within, Providence without, and the sanction of good men, concur in a call to the ministry.
2. The dignity of their office-servants, not of men—of the highest men, but of God—of the most high God. He is glorified in the salvation of men by Christ.
They are employed as mortals;-because, this method is adapted to our receiving information on the subject with composure--the glory of the result is hereby secured to the author -men are best employed in the work from their own interest in the subject, and their experience concerning it.
1. The guilt of those who neglect a gospel ministry—the heathen in the colonies of our country, and in idolatrous countries, crowding around missionaries, and entreating most earnestly for more such men to be sent to them, will rise up in judgment against the inhabitants of this land, who despise prophesyings.
2. Be helpers of ministers. By countenance, prayer, promotion of their comfort. Some discourage-harden their hearts against them-treat them with coldness and indifference-even some to whom they have successfully carried tidings of salvation, have turned against them-have been thorns in the side of the very messengers of God to them for good.
So much the more let others comfort-showing sympathyholding them up to respect. What comfort from such may ministers receive by the manner of their death—what greeting in eternity—what mutual congratulations between such in the day of the Lord !