תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

glory that is due to him. I have read' Cave's Lives of the Fathers' till my heart has heaved at the work, to see how the creature has been exalted. The leading account of every character is the piety of their ancestors; just as if grace was hereditary: secondly, their aptness to outstrip all others in human learning: thirdly, their mortifying their bodies in a cave; just as if the devil and the old man of sin were not to be found in a cave as well as in a city. And, as for the Holy Ghost, he is hardly mentioned, though there is no such thing as mortifying any one deed of the flesh (to good purpose) but through him, Rom. viii. 13: and, if grace be mentioned in that book, it is slightly touched upon at the conclusion of a narrative.

Calamy's Life of Baxter' is just such another rotten jumble of human excellency. The Holy Ghost is the regenerator, the renewer, and the ornamenter, of every real Christian; and, if he be not glorified by us, we shall surely be debased by him; for “ them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed,” i Sam. ii. 30. Or, as the

• He that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted,” Matt. xxiii. 13.

Ahimaaz. It is right, certainly, that God in all things should be glorified through Jesus Christ. But allowances, my brother, must be made. Some Christians have been drawn altogether by love, without any convictions at all; these, not feeling the plague of their hearts, nor the awful arrest of divine justice, will remain of a legal tincture, and their language is far from being pure: they are not properly evangelized; they are not brought off from all confidence in the flesh,consequently

Saviour says,

they will not savour so sweet of the dear Redeemer as those who have been chased by the terrors of law and justice to embrace him as their only refuge, and lay hold of him as the only hope set before them.

Cushi. God is a free agent, and will work on his people as it pleaseth him; but to be converted without repentance—to be born again without soul travail — to be forgiven without being convinced we have nothing to pay—to be healed without feeling our sickness and to be saved before we find ourselves lost—is a mystery to me, and must remain so.

That God often begins to allure a soul by gospel promises I do not deny; but such generally find travail, and sickness too, before they arrive at God's tabernacle, or dwell on his holy hill. I have observed some persons, who have had their sharpest struggles with law and conscience even on their death-beds; and the very pains of death have hastened the pains of their spiritual birth, so that the birth of their souls just preceded the death of their bodies:-such have gone to glory full fraught with the cordials of divine consolation. This I think agrees with the gospel sense of this text: “But, when the people of the land shall come before the Lord in the solemn feasts, he that entereth in by the way of the north gate to worship shall go out by the way of the south gate; and he that entereth by the way of the south gate shall go forth by the way of the north gate; he shall not returi.

way of the gate whereby he came in, but shall go forth over against it,” Ezek. xlvi. 9. And, although some, as you observe, are very legal, and savour too much of the flesh, yet I believe, if they belong to God, that he will permit their fleshly confidence so often to

by the

D

deceive them, that they will be led to feel after him, who makes his strength perfect in our weakness; and, as his blessed arm is made bare to them, they will be careful to speak to the honour of him whose power they feel; thus he turns to the people a pure language.

Ahimaaz. I have formerly observed several things which

you have mentioned; and while you have been speaking they have occurred fresh to my mind; but I have not been so strict an observer of the works of God, and of the blessed teachings of the Holy Spirit, as you have, which is both my sin and my loss; as speaketh the psalmist,“ Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord,” Psalm cvii. 43. And the more the lovingkindness of the Lord is seen, the more is the faith of a believer increased and encouraged. And sometimes God permits an unbeliever to be forcibly struck with real convictions, while he beholds the visible hand of God in supporting and bringing his own children out of difficulties; as the queen

of Sheba was struck at Solomon's wisdom: their false hopes give way, and their language is like that of the psalmist, “ I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living," Psalm xxvii. 13.

Cushi. The man that watches the dealings of God with him, both in providence and grace, he shall find the Lord's promise daily verified: “I will make all my goodness pass before thee.” Such watchful souls shall see many an obstacle removed, many a precious promise turned up, many an intricate providence made straight, many a knotty experience unriddled, many an enemy entangled in his own counsel, many a hint dropped for faith to catch, many a glorious beam to direct his steps, and many a sweet drop of divine consolation will be poured as oil on his soul, which will dissolve the stubborn heart, and divinely sweeten and soften' every unruly faculty: “ Thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord, and with favour will he compass him'as with a shield,” Psalm cxxviii. 4; v.12.

The penitential moan of Adam, as Milton pathetically paints it, is worth the notice of every tenderhearted Christian:

This most afflicts me, that departing hence,
As from his face I shall be hid, depriv'd
His blessed count'nance; here I could frequent
With worship place by place where he vouchsaf'd
Presence divine, and to my sons relate,
On this mount he appeared, under this tree
Stood visible, among these pines his voice
I heard, here with him at this fountain talk’d:
So many grateful altars I would rear
Of grassy turf, and pile up every stone
Of lustre from the brook, in memory,
Or monument to ages, and thereon
Offer sweet-smelling gums, and fruits, and flowers.
In yonder nether world where shall I seek
His bright appearances, or footsteps trace?
For, though I fled him angry, yet, recallid
To life prolong'd and promis'd race, I now
Gladly behold though but his utmost skirts

Of glory, and far off his steps adore.
The answer is as sweet as the other is moving:

-Doubt not but in valley and in plain
God is as here, and will be found alike
Present, and of his presence many a sign
Still following thee, still compassing thee round
With goodness and paternal love, his face
Express, and of his steps the track divine.

Ahimaaz. Certainly a man cannot live in the fear of God, unless he doth consider himself daily in the immediate presence of him; and to feel his supporting hand, to enjoy the testimony of his Spirit, to find his approbation with one, and his power manifested in leading one on, and holding one up in the face of all opposition, enables a man to rejoice, and say with the psalmist, “ The Lord is on my side, I will not fear what man can do unto me.” And I have often thought that God has, and still doth, reveal himself by his Spirit to many souls in the world, who have not the word of God preached to them by men; or, in other words, who have not the means of grace as we have; and I have at times got comfort from these thoughts with respect to the poor

heathens. Cushi. As I observed before, God is a free agent; but I do not desire to be wise above what is written. I have read the prophecies of the ten Sibyls, and certainly there is a deal of truth in them, though it be sung with wild notes; and, if they are allowed to be prophetesses of the Lord, they are witnesses in your favour. But our great apostle doth not countenance you at all: “ It is written, (saith he) that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed ? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard ? and how shall they hear without a preacher ? and how.shall they preach except they be sent? Rom. x. 14; and Christ says, “ Preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned,” Mark xvi, 15, 16. And again, “ This gospel must be preached in all the world for a witness,

« הקודםהמשך »