Imágenes de páginas

And " except

influence of the merits of Christ, and the consolations of the Gospel? We are to expect to suffer with him that we may reign with him. (by the energies of faith) we eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, we have no life in us."

But this was not all. In partaking of the passover all leaven was to be removed from their houses, and the apostle exhorts us to "keep the feast not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." The Hebrews were to partake of the feast in company; and the religion of the Saviour is a system of unity and love; and the ordinances of his commemorative supper, is the bond and pledge of our holy brotherhood, in which we cordially exult, "We being many are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." Not a bone of the Paschal Lamb was to be broken. Neither is Christ divided. His character, his righteousness, his atonement, his grace, his promises, his purposes, all-all are entire, and we must receive him as such. And whilst the people partook of the passover supper, and complied with every other stipulation and requisition, they were to appear in the attitude of travellers, with their shoes on their feet, their staff in their hand, and their loins girt for their journey. Such is our character in partaking of the salvation which is in Christ Jesus. We are strangers and pilgrims upon the earth. "Our loins are to be girt about with truth;" "our feet are to be shod with the preparation of the Gospel," and, staff in hand, we must be the "followers of them who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises."

This was the ancient ordinance of the Jewish Passover. Well might that Sabbath on which such an important service occurred be called "an high day." How much was there in such an institution to conform the mind, to impress the heart, to lead the attention forward to the true Paschal Lamb, to shadow forth the shedding of his precious blood, to exhibit the safety of those who confide in his atoning sacrifice, and thus to shew forth his death for the redemption of sinners.

Having thus explained the allusion of our text, and considered the solemn importance of that holy day of which it speaks, let us proceed,

Secondly, to apply the passage to ourselves.

We also have a Sabbath, the day which the Lord hath made the day of Christ, the joy of the church, the sacred festival of the soul, and when rightly appreciated and improved, it is "a high day." First, it is a welcome retreat from bodily and mental toil. On the other days of the week most persons, especially in this allabsorbing and enterprising metropolis are busily occupied, both early and late, in procuring the bread which perisheth, either by the energy of their mind or the sweat of their brow. In consequence of such perpetual pressure upon their physical powers, there is the greatest danger of the bodily machine wearing out by its own friction, and what is still more to be dreaded, is the probable neglect and ruin of the soul by being thus "overcharged with the cares of this life." To rectify these evils, the Sabbath arrives, attended by its holy influences and inspiring ordinances; and like the angel of mercy, withdraws our hearts from earth to heaven. The din of business then ceases to distract and to dissipate. The world is shut up, and both the body and the soul feel the benefit of the holy instruction. Now the merchant and the tradesman retire from the turmoil of secular life, to the peaceful circle of domestic endearments,

and to the much-loved ordinances of the house of God to enjoy times of refreshing from his holy presence. The labourer, the artizan, and the mechanic, lay aside the implements of their industry, relax their weary frame, and sweetly realize the savour of that welcome intelligence," to the poor the Gospel is preached;" whilst servants have (or ought to have) the opportunity of assembling with the multitude who keep this holy day. The Sabbath thus becomes a day of leisure for special devotion, when we can assemble in the house of God-when we can narrowly inspect the state of our souls in secret-when we can read the Bible, bow the knee in prayer-instruct the children of the family, and breathe the air of heaven, as we ascend upon the wings of faith and love. Secondly, The Sabbath is a day of holy commemoration. It was so to the Jews, for whose benefit it was originally instituted. It is to us in a still more sublime and spiritual sense. We hail the resurrection of Christ from the tomb, the completion of his mediatorial work, the cessation of his toils and sufferings, his victory over death and the grave, and the memorable descent of the Holy Ghost. We also celebrate the triumphs of the Gospel for which the Sabbath is so remarkably distinguished above all other days-our own conversion by the preaching of the cross-and the many happy seasons with which we have been favoured when attending the house of prayer.

Thirdly, The Sabbath is welcomed as presenting a pleasing spectacle of Christian fellowship. On other parts of the week we are scattered like sheep upon the mountains: now, the Good Shepherd utters his voice, gives his wellknown signal, and we come together; we enter the fold, we are led beside the still waters; we rest beneath the shade of the tree of life, and at the foot of the rock, and we recognize each other as friends and brethren in Christ. And in the green pastures of Zion we are fed and improved. Our knowledge increases; our faith increases; our love, our hope, our spirituality of mind, our zeal, our fervour-every principle, every grace, is benefited, for by waiting upon the Lord our strength is renewed.

Fourthly, Nor is the Sabbath less valuable as a day of religious exertion. It should be the maxim of "all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity," to do good as well as to get good. But most of the zealous friends and followers of the Redeemer are so much occupied during the week, that their efforts to benefit the souls of men, and promote the extension of the great cause of truth, are materially abridged. On the Lord's day they are at liberty; and we then see in the religious world the pleasing exemplification of that scripture, "The sun ariseth, and man goeth forth unto his work." Yes, the man of God, whilst cheered by the healing beams of the Sun of Righteousness, wishes not only to enjoy the light of the Lord's countenance, and to walk among the children of the light, but also, by the diffusion of that light, to become a blessing to those who are sitting in darkness, by instructing the ignorant; visiting the sick; imparting religious knowledge by religious books, and thus to live and act as a blessing to his generation.

From these and some other considerations which might be mentioned, the Sabbath is a beautiful type of heaven. Its calm serenity, its holy exercises, the feelings of devotion which are enkindled, the peace, and love, and joy, which pervade the pious mind, and that holy communion with God, that nearness to his throne, to the cross, and to the well of salvation which is enjoyed, together with the place in which we meet, the services in which we engage, and the associates with whom we mingle, all remind us of that world of light

and peace, and love, towards which we are bending our course, and lead us to exciaim

"Sweet Sabbath of rest-sweet prelude of heaven!

While on wings of devotion I rise;

May the joys I now feel, as an antepast given,
Prepare my blest soul for the skies."

But whilst such is the acknowledged value and holy influence of the Lord's day to those who prize it and improve it, I am devoutly anxious that you should be aware of the possibility of merely observing it as a matter of form, without entering into the spirit of its inspiring solemnities. You may keep the Sabbath as a day of rest from manual or mental toil: you may acknowledge the Divine authority of its appointment; you may attend the house of God, and join in Christian worship, and yet not feel that the Sabbath is your delight, so as to enjoy that holy, elevating, gladdening charm, which constitutes it " a high day." This is the attainment after which you should aspire. This is the importunate prayer which you should offer, that you may be in the spirit; that your Sabbaths on earth may afford you sweet earnests of the joys above, the prelibation of that Sabbath in glory which will never never close.

And with how many such seasons of refreshing are the people of God favoured when thus made joyful in the house of prayer. For example: First, What a high day is that Sabbath when the soul, happily released from the all-absorbing cares of the world, appears in the sanctuary before the mercy-seat, clothed with the righteousness of Christ, imbued with the Holy Ghost, sweetly abstracted from the things of time, and possessing a deep tone of religious sentiment and feeling. When faith, and hope, and love, and gratitude, are in lively exercise: when the mind is warmed with the spirit of elevated devotion, and the frame of the heart is softened and calmed by genuine humility, with reverence and godly fear. Then the harp is in tune. Every string is entire and raised to its proper pitch; the whole is in harmony; the invisible hand of the spirit of the Lord strikes the chords; and joy and praise resound to the honour and glory of the triune Jehovah.

Secondly, That is a high day when the anxious burdened penitent, who has long felt and deplored the bitterness of sin as an infinite evil, is liberated from the bondage of fear and dismay by the preaching of the Gospel, and finds joy and peace in believing at the foot of the cross. What a blessed change. What a wonderful transition. What a new world opens before him. What a happy Sabbath in which to enter upon it. This is one of the gracious designs of the religious observance of the Lord's day; that sinners may be converted, and penitent mourners may be brought into the enjoyment of that liberty wherewith Christ makes us free.

Thirdly, That Sabbath is a high day, when the pious invalid, long confined from the much-loved ordinances of Zion, is permitted once more to join the multitude who keep holy day. How welcome is the sight, the service, the sound of the well-known voice of the Christian pastor, the praises of God, the accents of public prayer, the manifestations of the Redeemer's presence. And though the remaining weakness of the body has its influence upon the kindred, sympathizing soul, still the force of Christian feeling predominates, and the exuitation, "Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee," marks the fervour of the happy worshipper in Zion's holy temple.

Fourthly, An ordinance Sabbath is usually a high day to the Christian communicant. This is an extraordinary occasion, when, in addition to the preaching of the Gospel, we are permitted to surround the sacramental board; to appear on the Lord's side in a visible capacity as his decided followers; when we commemorate his bitter sufferings and dying love; when we sit with his people as fellow-heirs of the grace of life; and "all eat the same spiritual meat and all drink the same spiritual drink, even of that spiritual rock which follows us, and that rock is Christ."

Fifthly, And if we give wings to our meditations and ascend from the church on earth to the church in heaven, what an eternal Sabbath opens before us, in that holy and happy world. There we behold a day without a cloud, withont a care, and without end, a rest which remains for the people of God, of which they often think, and speak exclaiming.

"When, O dear Jesus, when shall I

Behold thee all serene,

Bless'd in perpetual sabbath-day,

Without a veil between?"

If then our Sabbath on earth be characterized by that pre-eminence which we have already described, what shall we say of the superior sanctity and bliss of that celestial-sabbatic state which is prepared for us in glory? Surely that Sabbath, in the noblest sense of the expression, will be a high day, when we shall behold the unveiled vision of God, and the Lamb; when we shall participate that "fulness of joy" and "those pleasures for evermore," of which we sometimes realize the foretaste; when we shall be happily delivered from all imperfection, and mingle with the general assembly and church of the firstborn in celebrating the praises of redeeming love, world without end.

Such, my dear brethren, are the present joys and future hopes which the Gospel of Christ communicates; so truly does it exhibit "the promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come."

If then, the Lord's day be invested with so much importance-if it be so precious, so valuable, so beneficial to the mind, the body, the family, and the country at large, how should we deplore its lamentable profanation! How carefully should we avoid a participation of this crying sin which so loudly calls for Heaven's vengeance! How readily should we employ these holy expedients which are calculated to stem the torrent of Sabbath profanation which we deplore, by the circulation of religious books, and the instruction of the rising generation, by our influence, our persuasion, by our example, and our prayers! And as we profess to "call the Sabbath a delight," let us anticipate it and prepare for it as it approaches; let us welcome it when it arrives; let us seek to be richly imbued with the influences of the Holy Spirit as its hallowed hours revolve. Let us be very anxious to go through its valuable ordinances in close communion with God. Let us avoid every thing which is likely to dissipate the mind, and to prevent the enjoyment of private as well as public devotion. And let us be desirous of obtaining that renewal of our spiritual strength which will render us equal to the duties and difficulties of the ensuing week.

"In holy duties let the day

In holy pleasures pass away,

How sweet a Sabbath thus to spend
In hope of one that ne'er shall end.”




"But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee."-ISAIAH, xlix. 14, 15.

WHAT a difference, my brethren, is there between the judgments of God and the judgments of men! "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." This assertion may be addressed, not only to unenlightened sinners, who are " alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them," and because of the blindness of their hearts; but also to those who have received the Spirit of God, that they may know the things which are freely given them of God. Their illumination at present is partial; their views in many cases are obscure; they frequently come to very erroneous conclusions, and sometimes they err where the glory of God and their own welfare are deeply concerned. We have a striking instance of this in the passage before us, and which contains two parts, which will engage our attention this morning-a mournful complaint, and a satisfactory answer. "Zion said, the Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me :"-this is the mournful complaint. "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee :”—this is the satisfactory answer. Consider what we say; and may the Lord give you understanding in all things! Amen.

First, we have here A MOURNFUL COMPLAINT. "Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me;" he exercises no care over me: “and my Lord hath forgotten me;" he exhibits towards me no affection. Let us look into this.

My brethren, the wicked think too much of the goodness of God, you will suppose I mean in reference to themselves, for otherwise it is absolutely impossible. But they mistake the effects of his general bounty for evidences of his peculiar friendship while they live regardless of his praise, they yet hope in his mercy, and persuade themselves that he will not be severe to mark what they have done. Now it is very true that he "waits to be gracious," and is "exalted tc have mercy;" that he "has no pleasure in the death of him that dies." But observe his language: "Wherefore turn and live :" "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return unto the Lord and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly

« AnteriorContinuar »