Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

666

men whose words are now before us. His fall was awful indeed; but did he indulge in despair? Did he forget that the Lord revealed himself to Moses as "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin." No; he was convinced of his folly, and sought mercy; and he wrote the Psalm on that occasion, the fifty-first, which is very interesting indeed, and which, with a little alteration, may be made to suit your hearts at most times; and may be used, with a little alteration, as an address to Jehovah in our own name, and on our own behalf: "Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me:" that is the first. "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy" Lord, now I am about to look the free Spirit." Though it is under a sense of his guilt that he prays, and his knowledge of sin, and that he did not deserve the smallest token of mercy and favour, yet he is now praying the very prayer, in faith, that he is in the text-"Lord lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon me.' Though I am so ungrateful, and have done that which might have cast me out of thy mind for ever, yet put joy and gladness into my heart, more than ever the men of the world experience in their highest prosperity."

at the very change which is coming on us there are some who are actually in the spirit of bondage from time to time, through fear of death. Now here is a sweet prayer in prospect of dissolution, and a sweet prayer for any such labouring under these distressing sensations: Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us and this will dissipate the fear of death. Speak thou peace to my heart, and give me to know that I am one with thee, and have an interest in Jehovah my righteousness, who has been the death of death and the destruction of the grave; so that death, come whenever it may, can do no more harm than a shadow, and will be but the shadow of death to me." And they that actually come to the trial, and are actually entering into the valley of the shadow of death, what a sweet prayer would this be:

last enemy in the face, 0, now,

Lift up the light of thy countenance upon me,' and that shall put joy and gladness into my heart. What a sweet prayer that is! that shall put joy and gladness into my heart! I will look forward with triumph."

Well, then, you see what a precious prayer this is, in the prospect of the last great trial to which we are looking forward. If GOD lifts up the light of his countenance upon us, we shall be ready to meet any outward trial and affliction, and it will be an astonishing support to us under the heaviest trials and apprehensions that can occur. But there are some of his people who are fearfully distressed

The Psalmist himself experienced this; he says "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me, lifting up the light of thy countenance upon me; and doing this through the instrumentality of thy word.""For thou art with me;" meaning the word of GOD; "thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." And you recollect, that when he came to the conflict he triumphed in Jehovah, as the GOD of his salvation. This prayer coming from your heart, you may look forward to the glorious result with delight and satisfaction; and anticipate the day when all darkness shall be for ever gone; when it shall be no more in your power,

[ocr errors]

by indulging iniquity in your heart, | soul's salvation, but know little of the to draw a veil or a cloud between Spirit's witness in the soul. We say you and Him whom you love. You to such, "Be of good courage." Art will be perfectly out of the reach of thou concerned for thy soul? Art the great enemy of souls, and you thou beginning to be concerned? will have dropped the body of sin Perhaps that may be the case with and death. How sweetly has the some young persons. Jehovah freProphet Isaiah spoken of this-"The quently begins the work of saving sun shall be no more thy light by grace when his people are young. day; neither for brightness shall the Perhaps you are beginning to be conmoon give light unto thee: but the cerned, and say, "Oh what will beLord shall be unto thee an everlast- come of me when I die?" Perhaps ing light." Thy covenant GOD, who this thought presses on your mind— has fulfilled his engagement, and “I cannot enter into these things; brought thee peace and perfection- I have no testimony from GOD, to "Thy GOD thy glory. Thy sun shall my salvation;" and so on. Yes; beno more go down; neither shall thy hold the Lamb of GoD: fly to him moon withdraw itself: for the Lord for refuge: think that you hear him shall be thy everlasting light, and the say to you-" Come unto me all ye days of thy mourning shall be ended." that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will-I will, in my best and appointed time-I will give you rest; you shall find peace and satisfaction, which shall fill your heart with joy and gladness, which shall make you cleave to him, with all your heart." And he says again, "He that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." Oh, what encouragement! Then shall we know the Lord in all the fulness with which we can know him here on earth; "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord." But then you say, "My heart is treacherous; and I fear I shall not follow on." Then he says again, "He that hath begun the good work will perform it until the day of Christ." If the work is real, and in your hearts, you are not in your own keeping, but in the keeping of a covenant GOD: he thought of you before Adam had transgressed; before Adam was created, and formed for you the glorious plan of redeeming justifying grace. May the Lord enable you to consider these things; and, as Paul said to Timothy," May the Lord give you understanding in all things."

Now such is the experience of every man. We have spoken again and again of those who have died; and we just mention a case of a very aged disciple, who died last week since we met, of whom I had some little knowledge, who had reached her ninety-third year, and had retained her faculties fully and completely to the very last: and just as she was going off, what were the words she uttered? “I am,” said she, to her children about her, “I am going to glory"-resting upon her gracious GOD. Doubtless she had been pouring out her heart to him, and when she came to the conflict he lifted up the light of his countenance upon her; and whatever her apprehensions, they were all dissipated, and she had peace communicated to her heart. We can see in the immediate and direct influence of the Holy Spirit as the spirit of Jesus, that here is the answer to her prayer given to her; and here are her words

"I am going to glory."

Now we may be speaking to some who know little of these things; and who yet are concerned about their

Thanksgiving Sermon,

DELIVERED BY THE REV. T. DALE,

AT ST. MATTHEW'S CHAPEL, DENMARK HILL, SUNDAY MORNING, APRIL 14, 1833.

John, v. 14.—“ Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and saith unto him, behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”

WHAT powers of computation can reckon, or what varieties of language can express, the fearful aggregate even of temporal and present wretchedness which has been, is, or may be, endured by a congregation of persons like that which I now address? We might, perhaps, in imagination tell up the amount of bodily pain-the experience of actual or the apprehension of contingent suffering-the near prospect of the great travail and peril the consciousness of the progressive advances of a lingering though mortal malady-the wearisome nights-the days of vanity-the couch watered with tears-the tossings to and fro until the dawning of the day and the heart meditating terror in anticipation of that intellectual darkness which too frequently overclouds declining age, and steals away the spark of immortality ere the body is committed to the friendly concealment of the grave-all this, perhaps, might be summed up; but who, in his estimate, shall dive into the depths of the mind and explore the recesses of the soul-who shall drag to light that latent bitterness which the heart alone can know-who shall portray, in colours adequately deep and strong, the pangs of disappointed hope, of mortified vanity, of unsuccessful ambition, of unrequited and unregarded affection, of insults unforgotten, or errors uneffaced, every remembrance of which dyes the cheek afresh with crimson, though there is

no spectator of the rising shame but ourselves and the all-beholding GoD

who shall even pretend to compute and calculate all this? If then to do so in the instance of a single and limited congregation surpasses the ability and exhausts the resources of man's understanding, let us at least demand (for inward and heart-felt experience will enable us to answer this question) what must be the pernicious and hateful character of SIN, which, for so many centuries and through so many generations, hath imposed such a load of sorrow on the countless inheritors of the curse—hath converted the primeval paradise of joy into a vale of tears, and transformed the garden of the Lord, wherein He once walked visibly with man, into one wide waste of misery, into one red field of blood?

I make these observations, brethren, because in every evil, private, domestic, or social, that is either felt or apprehended, that is either inflicted or removed-it is only right, and becoming, and expedient that we should refer sorrows and sufferings to their real and primary source. Acted upon as we are much more powerfully through the medium of the senses than of the understanding; our pains and sicknesses, our apprehensions and alarms, our privations and bereavements should teach us that lesson by facts, which the preached Gospel too often attempts in vain to teach by words. Whenever a friend

or relative is taken from us by the undiscriminating hand of death-or whenever we observe by the assumption of the too familiar garb of mourning, that a similar visitation has been ordained to the family of an acquaintance or a neighbour-this and every memorial of the grave should lead our thoughts to that baleful influence which has so long enveloped the tomb in darkness, and imparted a sting to the otherwise pointless dart of death. Every funeral pageant-every relic of the departed, should speak as a homily to the soul;-should lead us to be wise and to consider our latter end.

It is not, however, by endurance only, that this lesson should be taught -it is not to be uttered and to be heard only in sighs, and groans, and tears; our GOD, did He regard our deserts alone, would, indeed, speak always in such a voice, and by such ministers. But, as we prove by happy experience this day, he speaks also in blessings, and teaches also by deliverance. And if even now judgments are tempered by mercies, yea mercy rejoiceth against judgment; how much more would it be thus, were not the human heart composed of such stubborn and stony materials that usually it requires to be bruised ere it can be softened-to be subdued and melted in the furnace of affliction, ere being malleable and ductile it can assume that form, and receive that impression which the master-hand of Omnipotence, directed by infinite love, is ever operating to produce. GOD speaks in his mercies once, yea twice, but man regardeth it not; he speaks in judgment and every cheek becomes pale, and every knee totters, and every heart quakes within us for fear;-only bring him into collision with death and the strong man feels his weakness, the great man knows his littleness, the wise man discovers

his foolishness, and the self-righteous man detects his sin. But, O let us not add this day another to the many existing proofs, that when God's judgments are withdrawn, his mercies are forgotten among men—that when no longer dismayed and startled by the lowering cloud, they are heedless of the pillar of fire, the cheering and the guiding sun-that when he hath ceased to threaten us with the stroke of his heavy hand, the vows and resolutions which we made, while fearfulness and trembling were on us, pass impotently away, and that immediate deliverance not only adds no fresh incentive to diligence in serving GOD, but carries away with it even that which had been already induced by terror and alarm. Rather may the goodness of GOD lead us to repentance; rather may the remembrance of the evil from which we have been preserved, at least in comparison with other nations, far beyond our expectations and altogether contrary to our deserts, lead us to follow up the offering of praise and thanksgiving by the acceptable sacrifice of heart-felt obedience. May Jesus find every individual among us in his temple this day, and leave impressed upon every heart the salutary and seasonable admonition, "Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee!"

In selecting this example for our present consideration, the authorities of our church, who framed this day's service, with a propriety you must all have observed, and a spirituality, I trust, many of you have felt, have pointed directly to that cause of our recent visitation, of which mention has already been made. They have thus recognised the great principle that GOD has not one mode of dealing with nations and another with individuals

that, as, in our personal instance, he visits our offences with the rod, and

sin with scourges, so, a fruitful land maketh he desolate for the wickedness of them that dwell therein—that drought, famine, war, tumult, and pestilence are no less the messengers of his wrath to nations, than sickness, sorrow, the unforeseen change of circumstances, the unexpected loss of friends, the sudden alarm of death and judgment, to single and separate transgressors. Be persuaded then, to consider a general thanksgiving as a call for personal gratitude; bring home to your own hearts and homes, to your families and to your persons the visitation that so recently threatened desolation upon a far more extended scale. Think, at once, what you have deserved, what you have provoked, what you have escaped; and think also, what heavier judgments you will provoke, what aggravated guilt incur, what accumulated condemnation entail upon yourselves, if you requite with ingratitude the forbearing mercy that has spared you, and pour contempt on the patient and much-enduring love which has lengthened out your day of salvation. Rather may you combine, on this occasion, the confession of your conscious transgressions; "I do remember my faults this day," with the grateful acknowledgment, "He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor requited us after our iniquities," and with the abiding and salutary resolve, "I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the Lord. Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!"

It appears to have been a feature in God's government of his ancient people, that particular sins were not unfrequently visited by particular diseases, there being, in such instances, so direct and obvious a correspondence between the visitation and its

cause, that the warning implied therein was discernible and obvious to all. The proofs of the prevalence of this opinion may be collected not only from the inquiry of the Apostles in a similar case, "Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" but from the fact, that the same was observable in the earlier stage of the Christian dispensation, so long as the power of working miracles continued in the church. "For this cause, declared St. Paul,”—namely, for the gross and criminal perversion of the Lord's Supper into a luxurious and intemperate carousal,—“ For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep;❞—while that man, whose case we are now considering, was a living instance of such special judgment, may be inferred from the emphatic words, "Sin no more?" Jesus, who needed none to testify to him what was in man, knew precisely what offence had drawn down that heavy burden of God's displeasure, by which this victim of his own iniquities had been weighed down through the long and dreary period of eight and thirty years, and consequently his allusion would be at once clearly understood, and powerfully felt by the conscience of the restored transgressor. That such a connection, however, between the offence and the penalty, excepting in special instances, can be traced at the present time few will venture to assert; while yet that it has altogether ceased to exist, as few, probably, would be hardy enough positively to maintain. It certainly is not disproved by the fact, that calamities often fall heavily on the head of the decided and devoted believer. For who shall say what penalty the sins of his youth may have entailed on his maturer years? The faith that saves the soul does not similarly operate with regard to the body; and surely the Psalmist had reference to

« AnteriorContinuar »