« ForrigeFortsæt »
on the fifteenth of Adar, (February) the magistrates of the cities inspected the roads, to see that they were in good condition. The city was to be well supplied with water and provisions. It was not allowed to make any weapons there, that the relations of the deceased might not procure arms to gratify their revenge.”* Maimonides further says, that “the six cities appointed by the law were obliged to receive and lodge gratis all who should fly to them.” The refugee was required to dwell in the city to which he had fled, till the death of the high priest; previous to which, if he ventured to leave it, he was liable to be slain.
All this strikingly corresponds with the plan of salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby a full comment is afforded on this institution of the ceremonial law, which was “a shadow “ of good things to come.” Adam, by the first transgression, was guilty of homicide. He murdered his own soul, and the souls of all his posterity. We have imitated his fatal example, and are also guilty. The avenger of blood, of consequence, acquired a right of demanding satisfaction; and pursued us for that purpose. But God in Christ is the appointed city of refuge, whither we are directed to fly for safetya The access to the asylum is easy, the way to it free from obstructions, and readily to be found. The ministers of the Gospel are, as it were, indexes, pointing to the city of refuge, while they cry, “ BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD THAT “TAKETH AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD.” Here no weapons of vengeance are to be seen; they are excluded wholly from the place of refuge appointed for us. Here provision in rich abundance is made for all that come, and gratuitously dispensed.—Taking the figure in another view we may observe, that the death of our great High Priest having taken place, all our forfeited blessings are restored, and our liberty is regained.
* Calmet's Dictionary,
The believer then is a fugitive from the wrath to come, a refugee who has repaired to the appointed sanctuary. Are we believers ? Are we conscious of danger? Have we fled from it? Can we say in truth that God in Christ is our refuge? Without previous conviction of sin and faith in Christ, bow gross is our hypocrisy in calling God our Refuge!"
God is moreover the “ strength" of His people. David has joined these views of God together, (Ps. xlvi. 1) “ God is our refuge and “ strength, a very present help in trouble." Very numerous are the passages of Scripture in which God is called the “ strength" of His people. (See Ps. xxvii. 1; lxxiii. 26; Ixxxi. 1; Ixxxiv..5, 7; cxl.7: Is. xxvi. 4; xlv. 24, &c.) As we have no power to resist the avenger of blood, nor to make atonement for sin, so also we are without “ strength” to take advantage of the merciful provision which is made for us. When we become alarmed by a conviction of our danger, we find ourselves unable to flee for refuge; and, even when at the gate of the city, to step into it. When we call God our “ strength,” we acknowledge a consciousness of perfect weakness-of inability to repent, to believe, or to, obey--to resist temptation, to overcome a single enemy, or surmount a single obstacle-or to maintain our station in grace for a single moment. We compare ourselves to one who is universally palsied; to the sick patient,
(Mark ii. 1, &c.) who was borne to Christ by extrinsic help, that he might derive a cure from Him.
Are we conscious that this is our state of soul? If not, let us not call God “our strength;" for unless we depend on Him for help, we do but mock His Divine Majesty while we thus address Him. But if we are indeed conscious of our weakness, how comfortable will the Divine des claration, which was originally made to St. Paul, prove to our souls ! My grace is suf“ ficient for thee; for my strength is made per « fect in weakness.” Let the reader look to Him for strength as well as righteousness, and rejoice in Him as both his “refuge and strength.”
Let us for a moment contemplate the situation of some unfortunate wretch who has fallen into the gaping chasm of Ætna or Vesuvius, for the purpose of illustrating our own. Stayed from the burning lake below by a mere ledge of ashes on which he dropped_dreadfully bruised by the tremendous fall-at first perfectly insen. sible, but after a while restored to consciousa ness-behold him an object calculated to rive your very soul. By occasionai coruscations from the fiery gulph beneath, and by a glimmering ray from above, he discerns the horrors of his state. Ten thousand thunders burst on his ears, while showers of fiery cinders fall around him and threaten to overwhelm hiny. The treacherous ledge on which he lies shifts under him, and seems as if it would fail of affording him its further support. He looks around for help, but none appears. He tries to move, but is unable, for his limbs are dislocated by his fall, and the loose cinders slide under him. Having made repeated efforts, he despairs,
and yields himself up a prey to death. But hark! from the mouth of the volcano a voice salutes his ears, saying, “Be of good cheer.” A rope is let down to him which he tries in vain to lay hold of. At length a friend descends into the cavern, fastens the rope around him, and he is drawn up from the jaws of destruction-Such is the believer's experience with respect to the salvation of his precious soul.
God is further addressed in the introduction of our collect as “the Author of all Godliness.” That He is so, appears from what has been already said. As He is “our refuge,” He is “the " author of all" the comforts which “ Godliness" produces; and as He is “our strength," He is the author of all the sensibilities in which it consists, and of all the power by which its duties are performed. But as the nature of Godliness was explained in our last essay, we need not again discuss the subject.
We proceed therefore to consider the petition of our collect. This is of a general nature, and implores the acceptance of the supplications which we offer as the people of God, who look to Him as their “refuge and strength, and the « author of all Godliness."
1. We « beseech God to hear the devout prayers of His church.” That He is “more ready to hear than we to pray, and wont to
give more than either we desire or deserve,” is certain.* Yet it is necessary that we should pray, and that we should beseech Him that He would be ready to hear our prayers. It is required as a proof of our conviction that we are unworthy to be heard, and of our intire dependence on His
+ * See the Collect for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity.
mercy and truth. It is, moreover, necessary for the purpose of exciting to lively exercise the desires, the faith, and the gratitude of our own bosoms. For it is in the act of endeavour to reach forth the withered arm that we may expect vigour to be communicated to it. It is supposed that the prayers which we offer
“ devout:"'--that they arise from a heart which is “clothed with humility,” inflamed with holy desire, bowed before the mercy-seat in a posture of reverential prostration, and wholly consecrated to the service of our God. Genuine prayer is the expression of a mind which is thus affected. Are our prayers “devout?” that is to say, Do the sensibilities of our souls correspond with our devotional forms? Our language is truly devout; but are our hearts in unison with it? Indevout worship is an abomination with God.
2. We implore “ that what we ask faithfully, “ we may obtain effectually.” Here we specify another essential qualification of successful
supplication. It must be the prayer of faith. The difficulty of exercising faith in prayer is felt by al who understand what prayer means. For a con sciousness.of utter unworthiness, and of the masnitude and value of the blessings which are inplored as indispensably necessary to the suppicant's happiness, the inscrutable nature of ne agency by which God works, our apparent ad supposed failures in many past applications,-these and other considerations present obstacles to the exercise of faith which are not easily surmouned. We therefore often draw on the bank of heven with a trembling hand, as if we supposed ether, that its treasury was exhausted, or its ensagements faithless.' We forget that, with a refeence to the work of our Redeemer, we have a right to