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to exclude the possibility of sickness or acci- , events are entirely his. And he says to us, dents; of unfaithful servants or insolvent as the king did to his prime minister: “Atdebtors: of dear purchases and cheap sales : tend you to my affairs, and I will attend to as if he foresaw and secured all the events yours." " Take therefore no thought for the of the year himself-While he was not sure morrow: for the morrow shall take thought that he should be able even to begin his jour- for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the ney, and knew not what should be even on day is the evil thereof. Be careful for nothing; the morrow. Well does the Apostle call this but in every thing by prayer and supplication rejoicing "boasting," and say, that "all such with thanksgiving let your requests be made rejoicing is evil."
known unto God. And the peace of God Things may be within the reach of our which passeth all understanding, shall keep knowledge and not of our power; but how your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." can that be within the reach of our power Such is the temper and the business of a that does not fall under our knowledge! How Christian. The child at school is not to lean can we ward off dangers of which we are not his elbow on the table, and vex himself by apprized? How can we arrange and regulate thinking how he shall find raiment, how he occurrences of which we can have no fore- shall get home, how the expense of his edusight? Now this is our case. We know only cation is to be defrayed. He is a learner; he the present; and what superstructure can we is to mind his book-the father requires no build on such a narrow foundation? How more of him he will provide. The farmer often, even while forming a plan, has the lapse | is not to muse from day to day about the of a few days so varied circumstances, that weather, “perhaps it may not be a fine season we have been compelled to new model it, or --there may be a blight-and all my labour to abandon it altogether! “Let no man de- may be lost.” No: but he is to act; he goes ceive himself. If any man among you seem- forth bearing precious seed, commits it to the eth to be wise in this world, let him become ground, and then pursues his other businessa fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom and what can his anxiety do afterwards? of this world is foolishness with God. For it “So is the kingdom of God, as if a man is written, “He taketh the wise in their own should cast seed into the ground, and should craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the sleep, and rise, night and day, and the seed thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. He should spring and grow up, he knoweth not leadeth counsellors away spoiled, and maketh how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of the judges fools."
herself, first the blade, then the ear, after that We dare not infer the future from the pre the full corn in the ear.” The soldier is to sent. David erred here. After he had been learn his exercise, to obey the word of comdelivered from Saul, and other enemies, he mand, to keep his arms bright, to be always tells us that he had too much confidence. And at the post assigned him; but he is not to negin “my prosperity I said, I shall never be lect all this, by busying hirnself in drawing moved. Lord, by thy favour thou hast made plans of the campaign, and describing the my mountain to stand strong :" but hear what duties of the general. he adds—"Thou didst hide thy face, and I Finally. Our ignorance of what may be was troubled." The rich have been often fall us should lead us to seek after a preparastripped of their wealth; and the caressed of tion for all events. Do you ask, where shall their honour. Many a fair morning has turn- we find it? I answer, in the blessed influence ed out a very stormy day.
of Divine grace. This drew prayer from Thirdly, the same considerations which Jacob when he went forth with a staff; and should check presumption, should also prevent praise when he returned with a fortune. This despair. Seeing we know not how it will go preserved Daniel in the court of Darius and with us, why should we look only for evil? / in the lion's den. This enabled Paul to say, It may be far better than the foreboding of “I know both how to be abased, and I know our fears. Our deliverance may be much how to abound: everywhere and in all things nearer than we imagine.
I am instructed both to be full and to be hun
gry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can "The Lord can clear the darkest skies, Can give us day for night,
do all things through Christ which strengthMake drops of sacred sorrow rise
eneth me." And seeing we have not the orTo rivers of delight."
dering of the weather, nor the choice of our Indeed, our extremity is often his opportunity food-happy is the man, whose constitution It is often darkest just before break of day. enables him to bear any weather, and whose And when the ebbing of the tide is lowest, appetite enables him to relish any food. the flowing is nearest.
This leads us, III. To inquire WHAT THERE Fourthly. Since we see not how it will go IS TO ENCOURAGE US UNDER ALL THIS DARKwith us, let us draw off our attention from NESS AND UNCERTAINTY. You say, I see not future events to present duties. We are to how it will go with me. And it is well you cast not our work, but our care upon the do not. You know as much as it is good for Lord Duty and means belong to us, but you. For it is with the mind as it is with the
senses. A greater degree of hearing would that “God is faithful, who will not suffer you incommode us; and a nicer degree of seeing to be tempted above that ye are able ; but would terrify us. If our eyes could see things will with the temptation also make a way to microscopically, we should be afraid to move. escape, that ye may be able to bear it." In Thus our knowledge is suited to our situa- a word, and is it not enough to know this? tion and circumstances. Were we informed --you know that “all things work together beforehand of the good things prepared for for good to them that love God; to them that us by Providence, from that moment we are the called according to his purpose." should cease to enjoy the blessings we pos. You say, You see not how it will go with sess, become indifferent to present duties, and you. But your ignorance only regards time: be filled with restless impatience. Or sup- all in eternity is sure. Beyond this land of pose the things foreknown were gloomy and darkness dwells everlasting light. Your unadverse, what dismay and despondency would certainty only regards the roughness or be the consequence of the discovery! and smoothness of the way-for you know what how many times should we suffer in imagin- stands at the end of it-It is your Father's ation what we now only endure once in real- house, where are many mansions ! ity! Who would wish to draw back a vail
** See the kind angels at the gates that saves them from so many disquietudes! |
Inviting us to come; If some of you had formerly known the
There Jesus the forerunner waits troubles through which you have since
To welcome traveller's home." waded, you would have fainted under the
Yes, you know how it will go with you there. prospect.
There you will “enter into peace;" there You say, You see not how it will go
how it will co“ the days of your mourning will be ended;" with you; but God does. And he is your there you will be " for ever with the Lord !" friend, and your father, and loves you better
“There-shall we see his face.
And never, never sin; than you love yourselves, and is far more
There from the rivers of his grace concerned for your happiness than you can
Drink endless pleasures in." be. “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, Ah! blessed privilege—and happy they O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and who can enjoy it! They have enough to remy judgment is passed over from my God?" | lieve them in every distress. Their afflicNothing is hid from him. “He knows thy tions must be light and momentary indeed, walking through this great wilderness. He when they are persuaded that they are workknows thy soul in adversity.” He sees all ing out for them a far more exceeding and thy dangers and all thy wants. Nothing can eternal weight of glory. But this is not my surprise him whose eyes are in every place. case. My perplexity seems to increase in Nothing can elude his notice who numbers proportion as I advance. To me the other the heirs of thy head. When Abraham was world seems darker than this; and it is a called to leave his own country, and his gloomy valley that leads to it. Oh! if I father's house, he obeyed; and “ he went out, knew that all would end well !-But this is not knowing whither he went.” But though that which adds a pressure to cvery burden, he knew not “whither he went,” he knew and embitters all my comforts—I see not how with whom: he knew that he followed a it will go with me AT LAST." guide who could not lead him astray. And My Christian friend: I designed not by thus Job relieved his mind under a pressure what I have said, to intimate that such a perof perplexity : “Behold, I go forward, but he suasion is essential to your safety, but only is not there; and backward, but I cannot that it is a desirable privilege; and in this perceive him: on the left hand, where he we are agreed. But remember it is attainadoth work, but I cannot behold him: he ble. You may have “a good hope through hideth himself on the right hand, that I can- grace," and “the full assurance of hope.” not see him : but he knoweth the way that I You are commanded to seek it. In the mean take : when he hath tried me, I shall come time, I would observe, that the solicitude you forth as gold."
feel, is no bad evidence in your favour. In You say, You see not how it will go with proportion as the mind feels the importance you. But you know, “ that it shall be well of salvation, it longs for certainty, and, fearwith them that fear God.” You know that ful of deception, is not satisfied with slender if you are his, though your way may be evidence. May the Lord, you are now fol. thorny, “ your shoes shall be iron and brass ;" | lowing sorrowful and in darkness, shine upon and that as “ your day is, so shall your your path, and “ fill you with all joy and strength be.” You know that love is the peace in believing, that you may abound in spring of all your trials, as well as of your hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." comforts. And that though no " chastening! But if we cannot begin the new year with for the present seemeth to be joyous, but confidence and joy, let us do it with serious grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth ness and prayer. Let us resolve to walk bethe peaceable fruit of righteousness to them fore him in newness of life. Let us commit which are exercised thereby." You know ourselves to the care of his Providence, to the word of his grace, to the agency of his baptism and the ordinance of the Lord's SupHoly Spirit. And let us lift up our hearts per are founded. They do not remember with our voices while we sing,
that though the substance be confessedly the
main thing, circumstances are often very And now, my soul, another year Of thy short life is past;
beautiful and impressive and beneficial; that I cannot long continge bere,
we are not only to possess, but to profess reAnd this may prove my last.
ligion; that we are not only to serve God “Much of my dubious life is gone,
individually, but to unite ourselves to a body Nor will return again; And swift my passing moments run,
of Christians, and walk in holy fellowship, And few perhaps remain.
“striving together for the faith of the Gospel; " Awake, my soul, with solemn care,
and that we are bound not only to " glorify
which are God's." So that the form when “Now a new scene of time begins
attached to the principle, is so far from being Set out afresh for heaven; Seek pardon for thy former sins
improper, that it is commendable and importe In Christ so freely given.
ant. ** Devoutly yield thyself to God,
But here we have reached the Fourth class And on his grace depend;
to which we referred, those who have the form, With zeal pursue the heavenly road Nor fear a happy end."
but deny the power. These are awful characters; and therefore, says the apostle, to
Timothy, “ From such withdraw thyself." DISCOURSE XXXII. We should do this as much as possible with
regard to their persons, but above all with
regard to their state. In order to this-let RELIGION MORE THAN
us, I. CONSIDER THE POWER OF GODLINESS;
and, II. INQUIRE WHENCE IT IS THAT SO MANY FORMALITY.
WHO DENY IT ARE STILL DISPOSED TO MAINHaving a form of godliness, but denying the
TAIN THE FORM. power thereof.—2 Tim. iii. 5.
I. THE “ POWER" OF GODLINESS IS HERE And what is godliness? It is the tendency DISTINGUISHED FROM THE MERE “ FORM :" and of the mind towards God: and is exercised in indeed it is easy to show the difference bebelieving in him, loving and fearing him, tween them. The one is principally exterholding communion with him, resembling his nal, and deals in words—the other is internal, perfections, and employing ourselves in his actuating our feelings, and governing our service. It is the introduction of God into actions. The one is the name the other is all our concerns, our acknowledging him in the thing; the one is the appearance-the all our ways, our doing all we do in his name, other is the reality. The one is the body-the and with a reverence to his authority and other is the soul, that inspires every member, glory, through the mediation of the Saviour, and penetrates every particle of the frame. and by the influences of the Holy Spirit. The one is the picture--the other is the origi
This is godliness; and nothing else deserves nal: the one shows us the Christian on canthe name. This godliness however has its vass--the other presents him to us alive and form and its power; and this distinction in motion. enables us to arrange four classes of charac | Now what I want to convince you of here ters.
| is this—that real godliness is more than a For, first, there are some who have neither show, a fancy, a form—it has an efficacy in the power nor the form of godliness. They it—there is a power attending it. For conare as destitute of the pretension as they are sider how it is produced and maintained. It of the reality, and often glory in this-for we is in its existence, as well as in its revelation, read of some “ who glory in their shame.” a Divine principle. Hear how the Apostle
Secondly, there are some who possess both speaks of it in his epistle to the Ephesians. the power and the form. And these are the “God is able,” says he, “to do exceeding most worthy of our esteem and imitation. abundantly above all that we ask or think”_ May their number daily increase!
"according to the power that worketh in us." Thirdly, there are some who have the I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord power of godliness, but not the form. Their Jesus Christ—"that he would grant you, acreligion is a kind of disembodied spirit: and cording to the riches of his glory, to be because some have laid too much stress upon strengthened with might by his Spirit in the outward things, they lay too little. They inner man." And again, he prays for them, carry their notions of the spirituality of divine that they may know-what is the exceeding worship so far as to exclude social considera- greatness of his power to us-ward who betions; the influence of the body over the lieve, according to the working of his mighty mind; and the use which the Supreme Being power, which he wrought in Christ, when he himself makes of our senses, to aid our graces, raised him from the dead, and set him at his and which is simply the principle upon which own right hand, in the heavenly places :"
where we find that the same almighty ener-, but from very different motives, and in a very gy which quickened into endless life the en- different manner. He has now also much tombed body of our Lord, is actually put forth more to engage his attention. His regard is in the renovation of the believer: “that like no longer confined to externals only, but he as Christ was raised up from the dead, by the is taken up with “the hidden man of the glory of the Father, even so we also walk in heart;" and prays with David, “Create in newness of life.” Hence it is called “the me a clean heart, O God, and renew a life of God;" and “the participation of the right spirit within me." Hence spring exerDivine nature.” What is the water that the cises to which he was once a stranger; and Saviour promises to give to those that ask he feels himself engaged in a warfare which him? “ Living water.” “ And,” says he, often perplexes him, and leads him to exclaim, “the water that I shall give him shall be in “If I am his, why am I thus ?" him a well of water springing up into ever- Behold then the life of the real Christian, lasting life." Here is nothing stagnant and and trace the operation of the power of godlidead; but every thing is expressive of in-ness there. fluence and activity. Thus the Apostle tells It appears with regard to the ordinances the Thessalonians that the Gospel came to of divine worship. Others who have only the them—“not in word only, but in power:" form, come without expectation and prayer, and that they received it, not as the word of and return without reflection and concern: men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, they are satisfied with their attendance-but 6 which effectually worketh also in you that he is not. He is anxious to derive spiritual believe.” And thus, to view the subject more advantage from it: he enters the closet beseparately, and in parts, we read of “the fore he approaches the temple, and his lan. work of faith, the labour of love, and the guage is, “Oh that I knew where I might patience of hope.”
find him, that I might come even to his Observe the subjects of Divine grace. This seat!" Oh that I may be of “the circumciprinciple distinguishes them from others : and sion who worship God in the spirit, rejoice in is capable of producing a holy singularity. If Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the you have only the form of godliness, there will flesh.” be no practical difference between you and It appears with regard to the dissipations others; if servants you will be as idle, as of the world. He voluntarily resigns those gossipping, as regardless of the property of amusements in which he once placed so much your employers, as others: if wives you will of his happiness: and he returns no more to be as unsubmissive; if husbandsmas tyran- them. And why? If he were mindful of nical: if tradesmen-as grasping and over the country whence he came, he has opporreaching as others. But if you have the tunity to return: he is surrounded with the power—you will resemble good Nehemiah. same allurements as others—why then does “ The former governors,” says he, “were he not engage in these diversions again?chargeable to the people-but so did not I, Because he has found something infinitely because of the fear of God.” Piety would not more noble and more satisfying. And a suffer him to act like them. And if you are greater good has power to abolish the imunder the influence of it, you will not, in pressions of a less. When the sun arises, your various relations and circumstances, be the stars disappear. And the grapes of Eshborne down by the errors and vices around col cause us to forget the leeks and onions you: but you will be able to act uprightly : of Egypt. you will be kept from consulting custom, and You may see it in the mortification of sin. be constrained to listen to conscience : you He denies himself; he crucifies the flesh will not be permitted to sin as do others, or with the affections and lusts; he plucks out “sleep as do others you will not be con- a right eye, and cuts off a right hand. You formed to this world, but be transformed, by may see it in what he is willing to sacrifice the renewing of the mind, that you may and to suffer. Read history: read the book prove what is that good, and acceptable, and of martyrs ; read the eleventh chapter of the perfect will of God.” A dead fish can swim epistle to the Hebrews and see what the with the stream, but a live one can swim force of this powerful principle can accomagainst it.
| plish. There you see an Abraham at the comYea, this principle distinguishes the man mand of God, “ leaving his own country, and from himself. Thus, under the influence of his father's house, and going out, not knowit, the drunkard becomes sober; the swearer ing whither he went:" and, in obedience to learns to fear an oath, and the liar a lie. He the same authority, “when tried, offering up that stole, steals no more, but labours. The Isaac; his son, his only son; of whom it was churl becomes liberal, and the niggard bounti- said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called." ful; it cannot be otherwise. If the man has There you see a “Moses, when come to been moral before, he continues to avoid the years, refusing to be called the son of Phasame vices, to perform the same duties, and raoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer alto attend the same means of grace as before- fliction with the people of God, than to enjoy
the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming | minished, it is with him to determine-so it
others had trial of cruel mockings and scourg- above the world, subdues his corruptions, THE ings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprison- and supports and comforts him in all his
ment: They were stoned, they were sawn sufferings—this power, many, alas! are igno asunder, were tempted, were slain with the rant of, and in works, if not in words, really sword: they wandered about in sheepskins deny.
and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tor- II. THEY YET ASSUME AND MAINTAIN THE the cemented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) FORM—and some of the reasons which induce 15 they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, them to do this, are the following: dec and in dens and caves of the earth.”
First, because the form is comparatively "But we are not called to such scenes as easy. The difficulty lies in the power. It is ?der these.” Blessed be God, you are not. But an easy thing to pretend to be rich; to pur
every Christian, says Luther, is a piece of a chase splendid apparel and furniture; and
martyr; " yea," says the Apostle, and all live in style upon the property of others De that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suf- which is the fashion of the day. This difer fer persecution.” There is the same malig- fers exceedingly from the economy and ine b# nity in human nature against vital religion dustry and labour of the man who in his callhad C as formerly; and it will operate as far as it is ing gains a competency lawfully. It is an bra permitted by circumstances. And when re- easy thing to profess to be wise: but to acOS E ligion is vital, it will enable a man to abide quire knowledge by the weariness of study; ng the test; and resolve to go forward, notwith-by rising early and sitting up late ; by keep
standing the ridicule of infidels, the sneer of ing the mind always alive, and attentive to o worldlings, and the reproaches of relations perceivė, appropriate, and classify fresh in
and friends. And this requires a degree of tellectual stores—here is the difficulty. And the same grace as martyrdom.
thus it is in the case before us. The form jani The vigour of this principle appears also of godliness requires no strenuous exertions;
in other sufferings. How many are there at demands no costly sacrifices. It is the power tiqi this moment, enduring a variety of grief in of it that renders the Christian life a "striv
private, whose names will never be published ing to enter in at the strait gate;" a "pressde in history, but who, in the eye of God, are ing into the kingdom of God;" a "wrestling
greater than the admired heroes of the age! with principalities and powers;" a "running
They act nobly, without the prospect, or the the race that is set before us;" a " fighting i desire of notice, or of fame: they breathe no the good fight of faith.” And it is this too
revenge towards instruments; they neither that incurs opposition from the world. It will charge God foolishly nor unkindly in any of indeed be acknowledged that sometimes the the disappointments and afflictions which very form draws forth the rancour of others: have befallen them; they are strangers to and of all people those are most to be pitied impatience and repining; and all you hear who are persecuted for what they have not ; is, “ I mourn, but I do not murmur. I pray, who are reproached as Christians without debut I do not prescribe. The Lord gave, and serving the honour. But upon a nearer inthe Lord hath taken away, and blessed be the spection of these mere formalists, the world name of the Lord. I have more reason for is generally made quite easy. They see that thankfulness than complaint. I know not they were mistaken in the characters; they what he is doing with me—but he know- find that they are “ of their own," though eth the way that I take.' Whether the trial wearing a religious uniform. And discover. be removed or continued, increased or di- ling in them their own spirit, which disposes