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given to him, as "the author and the finisher of our faith." "He has treasured up for us every thing in Christ Jesus;" and ordained, that we should "receive every thing out of his fulness," looking to him as our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification, and our complete redemption, "that no flesh should glory in his presence, but that all should glory in him alone"," Let this lesson, then, be learned by us, that God may receive from us all the glory of all that we possess; since "if we differ from others in any respect, it is he who has made us to differ; and we possess nothing which we have not gratuitously received from him."]
2. That you may depend on him for all that you ever hope to receive
[Here, also, God asserts his claim to our entire dependence: "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and that maketh flesh his arm; and whose heart departeth from the Lord his God." Especially in reference to every thing that concerns our salvation, does God require our undivided affiance: "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth! for I am God; and there is none else." Every child of man, whatever he may possess, must rely on Christ alone, saying, "In the Lord have I righteousness and strength." "In the Lord alone shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glorya." To this has God a very especial respect in the words of my text. If we look to the creature, or place any dependence on an arm of flesh, we must take the consequences. The creature "cannot do good, or do evil." As to the idols on which the Jews were disposed to place their confidence, God says to them, "Ye are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you." So must it be said of every thing on which we are wont to rely; is a broken reed, which will only pierce the hand that resteth on itd." Trust ye, then, in the Lord, and in him alone: yea, 66 trust in him for ever: for with the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."]
This subject, methinks, speaks,
1. Comfort to the true Christian
[Respecting this glorious Being who is here described, it is your privilege to say, that "he is your God." In truth, whatever you want, he describes himself as a God of that very thing, of "love," of "mercy," of "peace," of "strength," of
s Col. i. 19.
x 1 Cor. iv. 7.
a Isai. xlv. 24, 25. d 2 Kings xviii. 21.
t John i. 16.
y Jer. xvii. 5-8.
ver. 37, 38, 39.
e Isai. xxvi. 4.
u 1 Cor. i. 29-31. z Isai. xlv. 22.
c Isai. xli. 23, 24.
"comfort," of "all grace;" and in relation to that very thing will he "be a God unto you." Seek him, then, in Christ Jesus; and glory in him as "your God and portion for ever."] 2. Terror to those who have any other god
[Who is that God that shall save you in the hour of your extremity? or, Where will ye flee for succour in the day of judgment? Indeed, indeed, there is no refuge for you, but in Christ; nor any other name given under heaven but his, whereby you can be saved."]
f Heb. viii. 10.
Acts iv. 12.
A MINISTER'S DYING CHARGE TO HIS PEOPLE.
Deut. xxxii. 46, 47. Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this Law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life.
THIS song was composed in order "to be a witness for God against the children of Israel" to the remotest ages. It contains a summary of God's dealings with them, and of the provocations whereby they constrained him at last to visit them with his heavy displeasure. At the same time, it gives an intimation of his mercies, which he has yet in reserve for them, when they and the Gentiles shall be incorporated into one Church, and become one fold under one Shepherd. Having recited this song in the ears of all the Elders of Israel, he entreats them to treasure it up in their hearts, and to impress it on the minds of the rising generation, that so it may answer the end for which it was composed.
From the counsel here given to all Israel, I will take occasion to shew,
I. The regard which we should manifest towards the Gospel of Christ—
The testimony of Moses, though comprised in this song, did, in fact, comprehend "all the words of God's Law." In like manner, that which I have testified amongst you, whilst, in fact, it comprehends b ver. 43.
a Deut. xxxi. 19.
the entire Gospel, may be comprised in these few words: "This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in his Son: he that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life." St. Paul, in still fewer words, sums it up in this significant expression, "Christ crucified."
Now the regard which this demands, is,
1. That you receive it cordially yourselves—
[It is not sufficient that you hear it, or approve of it, or form your sentiments in accordance with it: you must "set your hearts unto it:" you must feel towards it as you would towards a boat that was pressing towards you, whilst clinging to a plank in the midst of the ocean. You may form soine conception of the eagerness with which you would welcome its arrival, and embrace the salvation which it offered you: and those very emotions should you realize, when a Saviour is set before you to deliver you from the guilt you have contracted, and the condemnation you have merited at the hands of your offended Godoffended God——— In this way must you set your hearts "unto ALL the words" which God has testified by my mouth you must embrace the doctrines, as declaring what you are to believe; and with equal avidity are you to lay hold upon the precepts which God requires you to obey. Neither the one, nor the other, are to be viewed as hard sayings, which you would gladly modify to your own corrupt taste; but both of them are to be viewed as moulds, into which your whole soul is to be poured; so that in every thing you may be conformed to the mind and will of God
2. That you commend it earnestly to others—
[You are not to be content to go to heaven alone: you must endeavour to draw all you can along with you. God imparted to you knowledge? you must labour to communicate it. Has he given you influence? you must exert it to the utmost of your power. Has he invested you with authority? you must employ it for God. Are you as magistrates? you are not to bear the sword in vain," but to use it for him, whose representatives and vicegerents you are. Are you parents? you must, like Abraham, "command your children, and your household to keep the way of the Lord'." Advice is not sufficient. If that prevail, it is well: you have gained your end by gentle means; which should always be
c 1 John v. 11, 12. e Rom. xiii. 1-4.
d 1 Cor. ii. 2.
f Gen. xviii. 19. with the text.
resorted to in the first instance: but, if advice will not effect your purpose, you must exert authority, yes, even though your children have arrived at man's estate. Eli did reprove his sons, saying, "Nay, my sons, this is no good report that I hear of you; you make the Lord's people to transgress." But when he saw that they persevered in their iniquities, he should have turned them out of their priestly office: and because he neglected thus to exercise his authority, God visited him and his posterity with the heaviest judgments, even to many generations. To every parent, then, I say, The blood of your children will be required at your hands: and, though you cannot impart unto them any saving grace, you must keep a firm hand in restraining them from every thing that will be injurious to their souls; and must labour in every possible way to bring them to Christ, that they may be saved from wrath through him.]
And let me mark,
II. The reasonableness of our duty in relation to this matter
The service of God altogether is "a reasonable service";" and more especially that duty commended to us in our text.
1. The testimony itself is highly worthy of our regard
[What is it that we testify? It is, that God has redeemed us by the blood of his dear Son, and will cast out none who come to him in his Son's name And "is this a vain thing?" is it doubtful, so that we may question it? or unimportant, that we may trifle with it? Let the Apostle Paul determine this: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." Yes, indeed; it is "no cunningly-devised fable," but the very truth of God, to which the whole Scriptures bear witness and it is "the very wisdom of God, yea, and the power of God," so that, in comparison of it, there is nothing, either in heaven or earth, that gives any just conception of the Deity. In this mystery all the perfections of the Godhead unite, and harmonize, and are glorified.]
2. On our regard to it our eternal happiness depends
["It is our life, whether theoretically considered, or practically applied. Our blessed Lord says, "I am the way, the
8 1 Sam. ii. 33-36.
i 1 Tim. i. 15.
h Rom. xii. 1.'
k 1 Cor. i. 24.
truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me1." There is no way of reconciliation with God but through the sacrifice of Christ. No man can make atonement for his own sins and every soul that would be saved, must "submit to the righteousness of God," even to that mode of justification which God has proposed in his Gospelm. It was this that distinguished Abel from Cain: Cain brought an offering of the ground; but Abel, looking forward to the Saviour, brought a living sacrifice from his flock". And this is what we also must do. We must look to Christ, and believe in Christ, and lay our sins on him, as the Jewish offerer did on his sacrifice. If we do this, we shall be saved: for "all who believe in Christ shall be justified from all things:" but, if we do it not, "there remaineth for us no other sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation P."] I will now CONCLUDE, with drawing your attention to, 1. The circumstances under which this counsel was given
["On the self-same day" that his counsel was given, "was Moses to go up to Mount Abarim and die." This, then, was the dying testimony of Moses. And I, if I were now on my dying-bed, would give to you precisely the same counsel, and entreat you all to 66 set your hearts to what I have this day testified amongst you." "Lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, my beloved Brethren, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes." And to every individual I would say, "Teach them unto your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up: and thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thine house, and upon thy gates." Use all possible means of bringing these things to your remembrance: but rest not satisfied, till they have wrought a thorough work upon your souls, and you are "cast into them as into a mould" that shall assimilate you altogether unto God's perfect image1.]
2. The circumstances which must infallibly ere long result from them
[Of this counsel both you and your adviser must shortly give account at the judgment-seat of Christ. In God's book of remembrance, every word is already recorded, together with the manner in which it has been both delivered and received.
1 John xiv. 6.
m Rom. x. 3.
P Heb. x. 26, 27.
n Gen. iv. 3-5.
q ver. 40-50.
t Rom. vi. 17. the Greek.