« 上一頁繼續 »
in the Holy Ghost," but praying by his influence? Why is he called "the Spirit of grace and of supplication"? Is it not because he brings us upon our knees, and keeps us instant in prayer? If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his: and this Spirit awakens the conscience, and makes us sensible of our needy and perishing condition: and shews us the glory, as well as the absolute importance of Divine blessings; and causes us to hunger and thirst after righteousness; and leads us into all the truth connected with our relief; and, through the blood of the Cross, inspiring hope and confidence, enables us to cry, Abba, Father.
Nor is it only in the beginning of a devotional life that this assistance is required: "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities," says the Apostle: "for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." And where is the Christian who would not often have given over the exercise, under a sense of his imperfections and weaknesses, but for the hope of the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ; and the promise, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" This has revived him again; and, out of weakness, he has been made strong; and delighted himself in the Almighty.
Happy they who, by the great Teacher, are thus taught to pray. You may be ignorant of many things; but you know your way to the Throne of Grace. You may have little learning; but you can speak the language of Canaan. You may be unnoticed of our fellow-creatures; but your fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And a life of prayer will soon be followed by an eternity of praise.
But how awful the condition of those, who never
express this desire-Lord, teach us to pray! Can the love or the fear of God dwell in you? Can you dispense with the blessings of salvation? Or do you think that God, who has said, "For all these things will I be enquired of," will deny himself? Well: another instructer will soon teach you to pray-a dying hour-a judgment day-but in vain! "Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me."
AUG. 9.-"Give glory to the Lord your God before he cause darkness." Jer. xiii. 16.
THE removal of the Gospel is darkness. The Gospel will never be removed from the world; but it may be withdrawn from a particular place or people. It is the very thing denounced "I will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." And this has been done. The Jews are an eminent example. The Kingdom of God was taken from them. And when we consider the miracles, the institutions, the privileges, by which they were distinguished, and see how they were all laid waste; well may the Apostle say, Behold the severity of God-and if he spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Where now are the seven Churches in Asia? Where is the famous Church of Rome, whose faith was spoken of throughout the whole world? At present, you have the inestimable benefit. Be not as the swine, who knows not the value of the pearl, and therefore tramples it under foot. What wonder, if the manna should be taken away, when you despise it as light food? The Scriptures may be continued, and the preaching of the Gospel be removed: and
thus the Word may be precious, because there is no open vision. What a blessing to see our teachers; and to hear a word behind us, saying, This is the way; walk ye in it! Faith cometh by hearing. And what, if the Lord should send a famine in the land-not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water; but of hearing the words of the Lord-and we should run to and fro to seek the Word of the Lord, and shall not find it? Give glory to the Lord your God before he cause darkness. Impenitence is darkness. A man may be surrounded with food; yet he dies, if he cannot use and digest it, as much as if he were in want of the aliment. The means of grace may remain, and we become incapable of deriving benefit from them. It is an awful fact, that God punishes one sin by another, and judicially blinds those who provoke him. Because they like not to retain him in their knowledge, he gives them up to a reprobate mind. Because they receive not the love of the truth, that they may be saved, he sends them strong delusion to believe a lie. They are joined to idols; and he lets them alone. They delight in error; and they find it. They seek objections to the faith once delivered to the saints; and they are overcome by them. They trifle with the Gospel; and, at length, they cannot seriously regard it, or feel any impres sion under it: and thus is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive. Give glory to the Lord your God before he cause darkness.
Public calamity is darkness. Was not the Babylonish bondage darkness to the Jews; when their country, the glory of all lands, was desolated; and they carried away captives, and oppressed as slaves, and insulted as a proverb and a by-word? And would not national distress be darkness to us? Some effects of this, we have experienced: but how
inconsiderable have they yet been, compared with the sufferings of other countries, or our own deserts! And is there no danger of greater? If God has a controversy with us, it is in vain to argue-we must submit. If he is provoked and determined to punish, vain is the authority of rulers, the wis dom of statesmen, the courage of warriors. "But he has a people among us." He has and he will take care of his own; but he can secure them, and destroy others. Or even they themselves may help forward, or even occasion the calamity-for no sins offend him like theirs; and they may be chastened of the Lord, that they may not be condemned with the world. When the ship sailed from Joppa, there was only one good man on board; and the storm was for his sake; and the sea could only be calmed by his being cast into it. Give glory to the Lord your God before he cause darkness.
The loss of reason is darkness. And how soon may the understanding be eclipsed! How easily may the slender and mysterious basis, on which intellect rests, be destroyed! See Nebuchadnezzar, eating grass, like an ox. See the philosopher, moping in drivelling idiocy. Religion can only operate through the medium of thought: and, therefore, while you have your mental powers, employ them-lest darkness come upon you.
-The loss of health is darkness. Is it nothing to be made to possess months of vanity? or to have wearisome nights appointed us?-To be chastened, also, with pain upon our bed, and the multitude of our bones with strong pain; so that our life abhorreth bread, and our soul, dainty meat; and our bones, that were not seen, stick out? Yet, on this season, many suspend an attention to the concerns of religion. When thought is broken to pieces; and every avenue to the soul is occupied with the anguish of disease, and the anxieties of recovery; surely sufficient for that day is the evil
thereof. Use your health while you have it, lest darkness come upon you.-The same applies to age. Then desire fails; the grasshopper is a burden; light, and hearing, and memory, and judgment, decline. Remember, therefore, says Solomon, now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.
-Death is darkness. Then you must give up your employments, however interesting; your possessions, however valued; your connexions, however endeared; your religious advantages, however important-and, stripped and silent, retire into the gloom of the grave. This darkness is certain. It cannot be remote. It may be close at hand. There may be but a step between me and death-" before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness, and the shadow of death; a land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness."
- Hell is darkness-outer darkness; where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. The dreadfulness of this state, it is impossible either to describe or imagine. But we know that it is possible to escape it. We also know, that the present is the only opportunity. Behold, now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation. Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness.
Blessed be God, for his long-suffering goodness, and his warning mercy. He might justly have spared his words, and come instantly to blows. But he speaks before he strikes: and he threatens, that he may not destroy. May the kind alarm awaken our fear; and may our fear produce flight; and may we flee for refuge to the hope set before us, even Jesus, who delivers from the wrath to come.