« 上一頁繼續 »
they will be cut off from "the resurrection of life;" and before the assembled world, they will hear the Judge irreversibly excluding them from himself, the source of all happiness-" Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels."
Dreadful as the ruin is, there is nothing in it to alarm the praying and persevering believer. He will have no share in it. The vengeance that falls and crushes the foe, will not-cannot touch the friend. He will only be a spectator; and strange as it may now seem, the sight will not affect his happiness. But is it necessary to go further; and represent it as a source of pleasure and delight? Surely it is enough that he will see it, and adore the mercy that graciously saved him; and acquiesce in the justice that righteously condemns others.
As the saint will only see the destruction of the sinner; so the wicked will see the salvation of the righteous, and not partake of it. But to see such a blessedness; to see what was once within his own reach, and is now enjoyed by others-must be a source of the keenest anguish. Such was the display of plenty to the interdicted nobleman at the gate of Samaria: "Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes: but thou shalt not eat thereof." And we know who has said, "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out."
AUG. 24.-"Smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered; and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones." Zech. xiii. 7.
We know who this Shepherd was. of him, in the former part of the verse, as "his
fellow;" and calls him "his Shepherd." He was God's Shepherd, because he appointed him to take the charge of his Church, and to perform, on their behalf, all the duties implied in the pastoral office. Hence it was foretold of him, "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." This character the Saviour applied to himself, with an attribute of distinction: "I am the good Shepherd." Paul styles him, "That great Shepherd of the sheep." Peter calls him, "The chief Shepherd"-and, "The Shepherd and Bishop of souls"-Let the language of my heart be-"Tell me, O Thou, whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon.
"Tis there, with the lambs of thy flock,
'Nor ever a moment depart;
-He was to be "smitten." "smitten." Every one that enters this vale of tears is a sufferer. But he was "a man of sorrows;" and could say "Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger." For, though he suffered from devils, who had their hour and power of darkness; and though he suffered from men-for, against him, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together-yet it was only to do whatsoever his hand and his counsel determined before to be done. It pleased the Lord to bruise him: he put him to grief.
When, therefore, the Jews esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted, they were right in the fact, but mistaken in the cause. They supposed he suffered for guilt; and so he did-but the guilt was not his own. "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." Here let me contemplate the evil of sin in the sufferings of this Divine Victim. And here let me dwell on that love, which passeth knowledge, that led him, all-innocent as he was, voluntarily to become a sacrifice on our behalf; and to suffer, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us unto God. The glory of the Gospel; the hope of the sinner; the triumph of the believer-all lies here"It is Christ that died."
-It was a sad thing that his own disciples should abandon him, at the very moment he was going to die for them, and after all their professions of determined adherence to him-But when the Shepherd was smitten, "the sheep were scattered." In this desertion, he was not taken by surprise; for he had previously said, "Behold the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone." Yet how much he felt it, may be inferred from his lamentation and complaint: "I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforter, but I found none"Let not his people count it a strange thing, if they are betrayed or forsaken-It should remind them of the fellowship of his sufferings.
But behold an instance of forgiving mercy and renewing grace-" And I will turn mine hand upon the little ones." His disciples were little in the eyes of the world; and less in their own. They were few in number, and poor in condition. They were weak in faith and fortitude-and were now dismayed, and desponding. But he did not give them over unto death.
He knew their frame; he remembered that they were dust. As soon as he was risen from the dead, he appeared to them--not clothed in terror; but saying, "Peace be unto you." He exerted again the powerful influence of his Holy Spirit; and renewed them again unto repentance. He established their faith and hope. He gave them enlarged views, and fresh courage so that they were ready to suffer and die for his Name.
"His heart is made of tenderness-
A bruised reed will he not break; and smoking flax will he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his Name shall the Gentiles
AUG. 25.-" O thou that hearest prayer! unto thee shall all flesh come." Psalm lxv. 2.
We have no claims upon God; and are not worthy of the least of all his mercies. It is therefore surprising that he should hear prayer at all. But he glories in it; and by nothing is he so much distinguished: he derives his fame, his character, from it-"O Thou that hearest prayer!"
And we need not wonder at this, when we consider -How constantly he has heard prayer; even ever since men began to call upon the Name of the Lord.-And how many prayers he has heard. If we are to pray without ceasing, the prayers of one individual, will be very numerous. What, then, is the aggregate multitude, that has been offered by all the millions that ever sought his face!-And how largely he answers prayer-giving grace and glory, and withholding no
good thing pertaining to life and godliness.-And how readily he answers prayer: "Before they call,” say he, "I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."-And how certainly he hears prayer. We have his promises, which are firmer than the earth and the heavens. It may not be easy to ascertain when, or how, he answers us, as the God of our salvation: but this we know, that he cannot deny us, without denying himself. He cannot lie-and he has said, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you for every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.'
What should be the influence of this glorious truth? "Unto Thee shall all flesh come." If these words had stood separately, we should have taken them as affirming, that all flesh would come to him at the last day to be judged. But the reference is not to God on the judgment-seat, but on the mercyseat and it is well that we can kneel at the latter, before we stand at the former.-The meaning is, that men shall seek to him in prayer. And not some, but many. Not many, but all. Surely here is nothing less than a prophecy of the calling of the Gentiles. Not only shall the seed of Jacob, his chosen, seek unto him; but those also that were strangers to the commonwealth of Israel, and without God in the world, crying only unto idols that could not save. The Jews, in later times, were carnal, and selfish, and averse to the extension of their privileges: but the more ancient and spiritual of their nation rejoiced in the prospect of it; and they had intimations from the beginning, that the Gentiles, also, should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of the promise of Christ, by the Gospel-"All nations whom Thou hast made, shall come and worship before thee." "My house shall be called the house of prayer for all people."