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which faith has to do: and how came we by the glorious liberty of the sons of God; an enerknowledge of them? They are the result of gy--which has drawn them from rebellion to a supernatural communication : “ As it is obedience; from pride to humbleness of mind. written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, from the power of darkness into the kingdom neither have entered into the heart of man of God's dear Son; an energy, which comthe things which God hath prepared for them bines the glory of all our Saviour's miracles: that love him. But God hath revealed them at once opening the eyes of the blind, ununto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit search- stopping the deaf ears, causing the dumb to eth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” sing, the lame to walk, and the dead to live; And what influenced him to send us such an energy-that, in some sense, surpasses the glad tidings of great joy? How often is the creation of the world :—for in producing this, Gospel itself called the grace of God! “The if there was no co-operation, there was no grace of God which bringeth salvation hath resistance; whereas here," the carnal mind appeared unto all men. This is the true is enmity with God, for it is not subject to grace of God wherein ye stand.”
the law of God, neither indeed can be." From this source is also derived the exist- Again. From the same source is derived ence of faith, as a production. This may be the exercise of faith as a principle. This faith inferred from our moral inability, or that state must be exerted in every condition; in prosinto which sin has brought us. Of this the perity, and in adversity : in sickness, and in Scripture gives us a mortifying, but a faith- health; in solitude, and in society; in devoful account. “The heart,” says Jeremiah, tion, and in trade. We are to walk by faith; “is deceitful above all things, and desperately and by faith we are to live. But as there is wicked." And “who," says Job, “can bring nothing of so much importance as this faith, a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one. ." in the whole of our Christian course, there is
When we were without strength,” says the nothing so much opposed, by all the hidden Apostle, “ in due time Christ died for the un-evils of the heart, and all the powers of darkgodly." “ Without me,” says the Saviour, ness. And how is it to be maintained ? “I ** ye can do nothing. No man can come to have prayed for thee,” says our Saviour,“ that me, except the Father which hath sent me thy faith fail not.”. “ Lord,” said the apostles, draw him."
“ increase our faith.” Thus the continuance But we are not left to infer the fact: we and the progress of the principle depend upon have, in the word of God, the most express the same grace which produced it; and He ascriptions of it to a Divine influence. Upon who is the author, is acknowledged also the Peter's profession of faith, our Lord said, finisher of our faith. “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh III. THEY NEED HELP. This they all feel; and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, and this they always feel. They are not but my Father which is in heaven.” And so without fears whether the work is begun in far was this from being peculiar to him, that them; but though they often question the it is said of the Philippians, " To you it is reality of their religion, they never question given on the behalf of Christ, not only to the deficiency. This is too obvious to elude believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake;" the most superficial examination of their and of the Ephesians, “By grace are ye hearts and lives. Paul himself, after all the saved, through faith; and that not of your proficiency he had made in his Christian selves, it is the gift of God.” Connecting course, was not ashamed to say, "I have not yet himself with them, the Apostle speaks of the attained, neither am I already perfect.” The “exceeding greatness of his power to us-Christian feels a deficiency in his knowledge ward who believe, according to the working which requires help. A full and judicious of his mighty power, which he wrought in acquaintance with the things of God is a great Christ, when he raised him from the dead, advantage: but the views of some are very and set him at his own right hand in the limited; the word of Christ does not dwell in heavenly places." What an accumulation them richly in all wisdom. Some have such of terms to express the omnipotent exertion obscure and confused notions, that they reof God! And to what does this exertion re- semble the man under the process of illuminafer? Our final resurrection from the dead? tion, who “looked up, and saw men as trees So the enemies of the present truth would walking." Yet, before this he could see have it—for what power, say they, is neces- nothing; and another application enabled him sary to draw forth our bodies from the tomb, to see every thing clearly. and make them like the Redeemer's own Some ought to be ashamed of the remainglorious body! This is true-But the Apos- ing degree of their ignorance, considering the tle refers to an energy which has already advantages they have enjoyed, and the season operated in believers, and by which they were they have been under tuition. We may made believers; an energy-not which shall address them as our Saviour did his disciples, draw forth their bodies from the corruption " Are ye also yet without understanding ?" of the grave, but which has delivered their Or as Paul did the Hebrews, “ When for the souls from the bondage of corruption, into the time ye ought to be teachers, yc have need that one teach you again which be the first same will apply to every minister of the Gose principles of the oracles of God.”
pel now. The Christian feels a deficiency which re- First. By his prayers. This was done quires help, in his sanctification. He is by his praying with them. How much inrenewed in the spirit of his mind, so as to struction and relief did they often derive delight in the law of God after the inward from his devotional exercises. How encouraman: but “the flesh lusteth against the ging and delightful, to hear their own wants Spirit; and when he would do good, evil is and desires offered up officially, in all the ferpresent with him." His graces are imperfect. your and solemnity of divine worship! But Something is wanting—and oh ! how much- he did not only pray with them, but for to his patience, his love, his hope, his faith. them: and he prayed for them, not only in He is far from being what he ought to be public, but in private. And was this in vain ! in his duties. God demands of him a spirit-" The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous ual worship; but how little of this does he man availeth much." render him, when kneeling at his throne, or Secondly. He helped them much, by preachsitting at his table! He finds too little of the ing. Preaching is an ordinance peculiar to Christian in his temper; too little of the Gos- the Gospel; and it is an ordinance. It would pel in his walk. And yet “what manner be easy to prove that there is a natural suitaof persons ought we to be, in all holy conver- bleness and tendency in preaching to do sation and godliness !"
good: but we are to view it as a divine instiA Christian feels a deficiency in his com- tution, and to infer the blessing from the apfort, that requires help. This arises from the pointment. When the Saviour ascended up former. Injured in his work, and hindered on high he gave gifts unto men; and estain his advancement, he cannot but grieve. It blished the ministry, “ for the edifying of the is inconsistent with his disposition, to see his body of Christ : till we all come in the unity infirmities, and not sigh, “O) wretched man of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son that I am! who shall deliver me from the of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure body of this death?” He is not in the posses- of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Thus sion of his inheritance; but an heir. And an the apostle tells the Romans, “ For I long to "heir, as long as he is a child, differeth no- see you, that I may impart unto you some thing from a servant, though he be lord of spirituał gift, to the end ye may be estaall." How often is his peace interrupted! blished.” And to the Thessalonians he says, How often is he constrained to groan, The Wherefore when we could no longer forenemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath bear, we thought it good to be left at Athens smitten my life down to the ground; he hath alone; and sent Timotheus, our brother, and made me to dwell in darkness, as those that minister of God, and our fellow-labourer in have been long dead. I remembered God, the Gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit comfort you concerning your faith.". Thus was overwhelmed. Will the Lord cast off " faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by for ever ? and will he be favourable no more? the word of God." Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his Every religion, of old, had its rites; and its promise fail for evermore ? Hath God forgot- votaries were accustomed to assemble to ten to be gracious ? hath he in anger shut up gether at stated times and on various occahis tender mercies ?” Whatever the world sions, in their temples and at their altars; may be to others, it is to him a vale of tears. but they never came to receive instruction. In addition to the common troubles of life, he What instruction had their leaders to come has trials peculiar to his religion ; and from municate? What could they publish, with the union of these, “ many are the afflictions the evidence of truth, the force of importance, of the righteous.”
or the joy of hope? But when your minisIV. But ASSISTANCE IS AFFORDED BY THE ters meet you they have every thing that is inMINISTRY OF THE GOSPEL. “Who, when he teresting to announce. They can send you was come, helped them much which had be- help from the sanctuary, and strengthen lieved through grace.” It is necessary, how- you out of Zion.” Their messages are the ever, to observe, that he did this only through savour of life unto life"-you go away new the blessing of God attending his labours. creatures. Which of you has not realized Hear the apostle : Who then is Paul, and the support—the compensation of the prophet: who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye Though the Lord give you the bread of adbelieved, even as the Lord gave to every versity, and the water of affliction, yet shall man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but not thy teachers be removed into a corner God gave the increase. So then neither is any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachhe that planteth any thing, neither he that ers: and thine ears shall hear a word behind watereth; but God that giveth the increase." thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, This being premised, we remark that Apollos when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye helped the believers three ways: and the turn to the left."
Thirdly. He instructed them by example. I unto victory.”—Despise it not in yourselves. Example illustrates and confirms and enfor- The life of God is progressive, and the comces doctrine; and is deservedly said to be mencement is often no more to the complemore influential than precept. And though tion than the mustard seed to the mustard we ought to consider what is said, rather than tree. That you are not what you ought to who says it, yet it is not in the power of hu- be, should humble you; that you are not what man nature to disregard the practice of a you would be, should stimulate you; but that moral and religious instructer: and a drunk- you are not what you once were, should enard is not likely to preach with effect against courage you. The dawn and the blade are intemperance; or one that is greedy of gain, too precious to be disregarded: they are not against covetousness. The physician is not only beginnings, but pledges : that blade shall likely to gain the confidence and submission become the full corn in the ear; and that of the patient, when he prescribes for a dis- dawn shall shine more and more unto the ease under which he labours himself—but perfect day. “Being confident of this very will be reminded of the proverb, “ Physician, thing, that he which hath begun a good work heal thyself." Therefore says Paul to his son in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Timothy,“ Let no man despise thy youth; but Christ.” be thou an example of the believers in word, Fourthly. Pity those who are destitute of in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, your religious advantages. Many of your in purity.” And of Levi, says God, “My cove- fellow-creatures have not even a Bible, nant was with him of life and peace; and IOthers are destitute of a gospel ministry. gave them to him for the fear wherewith he By their condition they cry, “Come and help feared me, and was afraid before my name. us.” They would be thankful for the crumbs The law of truth was in his mouth, and ini- which fall from your spiritual table; and quity was not found in his lips: he walked would go any distance, and make any sacriwith me in peace and equity, and did turn fices, to hear with rapture—what you often many away from iniquity."
attend upon with indifference. To conclude. Suffer me, First, to ask the Finally. Be grateful for the privileges you question which our Lord addressed to the enjoy, and be concerned properly to improve man born blind, “ Dost thou believe on the them. Attend regularly and conscientiously Son of God ?" Do not put off, or elude this in- the pastor who feeds you with knowledge quiry, which is pressed, purely from a regard and understanding. Laying aside all mato your everlasting welfare. It is of infinite lice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and enimportance to each of you. The salvation or vies, and all evil speakings, as new born damnation of the soul depends upon it. It is babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, useless to attend to other things, while you that ye may grow thereby; if so ye have overlook the state you are in before God. tasted that the Lord is gracious.” Repair to “Ile that believeth on the Son hath everlast- the house of God, influenced by the coming life: and he that believeth not the Son mand, “ Forsake not the assembling of yourshall not see life; but the wrath of God abid- selves together, as the manner of some is.” eth on him."
Go with lively expectation, founded on the Secondly. If faith comes from the grace promises upon which he has caused you to of God, they are mistaken who place it in the hope. “I will abundantly bless her provision : virtue of man. And such there are: but you I will satisfy her poor with bread. I will have not so learned Christ. All men have also clothe her priests with salvation; and not faith: you were once destitute ; and if her saints shall shout aloud for joy. Even now enriched with the benefit, you are not the youths shall faint and be weary, and the at a loss to determine how you obtained it. young men shall utterly fall: but they that You disclaim your own goodness and power, wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; and exclaim, “ By the grace of God, I am they shall mount up with wings as eagles ; what I am." Let the same truth which ex- they shall run, and not be weary; and they cludes boasting prevent despair. Let it en- shall walk, and not faint.” courage the hope of those who fear they are strangers to this precious faith, and let it guide their application. Let it also lead those
DISCOURSE XCIV. to the God of all grace who desire an increase -praying like the father of the child, who "cried out with tears, Lord, I believe, help THE STAR GUIDING THE WISE MEN thou my unbelief." Thirdly. Do not despise the day of small
TO THE BABE IN BETHLEHEM. things. Despise it not in others. Observe Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of and cherish every serious conviction, every Judæa in the days of Herod the king, bepious sentiment; and resemble Him who does
hold, there came wise men from the east to « not break a bruised reed, or quench the Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born smoking Alax; but brings forth judgment | King of the Jews ? for we have seen his
star in the east, and are come to worship Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the him.Matt. ii. 1, 2.
days of Herod the king, behold, there came
wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, In the productions of Jehovah we behold Where is he that is born King of the Jews! immensity and minuteness; complexness and for we have seen his star in the east, and are simplicity; obscurity and luminousness; an come to worship him?" effulgence that dazzles and repels, and a soft- Various questions might be asked concernness that composes and allures. If this being these wise men, which it is not in our true of the wonders of creation, it equally ap- power to answer.
We could entertain you, plies to the work of redemption; and shows indeed, with the opinions of the learned conus that nature and grace have one and the cerning their profession, the country from same Author. If we examine the character which they came, and the star which guided and the history of our Lord and Saviour, we them. But we hasten to make a practical shall discern a marvellous union of grandeur improvement of the subject, only remarkand humility; of independence and subjec-ing, with as much brevity as possible, two tion; of indigence and riches. Observe his or three things, in explanation of the passage. death. He suffers every kind of indignity; When it is said, “We have seen his star he is scourged, buffeted, spit upon, numbered in the east,” you are not to suppose that they with transgressors, crucified through weak- saw the star shining in an easterly direction,
But the sun is enveloped in darkness, for it appeared to them in the very opposite the earth shakes, the rocks rend, the graves quarter; and the words mark, not the situaopen, the dead arise: the centurion exclaims, tion of the object, but of the spectators, when “ Surely this man was the Son of God;" the they viewed it. dying thief adores him as the disposer of the What is called a star could not mean any heavenly world; and cries, “ Lord, remember thing like those heavenly bodies which go me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” See under this name; but a luminous meteor in him in the ship. He sleeps—there is his in the middle region of the air; near enough to firmity. He awakes, and rebukes the wind and guide them, and at last dropping down so low, the sea--there is his omnipotence. Weary as even to signalize the very house which with his journey, he sits at the well of Sy- contained the child. char, and asks for a cup of cold water-but at It is worthy of notice, that by a similar the same time, proclaims himself the Giver instrument, God formerly conducted his peo of the water of eternal life.
ple through the wilderness. It was by a Nothing could be more expressive of the pillar of fire he led them to the holy hill of deepest abasement than the circumstances Zion. of his birth. To read the narrative is enough But how could they infer, from this celesto scandalize all the worshippers of the god tial appearance, that the King of the Jews of this world. “ She brought forth her first- was born? What relation was there between born son, and wrapped him in swaddling the sign and the event? All mankind oriclothes, and laid him in a manger; because ginally had a revelation in the family of there was no room for them in the inn." But Noah, by whom the new world was peopled; the period of his birth is called the fulness and imperfect traces of it were found many of time. All heaven is awakened by it. One ages after in the various nations of the globe. angel of the Lord appears to Joseph, and in- And though this revelation, as secured in forms him of the dignity of the child. Ano-writing, was committed to the Jews, it was ther flies to the shepherds in the fields, and not confined to them. Copies were occaeries, “ Fear not; for, behold, I bring you sionally taken away by foreigners, as objects good tidings of great joy, which shall be to of research, and even of religious information. all people.” When, lo! " a multitude of the Thus, we know, the queen of Sheba came to heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory prove Solomon with hard questions, when to God in the highest, and on earth peace, she heard of his “ fame concerning the name good will toward men.” The Spirit of in- of the Lord.” Also, by the dispersion of the spiration, after a lapse of ages, rests upon Jews, their scriptures were scattered, and Simeon and Anna; and they prophesy. Some their prophecies as well as miracles were are waiting for the Consolation of Israel, read; so that a general expectation was exand looking for redemption in Jerusalem; cited in the east of the birth of some very and embrace him with a joy that loosens all extraordinary character. It is needless to the ties of life.
adduce proof of this; but we may observe, But in him, as the seed of Abraham, “all that Balaam, who was himself from the east, the families of the earth" were to be blessed. had predicted the Messiah under the very He was to be “a light to lighten the Gen- image of a star. But as the case before us tiles,” as well as “the glory of his people Is- was confessedly supernatural, why may we rael.” And behold a star appearing to per- not extend the miracle a little further, and sons in a remote clime, and leading strangers suppose, that while the sign engaged their in search of the infant Messiah. “ Now when attention God impressed their minds with a
conviction of its relation and design. Could | of low estate. There have always been some not he do this as easily as he afterwards who have vanquished the difficulties of their “ warned them in a dream," that they should station; and “going forth without the camp," not return to Herod, but go back into their have thrown down their distinctions at the country by another way?
foot of the cross, glad to part with all to pur He was born King of the Jews. This chase the pearl of great price. Zaccheus was awakened the alarm of Herod—but it was rich. Joseph of Arimathæa was a counsellor. needless; though a king, he was not a tem- Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews. We poral prince. In this character the Jews looked read of a nobleman "who believed, with all for him, and, not finding in him a hero who his house;" and " of honourable women, not a should deliver them from the Roman yoke, few.” A man who feared God rode - in the they despised and rejected him. But he had second chariot of Egypt. A prime minister other enemies to conquer, and another em- of one hundred and twenty-seven provinces pire to gain. “ Jesus answered, My kingdom prayed three times a day. Kings have been is not of this world. If my kingdom were of nursing fathers, and queens nursing mothers. this world, then would my servants fight, And as to talent, we are able to bring forward that I should not be delivered to the Jews: on the side of Christianity persons superior in but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pi- every department of genius and science to its late therefore said unto him, Art thou a king adversaries. then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I By all of which we do not mean to intiam a king. To this end was I born, and formate that the great bring any real honour to this cause came I into the world, that I should the Gospel by embracing it—though they bear witness unto the truth. Every one that derive honour from it—but we wish to show is of the truth heareth my voice.”
what the power of Divine grace can accomBut let us offer a few remarks upon this plish; to rescue from despair the minds of subject; “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, those who are placed among the perils of elefor correction, and instruction in righteous- vation ; and to remove the prejudice so often
CHRIST IS OWNED BY SOME IN THE entertained, that Christianity is only limited HIGHER ORDERS OF LIFE—THEY WHO ARE to the taste of the vulgar, the illiterate, and REALLY DESIROUS OF FINDING HIM SHALL NOT the ignorant. ERR FOR WANT OF DIRECTION WE SHOULD II. THEY WHO ARE DESIROUS OF FINDING DEEM NO DIFFICULTIES TOO GREAT TO EN- CHRIST WILL NOT MISS HIM FOR WANT or
DIRECTION. “I will bring the blind by a way TO BE CONCERNED TO HONOUR CHRIST, AS that they knew not; I will lead them in paths
that they have not known; I will make darkI. CHRIST IS OWNED BY SOME IN THE ness light before them, and crooked things
"Not many wise straight; these things will I do unto them, men after the flesh, not many mighty, not and not forsake them. In all thy ways acmany noble are called; but God hath chosen knowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” the foolish things of the world to confound And is he unable to accomplish what he has the wise; and God hath chosen the weak promised ? In how many ways can we ourthings of the world to confound the things selves convey information to a fellow-creathat are mighty; and base things of the world, ture, even when no audible voice is heard ! and things that are despised, hath God chosen; And how limited is human perfection : " To yea, and things which are not, to bring to whom,” says God, “ will ye liken me, or shall nought things that are.
.” Such are they who I be equal, saith the Holy One? He that have generally constituted the majority of planted the ear, shall not he hear? He that our Lord's followers. His more immediate formed the eye, shall not he see?” He who disciples, when he was on earth, were Gali- made us has access to every power of our leans, fishermen, publicans, and sinners. This souls. He who governs us has all the rewas urged as a reproach by his adversaries: sources of nature and providence at his com• Have any of the rulers, or of the Pharisees, mand. He who saves us can turn any object believed on him?—But this people who or event into an instrument to fulfil the purknoweth not the law are cursed.” And the poses of his grace. Let us leave the poor same matter of offence has attended his cause heathen to Him who could make a star to in all ages. Had we the disposition of the conduct those who were destitute of a Bible; Son of God, instead of being scandalized and who, without the intervention of a preachat such a dispensation, we should more than er, could convey to their minds a knowledge acquiesce in it; we should rejoice in spirit, of the use of it; and let us not limit the Holy and say, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of One of Israel either in his love, his power, or heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these his wisdom. And let us remark, that where things from the wise and prudent, and re- common means are withholden, God often has vealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: recourse to unusual ones. “ Faith cometh by for so it seemed good in thy sight." But his hearing :" yet it is reasonable to hope that he followers are not taken exclusively from those has awakened many who were never blessed
COUNTER IN SEEKING AFTER HIM
WELL AS TO BE SAVED BY HIM.
HIGHER ORDERS OF LIFE.