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will further say, the language upon this occasion is extremely nato ural. As though this same elder brother had said, When our nature fell, you did not sacrifice even a kid, that I might make merry
with my friends, and yet hath not my obedience been unremitted ? Lo, these many years have I served thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandments, but as soon as this thy son hath returned, who scrupled not to devour thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf! But the gracious, the parental Deity, kindly passeth over this, I had almost said insolent language; he is still the Father, and the God. Son, thou art always with me, and all that I have is thine ; and then, as if he would apologize for, or vindicate his conduct, he says, It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad, for this thy brother was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found.
We are told in the fourth chapter, and eighteenth verse of the book of Job, and the Temanite introduceth his information with a note of admiration, “ Behold! God puts no trust in his servants; and his angels he chargeth with folly."
In fact, there is but one infinitely wise and perfect Being, and it is by communicating with this one, pure source of divine wisdom and goodness, that intelligent beings derive any thing virtuous, lovely, or desirable. Let this divine luminary withdraw the light of his countenance, and darkness results; nor saints nor angels possess independent excellence, if either the one, or the other, should be forsaken by their God; the most unthought-of enormities would succeed-Crimes, anguish, gnashing of teeth, and utter despair. No, certainly, there are no independent children in the family of God, either of heavenly or earthly origin: It would be well frequently to recur to this self-evident truth, lest we should err, not knowing the scripture. The Poet observes,
“Aspiring to be Gods the angels fell,
Error then is not only human, it is also angelic; and to forgive is the attribute of Divinity. The mercy of our God is boundless; he will have mercy, on whom he will have mercy. He will do in the armies of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of the earth, as seemeth in his sight good, however his arrangements may appear to us. Parnel, in his beautiful Poem entitled the Hermit, piously says,
" What strange events can strike with more surprise,
I confess there are many things in the sacred volume that I find too wonderful for me. So also in the book of nature, all that we can do is to search diligently the scriptures, assured of one funda- : mental truth, that the offices and complex character of the Redeemer is to the scriptures, what the soul is to the body ; and that without this emphatic name of Jesus, the Bible would be like many other bodies of divinity, rather perplexing than pleasing, rather soul-harrowing than soul-satisfying.
Whatever view of scripture bears on its front the stamp of divinity, that is truth, yea and nay, no man in his senses can believe both the yea and the nay. Persons however dare not say they yield no credence to the word of God; they will listen to commentators anxious to be led into all truth. The grand difficulty is to learn what is to be believed. The only testimony mankind are condemned for not believing, is the testimony of God, which Abraham believed, and which was taught by all God's holy prophets from the beginning of the world, the truth of which is testified by all the scriptures, and to which, blessed be God, every creature on earth, and in heaven, shall ultimately bear witness. Blessed are the people who in this their day are made acquainted with this peace renovating sound, for they walk in the light of God's countenance, and are of course happy. But if we be wrong in the commencement of our career, every step we advance conducts us farther from the mark of the prize of our high calling. The first requisite in genuine religion is to gain an acquaintance with the proper object of religious worship. Acquaint now thyself, saith the Holy Spirit, Acquaint now thyself with God, and be at peacė. Surely an acquaintance with God the Saviour will give peace : indeed were our benign Creator, what some of his unhappy children are taught to consider him, were our Maker our adversary, going about seeking to devour, the more acquaintance we had with him the more wretched we should be, and the farther from peace.
But eternal praises be to the God of all consolation; who is indis. putably the best teacher, both as to precept and example ; he is, and will continue to be the friend of mankind." I listen with rapture while he exhorts his disciples to do good to them from whom they
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received evil ; and with devout adoration I hear him say that by so doing they shall be the children of their Father who is in heaven, who is good to the evil, and to the unthankful. What is the conclusion which this view of an Omnipotent Lawgiver, who is almighty in power, in mercy, and in goodness, forces upon the mind : Shall we not say he will himself be bound by the perfect regulations which in infinite wisdom he hath made ?
This parable seems, in some respects, similar to that of the lost sheep į the ninety and nine are left by the owner who departeth from his habitation in pursuit of the one who had strayed from the fold, and when it is found he layeth it on his shoulders rejoicing. What is this but the Son of God, the Son of Man, bowing the heavens and descending to earth, in pursuit of that which was lost? Who are the ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance ? They could not be human beings, as human beings appear in this our world ; for momenily observation evinceth the truth of the declaration made by the world's Saviour,“ There is none good but God—there is not a just person upon earth, who liveth and sinneth not.”. Eccles. vii. 20. Every human being therefore needeth repentance. Who then were those ninety and nine just persons ? To me it appears plain they were the brethren of the prodigals in human nature, the angels in heaven which the Redeemer left in their native skies when he descended to earth.
I view the good Shepherd coming in search of that which was lost, and never giving over the search until he is crowned by suc
I see him in possession of this lost sheep; he has recovered it; he lays it upon his shoulders and returns home rejoicing. I connect these two parables ; I lift my eyes to the Redeemer er of the world; I see him as the second Man bring home the fulness of the nature, of which he is the head ; and when I see how the Father receives this nature, thus brought home to himself, in its right mind; when I see the best robe, the righteousness of God's righteousness, which is, by the faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all ; when I hear the Father calling to his servants to bring forth the best robe, and to put it upon him ; when I see the emblematic ring placed upon his finger, to intimate their never ending union; when I behold the shoes placed upon his feet, that he may be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace ; when I hear the orders given to bring forth the fatted calf, and hear him
“ It is meet that we make merry and be glad ;" when I listen
to the reason which is rendered, “ For this my Son was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found,” every faculty of my
soul rejoiceth with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Yes, it is a blessed consideration that in Christ Jesus, Jew and Gentile are made one, united unto God. Thus the Apostle to the Ephesians, ii. 13, to the close.
“ But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were afar off are · made nigh by the blood of Christ.
“ For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us ;
“ Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances ; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace ;
“ And that he might reconcile both unto God in oné body by the cross, having slain the enemy thereby ;
“ And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
6 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
“ Now, therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens, with the saints, and of the household of God ;
“ And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone :
“ In whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord :
« In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
This is the abiding place of our God; here, as in the temple of old, he fixeth his residence.
But these considerations are subjects of faith, not sense.: for faith is the evidence of things not scen. I should not have known that in six days God made the world, &c. &e. had not God, by the mouth of his servant Moses, given me this information. But I have believed the report of Moses, and it has become in my established fact. But
suppose I had never heard this report, or hearing it, had not believed it, would it have therefore followed that it was not true? Does our believing any testimony give it the stamp of truth ? you know it does not ; neither in respect to things spiritual, nor things temporal. We might adduce a thousand instances to prove this,
which, however, would be unnecessary : common sense will decidedly pronounce that truth can never depend upon its reception, or rejection. It is not apparent to our senses, that we had either life or death in the first Adam ; yet to this proposition we yield a ready assent. We do not hesitate to acknowledge that in Adam all die ; it is only the succeeding declaration we refuse to credit : and with the true spirit of infidelity we ask, How can all be made alive in the second Adam ? Yet surely an existence, death and life, is at least as reasonable in the second as in the first Adam, but not so congenial to the feelings of human nature ; for alas, misery and destruction are in our paths! I recollect once mingling with an audience, who were returning from church. Did you ever hear such a preacher ? said one to another. Excellent, heave surely the torments of the damned were never before so beautifully displayed.
It is a truth, and a melancholy truth, that mankind dwell with more delight upon the destruction, than the restoration of their species ; and if they themselves, and those they best love, be but secure from the evils incident to humanity, they can listen with mighty composure to a tale of horror. The Iliad of Homer, separate from its poetical merit, is preferred to the Odyssy ; and Milton's Paradise lost, to his Paradise Regained. In short, every thing we see or hear serves to corroborate the truth of the divine testimony ;- a truth to which we are frequently under the necessity of recurring. Misery and destruction are in their paths, and the way of peace they have not known. Indeed, none but God himself can make himself manifest. No man can know the things of God, but by the spirit of God; and we can never tire in repeating a passage which has ever possessed a charm, capable of lulling the most pungent sorrow which can ever assail the heart of a genuine believer in Christ Jesus, viz. “ They shall be all taught of God : all who learn of the Father come unto me," saith the world's Sa. viour; “ and whosoever cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.”
Thus, if the gospel be true, and every faculty of my soul ac, knowledges its authenticity, all souls belonging to the Father, belong also to the Son ; and, saith the Son, “ All that the Father giveth unto me shall come unto me." All the families of the earth constitute the fulness of the body of our Lord, for it pleased the Father that in him all fulness should dwell. In Christ Jesus is' found all truth, The truth as it is in Jesus, is the grand security or