Page images

are intended as figures of the carnal mind, which is enmity against God, which is not reconciled unto the law of God, neither indeed can be. This carnal mind, although found in, and belonging to the inheritance, is doomed to perpetual sterility.

Many of the children of God believe, that those miry places and marishes, intend the hypocrites and reprobates among mankind, and that they are doomed by the eternal purpose of an unchanging God, to endless death! But, alas! where dwelleth the person, who in the presence of God can say, “I am no hypocrite, I am perfect, for I have never in a single point committed a single offence." No individual, acquainted with the magnitude and purity of the divine law, can thus think, can thus make appeal to God; and we know, if we have offended in one point, we are guilty of all. You never hear an Apostle say, “God, I thank thee, I am no hypoorite, no offender, no sinner.” The testimony of Paul is the reverse of this vain boasting. He pronounces himself carnal, sold under sin, and he declares himself the chief of sinners, the least of saints. But many of the professed admirers of our Apostle declare, he did not thus conceive of himself, that he was merely like other good people narrating his experiences.

Alas, for us! Man in his best estate is vanity! Yet the foundation of the Lord standeth sure ; he knows what he hath bought with a price; he is fully acquainted with the nature of his purchase ; he knoweth what price he hath paid for his inheritance, and he will appreciate it accordingly.

But the banks of the river is bordered on either side by trees; the fruit whereof is for meat, and the leaf for medicine; these trees shall bring forth new fruit according to their months, because their waters issued out of the sanctuary; neither shall the leaf of those trees fade, nor the fruit be consumed. Thus shall the hungry be fed, and the invalid restored. Such are the dealings of God with man. He administers food to the hungry, satisfying both the mental and corporeal cravings of his children. He is the good Father, who provideth for his children. He is the physician of value, who preparetli inedicine for their infirmities. He is the alwise lawgiver, who will punish the deviations of his subjects, of his children, with a rod and with stripes, but his punishments are effectual to reform, not to destroy them; and his loving kindness, he will never take away, nor suffer his faithfulness to fail. In one word, the great Lord of the harvest, the Creator of men, will sustain and bless the beings

he has created, and that for his own name sake. Our great Master will do all things well. And in the completion of his all-gracious purposes, with regard to the human family, when the assembled world shall stand before him, then shall every individual be taught of God; and in consequence of this teaching, they will say, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power : for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created. Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood ; yea, every creature which is in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and such as were in the sea, and all that were in them, shall unite to say, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.

I had intended, as I observed, that a cursory view of these holy waters should close

my communications to you, at least for the present; but glancing my eye upon the seventh and eighth verses of the eighth chapter of Isaiah's prophecy, I am forcibly attracted, by a striking contrast to the waters we have been considering; and if you will have patience with me, I will indulge a few reflections upon this subject. Thus run the verses :

“ Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory ; and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks.

“ And he shall pass through Judah, he shall overflow and go over ; he shall reach even to the neck : and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel."

These waters are indeed unholy waters. I have frequently had occasion to observe the use, the spirit of our God makes of water, either in large or small quantities : and water is undoubtedly very explanatory, as a figure of the great purposes of Deity, in providence and grace. We have listened to the teachings of the Spirit, through the instrumentality of the holy waters, issuing from the sanctuary in Ezekiel's vision. We have observed their gradual increase, from a shallow stream, to a river which no man could fathom. The contrast, so strongly marked through the book of God, is worthy of the most serious attention. Two characters are strikingly delineated. He who made the world, who created man, who redeemed the human family, who is the friend of the human

race, and who will preserve it. This is the first character, who is the God-man, the Child born, the Son given, the almighty Father, the Prince of peace, the King of heaven. The other character is the origin, the fabricator of evil, the sower of the tares, the author of confusion, of destruction, the adversary of souls, which, as a roaring lion, he is seeking to devour : such is the malicious, peacedestroying monarch of the infernal regions : such is the God of this world; who, through the sacred writings, exhibits a perfect con trast to the King of heaven.

It is by a careful attention to the distinguishing features of these deeply wrought contrasts, that we learn to separate the precious from the vile. The figurative language of scripture, was indeed the original language. Every part of creation, all things which were made, testify of the Maker. The creature was first exhibited in the image of the Creator-Let us make man in our own image: and he who was from the beginning the adversary of this image of God, seems to have left no effort unessayed for its destruction. He, the devil, is indeed an inveterate foe, and most maliciously industrious to destroy the works of God. It is thus, as I hinted, the contrast is exhibited— The destroyer opposed to the Creator, the enemy to the friend, the prince of darkness to the light of the world : the deceiver who blindeth the mind, to the luminous Spirit which giv, eth light to those who sit in darkness, which translateth the children of darkness from the power of Satan unto God.

Thus, in the early ages, there were prophets of the Lord, and there were false prophets : and oh, how numerous were those false prophets! And, said the Redeemer and his divinely inspired Servant, “ In the latter days there shall arise false Christs, who shall deceive måny; and who, if it were possible, should deceive. the very elect:" but blessed be God, this is not possible, for there, fore were they elected, to be worshippers of the true God, to be standing and abiding witnesses for God, invulnerable to deception.

The head of the adversaries of the children of Israel, was the Assyrian monarch : and what is very extraordinary, this chosen people of God, preferred the waters of the river, the great river, to Shilo, a brook that ran though Jerusalem, the city of God; yea, they thirsted for the waters of the Euphrates, the property of the adversary, choosing it before the refreshing stream which gladdened and fertilized thcir own soil ; and this choice was the source of their destruction ; it rose so high, and spread so wide, that is

extended to the breadth of Immanuel's land, until it reached even to the neck, where it stopped.

This figure appears to me perfect in all its parts For Immanuel's land, I read human nature ; and we know the head of human nature is Christ Jesus. The threatened destruction from the formidable foe, arose no farther than the neck.

This is indeed a most divine figure : do but consider its force. The spirituality of this figure gave utterance to a dying christian, who faithfully sung,

“Christ our head gone up on high,
And we his body are,
All our fears before him fly,
Our each distracting care.
Though we Satan's darts may feel,
His power can never strike us dead;
He may bruise us on the heel,
But cannot reach our head.”

I would not, said the Apostle Paul, have you ignorant of this : Of what? that the head of every man is Christ, lest you should be wise in your own conceit. Now, if Jesus be the head, and the fulness of the nature he assumed, and we are his body, then the body is safe ; for although the waters of the adversary ascended to the neck, they could reach no farther. It is notorious, that if the whole man be immersed in water, even to the neck, if the head be held above water, life is preserved. But reverse the figure, let the head be enveloped in water, and death is the certain consequence. Thus, blessed be God, Jesus is the life, is the head of every man, the life of the whole body : Your life is hid with Christ in God saith the Apostle. He hath said, because I live, ye shall live also ; and when Christ who is our life shall appear, ye also shall appear with him in glory : as one star differeth from another star in glory, so also shall be the resurrection, so also shall be the members of the body of our exalted head..

These are blessed considerations ; eternal praises be to him who hath given us, in this weary land, such abundant consolation. Let us suffer how we may, while we sojourn in this wilderness, we shall rise superior to all the distresses under which we now groan, being burdened; and it should console us to know that the calamities we may, in the present state of things, be called to endure, shall work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

Yes, there is, for the thousandth time I repeat it, another and a better world, where sin and sorrow can never come, where nothing that defileth shall enter. ;

O, for faith and patience to enable us quietly to hope, and patiently to wait for the complete salvation of our God; assuredly our God is faithful, who hath promised !

Is it not easy with God to save us from sin. He, who in the day of his humiliation, could, and did say, I will, be thou clean, can in his state of exaltation say as much, and perform as much, for every member of his mysterious body : we therefore unite with our Apostle, and faithfully say, if we were saved by his death, much more being saved from wrath by him; or, more correctly, Romans, iv. 9, 10. “ Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. But when floods arise the coward soul is too frequently appalled. When deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts; when all thy waves and thy billows pass over the affrighted spirit, even the royal Psalmist is dismayed : yet the Lord will command his loving kindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. I will say unto God my rock, why hast thou forgotten me; why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy, as with a sword in my bones, mine enemies. reproach me, while they say daily unto me, where is thy God? Why art thou cast down O, my soul ; and why art thou disquieted within me ? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. .

Yes, we know who hath said, When thou passeth through the waters I will be with thee, so that the floods shall not drown thee. They may, and as I said, often do terrify us ; and when the river rises very high, even unto the neck, when we conceive ourselves absolutely sinking, we may with Peter cry out, Lord save us or we perish. But Jesus stretched forth his hand to the trembling disciple ; he caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore dost thou doubt? And he conducted him into the ship, and the wind ceased. Thus did Jesus in the figure, and thus he will do in the substance. When the monsters of the deep, when the tyrants of this world rave and rage against us, even as the roaring of the sea, we know that even the winds and the sea obey him.' He will say to the one, peace, to the other, be still ; and observ

« PreviousContinue »