Page images

did, when we were of these years; methinks I still re member the old fervour of my young pastimes. With what eagerness and passion do they pursue these childish sports; now that there is a whole handfull of cherry stones at the stake, how near is that boy's heart to his mouth, for fear of his play-fellow's next cast! and how exalted with desire and hope of his own speed; those great unthrifts who hazard whole manors upon the dice cannot expect their chance with more earnestness, or entertain it with more joy or grief. We cannot but now smile to think of these poor and foolish pleasures of our childhood; there is no less disdain that the regenerate man conceives of the dearest delights of his natural condition; he was once jolly and jocund, in the fruition of the world ; feasts and revels, and games, and dalliance were his life; and no man could be happy without these; and scarcely any man but himself; but when once grace hath made him both good and wise, how scornfully doth he look back at these fond foolish felicities of his carnal estate! Now he finds more manly, more divine contentments; and wonders he could be so transported with his former vanity. Pleasures are much, according as they are esteemed; one man's delight is another man's pain; only spiritual and heavenly things can settle and satiate the heart with a full and firm contentment. O God, thou art not capable either of bettering, or of change ; let me enjoy thee, and I shall pity the miserable fickleness of those that want thee; and shall be sure to be constantly happy.



How these flies swarm to the galled part of this poor

and there sit feeding upon that worst piece of his flesh, not meddling with the other sound parts of his skin; even thus do malicious tongues of detractors; if a man have any infirmity in his person or actions, that they will be sure to gather unto, and dwell upon : whereas his commendable parts, and well-deservings are passed by, without mention, without regard ; it is an envious self-love, and base cruelty that causeth this ill disposition in men; in the mean time, this only they have gained, it must needs be a filthy creature, that feeds upon nothing but corruption.

Bp. Hall.

IT IS THE LORD." HOW precious and supporting to the fainting heart of the tried believer, in times of temporal as well as spiritual affliction, are the words “ It is the Lord : let him do what seemeth him good !” “ It is the Lord, his will, his act, yea more, his mercy and his love, that visits us with the rod of correction; and the acting parties, by whom to the eye of sense our sorrows come, are but instruments in his hands, and agents of his appointing, who are working to serve those whom in his tender compassion he is thus leading to himself. “ Let him do what seemeth him good;" yea, what he wills let us will, fully convinced that his will is righteous, holy, just, and good; and that though the way in which we are called to walk may seem at times rough and trying, we are guided by One whose dealings towards us are very gracious. Hereafter we shall know he hath not done in vain all that he hath done, but that every apparent cross dispensation was

but another link in that chain of mysterious providences by which our God and Father, our

reconciled God in Christ,” was drawing us from earthly pleasures and vanities, to the contemplation of Him who is our only soul-satisfying portion.

We must all pass through trials. May it be our happiness by faith to see the love of our heavenly Father inscribed

them all.

D. B.

[ocr errors]

“WHAT IS MAN?”—Job vii. 17. AS if Job had said, Man hath nothing of his own to commend him to, or to ingratiate himself with God. God hath put something upon him, he hath magnified man, and given him a real worth, because he would. Free grace exalts man. Hence the Psalmist prays, Let the heathen know themselves to be but men, Psa. ix. 19, 20. As if he had said, man who is high in his own esteem, conceits himself to be somewhat above man; he judges of himself beyond his own sphere and border. Therefore, Lord, bring their thoughts within the compass of their own condition: “ Let them know that they are but men.” A man that is acquainted with himself, will be humble enough; a mere man is but mere earth. The prophet tells him so thrice over with one breath. “ O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord,” Jer. xxii. 29. Man is earth, in the constitution of his body, that was framed out of the earth : he is earthly in the corruption of his mind, that mind is in the earth. The apostle's style is, “earthly-minded men.” And man will be earth in his dissolution; when he dies he returns to his earth. A natural nan is earth all over; earth in his making, earthly in his mind, his spirit is earthly. Earth gets into his heaven, his upper regions; and the body, his lower region, shall moulder to earth again. Then, what is man? Hence, I say, it is, that when man would at any time exalt and lift himself up, he thinks himself above man; he hath some notion or apprehension of an excellency beyond the line of a creature; he conceits he hath or is a piece of a deity. The first ground of hope upon which man raised himself against God, was, that he might be a god; he was not satisfied in being made like unto God, he would be—which was the highest robbery-God's equal, and stand by himself: this thought was his fall. There is such a principle of pride in the hearts of all men by nature. They are not contented in the sphere of a creature, they would be somewhat beyond that. The truth is, all the true worth and dignity of man, is in what he hath beyond himself, his excellency is in Christ, and his glory, in being made a partaker of the Divine nature. It abased man, when he aspired to take a Divine nature to himself; but it exalts man, when God inspires him with a participation of the Divine nature. What is man that thou dost thus magnify him? Christ makes us ' very great and glorious, by the dignity which he puts upon us : as he tells the church, “ Thy beauty was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee,” Ezek. xvi. 14; thou hadst no comeliness, no beauty of thine own, but through my comeliness thou art very beautiful. The worth of man is out of himself; the church shines by those rays, by that lustre, which Christ casts upon her.


CALLS OF USEFULNESS. A call on one accustomed to complain of God's dealings

with him. Visitor. JAMES, you look a little out of sorts this morn

[ocr errors]

ing; what is the matter with you? I have been reading my Bible, and walking in the fields, and my spirit has been rejoicing in God's goodness, manifested alike in his word and his creation. Doubtless, there is much of trouble in the world, but there is much of mercy also, enough, as my uncle Barnabas used to say, to make a man rejoice all day, and sing in the night.”

James. I can't see things as you do. ou are always hopeful, and I am always full of fears.

Visitor. The more is the pity, that you cannot discern the goodness of God more clearly.

An old gentlemen, a good friend of mine, was accustomed to use a reading glass, his sight being very defective. One day when in company, he pulled out his glass, wiped it very carefully, and laid it on the table before him. Soon after this, a little girl, who was in the room, took up the reading glass, out of curiosity, unseen by the old gentleman, and smeared it all over with her greasy fingers, having been eating bread and butter; the glass was then put again on the table.

It was not long before some drawings were produced, when my friend, having a taste for such things, took up his glass to examine them.

What the company called a beautiful flower-piece seemed to him to be mere blotches of red, blue, yellow, and green. What they considered to be a fine head, he could make neither head nor tail of; and what all pronounced to be one of the finest landscapes they had ever seen, appeared in his eyes a jumbling together of odds and ends, somewhat resembling the map

of the world. Being free spoken man, he expressed his unfavourable opinion of the drawings, to the no small surprise and disappointment of the company. No one could account for his dislike of the drawings, until a friend at his right hand requested to be permitted to look through his reading glass, when the affair was explained, to the amusement of all. Ay, my friends, said the old gentleman, shaking his head, no wonder that the drawings should appear to me to be defective, the mistake that I have just fallen into is too common in the world, especially with regard to the things of God. We look at his creation, his word, and his dealings with us, through our own defective sight, and we blame that as confusion and deformity, which is in truth all order and beauty. Our natural sight is like

my besmeared reading glass, and a spiritual discernment resembles the same when cleared from its imperfections. May we all seek for grace to discern things aright, that we may no longer see “ through a glass, darkly," but clearly distinguish the things that belong to our peace, even the love of the Father and of his Son Jesus Christ.

I will leave you to ponder on the observations of the old gentleman, James, for as they have been of some use to me, they may be of some advantage to you also.

Call on a Passionate Young Person. What Robert! is that you giving way to such an ungovernable passion! If you could only see your own face, it would be enough to frighten you. Oh, how unlovely is the human form when distorted with passion! I heard you storming at your sister when I was half a dozen doors off. The words which have been spoken, and the deeds that have been done, when under the influence of sudden passion, are truly terrible. If God were to judge you as severely as you are disposed to judge your sister, how would you endure his punishments ? I had rather see your face rubbed over with soot, than deformed and clouded with such deadly ragan

“ Fierce is the eagle in his pride,

The vulture in the air,
The tiger in the forest wide,

The lion in his lair;
“ But birds of prey and savage beasts

Are not so fierce and fell,
In all their rage, as human breasts

Where evil passions dwell.” He who rides an unbroken or a vicious horse had need hold him in with a strong hand and a tight rein, to prevent his neck from being broken : but he who is carried away by strong and unbridled passions, will, most likely, one day or other, be thrown over a precipice. “ When a Christian gives way to sinful passions, he dishonours his profession, grieves the Spirit of God, and makes sport for infernal spirits. Be not overcome of evil.” You are old enough to know the consequences of this terrible sin. Every year it will get stronger hold upon you, and within you, if not

« PreviousContinue »