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Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified | strength." Here is a foundation that will unto me, and I unto the world."
not give way, a resource that cannot fail. And here we learn what is our duty: it isnot to hesitate, not to wait for fresh evidence and assurance-but to believe what God has spoken, to take him at his word, and to venture upon his engagements. In doing this, we run no manner of risk: his word is called "the faithful word;" it is said also to be "a tried word;" and those who have tried it most, have the firmest persuasion of its truth.
Now this staying of the mind on God, secondly, "keeps it in peace." It does this, not only as it insures the Divine blessingfor God will honour them that honour him, and by nothing is he so much glorified as by our reliance upon him-but also by a natural influence and tendency. Let us specify a few instances in which this confidence tranquillizes the mind.
This alone can calm the mind when conNow Isaiah tells us how we may obtain vinced of sin, and searching in dreadful disand preserve a blessed composure in a miser-tress for pardon. "We which have believed," able world. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect says the Apostle, "do enter into rest." "I peace, whose mind is stayed on thee." These am guilty," cries the awakened sinner; "but words require some explanatory remarks, and my condition is not desperate." "I wait for will furnish us with some practical reflections. the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word In explaining these words, it may be neces- do I hope." I hear a voice saying, "Behold sary to inquire, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." Here is something to stay the mind upon. He "died for the ungodly;" and such am I. Yea more, he invites "all that labour and are heavy laden to come to him," and promises to give them "rest"-and "mine iniquities are a burden too heavy for me to bear," and I sigh and groan, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Sometimes this confidence is very feeble; it scarcely amounts to a probabilityit is merely a kind of peradventure-"who can tell?"-I may succeed. But even this is attended with some effect. Like a twig to a sinking man, it serves to keep his head above water, until something else can be brought strong enough to help him ashore. Or, to vary the image, it will keep him from giving up in despair the use of means and of prayer. "I will hang upon him till he shakes me off. If he drives me back, it is nothing more than I deserve-but I will not go back. If he is pleased to kill me, I shall have no right to complain-but I will not be my own murderer. If I perish, I perish;' but here I will die." In other cases this confidence
First, What we are to understand by staying the mind on God. And to this we answer, that it simply means, relying upon him or trusting in him. Man is an indigent and a dependent creature. He is not equal to his own happiness; he feels a thousand necessities which he cannot supply from his own stores; he therefore goes abroad for succour, and looks after something to lean on-and as the world always stands nearest, upon this he always leans first. And though he finds it to be a "broken reed," which disappoints his hope, and "pierces him through with many sorrows," he returns to this miserable dependence again and again, till Divine grace brings him to his proper rest, and enables him to say —“Now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee." And thus are fulfilled the words of the prophet: "It shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God."
CONFIDENCE IN GOD COMPOSING
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.-Isaiah xxvi. 3.
In many things people differ widely from each other, but in one thing they are agreed -they all wish for satisfaction, they all desire inward tranquillity. And indeed what is every thing else without this? What is ease of circumstances, and even health of body, if the mind be perplexed, distracted, tormented? "The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?"
Now that which, in these cases, we stay the mind upon, is the word of God-consist- rises higher; and however unworthy and ing of information and promises-revealing helpless the man feels himself to be, he is his goodness and his all-sufficiency-offering persuaded that God will receive him gracioushimself as our portion, and even commanding ly, and in due time appear to his joy. In us to depend upon him. Accordingly it is consequence of this, agitation and terror subsaid, "Trust in him at all times; ye people, side, and he "both hopes and quietly waits pour out your hearts before him: God is a re- for the salvation of the Lord." fuge for us. Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting
This confidence also calms the mind under delays. To pray, and receive no answer; to
stand knocking—not, like other beggars, for to direct his steps." After repeated decepa few moments, but from day to day, and from tions, both on the side of our hopes and fears; week to week, and see no opening-this is after many embarrassments into which our truly discouraging and the danger is, lest folly and rashness had plunged us, or to which we should withdraw, saying, with the unbe- they had exposed us; we begin to say, in lieving nobleman, "Why should I wait for earnest, "The Lord shall choose our inheritthe Lord any longer?" But "he that believ-ance for us. I have now done. Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself as a child that is weaned of his mother; my soul is even as a weaned child."
eth maketh not haste." He will say-God is a sovereign, I have no claims upon him-a delay is no refusal-perhaps he has answered me already, and I have a substitute for the blessing implored-however this may be, of one thing lam certain, I must succeed at last: "He never said to the seed of Jacob, seek ye me, in vain."-Hence springs "the patience of hope."
But the peace that flows from this trust in God is, thirdly, said to be perfect. It is not indeed absolutely so, as if it were incapable of addition-but it is so, first, comparatively. What is every other peace to this? What is the delusion of the Pharisee, the stupidity and carelessness of the sinner, the corn and wine of the worldling-what is every thing else, compared with this peace? What can be so desirable, so excellent? It is "a continual feast.”
It is so, secondly, In relation to this confidence. It is true, this peace rises and falls, but it is only because this confidence varies. All the disquietudes which a Christian feels, spring from the weakness or the want of faith in God. It is not from outward things. These are often blamed, and these may be very trying-but it is not the water without the vessel that sinks it, but that which gets in. The primitive Christians could say, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing." It is very possible therefore to have this peace within, while in the world we have tribulation; and Christians are so accessible to fear, so preyed upon by anxiety, so depressed by afflictions of various kinds, because they do not sufficiently rely on God: "If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established." It is therefore true, that in proportion as the mind is stayed on God, he keeps it in perfect peace.
This confidence composes the mind in the events of life-and this is the thing principally intended. We live in a world of changes and uncertainties. Disorder and confusion seem everywhere to reign. Vice is often triumphant, and virtue oppressed. And with regard to ourselves, our wisest schemes are frequently thwarted, our fairest hopes destroyed, our choicest comforts laid waste. Thus we are liable to be perpetually ruffled and dismayed; and there is only one principle that can sustain and solace the mind-it is, holy confidence in God. Nothing occurs by chance-God governs the world-if we could see what God sees, we should do precisely what God does-his people are his care -nothing can essentially injure them-yea, "all things are working together for their good." These are reasons for repose. Here the mind fixes, and feels peace: the peace of a child, who has only to mind his book; the Father will manage and provide: the peace of a traveller, who has one with him to order all the journey, and to bear all the expense. It is a peace that flows from the absence of anxiety the believer casts all his care upon the Lord, who careth for him; he reclines his head on the soft bosom of Providence, and falls asleep. This peace peculiarly regards intricate dispensations; for these are the most apt to perplex and discompose the mind. But when the mind is stayed on God, the believer is satisfied and serene, even in darkness. Though I know not whither I am going, I know with whom-my guide is infallible. I will not " charge him foolishly," but confide in his skill: "what he does I know not now, but I shall know hereafter." I see much wisdom in what is clear, but there is much more in what is obscure; it is the depth that makes it profound, and that renders it so difficult to fathom. This tranquillity is commonly preceded by many a struggle with self-casts his burden upon the Lord, and he suswill and self-conceit. tains him." He leaves his affairs with God, and goes on, assured that he will order them aright. His concern is only to please and glorify God in the circumstances in which he is placed; events are the Lord's. “He is careful for nothing; but in every thing, by
First. How safe and how happy are real believers! The people of the world are exceedingly mistaken respecting them. They imagine their life to be a sad, heavy, gloomy thing; whereas it is the most free, and cheerful, and placid. While others are struggling in their own strength, and managing all their concerns themselves, fretful when they meet with untoward events, and always dissatisfied even when they succeed, the Christian
We naturally wish to have things according to our mind, and make various attempts to govern our own affairs. But by degrees we are convinced that "the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh,
Let us apply the passage thus explained to some practical purposes.
prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, | hold a "cloudy and dark day." The revoluhe makes his requests known unto God; and tions which have taken place, and the general the peace of God, which passeth all under- aspect of things at present, are dreadful to standing, keeps his heart and mind through those who have no God. O let a sense of Christ Jesus." "I hope in him for eternal our danger endear the only refuge, and the life, and it would be shameful not to trust in vanity of this world induce us to seek after him for every present supply. He who the real happiness of another! Let us abanspared not his own Son,' will withhold no don the practice of sin, and no longer "lay up good thing' from me. It is comparatively a for ourselves treasure upon earth," which matter of little consequence what befalls me only serves to debase the soul and fill it with here; I am only a stranger and a pilgrim;' perpetual alarms-and let us ask for God my God ruleth over all;' and he has pro-"our Maker, who giveth songs in the night;" mised that he will never leave me nor for- let us depend upon him, cleave to him, live sake me.' 'The Lord is my helper; I will in him. not fear." "
On what else can we rely, that will not, "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his instead of settling the mind, discompose it heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord."-Tell the more? Is it Honour? What so precarious him, his substance is destroyed: No, says and variable as the praise of man! Is it afhe, my "inheritance is incorruptible and un- fluence? "The rich man's wealth is his defiled, and fadeth not away, reserved in strong city, and as a high wall in his own heaven for me." Tell him such a friend or conceit." But does not every day's observarelation is dead: but, says he, "The Lord tion, as well as Scripture, cry, "Trust not in liveth, and blessed be my rock, and let the uncertain riches, but in the living God?" Is God of my salvation be exalted." And you it Moral Philosophy; a strength of reasoning? yourself are decaying and dying: Yes, says There are circumstances in which the calmhe, I am sent for, and am going home. With est reflections and the noblest resolutions will regard to public calamities, he feels, and in be only as stubble before the wind. In the some respects he feels more than others. Di- time of trial, all other supports will fail: the vine grace produces sensibility, and excites storm increasing, will drive us from our holda public spirit. He knows the desert of sin, ings: there is only one "anchor of the soul, and the indications of approaching wrath sure and steadfast." It is, a scriptural hope make him shudder: "My flesh trembleth for in God. This will prepare a man for all the fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judg-vicissitudes of time; this will help him to go ments." But, strange as it may appear, there on his way rejoicing through all the troubles is a firmness and a composure of mind blended of life; and this will finally enable him to with all these feelings. He knows that "the look "the king of terrors" out of countenance, Lord reigneth;" that he is "doing all things," and to exult with the apostle, "Nay, in all and doing all things "well;" that whatever these things we are more than conquerors becomes of other empires, the Gospel shall through him that loved us. For I am perspread, the Church is safe: and these are the suaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, most important interests-these render the nor principalities, nor powers, nor things preworld valuable. He can therefore join with sent, nor things to come, nor height, nor Luther, who said, whenever he heard of any depth, nor any other creature, shall be able alarming intelligence, "Come, let us sing to separate us from the love of God which is the forty-sixth psalm-God is our refuge and in Christ Jesus our Lord." strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God shall help her, and that right early. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.'"
Secondly. Let us seek after this blessed condition of the godly. Till the mind be stayed on God, it has no resting-place. It is union with God that gives the mind solidity. How light is it, detached from God; it is blown about easier than the down of a thistle in the wind. Out of him, as the sanctuary of the soul, every storm annoys, every trifle disquiets: and "man at his best estate is altogether vanity." If any thing could add force to these reflections, it would be the nature of the times in which we live. We be
Thou renewest the face of the earth.
ALL nature is a book, and the various parts of it are so many multiplied pages in which we may read and consider "the wonderful works of God." The Seasons of the year are every way interesting. They are necessary for the production of our food, and the preservation of our health. Their succession adds to the beauty of creation. Their revolutions furnish us with subjects of reflection, and lessons of importance.
The season is arrived in which we behold
I. David was an attentive observer of the works of creation. Many a fine evening did he employ in "considering the heavens, the works of God's finger; the moon and the stars which he has ordained." He rose early, and beheld the "sun as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoicing as a strong man to run a race.' 99 He looked abroad in winter, and exclaimed, "He sendeth abroad his ice like morsels; who can stand before his cold." He rejoiced when more favourable weather encouraged him to walk abroad: he observed "the birds building their nests, the springs running among the valleys, the grass growing for the cattle, and herbs for the service of man,” and, hailing the revival of a faded world, lifted up his eyes and said, "Thou renewest the face of the earth."
the renovation of nature. Let us endeavour | leave the works of the Creator to bury themto render it profitable. selves among those of the creature; and while professing to admire the beautiful and the marvellous, disregard the wonders that are perpetually springing up around them! They will go any distance, incur any expense, to see a piece of mechanism, sculpture, painting; while in their way they pass by productions infinitely more curious, and finished. They are struck with a fine robe; but never contemplate a lily: and yet "Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." When a man of fame announces a design to perform any thing, thousands flock around him; while God, working day by day the most astonishing effects, is unnoticed; and no one is drawn forth to attend to him, though he has said, "I will that men magnify my works which they behold."
II. It becomes us not only to observe nature, but to observe it devotionally, and as Christians. There is a difference between viewing and improving these things: there is a difference between our studying them as
There are few real lovers of nature; there are few who so behold its scenes as to pause and admire, till they have imbibed a sympathy with them; till they feel themselves at home in them; till they are detached from mere admirers and philosophers, and applyevery thing human, and little, and debasing.ing them as men formed by divine grace for Let us go forth into the field to meditate: a life of communion with God. It is the meditation is often better than books. Our command of the Apostle-"Whatsoever ye own thoughts will do us much more good do in word or deed, do all in the name of the than the opinions of others. Wisdom and Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the truth are shy in the world; but here they are Father by him." easily discovered and secured. Danger often See a Christian among the works of naattends our perusal of the works of men; ture. He looks after God in all-for he needs but there is no hazard in pursuing knowledge him in all: and he is enabled to find him. among the works of God. People complain Though familiar with the effect, he does not of the world, and confess whenever they re- disregard the cause. With him, common turn from its companies and diversions, that instrumentality does not conceal divine agen"all is vanity and vexation of spirit"-why cy. He maintains in his mind a connexion will they not come forth, and refresh them- between the author and the work; and the selves here? Why will they not leave the one reminds him of the other. He walks wilderness, and enter this garden of the with him in the ways of his Providence, as Lord? Here I live in a world of my own-well as in his goings in the sanctuary; adores here I feel my independence and my free- him in the field as well as in the temple; and dom-here I can learn how I have been over- acknowledges him in the ordinary course of come, and where I must place a watch and a nature, as well as in the extraordinary disguard-here the good thoughts, which were plays of his power, and wisdom, and goodness. scattered and weak before, are collected into a powerful motive, and bear down all opposition to duty-what was wavering before, is now decided-what was timid, grows courageous. When I go into the field, I enter my closet; I shut the door about me; I admit what company I please; I exclude the vicious who would pollute, and the trifling who would interrupt; I hear not the folly of the vain, or the slander of the malicious that world of iniquity which drops from the tongue; "I pray to my father which is in secret; mine eye poureth out tears unto God;" I have an emblem of final repose-"here the wicked cease from troubling, and here the weary are at rest." "God made the country, and man made the town."
He also makes them images to remind him of better things. The rising sun brings to his thoughts "The Sun of righteousness arising with healing under his wings;" a flowing spring, the influence of the Holy Ghost; the rain and the dew, the doctrine of the Gospel. Thus, by a holy chemistry, he extracts heaven from earth.
From these scenes he also derives motives to devotion, and encouragements to confidence. For instance: does he view a proof of divine wisdom, he cries, "O how able is this God to teach me, to manage all my concerns-how wonderful in counsel, how excellent in working!" Does he contemplate a display of Divine power, "How able is this God to preserve, sustain, deliver me! Isany thing too hard for the Lord?" Does he ob
Nevertheless, how many are there who serve instances of his bounty, he asks—“Can
Nor does he partake of the bounties of nature like a brute, only concerned to gratify his animal appetite, and entirely regardless of him from whom every indulgence comes. He receives them from the hand of his heavenly Father; he tastes his love in them; he cries, "O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! Bless the Lord, O my soul-who giveth me all things richly to enjoy,' and who provides, not only for my relief, but my delight. I will live to him who lives in so many ways for me, and by his mercies I will present my body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto him, which is my reasonable service.""
'he who hears the ravens that cry,' refuse | "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and resupplies to his children?” new a right spirit within me." And we read of the "renewing of the Holy Ghost;" and of "being renewed in the spirit of our minds." Thus "God beautifies the meek with salvation;" and the change in nature is an imperfect representation of the change made in the soul by divine grace. This can illuminate the darkest understanding, and soften the most rebellious will; this can tranquillize the most troubled conscience, and sanctify the most depraved affections.-After conversion, the people of God may have a winter season: their growth may be checked; every thing may appear to be dead; they may feel the chilling absence of the "Sun of righteousness," and sigh, "O when wilt thou come unto me?" But when he returns, all revives. Then the believer is quickened, then he expands, and buds, and brings forth "much fruit." "He has life, and he has it more abundantly."
III. Let us observe and adore this wonderworking God in renewing the face of the earth. How many times has he done this since the creation! He does it every year. The change is equally remarkable and pleasing. See the winter drawing off his army of winds, and frosts, and snow, and hailand spring succeeding the monarch of desolation. Under his soft and gentle reign, all begins to smile: life in a thousand ways breaks forth: all is verdure, and fragrance, and beauty; all is joyous. What variety of colours, what harmony of sounds! "The valleys stand thick with rising corn, and the little hills rejoice on every side," while a voice from the fields and meadows calls-" Arise, and come away; for lo! the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."
Let us remember, that he who renews the face of the earth, can renew the Church. Think of any particular cause-however depressed, he can revive it; however small, he can increase it. When his influences descend, "his word comes down like rain upon the mown grass, as showers that water the earth;" and his people are "filled with all the fruits of righteousness"-the congregation is like a field which the Lord has blessed." Or think of his cause at large. He can drive away errors, and superstition, and animosities from the nations of the globe, and bless the world with the Gospel of peace, and the means of salvation-and the "wilderness and solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God."
He can also renew the soul. The Fall has reduced our spiritual powers to a state of desolation the most deplorable. Now when a sinner is led to see and feel this, he prays,
Again. He can renew the body. Has sickness invaded thy frame-art thou "made to possess months of vanity, and are wearisome nights appointed unto thee"-art thou saying, "my purposes are broken off”— "mine eye shall no more see good?"—Remember, "he killeth and maketh alive; he bringeth down to the grave and raiseth up." Every disease is under his control, and goes at his bidding. He can re-colour thy cheeks, "strengthen thy weak hands, and confirm thy feeble knees, so that thy youth shall be renewed like the eagle's." Let the body die-even then we are not hopeless— he shall renew it. "So is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it shall be raised a spiritual body." "According to this promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth
righteousness." "And God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes: and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
To conclude. The Seasons of the year have often been considered as emblems of human life.-Youth is the Spring. Yes, my young friends, yours is the season of which nature, lovely nature, now reminds us. Think of this in all your walks. How pleasing and how beautiful is Spring! But how short, how fading! Yet how important! On this all the year depends. If no blossoms now appear, or if these blossoms be destroyed, no glory in summer, no abundance in autumn, no provision in winter.
My young friends, you are now forming your future destiny, and giving a character to your future years. O seize these valuable hours for purposes the most momentous—The