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the Lord it shall be seen 9. And it is remarkable that the poor illiterate fishermen, who followed our Lord, were even ordered not to think beforehand what they should say, when summoned before their rulers, but to expect that the Holy Ghost should suggest to them at the moment what they ought to speak"; and though their example does not justify a want of foresight and premeditation in us, yet the promise made to them warrants us to look to God as a help, a present, "a very present help in the time of troubles;" and to expect his interposition then, when “ the storm” would otherwise overwhelm us.] 3. A sufficient help
[However “needy and distressed” we be, God is able to support and deliver us. Though we be
worms, yet will he enable us to thresh the mountains.” And though earth and hell conspire against us, yet will he make us more than conquerors. Our weakness is no ground of discouragement: for “his strength shall be perfected in our weakness u." He has undertaken for us, and he will perform his engagements : and, sooner than not make us triumph over our enemies, he would cause “ the very stars in their courses to fight for us *," or the earth to open and swallow up our adversaries. Never has a child of God yet failed for want of his effectual aid; nor shall any one to all eternity: sooner shall heaven and earth pass away than “one of his little ones shall perish Y."] From this subject we may clearly see, 1. The true nature of experimental religion
[The acknowledging of these things to be true does not constitute real piety : it is the experience of them in the soul that is the foundation, and indeed the very essence, of vital godliness. Our blessed Lord has said, “Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest 2:” and this comprehends all the whole work of God's grace upon the soul. To be heavy-laden with a sense of sin; to seek rest in Christ; and to be brought by the Lord Jesus to an entire rest in God as our Father and our Friend; this, I say, is true religion: and the experience of this on earth will lead assuredly to the everlasting experience of it in heavena — 2. The true nature of practical religion
["A form of godliness” may easily exist " without any of its power.” Then only do we serve the Lord Jesus aright, when we are conformed to the image of Christ, and have
9 Gen. xxii. 14. r Matt. x. 19, 20.
s Ps. xlvi. 1.
learned to walk as he walked.” “Love is the very fulfilling of the law !” and this love of Christ to us is the true pattern for our love to each otherb. This is what becomes us elect of God c:" and this will be the test of our obedience in the day of judgmenta. “Let the same mind then be in you, as was in Christ Jesuse'
And let this be the habitual exercise of it as far as your circumstances will admit --]
b Eph. v. 2. c Col. iii. 12–14. d Matt. xxv. 34-36. e Phil. ii. 5.
f If this be the subject of a Charity. Sermon, this will be the piace for opening the peculiar nature of the charity.
DCCCXCII. THE GOSPEL A SOURCE OF RICHEST BLESSINGS. Isai. xxv. 6–8. In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make
unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees : of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.
MANY passages of Scripture, which, from the language, might be supposed to belong to the Jewish dispensation only, will be found to refer in a more especial manner to the times of the Gospel. The “ mountain” so frequently mentioned in this place was Mount Zion, which was distinguished above all other mountains by being the peculiar residence of the Deity: and it should seem that all the great things which God promised to the world, were to be transacted upon that spot. But Mount Zion was a type of the Gospel Church, wherein God yet more eminently dwells: and it is in the Church of Christ that he bestows the blessings which are here promised. The Gospel, which is here promulgated, affords, I. Food to the hungryThe Gospel calls us to a luxurious feast
[The terms in which this feast is expressed, are evidently intended to raise in our minds the highest possible conceptions of its excellency. “A feast" is far more than a common meal,
and conveys an idea of costliness and abundance: a feast of fat things” imports that the choicest provisions are set forth : and the fat things being “full of marrow," suggests, that no expense is spared in procuring whatever can provoke the appetite of the guests, or afford them pleasure. But “wines are also added; wines that have contracted a delicious flavour by being long kept "upon the lees;" and wines " well refined," that are bright as a ruby, that "sparkle in the glass," and that delight the eye whilst they gratify the palate. What are we to understand from this accumulation of ideas, but that, as the choicest viands administer nourishment and comfort to the body, so the Gospel provides every thing which can exhilarate and support the soul. After all, this representation falls very far short of the truth: for the promises of the Gospel are infinitely sweeter to the hungering and thirsting soul than the most exquisite food can be to our taste. Let but a sinner, who pants after pardon, be enabled to apply to his soul that promise of Jehovah, That “ crimson sins shall be made white as snow,” or that word of Christ, That " whosoever cometh to him he will in no wise cast out;" what transports of joy will he not feel ! how will he be filled as with marrow and fatness, while he praises his God with joyful lips !" What strength did that word, “ My grace is sufficient for thee,” administer to Paul under the buffetings of Satan! In the strength of that one meal he was enabled to go on, not for forty days only, but to the latest hour of his life. And such is the Gospel to all who cordially embrace it.] This feast has God himself prepared for all people,
[It is none other than “ the Lord of hosts” who has spread this table at his own expense. And he invites “all people,” not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also ; yea, the very
vilest of the human race. He sends out his servants into the highways and hedges, to call the halt, the lame, and the blind, and orders them to take no refusal, but to compel them to come in b.” Yea, though in every succeeding age there have been myriads of guests brought in, yet his message to us is, that “yet there is room."]
But, as this feast can be of no use to those who feel not their need of it, nor discern its excellency, the Gospel suits itself to our necessities, and offers, II. Light to the blind
There is a thick, impenetrable “veil” over the hearts of men
a In allusion to Elijah, 1 Kings xix. 7, 8. b Matt. xxi. 4. Luke xiv, 17, 21, 22.
[The lusts and prejudices of men cast a film over their eyes, and incapacitate them from discerning spiritual things : and Satan by his subtle devices confirms their blindness. As the Jews, even while Moses was read to them every Sabbath day, were unable, by reason of the veil that was upon their hearts, to comprehend the great ends and purposes of the Mosaic dispensation", so thousands who live under the light of the Gospel are total strangers to its fundamental truths; or admit them only in theory, while they are destitute of any experimental knowledge of them in their hearts. “They have eyes, but see not; ears, but hear not; hearts, but understand not."] But God by his Gospel removes this veil
["He who commanded light to shine out of darkness will shine into the hearts” of those who seek him. “The things which flesh and blood could never have discovered, he will reveal unto theme.” He will shew them the evil of sin, the depravity of their hearts, the fulness and suitableness of Christ, the stability of the covenant, together with every thing else which they need to know. He will not merely turn aside the veil, and give them a transient view of the holy of holies, but will "destroy" the veil, and “rend it in pieces from the top to the bottom.” It is true, this clear knowledge of divine truth will not be imparted all at once; but it shall gradually increase, till they "see as they are seen, and know as they are known."]
To complete the happiness of his people, God further promises, III. Victory to the oppressed
The former part of the text refers to the apostolic and millennial periods; but the latter will not be accomplished till the day of judgment. To that season in particular St. Paul applies the words before us'. Taking him for our guide, we are in no danger of misinterpreting their import, whilst we say, that God will rescue us from, 1. The power of death
[Death is even now disarmed of its sting; and the king of terrors is made our friend. They who through the Gospel are enabled to live unto Christ, may justly account it again to die:” not life only, but even death itself
, is numbered among their treasures Such is their victory over it, that it is an
c 2 Cor. iv, 4. 11 Cor. xv. 54.
d 2 Cor. iii. 14, 15. e Matt. xvi. 17. 6 Phil. i. 21. 1 Cor. iii. 22.
object of hope and desire rather than of terror and aversion h: and when it comes, they are not so properly said to die, as to “fall asleep in Jesus." Nor will its apparent triumphs be of long duration ; for that which swallowed up mankind with insatiable avidity, shall itself “be swallowed up in victory," and not a vestige of it ever again be found among the saints of God.) 2. The sorrows of sin[Whilst we continue in the body there will be occasion for
go on our way weeping." But even now the sorrows of believers are widely different from the sorrows of the world: instead of corroding the heart, they bring a peace along with them; and the persons who are most affected with them, so far from wishing to get rid of them, desire to have them more deep and abiding. But ere long they shall sully the face no more ; but shall be "wiped away" by the hand of a compassionate Father, and be followed by a harvest of eternal joy'] 3. The reproaches of the world
[There is scarcely any thing which an ungodly world will not say or do, to asperse the character of the godly, and to destroy their peace. But God in this world so far" takes away their rebuke," as often to manifest himself to them, and to interpose visibly on their behalfk. But in a little time “He will bring forth their righteousness as the noon day;" and they who were regarded as the filth of the world and the offscouring of all things,” shall be openly acknowledged as the children of the living God.] ADDRESS1. To those who are living at a distance from God
[Whatever you may promise yourselves from the enjoyment of this world, you in reality are feeding only on husks; and however you may boast of attainments in philosophy, there is a veil on your hearts that hides from you all spiritual knowledge. Besides, whatever satisfaction you feel, or whatever reputation you enjoy, death will speedily swallow up both you and it, and will consign you over to everlasting shame and misery. Say, then, whether you have not made a wretched choice, and whether the mourning and despised Christian be not in a far happier state than you? It is not however too late for you to repent: the invitations of the Gospel are sent to you as well as to others; and if you put away your vain excuses, and return to God as prodigals, you shall find a cordial welcome, and feast this very hour on the fatted calf. O
h Phil. i. 23.
i Rev. xxi. 4. and vii. 16, 17, k Ex. gr. Joseph, Daniel, the Hebrew Youths, &c.