« PreviousContinue »
you his voice?
be in former times. To such, the world, its pleasures, gains, amusements, and politics, what are they? As sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.—These souls want Christ, the bread of life, to feed on, and without this they are sensible that they are lost for ever. O that we had good evidences, that many, MANY souls were in this condition! How pleasant is it to speak to such the voice of peace, comfort, joy, and thanksgiving! For, Brethren, he, who clave a hollow place in the jaw-bone, and revived the fainting spirit of Samson, by a miraculous supply of water,—He is ready to supply you also. Heard
“ If any man thirst, let him come and drink :"
“ Ask of him, and he will give you living water.”
No sensation is more painful than a raging thirst ; and the thirst of the soul for that divine peace and love, which is held forth in the Gospel, may be compared, in its vehemence, to natural thirst. He, who satisfies the desire of every living thing, will satisfy the thirst which he has created in your breasts. “ Behold, I will do a new thing : now it shall spring forth, shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen *." Go on seeking the Lord, resting on the free promise of grace by Jesus Christ made to every thirsting soul.
He will meet you while you remember him in his ways: he will meet you while you stick close to him, trusting his word, and walking to the best of your light and strength in his holy ways, and carefully abstaining from sin. His way or his time of relieving and cheering your souls it is not for you to know before hand : Relief and comfort
* Isaiah, xliii. 19.
are often afforded, when you are in the deepest extremity. It is not, without a spiritual instruction, recorded, that Samson's thirst was relieved from the jaw-bone. How unlikely? Yet so is it frequently with the soul that seeks the Lord. Believe with Abraham, in hope against hope*, and you
shall know there is a God that heareth prayer.
Lastly. There may be present some backsliding souls, once truly comfortable in
and bringing forth real fruit to God; but who are now fallen, either through scandalous transgression, or through the cares of the world. You feel no power to believe, or to repel temptations, much less to rejoice in God with thanksgivings, as formerly. Satan "writes bitter things” against you: conscience justly accuses ; and you pine in heaviness and in something like despair. Would you be revived with grace? Would you have a cheering recovery of Christ again dwelling in your hearts by faith, and would you again walk before God in the light of the living? Indeed, Brethren, you may; for the gates of heaven stand open day and night; and Jesus ever lives to intercede; and his blood is as powerful to wash out your stains of guilt, and his Spirit as able to create you anew in holiness as at first. And he is not only as able, but as willing as ever to refresh you, to give you rest, provided you do but feel the burden of your sins; provided you be but heavy ladent with a sense of guilt and unworthiness. Limit not, then, the Holy One of Israel by unbelief. His hand is not at all shortened that it cannot redeem I. Believe, and you shall see the glory of God. Come afresh, in the name of Jesus, to the throne of
* Rom. iv. 18. + Matth. xi. 28. 1 Is. 1. 2.
you may obtain mercy and find grace. For God hath not forgotten to be gracious. Think of Samson, how he fell, after God had blessed him in his youth, and honoured him with much ability for faithful service. member me, O God, I pray thee.” So pray to the God whose grace you once have known. Put him in mind of his own loving kindness, and his promises in Christ, and hear him say, backsliding children, and I will heal your backsliding. I am merciful, and I will not keep anger for ever.” You may pray with Samson, “ Shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised ?” Shall I thirst for thee, O God of all Grace, and shall I perish, in hopeless misery? My bones are cut asunder as with a sword, while I am upbraided with, “ where is now thy God?" Shall wicked men boast always over my disgrace, and shall I fall into the hands of unclean spirits, who, like uncircumcised Philistines, will triumph over my misery, and insult the perfections of the God of grace, as if they could not prevent the ruin of a soul, whom thy Son's blood hath redeemed? This is an argument of sacred oratory, well-pleasing in the ears of God; and there is joy in heaven over it. God in Christ will hear your importunate prayers of this kind; and you shall again glorify your God. Even in the infirmities of age you may slay more Philistines, and fight more spiritual battles with success, than ever you did in your lives. “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.”
66 Return ye
THE NATURE AND CURE OF SLOTHFULNESS.
Prov. xv. 19.
The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns : but
the way of the righteous is made plain. This is not the only passage in the book of Proverbs, where the character and conduct of the slothful man are strongly and elegantly described by Solomon. In chapter the twenty-sixth he observes, “ the slothful man saith, there is a lion in the
way, a lion is in the streets,” showing that he is the prey
many imaginary fears, which are as much encouraged by idleness, as they are dissipated by diligence. Again ; “ the slothful hideth his hand in his bosom, it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth,” showing that the least labour in the world is a pain and burden to a mind overcome with sloth.
The very strong representations of sloth, comprised in these two passages, and in the Text, materially receive light from each other. “The way of a slothful man is as an hedge of thorns.” When he does move to do business, compelled by the necessity of affairs, his imagination magnifies every difficulty ; “there is a lion in the way;" every species of labour appears to his weak mind intolerable; it grieves him so much to take his hand out of his bosom, and put it to his mouth, that his way is as an hedge of thorns. He is at a stand, every moment, hedged up and environed with difficulties, pricked and tormented, as it were, with thorns : and yet, the latter member of the Text shows us, that these evils exist more in his own mind, than in the nature of his business. “The way of the righteous is made plain.” These very difficulties are surmounted by the righteous, whose character it is to be diligent and active.
Such is the difference, in the very same course of affairs, between the laborious and the sluggard. Where the former finds a plain road, and an easy issue out of difficulties, the latter sits musing and desponding, instead of acting with vigour and spirit; and enfeebles his mind to such a degree, that he has scarcely resolution to set about any thing. In such a state of mind, fancy, the most active and the least judicious of all the human faculties, represents every thing around him in a gloomy point of view, distracts and discolours every object; and, while she disorders all his movements, she helps forward not one of them.
Men of much business know these things to be true : Nothing is to be done well without industry; and with industry it is surprising what difficulties may
be surmounted. Nor can I quit this general use of my subject, without lamenting the melancholy prospect before us of the rising generation. Parents are so afraid of hurting their children by inuring them to labour, either of body or mind, or of both; and effeminacy and luxury make such ample strides among us, that it is to be feared