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2. But what is it, in the spiritual sense of the | ence, his sufferings, his crucifixion, were the ranwords to be athirst?' It is to feel the misery som price of the sinner's soul. For we were and danger of our natural estate, as an estate of redeemed, not with corruptible things as silver sin and estrangement from God. In their un- and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, awakened state, men think very little of their as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot. sinfulness at all. But no sooner does the Holy Oh! the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom Spirit, whose office it is to convince of sin, let in and of the knowledge of God. How unsearchthe searching light of Divine truth upon the soul, able are his judgments, and his ways past finding than the painful and terrifying discovery is made, out. Herein indeed was love, not that we loved that the heart is not right with God. And the God, but that God loved us; sparing not his own longer and the more steadily the sinner continues Son, but freely giving him unto the death for us all. under this divine guidance to look within, the more does he find to disturb his peace, and to fill him with anxiety and fear. The deadness of his heart to all things spiritual and divine, the world- TWENTY-Eighth DAY.—EVENING. liness of his affections and desires, his habitual
‘Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased neglect of God; these, and many similar marks and fruits of indwelling corruption, of which, pre
with goods, and have need of nothing; and
knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserviously, he had taken no account at all, stand out
able, and poor, and blind, and naked,' Rev. iii. every day with more alarming clearness. Until
17. at length, when he has sought up and down every corner of his soul for one spot untainted by sin, ALREADY the church of Laodicea, though so when he has examined every action of his life, to recently planted, had suffered a lamentable decline. find one deed that will bear to be measured by The sin which is so apt to creep into and overthe requirements of God's holy law, and finds the spread churches of long standing,—the sin of search to be fruitless and vain; it is then the lukewarmness and indifference,—had taken comhumbling confession is extorted from his lips, that plete possession of this church even in its carly there is no health in him, that he is wretched, youth. The heart-warm fervour of genuine and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. piety had given place to a lifeless form; the
3. And how richly, how generously are the humbling conviction of utter unworthiness in the sinner's wants supplied out of that fulness which sight of God, to proud notions of self-sufficiency. is treasured up in Christ. He that hath no The love of Christ to the love of this world. money, come ye, buy and eat,-yea come, buy And as the necessary consequence of this total wine and milk, without money and without decay of religious principle and feeling, a mere price. And why without a price? Because show of respect for the outward ordinances of a gracious and compassionate God knew the the gospel was all that remained in the room of sinner had no price to pay. Had it been so vital godliness. They had not yet reached that that a price were demanded, what could man point at which a religious profession is altogether have offered? His heart! It is full of enmity to laid aside, and entire apostacy from the faith is God. His service! It is contempt and rebellion. openly proclaimed. On the contrary, they still His life! It is not his own. But though the sin- scrupulously retain all the external insignia of a ner had ‘no money,' nothing whatever wherewith Christian church, but it was a shadow without to purchase admission to the fountain of the water the substance; a body without the soul. Though of life; think not that without a price that ad Christian in name, spiritually considered it was a mission was secured. Why was it that he “who Christless church. That such a church must made the worlds,' was found by the shepherds of have become utterly distasteful and offensive to Bethlehem as a helpless infant cradled in a man- him who looketh not on the outward appearance, ger? Why was it that he who was the bright- but who searcheth the heart, it can need no ness of the Father's glory, and the express image argument to prove. It cannot, therefore, surof his person,' took upon him the form of a ser- prise any one to hear the awfully emphatic exvant? Why was it that he who was 'in the pression of aversion and abhorrence with which bosom of the Father from all eternity,' was heard their state and character were regarded by the exclaiming in the agony of his soul, ‘My God, Lord. But it may well excite feelings of admiramy God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why tion and amazement to find with what tender was it the Lord of life was seen bleeding to death compassion, notwithstanding of all their defecon the cursed tree? His humiliation, his obedi- tions and provocations, the Saviour still entreated them to return unto him and live. Full of whose person and work had been thus dishonignorant, presumptuous, and carnal self-confi- oured and disowned, is still waiting to be gradence they felt no real need of, or dependence cious.' 'I counsel thee to buy of me gold,' - white on Christ. And yet, so far from giving them raiment,'' eye-salve,' all that the soul requires over to their own reprobate mind, he earnestly for its complete redemption.' Men must not presses upon them anew all the rich treasures of think to mine this gold, to weave this raiment, his grace; I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried to compound this eye-salve, by any efforts of in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white their own. They must seek all in Christ. In raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that him it hath pleased the Father that all fulness the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and should dwell,—and ont of his fulness we all may anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou may- receive, and grace for grace. None but he can be est see.'
made of God unto us wisdom and righteousness, The self-complacency which continues to char- and sanctification and redemption. He offers us acterize so many lukewarm' disciples, rests, the 'gold, gold tried in the fire.' Surely this as in the case of the Laodiceans of old, on an must be his own everlasting love. Like gold, it entire misapprehension of their actual condition is most precious, for it redeems us from death and and prospects in the sight of God. Vainly con- hell; yea, it is like gold tried in the fire,' for it fiding in names and forms, they “know not that endured the cross. Ile offers us the "white raithey are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and ment,' what is this but the spotless robe of his blind, and naked. Were these words intended own perfect righteousness, which is unto all and to be taken in their literal acceptation, the state- upon all them that believe? He offers us the ment they contain would indeed be passing eye-salve,' wherewith to anoint our eyes that strange. The evils which these various expres- we may see. Is not this that “unction of the sions denote are, in that view, all of them too Holy One,' which they who have know all palpable to sense, to be either unnoticed or unfelt. things;' that divine illumination, which Paul But it is one of the marks of a fallen nature to earnestly sought for the Ephesians, when he be keenly alive to those physical disorders which prayed that the God and Father of our Lord afflict our bodily and temporal estate, and to be Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, might give all but utterly insensible to those spiritual mala- unto them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in dies which destroy the immortal soul. In this the knowledge of him; the eyes of their undersense the natural man knows not that he is standing being enlightened, that they might know wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and what is the hope of his calling, and what the naked. Wretched,' as being in a state of spirit- riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, ual death. "Miserable,' as being devoid of all and what is the exceeding greatness of his power true peace and happiness in the life that now is, to us-ward who believe, according to the workand having nothing awaiting him in the life to ing of his mighty power, which he wronght in come, but that wrath of God which is revealed | Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and from heaven against all ungodliness and unright- set him at his own right hand, Eph. i. 17—20. eousness of men. • Poor,' as being totally destitute of the graces of the Holy Spirit, and without part or lot in the inheritance of heaven. “Blind, as having no right or realizing apprehension of TWENTY-NINTH DAY.—MORNING. the things that belong to the soul's peace, and going on heedless and headlong down the broad A bruised reed shall he not break, and smokin. way that leadeth to destruction. “Naked, as
flax shall he not quench, till he send forth july being exposed, in all the vileness of a sinful heart
ment unto rictory,' Matt. xii. 20. and an unholy life, to the searching scrutiny of These words, spoken originally by the prophet him whose eyes are as a flame of fire, and who Isaiah, are truly and touchingly descriptive of the cannot look
gentle and compassionate spirit of Christ; and But how long-suffering is the Lord! He were graciously designed to re-assure and comwhose salvation, bought at the price of his own fort every lowly and contrite sinner. He who precious blood, they had treated with neglect or in his own personal ministry was ever so full of scorn; whose grace they had despised as a gift of meekness and benignity,—who did neither strive no value; whose righteousness they were too nor cry, nor cause his voice to be heard in the proud to put on; whose Spirit of saving light and streets,—who endured so patiently a countless health they had spurned away; that very Saviour multitude of wrongs,—who bore with a longsuffering so marvellous the manifold indignities | appropriately does this figure describe the spiritto which he was daily exposed, —who laboured ual state of many a soul. There is not the absolute with a perseverance so inexhaustible to turn the coldness and stillness of spiritual death. The divine disobedient to the wisdom of the just,--who fire of the Spirit has touched the heart though loved and cherished with a care so watchful and as yet no flame appears,—though little even of a tenderness so endearing the little flock of his warmth, and no light at all, can be yet discerned. disciples, neither worn out by their slowness of At times there may be convictions of sin filling the heart to understand, nor offended by their petu- mind with a sense of the misery and danger of a lance, nor alienated by their temporary desertion, state of estrangement from God,—a painful feeling -shall he, can he turn a deaf ear to any penitent of the emptiness of the world's pleasures, of the believer? He is the same yesterday, to-day, and vanity of its joys,-a longing after the more for ever. “A bruised reed shall he not break, and enduring riches of divine grace and love. The smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send soul is stirred with motions and desires of which forth judgment unto victory.'
till now it had been altogether unconscious,Two promises are here given, and both of them and occasionally it would seem as if a great full of encouragement. The one has respect to change, on its whole frame and spirit, were about the Saviour's treatment of his people in the time to ensue. And yet after all it is but the 'smokof their greatest depression and weakness. The ing flax.' The damp and chilling influences of a other to the certainty of the accomplishment of corrupt nature, of the lusts of the flesh, the lusts his own gracious purpose in their full and com- of the eye, and the pride of life, have not yet plete salvation.
been so far overcome as to suffer the divine light 1. “A bruised reed shall he not break, and of the quickening Spirit from on high to shine smoking flax shall he not quench. How beauti- forth. There is a contest going on,—the flesh is ful, how expressive, how just is this imagery! lusting against the Spirit,--and nothing but smoke What can be a fitter emblem of a soul broken by can yet be seen. Even the smoke oftentimes repeated strokes of some heavy and crushing seems to have all but disappeared. The spark, affliction, or saddened and oppressed by a strong feeble and faint, stifled beneath the load of the and overwhelming sense of guilt and helplessness, heart's corruption, seems ready to be extin—than a “bruised reed. Instead of serving as a guished. How little would suffice to put it out support to others, it cannot support itself. The for ever! Let temptation a little longer have its disconsolate language of the psalmist alone can sway,—and let the breath of the divine Spirit be suitably pourtray its condition. I am troubled; withheld,- and darkness and death would again I am bowed down greatly, I go mourning all the regain dominion in that soul. But the watchful, day long. For my loins are filled with a loath- the gracious Redeemer, quenches not the smoksome disease, and there is no soundness in my flesh; ing flax. The latent fire may be suffered to I am feeble and sore broken; my heart panteth, smoulder for a time unseen, almost unfelt,—but my strength faileth me; as for the light of mine he will not suffer it to be extinguished. And at
from me.' But “the bruised length in his own time and way, he so orders the reed he shall not break,' for the Lord is nigh events of his providence, and so blesses the ordinunto them that are of a broken-heart, and saveth ances of his grace, as that a fresh impulse is given such as be of a contrite spirit,' Psal. xxxiv. 18. to the divine life within. That Spirit who com• As their day is, so shall their strength be.’ ‘He i eth like the wind, fans the embers with a stronger who knows our frame is touched with the feeling impulse,—the fire at length bursts forth,—the of his people's infirmities.' Ile keepeth all their deceitful lusts and passions are consumed by the bones; not one of them is broken.
increasing fervour of the heavenly theme,—until But while the Saviour is thus tender and com. at length the soul, full of light and full of purity, passionate in his dealings with the afflicted, when is made ready to shine as the stars in the kingthey feel as if all things were against them, as if dom of heaven. Whom he loves—he loves to all the waves and billows of divine displeasure the end. He who hath begun a good work will were going over them, not suffering them to be assuredly carry it forward to the day of the Lord. tempted above that which he enables them to And this brings us to notice briefly the bear,—and with the temptation making for them 2. Promise—that in the face of all difficulties a way of escape,—so does he manifest the same and discouragements the Lord will not fail to progracious and benignant spirit in cherishing and secute his own purpose of mercy in the souls of feeding the feeblest spark of the “new life' in the his people, till he send forth judgment unto vicsoul. "He quenches not the smoking flax.' Howtory. He shall be justified in his sayings, and
eyes, it also is
will overcome when he is judged.' •Fret not 1. To himself he takes not here the name of thyself because of evil-doers, neither be thou Lord and Sovereign,--but that of Shepherd, -a envious against the workers of iniquity; for they name descriptive of all that is faithful and gentle, shall soon be cut down like the grass, and withered loving and kind. “I am the good shepherd: the like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep,' John good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily x. 11. It was he of whom the Father spake thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; these mysterious words, Awake, O sword, against and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. my shepherd, and against the man that is my Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shephim, and he shall bring it to pass.
And he shall herd,' Zech. xiii. 7. •Herein is love, not that bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent judgment as the noon-day,' Psal. xxxvii. 1-7. his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,' 1 John
iv. 10. "God commendeth his love toward us,
in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for TWENTY-Nintu Day.—EVENING.
Much more then being now justified by his
blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. • He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled
gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them to God by the death of his Son, much more, being in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that reconciled, we shall be saved by his life,' Rom. v. are with young,' Isa. xl. 11
8, 9, 10. He is the great shepherd of the sheep,' The preceding context contains a clear and joyful Heb. xiii. 20. For when the God of peace announcement of the coming of Christ. His brought him again from the dead, he set him at people who had long been waiting for the con- his own riglit hand, far above all principality and solation of Israel,' were at length to be gladdened power, and every name that is named,—and and comforted by the voice of his forerunner, there, with a vigilance that never slumbers, and crying in the wilderness, 'Prepare ye the way of a power which no adversary can withstand, he the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway orders all things so as most effectually to secure for our God.' Zion and Jerusalem were to lift up the salvation of his people. He is the chief their voice and to say unto the cities of Judah, shepherd,' 1 Pet. v. 4. Who hath given com• Behold your God. He who had spoken to mission to “pastors and teachers' to feed his their fathers at “sundry times and in divers man- sheep,—to feed his lambs. ners by the prophets' was himself personally to 2. To his church and people he hath given the appear. •Behold the Lord God will come with appropriate and endearing name of his flock.' strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: They are as ‘lambs in the midst of wolves,'behold his reward is with him and his work before continually exposed to peril and persecution from him.' Had his church no cause for disquietude an ungodly and unbelieving world. Of themselves in the prospect of his advent? Had they not been they are feeble and defenceless,—for they have oftentimes provoking him to anger with their neither numbers nor power to cope with the vast "unthankfulness and evil,'—their ingratitude and and powerful array of the unconverted and disdisobedience? And was there no reason to fear obedient, who being themselves at enmity with lest the “strong hand' with which he was about God, hate and oppose his people. But let them to come, should be stretched out to visit and not, on this account, be dismayed. "Fear not, chastise them for these things? But his name is little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure “the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, to give you the kingdom, Luke xii. 32. long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth. Of old, he led his people like a flock, by the hand Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity of Moses and Aaron, dividing the sea before them and transgression and sin,'Exod. xxxiv. 6,7. He and causing them to pass through: in the day-time is to come, indeed, with the resistless authority leading them with a cloud, and all the night with a of omnipotence,—but that omnipotence is to be light of fire: “cleaving the rocks in the wilderness, thrown as a shield and safeguard around his and giving them drink, as out of the great depths.' people. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; And still he is their shepherd, making them to he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry lie down in green pastures, and leading them them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those beside the still waters. He'feeds his flock' with that are with young. What infinite condescen- the provision of Zion. His blessed word, with gion, what inexpressible tenderness do these words its exhaustless treasure of great and precious display!
promises' He sets open before them,-inviting them daily to search the scriptures, which testify love for these 'little ones,' infinitely deeper and of him, and in which they have eternal life. The more enduring than the heart of the best of ordinances of his grace, -secret meditation, and earthly parents ever knew. He will 'gently prayer,—domestic devotion,—the public services lead' those who are thus striving to bring their of the sanctuary,--all are means of his appoint- children to God,--and cause their labour to be ment, designed and fitted to build up the souls of not in vain in the Lord. his people in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation. By these he strengthens the hands which hang down, and the feeble kneesenlightening the ignorant, comforting the mourners
THIRTIETH DAY.—MORNING. in Zion, bringing back the disobedient to the But now, being made free from sin, and become wisdom of the just,—and thus training them for
servants to God, ye hare your fruit unto holiglory, honour, and immortality in heaven.
ness, and the end everlasting life,' Rom. vi. 22. 3. But while his care and kindness extend to all the flock,'—while he follows after every By nature all men are in bondage to sin, and wanderer from the fold, -seeking diligently until consequently are, in that wretched and miserable he find him, laying him on his shoulders and state, the servants, or rather slaves of Satan. bringing him in safety home, not leaving even so Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves much as one single individual of those whom the servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom Father hath given him to stumble on the dark ye obey,' ver. 16.
And till we are truly conmountains' and perish,—while the Saviour's love vinced of the guilt and danger of this our fallen and faithfulness thus reach to all who believe in condition, we can neither appreciate nor embrace his name,-he feels and manifests a peculiar the deliverance which the gospel brings. For interest in young disciples. They are the lambs this reason, it is that in the opening chapter of of his flock. He'gathers them with his arm, the Epistle to which the text belongs, Paul is and carries them in his bosom.' He knows their at so much pains to stop every mouth and bring tender frame,-how ill able they are to withstand in the whole world as guilty before God. That the rude blasts of temptation with which the humiliating fact must be first understood, believed devil, the flesh, and the world combine to assail and felt, before a way can be made for the preachthem. But as their day is so shall their strength ing of Christ crucified. It is the prophet's roll, be.
*I love them that love me, and those that written within and without with lamentation and seek me early shall find me,' Prov. viii. 17. Even mourning and woe, which the sinner must eat, in earliest infancy he desires and commands that and with the bitterness of which he must be filled, the young should be given unto God. “Suffer,' before ever Christ can become, in his mouth, as says he, “the little children to come unto me, and honey for sweetness.' It is the dry and parched forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of land through which he must pass ere he can ev heaven,' Luke xviii. 17. What encouragement know what it is to pant after the water brooks of is there in such language to Christian parents, to a finished and a free salvation. It is the voice travail, as it were, in birth again, till Christ be from heaven, like the voice of many waters, like formed in the hearts of their offspring the hope the noise of a mighty thunder, proclaiming the of glory. If the Saviour himself is so deeply terrors of avenging justice, that must first rouse concerned for the spiritual well-being of youthful him from his death-like slumber,—that his ear disciples,-if he watches for their souls with so may be ready to welcome the gentler sound of tender a love,—if he has given them assurances the “harpers harping with their harps,' that he of his fostering care and unwearied kindness so may be moved to listen with gratitude and joy strong and comforting,—why should their earthly to the messengers of mercy proclaiming 'peace guardians fail or be discouraged. He knows, and on earth and good-will to men.' sympathizes in all their anxieties,-he enters But these “good news and glad tidings of with more than paternal solicitude into all their great joy which it was Paul's chiefest delight 'to feelings,—he hears their most secret prayers, publish unto all people,' the perversity and imwhen in silence and solitude they are wrestling piety of man, not content with despising and with God in fervent supplications that the objects setting them at nought, strove to cover with of their affection may be kept from the evil that reproach and dishonour. The doctrines of free is in the world, and saved with an everlasting grace,--the glorious and marvellous scheme of salvation. The Good Shepherd, the Great Shep- redemption through the righteousness of Christ, herd, the Chief Shepherd, is 'touched with a without works of the law,—was vilified and