Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

waits, - Infinity waits and draws while waiting, Excellence waits, and waiting transforms into excellence-blessings wait, and attract while waiting,—He waits on men. To follow finite good, is to seek good, though limited. To imitate finite excellence, is to aspire at excellence, even though but in part. To take God for an example, is to prosecute the course to boundless happiness and honour. Where he walks, there is sin rebuked, evil flees away, and corruption dies; there good is seen, a field of duty without limit stretches out, happiness immeasurable begins, and glory eternal opens. It was by his covenant that the scene of heavenly bliss was to be opened to sinners, and peopled by them. Taking hold upon it, the unnumbered millions for whom it was prepared, in imitation of him, make preparation for it. To follow these would be delightful and honouring; but would be to follow what is merely a copy, and only finite. What is it then to follow the great Original, the provider of glory, and honour, and immortality, to be dispensed to the eternal honour of his character, -God himself!

Finally. It is a duty to imitate God in Covenanting. The act of swearing by the name of God is holy. The performance of it is inculcated in the decalogue. Swearing on the part of the Most High is a manifestation of His holiness. Swearing on the part of men is at once an imitating of Him, and a holy service. When men endeavour to discharge the duties of the ten commandments, they are exercised to holiness, and acting in imitation of Him who only is holy. And accordingly these commandments are injunctions to imitate God. Enjoining therefore the duty of Covenanting, they inculcate that as an imitation of Him swearing by himself. Again, even as the exercise of keeping the Sabbath is enforced by the Divine example, so is that of entering into Covenant with

6. For

God. In the fourth commandment, the former duty is explicitly enjoined on that ground. in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day, and hallowed it.” 11 And although the observance of no other of the ten precepts is in the like manner commanded in them, they may all be viewed as declared obligatory, because of the example of God, an illustration of which is presented in this. The Lord set an example in the keeping of the Sabbath, and therefore men are called to keep it. But to the knowledge of his creatures, he acts according to the principles of the other commandments, and for the same reason that his example in resting on the Sabbath is to be followed, is his regard to the other dictates of his law to be made use of as furnishing examples of what to us is duty. He has made, and he makes and keeps Covenant engagements : and as his keeping of the Sabbath is a reason why his creatures are commanded to sanctify it, so his engaging in covenant is a ground on which they are called to the duty of vowing and swearing to him. But, besides, the exercise along with others, is unequivocally inculcated from the Divine example. The Lord said unto Moses,

Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy."12 To be holy, is to obey the Divine law in all its parts. The Lord is known to be holy, because he acts according to the principles of that law. To Covenant, therefore, is to do a part of the duty commanded in the words, “ Ye shall be holy ;” and to do so for the reason, “ I, the Lord your God, am holy,” is to engage in it according to his commands, because he has entered, and because he does enter, into covenant. Moreover, this duty 11 Exod. xx. 11.

12 Lev. xix, 2.

would seem to be emphatically taught in the words——" Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering ; (for he is faithful that promised.)”!3 The holding fast of the profession of faith implies the making of it; and both are therefore urged on the ground of the faithfulness of Him that promised; and He is introduced here as faithful, not merely in order that his people might depend upon him for the good offered, but as presenting to them an example according to which all should make and keep engagements to their brethren and to Him. And finally, this is shown to be incumbent by declarations leading to the imitation of the Redeemer. He Himself says,

in one of these—“ If any man serve me, let him follow me."14 The believer cannot follow Him to imitate him, as a Mediator obeying and dying for others. He cannot so follow him as acting in the nature of sipless man, or as the living and true God. He cannot so follow him, teaching by his Holy Spirit to all nations the way of life

He cannot so follow him as a Priest before the throne on high, making intercession for sinners. He cannot so follow him in the putting forth of almighty power for the conversion and edification of his people. He cannot so follow him to the throne of the universe, to rule over all things for the glory of God and the good of his people. But in many respects, he is required, nay in these words he is enjoined, to follow him. In general, in the discharge of all duty, he is called to follow him. In particular, to follow him in regarding all the ordinances of religion-unfolding a covenant relation to God;-in acknowledging a heavenly Father, as a child in covenant alone could do;--and in making a solemn confession of the truth of God, saying with him, though in circumstances infinitely humbler, “ To

13 Heb. x. 23. 14 John xii. 26.

and peace.

truth.”15

this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the

His people, were he to bid them, would follow him to prison and to death. And will they not habitually follow him—who confessed his own Divine character, to confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father ?16 Hence, in conclusion,

First. How important the exercise of following the Divine example in Covenanting! It gives a peculiar elevation to the mind. We are called to duty for the advancement of God's glory, and for our own advantage. And when we contemplate aright the exercise as sanctioned by the procedure of God, how distinctly are these brought before us! Was it not for the advantage of men that God entered into covenant from the days of eternity ? that he entered into covenant with man in innocence? that he entered into covenant with so many of our fallen race ?—and will it not be for this that He will yet enter into covenant with unnumbered millions to come? And as God thus sought the advantage of sinners, will they not in imitation of him seek it too? But higher still, was it not for his own glory that God revealed himself as a God in Covenant ? Was it not that he might make known what inherently belonged to Him, and even the manifestation of which could not add to his essential greatness? Was it not that he might teach his creatures gifted by his bounty while in the enjoyment of good to rise above themselves, so as to give scope to the manifestation of excellence, lovely because of itself, and not less lovely because of its tendency to attract others to be transformed into the unfading image of its own loveliness? How then ought all to be drawn by imitating God in this, to the manifestation of the excellence of the truth, that sinners may behold it, and being en. 15 John xviii. 37.

16 Phil. ii. 11.

abled to lay hold upon it, may drink of that fountain of delight to which it may lead, and which to eternity, though drawn upon by each of the redeemed, will remain alike unfailing and satisfying to all? And how ought all thus to endeavour to manifest that excellence which creatures were brought into existence to contemplate, were appointed as means to lead each other to examine, and which was to be displayed, not merely for ages, but that holy beings might be brought, if not in their natures, at least in their conceptions, to think in some small measure adequately of God, to eternity!

But again, and finally. To follow the example of God in Covenanting, is obligatory through life, and in all ages. The Lord sware in order to give men an assurance of the immutability of his purposes of mercy. “ For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.”...“ Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it is was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us.

And in order that men may arrive at the assurance of hope, they ought to have recourse to the use of this, as well as every other means of grace. The man who attempts prayer

does not give complete evidence of possessing the spirit of prayer; in order to show this, he must pray habitually. The individual who attempts to hope, must repeatedly have recourse to the exercise, before he have pleasing evidence of the existence within him of the hope that maketh not ashamed. Those who would be assured of the love of God being shed abroad in their hearts, must have it in habitual exercise within them;

but once,

17 Heb. vi. 13, 17, 18.

."17

« НазадПродовжити »