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words it appears the Lord will give us strength according to our day, and will not leave us under the power of our ene my. Many are the scriptures which might be produced, which confirm the words of the Apostle, but time would fail to quote one half of them. "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn." Again, "Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. And all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." "When thou passeth through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour," Here we see, what abundant encouragement the Lord gives to his tempted followers, to cast their care upon him and to put their whole trust and confidence in him; so shall they be supported and comforted, and brought safely through all their trials into the wealthy place, where afflictions and temptations shall be no more.
While we continue in the path of duty, we have nothing to fear; for our help standeth in the name of the Lord, who made both heaven and earth.
How encouraging are the words of Eliphaz to Job; "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty. For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole. He shall deliver thee in six troubles; yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war, from the power of the sword. Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue, neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh. At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth; For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field; and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee. And thou shalt know thy tabernacle shall be in peace and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin." Lo, thus shall the man be blessed who lives in the fear of the Lord, and steadily walks in his righteous ways. Who that duly consider these things, but would be of the same mind with
Moses, of whom the Apostle says; That when he came of age, he refused to be called the son of Pharoah's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. "Be not then weary in well doing, for in due time we shall reap, if we faint not." Yet a little while and all our conflicts will be for ever over, and we shall rest in a peaceable and quiet habitation, and live in the full enjoyment of God for ever.
If any should say, "But seeing the troubles and cros ses which the righteous meet with, are so many and great, will it not be the best way to enjoy the world for the present, and have nothing to do with religion till a little before death? To such unwise persons it is sufficient to answer, "Is your life in your own power? Or rather, is it not in the hand of God?" And will you sin against him who can take away your breath whenever he pleaseth? Can you enjoy the world, or any solid happiness in it, till you enjoy God himself, and the riches of his grace? If the scriptures declare "Many are the troubles of the righteous," does it not also affirm, Many are the troubles of the wicked? But where shall they find a deliverer? Let the concluding words of this chapter be considered by all such persons: "Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; shall lie down in sorrow." How well would it be then, for all such to "Seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call upon him while he is near;" and so improve the day of their visitation, that they also may be happy with God for ever.
ON CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP.
MALACHI iii. 16, 17.
Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name: And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own Son that serveth him.
T requires but a small degree of attention, in reading this Prophecy, to perceive that the Jewish nation was then in a very degenerate state; and that those who stood in the highest stations in the church of God, were deeply corrupted, and had made themselves vile in the sight of the Lord. The priest; and ministers of God whom he had appointed to guide and instruct the people, had turned away from the holy commandment delivered to them, and the common people in general had followed their bad example. Hence this faithful servant of God reproves their wickedness, and denounces the heaviest judgments against them. "A Son," saith the Prophet, "honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is my honour? and if I te a master where is my fear? saith the Lord of Hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name! And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon my altar, and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee?" It is answered, "In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible." It appears that they not only had profaned the holy ordinances of the blessed God; but were so hardened in wickedness, and blinded by long continued habits of sin, that they called in question the justness of the faithful reproofs of the Prophet, and attempted to justify themselves in their evil ways. And as they obstinately refused instruction, and slighted the loving reproofs of this servant of God, he shews them what would be the dreadful consequence. "Now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you: If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory to my Name, saith the Lord of Hosts, I will even curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to
heart." How dreadful beyond description, minst be the state of that people, to whom the God of Love speaks in this terrible manner! If the Lord curse our blessings, how completely wretched must we be !
As the priests, whose lips ought to keep knowledge, and at whose mouth the people should receive the divine law," they being the messengers of the Lord to the people, had thus wickdedly departed from God, we need not wonder if the people had done the same. Accordingly, the prophet complains of them also; "Even from the days of your fathers, ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Will a man rob God yet ye have robbed me but ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings." And it then follows; "Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation." Into this deplorable state had sin brought the peculiar people of God, in the time of Malachi.
Yet even in these degenerate days, these days of darkness, and almost universal depravity, the Lord had his secret ones, who still honoured his sacred Name. The faithful in different ages of the world, have been brought low but the Lord hath never left himself without witnesses, he hath always had a chosen remnant, a seed who served him. Thus it was at this gloomy season, there were those who feared the Lord, and who strengthened each other's bands, by speaking one to another, and God approved of their conduct; no matter then who despised or condemned, them.
In the words of the text, we have, First, The character; and then, Secondly, The conduct of the people of God described. We will therefore endeavour to consider both the one and the other, as they are here laid down before us.
First, We have the character of the people of God described; "They are such as fear his sacred Name,"
Under the Old Testament dispensation, the people of God stand distinguished from the rest of mankind, in that they are said to fear the Lord, and it is easy to observe, that this is an exceedingly comprehensive expression, and includes in it the whole of religion. But although under the Mosaic dispensation, the people of God were not so highly favoured as we now are under the gospel, as their light was not so clear, and their privileges not so great as and therefore they were only said, to fear the Lord; yet many of them were favoured with clear views of the mercy and love of God, and of their interest in him: they
were blest with his gracious presence, and frequently walked in the light of his countenance.
The fear of God, which his people live under the influence of, is a gracious habit wrought in the soul by the Holy Ghost, which is attended with a sacred awe, an holy reverence for his Majesty, and a sincere desire to please him in all things, by carefully and constantly avoiding whatsoever they know to be contrary to his holy will, and by doing that which is well-pleasing in his sight. The truth of this will appear from those scriptures, where the nature of the fear of God is described. The fear of the Lord," saith the wise man," is to depart from, or to hate iniquity;" It is a natural consequence of the fear of God being planted in the mind. The fear of God and the love of sin, cannot dwell together in the same person, at the same time. But as we are taught in every part of the word of God, that the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord, and that by grace we are, and must be saved, so it is easy to observe here, that a man being a fallen creature, and as an Apostle speaks, is carnal and sold under sin, it follows of course, that while. he lies in the ruins of the fall, he cannot be said with propriety, to hate sin. But on the contrary, it may be said with the greatest degree of truth, that he loves it, and finds a sort of pleasure in the commission of it. Nay, so deeply is the mind of man vitiated, that there are not a few who not only delight in gratifying their sensual appetites and passions, however sinful in the sight of God, but O! humiliating truth! "They have pleasure in those who do so!" Hence we see the absolute necessity of divine grace; of the illuminating influences of the Holy Spirit, in order to our experiencing the fear of God; for as we shall never have proper views of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and of its hateful and destructive consequences, till divine light is communicated; so we shall never hate sin, till this is our experience.
The law of God is spiritual, and every commandment is holy, just, and good; but as it was with the Apostle, so it is with us; we can only see the spirituality of the divine law; and the length and breadth of the commandment, when the day spring from on high graciously visits us, It is not till then, that we see sin in its own proper colours, its hateful contrariety to the will of God, how abominable it is in his sight, and what dreadful consequences it is attended with; how it dishonours God, defiles the conscience, depraves the mind; and would bring eternal destruction upon M® m