Imatges de pÓgina
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but has led them into the heart of the enemies country, and, if mercy do not interpose, into the very jaws of destruction. But the Lord Jesus is not an unconcerned spectator of their misery: he is ready to weep over them as over the murderous Jerusalem: and even while they reject him, he "would gladly gather them, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings.' He would give them an eye-salve, whereby they should be enabled to see clearly:" he would cause their chains to fall off, and would say to them, Go forth, and shew yourselves: yea, so desirous is he to exercise mercy towards them, that nothing but a determined rejection of his grace can involve them in final ruin.-]

2. To penitents "bowed down" under a sense of sin

[Whatever be the afflictions under which we groan, we may carry them all to him, with an assured expectation of sympathy and succour, since he is at all times "a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress." But if sin be our burthen, if a sense of guilt lie heavy on our conscience, if our indwelling corruption be to us as a putrid carcase from which we cannot get loose," and which causes us to loathe and abhor ourselves, we need not fear but that our Lord will soon come to our help: "He will never break a bruised reed or quench the smoking flax, but will bring forth judgment unto victory." The sighs and groans of a contrite soul will surely enter into his ears, and call forth his almighty aid. He may indeed for wise purposes suffer the pressure to be heavy and of long continuance, insomuch that the weeping penitent may be ready to say, "The Lord will not hear, neither will the Almighty regard me:" but at the fittest season he will interpose, to revive the drooping spirit, and to "make the bones which he hath broken to rejoice:" "he will take the beggar from the dunghill to set him among the princes."]

3. To "the righteous" who are delivered from the power of sin

[They are justly deemed "righteous," who, in the habit of their minds, and the general tenor of their lives, are devoted to God. Allowed sin, of whatever kind it were, would exclude us from this number, and mark us as children of the devil :* but if we be really clothed with the Redeemer's righteousness, and "walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," we need not fear to take to ourselves this honourable appellation.a And

¶ Alluding to 2 Kin. vi. 18-21.

s Isai. xlix. 9. with Acts v. 18-20.

u This is the idea alluded to Rom. vii. 24.

x Ps. xxxviii. 2, 4, 6, 8, 21, 22. and cxlii. 6, 7. y 1 Sam. ii. 7, 8.

z 1 John iii. 8.

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Rev. iii. 18.

t Isai. xxv. 5.

a Rom. viii. 1.

if this character be ours, the Lord loves us, not merely as he does sinners in general, with a love of complacency: "he joys over us with joy, he rests in his love, he joys over us with singing." There is not any blessing which our souls can want, but his love will bestow it. We say not, That he will forbear to chasten us, (for that would be a mark of hatred rather than of lovec) but, That he will deal with us in all things as a wise and tender parent, administering to us such things, in such a measure, at such a time, and in such a manner, as his unerring wisdom knows to be best for us.]

But we cannot rightly appreciate the Saviour's love, unless we notice particularly

II. Its unremitted exercise

Long before David existed in the world, our Lord had shewn forth all his love to his people in the wilderness; nor did he ever leave that ungrateful nation without abundant tokens of his regard. In the days of his sojourning on earth his whole life was spent in doing good to the most indigent and most unworthy. Nor has he yet suspended the exercise of his grace; he still manifests his regard to his people, and effects his purposes towards

them

1. By his providence

[Wonderful are the ways whereby he accomplishes his own eternal counsels. The histories of Joseph and his family, and of Esther and the captive Jews, give us an insight into the things which are yet daily passing in the world. Many events appear to us casual and trifling: but the truth is, that not one is casual, not one is trifling: every the minutest circumstance is ordered by the Lord, and forms a link in the chain of his unerring providence. Not a hair of our head falls but by his appointment; and it remains with us to mark his dispensations with care, and improve them with diligence. Let any whose eyes have been opened, or whose souls have been liberated from spiritual bondage, look back and see the way by which they have been brought to the enjoyment of these mercies; and they shall find such a mysterious concatenation of causes and effects as will furnish them with matter of astonishment to all eternity.]

2. By his grace

[It is not said in the text that the Lord had done or should do those particular things ascribed to him: but he is

b Zeph. iii.. 17.

c Heb. xii. 6-8.

spoken of as actually doing them; so that there is no day, no hour, wherein he is not engaged in this blessed work. He makes his word effectual at this time, no less than formerly, "to turn men from darkness unto light, and from the power of satan unto God." At this time also he heals the wounded spirit, and sheds abroad his love in the hearts of his faithful people. What if his word have not as much energy as in the days of the apostles? or his Spirit be not poured out in such an abundant measure? "Has he forgotten to be gracious, or, in anger, shut up his tender mercies?" Surely there are many in these days, who can say, I was once in bondage, but now enjoy liberty; I was blind, but now see; I was bowed down under a heavy load of temptation and corruption, but my strength has been renewed like the eagle's; I once had no idea what was meant by the sealing of the Spirit, or the witness of the Spirit, but I have now received such tokens of my Saviour's love, as have assured my mind, that my "Beloved is mine, and I am his." Let it be known then that Christ is still communicating his blessings to his church, and that it is both our duty and our privilege to enjoy them.]

INFER

1. How great is the folly and wickedness of those who neglect Christ!

[If our maladies were of a bodily nature, and relief were offered us, should we not be deemed insane if we despised it? And, if our Benefactor had put himself to great expence and trouble to procure us that relief, would our contempt of him be thought a light offence? The application of this to our state is obvious. But let the energetic language of the text be marked: wherefore does the Psalmist no less than four times repeat the name of Christ? Is it not the more effectually to call our attention to him? and does not this in a very pointed manner reprove the sin of neglecting him? If then we would not greatly multiply our own sorrows, and rush on blindly to everlasting destruction, let us seek to experience his proffered mercies, and to become the objects of his unalterable love.]

2. How little reason is there for any one to entertain desponding fears!

[The state of those who are immured in dungeons under a sentence of condemnation, or are deprived of the faculty of vision, may be justly considered as desperate in the extreme, and as representing in very gloomy colours the condition of men's souls. But there is nothing impossible with God: our adorable Saviour is both able and willing to effect deliverance: and, if, like the woman in the gospel, we have been bowed

d

down under a spirit of infirmity for eighteen, or eighty, years, one word of his can instantly release us. And, if once we be interested in his righteousness, and renewed in the spirit of our minds, there is not any thing which we may not expect from him: if once he love us, he will love us to the end. Let none then say, There is no hope: but let us entertain worthy thoughts of our Almighty deliverer: for, however much our expectations of mercy may be raised, we can never be disappointed, if we put our trust in him.]

d Luke xiii. 11, 12,

• John xiii. 1.

CLXXX. THE ADVENT OF JESUS A GROUND OF JOY. Zech. ix. 9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

THERE is scarcely any circumstance relating to the life and death of Christ which was not made a subject of prophecy many hundred years before he came into the world-Even things the most improbable in themselves were predicted, that by their accomplishment the truth of his divine mission might be more fully manifest-That the words before us do indeed relate to him, is certain; because the voice of inspiration assures us that they were fulfilled when he entered into Jerusalem riding on the foal of an ass-In discoursing on them we shall consider I. The description given of Jesus

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In his office he is the "King of Zion"

[The whole universe is under his dominion, seeing that he is "King of kings, and Lord of lords"-But he is in a more eminent manner King of Zion, because all the members of Zion are his subjects willingly and by an unfeigned surrender of themselves to him-They gladly receive his laws; and he constantly affords them his protection-As the church in the wilderness was under a visible theocracy, so is the church in all ages, and every individual in the church, really, though invisibly, under the care and government of Jesusa-]

In his character he is the best of princes

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H I just

[His justice appears in every law which he has enacted, and his righteousness in every part of his administrationThere are indeed many things in his government, which we are not at present able to account for; but the day of judgment will clear up all the present obscurities, and manifest that every the minutest occurrence was ordered by him with unerring wisdom, goodness, and truth-It will then be seen that "righteousness was at all times the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins"

29b

He is powerful

[Earthly kings may be just, yet not be able to screen their subjects from the injustice of others-But Jesus "has salvation" in his hand for all those who call upon him-Does sin oppress us? he can deliver us both from its guilt and powerDoes satan assault and buffet us?" His grace shall be sufficient" for the weakest of his people-Does "the fear of death keep us in bondage?" He can make us triumphant both in the prospect of it now, and in a happy resurrection at the last day-]

He is lowly

[Great power and dignity are too often the means of engendering pride in our hearts-The kings of the earth would think it a degradation to converse familiarly with their meanest subjects-But our Almighty monarch possesses a lowliness of mind, which makes him accessible to every subject in his dominions-There is not any moment when we may not enter into his presence, nor any complaint which we may not pour into his bosom-His ear is ever open to hear, and his hand ever stretched out to relieve his needy suppliants-The same lowliness which induced him, at his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, to ride upon a young ass, with no other furniture than the clothes of his poor disciples, when he might as easily have commanded all the pomp and splendor of an earthly monarch, still actuates him in his exalted state-There is no office to which he will not condescend for the benefit of those who wait upon him-]

From this description of Jesus we may well be prepared

to hear

II. The exhortation to rejoice in him

The advent of such a prince is a proper ground of joy for all people.

[When first he came in the flesh, the event was announced by angels as glad tidings of great joy to all people—And all

b Isal. xi. 5.

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