« AnteriorContinua »
consists. Devils are neither gluttons, drunkards, nor adulterers. in the common sense of the words, they have neither committed murder, nor theft. But they are haters of God.
It is the characteristic of the Christian life that it is wholly produced and governed by faith in the Son of God. Faith is the master-key which opens and shuts all the avenues of the renewed soul. Christians are therefore denominated “the “ faithful in Christ Jesus.” Should it be asked, What are those objects of faith which govern the conduct of those who are under its influence? It may be replied that the whole word of God, as revealing objects of the highest importance in which all mankind are interested, is the spring and rule of a Christian life. But this answer to the inquiry is too general to affect the conscience. It inay therefore further be observed, that the value of the soul is one of the first objects of faith which awakens the mind and influences the conduct. By a discovery hereof serious reflection is produced, and a solicitude to secure happiness in a future state. This leads to an examination of the Divine law. And when its nature and sanctions are perceived, conviction of sin is produced. A future judgment, and an eternity of happiness or misery, enforce the necessity of listening to the voice of conviction, and of inquiring after salvation. Hereby the sinner is led to the cross of Christ, where his mind is captivated by a sight of the dying Saviour. New desires and aversions, joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, now take pose session of his soul; and he determines, through grace, henceforth to live not unto himself, but to Him that died for him, and rose again. To secure the approbation of his adorable Redeemer, and to become meet for a place in His kingdom, become now the governing motives of his conduct. He acts like a stranger on earth, and has “his “ conversation in heaven, from whence he looks “ for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ."
The whole tenour of our collect now under review is such, that it is exclusively adapted to the lips of those who “are walking not after the flesh “ but after the Spirit;" whose “ affections are “ set on things above, and not on things on the “ earth.” For it is evidently supposed that those who use it “ trust in God," and are “ruled and “guided” by Him. The reader's conscience must decide whether this supposition be justified in his own case, and whether he can honestly adopt the prayer which is subjoined as an expression of his own fervent desire.
Our collect consists of a preface and a prayer. In the former we address our covenant a God" as “the protector of all that trust in Him, with“out whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy;" and in the latter we implore grace, that, under the rule and guidance of our God, "we may so pass " through things temporal that finally we lose “ not the things eternal.”
In speaking of the protection which God affords to His people, we might enlarge on the security from temporal evils which He affords them. For He not only preserves them in common with others from innumerable calamities to which they are exposed, but, when He permits affliction to come upon them, He protects them from its poison, and converts it into a blessing. “ work together for good to them that love " God' and are the called according to His
« All things
“ From Heaven's rebuke what heavenly blessings flow! “ Happy who scorn not the reforming blow : “O scorn not thou ; the same kind wounding hand • Its balm diffuses, and applies its band. " Then ills on ills about thy path may swell ** In vain! His arm will ev'ry ill repel.”*
Of Divine protection from spiritual evils we mày speak with still stronger confidence. For though believers, like all other sinners; are by nature exposed to every evil, yet by flying for refuge to the hope set before them in the gospel they are secured from every threatening danger. “ Their place of defence is the munition of
rocks, " for God is their “shield and buckler." They are, as sinners, liable to Divine wrath, but “ there is no condemnation to them who are in « Christ Jesus.” Eternal life is given them, and they can “never perish,” none “shall pluck " them out of their heavenly Father's hand.” They may be assaulted by Satan, and may dread his infernal power, but they are assured of present protection and final victory. “He that dwelleth is in the secret place of the Most High, shall “abide under the shadow of the Almighty. He
may say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my « fortress: my God, in Him will I trust. Surely “ He will deliver (those who trust in Him) from " the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome
pestilence. He will cover them with His fea" thers, and under His wings shall they trust : « His truth shall be their shield and buckler." And, moreover, “God shall bruise Satan under “ their feet shortly." Those who trust in God are also protected from the tyrannizing power of indwelling sin; for He has promised that “sin
* Scott's Book of Job in English Verse, chap. v, 17, 18, 19. VOL. II.
o shall not have dominion" over those, who “are
not under the law but under grace.” Frequently they appear indeed to themselves to be almost, if not intirely, vanquished; but even when reduced to the last extremity, they revive, their courage is renewed, and victory again declares for them. The glory of God and the final happiness of His redeemed require that the corruption of their nature should for a while exist and struggle for the mastery, in order that His grace may be the more magnified in its destruction at last, and that pride may be for ever hidden from their eyes. But ultimately He will utterly destroy it, and in the interval afford them sufficient grace to maintain the conflict with it. The bush that burned with fire and was not consumed is an apt emblem of the believer's bosom during the present life. Its preservation arose from God's presence in it. A tower beleaguered by its enemies without, and divided by a mutiny within, is apparently in a hopeless state; but, if Omnipotence be engaged for its safety, it cannot be over
But who are those who enjoy Divine protection? Is it a common blessing? Is there no. discrimination among the fallen race of Adam with respect to it? Those only “who trust in God" enjoy it in that extent to which our collect refers. Those indeed “who know not God, and who “ obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ," are defended by God's providential care and restraining grace from innumerable evils, while they continue unconscious of the power by which they are protected. But their deliverances are all of a temporal and outward nature. They have no security from spiritual dangers. They are exposed to the wrath of God, are a prey to the “roaring
“ lion who walketh about seeking whom he may “ devour," and are the miserable captives and slaves of corruption.
The persons then who are favoured with Divine protection are all those, and those only, “who I trust in God." This is one of the most common characteristics of the Godly in the Scriptůres. And it is reasonable to expect that it should be
for faith takes the precedence of all other graces of the Christian character. Those who are here described, perceive their exposure to all the evils of which sin is the meritorious and instrumental cause both in time and eternity. They know their inability to protect themselves; and therefore they confide in God for deliverance from eternal destruction, and from all its preludes and anticipations. Reader, dost thou trust in God ? Scrutinize the habitual frame of thy heart, and let conscience dictate the reply.
The preface of our collect, continuing its strain of adoration and gratitude, proceeds to say that “ without God nothing is strong.” It is happy for us that “help is laid on One who is mighty “ to save, on God manifest in the flesh." For finite interposition, of whatever kind, could have availed nothing to the expiation of our guilt, or to the conversion of our souls. And even after that we have received the atonement,” and are " turned from darkness to light, from the power “ of Satan unto God;" our strength, independent of God's continual help, is like that of Sampson when his Nazarite-locks were shorn-it is perfect weakness. Without Divine help the Christian would be, like a machine that has lost its main spring, incapable of motion; like the machine of nature, were its primum mobile the sun banished from its system; or like the human body,