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THE NATURE AND REMEDIES OF
Ir is a command of the apostle Paul, that the Christian should" look, not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen *." From a neglect of this instruction, mucia of the uneasiness of our walk will be found to arise. Eucompassed with sensible objects, conversant in our situations with "the things that are seen," we too frequently lose sight of those greater realities to which we should be principally attentive.
When a sinner is first brought under the teaching of the divine Spirit, the most grand and interesting discoveries are made. The Scriptures call these discoveries in general, “the revelation of Christ Jesus † ;" and compare them to the light which was first introduced into the natural creation: " God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts." Under this gracious illumination, he, who was once darkness, is now light in the Lord §. The things which are not seen by the natural eye, are unfolded to his view. He perceives his own state of guilt and impotency; he sees the eternal ruin which lay before him; he discerns the glory, excellency, and suitableness of the Lord Jesus; and is perfectly conscious of the vanity of all things temporal; and of the nearness, certainty, and importance of the things which are eternal. Faith is to him" the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen "his mind is fixed; his eye and his heart are occupied; he sees the divine promises, though afar off, and is persuaded of them, and embraces them; and confesses that he is a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth .
Happy would it be if the Christian were always thus; but it is not so. The world presses eagerly around him; the cares of this life, the deceitfulnesss of riches, and the lusts of other things, have an evident and lamentable influence **. things which are seen," too often claim an undue measure of attention. The love of a crucified Redeemer is not that prompt, abiding, operative, and constraining principle which it should be. Faith languishes; Satan, sin, and the world, have too much power; and, what increases the evil, we are sometimes least awake to our disorders when they are most prominent and dangerous: least alarıned at our disease when its increase is most fatal and destructive. As the mortified limb occasions no acute or distracting pains, so, the farther we wander from the narrow way, we are less distressed for our situation, and less dise posed to return.
2 Cor. iv. 18.
2 Cor. iv. 6.
¶ Heb. xi. 13.
Eph. v. 8.
** Mark iv. 19.
But it may naturally be asked, What are the means which, in the hands of the Eternal Spirit, will tend to quicken the sleeping Christian, and urge him to live the life which he lives in the fresh by the faith of the Son of God ++? The public ordinances of the house of God are eminently calculated for this end. The word of God is the usual means by which life, strength, fervour, and devotedness, are awakened in our souls. It is the food which God has appointed for the nourishment of the divine life t. Eternal things are thereby impressed with new power on the mind; the influence of an ensnaring world is counteracted; the glories of the spiritual state are again opened to the view; Jesus Christ is evidently set forth as crucified
The diligent reading of the Scriptures is equally important; they are our standard, our rule, our compass, our chart; they stand opposed to the fluctuating, ignorant, and absurd notions of the world: every case is there treated, every desire met, every emergency consulted: it is by them hid in our hearts, and brought into experience by divine faith, that we resist sin, oppose Satan, are quickened when we languish, comforted when we despond, and directed when we doubt.
But, without earnest and perpetual prayer, all other means will fail. This is the duty to which the declining Christian has need to be exhorted. All evils in our tempers and lives, may undoubtedly be traced to our closets. "We have not, because we ask not" Prayer is spiritual breath. He that does not pray, does not live. There is no duty which tends so immediately to oppose and weaken the power of sin, and the deadening and benumbing influence of our intercourse with the world, as holy communion with God; nor is there any duty which is so much the mean of quickening, increasing, and strengthening every heavenly affection and desire. I am persuaded, the generality of Christians are glaringly deficient in this duty. The formal, cold, and abridged seasons of devotion, which satisfy the most of us, lie, in truth, at the bottom of our multiplied complaints and miscarriages. We are commanded to pray without ceasing; to watch unto prayer; in every thing, by prayer and supplication to make our requests known unto God. If we would prevail with Jacob, we must wrestle with him.
Finally, A grand mean of maintaining habitual impressions of divine things, is by cultivating an humble dependent spirit. He who is most sensible of his need, and implores most fervently the Holy Ghost to guide, enlighten, and sanctify him, will be the most prosperous character. The direction of St.Jude
++ Gal. ii. 20.
2 Pet. ii. 2.
Thess. v. 17.
↑ Gal. iii. 1.
* James iv. 2. 1 Pet. iv. 7. Phil. iv. 6. Gen. xxxii. 24.
may be profitably extended to every similar duty. He exhorts us to pray in the Holy Ghost: "Praying in the Holy Ghost §, under his teaching, and by his grace. Whatever the Christian undertakes, let him do it in this Spirit. If he reads the Bible, let him read in the Holy Ghost; if he hears the gospel preached, let him hear in the Holy Ghost; if he prays, or meditates, or examines his state, or confesses his sin, let him do it in the Holy Ghost. May the God of hope fill us with all glory and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost! CLERUS.
THE NEW PLANET.
We have seen his sign in the East, and are come to worship him, Mat. ii, 2.
LATELY spending an evening with my esteemed friend Eusebius, a gentleman, whom I will call Euphemius, took occasion to remark on the recent discovery of a new planet, by Piazzi, in Sicily, and called by him the Ceres Ferdinandia, about half the size of our moon, and performing its revolution round the sun in about four and a half of our years. He added, that he had just read, in a celebrated Philosophical Journal, of another planet, of still smaller dimensions, and equally slow in its celestial progress, which had been called the Pallas. Both these, he observed, had been called Asteriods; and, from their having so long escaped the acute eye of the astronomer, he sup posed it very probable, that our system might contain more, perhaps, even many more such little planets, to reward, by their discovery, the research of future philosophers.
The company heard this intelligence with much attention: and Benevolus, who was present, endeavoured to give a moral improvement to the subject, which was worthy of his cha
Benevolus. How just is the observation of the venerable patriarch Job, "Lo! these are parts of his ways!" for, when we have pushed our enquiries to the utmost, how little do we know of the immense works of the Supreme Being! and how infinitely distant are we from penetrating into his presence who dwells in light inaccessible, and is concealed from us by the splendor of his glory!
Eusebius. True, Sir; but we cannot worship an unknown God. I wish this star might be like that which the Magi saw, and which led them to the place where Jesus was! I long to contemplate the works of Nature as well as grace through a Mediator, and to crown the head of my adorable Redeemer with
rays of glory, drawn from all the discoveries of philosophy and
Bence. But I fear, Sir, you carry matters too far; and that, in ascribing these honours to the Son of Man, you derogate from those of the Supreme Being, who is his God and Father as well as ours.
Euseb. No fear at all, Sir. This is the Man whom God delighteth to honour;" to whom he commands the worship of men, and the adoration of angels.
Benev. O, Sir, but you know those words are sometimes taken in a very lax sense in Scripture; and must not be applied to Jesus in the same sense as to the Supreme Creator.
Euseb. Indeed, Benevolus, I know of no Creator above him, er beside him: "All things were made by him, and for him; and without him was not any thing made that is made."
Benez. That, I confess, is Scripture language; but, I conceive, it requires much qualification in the interpretation. Without entering, however, into controversy on this point, permit me to ask, Do you not think, by thus referring all the glories of Nature and of grace to our Saviour, you slight the divine Father, and are in danger of offending him by ascribing every thing to the Son.
[Eusebius here entered somewhat at length into the objection; and, by the following answer, closed the conversation on this subject.]
Euseb, God forbid that I should derogate from the glory of the Father or of the Holy Spirit. Most assuredly I cannot do this by honouring the Son; because the Father considers himself as peculiarly honoured by this conduct; and here I will venture to state to you what has often struck me in reading the Scriptures, especially the New Testament, namely, that there appears in God himself a peculiar anxiety, if I may so speak, to exalt on all occasions the divine Redeemer; a disposition not only different from, but even opposite to, that cautious temper which endeavours, by criticism and by carnal reason, to strip him of his glories. And I take the case to stand thus: Neither, in the plan of nature or grace, does the divine Father ever appear in an inferior character to that of Deity Supreme,
In his whole round of attributes complete."
But it is otherwise with the Son; he humbled himself, he made himself nothing, and of no reputation; he was despised and rejected of men. Several things in the scheme of redemption appear, therefore, planned on purpose to counteract this, and to secure a due revenue of glory to the Son of God, as well as to reward the meritorious, sufferings of the Son of Man. Let me be permitted to state a few of them.
1. In his incarnation. God, in human nature, appears a mystery, dazzling to the faith of angels. When he bringeth his first-begotten into the world, they are therefore assembled around his cradle, by that command," Let all the angels of God worship him!" And was it not at this time they appeared to the shepherds? and (O! could a mortal eye have traced them!) no sooner had they paid their homage to their InfantLord, than they fly, with harps still in their hands, and perhaps the same song upon their lips, to announce the joyful tidings to the Jewish shepherds.
2. In his ministry. It might have well suited the modesty of the Saviour's character to have spoken, like the prophets his forerunners, and the apostles his successors, always in the Father's name. But, as some counterbalance to the meanness of his appearance, he speaks with the authority of a God;and lo!" even the winds and the seas obey him!" Not only doth he work miracles, but he forgives sins in his own name, with a "Verily, I say unto thee!" And wherefore "hath the Son of Man power upon earth to forgive sins?" Undoubtedly, to prove the divinity of his character; for "Who can forgive sins but God only?".
3. In his resurrection and ascension. This was an angelic festival. The chariots of God were all assembled, as at Sinai. "The morning-stars sang together; and all the sons of God shouted for joy!" And whence this public exhibition of his glory? That his disciples might be well assured that he was received up to his former glories, -"where he was before."
4. In his mission of the Holy Spirit. Why was he to be sent by Jesus? Why take of the things of Jesus? Was it not to aggrandize the character of the Son of God?
5. In his exaltation at the right hand of God. Because he humbled himself to death, even the death of the cross, therefore bath God exalted him, "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess!"
Lastly, In his appointment to judge the world. For this we have the most express authority: "The Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment to the Son;" for this very end, "That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father." Thus hath God provided for the honour of his Son; and seems in nothing to be so well pleased as in his being the universal object of love and adoration.
And permit me to add, that the New Testament writers themselves, appear to be actuated by the same spirit; and especially the apostle Paul, who seems to delight on all occasions to introduce, and even to reiterate, the name of Christ : and seldom does he quote a passage from the Old Testament which speaks of Deity and its attributes, but he immediately applics it to his beloved Master. See, for instance, his epistle