« PreviousContinue »
tifying grace; nothing but an entire and unreserved dedication of thyself to him, who gave himself for thee. O then cast thyself now at the feet of a loving Saviour. He will not spurn thee from him, though thou deservest to be cast into the nethermost hell!
O! may I daily thirst for these blessings. I would now draw nigh to the fountain of living water. May I freely take of thee, O! thou Spirit of consolation. By thy sacred influence may I feel my soul refreshed and strengthened, whilst journeying to the land of which sovereign grace hath said: I will give it you.
Blessed Jesus! I am not worthy to approach thee. But here is my encouragement; that those only are invited, who have "no money;" no merit of their own; and I have none. Thy righteousness is my only boast and plea. Thou camest not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. How gracious then is this Gospel call to a world of perishing sinners: "Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." O! that all may hear and embrace the offered mercy.
Hasten the glorious period, when all shall come with singing unto thee; when the church shall lengthen her cords, and strengthen her stakes; yea, when the whole earth shall be filled with thy glory. Come, Lord Jesus: come quickly. Amen.
Thou fountain of eternal life,
Whose streams for ever flow,
And all thy bliss bestow.
Refresh my soul with living streams,
Till holy fruits abound;
A chosen tree of righteousness,
Come, Holy Ghost, thy grace impart ;
Like tender flowers we ope the bud,
Yet on this little day of life
What mighty things depend
Eternal torments, or the joy
That knows nor bound nor end!
Then haste, blest Spirit, to my breast;
Speak peace, thou blessed Comforter,
LIX. ON THE BURNING BUSH.
Much valuable instruction and consolation may be derived, from the consideration of the vision with which Moses was favoured in the desert of Midian.
"The angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. And he looked, and behold the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed." (Exod. iii. 2.)
Like Moses, I would now turn aside, and contemplate "this great sight," at once so instructive and consoling.
This bush, which in the original signifies a thorny bush, is a fit emblem of the church of God. Considered in itself, it is weak and worthless; a bramble bush, the lowest among the shrubs. "You see your calling, brethren," writes the apostle to the church at Corinth, how, that not many wise men
after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise: and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence."
"The bush burned with fire;" which justly represents the state of the church in this evil world.
The malice of Satan-the persecutions of the ungodly-the corruptions of the heart-the trials and afflictions which come immediately from God for the purification of his people, may well be compared to fire.
The bush, though on fire, "was not consumed." This is a wonderful sight indeed. Here the grace and power of Jesus are eminently displayed. The church has always been in a furnace; and yet never consumed; yea, rather purified and brightened in proportion to the intensity of the flame. The cause of the church's preservation is revealed to us. The Lord was in the bush. "God is in the midst of her, therefore shall she not be moved." "The gates of hell shall not prevail against her." "Fear not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God." "No weapon formed against thee shall prosper." "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
This remarkable vision should teach us humility. The church is not compared to a stately cedar, but to a bramble bush. We must have low thoughts of ourselves. Man is naturally proud. This inbred evil, even after conversion, rebels against the motions. of the Spirit. Hence arises spiritual pride.
When the Lord graciously imparts his gifts for
the edification of the Church, how prone we are to take the praise of these endowments to ourselves. This made the lowly-minded apostle expostulate with the Corinthian converts: "Who maketh thee to differ from another, and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it." "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” Moses equally cautioned the ancient people of God against this subtle poison. "The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people, for ye were the fewest of all people; but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers." "Not for thy righteousness, or for the righteousness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess this land; but for the wickedness of these nations, the Lord thy God doth drive them from before thee; that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand therefore that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness, for thou art a stiffnecked people.
How slow are we to learn this humbling, yet precious truth that salvation is all of grace, rich abounding to the chief of sinners!
The beauty and glory of the church is derived from Christ. He is the glory, as well as the glorifier of his people Israel. Filled with his Spirit, and bearing his image, the church "looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.”
Jesus beautifies the meek with salvation. "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garment of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of
righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
By the grace of God, I am what I am." the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory."
From this vision, we are taught to expect trials whilst journeying through this desert world. Sometimes the storm rages violently, and the flame burns with awful intenseness. Yet nothing of the church shall be consumed, but its dross. Thus the malice of Satan and the world is overruled for good. Persecution tends only to refine the saints of God. It quickens their graces, and puts new life into their prayers. They run to the strong-hold, and are safe unto the fostering care of an Almighty Saviour. At such trying seasons, the chaff and the withered branches are consumed. Mere nominal professors cannot endure those persecutions, which are designed in God's providence to separate the precious from the vile. "It must needs be that offences come;' "that they which are approved, may be made manifest."
The consideration of "this great sight," should teach us confidence in the faithfulness and power of Jesus. He is in the bush. He never leaves nor forsakes his people. "When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee"-is the gracious sustaining promise.
This vision of a bush burning, yet unconsumed, affords a striking view of the perpetuity of the Church of Christ. Nothing shall be suffered to destroy this treasure of Jehovah. It may be reduced; and often has been reduced to the lowest ebb; but in the most degenerate times God never left himself without a church, however few in num