Page images

gives of this solemn event, is in

ON SELF-ACQUAINTANCE. Matt. xxv. 31, to the end.

This account is plainly incon- The knowledge of ourselves sistent with the idea of a literal is important, because without it, resurrection and a personal reign we shall never take our proper of the saints with Christ, so places, nor gain a sight of our many years before the consum: obligations. This knowledge is mation of all things.

always a fruit of solemnly call. According to Paul's account of ing ourselves to an account, and the resurrection, 1 Cor. xv. they of carefully watching the exerthat are Christ's will be raised at cises of our minds. Who does his second coming to judgment, not know, that two persons may and not before. At the sound for many years live in the same of the same trumpet, by which neighbourhood, and yet be so inthe dead shall be raised, the saints attentive to each other, as never then living will in a moment, in to form a particular acquaintthe twinkling of an eye, be chang: ance? They may readily recoged, and become incorruptible, nize each other's features and like the newly raised saints. voices ; and at the same time, in But is not this account of the an important sense, remain resurrection totally inconsistent strangers. Equally supposable with the opinion, that vast num. is it, that a person may live, in bers, even all the martyrs at least, this world, a very great stranger will be raised at the beginning of to himself. He may be busily the millennium, and made equal employed, all his days, and may with the angels, and reign with even distinguish himself for his Christ in glory; while all the exertions to obtain certain ends, saints living at that time, as well which the world may call lauda. as the vast multitudes, who will ble ; and yet never cultivate an be born and converted, during acquaintance with his own heart. the thousand years of unexam. With all his fame for worldly pled spiritual prosperity, are to wisdom, he may have neglected die and remain in their graves to call himself to an account, as until the end of the world. An a candidate for eternity; and, of account of similar import, and course, when summoned to apequally inconsistent with a literal pear before his God, he may resurrection and personal reign, find himself awfully deficient in we have 1 Thess. iv.

that kind of knowledge, which is From these considerations and the most important. others which might be mention: It is manifest, that they who ed, it appears both more rational view themselves, as they ought, and more scriptural, and even find time, notwithstanding all the the most obvious sense of the cares of this busy and ensnaring text, to understand the first re: world, to call home their wander. surrection in a figurative sense, ing thoughts, and to commune and that the millennium will be a with their own hearts. In this spiritual, and not a personal reign way, the faithful in every age of Christ upon earth.

have obtained a sight of their T. own vileness. Their seasons of

retirement and meditation persons of this description have times. I call to remembrance highly regarded. If, through my song in the night: I comunfaithfulness, they have neg- mune with mine own heart; lected these seasons, the conse- and my spirit made diligent quences have always been pain- search.” And in another Psalm ; ful. They have become, as it “I thought on my ways,and turnwere, afraid of themselves. ed my feet unto thy testimonies. They have felt that kind of em- I made haste, and delayed not, barrassment, in renewing an ac- to keep thy commandments." quaintance with their own Had not this pious man, amidst hearts, which is felt by two per. all his cares, reserved some sons, who, for a great length of time to commune with his own time, have neglected each other. heart, he would have lived and Conscious of having become died, like most other men, a strangers, they know not how, stranger to himself. At the at first, to use freedom.

close of an active and laborious To observe seasons of retire, life, he might have taken up the ment is a compliance with the sad lamentation, They made me duty, enjoined by our divine the keeper of the vineyards ; but Teacher, of entering into the mine own vineyard have I not closet and of shutting the door.kept. The object of such retirement is But, we have a brighter exmeditation, prayer and self-ac. ample than that of David, or of quaintance ; a privilege which the patriarchs. The Saviour of has been sought by the true the world had his seasons of friends of God in every age of withdrawing from the multithe world. Of the patriarch çude, who thronged around him Isaac we read, that “ he went out to hear his instructions, and even to meditate in the field at the from the disciples who composed even-tide.” Jacob, under his his particular family, that he troubles, was alone, all night, might commune with God and wrestling in prayer. David, as his own heart. This he viewed appears from his writings, was an important part of his duty, often employed in thinking on and, by his example, he has enhis own ways; or in reviewing joined the same all his his life and examining his heart, friends. To such precious seasons he The hours of retirement alluded, when he penned the and self-examination, which have following words, in the 77th now been represented to be so Psalm : “ In the day of my important, will, however, fail of trouble I sought the Lord: my being important to those who sore ran in the night, and ceased observe them, unless they are, not: my soul refused to be rightly improved. At such seacomforted. I remembered God, sons, we must have God's holy and was troubled : I complained, law in our view. Can we weigh and my spirit was overwhelmed. our characters, without having Thou holdest my eyes waking : recourse to some standard ? The I am so troubled that I cannot great standard, or test of characspeak. I have considered the ter, is the divine law. Every days of old, the years of ancient character is viewed by the

[ocr errors]


Searcher of hearts to be bad or tirement and meditation, who good, according to this standard. remain exceedingly ignorant of This, therefore, we ought to car- themselves, because when they ry with us to our closets, and have entered their closets, they places of retirement Into this have always neglected to take we oughi carefully to look, as in. the divine law with them. to a glass, that we may know Were they now to do this, what manner of persons we are. and to be faithful in com, The law, in all its strictness and paring themselves with this purity, should be imprinted on standard, their imagined attainour minds. How expressive of ments in religion might possibly a strong attachment to the di- vanish like the morning dew, vine law are the following words before the rising sun; and they of David, “O how love I thy might tremble as king Josiah law! it is my meditation all the did, when he heard the words day.” It appears that the law of the book of the law, which was his delight, not because he had long been lost. While men expected to obtain salvation by suffer themselves to be ignorant it, but because he saw it to be of the law, they feel very whole, holy. He loved its perfection and practically say, that they and purity.

Though by this stand in no need of a physician. standard, he stood condemned, To obtain a knowledge of our: yet he was inclined to weigh selves, we must also carefully himself by it; and the more compare our feelings and pracfaithfully he attended to this, the tice with the requirements of greater sense he had of his own the gospel. The gospel, it is imperfection and vileness. He true, is good news to sinners. saw the commandment to be ex- But, does it promise any good to ceedingly broad. With all this sinners, who remain impenitent? the experience of the apostle Does it countenance men in Paul perfectly corresponds. “I their sins? No ; the requirehad not known sin (said he) but ments of the gospel are strict, by the law : for I had not known and, like the law, which we have lust, except the law had said, been considering, they try the Thou shalt not covet. But sin, hearts of men. The language taking occasion by the commands of the gospel is, “ He that bement, wrought in me all manner lieveth shall be saved." An 10of concupiscence. For without finite tavour is here promised, the law sin was deact. For I on a certain condition. was alive without the law once ; condition is, that we renounce all but when the commandment dependence on our own strength, came, sin revived, and I died.” acknowledge ourselves to be in

From the united testimony of a helpless and hopeless condithese inspired men, David and tion, and that we embrace, with Paul, we learn that all, who have our hearts, the all-perfect rightbeen brought to see themselves eousness of Jesus Christ. Witbto be sinners, have gained this out that faith, which implies all knowledge by looking into this, what benefit are we to ex. God's holy law. Many, doubt. pect from the gospel ? None at less, have their seasons of re- all; for the gospel, considered


as an overture of God to fallen coming into the light of it. men, threatens as well as prom. Therefore it is written, “ Every ises. Therefore it is added, one that doeth evil hateth the “ he that believeth not shall be light, neither cometh to the damned." A preached gospel, light, lest his deeds should be misimproved, will leave men in reproved. But, he that doeth a state an hundred fold more to truth, cometh to the light, that be dreaded than that of the hea- his deeds may be made manithen.

fest, that they are wrought in Besides ; the gospel presents God." to us many crosses, which we If the wicked obtain any conmust daily take up, or lose our viction of their ruined state, it souls. Speaking on this subject, must take place in consequence our divine Saviour said, “ If any of comparing themselves with man will come after me, let him the pure oracles of God, with deny himself, and take up his the law and the gospel. And if cross, and follow me. For who- Christians are brought to have soever will save his life shall lose any just sight of their many imit, and whosoever will lose his life perfections, to lie low before for my sake shall find it.” God, and to feel the necessity of

With these views of the gos• struggling against sin, they will pel we should enter our closets, attain to this, by retiring from and solemnly ask ourselves, as in the world, and studying the the presence of God, whether word of God with self-applicawe have complied with the con- tion, and with particular refer. ditions. If, on examination, we ence to the state of their own find that our faith is not of that souls. Convicted of the greatkind, which leads to purity of ness of their danger, and of the life, and which influences us to magnitude of their wants, they visit the fatherless and widows are constrained to cry for help, in their affliction, and to keep as the publican did ; not menourselves unspotted from the tioning their own good deeds, world, what does it profit? If but saying, “ God be mercisul to we find, that our religion does us sinners.” No longer do they not consist in self-denial ; if it say in their hearts, that their does not make us feel interested farms, their flocks, their merin the honour and glory of the chandize and their earthly comdivine Redeemer ; if it does not panions call so loudly for their make us prize the worship of attention, that God must be put God in his house, in our fami- off, and eternal concerns dislies and in our closets; what pensed with ; no longer do they important end do we expect will say, “ To-morrow shall be as this be answered by it? The gospel day, and much more abundant ;' is represented by its divine Au- but, they make haste, and delay thor to be a test of character. not, to keep the divine comMen are to know themselves by mandments.


ON THE DOCTRINE OF THE A- The prophet has also declared, TONEMENT.

that this was his meaning. Har

ing said of Christ, “ He hath In a Series of Letters to a friend.

borne our griefs,” he adds, " and (Continued from page 515.)

carried our sorrows ;” and after

wards, “ He shall justify many, LETTER III.

for he shall bear their iniquities.” The Doctrine illustrated, proved, and

Here a different word is used in defended from Scripture.

the Hebrew (sabal] which always

signifies to carry a load. Christ DEAR SIR,

carried our sorrows and iniquiIt is asserted that when ties, when he was wounded, Christ is said to have borne our bruised, and chastized or pungriefs and sins, the word in the ished for our sins. St. Peter aloriginal sometimes signifies so says, that “He bare our sins." merely to take away. We need (the guilt and punishment of not then imagine that our sins, them) “ in his own body on the guilt, and punishment were laid tree.” He freed us from the on him, or borne by him, but burden of our guilt by taking it only that he freed us from upon himself, and making satthem, or took them away from isfaction for it on the cross. US.

But the words of Matthew are I answer, though the word objected, who speaks of Christ's here used may sometimes bear healing the sick, as a fulfilment the sense here mentioned ; yet of the words of Esaias, “ HimSocinus himself owns that the self took our infirmities, and phrase, bearing of sins and sor- bear our sicknesses.” Christ rows, commonly means bearing did not transfer the diseases of them, as a burden is borne, or the sick to himself, but healed suffering under them. This is them; and so took them away. evidently the meaning of the This shows how the words of threatening, which so often oc- the prophet were understood, curs in Scripture against trans- and applied by the evangelist. gressors, “ He shall bear his in- I answer; the words of the iquity.” Grotius, one of the prophets are in the New Testamost learned critics, says, that ment sometimes applied by in the language of the Scrip- way of allusion, or accommotures, bearing of sins always sig- dation, to events, which the nifies bearing the guilt or suffer- prophets did not primarily and ing the punishment of them. I chiefly mean. Dr. Clark accannot find that it ever has a dif- cordingly observes, that, though ferent meaning. That the phrase the original meaning of Esaias is to be so understood in this is the same with that of the place, is plainly intimated and im- apostle, when he said, “ Christ plied, when it is said, “ The Lord was once offered to bear the sins laid our iniquities upon him.This of many ;" yet the words of the heavy burden, which would have prophet might also be accommocrushed and sunk the world, was dated to Christ's healing the sick, laid upon him, that he might and in that sense be said to be bear it, and so free us from it. fulfilled or verified. Besides, it

« PreviousContinue »