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agents. From the time of baptism He worketh in us all. Some obey Him, by willing and doing that which He suggesteth ; others do not obey Him. Those who in obedience to His call seek for greater degrees of grace, do not seek in vain, for those who seek find, and to those who have more is given.
It is true that much darkness has been thrown on this subject by inferences drawn or rather wrested from such texts as, He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom He will he hardeneth ; but besides that this and many such texts are matter more of encouragement than terror, and are applied by St. Paul to the prejudices of the Jews to show that the Gentiles might be the objects of Divine grace as well as they ; besides that the full import of their meaning and of the question which they may have been thought to involve in no way concerns us, and is beyond the reach of our understanding ; all theories built upon them which tend to preclude our exertions and are repugnant to our free agency receive a clear and perfect confutation from these few words spoken by Light and Truth itself, Come unto me all
ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Ask and ye shall receive, seek and
ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. These beams from the Sun of Righteousness dispel all darkness from this subject, for these words are not addressed to any particular class of persons, but to all; they do not discourage our exertions, but call them forth ; they show that although without Christ we can do nothing, yet under His direction we can do much. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit ; so shall
my disciples. Accordingly, though Scripture goes to the root of the matter, saying, This is the will of God, even our sanctification, it does not stop here. It lays down certain ordinances for our due observance, in which free scope is given and indeed required for the exertion of the natural faculties which the Lord hath given us.
As by His “special grace preventing us, He putteth into our minds good desires, so by His continual help (always given if it be sought) we bring the same to good effect.”
It is not therefore building otherwise than on scriptural foundation to ascribe great spiritual benefit to the diligent and devout exercise of these faculties in scriptural ordinances. So long as we have grace for our motive and grace for our end, they may be exerted safely and profitably in the work of our sanctification.
Memory exerted on these principles, that is with preventing grace as the motive, and further degrees of grace as the end, is productive of much spiritual benefit.
It is useful and indeed necessary in the observance of the ordinances of prayer, and reading the word of life. Those who pray much must know that memory is necessary in prayer. Those who read much must know that memory is necessary
in reading But there is another ordinance in which memory is particularly useful; I mean the ordinance of meditation.
The light in which I wish to consider memory is in its subserviency to meditation, and in its particular function of learning and remembering by heart; but I wish to consider it in no other sense than under the conduct of grace, and in the spirit of supplication, and that every line learnt or rehearsed by memory should be accompanied with prayer.
Meditation on the word of God is a sanctifying ordinance, whose blessed effects the wise and good in all ages have discovered and acknowledged. Isaac went out at eventide to meditate in the field. It is the character of a good man that he delights in the law of the Lord, and that he meditates therein day and night. St. Paul exhorts Timothy - to meditate upon these things, and give himself wholly to them, that his profiting may appear to all. And in the parable of the sower, our Lord inculcates meditation as indispensable for maintaining the word of God in the heart. It is no disputable point but matter of Scripture that meditation is a spiritual and Christian ordinance.
Meditation is not study, its aim being not so much to know as to feel; not so much to gain light as to gain heat ; it is distinguishable from study, as religion is from reason, or as a sun which fertilizes from a sun which only shines. It is not prayer; though it be preceded and accompanied by prayer. If we have been long accustomed, twice a day or oftener to call our former sins to remembrance, asking forgiveness of them, to ask for a supply of our own spiritual wants, to examine into, confess, bewail and ask forgiveness for our daily derelictions from the standard of goodness, to intercede in spirit for others, and to render thanksgiving for the loving kindnesses of the Lord in our creation, preservation, and redemption, this is not meditation, but prayer; this is a proper preparative to meditation ; but not meditation itself. Prayer is addressing the Lord; meditation is addressing ourselves. But we cannot address ourselves with the authority or the unction of a preacher till by prayer and repentance we have been anointed and consecrated by the Lord as a preacher to ourselves. We must first long and patiently sit down in the lowest rooms, that the Lord of the feast may come to us saying, Friend, go up higher. We meditate with good effect when we feel that our meditation is sanctioned by the Lord ; when, throughout the whole course of our meditation we can be looking up to Him to ask His help ; when our tempers and dispositions are the most purified; when after perhaps an hour spent in prayer, confession has set us free from pride and conceit, from inordinate and idolatrous desires; when intercession has set us free from malignant passions; when thanksgiving has filled our hearts with gratitude; when we fee ourselves prepared to meet the Lord though it were that instant; when we can say Even so, come Lord Jesus, though the last trumpet were immediately to sound. This temper
in a natural as well as in a spiritual point of view for meditation. It is
It is necessary if it were but to calm, cleanse, and clarify our understandings, which are disturbed and defiled, darkened and clouded by every thing that is evil. It is necessary to engage the assistance of the Lord. We shall find that there is in religion what divines call the illuminative as well as the punitive way, and that it has cordials as well as purgatives. When we have by Divine grace cast out our devils, and thoroughly purged our floor, when we have acquainted ourselves with the Lord and are at peace, when wisdom entereth into our heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto our soul, then we cry after knowledge, and lift up our voice for understanding, seek for her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures. Now meditation exhibits a mine of treasures as hidden as those in a Peruvian mountain ; a fountain of delight to the soul as unfelt (for the most part) as the morning fragrance of a desert land.
For meditation is known almost only by name. Its practice (for the most part) is unknown; its benefits unfelt. We are content to take up with vague and indistinct notions of it, because we are at little pains to inquire as to its theory or practice, either what it is, or how to set about it. We