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hieroglyphical symbols, yet we ought to cherish in our hearts the sacred recollection of the goodness we have received. That our past career has in every case been a career of mercy, and that we have all received the bounty of our common Father, is a fact which it is impossible not to admit; and of which in our remembrance, no time and no change should exhaust the tenderness and the mercy; but it should continue supreme and paramount, until we are permitted to unite in the higher commemorations of that world where mercy will be consummated in salvation.
But let us advert more distinctly to the nature of those mercies which it was the object of the patriarch to commemorate, and which permits a direct application to ourselves.
You will observe, in the first instance, that here was clearly a commemoration of providential favour. It was perfectly impossible for the patriarch to overlook the preservation of his life throughout the course of past years, and especially the security he had recently been permitted to obtain from an impending and fearful danger: and his emotions with regard to Divine Providence were doubtless heightened and strengthened by the nature of the remarkable visitation which he had just received; a visitation in which God rendered to him the assurance of continued temporal favour and of augmented temporal blessings. “ Behold," saith God, in the fifteenth verse, “ I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” My brethren, that our own history comprehends within it providential mercies of vast amount and incalculable worth, who that reflects is not instantly and delightfully conscious ? Let each now in the sanctuary endeavour to retrace distinctly and vividly the course of past events, as they have transpired in relation to ourselves; let each endeavour to go through the various stages of childhood and youth, of manhood and of age: let each ponder, how the Being, who might have smitten and destroyed, has moved his arm and exerted his power but to bestow, to adorn, and to bless : and then surely the acknowledgment will be due by every tongue, as it should be felt by every heart,“ Surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of
To commemorate that mercy and that goodness, and to strive that it may remain in permanent and vivid recollection, is a duty both imperative and delightful: and you must not but acknowledge, my hearers, that forgetfulness is a guilt against which at last justice will launch the terrors of her vengeance, and consign the perpretator to a world where it will be found the embodying of all torments, that there God will be gracious no more.
Here was also the commemoration of spiritual blessings. The vision which the patriarch had received upon this remarkable night was undoubtedly an assurance and a sign to him of spiritual blessings. The title of Jacob to the possession of spiritual blessings, as it descended in the order of the patriarchal covenant, had been immediately obtained by the purchase of the birth-right. And on this memorable occasion connected with the text, God appeared in his covenant character, for the purpose of confirming to him his personal interest in the mercies and the promises of grace. Observe the symbol which occurs in the vision, and which you find recorded in the twelfth verse. We are informed that he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the
sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.” Here was, indeed, a representation of the mode of reconciled communication between God and man in the work of the Mediator, given to us by the vision of the ladder, and the active subserviency of all angelic beings, for the purpose of their instrumentality, of promoting the glorious ends for which that work of mediation was designed. In immediate identification with the mediatorial scheme, Jehovah himself appeared for the purpose of revealing his character and his promise: “ And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac : the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
Now, my brethren, this was indeed, as you will perceive by referring to the twelfth, the fifteenth, and the seventeenth chapters of the book of Genesis, representation of the covenant of grace as it was made to Abraham: and his descendant doubtless interpreted it as being the pledge and assurance of his own federal and personal interest in the work of the Messiah, and in a better, that is a heavenly, country. It was the nature of the revelation that doubtless gave interest and fervour to the commemoration which on this occasion he was engaged in.
There are doubtless not a few in this assembly, who, in the riches of sovereign mercy, have been brought to sustain the same spiritual relation as that which was sustained by the patriarch, and who are themselves to be regarded as heirs of the covenant of grace. The blessing of Abraham has come upon you in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ: the work of mediation has been applied to you in all the glory of its redeeming power. You are reconciled and justified by faith. Through Him in whom you have believed you have access by one Spirit unto the Father. You form a part of his adopted family, upon whom he wills to bestow the choicest possessions of his love; and heavenly spirits are your ministers; and salvation is your end; and you are soon to receive the consummation of your portion in the heavenly kingdom, in the inheritance which is “incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away." As all Christians are partakers in this matchless and unparalleled blessing, so from all Christians the work of commemoration is especially and peculiarly claimed. And when we contemplate the extent to which we have been adorned, and enriched, and exalted, how must we cherish the memory of unnumbered mercies; how must we lament the present imperfection of our souls; and how must we long for the period when those souls shall pour forth their praises in the glory of that heaven whither we are tending! O let all those who now hear me seek more of personal enjoyment in these high communications of grace; and let life be considered but vanity, until providence shall be crowned by redemption—until each tongue can utter the announcement" He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure · for this is all my salvation, and all my desire."
We have thus, my brethren, illustrated the first department which the state of the patriarch's mind presents : in the action there was commemoration.
Wrnow require your attention to observe, secondly, that in the action of the patrlarch there was DEDICATION. It will be observed “ he took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it :" the oil being the sign, not merely that he dedicated the pillar for the purpose of commemoration, but that he also dedicated himself to the service and glory of that God from whom his mercies had been received. The selfdedication of the patriarch, as symbolized by the pouring of the oil on the top of the pillar as a commemoration, is beautifully narrated in the closing verses of the chapter: “ And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then shall the Lord be my God: and this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house : and of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee."
This act of the patriarch, my brethren, very clearly and beautifully sets forth the duty of the children of men in the review and retrospect of mercies which they have received from God-even the duty of dedicating themselves wholly to his praise and to his glory. You may remember what a beautiful example of the performance of this duty, under similar circumstances, is presented to us in the case of David, as recorded in Psalm cxvi. The Psalmist there records the wonderful mercies which he had experienced from God in “ delivering his soul from death, his eyes from tears, and his feet from falling:" and he exclaims, in the twelfth verse, “ What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people. O Lord, truly I am thy servant" (or, “ I dedicate myself to be thy servant"); “ I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid. thou hast loosed my bonds" (or, “I am persuaded to dedicate myself as thy servant, because thou hast loosed my bonds"). “ I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people In the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord.” You may remember also how beautifully the Apostle of the Gentiles impresses the importance of the duty arising from a previous contemplation of the blessings of the covenant of grace. His first request, after summing up the amount and the extent of those privileges, is, “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” And again : “ Ye are bought with the price : therefore glorify God in your bodies and your souls, which are his.” The point, my brethren, to which I desire to bring you is this : that there is not a mercy which you have received in the past times of your lives, and of which it becomes you to encourage diligent and permanent remembrance, but what may be regarded as having an eye, and a tongue, and a voice, and a manner, reiterating and still reiterating, the call upon you Yield yourselves unto God."
Let me request you now, under this part of the subject, with greater distinctness, to observe in what this dedication consists, and under what cir: cumstances this dedication is especially appropriate.
Observe in what this dedication consists. It must be regardel, of course as founded upon a cogi by men of the right of God, the Author of all their mercies, to the entire possession of whatever they possess, and of whatever they are ; and comprehends within it certain resolutions which are intended to constitute a permanent state of heart and life. For example : it comprehends a resolution that there shall be firm and unbending adherence to the truths which God has revealed; and whatever principles he is found to have announced for your cordial acceptance and belief, will be cordially embraced and adhered to. Again: it involves a resolution that there shall be anxious and diligent cultivation of the holiness which God has commanded ; and whatever are the requirements of his law for governing the deportment and the affections of men, so as to conform them to his own image-these will be sincerely and cheerfully obeyed. Again: it comprehends the resolution that there shall be public and solemn union with the people whom he has redeemed; and whatever external ordinances and public professions have been appointed by divine authority, as the pledge and the sign of that union, will be at once and readily performed; so that it may be seen by those around that the decision pronounced by Ruth has been taken in the highest and most spiritual sense with regard to those who constitute the church of the living God: “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee : for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge : thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried : the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me." And then it involves a resolution that there shall be zealous and persevering activity for the cause which God has established; and whatever objects God has determined upon and announced for the purpose of extending his authority and restoring his glory in this apostate and long disordered world—these will be studiously and diligently pursued. There will be the rendering of time, there will be the rendering of talent, and the rendering (which is often the hardest of all) of property, for the purpose of carrying on those designs of mercy, which are not to terminate till the whole world shall be brought back to its allegiance to the Almighty. These, my brethren, is man called upon to give, and in the spirit in which the disciples remembered the saying, and applied it to the Redeemer : “ The zeal of the Lord's house hath eaten me up."
Such, my hearers, is to be regarded as distinctly and obviously the nature of that dedication which man is required to render in return for the mercies which he has received from his God: the entire devotion of body and soul to his praise. And I would ask you to-night, Is the demand exorbitant? Are we called on to render a disproportionate and half-hearted acknowledgment ? Does not God deserve it? And after the utmost devotedness we have yielded, have we not to confess that we come almost infinitely short of our duties and our obligations? My brethren, fully and freely we must admit the claim, acknow. ledging that the homage of eternity itself will never enable us to repay and discharge the duty which we owe; and that throughout the whole of eternity
it will be our employment, as our honour, to confess, in humility and in praise, that we are not worthy the least of all his mercies.
There is a second inquiry, which must be regarded as intimately connected with this; namely, under what circumstances this dedication is peculiar.y appropriate. The spirit of dedication, as the result of the mercies with which God has been pleased to surround us, must properly be considered as furnishing and constituting what ought to be the habitual condition of man. There is not a pulse that beats, nor is there a throb that palpitates in the hand or in the heart, but what ought to remind every one amongst us that we should write upon ourselves “ Corban”—a gift upon the altar of God.
There are circumstances which sometimes peculiarly occur in the course of life, when it seems especially appropriate that the dedication should be undertaken, or, if already undertaken, that it should be renovated and renewed. We may, for example, mention seasons when new and extraordinary mercies have been received from God. As we have said, the pillar of Jacob was erected, and the vow was undertaken, after a striking manifestation of the loving-kindness and mercy of Jehovah : and ourselves, my brethren, when we have received new mercies in the course of providence, in many of those varied modes of bestowment which you are well aware providence is enabled to operate in; or when in grace we have received new spiritual communications which gladden our hearts in the prospect of our final redemption; then the first impulse of our spirits should be, after the reception of favours either in providence or grace, to say with David, “ I will go to the altar of God, of God my exceeding joy;" and there, not with cheerfulness merely, but with joy, present ourselves with the vow that we will live entirely unto the Lord.
We may mention, again, the seasons when new and extraordinary manifestations have occurred in the course of human existence. Here, for example, are the seasons when we constitute and enter into new domestic or social connexions;
the seasons when we commemorate the days of our birth, or the seasons when we mark the lapse of time by passing from one closing year to the commencement of another. My brethren, it must be observed, that whenever any such seasons as those to which we have briefly adverted do occur in the experience of any or of all, that then the impulses are strong, and that then the calls are loud, and that then to refuse the dedication to God must be regarded as a new sign of the stupidity and the obduracy of that depravity which reigns in paramount ruin in the hearts of the children of men. My brethren, do I now speak to one amongst you by whom new and extraordinary mercies in providence or in grace have been received ? Do I speak to any amongst you who have recently entered into the formation of new domestic or social connexions? Do I speak to one amongst you who is commemorating the day of birth, or any other day which is considered as remarkable in the past career of human existence? I would entreat you to imitate the example of the patriarch, and regard this as the period when your review of what is past, and your feeling of what has just transpired, will bring you to dedicate yourselves to the glory of that God by whom your breath is given, and on whom your mercies depend. We have but recently made our transition from one year to the commencement of another; and if there have been in the minds