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Let this truth be viewed more particularly in its aspect on the religious education of children. To make it an excuse for relaxed or delayed effort in teaching them the great things of God, were indeed to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness. The manifold proofs of his special favour towards children, rightly considered, increase greatly our obligations to pray for them and instruct them; and to every well disposed mind, they will furnish an additional, yea the strongest inducement, to seek their salvation. Has God so cared for them as to take account of them in the counsels of eternity, and the economy of redemption?-has Christ so loved them as to give his life a sacrifice for their salvation, and to pronounce them the chief subjects of his kingdom?-does the Holy Spirit stand prepared to impart to them the capacity for heavenly bliss?—are they made the objects of angelic guardianship; and are the ministers of the gospel so solemnly cautioned not to put a stumbling-block in the way of one of these little ones?-are we shewn that for them the mansions of heaven are preparing, and that they may be sanctified from the womb?—and shall we not implore for them the grace of the Spirit, instruct them in the knowledge of God, watch the first openings of their infant minds, and labour to direct aright their earliest affections? Shall we not devote them to God with unwavering confidence, and train them for God with unremitting diligence; that, should he call them to himself, we may be prepared to resign them with holy cheerfulness; and should he spare them with us, be ready again to travail in birth over them, till Christ be formed in them the hope of glory?
Let this doctrine be yet further viewed in its aspect on the sorrowings of bereaved parents. How full of consolation is it to all such! The dear departed little ones, whose absence pains you, are removed beyond the reach of sin and sorrow; they are advanced to the palace of the divine glory; they are associated with angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, in holy meditations and exalted worship around the throne of God and the Lamb; they are made the recipients of unmingled happiness in the unchanging eternal state. Over their bodies, Jesus is watching; they are a part of his purchased possession: and when he shall come again, the second time, these also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. Cease then your sorrows; wipe away your tears; gird up the loins of your minds; be sober, and hope to the end. Yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry; and then your reunion with those you loved will be supremely blessed and everlasting. Wherefore comfort yourselves together with these words. none, however, deceive themselves; let none be deceived; God is
not mocked: "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. He that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting; but he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption." If ye break not off your sins by repentance, and secure not for yourselves eternal life, by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, ye may see your children in heaven, but ye will find yourselves thrust out. Do not despise the grace of God; delay not to pray unto him; at once repent and believe; "behold, now is the accepted time; to-day is the day of salvation." To-day, then, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts: to-morrow may be too late. The grace is sure to him that believeth: him that cometh unto Christ shall in no wise be cast out.
BY CHARLES WILLIAMS.
EXOD. xxxiv. 23, 24.— Thrice in the year shall all your men-children appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel. For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the Lord thy God thrice in the year.
THE Jews are, in all respects, a remarkable people. In early times, Israel was the Lord's portion "Jacob was the lot of his inheritance.' "He found him," says Moses, "in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about; he instructed him; he kept him as the apple of his eye." David declares that "the Lord shewed his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel; and dealt not so with any nation." And Paul describes his brethren, as those "to whom pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose were "the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever."
Every part of their history should therefore be regarded as in the highest degree interesting and instructive. Here the devout student of the word of God may "seek for knowledge as silver, and search for it, as for hidden treasures;" and from hence, the christian minister may derive a variety of subjects, which he will esteem it his solemn duty and exalted privilege to illustrate, and to urge on the consciences and the hearts of men.
At present, our attention is to be limited to a consideration of the passage just read:-it records a memorable institution;-by which express provision was made for the service of the Most High, at
particular seasons. One was the feast of the passover, when a lamb was slain and eaten with various rites, as a memorial of the deliverance of the Jews from Egyptian bondage; and as typical of that Saviour, whose blood was to be shed for "the remission of sins." Another was the feast of Pentecost, the national "harvest-home," when the first fruits were presented, and thanksgivings offered to him, through whom the earth" yields its increase." And the third was the feast of tabernacles, to commemorate their dwelling in tents in the wilderness, to render praise for the fruits of the vine and of other trees, and to implore the Divine blessing on the labours and engagements of the ensuing year.
In connexion with these festivals, however, there is a most remarkable fact, a fact which the text distinctly states, namely, that, for their celebration, the males from every part of the Holy Land, were to go up to Jerusalem;-consequently, none were to remain at home but women, young children, the sick, and the infirm;—and thus their frontiers were to be left unguarded—their garrisons were to be deserted-their nearest connexions and all their property, except what they took with them, were to remain undefended; yea, the whole country, save Jerusalem, was to be thrown open, and placed beyond the reach of their protection and care; though they were completely environed by warlike, enterprizing, and inveterate foes.
But mark! In observing this institute, God himself was to be their protector; for to the injunction he lays on them in the first part of the text, "thrice in the year shall all your men-children appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel," the promise is added in the second part of the text, "neither shall any man desire thy land when thou shalt go up to appear before the Lord thy God thrice in the year." And "God is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent; hath he said and shall he not do it? Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? The truth of Jehovah is immutable; and hence there is not a single isolated instance throughout the history of the Jews of any invasion of their territories during these seasons.
And may not we, brethren, learn much from such circumstances? Do they not shew us that duties are ours, and events are God's? May we not gather that if we obey his commands he will take charge of our interests? Is it not manifest that we should invariably take his will as law, and then feel assured that "all things shall work together for our good?"
It is fully admitted that the interposition of God in behalf of Israel was extraordinary, and that it partook of a miraculous cha
racter, but still it must be contended that the conduct of Jehovah proceeds on the same principle now as that on which he acted then. For are not his faithful servants, in every age, the objects of his special, kindest, tenderest care? Has not the Psalmist said, "The Lord will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly? And did not our Lord himself, when speaking of temporal good, unite the charge and the promise: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you?
Sanctioned, then, by the concurrent testimony of various parts of divine revelation, allow me,
In the first place, to specify some cases in which you should discover a paramount concern to obey the commands of God; and, secondly, to offer some inducements to constant, unwavering, and devoted obedience. And,
FIRST, Some cases are to be specified in which there should be a paramount concern to obey the commands of God.
1. The care of the soul.
The festivals of the Jews had primarily a sacred character. They were designed to detach the mind from worldly things; to call humility, gratitude, penitence, devotion, and faith into lively and vigorous exercise; in a word, to number those engaged in their celebration among the faithful worshippers of the Most High, and to prepare them for the services of the heavenly Jerusalem. And why, my hearers, does God address you by various means and ordinances, but that you may be found among "the true circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh?" Conscience speaks; Providence has a voice; the Bible contains "the true sayings of God;" the Gospel testifies of Christ; and the Holy Spirit waits to pour out his influences, that you may be "Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile." For he is not a Jew,"—that is, one of God's beloved and covenant people," who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew, who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men but of God." As then God thus reiterates the declaration, "As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live;" and as "this is his commandment, that you should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ;" so it is most solemnly obligatory on you, that each of you, that every one of you,