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consolation to the suffering church under all her protracted trials. If this judge, so unjust, avenged the poor widow because she wearied him, shall not a God of justice much more avenge his own elect, though he bear long with them?
The pharisee and the publican gives us a striking view of spiritual pride, and spiritual humility.
The labourers in the vineyard is full of comfort to the gentile world; who shall be called by the Gospel, even though it be at the eleventh hour, into the church of God.
The two sons very pertinently shews the vast difference between saying and doing.
The two debtors, spoken to Simon the Pharisee, and which, from its simplicity, drew from him the confession, that he would love the most, to whom the most was forgiven ; proves how pardoning mercy melts the heart into love.
The sower, by its beauty, and perfect adaptation to the human heart, is calculated to enlighten every mind in quest of truth, respecting those hindrances which prevent our profitable hearing of the word of God.
The servant waiting for his Lord shews us in what posture every believer should be; not sleeping, not rioting, but diligently waiting to meet his Lord at his coming.
The rich fool, addressed to the man who so unseasonably interrupted our Saviour in his discourse, manifests the folly of heaping up treasure to ourselves, instead of labouring to be rich towards God.
So in like manner the parable of the rich man and Lazarus contains much valuable instruction, on a subject which men in general treat with awful indifferencethe realities of a future world.
This very impressive parable teaches us:
of God's favour or displeasure. His enemies often abound in temporal mercies ; his friends in temporal affliction. (19, 20, 21 verses.) His enemies grow harder under the beams of prosperity. His friends are softened and melted in the furnace of adversity. Hence the latter pant more ardently after heaven. The former cleave more closely to the earth.
2. That death is making steady advances towards all, both rich and poor. (22 verse.) The rich man's wealth could not bribe death, nor avert his blow. The poor man's poverty did not cause him to be overlooked as too insignificant for the notice of this general destroyer.
3. That our state in the next world has no connexion with our outward condition in this. (23 verse.) Here the rich man fared sumptuously every day ; there he was destitute of a drop of water to cool his tongue. Here Lazarus was hungry and wretched; there he was blessed and happy in Abraham's bosom.
4. That there is no mitigation of pain in hell. (24 and 25 verses.) Not one drop of water could be allowed by inexorable justice to alleviate his sufferings, or allay the intensity of the flame.
5. That the torments of hell are eternal. (26 v.) A great gulph is fixed, which for ever prevents escape from hell, or relief from heaven. O! wretched state of unutterable woe!
6. That the soul in hell is in a state of consciousness. (27, 28. v.) The rich man looked back and remembered his former life and connexions. He had five brethren. He dreaded their coming into the same place of torment; knowing probably, that his example had helped forwards their impiety. He anticipated only five additional tormentors.
7. That the appearance of a spirit would not convert a soul. (29 to 31. v.) Conversion is the work of
threateninity was on, and so would, inspirations ons
God. He has appointed means for this blessed end. “ If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." Lord! make me wise in time, that I may be happy in eternity!
This parable speaks at once to the understanding, the conscience, and the heart. Yet, it is painful to think how little the human mind is affected by the most awful truths of revelation Persons who profess to believe in the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, and who would, on no account, be deemed infidels, can, and do act, from day to day, as if futurity was ideal, and all the promises and threatenings of the Bible without a meaning. If their earthly prospects are likely to be blasted by some improvident connexion, and they are timely forewarned of the coming danger; how anxious are they to avail themselves of such friendly intimation, placing the most implicit reliance upon the veracity of their informant, and acting promptly and decidedly upon it. But the reverse is the case, as it respects their spiritual concerns. They are forewarned and admonished in vain. They hope things will end better, than religious people imagine; and thus madly venture upon the awful issue, rather than act as in temporal matters they would have acted. With all their boasted faith, they are practical unbelievers. They acknowledge the veracity of Scripture, but refuse to obey its dictates. " They have loved idols, and after them they will go.”
The state of Christendom, it is to be feared, too much resembles this picture. There is a verbal veneration for the word of God, combined with a secret aversion to its holy requirements.
But what is faith without works? No better than a tree destitute of its fruit. The faith of God's elect is according to godliness. The word
insensibilitessed with the that electron
of truth must not only be believed, but practised; not only acknowledged, but felt. Its awful, its consoling, its purifying doctrines must have a transforming influence on the heart. Then, and only then, will the believer be made clean, being sanctified by the truth as it is in Jesus.
This change constitutes the characteristic difference between the nominal professor of Christianity, and the real believer. They are known by their fruits.
It is truly surprising that the human heart is so little impressed with the nearness of eternity. This insensibility only proves the powerful prevalence of unbelief. “A very slight accident or disease, if it affects a vital part of our frame, soon dissolves the natural union between soul and body.
We are constantly walking upon the very borders of the invisible world, where all is unchangeable and eternal; yet we live as if time would never end; or at least, as if its termination was very distant from us. This can arise only from the earthliness of our hearts ; from the astonishing power which visible objects have over us; and from the small influence which things unseen and future have upon our hopes and fears. But this small influence springs solely from unbelief. We know that we must die; and yet we live as if we did not believe it. We know that life is uncertain ; and yet we lay our plans for years to come, as if nothing was so certain as our continuance here. We profess to believe that God will render unto every man according to his works; and yet we act as if our works would never be noticed in the day of general retribution. We acknowledge that out of Christ, there is no salvation; that without holiness no man shall see the Lord ; and yet we neglect the Saviour, and treat the work of grace upon the heart as fanatical and delusive.
; yet world, whg upon
· Lord! what is man. What a compound of contrarieties and inconsistencies ! 0! give me a heart devoted to thy glory; broken off from sin, and weaned from the world.
Dear Jesus, to thy cross I bring
From unbelief and inward guile
Whate'er I am, or wish to do,
Whene'er my devious footsteps stray,
LII. ON THE THREE ENEMIES.
Why are so many souls deceived and plunged into destruction ? Because they will not consider. Want of consideration is one of the fruitful sources of human misery. “My people do not consider."
A thoughtless mind is one of the characteristics of that broad road which leadeth to destruction ; whilst anxious enquiry, a solicitous concern, a serious consideration about eternal things, is the first step, through grace, into that narrow way which leadeth unto life eternal.