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Higher and farther than this, we cannot go. He is' Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end; the first and the last.”
Clouds and darkness may surround the throne of the Eternal, and veil his bright designs : but faith can pierce the veil, and view beyond this darkening scene, the rising glories of Emanuel's kingdom.
How great then is the blessedness of true religion! How highly privileged is the child of God ! As nothing can happen without the divine permission, so every thing shall work together for good to them that love God; to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Satan may rage, the world may frown, the flesh may rebel, and providence may seem to cross the humble believer; but yet, notwithstanding all this tempest, his soul is safe, being hid with Christ in God. He may groan, being burdened ; yet still he can rejoice. He looks through the curtain of time, which hangs over the glories of eternity: and in joyful expectation of soon entering within the veil, he endures, with much long-suffering, the trials of this transitory state.
Not so the worldling. He knows no joys but those of sense, or those perhaps of a more refined nature, flowing from intellectual pursuits. But in respect of heavenly pleasures, arising from commu-nion with his Saviour, and a delightful foretaste of future bliss, he is an utter stranger. To him, “the future is a dark unknown.” His views are indistinct and dim, when he reads or hears of joys for ever flowing from those sources, which are now the objects of his unvarying dislike.
What happiness can arise from the contemplation of being eternally with Jesus, when prayer and meditation are irksome and insipid? What happiness, from the idea of being made like Jesus, when holi
ness is offensive? or from the consideration of beholding his glory, when the splendours of this world have far more powerful attractions ?
'Tis true, he prefers heaven to hell, as a choice of two evils; but he secretly disbelieves the word of revelation ; and therefore hopes that hell has no existence, and that death is an eternal sleep. If he be not thus far advanced in infidelity-yet, he flatters himself, that God will be more lenient and merciful, than his own word declares him to be. Thus he ventures upon the dreadful step of putting the truth of God to its most awful test, and passes through death to learn by tremendous experience the madness of his unbelief.
Happy, thrice happy is the man who receives with childlike simplicity the word of God, and acts
He sees God in every thing; and can feed upon the hidden manna. He finds the promises to be full of truth and comfort. On them, as on a rock, he rests in safety. With wonder he beholds the raging tempest, which, sweeping over the nations of the earth, clears away deep-rooted prejudices, and prepares a smoother path for the chariot of the everlasting Gospel.
He knows that glorious days are hastening on, and therefore is not discouraged, though they be preceded by a stormy night. He hears the voice of his Almighty Father speaking in gracious accents to allay his fears: “be still, and know that I am God; and is kept in perfect peace.
Come then, 0? my soul, and take courage. Fear not the face nor the frown of man. The Lord reigneth, be the earth ever so unquiet. Sing with David--unite with Luther, and say: "God is our refuge and strength ; a present help in trouble.”
Be not dismayed at the troubles of earth. Trem
ble not at the convulsions of empires. Only fear God; only believe in his promises : only love and serve him; and all things shall work together for thy good, as they assuredly will for his glory.
Life is hastening quickly away. Eternity is at the door. Live then for eternity, and leave with God the concerns of time. Leave in his hands the safety of his church, and the security of his cause. Cleave to him with childlike simplicity. Seek his glory. Aim at perfection, Look high, and look forward; and soon thou shalt be removed out of the reach of evil, and be placed securely in the paradise above.
In times which are gloomy and sad,
When nations are trembling with fears ; The Christian, in confidence clad,
Serene amidst dangers appears.
He knows that the black, low'ring sky,
Whose bosom destruction contains, In a moment will vanish and fly,
When God his dread vengeance restrains.
In him, whom archangels adore,
In him, whom the cherubs obey, Whilst thunders tremendously roar,
He trusts without fear and dismay.
'Tis Jesus who reigns in his heart,
Whilst Satan is raging around ; 'Tis faith quenches every dart,
As pointless they fall to the ground.
The peace be enjoys in his breast,
Descends from a reconcil'd God : Whilst sinners, those strangers to rest,
Groan under the stroke of his rod.
When troubles invade and oppress ;
When death tears his comforts away, He still, in the midst of distress,
Has God for his comfort and stay.
Thrice blessed, thou saint of the Lord,
In Jesus thy refuge is found ;
And joys shall increase and abound.
Yes ! joy shall increase like a stream,
Thy peace like the waves of the sea ;
And Jesus thy portion shall be.
XII. ON THE TWO COVENANTS.
The covenant of works, in the order of time, was proclaimed to Adam before the covenant of grace. But the covenant of grace, called in Scripture the everlasting covenant, was entered into by the divine persons in the Godhead, before the world was made.
Whilst contemplating this despensation of mercy, our views must stretch themselves into eternity.
We must pass beyond the origin of earth, and enter into those revelations which record the purposes of God ere time began.
And how wonderful are the counsels of infinite love, wisdom and power !
Jesus, in the volume of inspired truth, is declared to be," the Lamb of God, who was foreordained before the foundation of the world.” 1 Peter i. 20. “Slain from the foundation of the world." Rev. xiii. 8. His redeemed ones were 6 chosen in him before the foundation of the world.” Ephes. i. 4. “ From the beginning chosen to salvation." 2 Thess. ii. 13. “ According to his own purpose and grace, which was given them in Christ Jesus before the world began.” 2 Tim. i. 9. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” i Peter i. 2.
“ Predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." Ephes. i. 11.
From these glorious passages, and many others of similar import, it is evident, that the whole economy of human redemption was devised and planned in the eternal counsels of Jehovah before the earth or man was formed.
Hence we are taught that the covenant of grace originated in the everlasting love of God. But with respect to us finite creatures, who can know nothing of the purposes of God, but as he is pleased to reveal them, it may aptly be called a New Covenant. When Adam was created in the image of God, the Lord placed him in a garden of delights, surrounded with every thing that could gratify his pure and innocent desires.
In the midst however of this garden was placed the tree of knowledge of good and evil, as a reason able test of his obedience : for God created man in righteousness and true holiness, with powers and faculties to know and serve him.
In the garden was also placed the tree of life, as a pledge of immortality. Of this tree he might freely eat, whilst he continued obedient to the divine command. But man, alas ! ate of the forbidden fruit through the subtle temptations of the serpent, and thus the covenant of works was broken, and death entered into the world by sin.
His whole posterity are involved in the dreadful consequences of the fall; for the Scriptures declare: " In Adam all die." All die spiritually; for “we are conceived in sin, and brought forth in iniquity." “We are by nature the children of wrath.”
All die naturally. The sentence “ dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return,” extends to all the children of Adam. “ It is appointed unto men once