صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

only looks after an extraordinary character, like Elijah. No one is too small and inconsiderable to be disregarded by him. Every human being is not only his creature, but his subject, and responsible to him. The meanest slave is great in the sight of God, as possessed of a soul, and destined for eternity.— God has a right to know where we are, and what we are doing; and a much greater right than a father or a master has to know this, with regard to a child or a servant for we are absolutely His.-And he is interested in observing our conduct: interested as a judge, who is to pass sentence upon our actions: interested as a friend and benefactor, who would check us when we are going astray, or recal us when we have wandered. For,

Secondly, we may consider it as a reproof given to a good man. He ought not to have been here, hiding himself from his enemy, and begging that he might die; but should have been engaged in carrying on the cause of God in the reformation he had so nobly begun-He was therefore blameable. God does not cast him off; but he reprehends him. And as many as he loves he rebukes and chastens. And faithful are the wounds of this Friend.

And how does he administer this reproof? He had all the elements under his control; and he shewed him what he could do: "And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks, before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire and after the fire, a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave." "And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said"-You cowardly deserter? You 3 P


ungrateful, rebellious wretch?-No: but-" What doest thou here, Elijah?" And this, "in a small still voice"-a kind of under tone, or whisper, as if no one should hear it beside. Here was no upbraiding; nothing to inflame passion; but a kind and calm appeal to reason. How forcible! and yet tender! It is thus his gentleness makes us great. It is thus he does not break the bruised reed, or quench the smoking flax. It is thus he calls upon us to be followers of him, as dear children. If a brother be overtaken in a fault, let us not employ the earthquake, the wind, and the fire; but the small still voice. Let us take him aside. Let us tell him his fault between him and us alone. Let us Let us restore such an one in the spirit of meekness. Reproof should never be given in a passion. It is too much, says an old writer, to expect that a sick patient will take physic, not only when it is nauseous, but boiling hot. And we know who has said, "In meekness, instructing those that oppose themselves." "The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." Thirdly, as a rule by which we may judge ourselves. Let us suppose that we heard God addressing us, as he did Elijah. How should we answer him? Could we say, I hope I am where Thou wouldst have me me to be? and doing what Thou wouldst have me to do? He does thus enquire. And therefore it behoves us so to act as to be able to give a satisfactory account of our conduct.

-Let us apply the question to our troubles. How came we in these difficulties? Have they befallen us in following after God? Or have we drawn them upon ourselves by our folly and sin?

Let us apply it to our connexions. We are choosing associates-Are we associates-Are we walking with wise men, or are we the companions of fools? We are engaging ourselves for life-Are we marrying in the Lord, or unequally yoking ourselves with unbelievers? "What doest thou here, Elijah?"

Let us apply it to our recreations. Are they such as conduce to the health of the body? and accord with purity of mind? or are they amusements and dissipations which, if God should call us to account, would strike conscience dumb?

-Let us apply it to our stations. Are we abiding with God in our own callings? or are we acting out of our proper sphere of duty? How many have injured, if not ruined, their usefulness and comfort, by improper removals, or striking their tent without the cloud!

-Let us apply it to our religious services. We ought to have an aim, and a very worthy one, in coming to his House. Happy they who, when they hear the enquiry, What doest thou here, Elijah? can say; Here I am-not from custom or curiosity, but to hear what God the Lord will speak; and to see his power and his glory as I have seen him in the Sanctuary.

And let us remember, that a false answer will be more than useless. We often assign a reason very different from the true one, to an enquiring fellow-creature-and him we may deceive-but God is not mocked.

JUNE 29.-" Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee; for I have much people in this city." Acts xviii. 9, 10.

THE Lord is a very present help in trouble; and before his people express their apprehensions, he foresees them, and effectually provides against them.

It is obvious Paul was now depressed and discouraged. He had nature in him, as well as grace. The Christian, and even the Apostle, did not destroy the man. He had genius; and not only great sensibility, but a tinge of melancholy is perhaps

inseparable from this endowment. He was also the subject of bodily enervation; and was now worn down, not only by constant preaching, but also by working manually, day and night, to support himself and relieve others. In allusion to which, he says in his Letter to these Corinthians, "I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." Yea, he was now, it would seem, afraid-of menof suffering persecution-of death. Is this he that said, None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my course with joy? Yes; the same. He then spoke sincerely, and according to the frame he was in. But what a change do we feel, if the Lord hides his face; or faith fails; yea, or if there be only a variation in the humours of the body, or the state of the weather!

The Lord therefore removes his fear by the assurance that no man should set upon him to hurt him; for "He was with him; and had much work for him to do"-so that even his destination secured him. And see how faithfully and remarkably this was accomplished. For though the place was so abandoned, and he had so many enemies, he continued there a year and six months, teaching the Word of God among them without any molestation. At length a storm arose, which tried his confidence in the promise. But it issued in the proof that the Saviour in whom he trusted was true and righteous altogether. For all the Jews in the city made a violent insurrection against Paul, and brought him before Gallio, the deputy. But he refused to take cognizance of the affair, and drave them from the judgment-seat. Upon which, provoked by his conduct, the Greeks, who had joined the Jews in this assault, fell upon Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in sight of the benchBut Paul, on whose account the persecution was raised, was suffered to escape uninjured, and con

tinued his labours a considerable time longer, undisturbed, and at length withdrew from the place in peace!

Is not this enough to prove that nothing is too hard for the Lord? that he can turn the shadow of death into the morning? that our enemies, hownumerous and malignant, are all under his control? and cannot move a hair's breadth beyond the length of the chain in which he holds them?

[ocr errors]

Do we not here see, that if we have his promise, we have enough to establish, strengthen, settle us, whatever our difficulties and dangers may be? Heaven and earth may pass away, but his Word cannot fail. If a child in the dark feels his father's hand grasping his, and hears him say, I am with thee, fear not; he is calmed and confident. Yea, says David, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me. He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee: so that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me!

"How safe and how happy are they

"Who on their good Shepherd rely!
"He gives them out strength for their day;
"Their wants he will surely supply.
"He ravens and lions can tame-

"All creatures obey his command: "Then let me rejoice in his Name,

"And leave all my cares in his hand."

JUNE 30.-" There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the City of God." Ps. xlvi. 4.

WHAT can this "river" be-but that blessed Covenant to which David himself repaired in the time of trouble, and extolled beyond every other resource or

« السابقةمتابعة »