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bones, of which we have an account, Ezek. xxxvii. has a primary reference to the restoration of Judah and Jerusalem from the Babylonish captivity. But in this the figure of a resurrection is represented in quite as strong terms, as in the passage under consideration. "Thus saith the Lord God, behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you out of your graves." Under a similar figure Isaiah prophesies deliverance to Israel. "Thy dead men shall live, to gether with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust, for thy dew is as the dew of herbs.' Turning from sin to God is frequently represented by this figure, Eph. v. 14; Col. iii. 1. The same kind of resurrection is intended by our blessed Lord, John v. 25. John the Baptist is also called Elias, not because he was the identical person of Elias, risen again, but because he went before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elias, and was therefore, in a figurative sense, Elias risen again. The reception of the Jews into the church of Christ, when in the latter day they shall turn unto the Lord, is also spoken of under the same figure, Rom.


xi. 15.

The resurrection of the witnesses, at the end of the three days and a half, was not a literal resurrection of the same identical persons, but the resurrection of a race of men engaged in the

same cause, and possessing the same spirit. Egypt and Babylon, the ancient enemies and oppres◄ sors of God's people, do after the same manner revive and live again, during the reign of the antichristian beast; Rome being called Egypt and Babylon, because in idolatry, wickedness, oppression, and persecution of God's people, she is the successor, and actuated by the same spirit with these ancient cities.

The description of particular events in language, borrowed from others, to which they bear some striking resemblance, is a very natural figure, and one very frequently used by the sacred penmen. Thus our Lord describes that dreadful catastrophe, the destruction of Jerusalem, in figures, borrowed from the consummation of all things; and the terror of the pagan enemies and persecutors of the church, upon the downfall of paganism and the elevation of Christianity to the imperial throne, is described in figures, borrowed from the terror of the wicked at Christ's second coming to judgment. Rev. vi. 13-17.

Scripture is universally allowed to be the best interpreter of Scripture. In the application of this rule of interpretation, the best method is to explain dark and obscure passages by such, as are plain. We have several very plain accounts of the resurrection and general judgment in the New Testament, to which it will be very difficuit, if not impossible, to reconcile the doctrine of a literal resurrection of the saints, or even of the martyrs at the commencement of the millennium. The most particular account, which Christ himself

gives of this solemn event, is in

ON SELF-ACQUAINTANCE. Matt. xxv. 31, to the end.

This account is plainly incon- The knowledge of ourselves sistent with the idea of a literal is important, because without it, resurrection and a personal reign we shall never take our proper. of the saints with Christ, so places, nor gain a sight of our many years before the consum; obligations. This knowledge is mation of all things.

always a fruit of solemnly callAccording to Paul's account of ing ourselves to an account, and the resurrection, 1 Cor. xv. they of carefully watching the exerthat are Christ's will be raised at cises of our minds. Who does his second coming to judgment, not know, that two persons may and not before. At the sound for many years live in the same of the same trumpet, by which neighbourhood, and yet be so in, the dead shall be raised, the saints attentive to each other, as never then living will in a moment, in to form a particular acquaintthe twinkling of an eye, be chang- ance? They may readily recoged, and become incorruptible, nize each other's features and like the newly raised saints. voices ; and at the same time, in But is not this account of the an important sense, remain resurrection totally inconsistent strangers. Equally supposable with the opinion, that vast num- is it, that a person may live, in bers, even all the martyrs at least, this world, a very great stranger will be raised at the beginning of to himself. He may be busily the millennium, and made equal employed, all his days, and may with the angels, and reign with even distinguish himself for his Christ in glory; while all the exertions to obtain certain ends, saints living at that time, as well which the world may call laudaas the vast multitudes, who will ble ; and yet never cultivate an be born and converted, during acquaintance with his own heart. the thousand years of unexam. With all his fame for worldly pled spiritual prosperity, are to wisdom, he may have neglected die and remain in their graves to call himself to an account, as until the end of the world. An a candidate for eternity; and, of account of similar import, and course, when summoned to apequally inconsistent with a literal pear before his God, he may resurrection and personal reign, find himself awfully deficient in we have 1 Thess. iv.

that kind of knowledge, which is From these considerations and the most important. others which might be mention- It is manifest, that they who ed, it appears both more rational view themselves, as they ought, and more scriptural, and even find time, notwithstanding all the the most obvious sense of the cares of this busy and ensnaring text, to understand the first re- world, to call home their wandersurrection in a figurative sense, ing thoughts, and to commune and that the millennium will be a with their own hearts. In this spiritual, and not a personal reign way, the faithful in every age of Christ upon earth.

have obtained a sight of their T. own vileness. Their seasons of

retirement and meditation per.

sons of this description have highly regarded. If, through unfaithfulness, they have neglected these seasons, the consequences have always been painful. They have become, as it were, afraid of themselves. They have felt that kind of em, barrassment, in renewing an acquaintance with their Own hearts, which is felt by two persons, who, for a great length of time, have neglected each other. Conscious of having become strangers, they know not how, at first, to use freedom,


To observe seasons of retire ment is a compliance with the duty, enjoined by our divine Teacher, of entering into the closet and of shutting the door." The object of such retirement is meditation, prayer and self-ac quaintance; a privilege which has been sought by the true friends of God in every age of the world. Of the patriarch Isaac we read, that " he went out to meditate in the field at the even-tide." Jacob, under his troubles, was alone, all night, wrestling in prayer. David, as appears from his writings, was often employed in thinking on his own ways; or in reviewing his life and examining his heart. To such precious seasons he alluded, when he penned the following words, in the 77th Psalm "In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Thou holdest my eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient

times. I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart; and my spirit made diligent search." And in another Psalm : "I thought on my ways,and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. I made haste, and delayed not, to keep thy commandments." Had not this pious man, amidst all his cares, reserved some time to commune with his own heart, he would have lived and died, like most other men, a stranger to himself. At the close of an active and laborious life, he might have taken up the sad lamentation, They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.

But, we have a brighter example than that of David, or of the patriarchs. The Saviour of the world had his seasons of withdrawing from the multitude, who thronged around him to hear his instructions, and even from the disciples who composed his particular family, that he might commune with God and his own heart. This he viewed an important part of his duty, and, by his example, he has enjoined the same on all his friends.

The hours of retirement and self-examination, which have now been represented to be so important, will, however, fail of being important to those who observe them, unless they are rightly improved. At such seasons, we must have God's holy law in our view. Can we weigh our characters, without having recourse to some standard? The great standard, or test of character, is the divine law. Every character is viewed by the

Searcher of hearts to be bad or good, according to this standard. This, therefore, we ought to carry with us to our closets, and places of retirement. Into this we ought carefully to look, as in to a glass, that we may know what manner of persons we are. The law, in all its strictness and purity, should be imprinted on our minds. How expressive of a strong attachment to the divine law are the following words of David. "O how love I thy law it is my meditation all the day." It appears that the law was his delight, not because he expected to obtain salvation by it, but because he saw it to be holy. He loved its perfection and purity. Though by this standard, he stood condemned, yet he was inclined to weigh himself by it; and the more faithfully he attended to this, the greater sense he had of his own imperfection and vileness. He saw the commandment to be exceedingly broad. With all this the experience of the apostle Paul perfectly corresponds. "I had not known sin (said he) but by the law for I had not known Just, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died."

From the united testimony of these inspired men, David and Paul, we learn that all, who have been brought to see themselves to be sinners, have gained this knowledge by looking into God's holy law. Many, doubtless, have their seasons of re

tirement and meditation, who remain exceedingly ignorant of themselves, because when they have entered their closets, they have always neglected to take the divine law with them, Were they now to do this, and to be faithful in comparing themselves with this standard, their imagined attain. ments in religion might possibly vanish like the morning dew, before the rising sun; and they might tremble as king Josiah did, when he heard the words of the book of the law, which had long been lost, While men suffer themselves to be ignorant of the law, they feel very whole, and practically say, that they stand in no need of a physician.

To obtain a knowledge of our selves, we must also carefully compare our feelings and practice with the requirements of the gospel. The gospel, it is true, is good news to sinners. But, does it promise any good to sinners, who remain impenitent? Does it countenance men in their sins? No; the requirements of the gospel are strict, and, like the law, which we have been considering, they try the hearts of men. The language of the gospel is, "He that believeth shall be saved." An infinite favour is here promised, on a certain condition. The condition is, that we renounce all dependence on our own strength, acknowledge ourselves to be in a helpless and hopeless condition, and that we embrace, with our hearts, the all-perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. Without that faith, which implies all this, what benefit are we to expect from the gospel? None at all; for the gospel, considered

as an overture of God, to fallen coming into the light of it men, threatens as well as prom- Therefore it is written, “ Every ises. Therefore it is added, one that doeth evil hateth the “ he that believeth not shall be light, neither cometh to the elamned.” A preached gospel, light, lest his deeds should be misimproved, will leave men in reproved. But, he that doeth a state an hundred fold more to truth, cometh to the light, that be dreaded than that of the hea- his deeds may be made manithen.

fest, that they are wrought in Besides ; the gospel presents God." to us many crosses, which we If the wicked obtain any conmust daily take up, or lose our viction of their ruined state, it souls. Speaking on this subject, must take place in consequence our divine Saviour said, “If any of comparing themselves with man will come after me, let him the pure oracles of God, with deny himself, and take up his the law and the gospel. And if cross, and follow me. For who- Christians are brought to have soever will save his life shall lose any just sight of their many imit, and whosoever will lose his life perfections, to lie low before for my sake shall find it.” God, and to feel the necessity of

With these views of the gos- struggling against sin, they will pel we should enter our closets, attain to this, by retiring from and solemnly ask ourselves, as in the world, and studying the the presence of God, whether word of God with self-applicawe have complied with the con- tion, and with particular refer. ditions. If, on examination, we ence to the state of their own find that our faith is not of that souls. Convicted of the greatkind, which leads to parity of ness of their danger, and of the life, and which influences us to magnitude of their wants, they visit the fatherless and widows are constrained to cry for help, in their affliction, and to keep as the publican did ; not menourselves unspotted from the tioning their own good deeds, world, what does it profit? If but saying, “ God be mercisul to we fiod, that our religion does us sinners.” No longer do they not consist in sell-denial; if it say in their hearts, that their does not make us feel interested farms, their flocks, their mer. in the honour and glory of the chandize and their earthly comdivine Redeemer ; if it does not panions call so loudly for their make us prize the worship of attention, that God must be put God in his house, in our fami- off, and eternal concerns dislies and in our closets; what pensed with ; no longer do they important end do we expect will say, “ To-morrow shall be as this be answered by it? The gospel day, and much more abundant ;" is represented by its divine Au- but, they make haste, and delay thor to be a test of character. not, to kcep the divine comMen are to know themselves by mandments.


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