Imatges de pÓgina

only that his interposition and power may be the more strikingly manifest. And though error and evil may flourish for a time, and to an extent which seems to betoken their final triumph and the utter disconfiture of the righteous; yet the period will arrive when Jehovah shall appear in behalf of his saints, trample their enemies under his feet, and put into their lips the joyful shout, “ Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” When the promise of a son in whom the nations of the earth should be blessed was made to Abraham, he laughed in consequence of the apparent impossibility which lay in the way of its fulfillment, and Sarah shouted with incredulity in the angelic message that a woman of ninety years should bear a son. Yet in due time did the sacred announcement came to pass. Human impossibilities are no barriers to Jehovah. When the flood was sent upon an ungodly world, and every bill and mountain was hid beneath the waves, he found a plan for the deliverance of them that feared and obeyed him. When wickedness was to be reproved, it was not too much that the dead should be raised—the ferocity of lions rendered docile—the sevenfold heat of the furnace rendered powerless—and the very brutes to speak with a human voice. When the Gospel of the kingdom was to be proclaimed, unlettered fishermen were easily made to speak with divers tongues, and the daring temper of a persecuting Saul kindled up with devotion and love. Nor is there a miracle too great for the Deity in order that his purpose concerning believers may stand. And if it be necessary for our final deliverance and glory that the Son of man return again to the earth, to cleanse it by the fierce revelations of his wrath upon the wicked, and to restore the departed sceptre of David; he will come rather than suffer his promise to fail. For “he that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?" “ If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled shall we be saved by his life?”

Great changes in the fashion of this world may take place, and the whole present constitution of things may be dissolved. But God still shall be faithful to his people. The Scriptures teach us to look for great convulsions and elemental conflicts. Peter tells us that the day of the Lord will come, “ in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with

fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” John in prophetic vision says, “ And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood : and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a figtree casteth her untimely figs when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” And whether we understand these things of the political and ecclesiastical establishments of time, or of the material and physical arrangements of our present system, we have presented to our view such fearful commotions as must bring about an entirely new state of things. But even independently of this prophetic account, nature has plainly written upon her face, “the fashion of this world passeth away." Her strongest elements and firmest materials are rapidly yielding to the power of decay. Yonder towering mountains around whose daring summits the lightning's play their dances, propped as they are by the rocky battlements which surround them, are wasting away in dust which the winds scatter over the plains and in sediment which the waters carry into the sea. Rivers and streams are yearly changing their channels. The world every century exchanges its inhabitants, and every return of spring and summer must replace its withered herbage and its faded beauty. “All the things that are seen are temporal.” But with all the mutations of time—all the dread commotions in civil governments and church bierarchics-and the full manifestation of all that poets have dreamed of elemental conflicts, “ the wreck of matter and the crush of worlds;" the purpose of Jehovah shall not be altered, and still the believing sinner shall be saved.

“Let this carth dissolve, and blend in death the wicked and the just
Let those ponderous orbs descend and grind us into dust :-
Rests secure the righteous man at his Rodeemer's beck,
Sure to emerge and rise again, and mount above the wreck.
For lo, the heavenly spirit towers like flames o'er nature's funeral pyre,
Triumphs in immortal powers, and claps hier wings of fire.
Nothing hath the just to lose by worlds on worlds destroyed ;
Far beneath his feet he views with smiles the flaming void-
Sees the universe renewed—the grand millenial reign begun,
Shouts with all the sons of God around the cternal throne."

And certainly, my brethren, this is a matter in reference to which we cannot be indifferent. The most prolific source of our sorrow in this world, is the utter uncertainty of every thing by which we are here surrounded. There is nothing earthly within our reach upon which we can confidently rely. All is mutable; and we ourselves are exposed to quick transitions from security to danger—from jogfulness to tears. The man who is our friend to-day may be our enemy to-morrow. The props which now sustain us may in a few moments be swept away. Riches are no sure defense, and even could they be of any signal service, they often make to themselves wings and depart. Relatives may be kind to us, and disposed to help us and cling to us; but death may snatch them away in a moment and hide them in the tomb. Our plans and calculations may be well made, and seem to insure success; but unforeseen occurrences may blast them all. The sun of promise may shine clear and glorious in the morning, but noon may find it hid behind the clouds. Our cheeks may now be blooming with the roseate hues of health, a few days may find them sunken and paled by the hand of disease. Honor-Wealth-friends-and every earthly comfort may readily fail us. And is it not a source of “strong consolation," that amid all our failures, if we are faithful to God we shall not and cannot fail of salvation! Like an anchor to the ship upon the stormy sea, so is the immutability of the Divine purpose to the believers soul. Though the sky of earthly prospect be dark and hopeless-the tempests of adversity pour their rage—and the troubled waters threaten every instant to engulf it in the deep; yet whilst hope, heaven-begotten hope clings to this unfailing rock, the christian voyager exults amid the gale. And though infidels and sensualists are wrecking upon the shoals and sinking beneath the waves all around him, he looks calmly on in full assurance that he shall yet outride the storm and reach at last the haven of everlasting peace.

What encouragement should this surety of the Divine purpose afford us for diligent and energetic effort to make our “calling and election sure.” Nothing so much damps the ardor of enterprise as uncertainty of success. But there is no room here for doubt. There can be no failure if we are faithful. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor

any other creature, shall be able” to rob us of our reward, if we but labor for it in the proper way. Our prayers and tears and works shall not be lost. How encouraging then to go on in patient endurance of hardships and diligent striving for the crown. Fellow soldiers of the cross, with the certain prospect of eternal victory before us, why shall we cease to fight? With the palms and crowns held

up in our view, why not take to ourselves the whole armour of God and press on for the glorious prize? The more fatigue and privation we endure in the march, the more exalted shall be the glory of our triumph. Jehovah cannot disappoint us. His promise cannot fail us. If we fight we shall reign. Why not then summon up our sinking energy and rally for the work? Why not press on with renewed vigor to the contest? Rouse yourselves then, and begin to act as those who really expect to be saved. Up, up! and nerve yourselves for duty, and with your eyes fixed upon yonder heaven, shrink not from any opposition. The banner of Jehovah's protection shall be over you. The broad shield of the Omnipotent shall defend you. For he hath sworn and will not repent, that if faithful, you shall have the kingdom.

Nor has the Savior left us in ignorance as to the precise steps to be taken in order to secure our salvation. Like a faithful leader of his people, he has given us specific and full directions. The language of his inspired apostle is, “God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it with an oath ; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” Here then is the great condition upon which our christian consolation on earth, and our final salvation in glory depend. We must "flee for refuge to the hope set before us.” This describes a peculiar state of mind, and a peculiar course of conduct springing out of it.

There is an obvious allusion in the text to the cities of refuge provided by Moses for the safety of such as might accidentally cause the death of a neighbor in case the friends of the deceased were to pursue

him for vengeance. In such an instance there must necessarily be a conviction of danger. The man must have been convinced that his life was in jeopardy, before he would resort to measures for security. And so in our case.

We must be brought

to a sense of our sinfulness and consequent exposure to Divine wrath. We must feel our guilt in having broken the good and holý laws of Deity, and that we are in every moment of impenitence subject to be consumed. Such is really our condition by nature. We are continually hovering between earth and hell upon the feeble and failing wing of life. Any moment we may drop into the fiery vortex. The state of mind described in the text, is that of having our eyes opened to the dangers which threaten our ruin.And in order to bring ourselves to this, it is only necessary for us to compare ourselves with the Divine law, and our conduct with its holy requirements, and we shall know at once our true condition.

But it was necessary for the manslayer under the Mosaic arrangement, not only to have a conviction of danger, but also to have some confidence as to his safety after he should have made his way into the city of refuge. So must we also have faith in Jesus Christ the great hope set before us, and in his willingness and power to save us if we flee to him. Without this we would never come to him, and never flee to him for refuge from the punishment threatening our sins. And to bring about this confidence in our hearts, the doctrine of the immutability of his purpose to save believers comes into play. We must look at the character of God, his promises—the instances in which he has saved others, and we certainly cannot doubt. We have his purpose assured unto us by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie. • If then we are sensible of our exposed condition by nature, and believe that we can find refuge in Jesus, we are ready for the action of fleeing to him. And it is important to bear in mind that there is action required in this case. Our sins must be renounced. Whether they be sins of thought, or passion, or language, or of deportment, they must all be abandoned. We must resist the influences of the carnal mind, and “crucify the flesh with the lasts thereof." We must sacrifice our worldly feelings, and give a heavenly direction to our affections. There are practical duties to be performed. The regular means of grace must be attended to. We must pray; we must read and study the Bible; we must attend the ministrations of the sanctuary; and we must every where and always, seek to exemplify the teachings of the Savior. And by giving all diligence we must add to our faith, virtue; and to vir

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