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Wherefore ? “ Because, said he, with them thou hast quickened me,” Ps. cxix. 93. Sometimes he comes in a word of consolation. And what refreshments do the Lord's people then find, bearing them up under heavy pressures ? What one saint of God once said, every saint of God can always say, " in the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul,” Ps. xciv. 19. It must be a matter clearly ascertainable when Jesus comes to make known his love, and the manifestations of his favour, by the fragrancy of his person; for while he gives forth his grace, he quickens our souls to the enjoyment of him; and while the King sitteth at his table, the spikenard of faith will send forth the smell thereof, Song i. 12. There will always be a corresponding affection of the soul towards the bountiful Giver of renewed mercies: his love quickens ours. The Holy Ghost works a meetness in the heart, from the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Hence in whatever form Jesus manifests himself, whether in ordinances or providences; whether in the word, or without the word; the Lord comes in a way and manner not to be mistaken. He makes such a blessed discovery of himself, that like the beloved disciple at the sea of Tiberias, the soul cries out, “ it is the Lord !" John xxi. 1, 7. And sometimes in the discovery the soul is melted and lays low in the dust before him. And sometimes we are lifted up as in the mount of transfiguration, being brought into the very suburbs of heaven! Doth my reader know any thing of these soul transactions ?
I am well aware that it is the Lord himself which is the speaker in that memorable scripture, when as Jehovah's servant in the redemption work for his church, during the time state of her being, he said, "he wakeneth morning by morning, he waketh mine ear to hear as the learned.” And what follows in the succeeding verse could be spoken by no other. See
Isaiah 1. 4, 5, 6. But sure I am, that since I knew the Lord, I have found the sweetness and blessedness of those words as if personally my own.
And wherefore should it not be so, when it be considered the interest the church takes in all that belongs to her Lord, from her oneness and union with him ?
“ All things are your's, the Holy Ghost hath said, if ye are Christ's,” 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23.
I am no stranger to the day-dawn visits of Jesus. Many a morning before the world is up have I found cause to say, “ he wakeneth morning by morning.” Nay, I think I should not err were I to add, that sometimes, and not unfrequently, the manifestations of my Lord's presence have been so striking in the first moments of recollection, as if called from sleep for the express purpose of communion. Was it not thus with the church of old ? Song v. 2. And may it not be so with the church now?
And wherefore should it be thought incredible? Did not the Lord Jesus when upon earth teach his people to expect visits from him after he was returned to heaven? Did he not almost in the moment of his departure, when in his last confere ce with his disciples, and as he stood upon the threshold of the invisible world, did he not say, “ I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you?” And again, in the very moment of his ascension, as if the promise should be always kept alive in his church and among his people, were not his last words, “ Lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world?” John xiv. 18. Matt. xxviii. 20. And what are we to conclude from these repeated assurances, but that Jesus doth “ water his church every moment,” and that “ he keepeth her night and day lest any hurt her ?” Isaiah xxvii. 2, 3. Shall not the Amen, the faithful witness, be true to his promise? Will he not confirm his word unto his ser
vants, “ wherein he hath caused them to hope ?" Ps. cxix. 49.
Besides, is the thing in itself improbable? Can the performance of it be attended with any difficulty to the Almighty Promiser ?
“ If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it be also marvellous in mine eyes, saith the Lord of Hosts?” Zech. viii. 6. Shall not he who hath made our spiritual senses what they are, have access to the spirits which he hath made at all times, and upon all occasions, aud make such communications of himself as he shall please ; so as to make the highly favoured objects of his bounty sensible of that presence by his love, and communicate happiness to them by that favour?
May not the Lord Jesus by his word, by his providences, by the fulfilment of his promises in a remarkable way and manner; yea, without the medium of either, if it seemeth good in his sight, afford such manifestations of himself as shall be sufficient to carry conviction to the heart of his redeemed, that it is Jesus who is thus gracious; while none but the objects of his love in those visits are at all conscious of such spiritual transactions ? May not the head and husband of his people do all these things, and infinitely more, and yet accomplish the whole in such a way and manner, as shall cause no disturbance to their animal frame, or discompose the mind from the nature of the mercy ? Are there any difficulties in the plan to thwart the Lord in his operations? Nay, are we not taught to expect the accomplishment of covenant blessings by a process unusual, and altogether different from the Lord's dealings with the world? John xiv. 22. “ Therefore (saith the Lord) my people shall know my name ; therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak, behold it is I!” Isa. lii. 6. How
my Lord ?
sweetly hath the church of old expressed her apprehension of the Lord's visits ? My beloved, (said she) behold! he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice !” Song ii. 9.' And were the old testament saints made sensible of such visits from the Lord, and continually refreshed by them; and can it be supposed that new testament believers know them not? Where then in this case, would be the blessedness of Jesus coming openly into our world, being made flesh and tabernacling among us ?. How should the church enter into the enjoyment of these disciples who beheld his glory, “ the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth?” John i. 14. Precious Head and Husband of thy church and people! Do I not know to thy praise and my joy, somewhat of those love-visits of
Hast thou not often made my heart to burn within me, when thou hast been talking with me by the way, opening to my apprehension the scriptures, and making thyself known unto me “ in breaking of bread and of prayer ?” Luke xxiv. 30-32. What! though mine eyes have been holden as those disciples in their way to Emmaus were, so as not immediately to know thee, yet have I not upon numberless occasions of the kind, been as conscious of thy presence as if I had seen thee? Have not my thoughts outrun the night-watches, that I might meditate on thy word ? And oft before the dawn of day, hath not my soul made me or ever I was aware, “ like the chariot of Aminadab?” Song vi. 12.
And shall an infidel tempt me to call these things in question ? Will he tell me that these are only the effects of imagination ? What! can it be the effect of the imagination, when my soul hath been often nourished and upheld by the spiritual strength imparted upon those occasions, that, like the prophet, I have gone many a day in spiritual strength from such divine support, as he did in bodily sustenance in the wilderness? 1 Kings xix. 8. Is it indeed possible for the imagination to make things real which have no existence? Can it render that substantially blessed which never had being ? And wherefore should the subject be questionable? Is it necessary upon every occasion in common life, that in order to prove real existence objects must be seen ? If so, how is it, that after a refreshing shower of rain in the close of a warm day of sunshine, the fragrancy of the plants regale our senses with more than ordinary strength; and yet the cause, though known, doth not appear? The sun's warmth after the shower's falling, volatilize the odours of the flower, we know to be the cause ; but the vapour is not discernible, though the whole atmosphere is impregnated with its sweetness.
Let the subject be considered in another point of view, and judge by analogy. Is it not one of the plainest revelations of scripture, that “angels are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who are the heirs of salvation ?" Heb. i. 14. And are we not as positively assured, that evil spirits tempt mankind to sin ? 1 Pet. v. 8. But in both instances our apprehensions are perfectly unconscious of the presence of either, but from their effects. Doth any man, however, call in question their reality, because they are not bodily discoverable?
The word of God which declares their existence, doth as graciously assign the cause of their invisibility. Spiritual objects can only be seen by spiritual apprehension. “ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, becaure they are spiritually discerned,” i Cor. ii. 14. If it became necessary for spiritual beings to make themselves visible, as hath, perhaps, sometimes been the case, this may have been done, as is supposed, by the assumption of tangible substance, in a body like our own, and which