페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

by the condensation of the air may render the object visible. And it is possible that many of the appearances which we read of under the old testament dispensation concerning supernatural beings were of this kind. But without this medium, or somewhat like it of making visible, spiritual objects cannot be discernible, unless to spiritual objects like themselves. Nevertheless, though unseen, the reality of their presence cannot be doubted. Effects prove causes.

And sceptical up to all the possibilities of unbelief, must be that man that would call in question their existence or agency, merely because they become not the object of bodily sight. 1

pause for the moment to remark, what a wonderful effect must take place in the circumstances of every individual of mankind at death? In that moment the spirit no longer cased in flesh, goes forth from the body, Immediately is opened to his view the spiritual objects of the invisible world. What an awful sight to him that dies in his sins ? John viii. 21–24. How glorious a prospect, and what unspeakable felicity is unfolded to him that dies in the Lord ? Rev. xiv. 13,

But to return. How often have the hallowed moments of the morning, and before the world's tide had broken in upon me, been made blessed by the visits of the Lord Jesus ? Conscious that no eye saw me but his, and that no ear could know what passed between my Lord and his poor pensioner, I have found freedom to unbosom myself to him, and to tell him what I could not have communicated to the nearest and dearest earthly friend. And as these seasons of conversation have been often formed without any mediums, either of the word of God or of the ordinances of God; so have they induced an acquaintance which no books can teach, and which none but the Holy Ghost could bring about to lead the soul into a personal knowledge and

enjoyment of Jesus. And what is this but a confirmation of scripture, which in every part declares the oneness and union between Christ and his people ? Here is found proof of a relationship, which leaves at an infinite distance every other. Here we enter into a real heartfelt enjoyment of that precious assurance given by the Holy Ghost, that “ we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones,” Eph. v. 30.

I think I may truly say, that I know, and can, and do appreciate, all the affinities of nature, with all the charities of life, as high as any man. But there is a certain somewhat in our relationship to Jesus, which beggars every other. Here is a connection of another kind. This is an union indeed, a oneness of nature; and one in which the death of the body makes no separation. The brittleness of all other ties (to say nothing worse of them) renders the whole less valuable, than what we are apt to rate them. And if it were not rather foreign to my present purpose, I think I might without much difficulty shew, that our attachments in nature here below, are only truly formed, when formed in grace. We can only be said to love the persons of our friends, neither do we in truth love them any further, than as we love them in Jesus. But I wave in this place all observations on this subject. I blush not, however, to say, that as far as relates to myself in my connections below, I would pray for grace to form my standard of earthly affection to earthly alliance, by the standard of Levi: “ who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children.” And God the Holy Ghost assigns the reason. “ Because they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant,” Deut. xxxiii. 9. Precious Lord Jesus! the relations of thy people in the other world, will be as thine were in this; “ whosoever

shall have done the will of our Father which is in heaven, the same will be our brother, and sister, and mother," John vi. 28, 29. Matt. xii. 50.

And wherefore doth Jesus vouchsafe these visits to his people, but to work in them, now, an acquaintance with his person, that hereafter they may be the better prepared to enjoy him in glory. The very end of our being is this: to know and to enjoy the person of Christ. This is a much higher object than any thing relating to our own glory. God in his Trinity of Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, ordained Christ as Christ, (that is, God and man in one person) for the unceasing love and delight of the church; more than for any other purpose of their own felicity. For as the man, God's fellow, is the everlasting object of God's love and delight; so the very being and ordination of the church, in the highest possible attainments of happiness in heaven is, (as Jesus when on earth said himself) to be with Jesus, and to behold the glory given to him as God and Man mediator, Zech. xiii, 7. Isa. xlii. 1. John xvii. 24. Hence our very being, and well being, and our eternity of being, in the first and ultimate design of it, is to the knowledge and love of God in Christ. And all the visits of Jesus is to bring his redeemed more and more into an acquaintance with his person here, until he brings them all home to the everlasting enjoyment of his presence in glory. Hence those gracious words, “ Father, I will, that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

Orighteous Father! the world hath not known thee; but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me: and I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it, that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them!” John xvii. 24, 25, 26.

Come then, my honoured Lord, and day by day grant me the renewed visits of thy love. Draw back the curtains of my heart, and bid my soul good morrow! Be thou, “ as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth; even a morning without clouds,” 2 Sam. xxii. 4. And in fresh discoveries of thyself, keep my soul alive, in the consciousness and enjoyment of thy divine presence, until that blessed morning dawn, which have no night, “ whose sun shall no more go down, neither the moon withdraw herself; but the Lord himself shall be my everlasting light, and my God my glory!" Isa. Ix. 19, 20.

AN EVENING VISIT TO JESUS.

There is a certain somewhat in the stillness of the evening, which seems to invite the renewed soul to communion with the Lord. The child of God, in union with Jesus, cannot but feel a longing for some fresh communication from Jesus. And it is on this account that ordinances, in the close of the day, have a peculiar blessedness in them. Indeed, the imagination can hardly form to itself a sight more lovely than that of the Lord's people, (and especially among the labouring part of them), meeting together after the toils of the day, to lay down all their worldly concerns at the door of the Lord's house, and entering in, to seek the Lord's face, in the Lord's strength, in sweet communion. An old testament saint hath blessedly expressed the sense of this, when he said, have I desired of the Lord, that I will seek after; even that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple,” Ps. xxvii. 4. But it is not the privilege of many of the Lord's people, daily to go up to the house of the Lord, and much less to dwell

“ One thing there, It is their mercy, when an evening in the week is afforded them, for visiting the Lord in the beauty of his holiness. And, though it be but fragments of the day, in a toilsome and laborious life; yet it is blessed to gather those fragments of time, when, from the pressing wants of the body, no more can be gathered, and to consecrate them to the Lord.

But where public ordinances are not attainable, private visits to Jesus are. Yea, the one doth not supersede the necessity of the other; both mutually help and promote each other; and the most busy life may find a small portion of time for a visit to Jesus. He whose unwearied exercises through the day, admitted of no remission from his public ministry, sought the

hours of the night, for the enjoyment of personal com• munion with his father. We read that, when Jesus

“ had sent the multitude away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray; and continued all night in prayer to God.” Precious example! however to be unequalled by his people.

But both public and private ordinances, and private visits to Jesus, unless accompanied with the sweet savour of Jesus, are alike unprofitable. And shall I be forgiven when I say from whence that leanness and poverty of soul, which, for the most part marks the features of the present day of the church, but to the want of this unction of the Spirit? Whence, amidst a greater fulness of the means of grace, than perhaps ever was known since the reformation, there is a less end of attainment? Is it not because we rest satisfied with having the form of godliness, but are destitute of the power thereof? How shall that man, even though quickened into the new and spiritual life, go otherwise than in leanness of soul, who feed not, day by day, on the bread of life? Can outward services supply the want of inward personal communion ? and is it not too sad a truth, that many, yea, very many, and

« 이전계속 »