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with me that precious declaration, “ Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord : thoughı your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool*.” Also, “ I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions, for mine own sake ; and will not remember thy sins t." Hear also the language of Paul, that illustrious monument of grace : “ This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I um chief I.” And can you now doubt the willingness of God to pardon you: Go to the garden of Gethsemane, go to the judgment-ball, go to Calvary, attend the agonizing scenes through wbich Jesus passed, and then ask, “ Is he not willing to pardon ?" Trace also the history of the redeemed multitudes; and among them you will find some of the chief of sinners. “Therefore, O ye of little faith, wherefore do ye doubt :” Jesus is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever!
A second was lamenting the prospect of approaching trials and temptations, fearing lest he should not be able to hold out to the end. Then let me recommend to you the soothing language of David, in the twenty-third Psalin, the whole of which is peculiarly adapted to your case: “ The Lord is my Shepherd, 'I shall not want. Yet, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me! thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me," &c. Hear also the reviving words of Isaiah (xb. 10): “ Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right band of my righteousness."
Another is distressed on account of the small advances he has made in the divine life. Then pray as David did : “ My soul cleaveth unto the dust; quicken thou me according to thy word 3."Wrestle hard for the enlivening influences of the Holy Spirit to pouze you from your lethargy; and then "wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart:- wait, I say, on the Lord !” Re:d also, and reflect on the divine emphasis of the words of the Lord in Isaial xl. 07, to the end.
We also heard the afflicted soul wecping beneath frowning providences, and ready to indulge repining thoughts. Let me sympathize with such an one, few having been more distressed with such thonglits than myself. No seasou more severely tries our faith and patience; and were it not for the anchor of Hope, ibe strongest would be the sport of every wave. “I had fainted, unless I had seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” When providences are mysterions, when not a gleain of hope breaks through the surrounding cloud, when
• Isa. i. 18.
+ Isa, lxiii. 25.
I Tim. i. 15.
$ Ps. cxix. 25.
" without are fighting and within are fears," - then remember the words of Jesus : " What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.” “My grace is sufficiert for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness!" Then call to mind the promise of divine veracity :-“ All things shall work together for good to them that love God!" Let us look, above all, to that rest which remaineth for the people of God. A few dark nights more, and eternal day will daivn; a few weary steps more, and we shall be for ever at rest; a few battles more, and victory shall be proclaimed in our favonr; a few tears more, and the hand of Jesus shall wipe away all tears from our eyes; yes, dry up the fountain : there shall not be a tear in the composition of our immortal bodies! This life is short, 'tis but an inch or two of time; and if it were all pain, ali' sorrow, yet the transports of eternity would amply repay us. Therefore, the Christian hero reasons conclusively :“I reckon that the sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory hereafter to be revealed!"
Again. Let those who are distressed with wandering thoughts plead this promise, -" I will put my fear into their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” If you are afraid of death, then meditate on that sublime, that aniinating passage, “ He will swallow up Death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth; for the Lord bath spoken it * !" "The sting of Death is sin, and the strength of Sin is the law; but thanks be to God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesns Christ.” Muliitudes, standing on this firin ground, have braved the terrors of · Death, and while a mortal paleness has been impressed on the cheek, glory has surrounded the soul.
2. These coinforts are calculated to remove distressing thoughts; because they are spiritual and divine, and conse: quently better calculated to impart delight than earthly and sensual joys. - After what has been said, methinks you are ready to confess, that they ought not to be compared together. Thousands have tried what eflect worldly pleasures will produce in seasons of distress; and cvery one has been disappointed. When in anguish of mind, when involved in afflicting providences, when tortured with pain of body, and groaning beneath a burning fever, -- will you then fly to sensoal pleasures? Ne. Whither then will you fly but to God? And millions, in the multitude of such thoughts and such scenes, have found the comforts of God delight their souls.
3. They delight their souls, because they are lasting; rea, everlasting! Eternity is engraven on all the promises. Jesus
has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."- "There shall be no night in Heaven ; and the inhabitants need no candle, neither the light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light, and they shall reign for ever and ever!” — “ Eternity! eternity! thou pleasing, dreadful thought!” — Eternity annexed to the unfading glories, perfect felicity, and pure sóciety of Heaven, overwhelms the human mind; and it exclairns, in an extacy of wonder and gratitude, “() the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”
Let the Christian learn hence his duty and his refuge in every affiction : – go and search the Bible! Go to this rich treasury, and be assured you will ever find something adapted to your particular trial, be it what it may. How conspicuous does the divinity of the Bible shine in this point! Well might David style it, “ A River, the streams whereof make glad the city of God!" Yes, and a thousand precious streans there are; and
many a weary traveller has drank, and been refreshed. The next instruction is directed to young persons; and I wish you to reflect in what a pleasing poini ot' view Religion now presents itself. It is not a gloomy subject : 'tis Sin that brought on the gloon of life. Religion iinparts everlasting delight! As you go forward in life, you ought to expect trials; for you will assuredly meet thein. The sun will not always shine; your atnesphere will not always be serene: and when your are involved in those distressing scenes, a multitude of painful thoughts will rush in upon your mind. il'here then will
you seek refuge? Where fly for peace and joy, if you have not the comforts of God to delight your soul? Many a young person has been driven to despair for want of the consolations of religion. If you launch out into the world without Religion, you are like a ship at sea without a compas9 or rudder. Pause then a moment, and lake Jesus with you.
Finally. Let the sinner be alarmed, for in the multitude of his thoughts the terrors of the Lord make him afraid. Many a serious, and many a painful hour the sinner has, notwithstanding all his boasted joys. “ The way of transgressors is hard!" Hast thou not felt many a bitter pang ? inany a wound in thy conscience? Yes; thou canst not deny it. The terrors of the Lord have set themselves in array against thee; and thou hast fled from sin to sin to calm the tumult of thy mind, - to fly from thyself and from thy God. But oh, this will only treasure up wrath against the day of wrath! Then hear the voice of Mercy : " Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous inan his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and unto our God, for he will abundantly pardon!" Plymouth.
THE SCATTERED SHEEP,
Israel is a scattered sheep, the lions have driven him away: first, the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last, this Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, huth broken his bones. Therefore, thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria : and I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon Mount Ephraim and Gilead. Jer. 1. 17, 18, 19.
Tuis descriptive history was fulfilled in the correction of Israel by Assyria, the rod of the Lord's anger, their destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, and their restoration to and repossession of the land of Canaan by Cyrus. It has a higher exemplification in every poor lost sinner, when he returns to the great Shepherd and Bishop of Souls. The imagery of the word of God is simple: more frequently taken from common than from refined science; because it is best calculated to inform mankind in general.
Ist, Ă wandering sheep is a very fit emblem of a poor sinner. Scripture says, “ All we, like sheep, are gone astray." The generally professed faith of our land is, “ 'That man is very far gone from original righteousness." The daily confession saf's, “We hare erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.” Self-Knowledge owns this in deep humiliation, human misery proclaims it, and general experience gives the fullest demonstration of the fact. The sin of Adam was a representative transaction: an act in which we were concerned by covenant-appointment;“ in whom all have sinned.' We approve, sanction, and confirm the original apostacy by our own personal conduct, and by an exact imitation of our first father's practice. We are in Adam's fallen likeness, with all his propensities, and the very counterpart of what be was, as a sioner.' The Divine Image is effaced, the protection of Heaven withdrawn, the enjoyment of God is no more.
We bear the express image of Satan ; exposed to the wrath of Ileaven; in pursuit of earthly, sensual, and devilish enjoyments; and in these researches we have been entangled by the briars of this wilderness, torn and pierced by its thorns, caught by the old lion, the great bear, and the ravenous wolf: they have devoured our fiesh, broken our bones, and scattered them as the bones in the valley of Vision *."
2dly, The good Shepherd is excited by his covenarit-love,
pity, and compassion, to seek liis poor wandering sheep: he knows they are in the wilderness, - he came there to seek and save those who are lost, - he finds us in this sad condition, he siglis and pities us, -, he punishes and destroys the enemies, – be takes the prey from the mighty, and delivers the lawful captive. His work is progressive. Every act is an act of love, infinite love : his hand of power first collects the broken, shattered, and scattered bones; unites each to its part, brings bone to its kindred bone, clothes them with sinews and fleshi, and then restores life to the sheep. He came to give life, abundant life. What a change is this! Greater than the resurrection of Lazarus; greater than that in the valley of Vision, as to the imagery. Lazarus was a human body, whole. The bones in the valley are not represented as injured; but these were broken! But is any thing too hard for the Lord ? He brings from death to life, from slavery to liberty, from darkness to light, from Satan to God, froin misery to felicity, from the thorns in the wilderness to the pleasures of Paradise, – to the society of angels, to the spirits of the just made perfect, to the beatific vision, and to the uninterrupte d enjoyment of a triune God!
3dly, How blessed is the present state of the restored sheep! Loved, redeemed, restored, and infolded! It lives in, on, to, and for Jesus. The fold is a secure inclosure. The Lord is round about his people : his perfections are on every side for their security; his love, power, faithfulness, mercy, justice, holiness, and truth, all unite in their safety. They are in suitable and congenial society. Sheep unite not with others : their fellow-sheep are their proper associates, – they have fellowship one with another; - yet they have their disgusts and antipathies, and secret matters of contention. We are grieved to see them contending with such serious blows. Good people's misunderstandings are often attended with nuch hurt: sheep, after fighting, seem to retire as ashamed : -- Is it not a shame for Christiaps to contend ?
4thly, They have their provision, in due season, given to them. They go in and out, and find pasture; but they are not always fed in the same ordinance; - the blessing is not confined 10 one institution, that we might seek his grace in the use of all. In prayer, lie kindly supplied us yesterday; today, we found his word as marrow and fatness; to-morrow, we shall find him near, as we converse with each other by the way; or, in some of his appointments, he will open his hand and supply our wants. The endearing character of Christ, as our Shepherd, skould engage our contidence: he is naturally good, providentially kind, and graciously tender toward us; his bounty supplies, bis wisdom orders, all things for us; and his gospel brings us every spiritual enjoyment *
* Psal. xxxvi. 6, 7.