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Spirit, I can never understand one word aright concerning the Lord Jesus.” As Moses spake to the children of Israel concerning Korah, &c., and all that belonged to them, “ Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye
be consumed in all their sins;" so of those who, by self-ability, human wisdom, or carnal learning, think to fathom one spot in the word and mystery of God in Christ. This I think is one reason why the Lord Jesus, the Ancient of Days, clothed in a body like our own, (O soul-overwhelming mystery!) took a little child and set him in the midst, and said, whosoever of his disciples should become most emptied of mortal wisdom, like that little child, should be proportionably filled with divine wisdom. It is this which shall blister unto madness and destruction all the pride of man. It is this which makes poor fishermen, the apostles, the possessors of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; while the learned, the clever, and those accomplished in all this world's wisdom are all locked out, until grace, sovereign grace, might fulfil what is written in any of them, (if peradventure the will of the Lord might be so in them, for it is not whether we will, but whether we may,) that “if any man will become wise, let him become a fool for Christ's sake,” in the eyes of all men of self-ability
I have often thought that it was touching on this tender nerve, though I have been found fault with for it, when Christ turned himself round to the great multitudes that followed him, and said to them, “ Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in and shall not be able.” O how that word
many" (the very word He takes to characterise those in the broad road) has startled my soul! He says no where in scripture that many shall strive to enter in, and shall not be able. The word strive literally means to agonize like wrestlers. It is like those thrusting themselves into a place against vast opposition; like forcing open a door when those within are determined to keep you out.
Thus I hope I have striven to enter into the kingdom, and got in. But how? O, I felt that all my seeking fell dead to the ground! 0 what a solemn thing it is to be destroyed ! " This my son was dead." 0, the solemnizing feelings my soul has had about these things, no tongue can tell, nor heart conceive, except those who have been, in some degree, touched where Jonah was, in the bowels of hell. The dangers of self-righteousness and licentiousness, and the difficulty of having revealed, and of maintaining, through grace, our hold on Christ's righteousness
and blood, will bring us into “ deaths oft." (2 Cor. xi. 23.)
Election-particular redemption-the certainty of the elect getting to heaven, and none but they—the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as a needs-be for the knowledge of Christ to any saving purpose-the apparent contradictions of scripture—the discordant sounds in the world as touching religion—the errors, inconsistencies, and shortcomings of good men; these, together with infidelity, doubts about the Bible, where it came from, whether was all true, if not all, what was and what was not true; doubts about these and about
Christ, and as to whether the apostles were not crafty men, &c. &c.; these things, I say, have thrown me from time to time into an agony, and made seeking take a more terrible form, viz., striving; and if the Holy Spirit had not upheld me I must have sunk in confusion and despair
.. What then has this striving done? Why, it has made me, as I hope, a real, sensible, and manifested partaker, really and truly so, of everything God has revealed in scripture, according to the measure distributed to me; and not satisfied with that, I am going on, until, as I trust, my soul will lose itself in God, who is boundless light and a shoreless sea. The path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more, until every trace of darkness and straitness shall be finally and for ever gone.
Thus, the blessed Father's everlasting foreknowledge, or love to Christ's seed, through the blood and righteousness of the almighty Mediator, under the glory of the almighty Spirit's quickening operations felt, are only to me a counterbalance against the amazing evils, felt or feared, which I have found myself encompassed with; and which makes striving, under the energetic power of the Lord Jesus felt, to be absolutely requisite, in order to go through the gates of grace into the gates of glory, and that we may finish our course with joy. A happy death has been one of the few prayers I have ever felt a disposition to undeniably besiege the sweet throne of
I. K. MEDITATIONS ON DEUT. XXXIII. 13-16, BY JAMES
OSBOURN, OF AMERICA. Dear Friend,—May the Angel of the everlasting covenant defend thee, and guide thee safe through all the vicissitudes of this mortal life.
I have just been reading and thinking about Joseph and his highlyfavoured land; and as I have just been communicating my thoughts to a friend of yours, and as I have a little time to spare, I will communicate my thoughts to you, as I know that your heart is set upon spiritual things, and therefore will not take it amiss.
Moses, the man of God, in blessing the twelve tribes of Israel, says of Joseph, “Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, and for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush; let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and
of the head of him that was separated from his brethren. From reading this account of Joseph in the letter, my
mind was drawn out to Joseph in the mystery. I thought that if so much could be said of the son of Jacob and his land, much more might be said of the Son of God, and of his happy land, gospel Zion.
Our anti-typical Joseph is the glory of the land of gospel rest; and on this account it is greatly blessed. His Person is full of grace, his name is a “strong tower," the offices he sustains are of the highest importance to us, and the relation he stands in to the inhabitants of this land is of signal consequence. In him all perfections dwell, both human and divine; through him, all the power, the wisdom, the righteousness, the glory, the mercy, the grace, the truth, the love, and the goodness of the eternal God, break forth and shine with unequivocal lustre round the whole land of Zion; in him, all the adorable attributes of Deity harmonize, embrace each other, and well agree in the salvation of perishing men. He was the Messenger of the everlasting covenant, sent by his Father with an unparalleled embassy to the sons of Adam; and he entered into our land with all the fulness of grace, and negociated business the most momentous; and, after having swallowed up death in victory, spoiled principalities and powers, spread universal dismay through the whole empire of darkness, discomfited the allied armies of hell, laid a firm foundation for the building of mercy, established himself sole Monarch in Zion, brought life and immortality to light, and formed a treaty on the best possible footing between the Offended and the offenders, he returned triumphantly home, where he ever liveth to make intercession for us.
Thus much for our spiritual Joseph; and now for a few things respecting his land.
This goodly land is blessed with immeasurable endowments above other lands, and all for Joseph's sake. When he left this land, where he, as a man of sorrows, sojourned thirty-three years, he left many blessings behind him, saying, in substance, thus much: “The land shall not be sold for ever; for the land is mine, and a blessing is in it; therefore, destroy it not. My peace I also give unto the inhabitants thereof; and not as the world giveth give I unto them; for it is an everlasting peace, which shall not be cut off.” (Lev. xxv.
23; John xiv. 27.) And these blessings thus conferred on this land for the sake of Joseph, are said to be "precious things," "chief things," and “precious fruits.”
I. “For the precious things of heaven.” May we not venture to call the surprising revelation which God hath made of himself to us, through the gospel of his Son, one of the precious things of heaven? Surely we may; and the more so, as this revelation embraces a great variety of precious things.
The oracles handed down to us by heaven-inspired men inform us what we were as considered in Adam before the fall, what we are since the fall, and also that we are not able of ourselves to retrieve the great loss we sustained in the bapkruptcy and awful rebellion of our first parents ; on the other hand, they clearly inform us where help is to be found, of God making the arm of his Son strong for himself
, and of his being holy, righteous, and just, and yet the Justifier of him that believes. In these oracles, the doctrine of justification shines forth with a lustre peculiar to itself, and is fraught with marrow and fatness well adapted to mortals impoverished and in themselves undone; here also we see the breaking forth of immortal love, which, like an overflowing sea, sends forth its life-giving streams through a thirsty land, which streams make the wilderness to blossom as the rose, and the solitary places to sing for gladness. In these oracles, we likewise have set forth a full and complete atonement, and its power, virtue, and efficacy expressed in words the most strong and indubitable; here also the perseverance of the saints is attested and established on a base which nothing can remove; and, at the same time, it affords divine consolation to the weak and to the strong, and to all who are seeking life and peace through our great and glorious Redeemer. These oracles informed the church in old times that at some future period truth should spring out of the earth, and righteousness look down from heaven; (Ps. cxxxv. 11;) and this prophecy we know was accomplished when our glorious Leader, who is the Truth, burst the silent tomb the third day, according to the Scriptures; at which time, righteousness and peace, as it were, nestled together, and with shouts of loud applause declared that the Conqueror had risen from the dead, and was become the first fruits of them that slept. And we who believe that Christ thus arose, believe also that those who sleep in him God will bring to glory.
Another glorious doctrine is by these oracles brought to light, namely, the union of the Head and body, Christ and his church. This precious doctrine is the life and soul of all the rest; if this be destroyed, what can the righteous do? But it cannot be destroyed, for Christ the Head is risen indeed; and those who sleep in him (as all will who are united to him) will God bring to glory, so that the Head and members may be glorified together.
These glorious mysteries being handed down to us by men endowed with wisdom from above, we may boldly say that the land of our spiritual Joseph is greatly blessed; and we ought to be humble and thankful for the precious things of heaven."
II. “For the dew." God, by the mouth of Moses, says, "My speech shall distil as the dew.” And has not the still small voice of the Lord in the gospel, and his gentle whispers of peace and love, by his Holy Spirit, to our souls, been as refreshing and as heart-reviving as ever the dew was to the grass and herbs ? And often the precious gospel has been to us like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest, by which we spring up as among grass, and as willows by the water
O how copiously has this heavenly dew, at certain times, descended upon the mountains of gospel Zion! This dew, owing to the refreshing property of it, is said to be “as the dew of herbs;" it comes and goes at the pleasure of God, and produces the effects he intends by it. Those on whom it descends are awakened and made to sing, as well as to grow up among grass, as we read, “Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs.” And that the dew comes directly from the Lord, we are bound to believe, not only because it produces such glorious effects in our bosoms, but because the Lord says so himself: “I will be as the dew unto Israel; and he shall revive as the corn, grow as the vine, and spread forth his roots as Lebanon." This dew is the best antidote in the world against sloth, coldness, carnal security, and dry formality.
It also is good in case of an abscess in the heart; and this I know to be a true bill, for I am very much subject to this complaint; but, so sure as ever I drink profusely of this dew, the swelling goes down, and my soul is humbled within me. I have known some men partake so freely of it as to forget their former poverty; and I have known others, again, feel the want of a little of it so sensibly that they have been ready to die. And yet they could not die; for God takes special care of such, and often says to his standard-bearers, "Strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die." If these things are so, may we not, yea, ought we not to count this dew one of the blessings belonging to the land of Joseph ?
III. “And for the deep that coucheth beneath.” Here we are led to the contemplation of the profound depth of divine wisdom, and the amazing height of eternal love, couched in many of the sayings of the inspired writers, and to acknowledge that the deep things of God cannot be explored by finite creatures, but that the most we can say is, with the apostle Paul, “O the depth both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How upsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" The wisdom of God is signally displayed, though only seen in part by us, in the contrivance of a plan whereby he can save sinners, while his justice remains immaculate; his love also breaks forth, and discovers its flame to a degree far beyond human comprehension, in reconciling rebel man to himself, through the peace-speaking blood of his Son; and his almighty power is likewise in a most striking manner exerted in preserving to the end all those whom he loved from the beginning. Yes, the decrees, counsels, purposes, and designs of God, as well as his wisdom, power, love, and mercy, are profound depths, and deeply couched in all his works and ways. But though they form an unfathomable deep, we may, without any hazard, place them among the blessings of the land of our antitypical Joseph. And bless his holy name for the deep that coucheth beneath."
IV. “And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun." From these words, the man of God is led, as it were, instinctively to gaze on the Plant of renown, on Christ, the fruitful Apple-Tree which is in the midst of the garden of God, and to exclaim, “O the precious fruits that are brought forth by the Sun of Righteousness!
-fruits which, if a man eateth thereof, he shall live for ever. Here are fruits which feast the soul, and make the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb to sing. On this Tree is to be found, and from this Sun of Righteousness may be obtained, good fruit of all sorts; indeed, every thing that the Christian wants to use, to wear, to eat, or to drink, is brought forth by this Sun, and this AppleTree; and all comes free of expense, and is very precious. This being the case, we should try to get under its shadow, and to be so far delighted with “ the precious fruits brought forth by the Sun," as to say to others, "These are the blessings of the land of Joseph." O what love, mercy, and grace,—what tenderness, pity, and compassion, are brought forth by this Sun, in all the words, actions, and carriage towards the inhabitants of this land! Thousands of poor,