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and let me pour into them the delightful
Let us not imagine that the force of this example is inapplicable to us. What did our Saviour say to his disciples in the garden? "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation"-the very thing here exemplified by Nehemiah and his brethren: "Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night." Besides, one of the most common and striking images by which the life of the Christian is held forth is that of a warfare. A warfare we find it to be-" without are fightings, and within are fears." Like these builders, we Finally. What should be the feelings of also are opposed by various classes of enethose who are already saved by him?—To mies who labour to hinder our work, and you, all this is more than speculation: it is are always endeavouring to get an advantage experience. You were once "in the bond-over us. What then can be more reasonable age of corruption;" but "the Son has made than to betake ourselves to Prayer and vigiyou free; and you are free indeed." Not lance? that you are freed from all service and obedience-but you now obey and serve a master whose "yoke is easy, and whose burden is light." From such an obligation you do not wish to be delivered. You can never forget Į what great things he has done for you. You acknowledge his goodness in saving you from indigence, from accidents, from diseases, from "wicked and unreasonable men"-but, above all, you bless him for "turning you away from your iniquities."
Thus delivered out of the hand of your enemies, see that you "serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of your life." Feel your engage ments to him. Let the impressions of gratitude become every day more powerful. And to a wondering, or a despising world, say, with the Apostle, "The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."
Let not the nature or the number of your transgressions keep you from him. For what is he come-but to save us from our sins? If you do not think yourselves too good, he does not think you too bad to be saved by him. Throw yourselves at his feet, and say, "O Lord, undertake for me-Save me, and I shall be saved; heal me, and I shall be healed; for thou art my praise.'"
And such a union as this is equally pleasing and profitable. It forms the man, and the Christian. It blends duty and privilege together. It keeps our devotion from growing up into rank enthusiasm; and our diligence from sinking into the wisdom of the
I. Let us MAKE OUR PRAYER TO GOD. On him let us place our reliance; and bring all our perplexities, afflictions, and wants, and spread them before his throne. Nothing can be done without prayer.
Prayer is recommended by God himself— "Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me."
The very exercise of prayer is useful. It calms the mind; it drives back our fears; it strengthens the weak hands, and confirms the feeble knees.
Prayer is the forming of a confederacy with God, and bringing down the Almighty to our assistance: and
"Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees."
He knows that he cannot contend with Omnipotence; but he will never be afraid to meet you alone, however you may be armed. He will never be afraid to engage you in the field if he can keep you out of the closet. This then is our wisest course, because it is our safest not to encounter the enemy single-handed, but when we are in danger of any sin, feel any rising passion, or perceive any approaching temptation-to say, "O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. Here is a foe, and I feel my weakness and my ignorance-O come to my succour; inspire me with strength; teach my hands to war, and my fingers to fight. O Lord, haste thee to help me!"
THE UNION OF PRAYER AND WATCHFULNESS. Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night.—Neh. iv. 9. In this mode of defence we have an ex-under his control; and according as we please ample worthy of our imitation. It is equally or offend him, according as he interposes in expressive of piety and prudence; of depend- our favour or refuses his aid, we fail or pros ence upon God, and the use of means. per, "Except the Lord build the house, they
For let us remember that every thing is
labour in vain that build it. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."
of the power of Divine grace. Let his injury prove our security. "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed, lest he fall." "Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding: in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
Does a nation dispense with God, and place their proud dependence on natural and acquired resources? He can "lead away their counsellors spoiled, and make their judges fools." He speaks, and the tempest roars and a navy sinks in "the mighty waters." He sends sickness; a general is laid byand his absence occasions the destruction of a whole army, and the devastation of a whole country.
Does a man in trade dispense with God, and rely upon the wisdom of his own understanding, the power of his own arm, or the claim he has on the friendship of others?How easily can God convince him of his dependence upon Providence! He can touch an invisible spring, and a thousand occurrences are in motion: the man wonders to find his plans crossed, his hopes disappointed. It matters not what he gets-he gets nothing. "Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put into a bag with holes." Or he may succeed-but his prosperity will destroy him. The God he disregards stands by, and as he drinks the poison, says, "Let him alone." He would be rich without consulting God-and he is richand falls "into temptation, and a snare, and anto many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition."
Surely a Christian does not think of going on without God! Generally and habitually, he does not. "Without me," says the Saviour, "ye can do nothing; and the believer is convinced of this-but not so much as he ought to be; and sometimes he seems entirely to forget the conviction. Let us take an instance. When our Lord forewarned Peter of his danger, Peter deemed the premonition needless" Though all men should be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended; though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny." And he was sincere. But though warm, he was not wise. He was not aware of his own weakness. He did not consider how differently he would feel in new circumstances; he did not apprehend that a little curiosity would bring him into company, and company into danger; and that the impertinence of a maid-servant would induce him to "curse and to swear, saying, I knowing that kind affections, expressions, and acnot the man." Had he prayed where he pre- tions, can only be returned where they are sumed-had he said, "Lord, thou knowest received-that a harsh, unfeeling, tyrannical all things; thou knowest my frame, and re- master; that a haughty, niggardly, scolding memberest that I am dust; I bless thee for mistress-can never be served by cordial atthe merciful caution; hold thou me up and tention, and cheerful obedience. By failing I shall be safe,'"-he would have triumphed in their duty to their dependents, they set where he fell and have been-not an in- the consciences of their dependents easy in stance of the weakness of human nature, but the breach of duty to them. A poor man may
If people would exercise the same common sense in religion which they discover in the ordinary affairs of life, it would save them from a thousand mistakes. Behold the husbandman. He knows that God gives the increase-but he also knows how he gives it— and therefore manures, and ploughs, and sows, and weeds. His reliance upon God tells him that favourable seasons and influences are necessary, to raise and ripen the corn-but he is never guilty of such folly as to go forth at harvest, and expect to reap where he has not sown. Yet such is the folly of many with regard to religious things. Such is the folly of a man who complains he does not profit by the word-but never tries to impress his mind with the importance of the duty in which he is going to engage; never hears with attention and application; never retires to review what he has heard, and to make it his own. Does the word of God operate like a charm, so that it is equally the same whether a man be awake or asleep? Such is the folly of a man who complains that his children are not religious, when he knows that he never trained "them up in the way they should go;" never prayed with them; never instructed them early in the principles of the Gospel; never placed before them a good example in his own temper and life. Such is the folly of those heads of families who complain of servants-not consider
But what is the dependence upon God which we recommend It is wise, it is cautious, it is active. And if vigilance be nothing without prayer, prayer is nothing without vigilance. We must therefore, .
II. SET A WATCH, BECAUSE OF OUR ENEMIES, NIGHT AND DAY. This is not so much attended to as it ought to be. For the help God affords is not designed to favour indolence, but to encourage exertion; and in his wisdom he has connected the means and the end together: and therefore to expect the end, without the use of the means, is nothing but presumption.
manner of spirit your are of." Some are more inclined naturally to sloth; others, to anger and impatience: some, to pride and vanity; others, to wantonness and the pleasures of sense. There is a "sin that most easily besets us;" and this demands our peculiar circumspection and care.
talk of casting all his care upon God, and sing Jehovah jireh-" the Lord will provide," | as long as he please; but if he become idle, wandering about from house to house; if he omit opportunities of exertion, and lives beyond his income-let such a man remember, that he tempts God, but does not trust himan inspired Apostle says, "if any man also will not work, neither shall he eat." God knows our dispositions, and hence he is prepared to advise us-and he has commanded us "not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers." If we disregard this admonition, and form irreligious alliances-all the devotion in the world will never remedy the mischief or prevent the misery.
Thirdly. Observe how you have already been foiled or ensnared. He who would encounter an enemy successfully should be informed of his mode of fighting; and how is this to be done but by observation and reflection? "How was such a place taken? How did I lose such a battle? What rendered the last campaign so little efficient ?-Let me look back upon my past life; and endeaHe then who, while he lives carelessly and vour to derive wisdom from my old follies, indifferently, hopes to be delivered from evil and strength from my falls. By what secret merely by prayer, is only "sporting himself avenue did sin enter? Have I not been tawith his own deceivings." He who enjoined ken by surprise, where I deemed myself most prayer, never intended to make it the "sacri- secure? And may not this be the case fice of fools." Prayer, when unaccompanied again? Are there not some places and comby a corresponding course of action, is tri-panies from which I never returned without fling with God; and prayer, when contra- injury? Shall I turn again to folly? Let dicted by our practice, is insulting God to his painful experience awaken me-and keep face. me awake."
And therefore, not only be prayerful, but "sober and vigilant." And to enable you "to set a watch" successfully-take the following directions.
First. Impress your minds with a sense of your danger. The evil which lurks under every temptation is inexpressible. The design of it is to make you sin; and to sin, is to debase your nature, to defile your conscience, to rob yourselves of peace and reputation, and to destroy "both body and soul in hell." I know there is a deceitfulness in sin; and that the enemy endeavours to represent it as a liberty and pleasure; or, if an evil at all, as a trifling one. But take your estimate of all sin from the Scripture, from the Judge himself who is to punish it-and you will find that it is "exceeding sinful"-that its history, like Ezekiel's roll, is "written within and without, with lamentation and mourning and wo."
Think of this and common sense being your counsellor, you will watch; you will be willing to make any sacrifices, any efforts, rather than lie down in everlasting shame and sorrow. "If I conquer-I gain endless honour and happiness. If I am overcome-I am undone for ever. And, O my soul, is there no danger of this? Are there not temptations in every situation? In my business? In my food? In my dress? Have I not a wise and a powerful adversary, who goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour?" And is there not a subtle party within, carrying on a traitorous correspondence with the world and the devil without? O my soul, awake, and watch!"
Secondly. Study your constitutional weakness and failings. Endeavour to know "what
Thirdly. Guard against the beginnings of sin. You should learn, even from an enemy; and take the same course to preserve yourselves, as the Devil does to destroy you. Now the tempter never begins where he intends to leave off. Would he induce a man to impurity? He does not propose the crime at once-but prepares for it by degrees, by the cherishing of loose thoughts, by the indulging of improper familiarities, by the courting of favourable opportunities. If he would produce infidelity-he first reconciles the youth to read poisonous books, perhaps for the sake of the style, or some curious subject treated of; he draws him into the company of those who entertain loose notions of religion, and ridicule some of its doctrines and institutions: from these, he joins the sceptic; and he prepares him for the scoffer. Guard therefore against the first deviations from the paths of righteousness. Crush the cockatrice in the egg; or it will grow up into a frightful serpent. Cut off the shoots of iniquity; yea, nip the very buds: it will otherwise "bring forth fruit unto death."
Finally. Avoid the occasions of sin. Nothing is more dangerous than idleness, or having nothing to do. Our idle days, says Henry, are the Devil's busy ones. And, says another, When the mind is full, temptation cannot enter; but when it is empty and open, the enemy can throw in what he pleases. Stagnant waters breed thousands of noxious insects; but this is not the case with living water.
A prudent man looketh well to his going, and will think it at any time worth while to go round, in order to avoid a pit. "Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door
of her house"-lest, by going nigh, you should be tempted to go in. "Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burnt? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burnt?" Can a man wish the weeds in his garden to wither, and daily water them? If a man prayed to be heavenly--he is our refuge. If we are wanderersminded, would he go and wait in a place of he is our guide. If we are poor-he is rich. dissipation for the answer? If we are nothing-he is "all, and in all."
What can be so suitable, so necessary, to creatures in our circumstances, as the knowledge of the Lord Jesus? If we are exposed
Sometimes Christians are called into situations and circumstances, in the discharge of their duty, that are very trying. When this is the case, the business is the Lord's; and he will take care of the servant employed in it. And therefore, in such instances, we have seen the weakest believers preserved. But it is otherwise when you rush into such dangers, uncalled of God. Is God bound to work miracles as often as you choose to play the fool, or to act the sinner? Are you justified in bringing yourselves into a situation where the alternative is either a supernatural deliverance, or a shameful fall?
Thus, then, let us make our prayer to God, and set a watch. Let us impress our minds with a sense of our danger-let us study our natural dispositions-let us remark in what manner we have been injured already-let us guard against the beginnings-and shun all the occasions of sin. Thus shall we "stand in the evil day; and having done all, shall stand. Yea, in all these things, we shall be more than conquerors through him that loved
Nor shall we be always in a state of warfare. We shall soon exchange the toil of the soldier for "the rest that remains for the people of God." Our praying and our watching will soon be needless. We shall put off the helmet, and put on the crown. "Sing, O daughter of Zion: shout, O Israel: be glad and rejoice with all thy heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord hath taken away thy judgments: he hath cast out thine enemy: the King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more."
in it that led him comparatively to undervalue and even despise every thing else. And no wonder.
THE TREE OF LIFE.
It will be necessary to premise, that the tree of life which John saw, was not a single tree: for, then, how could it grow on both sides of the river? but a species of tree, or many trees of one kind. There is nothing forced or unusual in this language. We should be easily understood were we to say, the cedar tree grows on both sides of Lebanon; or the apple-tree flourishes best in such a soil: and we should be understood to mean
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves
of the tree were for the healing of the na--not an individual tree, but the kind of tree.
tions.-Rev. xxii. 2.
And this is confirmed by a parallel passage, taken from the visions of Ezekiel. "And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because
YEA, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." Such was the exclamation of the Apostle. Such was the judgment he formed of an acquaintance with the Saviour of sinners. He saw an excellency
The Christian, feeling his necessities, and enlightened from above to know the source of his supplies, often exclaims, as he reads through this sacred volume, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write; whom David, Joseph, Isaac, pre-figured; who realizes, in his own character, the temple, the altar, the paschal lamb, the ark." He holds communion with him as the "Rock of ages," as "the Sun of righteousness," as the "Fountain of living waters," as "the Tree of life, in the midst of the paradise of God."
Of this we have a striking representation in the words before us. John saw the new Jerusalem descending from heaven. It was a city four-square. The gates, the walls, the very foundations, were of precious stones. The pavement was of gold-for what we adore, they trample upon. Thus far the allusion is taken from the world of art-but nature also lends her combined aid—and here is a reference to Eden, the original residence of man. In this residence, it is well known, man drank pure water, and lived on fruit. Accordingly, a fine river watered the garden; and a tree, called "the tree of life," grew in the centre. Hence the water of life, and the tree of life, stand significantly for all the supplies of the spiritual life. And here we have both. "And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: | takers of Christ" without resembling him. and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and We cannot receive a life-giving Saviour, and the leaf thereof for medicine." Upon the remain dead in trespasses and sins. If joinsame principle, it is not necessary to suppose ed to him, we shall be quickened by him, and the tree of life in Eden was a single tree; it walk "in newness of life." And it is owing was more probably a number of trees of the to the little communion we have with him same species, finely arranged, and bearing in that our religion is so languishing, and that abundance. This conjecture has to plead not there are so many "things in us that are only probability, but authority. The learned ready to die :" for he came not only "that we Doctor Kennicot has defended this opinion. might have life," but "that we might have it more abundantly."
But however this may be-whatever the tree of life was to man in his innocency, Christ is to man in his fallen estate; what that was to Adam under a covenant of works, Christ is to man under a covenant of grace. That insured life to obedience; he insures life to faith. It is his own declaration, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." This is the new and living way opened in the Gospel, and by which we can alone pass into a happy immortality.
The situation of this tree is worthy of our attention. Endeavour to apprehend the scenery as it appeared to the eye of John. The river softly rolled down the middle, and thus formed a street on each side of it; and in the midst of each street, in a beautiful row, grew the tree of life. So that the inhabitants could walk between the houses and the trees, and between the trees and the river, on each side. It was therefore not concealed, but obviously seen; it every where met the eye, and tempted the hand. Nor was it confined, but easy of access to all who passed along, and to persons on either side of the river
In the midst of the street of the city, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life."
Whether the tree of life in paradise was more than sacramental, affording a pledge of the continuance of life, while man remained" in a state of obedience; or whether, in addition to this, it had an innate virtue to perpetuate the immortality of those who partook of it—we cannot absolutely determine. The latter has been deemed probable by many, from the words of Moses; "And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.' But we are sure that Jesus Christ has not only procured for us a title to endless life, but actually communicates life to all those who believe in him. "God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." And therefore it can only be derived from him. And as what we live upon is previous ly destroyed, so that we literally live by death" Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." Otherwise, none are forbidden: for "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him." Is he a fountain? He
And "the righteousness of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or, who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Is Christ hidden? Exposing himself to view in every direction, he cries, "Behold me, behold me.. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Is he secluded from approach, and from participation? Few, comparatively, will partake of him-but he has told us the reason:
-the death of fruits and vegetables, and animals-so by his death we live. It is his own declaration, though it may prove as offensive to some who read it, as it did to those who originally heard it: "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink is a fountain opened. Was he represented his blood, ye have no life in you. For my by the manna? This fell all around the flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink camp, and all were equally welcome to go indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drink- and gather it up. Was he held forth by the eth my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. brazen serpent? This was suspended upon As the living Father hath sent me, and I a pole fixed in the centre of the camp, and it live by the Father: so he that eateth me, was announced, that every one that was biteven he shall live by me." ten, when he looked upon it, should live. Was he typified by the cities of refuge?
And, therefore, we cannot be made "par