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with an opportunity of hearing evangelical preaching; he has awakened their consciences to the importance of eternal things, and taken them under his more immediate tuition: and 66 none teaches like him."
But as for you, my dear hearers, who live in a Christian country, and are privileged with the ordinances of religion, you can never want a star to guide. Your danger lies not on the side of ignorance, but of knowledgeknowledge unprized, neglected, perverted, abused. This is the condemnation—that you have light, but refuse to follow its leadings, and cause the Saviour to complain, "Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life." For you have the Scripture, "which is a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path." This is the word of Christ. And what part of it is there that does not lead to him? Is it the predictive? "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. To him give all the prophets witness." Is it the ceremonial! The altar, the tabernacle, the temple, the showbread, the sacrifices, and the incense; all were "shadows of good things to come, of which the body is Christ." Is it the miraculous? Who can help looking towards him from the ark of Noah; the deliverance of the Jews out of Egypt; the manna that fell in the desert; the waters that flowed from the smitten rock-for "that rock was Christ." Is it the legal? The law, by convincing us of sin, worketh a sense of wrath, and annihilates all hopes of salvation by our own obedience: "The law," says the Apostle, "was our schoolmaster, to bring us unto Christ." Is it the doctrinal? All the doctrines of the Gospel are derived from his history-from his incarnation, his sufferings, and his glory; and all lead to him, as streams that flow from a fountain enable us to find it. "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."
You have the ministry of the word. And what does every preacher of the truth but proclaim. with the forerunner, "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world!" Is he asked by an anxious inquirer, "What must I do to be saved?" He would be a misleader of souls, and chargeable with their ruin, if he gave any other direction than that of Paul and Silas to the jailer; "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."- These are the servants of the most high God, which show unto men the way of salvation."
You have the Spirit of promise: "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." Though these words had a
peculiar relation to the apostles, they have a real, and a very encouraging reference to Christians in every age of the world" who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit: and as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Avail yourselves of all these advantages, and, like these men from the east, "then shall ye know, if you follow on to know the Lord." This brings us to observe:
III. WE SHOULD DEEM NO DIFFICULTIES Too GREAT TO ENCOUNTER, NO SACRIFICES TOO GREAT TO MAKE, IN SEEKING AFTER CHRIST. Behold your example. These wise men did not say as they were setting off, "But will not our neighbours and friends condemn us!" They do not ask, "But what will the learned think of us? Will they not reproach us, as engaged in a visionary enterprise, unworthy of the professors of philosophy?" No. They did not consult the many, or the few, but the star. There is a striking difference between men, individually and socially considered. Alone, they often feel well; conscience has a moment of leisure; truth speaks, and in the absence of lies is heard; and now, convinced and impressed, they resolve to walk before God in newness of life: but all this resolution is ruined as soon as they intermingle with others. To avoid the laugh of one, and the frown of another; the coolness of friendship, or the enmity of power; they swerve from the known path of duty, and "hold the truth in unrighteousness." Public opinion is one of the greatest obstacles the grace of God has to overcome; especially in two cases-With regard to the young, who are so impressible to flattery and ridicule-And the intellectual, who pride themselves on the reputation of knowledge, and to whom the words of our Saviour may be applied; "How can ye believe who receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only ?" How many are there who believe on him, but fear to confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue, “for they love the praise of men more than the praise of God." Let us, therefore, like these Magi, choose our guide, not from below, but from above. Let us simply ask, What does God say-what does God require! It is a light thing to be judged of man's judgment. He that judgeth us is the Lord-How shall I appear before him?
Again. These men were willing to leave their country, their connexions, their families; and disregarded all the expenses, inconveniences, and dangers of a distant and difficult journey. And you know the decision: "Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath cannot be my disciple." Some things must be absolutely renounced. This is the case with sin of every kind, and every degree.-Bosom lusts must all be sacrificed the right hand cut off, the right eye pluck
supposed that they knew his divinity; but they viewed him as an extraordinary personage; and as they were accustomed to prostrate themselves before a superior, and offer him presents, so when "they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh."
But what worship are you to render him? -You are to render him the homage of the mind. This is done by entertaining the most exalted conceptions of him. And can you think of him too highly, after searching the Scripture, and finding him "fairer than the children of men: the King of kings, and Lord of lords: the Sun of righteousness: the Sa
ed out. Other things must be conditionally parted with. These are our temporal interests. Duty and advantage may lie the same road; but when a separation is necessary we must show, by our choice, what we deem the one thing needful. Thus Moses "refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, and chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." Thus, between a human and a Divine command, Peter and John said, "We ought to obey God rather than man."
If, however, the Gospel requires us to labour, and strive, and fight, it more than deserves all our exertions. If it demands sacrifices, it more than indemnifies us. "There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not re-viour of the world: the brightness of the Faceive manifold more in this present time, and ther's glory, and the express image of his in the world to come life everlasting. Godli- person?"-You are to render him the homage ness is profitable unto all things, having pro- of the heart. This is done by giving him mise of the life that now is, and of that which your confidence; and "blessed are all they is to come." But, alas! what a difference is that put their trust in him." This is done by there between the disposition of these follow-yielding him your supreme affection; and be ers of the star, and the conduct of mankind it observed-you do not love him at all, unat large-may I not add, of many of you? less you love him above all.-You are to renThough you have no such lengths to go, but der him the homage of the lip. This is done the kingdom of God is nigh you; though you by extolling his excellences, and recommendknow more of the end of the Saviour's com- ing him to others. And can your tongue, ing, and through the vail of his humanity can which is your glory, be ever so well employbehold his glory, "the glory as of the only ed?-You are to render him the homage of begotten of the Father, full of grace and the life. This is done by obeying his comtruth;" though you have been invited, and mands; by holding yourselves at his disposal; pressed, times without number, to go and by submitting to his dispensations; by devotpartake of the fulness that resides in him-ing yourselves to his cause-honouring the what effect has all this had upon your hearts Lord with your substance, and, in the true and lives? What solicitude have you dis- spirit of a moral, or rather Christian martyr, covered to "win Christ, and be found in sayinghim?" Of what importance should we deem salvation were we to judge of it by your concern to obtain it? How many will the wise men of the east rise up in the judgment Yea, against and condemn?
IV. WE ARE TO BE CONCERNED TO HONOUR The HIM, AS WELL AS TO BE SAVED BY HIM. first thought of a sinner when he seeks him is to obtain relief from him in a case wherein all other assistance must fail. He is guilty, and needs forgiveness. He is depraved, and needs renovation. He is all ignorance and weakness, and needs wisdom and strength. He therefore cries, "Lord, save, I perish!" And for this very purpose he is commanded to look to him: "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." But whenever there is a real work of grace in the heart, there will be a disposition not only to seek him, but to serve him; and we shall say with the wise men, "We are come to worship him." What was the worship they rendered him? Some have ascribed to these men a higher degree of knowledge than we have any reason to believe they possessed. It is not to be
"All that I have, and all I am,
"Were the whole realm of nature mine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all!"
Are you afraid of rendering him such homage, lest you should incur the charge of idolatry? Behold your authority: "As the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Here is an authority which not
only allows, but demands the honours we pay
I hope you are not confounded at the thought of yielding this homage-in the stable, and kneeling-before the manger. The wise men, it is probable, judging from the prodigy of the star, expected to find the new-born king surrounded with magnificence; but his abasement hindered not their adoration. And shall it hinder your ardour? Yea rather, shall it not inflame your love? For what has brought him down; what has placed him here? Compulsion? No:-but compassion-a love "that passeth knowledge." He who was in the form of God, took upon him the form of a servant. He made himself of no reputation. You know it, Christians! You know it:-"Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor that ye through his poverty might be rich." And is dignity lessened by and needy." A man may be in such a state condescension? Shall his goodness rob him-spiritually-experimentally-comparativeof his glory? So far was Paul from being ly-temporally.
on the dark side only. It admits of relief.
I. A HUMBLE CONDITION.
"I am poor
ashamed of his humiliation, that he exclaim- All men are by nature poor and needy, as ed, "God forbid that I should glory, save in to their spiritual condition. Sin is very prothe cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." And perly considered a fall; and it has reduced when does God require all the highest orders us to a low estate. It expelled us from paraof his creatures to adore him? When he dise; it stripped us of our original righteoushas not where to lay his head. "WHEN HE ness and strength; it robbed us of the image, BRINGETH THE FIRSTBEGOTTEN INTO THE the favour, and the presence of God; it left WORLD, he saith, And let all the angels of us no worthiness, no hope-nothing but a cerGod worship him." tain fearful looking-for of judgment, and fiery indignation to devour us.-This is what we mean by being poor and needy, spiritually.
And when John heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders, and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, they cried with a loud voice, saying, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing."
But the conviction of our natural state is not easily fixed in the mind; and hence, far from acknowledging it, many, like the Laodiceans, are saying, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that they are wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." But the subjects of divine grace are all acquainted with their condition. The Holy Spirit has convinced them of sin; and humbled them before God. They now see, that their recovery cannot spring from any goodness or power of their own; they are convinced, that if ever they are saved, it must be by another, in whom, at once, they can find wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Hence they become beggars at the door of mercy, and are willing to live on alms; feeling their dependence, and thankful for their supplies.-This conviction, though self-abasing, is necessary and profitable. Till we apprehend our danger, we shall not inquire after a refuge; till we are sensible of our disease, we shall not prize the physician, or submit to the remedy; till we know that we are guilty and helpless, we shall never cry with the publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner;" or with Peter, "Lord, save; I perish."-But, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their's is the kingdom
GOD THINKS UPON HIS PEOPLE. I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me.-Psalm xl. 17.
THE life of a Christian is a very chequered If it be said of others, "They have no changes, therefore they fear not God;" he can say, with Job, "changes and war are upon me." However attractive this world may appear to those whose disposition is congenial with it, and who make it their portion, he feels that it is not his rest. He is a stranger and a sojourner, as were all his fathers: and there are seasons when he sighs, "Wo is me that I dwell in Meshech, and make my tents in Kedar. Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away and be at rest."
But let us not view his present condition
of heaven. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."-This is what we mean by being poor and needy, experimentally.
battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all." There are those who have met with losses which no talent could have prevented. Every time they have attempted to row, the wind and waves have been contrary. Is this the case with any of you? Are you set back in life? Are your visions fled? Are your purposes broken off? Remember, this has been the case with multitudes of your brethren who were before you in the world. Your elder brother had not where to lay his head; was a man of sor
As all believers feel this to be their condition, so we may observe no difference is made in their sense of it by their worldly circumstances. David was a king; yet this did not alter the view he had of himself, as a fallen, sinful, perishing creature before God. His palace was not a substitute for heaven, nor even caused him to forget it. He had fame, and armies, and riches; yet these could not supply the place of all spiritual blessings: he therefore prays, "Remember rows and acquainted with grief. Your conme, O Lord, with the favour that thou bear-dition is not the result of chance, but appointest unto thy people: O visit me with thy sal- ment. Your safety and welfare required it. vation; that I may see the good of thy chosen, In more easy and flattering circumstances, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy na- you would have had less love to the Scription, that I may glory with thine inheritance." tures; less business at a throne of grace; "I am poor and needy," says the believer, less longings after a better country; less "unless as I obtain the true riches, the un- proof of the tender care of Providence and searchable riches of Christ: and I often fear the all-sufficiency of Divine grace. This is I have none of them. But if I am a pos- what we mean by being poor and needy, in a sessor-O how small a portion do I possess! temporal sense. Let us, How little, compared with what I want and II. Examine THE GLORIOUS ASSURANCEwish! How little, compared with the in- "I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinkfinite fulness there is in the Redeemer! Howeth upon me." This is, little, compared with the acquisitions of others! They have received from him fulness, and grace for grace. But I have not attained: I am not already perfect. How weak is my faith; how wavering my hope; how flameless my zeal. How far-Ó how far am I from being filled with all the fulness of God!-I am less than the least of all saints! I am nothing!"-This is what we mean by being poor and needy, comparatively. : But David was liable to affliction; and there had been periods when he was low in his outward estate. He was originally a shepherd, and often acknowledged, with equal humility and gratitude, his elevation in life. Even after he had the throne of Israel promised him, and the holy oil had been poured upon his head, he was driven out from his inheritance, and was an exile in other lands; pursued from place to place, "like a partridge upon the mountains;" reduced to the necessity of imploring of a foreign prince an asylum for his father and mother; and compelled to beg a sword and even bread for himself at Nob. Years after he was enthroned he was betrayed and opposed, and forced by a rebellion the most unnatural to leave his palace and his capital! Some believers, through life, have had very little of this world's goods. They have found it hard to provide things honest in the sight of all men. We sometimes censure and condemn; as if men were the absolute masters of their secular condition: but they are not. It does not depend upon every man to rise and prosper: "I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the
First, the language of confidence. David speaks without hesitation, and so may every Christian; for there is nothing of which they can be more certain than this-That God thinks upon them.
It is proved by his relations. He calls himself their deliverer; their friend; their husband; their father; and as a divinity is attached to these relations, they must all therefore be perfectly exemplified. His benificiaries, his bride, his children therefore, can never be forgotten.
It is proved by his promises. "Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me."-"I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." These are words found in a book we know to be divine. They are the words, not of a man, that may lie, or the son of man, that may repent, but of the God of truth. Talking and doing may be two things with creatures, but they are the same with him. He is often better than his word; but who ever found him worse?
It is proved by his works. What has he not done, O Christian, to justify your hope! He remembered you in your low estate.Without your desert, and without your desire, he raised up for you a Saviour; and seemed to love your souls better than his own Son. "He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for you all; and shall he not with him freely give you all things?"-He found you wandering the downward road, and turned your feet into the path of peace. He has admitted you into his service, and adopt
ed you into his family. Had he a mind to kill you, he would not have shown you such things as these. You have had your fears, but he has shown you their folly. You have said, I am cast out of his sight;" but you have been enabled to look again towards his holy temple, and the shadow of death has been turned into the morning. You have not advanced as you ought to have done, and you mourn it; but you can say, to the praise of the glory of his grace, "Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death."
"I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me."
It is rendered wonderful by the greatness of God. What a trifling elevation leads one man to overlook another! How generally are the lower ranks disregarded by those who have a few acres of land, a little shining dust, or an empty title to distinguish them-while they are only worms themselves, and are crushed before the moth. "But behold, God is great, and we know him not. All nations are before him as nothing.' Well, therefore, did David, when he surveyed the universe, exclaim, "Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou visitest him!" This is nothing less than Infinite Power and Majesty stooping to weakness and meanness.
How many things are there worthy of particular review in your history. Though they have been less marvellous, they have not been less merciful than his dispensations towards It is rendered wonderful by our unworthihis people of old. Have you not been deli- ness. The more holy any being is, the more vered "from the land of Egypt and the house must he be offended with sin. How then of bondage, by a strong hand and an out- must God be provoked by it, who is of purer stretched arm?"-I mean have you not been eyes than to behold iniquity!" And yet how "delivered from the power of darkness, and much has he seen in me," says the Christian, translated into the kingdom of God's dear" to try him, not only before I knew him, but Son?" Have you not had the bitter waters since I have been called by his name. I canof Marah healed by casting a tree into them? not take the most superficial review of my-I mean, have not your sufferings been self without seeing that it is of the Lord's sweetened by the cross of Christ? Have you mercies I am not consumed. Where is there not been fed by ravens?—I mean, have not any other benefactor that would have contithe most unlikely instruments befriended nued his regards, or have given me another you? Have not the oil and the wine multi- thought, after such instances of perverseness plied ?—I mean, have not inconsiderable re- and vileness as I have been chargeable with sources been rendered sufficient for your ex- from year to year towards God?" igences; so that, while you had nothing to depend upon, you have lacked nothing?"Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord;" and be able to say, "I am poor and needy-yet the Lord thinketh upon me."
Thirdly. It is the language of consolation. "I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me." This is enough: this will more than counterbalance every thing that is defective or distressing in my condition. There are three things in God's thinking upon us that are solacing and delightful.
Observe the frequency of his thoughts. Indeed they are incessant. You have a friend whom you esteem and love. You wish to live in his mind. You say, when you part and when you write, "Think of me." You give him, perhaps, a token to revive his remembrance. How naturally is Selkirk, in his solitary island, made to say;
Secondly. It is the language of wonder. It is said by the apostle Peter, that God calls his people out of darkness into his marvellous light; and one of the things which fill them with surprise, and continue to fill them with surprise through life is, that God fails not to regard such creatures as we are.
It is rendered truly wonderful by the "conduct of men." This we continually witness; and we are prone to judge from what falls under our own observation. How many, alas! of those with whom you have to do, prove either frail or treacherous! How many have abandoned you, after the warmest expressions of friendship and kindness! How often have you heard the voice saying, "Cease from man! Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm!" In this way you have been peculiarly tried when reduced; for people reverse the maxim of Solomon, and suppose a friend born for prosperity. The flower that, while fresh and green, is put into the bosom, is thrown away when shriveled and dry. But it is otherwise here.