Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
[merged small][graphic][graphic][graphic]

believer’s subsequent attainments. A few leading truths deeply impressed on the heart, and producing efficacious fears, hopes, desires, and affections, characterize the state of a new-born babe: but reliance on the mercy of Go!) through JESUS CHRXST prepares him to receive further instruction: and, “ having tasted that the Lord is gracious, he desires the “ sincere milk of the word, that he may grow thereby."— The INTERPRETER is an emblem of the teaching of the Holy Spirit, according to the scripture, by means of reading, hearing, praying, and meditating, accompanied by daily experience and observation. Believers depend on this continual teaching, and are not satisfied with human instruction, but look to the Fountain of wisdom, that they may be delivered from prejudice, preserved from error, and enabled to profit by the ministry of the word.

26..5. T/zcn saz'd...The condescending love of the Holy Spirit, in readily granting the desires of those who apply for his teaching, notwithstanding their sins, prejudices, and slowness of heart to understand, can never sufficiently be admired ‘. He employs men as his instruments, who, by explaining the scriptures, may be said to ‘ light the candle:' but he alone efficacioust opens the mind to instruction. “ The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him1 2” the INTERPRETER leads them apart to communicate to them heavenly wisdom, which is hidden from the most sagacious of worldly men—The first lesson here inculcated relates to the character of the true minister: for nothing can be more important to every one who enquires the way to heaven, than to be able to distinguish faithful pastors from hirelings, blind guides, and false teachers; who are SATAN’s principal agents in deceiving mankind, and in preventing the stability, consistency, and fruitfulness of believers. This portrait and its key need no eXplanation: but all, who sustain, or mean to assume, the sacred olfice," should seriously examine it, clause by clause, with the scriptures from which it is

‘ Ps. cxliii. 10. 2 Ps. av. 14

[graphic]
[merged small][graphic]

deduced; enquiring impartially how far they resemble it; and praying earnestly for more eXaet conformity: and every one should be extremely careful not to entrust his soul to the guidance of those who are wholly unlike this emblematic representation. For surely a slothful, frivolous, dissipated, licentious, ambitious, profane, or contentious man, in the garb ofa minister, cannot safely be trusted as a guide in the way to heaven! He who never studies, or studies any .thing in preference to the Bible, cannot be qualified to ‘ unfold dark things to sinners!‘ and he, who is abundantly more careful about his income, ease, or consequence, than about the souls of his flock, cannot be followed without the most evident danger and the most inexcusable folly! For who would employ an ignorant, indolent, or fraudulent lawyer, or physician, merely because he happened to live in the same parish i’

27..ii. He look...All true believers desire sanEtification, of which the moral law is the standard: yet every attempt to produce conformity in heart and life to that standard, by regarding the precepts, apart from the truths and promises, of scripture, excites and discovers the evils which before lay dormant in the heart; according to the significant emblem here adduced. Mere moral preaching indeed has no such effect: because, in the place of the divine law, it substitutes another rule, which is so vague that selfflattery will enable almost any man, who is not scandalously vicious, to deem himself justified according to it: so that instead of enmity being excited in the heart, he allows the rule by which he is approved; and loves his idea of GOD, because it accotds so well with his own character. But, when the holy law is brought with energy to the conscience, its strictness, spirituality, and severity awaken the latent enmity 0f the heart: the absolute self-deniaf it demands even in the most plausible claims of self-love, its express prohibition of the darling sin, with the experienced impracticability of adequate obedience, and the awful sentence it denounces

[merged small][graphic][ocr errors][graphic]

against every transgressor,—concur in exciting opposition to it, and even to him who gave it. Moreover the consciousness of a'hanhering alter things prohibited, and a conviction of the evil of such concupiscence, induce a man to conclude that he is viler than ever: and indeed clearer knowledge must aggravate the guilt of every sin. A little discouragea ment of this kind prevails with numbers to cease from all endeavours, at least for a season; supposing that at present it is impossible for them to serve GOD: but others, being more deeply humbled, and taken off from all self~confidence, are thus prepared to understand and welcome the free salvation of the gospel. The law then appears disarmed of its curse, as the rule and standard of holiness; while righteousness and strength are sought by faith in Jesus CHRIST: the believer is encouraged by the truths and promises of the gospel, excited by its motives, and inclined by the Holy Spirit, to desire advancing sanctification: while by the prevalence of hope and love his inward enmity i's subdued, and he delights in “ cleansing himself from all filthiness of “ flesh and spirit,and perfecting holiness in the fear of GOD." 28.45. Two--c/zz'ldren...ln this instructive emblem, PAS. MON represents the prevalence of the carnal affections over reason and religion. Whatever be the object, this dominion of the passions produces fretfulness and childish perverseness, when a man cannot obtain the imagined good his heart is set upon, which wholly relates to the present life. But this impatience of delay'or disappointment is succeeded by pride, insolence, contempt of others, and inordinate momentary delight, if he be indulged with the possession of his idol. Such men may scorn believers as foolish and wretched: but they soon grow dissatisfied with success, and speedily lavish away their good things.-—On the other hand, PATIENCE is the emblem of those who quietly and meekly wait for future happiness, renouncing present things for the sake of it; I True riches, honours, and pleasures are intended for them, but not here ;, and, as well educated little children, they I r f 2

[graphic]

228 NOTES UPON PART t.

simply wait for them till the appointed season, in the way of patient obedience—Reason determines, that a greater and more permanent good hereafter-'is preferable to a less and fleeting enjoyment at present: faith realizes, as attainable, a felicity infinitely more valuable than all which this world can possibly propose to us; so that in this respect the life of faith is the reign of reason over passion,while unbelief makes way for the triumph of passion over reason. Nor can any thing be more essential to practical religion than an abiding conviction, that it is the only true wisdom, uniformly and chearfully to part with every temporal good, whenever it interferes with the grand concerns of eternity.

30..18. A _fire...The doctrine of the~ true believer’s final perseverance is here stated in so guarded a manner as to preclude every abuse of it.-The emblem implies, that the soul is indeed quickened by special grace and endued with holy affections: and this heavenly flame is not almost extinguished or covered with ashes for many years, and then revived a little at the closing scene; but ' it burns higher ‘ and hotter,’ notwithstanding the opposition of depraved nature, and the unremitted efforts of SATAN to quench it: for the Lord secretly feeds it with the oil of his grace.— Unbelievers can persevere in nothing but impiety or hypocrisy: when a professor remarkably loses the vigour of [his affections, the reality of his conversion becomes doubtful, and he can take no warranted encouragement from the doctrine in question: but, when any one grows more spiritual, zealous, humble, and exemplary, in the midst of harassing temptations, while he gives the whole glory to the Lord, he may take comfort from the assurance, that “ he shall be “ kept by his power, through faith, unto salvation." Yet the way, in which the temptedare preserved, often so far exceeds their expectations, that they are a wonder to themselves: every thing seems to concur in giving SATAN advantage against them, and his efforts appear very successful; yet they continue from year to year, “ cleaving with purpose

[merged small][graphic]

“ of heart unto the Lord,” trusting in his mercy, and desirous ofliving to his glory.—The instruction especially inculcated by this emblem is, an entire reliance on the secret but powerful influence of divine grace, to maintaimand carry on the sanctifying work that has been begun in the soul.

31..1 1. Pleasant...Many desire the joys and glories of heaven, (according to their carnal ideas of them) but few are willing to “ fight the good fight of faith 2” yet, without this fixed purpose of heart, the result of divine grace, profession will end in apostacy.:—“ the man began to build,‘ " but was not able to finish.”-This is emphatically taught us by the next emblem. Salvation is altogether free and without price: but we must learn to value it so highly as to Venture or suffer “ the loss of all things that we may win " CHRIST;" or we shall not be able to break through the' combined opposition ofthe world, the flesh, and the devil. If we fear any mischief, that our enemies can attempt against us, more than coming short of salvation, we shall certainly perish, notwithstanding our notions and convictions. We should, therefore, count our cost, and pray for courage and constancy, that we may give in our names as in earnest to win the prize: then, “ putting on the whole armour of GOD,” and relying on his grace, we must fight our way through with patience and resolution; while many, “ being harnessed “ and carrying bows,” shamefully “ turn back in the day of “ battle."

32.47. Let me go...The time, spent in acquiring knowledge and sound judgement, is not lost, though it may seem to retard a man’s progress, or interfere with his more active services: and the next emblem is admirably suited to teach the young convert watchfulness and caution—CHRIS; TiAN's discourse with the man in the iron cage sufficiently explains the author's meaning: but it has been observed by several persons, that the man's opinion of his own case does not prove that it was indeed desperate. Doubtless these fears prevail in some cases of deep despondency, when there is

[graphic]
« ZurückWeiter »