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an interesting group do they form! In what an important service, on a most memorable occasion, were they engaged-presenting themselves before the Lord -celebrating their merciful deliverance by a typical sacrifice! But what is meant by that majestic arch, which perhaps at that moment appeared in the heavens decked with beauty; throwing a soft and lovely reflection upon the
and encircling the altar which Noah had erected, the sacrifice which he offered, and the little party which surrounded it? The twelfth verse is a reply: “ And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you, and every living creature that is with you for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.” What a lovely picture! How soft, glowing, significant, instructive! Look at the varied colours of the bow. What an emblem of the exuberant fulness of the covenant of grace with all its rich variety of spiritual and temporal blessings. How is the bow formed ? By the sun shining through a shower upon a dark cloud. Thus the Sun of Righteousness with healing in his beams, shining through the afflictions of life upon this dark vale of tears, presents the symbol of mercy—“the bow of promise mid the storm." But survey its majestic form. It is a triumphal arch; as if it were set up to memorialize some grand achievement. Is it not so? The conquest of earth and hell by our all-conquering Lord and Saviour. That majestic figure stretching across the horizon includes within its ample range, a vast extent of territory and population; and having thus embraced them in its span, decked them with its beauties by reflection, and covered them like a canopy of glory, rises to the very heaven of heavens, and forms the basis of the throne of God and the Lamb. How exactly this beautiful picture harmonizes with the scene which was beheld by Ezekiel and John, may be witnessed by a reference to the first chapter of the Prophet's writings, and to the fourth chapter of the Book of Revelations.
While we thus gaze with rapture upon this sign and seal of the covenant of grace, we cannot help exclaiming, how different is this symbol of mercy to that how which is spoken of by the Psalmist. Speaking of the judgments which the Lord has prepared for the ungodly he declares, “He hath bent his bow, he hath made ready his arrows upon the string." This is the emblem of warthat in the heavens is the emblem of peace. This was formed for destructionthat for salvation. This was made by justice—that by infinite mercy. This is an instrument of death—that the insignia of life. This bends downwards to alarm and repel—that bends upwards (the threatening side being turned away like the Lord's anger), to cherish our confidence and hope. The bow spoken of by David was strung, and bent ready to strike the fatal blow: the bow seen by Noah, Ezekiel, and John, was unstrung, unbent, unarmed; a bow of light and love, an ark of peace and mercy.
Thus we see of how much importance it is to be in a state of salvation. There is no danger, no anger, no ground for fear, as “ there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus,” like Noah in the ark.
We learn how readily the Lord accepts a devotional sacrifice when it is offered by faith in the Lord Jesus ; let this therefore encourage you to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need." Bring the sacrifice of a broken and a contrite spirit. Trust in the great High Priest of your profession; he waits to be gracious.
Whenever you behold the rainbow, think of Noah ; think of the covenant o grace, the plan of salvation, the Sun of Righteousness, the beauties of holiness, the peace and joy in believing, which are the privilege and the portion of true believers.
Let the recollection of the deluge teach the ungodly, the impenitent, the worldly-minded professor, and the backslider, the certain punishment which awaits the commission of sin. God has threatened it, he will execute it. that being often reproved, yet hardeneth his neck, shall be destroyed suddenly and that without remedy."
And finally, let us view the ark as an emblem of the Gospel of Christ, of that refuge which is set before. This was the only retreat from the flood, and covert from the storm, and no one was advantaged by it, but those who entered it. It was not enough that the people saw it, or knew it, or even assisted in rearing it, all who were without perished. Thus it is still. “ There is none other name given unto men whereby we can be saved but Jesus Christ, neither is there salvation in any other.” He that fleeth to him for safety and believeth in him to the salvation of the soul, shall not be confounded world without end. But “how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation ?"
THE DESIGN AND BENEFIT OF CHASTISEMENT
REV. J. H. EVANS, A.M.
JOHN STREET CHAPEL, KING'S ROAD, FEBRUARY 15, 1835.
"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."-HEBREWS, xii. 11.
THE Apostle had encouraged the saints of God, to whom he had addressed this letter, by telling them that whom God chastened he chastened in love: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten:" "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth:" leading them thereby to draw the opposite conclusion to which sight and sense would lead them, that, (so far are they from being tokens of God's displeasure and wrath), they are among the brightest evidences of their Father's tenderness and love.
He cheered them also by telling them it is not for his own pleasure that the Lord chasteneth his children, though earthly parents sometimes do so. Do not understand the passage as if it were to be interpreted "according to his whim;" because that is not evidence of a kind, tender, and wise Father (and it is the conduct of such a father that is brought before us), but according to the best of their judgment, though often mistaken, often wrong, often out of the way: yet He never; always—not only intentionally, but absolutely and directly, for our profit-accomplishing in the end his own purpose, and making it effectual.
But lest they should consider that, after all, the chastening of their Father might be very light things, and consequently might draw very painful conclusions when they found them heavy things, he adds the words of the text: "Now no chastening for the present is joyous, but grievous:" these things are not given as if they were joyous things, nor light, nor trifling things; but because they are grievous things-because they bring grief, and occasion grief. He seems also to encourage them by this; that, even if they did grieve under them, it was no sin, because they are grievous things in themselves to flesh and blood, and often grievous to the spirit; not merely to that which is flesh and blood, but that which is spiritual in us; designed to be so. And he encourages them by the blessed tendency and issue of chastisement: "Nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them. which are exercised thereby."
Now in discoursing from these words, there are two points of view in which I desire the subject may be regarded. O that the Holy Spirit may lead our minds into the very marrow, and substance, and sweetness of the truth; that
we may find it to be the truth, and rejoice in the truth, and acknowledge it to be the truth of God, in, our own hearts, to the glory of his grace
In the first place, consider what the Apostle says of chastening : “ No chastening for the present is joyous, but grievous ;” and secondly, the blessing which a gracious God has attached to it: “ Nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby."
With regard to the first point, it seems almost a truism, an assertion so palpable, and evidently true, that it were needless to make it: and yet we do not find it so, either in our own experience, or in the experience of God's dear people. A chastening that had nothing of grievousness in it, were no chastening at all. If the Lord lays his hand upon us, and we feel and esteem it not to be his hand, all the blessed effects of it are lost to us. I do not wish you to enter into that state of confessing, “ I feel it to be no cross at all:" I wish to the Lord that you did; for the Lord so ordained it, and, sooner or later, he will cause you to know it to be a cross. Certainly, his hand unfelt is not the channel by which he conveys blessings to our souls. The Lord chasteneth his child, and sometimes he chasteneth himn sorely too. If we look into the history of Moses we find it so: if we look into the history of Job we find it so: if we look into the history of Jacob we find it so: and I believe most of us shall find it so in our own history ; (which, after all, is the most interesting history to us, the history of our Lord Jesus Christ alone excepted.)
We find from the thirty-ninth Psalm, that David found the chastisement of the Lord to be no light matter : And
Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee;" under the precious conviction of God being his God-his hope, his rest, and his delight being in God. “ Deliver me from all my transgressions : make me not the reproach of the foolish. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it. Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand. When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth." You find the same truth in Psalm cxviii. 18. By whomsoever the Psalm is written, whether David or not, the experience is to us the same, and the same testimony. “The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over to death." The chastisement was not joyous, but grievous. When the Apostle Paul besought the Lord thrice that that “ messenger of Satan" which afflicted him, might depart from him, do you not think he felt it a heavy pressure? He found it no light thing: and I bless God he has not revealed to us what it was. If there had been one peculiarly heavy trial unfolded, we should have individualized that trial, and looked only to that or similar trials: but when we see it was that which made the Apostle “groan, being burdened," drove him to a throne of grace, and made him thrice beseech the Lord for deliverance, we see that he felt it no slight matter to be under the correcting hand of his God.
There is, in the correction that we receive from the hand of God, something which impresses on our mind the solemn reflection that it arises from sin. I do not say, always from the outbreaking of sin; but I do say, from the indwelling of sin. And in that land where sin shall dwell no more in the hearts of God's people, there shall be no correction, for there will be no need of ary. In the case of the Apostle, we do not find that “ the thorn in the
flesh” was for the correction of the outbreaking of sin, but we are assured it was for the indwelling of sin: it was to prevent that outbreaking of sin which he had in his flesh, wherein there dwelleth nothing that is good. There is always this solemn truth connected with every correction we receive from the hand of God-by whatever channel, or through whatever medium, it is conveyed, whether immediately from God himself, or through the medium of our own folly: we have to remember that the cause of every chastisement is sin; that, if there were no sin in us, there could be no need of correction. Therefore there is always in that consideration a reflection of grievousness.
Then, as it comes from a Father who loves us, and who loves us well, if there were not a needs-be for it there would not be a feather's weight laid on the heart of his child. He loves his people: they are dear to him as the apple of his eye; and he that toucheth them, toucheth the apple of his eye. Would he touch them, they being dear to him as the apple of his eye, if there was not an absolute necessity for it? T'he very necessity, as coming from a Father's hand, inflicts more real grievousness on the child's heart, than if it came from the hand of the magistrate. “ What! does my Father see all this necessity for chastening ? Then what must there be in my heart, and what there must be in my flesh, to require it!" "These are the reflections that spring out of a right contemplation of the chastisement of God: and I am persuaded, the more your hearts are walking with God, the more conscious you will be of the truth of these words in your own souls.
There is something in the very things themselves that are grievous. They may be long endured, year after year may pass over, and yet leave the same cross upon us. And the reason is, because there is the same necessity, and the same love: the same cause existed, and the Lord gave us the same proof of his love. That heavy trial—that domestic cross; 0 I will not go through them : you need not from my lips any description how heavy a cross God can make a little circumstance to you. The things which we now look back upon, and almost wonder at our folly that ever we should have thought them such heavy crosses, were heavy at the time, and meant to be heavily felt by us, and were the appointment of our God. Our very constitution, our very formation, our individual case, as it were, rendered them heavy trials: and all of them were needful, beloved, and in God's covenant “ ordered in all things, and sure.'
There is in them something painful; but while the neck is fitted for the yoke, the yoke is fitted for the neck. In the very trial that the Lord has laid upon you, he has met you especially in that very circumstance, where perhaps you least expected him.
Now all this makes the grievousness: there is something in it that is painful to our flesh, and oftentimes very trying to our spirit. Never was a heavy cross laid on a child of God yet, but there was in that cross a tendency to stir us indwelling corruption. As it is intended more especially for the trial of graces, for the trial of what God has wrought in us; so it is the means of stirring up inbred corruption: and this very circumstance is in itself no small trial.
Do any of you seem to smile at this, as if it were a mere imagination of the mind? What! when the favourite gourd has been withered ? What! when the favourite cistern has been broken? What! when the favourite tie has been snapt asunder? What! when God has shown you, as it were, that it must be