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righteous man has his own guardian angel. And if this be admitted, we may proceed quickly to a striking illustration of our text. We hold it most important, whether regard be had to orthodoxy of creed or integrity of practice, that we recognize in its breadth, the doctrine of spiritual influences. We are so accustomed to the being acted on through the machinery of the senses, and to receiving impressions from visible apparatus, that we grow indisposed to the belief, that beings who ply nothing of external engine, have access to our souls, and can give a bias to our thoughts. But, notwithstanding it is affirmed in Scripture, and not contradicted by our reason, that we are the subjects of a grand spiritual agency; and that creatures who elude altogether the grasp of our senses, around whose operations there is a silence unbroken by the faintest whisper, may have power to transfer themselves, as it were, into the chambers of our spirits, exerting over us a real, though most mysterious influence, whether for good or whether for evil. And when we have ascertained the fact, that angels do attend us through our pilgrimage, it seems like beginning an intimacy between ourselves and ministering spirits, that each should suppose himself specially under the guardianship of one or more of the celestial assembly. There is a greater resemblance to the associations of life, and therefore a closer appeal to the best sympathies of our nature, when we are told that each individual has his own ministering angel, engaging undividedly his watchfulness, than when informed that we share with the rest of our species, the good offices of a company of spirits. It is just like contracting the most intimate friendship, to say, that one angel separates himself from his joyous compeers, and attaches himself from infancy to some one of our alienated tribe. · And if there be any motive to the avoiding sin and the pursuing holiness, in the remembrance that the eyes of illustrious beings, eager for our welfare, are ever upon us, assuredly such motive will derive great strength from the belief, that one of these beings attaches himself to us from our birth, with a sedulousness outdoing that of the best human affection, warding off many dangers, weaving many smiles, wiping away many tears, and that so far as accessible to grief, we shall cause him deep grief, in return for all his exquisite carefulness, if we yield to the temptation, and walk counter to the commandment of our God. If one angel had indeed been to me as a guardian angel, accompanying me in all my wanderings, observing all my solicitudes, taking an interest the most intense in whatever has a bearing on my happiness ; 0, if a glorious and radiant creature, far removed by an unmarred birth-right from alliance with sinfulness and misery, has thus attached himself with all that is devoted in friendship, to one so wayward and polluted as myself, shall I not pause, ere I reject with scorn and ingratitude his disinterested kindness, and do my best to drive from me by impenitence and impiety, a being, who acting with commission from God, has had no desire but to shield me from evil, and made no effort but to guide me to blessedness?
We cannot but think the words of our text, affirming as they do, that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth, derive great illustration from what we have now said of angelic guardianship. It may be that there is one amongst ourselves, who has been watched by his guardian spirit, through many years of obduracy and indifference. Often has that spirit throbbed with the hope, that the object of his anxiety would give ear to the messages of the Gospel; and often has he felt the bitterness of disappoint
ment, when the world has prevailed, and the transient conviction failed to be deepened into conversion. Often in the season of affliction has this guardian angel suggested the consolation of faith in the Mediator: often in the heyday of health and enjoyment, has he whispered the admonition, that this earth is not man's rest: but hitherto there has been nothing to reward all his watchfulness. And now, perhaps, the grey hairs are here and there to be seen, and symptoms of waning strength are every day more discernible, and the ministering spirit may be filled with the apprehension, that yet a little while and he must render up to fierce and antagonist spirits, the being whom, by all the excitements which can stir an immortal, he had striven to snatch from destruction, and consign to glory. O, if it be lawful to speak of melancholy, when we refer to those who never sinned, may we not believe that the guardian angel, as he sees the raan approaching the grave, with all the burden of unforgiven offences, feels something of that deep and desolate sorrow, which would possess our own souls, if the object which had engaged all the warmth of our solicitudes, went down visibly into the whirlpool, a shuddering thing, and a shattered, and a lost?
Now, if there is one in this assembly, who has carried it with a high hand against his Maker, and has thus grieved the guardian spirit, and almost made him to despair of any recompence for his care and watchfulness ; if he will now hearken to the Gospel of reconciliation, if now—while gathering myself into the strength of an ambassador from God, I proclaim that the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost-he will confess the sin of his disloyalty, throw down the banner of rebellion, and accept deliverance thankfully through the blood of the Surety; who will hesitate to believe that emotions of rich gladness shall be instantly felt by the guardian angel; that this ministering spirit, bursting into ecstacy, will own himself a thousand fold compensated for his months and years of anxiety; and that myriads of the heavenly host, when instructed to “rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep," will share the happiness of their exulting compeer; so that the demonstration of rapture issuing from unnumbered voices, will bear witness to the truth of the saying, “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
But we cannot enlarge further on a topic so full of singular interest. We shall only recur to our introductory observations, and ask you whether angels may not be affirmed so to sympathize with men whilst sojourning on earth, that they “ rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep?" And shall angels have a fellow-feeling with men, and men be indifferent to the wellbeing one of another ? Are not men rebuked by the example of angels, if they manifest no readiness to relieve the suffering, comfort the afflicted, succour the destitute? It is thus that our subject applies to any charitable cause which may solicit our support. “ If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another," is an apostolical argument: and parallel to this is that which may be drawn from our text: If angels take an intense interest in what befalls men, watching over their welfare, and ministering to their happiness, men ought also to be solicitous for each other, labouring to alleviate sorrow, and to disseminate peace.
It may indeed be that this argument is strongest when the cause which clains sapport is one which proposes as its object the spiritual prosperity of men, the turning sinners from the error of their ways. Yet in no case can it be without
force: Christ died for the bodies, as well as for the souls, of human kind; and therefore angels, we may believe, would rejoice in soothing the pains which flesh is heir to, as well as in averting woes which sin entails on the undying spirit: you therefore may be urged by the mercies and the sympathies of the heavenly host, to uphold an institution whose endeavour it is to mitigate the corporeal sufferings of the poorer parts of our population. A dispensary is one of the most necessary and effective charities which can be established in a thickly populated neighbourhood. We hold unreservedly, that, of all public charities, there is none which should more commend itself to the enlightened philanthropist. The evil of public charities commonly is, that they multiply the objects which they propose to relieve. It is thus with institutions which set themselves to grapple with sheer want: their practical working is, too often, that of offering a premium to pauperisın. But if an asylum for want may create more objects, the same cannot be said of an asylum for sickness; and therefore we see no bounds which should be set to the establishment of dispensaries and hospitals, until the misery against which they erect themselves is fully and finally mastered.
We need only say of the Northern Dispensary, what I know may most truly be said, that through its working, a vast deal is done towards lessening the sum of human misery within the district which its operation embraces. But its resources are quite inadequate to the demands laid on it by the poor of this overgrown neighbourhood: they must be greatly, very greatly increased, before the institution can at all fairly meet the mass of wretchedness on the right hand and on the left. And it is just I should add, this is the first appeal made on behalf of the Northern Dispensary in this chapel ; though at least two-thirds of the patients which receive the benefit of the institution reside within your immediate district. It is no fault of yours that you have not before been solicited for contributions; but certainly you are in arrears to this charitable cause; and I cannot doubt but that stating them is the procuring their discharge. Medical men have, with the greatest generosity, devoted themselves to the service of this dispensary, and set all of us an example in readiness to do good, which ought not to be without powerful effects.
We call upon you, then, to be liberal. It is the cause of the poor which we plead : so that, in asking you to be liberal, we only ask you to prove yourselves creatures that have hearts. You can picture to yourselves, better than I can describe to you, many a straw pallet—the dews of death mingling with the tears which affection sheds on the foreheads of its emaciated occupants: and you can imagine the fever-fire eating away the strength of the father of a family; or consumption throwing its brilliant mockery into the eye of the wife; or some one of the thousand complaints to which flesh is heir, causing the days of chastening to be days of pain, and the nights nights of anguish; and all the while poverty holding the household in its clutches, so that no attempt can be made towards procuring medical skill. And when you think that these are just the cases in which a dispensary interferes, could we account you Christians—could we account you men, if you turned away churlishly from the present appeal ? But we are persuaded that you will not do this. You will feel that the eyes of angels are upon you, and that, though you may be niggard in your gifts, and escape the rebuke of your fellow-men, there is a register kept on high of every portion of conduct: and disregard of the suffering shall be exposed and visited at that most awful of seasons, when every man shall be judged by his works. We therefore confidently leave the cause in your own hands.
We only desire that we could bring you all to swell the gladness of the angelic company: and then with what alacrity, and with what liberality, would this assembly, without a solitary exception, come forward to the relief of the destitute and afflicted! If all of you had been renewed—if there were not here some (perhaps many) on whose behalf no song of triumph hath been heard in heaven, we should know that we had before us an audience to whom it were enough to point out the duty to ensure its thorough fulfilment. If the love of Christ be in the heart, (and it must exist where there has been genuine repentance) the love of man will be displayed by the uniform practice. There are angels amongst us: they have marked our worshipping; they give heed to the effect of the preached word: and now they are just ready to spring from the earth, and hasten back to the presence of Jehovah. O, whilst their wings are still folded -whilst they are still intent on searching out God's wisdom as made known this day by the Church-shall not some one individual yield himself up a subject to Christ, and surrender his heart as a new trophy of redeeming love? These shining visitants, must they depart, and carry with them no particle of those stirring tidings which produce always vivid joy in heaven-tidings of repentance amongst those beings for whom the Redeemer wrestled, and agonized, and died? There are no tears in heaven: be it so: but when angels come down to earth, it may be they can almost fall into companionship with human sadness, and learn to weep. And where is the spectacle which shall wring this dew of sorrow from eyes which it was never meant to stain, if it was not the obstinate rejection of the Gospel, and careless triling with a thing so inestimably precious as the soul?
Each of you best knows whether or no this spectacle is still presented by yourself: and therefore we again ask yoù, Shall there be disappointment to those ministering spirits which are verily amongst us this day? So far as this assembly is concerned, must heaven be silent, and no wave of delight sensibly go forth through its ten thousand times ten thousand ranks? Nay; for spirits of evil are amongst us, as well as spirits of good. Shall the obduracy, and indifference, and unconcernedness of this audience, increase the pleasure (0 for a fitter word !)—the pleasure when putting to the rack, and fastening others to the torment-place—the pleasure of lost angels, who long for and plot your : destruction? The spirits of good and the spirits of evil stand as antagonists awaiting your decision. Which will you side with ? With the evil, who want you.as companions in their fire and their chains ; or with the good, who long to usher you into glory, and into blessedness? We pause now for your answer: we hear it in your silence. You would know the method of salvation, and you would know also the evidence that you seek God aright. As to the method : “ This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." As to the test of your faith in Jesus: “ By their fruits
shall know them." By this "-let this be remembered let this press on your minds, as you leave the church, and are solicited to be charitable" By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye
have love one to another.”
LONGINE FOR SALVATION,
REV. J. CLAYTON, A.M.
"I bave longed for thy salvation, O Lord; and thy law is my delight.”—Psalm cxix. 174.
The predominant desire of the heart, my friends, is indicative of the roal character of their subject. Does a man, for example, supremely wish for the monours, and for the emoluments, and for the distinctions of this world? We may then conclude that he is ambitious, and that he is covetous. Does a man principally set his heart upon sensual gratifications ? We inay infer that he is a voluptuary So true is that saying of the wise and royal preacher—“ As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
Now, to apply this test to another, and to a more important topic than one which relates to the passing affairs of this fleeting world ; how often do we meet with persons who address us in language like this: “ How I wish that I knew whether I am truly converted to God or not." I reply, What is your prevailing wish? Can you really adopt the language of David as your own? Can you say that it is the object of your impassioned desire, that you may see, and that you may enjoy, the great salvation of God? If so, then you may venture to draw a favourable inference; then you may conclude, that, at least, there is the dawn of grace, the first movement of the principle of grace within your heart. “Well, but"—perhaps the same individual, in the course of continued conversation, will say—“ but is it not a fact, that many have desired salvation, and yet have not been truly born again? How shall we be able to judge, then, whether the desires of which we feel ourselves to be the subjects, are the mere operations of conscience, or what is termed legal conviction; or whether they are the effect of the incipient movements of divine grace in the soul?" Why, by looking at the holy tendency of these wishes and desires of the mind. If you only desire exemption from condemnation, only wish the pardon of your sins, but do not cherish an anxious solicitude that you may be delivered from its power ; if you are only anxious that you may be justified, and have no sincere wish that you may be sanctified; then truly you are not sanctioned in concluding that your desires are proof of regeneration.
It is thus, my dear hearers, I apprehend, we contradistinguish the wish of the terrified legalist, and the genuine penitent, whose heart has been softened by the Spirit of the grace of God, and by deep conviction of the evil of sin. It is not enough for him that he feeleth he is justified; he wishes not forgiveness only, but he is solicitous to be conformed to that image, the image of God's dear Son, which believers are predestinated to. He desires that he may not only be rescued from the law, as a covenant of works and as a condemning verdict,