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in the neighbourhood. If you admire the improvements, which add so much to the beauty of our city, remember how many inhabitants they have forced to change residence, and determine that the splendour of architecture shall not be purchased by the abandonment of the children of the poor.
We cannot, then, think that you will be otherwise than liberal in aiding the institution for which we plead. We therefore recur for a moment to the great subject of discourse, and bid you extract comfort from the truth, that our God is a God that hideth himself. In trial, in distress, in affliction, if we see not the clear shining of our Father's face, shall we therefore sit down covered with confusion, and pronounce ourselves forgotten of God ? Rather let us think he is but exhibiting that providence which should call forth our admiration and praise, that the God that is the Saviour is a God that doth hide himself: and whatever be the mystery which hangs around the ways and works, the dealings and the purposes of the Almighty-however much he may have hidden, think, I beseech you, how much he has revealed. There is not one thing happeneth but it is essential for our entering into the promised rest. As though it were paved with sun-beams, the narrow path of eternal life runs in unbroken clearness through the deepest cloud of mystery ; and when we reach its extremity, when our foot treads its last step on earth, and we just touch the firmament, shall there be, think you, any hiding? Indeed, brethren, we dare not say there will not be any; yet we shall see God as he is; we shall behold him face to face; we shall know, even as also we are known. And if there be any thing yet hidden, we believe it will be the untold stores of our Father's glory, into which it will be our rapturous delight for ever and for ever to search. Yea, we know not whether in this sense the words of our text may not be as a chorus of praise on the lips of those who have entered into the joy of their Lord.
St. Paul, speaking of the love of Christ, speaks of it as “passing knowledge." He says, not the knowledge of man, the knowledge of angels, the knowledge of created or uncreated agencies; but knowledge in itself-knowledge in all its glory, knowledge in all its sublime and infinite extent. And when day by day~ (alas, the terms of time are weak—we speak of eternity, and yet measure by the slin-what are days where night cannot enter ?)—but when day by day there shall burst upon us fresh and beautiful discoveries of the preciousness of Christ; when the eye shall stand on the height, and trace another line of the depth, and take in another sweep of the breadth and the length of that love which overpasseth knowledge, shall not the crowds of admiring spirits draw you with fresh ardour to your Father's throne; and knowing that there yet remains untravelled districts, cast their crowns at his feet, and exclaim with rapture and admiration, “ Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour?”
Would to God you might all burn with the desire to join the splendid assembly. You will not be content to go alone; you will long to carry multitudes with you ; yea, the poor children for whom we now seek your bounty. You will feel an earnest wish that they may be with you in the city which hath foundations : and, 0, where that wish is beating in the heart, it cannot be with a niggard hand that you will contribute to the wants of those by whom you are surrounded.
THE CHRISTIAN A BLESSING.
REV. H. 8. PLUMPTRE, A.M.
“ Thou shalt be a blessing."-Genesis, xii. 2.
Do thou, O God, attach this promise to each of thy servants here assembled. We can desire nothing more at thy hands; it includes all thy providential and redeeming mercies; for “ I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed."
The individual more immediately interested in this declaration, was one whose name stands conspicuous in Scripture history, as affording a remarkable instance of a vigorous and lively faith ; so that with the character of Abraham will ever be associated the appellation of “the father of the faithful.” At the comma d of God he proceeded to sacrifice his son, and leave his country; he placed himself entirely at the disposal of his Omnipotent Guide ; even against hope, he believed in hope. As he, therefore, signally honoured God by his implicit obedience to his niandate, God was pleased to single him out as the special object of his benediction, making him the appointed channel of communication through which the waters of salvation were to flow to a perishing world : “ In thee,"
“shall all the families of the earth be blessed, and thou shalt be a blessing."
Were the words of my text applicable only to the patriarch, we should read them simply as a matter of ancient history ; but they are applicable equally to a'l who by faith are the descendants of Abraham ; for “this blessedness cometh not upon the circumcision only, but upon the uncircumcision also ;" for blessed is every one, of every description, that feareth the Lord. We propose, then, to consider how much is involved in the declaration of the text.
First of all, it implies that the subject of God's approval will be a blessing to himself. In consequence of having been renewed in the Spirit, and made the subject of a new creation in Christ Jesus, he has the peace of God shed abroad in his heart, which diffuses a heavenly serenity over the whole of his life. He breathes a holy atmosphere, which counteracts the moral corruption by which he is surrounded ; preserving him, at least for the most part, uncontaminated by the evil influence of the ungodly world in which he is constrained to dwell. When he goes out, or comes in, a secret stability is iinparted to his footsteps, because he walks in the consciousness of an earnest desire to please God, though at the same time under the deep conviction of his own sinfulness, that he falls very far short of that divine perfection at which he would arrive; still, however, he is able to commit the keeping of his soul and body to Him as unto a
faithful Creator. Yea, though called upon to encounter perils and difficulties, to steer his course amidst dangers great in number and vast in magnitude, even through the dark valley of the shadow of death, he fears no evil, because he has the inward testimony that his God is with him, that His "rod and staff they comfort him;" he realizes to his internal satisfaction the gracious assurance, that "the Lord orders a good man's going, and makes his way acceptable unto himself." Whatever be his station in life, he knows that he is not too insignificant to be overlooked by the eye of Omniscience; that although despised of men, the Lord has given his angels charge over him, not only to preserve him from falling, but to exercise their in visible guardianship, both by day and night, in administering to his wants. Thus delighting himself in the law of the Lord, whatsoever he doeth it shall prosper; or should it not prosper to the extent or in the manner he had anticipated, still he is willing to have his expectation thwarted; knowing that, if it be the will of God, there will be more advantage in the failure of his purpose than in its accomplishment. He is anxious, in all respects, to commit himself and his affairs to be regulated by infinite wisdom; he knows enough of the treachery of his own heart, and the impotency of his own strength, to trust himself; in "every thing, therefore, by prayer and supplication, he makes his requests known unto God," and implores His gracious protection. He desires as far as possible, without any compromise of principle, "to give no offence in any thing," to "live peaceably with all men." Should he, however, unintentionally provoke the enmity of any by whom he may be surrounded, he is the first to seek reconciliation, but the last to feel resentment. He does not render evil for evil, but contrariwise, blessing." Still, however, he is not alarmed at the menaces of his foe; he knows who can render them powerless, or else convert enmity into friendship; for "when a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." In short, without entering into any further delineation of his character, a good man," as Solomon observes, "is satisfied from himself:" not with that self-complacency which is the offspring of pride, totally repugnant to Gospel principles; he is, on the contrary, dissatisfied with himself in this respect; he sees nothing in himself but what is calculated to promote self-abasement; nevertheless, he is satisfied from himself, because he has the internal conviction, and evidences it by external demonstration, that he is "justified by faith," therefore he has
peace with God," and peace with himself. He rejoices in this, the testimony of his conscience, that in "simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, he has his conversation in the world:" "the Spirit itself bears witness with his spirit that he is a child of God." On this account, therefore, he is satisfied from himself not naturally but spiritually. Thus shall" the man be blessed that feareth the Lord."
But in the second place, he is not only blessed in himself, but in his family and household. "God blesseth the habitation of the just; he is in the generation of the righteous." He himself bears testimony to Abraham's fidelity, when he saith, "I know him that he will command his children and household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord." Although it is impossible for any parent or master of a family so to control every member of his domestic establishment, as to make them really religious, or even morally good; still he will use every means for the suppression of vice, and the promotion of all those
principles which can alone engender vital godliness. He will rear a domestic altar, and at the rising and setting of the sun he will offer upon it the sacrifice of prayer and praise ; a grateful tribute if presented through faith in the name of Christ Jesus. Both by precept and example he will shew to all around him how “they ought to walk and please God.”
Where the head of the household thus manifests a regard for the welfare of those who are committed to his superintendence, his labours will not be ineffectual, though for a long time they may scarcely be perceptible; stil the house shall not be destroyed, " for a blessing is in it.' There will not only be an absence of all those broils and contentions so utterly subversive of domestic harmony; not only will order, regularity, and punctuality be visibly displayed in every department; but there will also be, in God's own appointed time, the germ of grace, fructifying and budding forth to the glory of God. The seed which the parental husbandman has so diligently scattered, having watered it with his prayers and tears, will not entirely be lost; he shall see of the travail of his soul in some awakened domestic, in some pious child, and shall be satisfied that he has not laboured in vain. Were we to trace the rise and progress of Christianity in the minds of those who are now eminently conspicuous for their piety, doubtless in many instances the stream would be discovered to have taken its origin in the house of their parents : there the fountain began to flow which is now fertilizing with its refreshing waters some barren spot in the wilderness. The lap of many a pious mother has given to the world some of the brightest gems of Christianity, which, after having diffused their lustre on all around them here below, will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Buth scripture and experience warrant the conclusion, that sometimes the ungodly child is spared for the sake of its pious parents : that, as the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband, so God sometimes sanctifies the unbelieving offspring for the sake of its believing parents.
But we know in answer to this it may be said, that many unquestionably religious parents have to mourn over a very undutiful offspring; that no blessing seems to rest on their habitation; that their house is not ordered so with God as they could wish it. We readily admit the fact. Judging from external appearances, many would be ready to conclude that all these things are against them. Let not the fidelity of God, however, be called in question; nor let them be rash with their mouth to charge God foolishly. For their encouragement we can tell them, that many children who in early life gave promise of bringing down their parent's grey hairs with sorrow to the grave, have at last become their crown of rejoicing. Arrested in his licentious career by the hand of an Omnipotent Saviour, many a spendthrift prodigal bas been brought back to his father's house in the garb of penitential mourning, who has been welcomed to the parental embrace with these endearing accents—“ This my son was lost and is found; was dead and is alive again ;" so that from having sown the . seed as he imagined upon the waters, he has been permitted to reap it again after many days. Where no such results arise, but iniquity marks the end, as it did the beginning, of some unhappy child, let parents look to themselves, lest in any measure his guilt be chargeable upon their heads, because, like Eli, “their sons have made themselves vile, and they have restrained thein not." Certain it is that the promise has undergone no change; that “ God is in the
generation of the righteous ;" that, as we have before observed, he “ blesses the nabitation of the just."
But the influence of the true Christian is felt beyond the limits of his owr. domestic enclosure, it extends itself to all around him in the neighbourhood in which he dwells. This is the third point of view in which to contemplate his character. As a city set on a hill cannot be hid, so the servant of God stands out to public gaze, an object of admiration to all whose eyes are not so blinded by infidelity or sin, as to turn with disgust from contemplating the beautiful impress of the image of God on the soul of man. He seems whithersoever he goes to purify the polluted atmosphere which he is constrained to breathe; he diffuses a rich savour of godliness around him, which like the incense of the sacrifice, ascends up to heaven with a grateful odour. He is the salt of the earth. He is the channel of spiritual and temporal mercies to all who have the happiness of residing in his vicinity; scattering with one hand the perishable treasures of the earth, with the other the unsearchable riches of Christ. Like the refreshing dew upon the thirsty land, he leaves a blessing behind him, diffusing the means of revival to those who are besotted in the arms of a spiritual slumber; imparting fresh life to some who are dead in trespasses and sins. Whithersoever he goes, vice stands abashed at his approach, and strives to hide its head. He imposes a restraint upon youthful levity. He has
look or a word of rebuke or encouragement for his neighbours as their case may require, being ready to “weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice." To the afflicted sufferer his presence is hailed with delight, as the harbinger of good to soul and body. What Job somewhat arrogantly said of himself, may be applied to him: “When the ear heard him, then it blessed him, when the eye saw him, it gave witness to him: because he delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him; the blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon him.” Well knowing the beneficial effects, by example, by conversation, by their alms, and by their prayers, which the righteous. are capable of extending to their vicinity, our Lord gave it in command to his people, " that they should let their light so shine before men, that they might see their good works, and glorify their Father which is in heaven."
It is impossible to calculate the good which one individual of piety may effect in that station of society in which he moves. He may set his face as a wall of brass against the iniquity by which he is surrounded. He may “ lift up his voice like a trumpet" against all that is immoral in practice, or vicious in principle. Or else, by the influence of a mild and patient demeanour, he may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men," and soften the violence of some perverse disputer. Or should he not be required to combat the enemy in the open field, he may retire within the camp, and there display the power of religion in sustaining the soul under the trials of mental or bodily anguish ; so that many, on beholding the loveliness and efficacy of religion, may be induced to say, “We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." There is no one so poor, or so ignorant, but he may, if such be his desire, contribute to promote the general welfare of society, and the glory of God.
But we pass on to consider, in the fourth place, that the righteous man is a nlessing to his country. If it be true “ that righteousness exalteth a nation," then every individual who is contributing to augment the measure of righteousness.