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ing on him whom he has pierced, and mourning for him.-This yields him evidence. It is a token for good. It is a proof that he is the subject of that divine agency which takes away the heart of stone, and gives a heart of flesh—that he is the heir of that promise, “ they shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them.”-Observe the words of the Apostle: “ The sorrow of the world worketh death; but godly sorrow worketh repentance unto life, and needeth not to be repented of.” Of how many of your griefs are you now ashamed! How unworthy do they now appear of the concern they once gave you! But you will never repent of a tear you shed upon the Bible, or a groan you utter at the foot of the cross. It allows, it justifies every hope. He is faithful who promised : and what has he said? “ To that man will I look, even to him who is poor, of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy.” “ He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed. shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Yes, the Saviour is appointed “ unto them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that he might be glorified." Their comforter is the God of all comfort; and he will soon wipe away all tears from their eyes, and the days of their mourning shall be ended. But, “wo to you that laugh now, for ye shall mourn and weep.” As there is a sorrow connected with joy, so there is a joy that forebodes sorrow, issues in sorrow, is no better than sorrow disguised. Such are the pleasures of sin for a season.
Such are all worldly enticements and dissipations. You boast of
- There is no peace,
266 THE CHRISTIAN, IN HIS SPIRITUAL SORROWS. these. But one who had a much greater experience of them than you, and was much more honest and ingenuous, makes no scruple to say, that " even in laughter the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness.” He said “ of laughter, it is mad, and of mirth, what doeth it ?" You may profess nothing like this; but while you wear smiles, the vulture is gnawing within. While you celebrate the day of your birth, you wish you had never been born. What have
you to do with pleasure ? saith my God, to the wicked."
Yield no longer to the temptation, which led many in the days of Malachi, to say, “It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts ?" Tell the enemy that he is a liar: that godliness is profitable unto all things, and especially in its griefs. Tell him that this is the high road to safety and satisfaction, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. And take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, “I will go with you, for I have heard that God is with you.” “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee, for whither thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge : thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried : the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me."
“ Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times.”
6. Remember me, O Lord, with the favour thou bearest unto thy people: () visit me with thy salvation ; that I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance." Amen.
THE CHRISTIAN, IN HIS SPIRITUAL JOYS.
“ Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink
the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”-Nehemiah viii. 10.
MY Brethren, some tell us, that religion has nothing to do with the passions. If it were necessary to refute such a notion, we could appeal even to the style of the Scriptures. When an author intends only to convince the judgment, he expresses himself plainly, and werely reasons.
But when he means to affect, as well as to inform ; when he wishes to strike, and excite, and to carry along the feelings with the convictions; he is never satisfied with simple representation-his language unavoidably avails itself of circumstances, and qualities, and imagery. And can any one deny that this is the mode perpetually employed by all the sacred writers ?
But we observe also, that such a view of religion is not adapted to our very nature. Our passions are original parts of our being, and designed to be the impulses of action. And the Christian does not destroy, but sanctifies and employs the man. And what passion is there, for which religion does not find
a place and an object? Is it anger? “Be ye angry and sin not." Is it hatred? “Abhor that which is evil." Is it fear? “ Be not high-minded, but fear.” Is it sorrow? “ They shall look on him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him.” Is it pity ? “ Have compassion one for anIs it love?
66 O love the Lord, all ye his saints.” Is it joy? “We joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now receive ed the atonement."
We are aware that there is a great deal of what may be justly called strange fire offered on the altar of piety. We are not therefore pleading for a zeal without knowledge; but we are not satisfied with a knowledge without zeal. We do not wish for the heat and the ravings of the fever, but for the genial warmth and glowing stimulus that pervade the whole system, when the body is in full health; knowing that what is cold and benumbed and unaffected by application and friction, is nigh unto death, or is palsied already. While therefore we acknowledge that there is such a thing as real enthusiasm, the admission shall not drive us to take up with a religion that consists in nothing but speculative opinions, and lifeless ceremonies, and formal duties. Religion is indeed a practical thing; but it is also experimental. It does include doctrinal truths; but in the Christian, these become principles. They descend from the head into the heart ; and there grace reigns through righteousness unto everlasting life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
We have viewed the Christian's sadness; we are now to witness his joy. We have seen him hanging his harp on the willows; but he now takes it down, and proves that the joy of the Lord is his strength. The words which introduce our subject were spoken on a very memorable occasion. All the people were gathered together as one man into the street that was before the water-gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to all Israel. And
upon the first day of the seventh month, Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people ; and when he had opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the Lord. And all the people answered, Amen, amen, with lifting up their hands; and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord, with their faces to the ground. So Ezra and his assistants read in the book of the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” The power of God seems to have been peculiarly present. The whole assembly “wept when they heard the words of the law.” " Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared : for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength."
When he says, This day is holy unto our Lord, he means that it was a sacred festival. When he says, Go your way, he means that they should return home, and refresh themselves; for now noon was begun, and they had been standing for hours to hear the reading and expounding of the law. He does not forbid them the delicacies which they had provided for the solemnity, and which were distinguishable from their ordinary meals—Eat the fat and drink the sweet-But all this was to be accompanied with two things.