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not truly to love their children, but to love themselves in them. Religion does not require parents to withdraw their love from their children, but it requires them to withdraw self-love from parental affection, and to love the Lord, and not themselves, in their offspring. Parents love the Lord in their offspring, when they love and cherish in them the principles of goodness and truth ; when they seek to make them children of God, and not children of the world. To crucify this selfish love which we have in loving, is a necessary act, or rather work, of self-denial; but when faithfully performed, “ the Lord will provide” a purer affection ; one that will exalt the happiness both of those who love and those who are loved.
The Providence of the Lord is not, however, limited to supplying the pure principle for the impure which is yielded up in self-denial. It is also manifested in supporting the mind during the states of trial, which are experienced in denying self, and inspiring it with confifidence that a faithful discharge of the duties which God requires of us, however much they may be opposed to self-love or to self-interest, will lead to a state in which the Divine goodness will be felt, as well as the divine wisdom perceived.
In the business or the progress of life, it is not necessary that we should see the reason for every Divine requirement before we comply with it, or know precisely where our pilgrimage is to end, before we set out on our self-denying journey. In this world we walk by faith, and not by sight. The Divine Providence leads us to our place of habitation " by the right way,” although, as yet, it is a way that we know not. To prosper in our journey, and ultimately find the place of our rest, we must confide in the Lord for direction and support during the whole of our pilgrimage, and for the attainment of the end which is set before us. In most if not in all His Providential operations, we are not permitted to see God face to face, as He approaches, but only to see Him on the back, after He has passed by. While walking in the path of duty, we may often have an inadequate idea both of the extent and the issue of our labours. We often see but half the truth, and that half dimly, and can have no certain knowledge of the issue. Light and darkness, belief and doubt, confidence and distrust, are often strangely mingled in our apprehension and estimate of God's eternal Providence. Our thoughts are often like those of Isaac, when he said, “ Behold the fire and the woud, but where is the lamb* for a burnt
* This strictly means one of the flock, and may indicate either a lamb or a kid, a sheep or a goat,
offering ?" The fire of love and the righteousness that feeds it may be present, but the innocence of love and charity that constitutes the offering, may as yet be an undeveloped principle, that has not come to the perception of our higher reason. But in all such states of obscurity and anxiety, he who maintains his confidence in God will hear, whispered it may be in a still small voice in the inmost of his soul, the Divine assurance, “God will provide Himself a lamb for a burntoffering.” The lamb of which Abraham thus thought and thus darkly spoke, was his innocent and unsuspecting son, who knew not of his own meditated sacrifice. Innocence is the immediate and the highest gift of God; and He will provide it, with every other pure and living affection, to those who are willing to give themselves to Him. And that which the Lord provides will be seen and realised when the worshipper has devoted the dearest object of his affections to the service of the Lord, as Abraham, when he had laid Isaac upon the altar, beheld and took the ram caught in the thicket, which the Lord had provided for Himself as a burnt-offering. Confidence in the wisdom and goodness of the Lord's Providence may exist in states of the severest trial and temptation, with the assurance that He who permits the affliction will not only provide a way of escape, but will make it a means of triumph ; even as the sufferings of the Lord Himself were the means by which He entered into His glory. When the trial is ended, and that which, before, was but a subject of conviction, has become a matter of experience, the pious sentiment of his heart will become an abiding principle of his inmost life, the nature and character of which will be accurately and fully expressed by the name which Abraham gave to the place of his trial and deliverance--THE LORD WILL PROVIDE.
A particular dispensation of Providence has led to my addressing you on the present occasion—the removal into the eternal world of one of the younger members of this congregation, a daughter of our brother, John Smith. Though young, this maiden manifested a maturity of mind and character beyond her years ; which was evidenced, not only by her conduct, but by a set of rules which she had written out for her guidance, and which were found after her decease. Two of these were for the forming of a useful habit of domestic life, and may be expressed in the old rule-early to bed and early to rise. One was for attending to the means of religious improvement—“Every day to read a portion of the Word and the writings of the Church.” Two were for the regulation of the inward and outward life—“Always to obey the dictates of conscience, and to act as a lady in word and deed”—a christian lady, one of the ancient stamp, such as Mary, the sister of Lazarus, who sat at Jesus' feet and heard His Word.
These are rules that may be most usefully adopted, especially by the young, her former companions, who walked with her in Christian fellowship.
And what will be the result and final reward of their living out such excellent rules of inward life and outward conduct? During the present life they will, like their now translated friend, enjoy inward peace, and outwardly show an example of whatever is lovely and of good report ; and when, sooner or later, the Lord sees good to call them hence, they will find, what she has found, that “when the tabernacle of this body is dissolved,” the Lord will provide them with “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
THE CHRISTIAN REST. The absolute necessity of certain dispositions to qualify us for the Kingdom of Heaven is so plainly and repeatedly insisted on in the Scriptures, that few if any Christian writers will be found who do not assign them a place in some part of their system. The stricter advocates of justification by faith alone exclude all qualifications at the beginning of the Christian life, but few will refuse them an intermediate station in the itinery to Immanuel's land. Justification, they say, is distinct from sanctification, and must in nowise be confounded with it: the first precedes and is a free gift to be received by faith; the latter follows, being the separation of the justified sinner unto God as a vessel sanctified and meet for his Master's service. There is some truth in this teaching, or rather it is “shadowy of truth,” it is (and the history of the evangelical world within the present century affords some instructive and most interesting examples) an instinctive groping out for something better and higher, of which their very distinction of justification and sanctification is, strange to say, at once a foregleam and an obscuration. The great difficulty with sincere and earnest men in this school is the relation between free and immediate mercy on the one hand, and the identity of holiness and happiness on the other. The old theology greatly embarrasses them in the solution of the problem. They demur at the tenet of the New theology that no one comes to heaven by free and immediate mercy; and yet if they looked into it a little more closely they would find linked in company
with that tenet another which would afford most luminous explanation, i.e. that this same free and immediate mercy is ever emanating from the bosom of Deity—is ever present with man and never recedes from him. But its first business with him is not at once to transplant him to the skies, but first to conjoin him with them while still on earth, so as that his ascent may not be sudden and violent, but gradual and gentle--not to translate him at a moment's notice, as it were, into the paradise of God, but first to open that paradise in the desert of his soul, so that on arriving there at last (whether the intervening time be long or short) he may find it to be his congenial soil and recognise it as his home and native country. Heaven must begin in time that it may be enjoyed in eternity. Hence the necessity of holiness so strongly insisted upon by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews (xii. 14): it must fill the intermediate space in the Christian's life, from the earliest dawn of faith to the blessed moment when he basks “in the noon of Heaven undazzled by the blaze,” because gradualiy prepared for it by a life of faith and charity. Those writers have therefore made a great advance who represent holiness not merely as essential to happiness but as identical with it. Holiness, happiness, and Heaven have been well defined as only different names for the same thing. This will readily appear when we consider that, according to the genuine theology, holiness, including the fruits thereof, does not, according to some teachers of the old theology, bring the kingdom of Heaven down to us or cause it to come nearer to us, for that blessed domain is already brought nigh to us, yea, we have already an initial union with it in the inmost recesses of our being; and all inward dispositions and outward uses, so earnestly prescribed and insisted on in the scriptures, are to be regarded as the development of this kingdom, the bringing forth of its hidden treasures. The first perception of the nearness of the kingdom induces a state analogous to justification by faith in the popular theology. Here is found what is obscurely proposed by that doctrine—“everlasting consolation and good hope through grace.” Genuine faith, in the parable of the sower, is distinguished from spurious, as an understanding of the Word sown in all by the Son of man—the Divine Humanity literally, a going along with the Word, a coinciding, a keeping in the same plane with it, so as to enter in some measure into all its constitutent ideas and its all-comprehensive designs. Such a perception will be, as the meaning further implies, an enjoyment of the Word as the complex of all spiritual blessings: it is an opening and possession of the kingdom of Heaven in its first beginnings; and the whole sub
soulscquent pred through ili
sequent course is just a further opening and unfolding of the same blessed kingdom in all its heavenly principles of thought, affection, and action. The whole regenerate life may be expressed by this formula : Rest = Conflict = Rest. Its beginning is rest and quiet, arising from the belief of the nearness of the Divine Word-living Truth ever flowing from the glorified Humanity and the heavenly Kingdom thereof (Rom. x. 8, 9; xiv. 17). Its continuance is activity and conflict arising from the necessity of bringing it out into the whole life, and the “ manifold temptations” which tend to intercept its otherwise joyful course (1 Pet. i. 6). Its end is again rest and quiet, arising from the subsidence of these temptations when we become “conquerors, nay more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Rom viï. 37); and the consequent predominance of the Divine Word and kingdom in our souls. Thus to the children of Israel at the Red Sea the first word was “Fear ye not; stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord which He will shew you this day; for the Egyptians whom ye have seen this day ye shall see no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace” (Ex. xiv. 13, 14). Now to us was the Gospel, or glad tidings of rest and peace,“ preached as well as unto them” (Heb. iv. 1, 2); nay, to us is proclaimed in reality what to them was propounded in figure. There is an immediate rest proposed to us—To-day (onjepov), now (non), and therefore we which have believed do enter into rest (ver. 3)—into the tranquillity which is at the beginning of regeneration. This however is only an initial rest. There is a further rest expressed by another name—"a Sabbatism which remaineth for the people of God” (ver. 7). Into the first rest we enter by believing, into the second by labouring—“let us labour” or be diligent (oTovdCowev), “ to enter into this rest” (ver. 11). To the first rest applies the words addressed to the Israelites, “Be still and hold your peace” (Ex. xiv. 14); to the second the words subsequently uttered, “Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward” (ver. 15). This refers to the intermediate state between the initial and the final rest. “Forward” is now the watchword, and, like Israelites, our course is an alternation of combats and stations, until we finally arrive at the restwhich“remaineth”—which is permanent, settled, and undisturbed"eternal in the heavens.”
J. B. W.