Page images

such a manner, that it seemed as if he lived for their sakes. Yet Israel revolted from him, and resorted to idols. This was indeed a heinous offence, and justly provoked his displeasure. He therefore appeared himself, to complain of the ingratitude, and with how much reason does he send word to the messengers, saying, “ Is it because there is no God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron ?”

We can imagine with what difficulty some will be persuaded that it was indeed the eternal God who here appeared to Elijah, and spoke to him as the children of men are wont to speak. But we must learn to know him in his deepest humiliation, in the manger and on the cross, and become acquainted with him in that love in which he was willing to become despised, and rejected in the eyes of men, in order to bring us to glory; and in which he devoted himself to death as the Lamb of God, that he might obtain for us eternal redemption by his blood. When we have once become acquainted with him in these profound humiliations, his other condescensions will no longer astonish us. He who has seen that which is greater, ceases to be perplexed at that which is less.

Nor let any one be offended, because the mighty God appears in this history as provoked, at inquiry being made at Ekron, instead of being addressed to Himself. Blessed be his grace ! it is because of the greatness of his love that he is not indifferent how we are affected towards him. He wishes to be beloved by his people; and not this only, but with wonderful and most condescending kindness, and with a holy jealousy, he watches over our love to him, and desires to possess it entirely. Yes; his children may well be on their guard against dividing their hearts between God and mammon. He will not suffer it, but will rather use severity even towards those who are as the apple

He will come with the rod, and chastise them; or he will tear from their arms the objects which rob him of his place in their hearts. For he seeks to possess their whole hearts ; and how blessed are we, when He who alone is worthy of our supreme love, has obtained it!

III. And as he desires our love, entire and undivided, so it is his will, that our confidence for peace and strength should be reposed in himself alone. Immanuel must be all in all to us. When Moses said, in the spirit of prophecy, Deut. xxxiii. 8, “ Let thy thummim and thy urim, O Levi, (let thy light and thy righteousness,) be with thy Holy One, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters

of his eye.

to say,

of Meribah ;' doubtless he refers to Christ. It is as much as

“O Levi, do not seek thy light, and thy perfections, or thy righteousness, elsewhere; do not sever thy high priesthood from Messiah ; do not go to any other for thine oracles.” But how does this apply to us? I answer, Surely a separation of the urim and thummim from the Holy One is effected, when we are no longer satisfied with him alone; when we consult human inventions for our help and comfort, instead of walking in the simplicity of honouring the Lord Christ; when we seek to be our own priests and to atone for ourselves, instead of letting all our light, and righteousness, and perfection rest with our Holy One.

There are no complaints more commonly heard amongst believers, than of the poor work they make of praying, praising, and thanksgiving. Hence they become painfully afraid, lest their poor utterances should never obtain a hearing. But remember the great Intercessor, who stands day and night before God, to receive the petitions of his people, and to present them before the Throne. Remember also that the sufferings and death of Christ, his obedience and righteousness—even the whole sum of his infinite and precious merits—make intercession for you, and, as it were, pray with you. Wherefore, believer, if you can only utter three words before God, yea if your very voice seem stifled at the foot of his throne, yet remember that he loves you

with the same love with which he hath loved his Son; and, as often as you pray, hold fast this confidence. Remember that your great Intercessor

and for

and that

your prayers ascend through his righteousness. This will give unction to your petitions, and whatsoever you


will receive of him.

In the breastplate of the high priest were set twelve precious stones, engraven with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Thus these names were surrounded with glory and beauty; and as they served to typify the spiritual glory and beauty which all the Israel of God possess in their true High Priest, Christ Jesus ; so they may serve to remind us not to separate our sanctification from Christ; but to let it rest entirely with him. Thus let thy urim and thy thummim be with thy Holy One. But alas ! in how many ways is this precept forgotten by professed christians, and how many systems and methods are there which disagree with it! Proud self-sufficient man, in his hereditary depravity, would live without dependence upon Him who is made unto us of God, not only wisdom and righteousness, but sanctification also, 1 Cor. i. 30. How many who call themselves christians are righteous in their own eyes, and pure in their own sight! And what a system of iniquity has been built up for ages in support of this delusion ! Devotees to this system think, by the accomplishment of a certain daily task of religious exercises, to make themselves perfect in the sight of God. Such is the system of popery. There are many who seek their excellence in a variety of outward observances, and would gladly persuade themselves and others that they are purified from every spot of sin. But how little do they know the depth of their own natural corruption, or the infinite holiness of God! Whereas the foundation of all our hope and confidence ought to be only the perfection of our Surety, Christ Jesus. The faith of the heart in his imputed righteousness is the only true spring and principle of all christian virtue. Its clothing is humility, its fruit is love, its aim is the glory of God.

When counsel was asked of God in Israel, application was made to the High Priest, who, by the urim and thummim, obtained a Divine answer. In like manner let us act, and not make ourselves our own counsellors. Ye who are anxious as to what

shall eat, what ye
shall drink, and wherewithal

ye shall be clothed, what are you doing? Is your High Priest dead, and are you constrained to bear the official breastplate yourselves ? Cast your cares upon him, and He will be your Counsellor. Suffer not this or that particular event to confuse or startle you ; all will come to pass as the great Prophet of the church' has predicted. Look around you upon this present world from the strong ground of His word, and you will find firm footing amidst the whirl of daily occurrences: you will understand, in some salutary measure, the book of providence, and will look forward with joy to the finishing of the mystery of God. The eye

of the christian looks over the gloomy fore-ground into the golden distances which lie behind, and sees the dawn of jubilee fringing with rosy edges the clouds of the present scene of things. Lastly, Let our whole wisdom be with Christ. Let us cleave to the sure word of prophecy, so much the more courageously and faithfully, as the father of lies shall make greater efforts to seduce us from our citadel, and to strip us of our Divine armour. Away with that philosophy and science which are falsely so called ; away with the dreams of modern illuminati; away with all vain pretensions to spiritual gifts, and abide in that which ye have heard from the beginning. Keep that which is committed unto you ; but shun profane and vain babblings !” Let your light and your righteousness, your knowledge and your wisdom, rest with your Holy One, even Christ.


Remember, that as the names of the children of Israel were inscribed on the precious stones of the high priest's breastplate, so our Saviour bears the names of all his children upon his heart; and that as their names are laid upon him by the Father, 80 Christ's name is laid upon them. 66 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.” Let us rejoice in this, my brethren, for " as he is, so are we in this world.” In Hin therefore who died for us we can triumph, and say,

“ Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect ? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again.” In him who is risen again, “who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us,” we can triumph and say, “ O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory ?”.

Let not unbelief, therefore, let not spiritual barrenness, let not cold-hearted prayers, or any adverse occurrence, deprive us of the enjoyment of him, so as to make us doubt of his love, and utter the unbelieving complaint, " The Lord hath forsaken me, and

my God hath forgotten me.” Let us assuredly believe in the unchangeableness of his love, and thus be preserved in cheerful obedience and resignation. Let us become accustomed to regard ourselves as bound to the heart of our great Mediator; and commit to him who thus bears our names before God the whole care of our safety and happiness. Of all that the Father hath given him will he lose nothing.

Let us not, then, burden ourselves with matters which God hath as little imposed upon us as we are fitted for them. Let us commit all our affairs to our great Shepherd, Mediator, and Intercessor, and, leaning on his almighty arm, go on our way rejoicing. It is thus he would have us to act, and thus he fulfils in us the blessing of the prophet, “ Let thy urim and thy thummim be with thy Holy One!” Remember, my brethren, that he is, and ever shall be, “ all and in all.” As he is “ made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption;" to look after any other aid than that which is prepared for us in him is vile ingratitude, an insult offered him, a crime against his majesty. Cursed, therefore, be the paths that lead to Endor and to Ekron! The feet must fail and be maimed that are found on these roads! There is a God in Israel ! who—be astonished, O heavens !-full of salvation, righteousness, and aid, will supply all our need! To whom do we owe all our love and confidence, but to him ? O let us be dissolved in tears of joy before our King; and " Let thy urim and thy thummim ever be with thy Holy One, O Levi'” Amen.


The vital energy of the church of God upon earth manifests itself in a threefold activity, directed to the three great objects of self-renovation, union, and extension. Of this threefold operation of the true church Paul speaks, in Eph. ii. 20—22.

By self-renovation, we understand the effort of the church to expel from within her every foreign and unscriptural element that

may have crept in; to remove errors from her midst; and to build herself up on the true foundation of the prophets' and apostles' doctrine, “ Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.”

By her endeavours after union, we understand that activity of the true church by which she seeks to combine believers more closely together, and to promote more and more their growing up into him, who is the Head, even Christ ; “ in whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.”

By missionary activity, the church endeavours to enlarge her boundaries, to recover new provinces from the prince of darkness, to increase the number of her children, whether from the heathen or the nominally christian world, and to build them together on the same foundation, “for an habitation of God through the Spirit."

Now wherever the true church exists she invariably manifests this threefold vital activity ; but sometimes one indication of it predominates over the rest. In some places, for instance, the doctrines of the majority are correct and scriptural, and the church has rather to devote her powers to the growth and union of her children. But, in general, her self-renovating activity is what is most required, and her work is to lay afresh those foundations which the father of lies has subverted.

The prophet Elijah was an eminent reformer of the Old Testament church. The restoration of idolatrous Israel to the faith of their forefathers was the commission intrusted to him ; in his time, therefore, the church appears in the activity of self-renovation. We should keep this in view as we meditate upon the events of his life, and thus we shall better understand the pe

« PreviousContinue »