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we are prone, which we shall not abjure, for Christ's sake, and for the Gospel's. In a mind thus enlightened and informed by scriptural truth, nothing will be put in competition with duty; and instantaneously will the sacrifice be made, though we should sustain the loss of what is as dear to us as a right eye, or valuable as a right hand. There will be no compromise with sin, no alliance with Belial, no treaty with the prince of this world. We must divorce ourselves from every bad habit and criminal indulgence; cut them off, pluck them out, and nail them to that accursed thing whereon the Redeemer bore his bitter passion, and poured out his righteous soul! Yea, like Peter, we shall not hesitate to adventure ourselves upon the tempestuous sea, so that we may go to Christ; and of this we may be assured, that, however boisterous may be the winds to which we are exposed in this world, we shall not sink, if our courage fail not, our faith wax not faint, nor our Christian principles desert us in the hour of peril, and in the season of temptation !
There is another mark, or sign, of this blessed poverty of spirit, to which I shall, lastly, advert. Those by whom it is possessed are invariably thankful. Like the poor leper, who returned to give thanks to God after the cure that had been wrought, their hearts are always attuned to the song of gratitude, and their tongues are incessantly occupied in magnifying the praises and mercies of God, particularly that astonishing display of his goodness, the gift of a Saviour, mighty and willing to save. He who believes himself to be in extreme indigence, will be grateful even for the smallest favours conferred. This we find verified in the Apostle of the Gentiles. He no sooner tasted mercy, than he thus expressed himself: “The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant;" and, having been a vessel of mercy himself, in all his writings he speaks of it with rapture, and exalts, in the highest strains of a grateful soul, that free and sovereign grace, of which he was so singular a monument. Nor shall we, if we possess the heavenly grace and temper of which I have been so solicitous to press the nature and importance on the minds of all of you, be behind the Apostle in the fervour of our gratitude, and in the intensity of our love, to Almighty God for the inestimable gift of a Saviour, by which the means of grace have been vouchsafed, the hope of glory has been given, and the kingdom of heaven has been opened, to all believers!
“ Humility of soul is a noble poverty,” saith one of the fathers (Austin). It renders those who possess it persons of rank and eminence in the eyes of God, and is the true nobility which obtains
in the courts of the great king. Moses was a distinguished example of it, who was great in the sight of God in nothing more than in his possessing poorness of spirit, and in his preferring the poverty and affliction of the people of God before the treasures in Egypt, and the honours and distinctions of Pharaoh's court. In a word, the lower we abase ourselves in our own sight, the higher we are exalted in the approbation of God. Humility is not only the surest road to the honours and distinctions of eternity, but, as it respects ourselves in our present walk and pilgrimage to heaven, it is the road also to peace and comfort, to that which beguiles the tedium of the journey in the wilderness, which diminishes much of its difficulties, and reconciles us greatly to its privations and wants! The world is an inn, of which the accommodations are few in number, and despicable in quality; and think with what contentment we shall put up with them; what calmness and serenity will pervade our souls, if, with Moses, we bear in mind the end of our pilgrimage, and respect only the recompense of the reward ; and what perfect resignation will possess our minds if we cast all our cares upon Christ, and rest only upon him, whose staff will support, whose spirit will guide, and whose consolations will cheer us, as we journey on to that heavenly Canaan, where are pleasures for evermore, and satisfactions which will ever last, for the people of God! Though conscious of our own meanness, and sensible of our own wants, our comforts will be in some such pleasing reflections as these: I am poor, but the Lord careth for me; I am in indigence and want, but in Christ " all fulness dwells ;” and my God will be a very present help in my necessities, and supply all my need, according to his “ riches in glory!" I am sinful and unworthy; but my Redeemer is righteous and altogether precious. With a sense of his love and acceptance, I am now blessed on earth, and, according to his gracious promise, shall be superlatively blessed with him hereafter; for to such as are thus “poor in spirit” pertains the “ kingdom of heaven!” “ Blessed, therefore, are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!”
GOD'S GOODNESS RECALLED TO MIND.
HON. AND REV. B. W. NOEL, A.M.
ST. JOHN'S CHAPEL, BEDFORD ROW, AUGUST 28, 1836.
“ But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a
goodly heritage of the hosts of nations ? And I said, Thou shalt call me, My father and shalt not turn away from me.”—JEREMIAH, iii. 19.
In the earlier part of this chapter we find the Lord complaining of the backsliding and treachery both of Judah and Israel, especially Judah ; and yet combined with this was a promise that he should be at last restored; that an elect remnant should be restored to Zion, after they were scattered among the nations. It was further prophesied that they should increase and multiply in the land, as we know from their history they did; and further, that the house of Judah should walk with the house of Israel ; that the ten tribes should be restored to their own land; which I believe took place on the return of the Jews from Babylon : and then it was said further, that “they should say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more;" that is, after that multiplication of the nation, the Saviour should come, and a new series of mercies should be to them the praise of all the believers in the nation ; it was when they “ multiplied the nation, and increased the joy,” as the prophet Isaiah says, at the coming of the Saviour, that they were no longer to recal former mercies bestowed on their nation, as much richer blessings from that time should call forth the united praises of all the believers among the re-assembled tribes of Israel. It was further prophesied, “ At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem;" that is, if I understand the prophet rightly, an elect remnant of the two nations, those who were God's spiritual Israel, should become the foundation of the universal church, and all the nations should be gathered to that apostolical church, which was especially termed Zion, because its first seat was at Jerusalem.
But in the anticipation of these great promises, that not only were the ten tribes to be restored with the two from their captivity, but that the Gentiles should be added to this spiritual Israel, the Lord, considering the greatness of the blessings and the rebellion of the people, says, “ How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations ?” They were to be scattered among the nations ; how should they again be dealt with as the children of God? “ How shall I give thee a pleasant land ?"---restore thee to that land which thou hast forfeited. And further than this—for this was only the antecedent and introductory mercy, the recovery of their own land—“ How shall I give thee a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations ?” making the nations become the delight of the church, and adding to her, as the heritage of his spiritual and elect people, “ a goodly (elect) heritage of the hosts of nations :" a promise not clearly fulfilled to its utmost extent yet, but fulfilled far beyond the expectation of the most sanguine believers then, by the vast numbers that have been added to the church through grace.
“ And I said, Thou shalt call me, My father, and shalt not turn away from me.” This answer determines the method which the Lord would take to fulfil these great blessings to his spiritual Israel, to those to whom the spiritual promises were exclusively made ; that is, to them, and that host of nations that should be added to them, as the true Israel of God, and for whom, I apprehend, nearly all, if not all, the spiritual promises of the Old Testament are primarily, properly, and exclusively intended. It declares, in other words, the spirit of Gospel religion: these prophecies, with reference to Christianity, shall be fulfilled to that elect remnant in this manner. “Thou shalt call me, My father, and shalt not turn away from me:” that is, the church in general, and therefore each individual member of that church, shall be led to look on the Lord God as his father, and, having obtained this filial spirit, should never again lose it.
In examining this passage, I do not so much desire to bring before you any truths with which you are not familiar, or to prove that which your own minds have often fed upon as ascertained truth; but rather to recall it as that which may furnish subject for much profitable meditation and examination to us all. And, permitted in the good providence of God again to find myself among you, I desire to exercise my own heart, and yours, by recalling the extreme goodness of God in thus having brought us, if indeed we are true believers, into this marvellous relation to himself, the great and glorious majesty of the universe, that we may call him our Father, and believe in the permanence of the relation and the spirit he has communicated.
The first point brought before us is, THE CHARACTER OF TRUE RELIGION : Thou shalt call me, My father.” It was in this way that those who were under bondage among the Jews became his spiritual people: it was in this way that every Gentile sinner, and every sinner in our own day, must come to God: “ Thou shalt call me, “ My father.” Every false religion, and every corruption of the true, is characterized by a spirit of bondage: I never met with any account of a false religion of which this was not obviously and undeniably the characteristic. All religions but that of Christ, and every corruption of this religion, every thing that is not true religion, is characterized by the fear of God rather than by love, by a servile rather than a filial spirit, by the spirit of a slave, and not of a child. False religion has never yet taught men to love their Creator, and seldom has proposed it as a point at which to aim. But the character of God's religion, of that which alone deserves the name of religion, is, “ Thou shalt call me, My father.” It is not the spirit of irreverence and contempt, but that of reverence: it is not the spirit of alienation and ingratitude, but that of affection and delight: it is not the spirit of distrust and doubt, but of obedience and hope. This is the very spirit which the Lord would have all his people cherish, and which he communicates to those who are true believers. “ Thou shalt call me, My father.” A child should look with reverential regard on his parent, as well as affection ; and when a sinner is taught to call God his father, there is a disposition to admire his perfections that previously was not known. Before, he could sin, as far as he dare, with impunity; he would sin to the utmost, as far as he hoped to be able to escape the punishment attached to sin. But when a man has learned to call God his father, then it is the full and firm purpose of his heart to do the will of his father, to keep his laws, and to honour his name.
It is the spirit of gratitude instead of alienation. Before a man is brought by grace to love the Lord, there is nothing in his heart but alienation from God, as revealed in the Scriptures; but this must fully pass away before the man is the subject of true religion. As long as the creature is alienated from the Creator, can he be his son, his heir ? Can he be on his way to share in the glory which God gives to his redeemed ones in another world ? 66 Thou shalt call me, My father:” thou must have a feeling of gratitude and