« AnteriorContinuar »
vices, showed the gracious Provi- directing by his wisdom, and blessing dence of God, and the blessing from his goodness, and thus beholding which God himself pronounced on us as a Lord and Judge. He is not Jacob, confirming to him the promise far from every one of us.' In bim we before made to Abraham, was all of live, and move, and bave our being. it adapted and designed by God, to This earth is his footstool, heaven is banish fear and despondency from his throne, the universe is his dwell. the heart of the solitary wanderer, and ing place. Here he governs his to fill him with hope and comfort on mighty household. Here his angels his journey of exile from his father's descend and ascend on errands of roof. Yet he was afraid, and said grace and mercy-encamping about how dreadful is this place. The the just, and ministering to them who fear which Jacob felt was religious shall be heirs of salvation. And awe, the dread which falls upon men though the eye of sense does not see from the sensible presence of Al- God, though he retires from human mighty God.
view, behind his own creation, and Jacob had been occupied in his makes this material universe a garown concerns, eager in pursuit of ment with which he covers himself; earthly good, and anxious for his life though even reason, dimmed with senand welfare, and had not sufficiently sual passions, does but faintly discov. thought of the presence of the invisi er the presence of the Almighty, yet ble God. This vision brought to faith sees the invisible God. By him a realizing view of a present God. faith, the believer walks with God, He felt as if suddenly and unexpect- lives in his presence, is awed by edly brought, not into the palace of his majesty and glory, prays for the ao earthly inonarch, but into the house light of his countenance, and seeks of the living God.
to be directed and upheld by his powOh could the vision of the Almigh- erful hand. ty, burst, at once, upon a thoughtless This constant sense of the presence world,-could they see him inhabit of a holy God, makes this, to him, a ing this universe, which he has built solemn world, and the state he holds for his dwelling place,—could they see in it, an awful place. The believer, his arm guiding the hosts of heaven though filled with joy and peace, posin their circuits, and moving forward sesses a joy which is far from levity. the operations of nature around How dare he trifle in the presence of them, --could they see him by their God, bis Judge. How dare he beside, upholding every power and fac- have with irreverent impropriety in ulty, which they pervert to opposition the house of God. In every place, against him, and bestowing with his he discovers some manifestation of own hand every blessing which they the presence of his Lord and Judge, ungratefully enjoy and abuse,-could and therefore, always, according to they see his eye, which is in every the liveliness of his faith, is ready to place, heholding the evil and the say, “How dreadful is this place. good,-how would astonishment and This is none other but the house of dread fall upon then? With a more God, and this is the gate of Heaven. painful fear, than that of the Patri
This, then, is a solemn world. The arch, would they exclaim,“ Surely station we hold in it as accountable God is in this place, and we knew it beings in the presence of God, is a not. How dreadful is this place. solemn station. This is none other but the house of In view of our subject, we observe God, in which he is seen to dwell. more particularly in the first place, This is the gate of heaven.
To be capable, as we are, of discovAnd yet, God is surely thus in this ering the invisible things of God, world, though many know it not. He from the things which he has made, is here thus upholding by his power, even bis Eternal power and Godhead,"
to be able to trace the hand of God in mally laid down in his word, is a his works, to behold the matchless still greater privilege; but it is a priviskill exhibited in the exquisite pro- lege connected with dread responsiductions of nature, and see the bility. To know our duty and to strength of his arm in her powerful feel the obligation to perform it, to operations—to see the Maker of all, see the law of God, exceeding broad, present amidst bis works, is a dis- reaching even to the thoughts and intinguished privilege, which marks our tents of the heart, and requiring that exalted rank in the creation of God. every thought and feeling be brought But it is also a fearful privilege, and into subjection to it; then to hear its connected with dread responsibili- threatening,"cursed is every one that ities. It gives us a knowledge of continueth not in all things written in the Infinite God. It shows us our the book of the law to do them," and relation to him, as our Creator and "every idle word that men shall speak, Preserver, our Lord and Judge. It they shall give account thereof in the renders us responsible, accountable day of judgment,” and to know, ficreatures. It raises obligation, cre- nally, that all this is applicable to ates duty, and inspires conscience ourselves, coming home to our busiwith a living soul. Inferior creatures, ness and bosons, following us, like who can have no idea of a Creator, the eye of God, in public and in prilive, of course, without God in the vate, with an obligation which we world. It is to them, as if there were cannot escape; gives importance to no God. They can have no sense of every action, to every thought. duty, none of accountability, and no « Or the innumerable eyes,” says solemnity of feeling. But
one, that open upon nature, none, is exalted to that rank in the creation, but those of man, see its Author, and and endowed with those faculties, its end. There is something very solwhich qualify him to know his emn in this mighty privilege of a beGod and Maker, and enable him to ing not made to perish with time, and see a present Deity, wherever he formed in some greater hour, to know moves-man may well be sober and him, who inhabiteth Eternity.” solemn.-How much more,when God 3. The thought suggested in the close has more clearly taught the things of this quotation, leads us to observe concerning himself in the revelation, in the third place, that it is a priviwhich he has given us, in which the lege to know that the acquaintance things which were faintly seen in his with God, which we are permitted to works, are plainly declared, those have, in this world, shall continue which were dark and inexplicable, without end. explained, those which were undis Beings destined to exist only a few covered, revealed.
days or years, are so insignificant in 2. It is also a privilege, to know themselves, and so unimportant in the will of God; in other words, to their own view, if they are sensible of see God, as a ruler-to koow the end their insignificance, that it is of comfor which we were made, and the paratively little monient, how they end for which, therefore, we should pass the days of their short-lived exlive, and the course of conduct we istence. “Let us eat and drink, for should adopt to attain that end. To to-morrow we die.” have understanding, to know the law On the contrary, to know that we of God, which should regulate our have immortal souls, that we are desconduct, which is binding on the con tined for a never ending existence, science, which points to a day of ac that when ages and worlds shall have count, to be followed with everlasting rolled away, we shall exist, under rewards and punishments-is justly the government of the same unchangeesteemed a noble privilege ; and to able God, whom we are here permithave all these laws distincily and for- ted to see and know, enjoying his
Vol. 3_No. IX. 58
siniles, or suffering under bis eternal upon our heads; " For yourselves frowil, wbat an importance, an aw. know, perfectly, that the day of ful importance does it give to us! the Lord so cometh, as a thief in the What a solemnity does the thought night.” shed over our minds ! How dread Finally, this is a solemn world, ful is this place ; not only the house because it is a world of sio. Those of God, bui the gate of heaven, the who have offended a holy and pres. vestibule of Eternity-thre cradle of ent God, who have broken his law, a. immortal souls,-the residence of bused his grace, and rejected his Son, creatures which shall never cease to and who are treasuring up wrath abe. In view of our eternal desti- gainst the day of wrath, occupy a ny, who would not
dreadful place-and may well be a " Walk thoughtful, on the silent, solemn fraid, when they are made sensible shore,
of his presence. All the other cir. " Of that vast ocean, we must sail so soon. cumstances, which concur to render
4. The thought of our immortality this a solemn world to us, derive adsuggests the fourth, and most impor- ditional weight and importance, from tant circumstance, which gives so- the fact that we are sinners, especiallemnity to this world, viz.
ly if we are impenitent sinners. That it is a state of probation to Let us see how this fact, adds a these inmortal souls. We are placed dreadful importance to each of the here, to choose a part and form a considerations already suggested. character, which shall fix our condi It is solemn to stand in the presence tion, through our eternal existence. of the holy and Almighty God. It is Every action here goes to form a hab- so, even to holy beings. Angels veil it.--every deed shall be brought into their faces, as they surround bis judgment at the great day of account, throne, and cry "holy, holy, holy is every movement of immortal beings the Lord God Almighty.' If those is followed by everlasting consequen- who are themselves pure and holy, ces. If we could, during every period the objects of God's love and favour, of our future existence, have the same are Glled with awful dread, when power and privilege we now have to made sensible of his immediate presalter our condition and destiny, by ence, how must those feel who are repentance and turning to the Lord, impure and unholy, when they are the present moments though impor- made to realize the presence of their tant, would sink into comparative in- offended Maker? Even, if, by resignificance. But the fact, that this pentance and faith, they have become is our only state of probation, reconciled to God, they will feel pethat after it, our condition will be fix culiar dread, from a sense of their reed, unalterably fixed, forever, so that maining pollution. So Jacob, when he that is holy, will be holy still, and he awoke from the vision of the Albe that is filthy shall be filthy still, mighty, although it was in every resthis is what renders the present a sol pect, fitted to assure him of the favor emn, dreadful place.
of God, was yet afraid—“Surely," It is doubtless a privilege to have a said he, "the Lord is in this place, and state of probation granted us, but as I knew it not. How dreadful is this we have said of the others, we say of place. This is none other but the this also—there is something solemn house of God, and this is the gate of in this mighty privilege, and it is ren heaven." dered still more solemn, by the un Job also, who was acknowledged certainty of its continuance. It may by God himself as his servant, and terminate, in a moment when we least who received the testimony, that no expect it, and are least prepared. other man then on earth was like bim While we are forming our resolutions in holiness, exclaimed when he realto repent to-morrow, we may be sent ized the presence of Jehovah, “I into eternity to day, with all our sins have heard of thee, by the bearing of
6. For they
the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee. who have hitherto abused their day of Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent grace, and who, if they should die io dust and ashes." Isaiah, was a fa- in their present state, would be imvoured prophet of the Lord, but when mortal in misery. he saw the Lord, high and lifted up,and In short, to have the power to disthe heavens full of his glory, he cried cover God, in his works, and to be- Woe is me-for I am undone come more intimately acquainted with for mine eyes have seen the Lord of him in his word, to be able to learn Hosts.” So the prophet Elijah, stood his will, and to read his written upon the mount, and beheld the great law, by which also we must be judg. and strong wind which rent the moun ed, to know that we are immortal, tains, broke the rocks in pieces, and and that eternal happiness or misery was not afraid, for God was not in depends on the part we choose and the the wind ; neither did the earthquake characters we form, during the few or the fire appal bim, for the Lord years we continue here, gives a solwas not in them; but after the fire, emo importance to our condition a still small voice,' then Elijah wrap-. but this solemnity becomes dreadful ped his face in his mantle, and stood in view of a holy God, whom we while the Lord of Hosts spoke to have offended, in view of a state of him.
probation abused, of the grace of God If such men, if meu assured of rejected. the favour of God, feel such a holy
“O may these thoughts, possess my breast dread at his presence, how should
« Where'er I roam-.wbere'er I rest." those feel, who have provoked his
With such thoughts therefore, just indignation, and who live under bis continual frown. Yet we are all
let us not sleep as do others, but let
us watch and be sober. in his presence, though perhaps we know it not. This universe, in which that sleep, sleep in the night, and we live, is his dwelling place. He they that be drunk, be diunk in the is present in it, his eye is in every night—but let us who are of the day,
of , place, beholding the evil and the good. And if the heavens are not
which shines around us, is a solemn clean in his sight, and his angels are
light. The house of God, in which charged with folly, how much more
we assemble, is a solemn place. abominable and filthy is man, which « Let not our weaker passions dare drinkeih iniquity like water.'
Consent to sip-for God is tbere." The second circumstance mention And although we know that God ed, shewing the dreadful station, is equally present in every place, at we hold in this world, is, that we are every time, yet such finite, limited here, not only acquainted with God, faculties as ours, strive to give place but under his moral government. But to every thing, and naturally conceive if being under the law of God be sol- of God, as more especially present, in emn, how much more solemn to be those places, where he has been peunder the curse of that law, and ex- culiarly manifested to our souls. posed to its penalty, and to be ac In our weak, imperfect state, this countable to a Being whom we have method of considering the subject, offended, who is angry with the ought to be encouraged rather than wicked every day?
condemned. God himself has cousThe third and fourth facts men- tenanced it, when, in condescension tioned in this discourse, to show how to our weakness, he took upon solemn is the world in which we himself a visible form, or at least live, were that we have immortal made bimself manifest, at particular souls, and are in a state of probation times and places. Such were his apfor eternity. How unspeakably dread- pearances to the Patriarchs,-and ful must these facts appear to those, such his dwelling between the chera
bim, in the most holy place of the of a worldly nature, to be associated tabernacle, which was thence termed with the house of prayer,—the house _"the bouse of God.” Such ex- of God. “Surely God is in this place, hibitions of bis presence are not only though we may know it not." He an accommodation to our weak con- is here-speaking to us, by his word ceptions, but are wisely titted to give -He is here, by his Holy Spirit, in a peculiar sacredness in our minds, the hearts of his children and perhaps to the places where God has appear- of sioners, producing conviction of ed to be present with us, and thus to sio in some, and giving comfort and make them instrumental in renewing consolation, joy and peace in believthe same impressions at another time. ing, to others. This is the house of Holy men, therefore, use them for the God; for many with an awe and rappurpose for which they are designed. ture, seemingly less than that of the Jacob, doubtless knew that the uni- Patriarch, have seen him here, and verse was the house of God, yet he have felt his power while they have poured oil upon the stone, on which listened to his promises. His goings his head had rested during the vision, have been seen in his sanctuary. It and named it, and the place where it is the house of God and the Gate of stood, Beth-el, that is “ House of Heaven, where many precious souls God." Many years after, when he have received those impressions and returned from Syria, and canje to the bopes which conduct to Heaven spot, it brought forcibly to his mind “ They have seen thy goings,” (says the promises which God had there the Psalmist) “ even the goings of my made to him, and he built an altar of God, my king, in the sanctuary." earth, and called it El-Beth-el-be Let all the solemnity, then, which cause there God appeared to him, accompanies the view of a present when he fled from bis brethren. God, of his holy law, and of Eter
In a similar manner, we should nity, here settle on our souls. If no hold those places sacred where God where else, let us at least, be thoughthas appeared to us, that they may ful and solemn in the house of God. become means of recalling the good- Let the vision of spiritual things alone ness of God, and renewing the solemn occupy our minds. O let us realize impressions and holy resolutions, and feel that it is none other but the which they once witnessed.
house of God. May it prove to all In this view of the subject, a house of us the Gate of Ileaven. of prayer, and public worship, is peculiarly, the house of God." There
For the Christian Spectator. we assemble to meet our God, and to A brief Essay on Church Governhold communion with him. There
ment. we meet, to hear his words, to make known our requests, to call upon the When an individual church, in any Lord, to praise his vame--and to town or parish, possesses the power realize, as in bis more immediate of christian discipline, even to the presence, all those circumstances, exclusion of offenders, and possesses connected with our knowledge of him the same power to discipline its pasand of bis holy law, which have been tor, as any other member; the gosmentioned in this discourse, as giving eromept is denominated strictly consolemuity to our present existence. gregational. And be the church evAnd here, it may be added, his chil. er su few in number, or ever so much dren, while engaged in the services of at variance among themselves, there the sanctuary, do often receive pecu- is no remedy, except it come from liar and refreshing views of his pres- themselves. They may contend for ence and glory. The place, there years, two against two, or three afore, should be sacred in our minds. gainst three, without a prospect of We should, if possible, suffer nothing peace. They claim to be independ