« 前へ次へ »
to none but the pure in heart, and the holy in character, let those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus often go up, and let them walk there, far above the level of the world's highest gratifications, and very near to hea
There the believer enjoys an exalted peace; there his devotional spirit puts forth its ardours in aspirations inexpressible; and, walking with his God, he feels that he can be happy, though the fig-tree do not blossom, nor the vine yield its fruit; though reverses lay low the expectations of time, and prospects of earthly good vanish away. And to make communion sweet, and devotion reverential, let the believer urge the petition of Moses on the Mount_“I beseech thee, show me thy glory.” There is more real enjoyment in preferring such a prayer, in the day of adversity, than worldly minds will find in the most illustrious engagements of mundane application, when all things prosper, and there is much to please. But if the prayer be answered, who can tell the elevated joy? Who that has not felt, is able to conceive the selfabasement and the bliss which attend this "high communion with a reconciled God, manifesting his goodness and his grace to the fervent spirit?
2. There is another “ high-place” which belongs to the believer, and that is the Rock of Salvation. This rock is Christ in his complete and glorious redemption-work. This rock the believer gains by faith ; and once there, he loves to abide, and never desires to come down any more to danger and despondency. He makes it his habitation; and there he walks by faith in safety and untroubled
He sees the ungodly 'world, carried away as with a mighty flood, floating for a while, buoyed up by earthly hopes, and kept from sinking by treacherous supports that are every moment giving way. He sees, now one, and now others, disappearing, while survivors seem nothing wiser - by, the example, and fill the air with thoughtless exultation. He pities them, and calls to them to come up where he is, and abide with him on the same rock, seeing they are in peril, and yet there is room. Some attain it; many feebly attempt it, without succeeding; and many perish in a wilful neglect. The believer, however, is safe; his rock is perfect, and the sea of destruction cannot break over its quiet habitations and sure resting-places, to sweep away those that peacefully dwell there. It is above the waves of misery; and though
open to the visitations of heaven, nothing earthly can hurt or destroy those who walk on that “high place.” There the believer breathes the air of heaven; he reflects, in the evil day, on the vanity of worldly hope, and the permanent nature of divine satisfactions. He says, My prosperity is blasted-my friends are diminished I have suffered many things, and have lost much! But salvation is found-salvation is mine in Christ Jesus ! in him have I righteousness and strength, and
and because he died and lives again, I shall have everlasting life, and the bliss of heaven! In, this hope I walk, and this Rock of salvation is to my soul a high and heavenly place, from which I would not descend to doubt and danger for a sublunary kingdom. One clear discovery of the glory of Immanuel's land, in its lengths and breadths of beatitude, awakens such emotions of hope, desire, and satisfaction, as cannot be expressed ; awakens in us a frame of mind, over which adversity, when not retributive for sin, would in vain attempt to cast its clouds of despondency and gloom.
The Mount of Communion with God, and the Rock of Salvation, these are “mine high-places,” will the believer say, speak
ing in the figurative language of the text. Brethren, what are yours?
Are they some worldly eminences-heights of pride and vain show? the slippery places of ungodly grandeur ? or mere elevations of presumption and high-mindedness, on which the contemners of spirituality walk without God ? For the Rock of salvation, many substitute a mass of “ dead works," the labour of self-righteousness, in which they vainly confide. On such “ high places,” it is sin to walk, and it is a shame to be seen. To live there is misery-to die there, is to perish for ever!
In fine, to be religious is to be happy; and nothing is more irrational than to às sociate religion with gloom, and sin with joy. It is a great exercise of religion to throw off the cause of misery, and to replace it with causes of manifold joy. What is religion but the return of the soul to God, on the divine call to be saved from sin and misery? And to suppose that a penitent return to the love of God, and to the hope of eternal life-to infer, that exercises of devotion, and works of filial obedience, and the communications of divine favour promised to all who so return,--shall make men more unhappy than they were in
their distance and alienation from God, is most unreasonable and contrary to experience. Men who have never returned to God, to choose him as their portion, or trust in him as the God of their salvation, tell us, that to do so, would spoil life of joy, and subject their hearts to wretchedness and bondage. This is their averment; but they confess themselves never to have brought the matter to the test of experience; and in this state of acknowledged inexperience, what weight belongs to an averment, how. ever bold ? It is a thing of nought, on which nothing but the most credulous simo plicity will rely.
On the other hand, here is one who hath penitently returned to the Father of mercy, and, having embraced the promise of salvation in Christ, feels newness of life, and rea novated joy springing up in his changed heart; and while he is filled with the consolations and light of divine truth, he owns that the language of the text is not too strong for expressing what he feels. Now, here is a positive experience, that religion and joy are compatible, and, to a certain degree, inseparable. And shall not this experience determine the question rather than the untried averments of men, strangers to