ページの画像
PDF
ePub

maintain an incessant hostility, a perpetual warfare. Remember, without this you cannot enter into the spirit of the text: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood.” Our wrestling, or, as the word means, our contention, our combat, is against principalities and powers. Hence you may see, that you are required most imperatively, by the rules of our holy religion, and by the examples of the saints, the most perfect models of Christianity, to maintain an incessant warfare against the devil and all his works, to put on the whole armour of God, and to fight manfully against the world, the flesh, and the devil; to quit yourselves like men, and to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might; that you may be able to stand in the evil day, and, having done all, still to stand.

4. That you may do this effectually and successfully, watch and pray.

All

your efforts to conquer the devil and sin, without the assistance of God, will be totally ineffectual.

Your engagements, your purposes, your vows, and efforts will be lighter than dust upon the scale, and will all fly like chaff before the whirlwind, if the Lord does not help you; and you can secure his help only by prayer and supplication, and retain it only by watchfulness. Therefore I say to you, as Christ said to his disciples, “ Watch and

pray,

that not into temptation.” And the Apostle, in the same spirit, after having exhorted Christians to put on the whole armour of God, &c., adds, “praying always, with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” And watchfulness and prayer are duties which should not be called into exercise merely on some special occasions, when dangers stand visibly displayed before our eyes, but they are duties constantly and invariably needful; for we are sometimes in the greatest danger when we least perceive it: with the poet, we may say,

you enter

« How vain are all things here below,

How false, and yet how fair !
Each pleasure hath its poison too,

And every sweet its snare.

“ The brightest things below the sky

Give but a flattering light :
We should suspect some danger nigh,

Where we possess delight.”

Thus by praying and watching against sin, and all temptations to sin, you will be invariably enabled to conquer it. The motions of sin by these means will be extinguished, and Satan will be bruised under your feet. Every new day will secure to you new triumphs, until, having conquered the last enemy, you will return to Zion with singing and everlasting joy upon your heads; when you shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

1. Learn hence, that this world is the theatre of a warfare which involves in it results of a tremendously awful import. We have seen

in our day the effects of political contentions: we have heard of the dreadful din of war; nation has risen up against nation; and every battle of these warriors has been with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood. And yet, awfully as these objects may strike our senses, and much as they may awaken our sympathies, were our mental vision divinely illuminated, could we look into the world of spirits, or rather, behold those beings which daily hover round us, how should we be astonished and confounded! Do not imagine that the vast and apparently boundless space that lies open to our view is destitute of living, active, spiritual beings; that it is a vast vacuity, untenanted by inhabitants. No. If the sentiment of the poet be true,

“ Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth

Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep."

save.

ing up

Satan is called the Prince of the power of the air : the air is represented as the seat of his kingdom. It was the opinion of the Jews and Heathen both, that the air is full of spirits, good and bad spirits: the one to exert their baleful influence over the souls of men, the other to counteract their designs: the one to destroy, and the other to

And that fallen spirits amount to an innumerable multitude may be justly inferred, from the circumstance that one single man possessed a legion of devils. Now, a legion in the Roman army consisted of six thousand two hundred footmen, and seven hundred and thirty horsemen. Then, what an immense and an incalculable number of evil spirits are moving to and fro on the earth, and walk

and down in it! 2. Learn then the soul's high price, from the intense rivalry between heaven and hell who should possess it. In worldly warfare things are contested and fought for according to their value. To get possession of some desirable island, or some commanding fortress, or some richly furnished country, fleets and armies are fitted out, blood and treasure are lavished, and all that human ingenuity can devise is put into requisition. But how insignificant is this rivalry and contention compared to that which is carrying on in the invisible world for the destruction and salvation of immortal souls ! Go, then, O man, and ponder over the value of thy soul: contemplate the means adopted by thy Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, for thy salvation ; and the means used by thy great adversary for thy destruction ; and then inquire what thou oughtest to do to promote the end of thy being, and the design of thy existence.

3. Learn also the discriminating marks between the righteous and the wicked; between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not. The wicked are in league with the enemy; they make a covenant with death, and with hell they are in agreement; they are the children of the devil, the servants of hell; and they are going down

to the chambers of death ; and they will be tormented with Satan and his angels in outer darkness, where is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. But the righteous, on the other hand, have deserted the devil's service ; they have cast away his armour, and they have enlisted under the banners of the Saviour, the glorious Leader of all the armies of Israel : instead of allowing themselves to be led captive by Satan at his will, they resist him, oppose the armour of God to all his assaults, and wrestle mightily against these principalities, and powers, and spiritual wickednesses in high places. Christian soldier, cease not thine opposition to wickedness and the wicked one ; fight the good fight of faith : God shall make thee conqueror, and so shalt thou inherit eternal life.

THE BEATIFIC VISION. The saints shall see God; being blessed with the most full, clear, and perfect knowledge of God and divine things that the creature is capable of possessing. This blissful sight of God being quite above our present capacities, we must needs be very much in the dark about it. But it seems to be something else than the sight of that glory which we shall see with our bodily eyes in the saints, and in “the man Christ Jesus," or any other splendour or refulgence from the Godhead whatsoever : for no created thing can be our chief good and happiness, nor fully satisfy our souls; and it is plain that these things are somewhat different from God himself. Therefore I conceive that the souls of the saints shall see God himself; for so the Scriptures teach us, that we shall see “ face to face,” and “know even as we are known,” and that we shall “ see him as he is.” Howbeit, the saints can never have an adequate conception of God. They cannot comprehend that which is infinite. They may touch the mountain, but cannot grasp it in their arms : they cannot, with one glance of their eye, behold what grows on every side. But the divine perfections will be an unbounded field, in which the glorified shall walk eternally, seeing more and more of God, since they can never come to the end of that which is infinite. They may bring their vessels to this ocean every moment, and fill them with new waters. What a ravishing sight would it be, to see all the perfections and lovely qualities that are scattered here and there amongst the creatures, gathered together into one! But even such a sight would be infinitely below this blissful sight which the saints shall enjoy in heaven: for they shall see God, in whom all these perfections entinently appear, with infinitely more, whereof there is no vestige to be found in the creatures. In Him they shall see everything that is desirable, and nothing but what is desirable.- Boston.

HORÆ BIBLICÆ. (No. XXIII.)

PICTORIAL REPRESENTATIONS OF THE MAGI.

men.

(To the Editor of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine.) “ Poets and painters are mise- blasphemous doctrines and idolarable commentators." This maxim, trous practices of her theology and often expressed by a late learned worship. But, even as Protestants, Divine, is more generally true, and we are still held in the trance, which springs from deeper causes, than is her scenic representations have readily imagined. The fascinating thrown over our senses.

Her paintarts of verse and the pencil, which, ings, consecrated by genius, still from their power over the imagi. constitute the gems of our public nation and the mind, have been and private galleries ; and the his. termed “

divine,” have, from the ear tory of the Madonna and her cbild, liest times, blended themselves with too often drawn, not from the truth. the moral and religious feelings of fulness of Scripture, but from the

They not only give expres- legends of antiquity, is presented to sion to thought and feeling, and the eye in every cottage. stamp a character of fixedness and These reflections are suggested by permanency on their creations; but the well-known pictorial representathey become often a substitute for tions of the eastern Magi, worshipmore regular and exact sources of ping with the oxen in the stable at knowledge, and serve to form the Bethlehem. What commentator or opinions and control the belief of critic has ever allowed himself to ages and nations.

suspect the fidelity of this represen. The lyre and the pencil, had they tation ? And yet it may be truly remained faithful to truth, would affirmed, that there is no authority have yielded powerful support to re

in the New Testament to suppose ligion. But they have proved them- that the Magi ever reached Bethleselves far more powerful auxiliaries hem; and still less, that they worto error and superstition. As the shipped the Lord in a stable. handmaids of religion, they must These Magi, there can be little have stood with her in opposition to doubt, came from beyond the Eu. the passions and the corruptions of phrates, the valley or brook of the mankind, and would have shared her willows, to which the Israelites, on successes and defeats. But when the third deportation, were they proved themselves to be no ried captive. (Isaiah xv. 7; Psalm longer “ of the Father, but of the cxxxvii.) This country, and not world,” their influence for evil be. Arabia Felix, is properly “the east” came incalculable. The deformity of the holy Scriptures. The term of error was concealed under the “ Magi” and the mode of worshipmask of the graces, and superstition ping, by full-length prostration of borrowed elevation and strength the body, as Calvin remarks, are from the charms of refinement and both Persic. This term was applied beauty.

to the ancient astrologers of Persia No church has estimated more and Chaldea, who were also shepcorrectly the power of these auxilia- herds, astronomers, philosophers, ries, or more lavishly and system- and priests. The reference to this atically availed herself of their aid, land is very significant. The Jews than the Church of Rome. The had undoubtedly the five books of Reformation has struggled (and, Moses and other sacred writings, in where truth could be heard, success. Babylon. Some of their greatest fully struggled) to overthrow the Prophets flourished there. God was

car

men Saw

The cap.

ever nigh to his people in the time dom. (John xii. 20.) When these of affliction. The wonders he

the Star of Jacob ” ho. wrought in their behalf, and the in vering over Palestine, they were led fluence which Daniel, Mordecai, Ne to connect it with

“the Sceptre hemiah, and others acquired at which should arise in Israel." Their court, and in the government of the language is almost a literal appeal to nation, must have occasioned conti. Number3 xxiv. 17; and their whole nual appeals to these sacred writ. conduct proves that they viewed the ings, and made them generally prediction of Balaam in the still known. Several royal edicts, founded stronger light of Isaiah Ix. 1--12. on displays of the divine glory, uni. On no other hypothesis can we acversally acknowledged, had pro count for the appearance of the star claimed the God of the Jews to be to these Gentile strangers, rather the only true God. It cannot, there. than to any other strangers throughfore, be supposed that a class of out the Roman world. They had men, like the Magi, whose profes. light and grace, and were prepared sion and duty it was to cultivate to follow the Lord, and do homage and treasure up knowledge, would to the infant and lowly King of overlook those writings.

Israel. Nor can we believe that all tivity of the Jews in Babylon, con this grace was lost to the Christian nected with so many national events, church. Of the travels and labours and such striking displays of divine of many of the Apostles and Evanpower, could never be effaced froin gelists, we have no records; but we the public annals, or from the public are told that they “went everywhere mind. It left the indelible impress preaching the word.” (Acts viii. 4.) of the Chaldean characters on the The Magi had seen and believed in Hebrew Scriptures; and these, in Jesus, and had carried back the return, left the light of divine reve. faith to their country. They were lation, and, particularly, the hope of prepared for the Gospel. It is not, Messiah, lingering on the shores of therefore, in any mystic sense that the Euphrates and the Tigris. St. Peter writes, “The church at

The brevity of sacred history com Babylon, elected together with you,” pels us to admit such facts as are (at the same time, and standing in essential to the truth and consist all respects on the same footing ency of the narration. The mere with the churches scattered throughappearance of an extraordinary star out Asia, 1 Peter i. 1.) “saluteth would convey nothing to the minds you.” (1 Peter v. 13.) of the Magi concerning the birth of The account given us of the Magi a Jewish Prince; and nothing, cer is instructive in relation to the spetainly, which could induce them to cial interpositions of divine proviundertake a long and perilous jour dence and grace. We are taught, ney to pay him homage with costly 1. That such interpositions are not gifts. We are constrained to admit accorded to men, when ordinary that they had a revelation, and acted means are sufficient; and, 2. That under divine influence. Burdened they are not with held when ordinaand groaning, with the whole crea ry means can no longer avail. The tion, these men waited with earnest Magi saw the star in the east, and expectation for the manifestation of were enabled satisfactorily to interthe sons of God; and their know pret the sign. But the star does ledge of the Hebrew Prophets not appear to have led them in their taught them to look for redemption way to Palestine ; for the route from in Israel. They acted throughout Chaldea was continually traversed in meekness and faith ; and “the by the caravans, and was sufficiently meek He will guide in judgment.”. known. But when they quitted JeHere was a remnant of the fruit of rusalem, their way became uncerthe captivity; a handful of men tain, and the star re-appeared to prepared for the Lord ; and an ear direct their course :

a proof that nest of the eagerness with which the they were not allowed to go to BethGentiles should press into his king lehem, the way to which city was Voz. XXI. Third Series. JULY, 1842.

2 R

« 前へ次へ »