Page images
PDF
EPUB

Shelter yourself beneath the promise of His word. He who hath said “ my people shall dwell in peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,” will not suffer you to be “ tossed with tempest and not comforted” any longer than He shall see it to be best for your spiritual interests, for the increase of true religion in your soul, and for the setting forth of his own glory.--Again, are you exercised with other trials? Are you ready to faint because of the services imposed on you? Does your faith at times seem to fail? Do you long after a deeper experience of spiritual truths, and for a more lively and intimate communion with your heavenly Father? Be not discouraged ; call to mind that Jesus is “as Rivers of Water in a dry place, as the Shadow of a great Rock in a

Wait upon Him, and you will find Him thus to you; He will refresh and gladden your soul. He will cheer it with the consolations of his Spirit. He will fill it with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Keep close to his ordinances, to the means of grace. In these you may expect to meet Him. In these He gives his people to drink of the rivers of his pleasure. " He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness." In these then be you found, Be

you found in the way of prayer and faith, of duty and obedience ; and the Lord will be

weary land.”

found of you. “ Lift up your eyes unto the hills from whence cometh your help. And the Lord will be your keeper: the Lord will be your shade upon your right hand; so that the sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. But the Lord shall preserve you from all evil. He shall preserve your soul. He shall preserve your going out and your coming in, from this time forth, and for evermore."

SERMON VIII.

OBEDIENCE BETTER THAN SACRIFICE

1 SAMUEL, xv. 22.

And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great

delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken

than the fat of rams. We read in this chapter that the Prophet Samuel was directed to give the following command in the Name of the Lord to Saul King of Israel. “Go, and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." Saul having received the divine command proceeded to execute it

. And he “smote the Amalekites,” and “took Agag the king alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.

But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good ; and would not utterly destroy them; but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.”

Such was the partial and defective manner in which Saul fulfilled the commission entrusted to him. And on his return home Samuel was again sent to remonstrate with him on his disobedience and hypocrisy. " Wherefore didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil; and didst evil in the sight of the Lord ? » “ And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep, and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.” This was the excuse which Saul offered in justification of his conduct'; he defended the act of disobedience of which he had been guilty, by saying that it was done with the intention of sacrificing to God. And then it was that the Prophet expostulated with him in the words of the text, “ Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings, and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord ? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."

In this expostulation with Saul, the Prophet makes a direct comparison between two things, sacrifice and obedience; and expressly gives the preference to the latter. “ To obey is better than sacrifice.” But since the offering of sacrifices was itself a Divine appointment, and consequently a positive Institution of Religion at that time, it may be asked, What are the nature and grounds of that preference which the Prophet here assigns to Obedience before Sacrifice: in what respects is to obey better than sacrifice; and why is it so ? To reply to this enquiry will be both interesting and useful to ourselves: for since true Religion has been at all times in substance the same, whatever distinctions prevailed under the Jewish Dispensation between Positive Institutions on the one hand, and Obedience, in the sense in which it is here used, on the other hand, the same distinctions will substantially prevail under the Christian Dispensation. Consequently the discussion of this subject will lead us to some important conclusions, which are closely connected with our own religious practice and principles.

« PreviousContinue »