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these means, and in these duties, is He to be approached and found, through Jesus Christ, the only way to him ; and, thus humbly approached, notwithstanding our great unworthiness, He will draw near to us as a “God” that “is at hand,” and “not afar off.”
But in vain shall we approach him, unless we endeavour to be like him: a similitude of nature and of excellence, (in such a degree as through grace we are capable of attaining) must be the holy tie of friendship between the creature and his beneficent Creator. Whomsoever we desire to please, we endeavour to resemble. Would we then be admitted into an acquaintance with God, we must study to be like him. We must be partakers of the divine holiness, in order to enjoy this high privilege and alliance. “For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness ?" Another essential in all true friendships is, a firm reliance on him who is our friend : and can we doubt the friendship of GOD, who gave his only beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from eternal ruin? After such a proof, — since we cannot doubt His friendship, do we resign ourselves and our affairs entirely to his disposal, and believe everything to be best and fittest for us, which He sees best should befall us? Are we under his chastising hand without a murmur—without despondency of mind--and without charging him foolishly?
Do we impart all our wants to him, and neither endeavour nor desire to hide any thing that passes in the depth of our hearts from him? Do we resort to him for counsel and assistance in every emergency, and hearken to what our Lord God shall say to us, either by the inward monitions of our conscience, by the outward ministry of his Word, or the awakening calls of his providence? and do we give heed diligently to fulfil all the intimations of his will, that are in any way made known to us?
Then have we advanced far in that holy acquaintance which the text recommends; especially if we possess the next essential to be considered, -reverential love; that love which is the fulfilling of the law of friendship, the surest test, and most exalted improvement of it.
Let us consider, therefore, whether we do indeed “love the Lord our God, with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind, and with all our strength ;"—whether our approaches to him are always voluntary and refreshing ;- whether we are impatient under any long discontinuance of our communion with him ; whether our hearts burn within us at the perusal of his Holy Word ;-- and whether the effect of it upon our minds be such that, in comparison of it, all the finest human compositions seem insipid and unsatisfactory to us ?— Whether we have an uniform and temperate zeal for his honour and service, and are always happy in doing somewhat to promote his glory, without any regard to our own ?-whether we shrink not from our duty in his cause, nor hesitate to make our boast in his praise, even among those who fear him not, and love him not ! nay, whether our love of life and our dread of death be not, in some measure, vanquished by the love we bear him, whilst contemplating the joys of another state; - so that we can even almost “desire to depart, and to be with Christ ?” When we can perceive ourselves to be, after this manner, “rooted and grounded in love,” and to abound in these genuine and blessed fruits of it; then are we indeed the friends of God ;then is our spirit advanced to the nearest degree of “ acquaintance” with “the Father of spirits," of which it is capable on this side heaven ;then, and then only, may we with truth be said to “be at peace.”
And this brings me to the last important point for our present consideration.
O! what sweet contentment-what tranquillity-what profound peace of mind-does that person enjoy who is a friend of God, and to whom, therefore, God is a friend; who lives as always in his sight, looks up to him in every undertaking, imitates him to the best of his power, believes him without doubt, and obeys him without reserve; desires to do nothing but what is agreeable to his will; and fears nothing comparatively with his displeasure: in a word,
who hath resigned, to his Heavenly Father, all his desires, all his faculties and powers ;-and surrendered his soul to be entirely possessed by him, without a rival. Surely, such an one hath within his breast that divine “
passeth all understanding;” which is inconceivable by those who are strangers to it, and unutterable even by those upon whom it rests. As this peace can be duly estimated only by being enjoyed,—and as such an acquaintance with God as the text recommends, is the only means of enjoying it;—so is it found of the greatest value, when any grievous trouble or calamity over
“Acquaint thyself now with Him,' said Eliphaz to Job;— that is, now, when the Wise Disposer of all things hath thought fit to pour out affliction upon thee, is that "peace," which can alone calm the troubled mind, most needful for thee, and only to be imparted by the same hand that wounded thee.
At such times of trial, the soul is most tender and susceptive of religious impressions, most apt to seek God, to delight in approaching him, and conversing with him. The chief design of God, in all his severest dispensations, is, to soften the heart to such a degree as He finds necessary, in order to accomplish the good purposes of his grace, and so to dispose and prepare it, that it may become a temple meet for the in-dwelling of his Holy Spirit; — to wean us, his frail and sinful creatures, from our attachment to earthly things, in which we are too apt to rest, though we are sure that we must so soon resign them; to convince us of the vanity of all the fleeting satisfactions of this world, and to turn our thoughts and expectations towards the joys of another; so that we may say, with the holy sufferer, who was addressed in the words of the text,—“My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.” That ye then, my brethren, may imitate the example of Job,—that ye may “ hold fast your righteousness, and not let it go,—and that “your hearts may not reproach you so long as ye live,”-slight not, I beseech you, the admonition of the text; but “ acquaint now yourselves with God, and be at peace.
Weak and erring mortals as we are,-beset with temptations on every side,-surrounded by snares and pitfalls, and liable every moment to stumble and fall,-vain and futile were the hope, to “hold fast our righteousness," without cultivating this close and intimate acquaintance with God: for is it not from Him alone that “all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed ?" And say, to whom has our blessed Lord promised the light of his Holy Spirit, to guide them into all truth? Even to “such as call upon his name.' Nor is the hope of "peace,”—any permanent, satisfying peace,--less vain and delusive to him, who lives “ without God in the world." “Thou wilt keep him in