Christ, whom they really love, though they hardly dare to own it, creates all this distress. They feel as though they must sink into perdition. But, behold he cometh, walking as it were on the sea, and stretcheth forth his hand of mercy and saves them. Again the dejected soul is brought to sing, “ He brought me up out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings; and he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God.” Though sorrow endureth for a night, joy cometh in the morning.

3. Sometimes they have such a sense of indwelling sin, of unlikeness to Christ, of coldness of affection, of barrenness, and of hardness of heart, that they begin, like Peter, to sink. They doubt all that has passed in their minds, conclude that they are deceived, and that they have deceived others. But in the darkest moments Jesus appears for their relief, by stretching out his hand to support them; that is, he speaks peace to them by renewed discoveries of his love; he reveals himself to them, and they, like Thomas, cry, “ My Lord, and my God !"

4. Sometimes they feel ready to sink under the number and weight of their afflictions; which seldom come alone. As it was with Job, so hath it been with others; they have overtaken them in clusters. Numerous and extremely distressing they have been ; hence they have been ready to sink under them. But at the moment of their greatest discouragement, behold relief ! stretched forth his hand, and caught him,” say. ing, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen

66 He

thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” The Lord will either deliver from, or support his people under, the heaviest afflictions.

Our guilty first parents (now in heaven) can adopt this language, and say, When sinking under the guilt of our first offence, he stretched forth his hand and caught us.

Abraham can recollect that this was his case, when Isaac lay bound on the pile prepared to consume him. In this distressing moment, when the patriarch's faith was tried, Heaven interposed, and saved the heir of promise. .

Isaac can sing this song, when he recollects his critical situation, when the arm of his father was uplifted to strike the fatal blow. Had not the arm of mercy been stretched out for his deliverance, he would have inevitably sunk in death.

The Israelites ought never to forget how alarming was their condition at the Red Sea. Had not the arm of the great Jehovah sustained them, they would have perished with their enemies in the mighty waters.

David too, when pursued by Saul; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the fiery furnace; and Daniel in the lion's den, all experienced, in a remarkable manner, the delivering hand of the great Redeemer. When to human view they were ready to sink in death, he stretched forth his hand, and caught them.

The prodigal son, who had left his father's house, and spent all his substance in rioting and debauchery, as soon as he came to himself, began thus to reason: “How many hired servants of my father have bread enough, and to spare, and I perish with hunger !” While he was yet a great way off, and still liable to perish, the father ran to meet him, and received him again to his favour.

How many such disobedient children, how many such prodigals, that had gone from home, from virtue and goodness, and had run nearly their course of vice to destruction, yet have been stopped! When in the last stages of vicious gratification ; when given up as lost forever ; I say, how many such have been stopped! Jesus hath stretched forth his hand, and caught them. And such were some of you.

The subject thus explained, naturally suggests the following reflections.

1. We are led to look back on life, and recount our dangers and escapes. Few of us but have experienced special interpositions of Divine Providence, in preserving our lives and limbs. To God we owe all our escapes from death. Not only from death temporal, but from everlasting destruction. When rushing forward in our mad

reer, just as we were approaching the precipice of ruin, Jesus stretched forth his hand of mercy, and caught us.

2. Learn hence, that we ought not to be discouraged, though things may appear dark as midnight. Our compassionate Redeemer often suffers us to be brought into straits, that in our deliverance his holy arm may be more visibly

seen. We sometimes feel as if we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in the living God. When deep calleth to deep at the noise of his water. spouts, and all his waves and billows go over our heads; yet may we hope that the Lord will command his loving kindness in the day time, and in the night shall his song be with us, and our prayer be unto the God of our life.

3. We see from this instance of divine interposition, what encouragement is given for prayer and supplication in times of greatest distress. God is nigh to all that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.

Let all that love the Lord, be encouraged to repair to the mercy seat; especially when dan. gers thicken around them, and they feel themselves beginning to sink. No sooner did Peter cry, “Lord, save me,” than he found the compassionate arm of the Saviour stretched out to relieve him. How many martyrs, how many dy. ing Christians have had this sweet experience of the divine condescension and goodness! Their last hours have been cheered by the supporting influence of divine grace. Then let us, brethren, wait all our appointed time, until our change comes; and when Jesus bids us come to him, let us cheerfully venture upon the untried ocean of eternity. Though our flesh must sink down in death, yet the gracious arm of him that has con. quered death will raise our spirits to his throne above, to join the ransomed millions in praising Father, Son, and Holy Ghost forever and ever. Amen.




GENESIS, iii. 21. Unto Adam also, and to his wife, did the Lord God make coats of

skins, and clothed them.

It was observed this day week in this place, that the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic economy cannot be properly explained, without we admit the doctrine of the atonement. I had not time then to pursue this important subject : this shall be the business of the present opportunity. Let us then, my brethren, attend to the origin, the nature, and the design of the sacrifices of the Jewish dispensation, as referring to the atonement of Christ. In prosecuting the subject, it will appear how sacrifices were viewed by the people under the law, and by the apostles and primitive Christians under the gospel dispensation; and that no consistent meaning can be given to them, unless we allow that they pointed to Christ, and were fulfilled in him as a sacrifice for sin.

It is further to be observed, that we never read of an atonement or sacrifice till after man had sinned. The reason is obvious; there was no need of a sacrifice, because there was no offence to expiate ; there was no crime for which to

* Preached Lord's day, February 1, 1807.

« ElőzőTovább »