« EelmineJätka »
and blest abode. Nor can any mind but one renewed, and which knows by experience the blessedness of a life of peace, form a proper conception of the beauty and holiness of the everlasting rest.
To this rest, the way of peace conducts all who love God. This is heaven; its portals are just beyond the river of death. He who walks in the way of peace till he reaches that river, will pass over it unharmed. He has the sure promise of God, "when thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee." And of all who have pursued this way, none have ever found God unfaithful to his promise. For it is written, for the encouragement of all that love him, that "though the mountains depart, and the hills be removed, yet my kindness shall not depart from thee, nor the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee."The Way of Peace.
THE DOMESTIC ALTAR.
It is something to bring the members of a family together twice a day. For "in proportion as the subjects of mutual obligation live apart, they will cease to care for one another. No customs of society are laudable or safe which tend, in any considerable degree, to separate parents from children and brothers from sisters." All such customs go to weaken that sense of mutual dependence, which is commingled, as a vital element, with the domestic affections. Love must be on the wane in any house, the inmates of which rarely meet together. But in the case we are contemplating, they are not merely convened morning and evening to look each other in the face, or to hold a familiar talk. They assemble to engage in one of the most tender and impressive of all services-to listen, as a family, to the counsels of inspired wisdom; to sing in unison their hymns of praise, and bow down together before the throne of grace, and follow the hallowed accents of a father's voice, while he presents, as the revered priest of his household, their common confessions, supplications, thanksgivings and intercessions. Can you wonder that a service like this should have enkindled the enthusiasm of one of the sweetest poets,* who, though his own worst enemy, could never forget the daily worship of his father's house?
Is it possible to conceive of a service better adapted than this to repress all jealousies and envies, to drive away the gloomy
vapors of moroseness, to restore serenity to every clouded brow, to reburnish the chain of affection, and diffuse an air of cheerfulness through the house? If there is a transient interruption of conjugal cordiality, can the coolness survive the familyprayer? If there are heart-burnings among the children, will they not dissolve like snow in the sun as the petition goes up, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us?" If misfortune has come down upon them, will they not cling more closely to each other as they pour their common sorrows into the ear of their common Father? If they are enriched with unlooked-for blessings, will they not feel them to be the more precious as they present their united thank-offering to the Giver of all good?
But I must not detain you with this animating theme. Let me rather invite you to prove for yourselves the efficacy of family worship as a help to domestic happiness. Let it be your first care to rear an altar to God if your house is without oneto repair your altar if it has fallen into decay.
And by this and every other means which God has placed within your reach, strive to prepare yourselves and those who are dearest to you, for a better world. Give the BIBLE the place in your families to which it is entitled, and then, through the unsearchable riches of Christ, many a household among you may hereafter realize that most blessed consummation, and appear A WHOLE FAMILY IN HEAVEN.--The Bible in the Family.
THE INCOMPREHENSIBILITY OF GOD.
"Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is high as heaven, what canst thou do? Deeper than hell, what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea."-JOB xi. 7-9.
THE nature of God is the foundation of all true religion, and the will of God is the rule of all acceptable worship. Therefore the knowledge of God is of the greatest importance. Without it the people perish. Total ignorance here is total ruin. But to know God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, is eternal life. To see and acknowledge God in all our ways is an essential part of genuine piety. To fail in so doing is no small part of human wickedness. Our thoughts cannot be too much turned to Him, who is in all, and through all, and above all, and over all, God blessed for ever.
Nor is the mysteriousness of the divine nature and government any reason why we should not seek to know what may be known concerning them. To the carnal and unbelieving the darkness around the nature and ways of God is an occasion of stumbling; but to those who are taught from above it brings pious confidence, deep humility, and adoring reverence. Give one the spirit of adoption and self-renunciation, and he cannot be frightened from the presence of his Maker either by the lustre or the darkness round about his throne. Sages have explored
this subject till wisdom fell asleep over her lesson and pride rose up and uttered great swelling words of vanity and blasphemy; but the humble child of God, thirsting for divine knowledge and sitting at the feet of Jesus, has learned more than the ancients, and has become wise unto salvation.
The doctrine of the text and of this discourse is that THERE IS IN THE NATURE AND WAYS OF GOD MUCH THAT IS INCOMPREHENSIBLE TO US. In dwelling on this truth it may be stated:
I. That it is agreed on all hands that the adorable first person of the Trinity, the Father, is, and must ever be, beyond the grasp of our senses and faculties. He is the King eternal, immortal, and invisible. No man hath seen God at any time. No man can see his face and live. He maketh darkness his pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies.
It is no less generally agreed that the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Ghost, is, and ever will be, beyond the direct and immediate notice of all creatures. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." He broods over the face of nature; garnishes the heavens; converts the soul; opens our eyes that we may behold wondrous things out of God's word; sanctifies our affections; fills the saints with joy; fits God's people for glory; divides his gifts severally as He will, and yet we know not the way of the Spirit." We never saw him, and we never shall see him as disembodied spirits see each other. We may know him by his word and works, by his enlightening, sanctifying, and comforting influences, but never by sight. He is far beyond the grasp of both our bodily and mental faculties.
The brightest manifestation of the Godhead ever yet made, or ever to be made, is in the incarnation of the Son of God, the second person in the Trinity. We may behold his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth; but we can go no further. This manifestation is for all practical purposes sufficient. It is clear and glorious, yet not intolerable by reason of excessive brightness. Christ said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." He thus taught us that the best possible discovery we could make of the Godhead was through the veil of his own flesh. But even in Christ divinity shone forth under great obscuration. The transfiguration, the ascension in a bright cloud, the appearance to Saul of Tarsus after his ascension, and the glory in which John, the divine, saw him, may give us some faint conception of the effulgence of his everlasting person. But we know him chiefly by his works, and teachings, and sufferings. Thousands saw him with their bodily eyes, and knew no more of God than before. So that we may safely say that God is, and for ever shall be,
wholly unperceivable by any of our senses or faculties. If any object that it is promised that the pure in heart "shall see God," the answer is that all God's word shall be fulfilled; but the meaning of that language evidently is, not that they shall meet God face to face and behold his unveiled divinity, but that they shall enjoy God as revealed in his word, and works, and ordinances, in the person of his Son, and by the influences of his Spirit. Now whatever eludes all our senses and faculties is to us necessarily clad with mysteriousness. Whatever is concealed from every perceptive power excludes the possibility of original knowledge. In such a case, learning without instruction is impossible. The difficulty is heightened by every step we take towards that which is in its nature boundless. But when our thoughts go out after Him, who is absolutely infinite, we are soon enveloped in a profound obscurity, which no created faculties can penetrate,
II. The incomprehensibility of God's nature and ways is often asserted in his word. To cite all the texts pertinent to the proof would be tedious. Take a short selection of them. The book of Job is probably the oldest inspired record. In it we find these words: "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is high as heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea:" " God doeth great things and unsearchable, marvellous things without number:" "He is wise in heart and mighty in strength. * ** He doeth great things past finding out, yea, and wonders without number." "Lo these are parts of his ways, but how little a portion is heard of him:"
God is greater than man. Why dost thou strive with him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters:" "We cannot order our speech by reason of darkness. With God is terrible majesty. Touching the Almighty we cannot find him out: he is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice. * He respecteth not any that are wise in heart." "Behold God is great, and we know him not:" God thundereth marvellously with his voice: great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend." The same doctrine is taught by Moses in the Pentateuch, "Secret things belong unto the Lord our God:" by David, "Thy judgments are a great deep:" "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable:" by Asaph, "Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known :" by a later Psalmist, "Great is our LORD, and of great power: his understanding is infinite:" by Solomon, "No man can find out the work that God doeth from the beginning to the end:" "Thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all:""The heaven of heavens cannot contain thee:" "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing:" by Isaiah, "Verily thou art a God that