« PredošláPokračovať »
bless me."* “ Bless the Lord, O my soul, and "all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless “ the Lord, O my soul, and forgeť not all his bene
fits.”+ There will be spiritual joy : " Blessed is “ the man whom thou choosest, and causest to ap
proach unto thee;"I and with this will be naturally connected a desire of continued intercourse with God. “ One thing have I desired of the “Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in " the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to *** behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in “ his temple."
In order that our ideas of the nature of this fellowship may be more complete, let us attend for a little
2. To some of the chief subjects of the christian's converse with his Saviour and his God.
Friends, when they meet, are not silent; with out a communication of desires, sentiments, and information, there can be no fellowship; and when the believer is in the presence of God, he pours out all his heart before him. The topics on which he addresses him, are as numerous as the sins which beset himself, the enemies who oppose him, the wants which he feels, and the blessings which are bestowed on him; he experiences no difficulty, no deliverance, no sorrow, no joy, which does not enter into the heavenly converse : whatever he is inte. rested in, respecting himself, his fellow creatures, or the church of Christ, finds place here. The law of fellowship is to have no reserve; and it is sweet to pour into the bosôm of a friend, all our cares and pleasures, our anxieties and comforts; it is sweet
# Psalm ciii, 1, 2, Ibid. lxv. 4.' $ Ibid. xxvii, 4.
beyond expression, it is relief, it is support, it is life and joy, to pour them out to God, that friend from eternity, omnipotent, merciful, and unchangeable. But as particulars render a subject more distinct than any general delineation, however correct or full, it is proper that a few of these should be specified.
First, then, the believer, in divine fellowship, lays his sorrows before his God: these he can state without hesitation; for Christ, with whom also he has fellowship, is near; and the throne to which he draws nigh, is a seat of mercy, sprinkled with the blood of Christ. In the afflictions of his people, this great mediator feels; for their sins he has made atonement; and for their infirmities he has provided an all-sufficient help. Before this throne, therefore, and to this tried friend, the christian spreads out his temporal troubles : he tells how they unfit him for duty; laments his imperfect submission under them; and prays for the sanctified use of them: here he complains of his spiritual darkness, and seeks light; of spiritual infirmity, and asks strength; of the enemies of his soul, and implores victory over them; of the imperfection of his delight in drawing near to God, and entreats that his relish of divine things may be quickened, his satisfaction in them proportioned to their own worth, to the condescension and the grace manifested in them: and here he mourns over his sins, the prime causes of all his griefs. The season of fellowship is that in which godly sorrow flows most readily and most profitably. The view of a holy God on a throne of justice, exhibits to us our transgressions in all their heinousness and guilt.
The contemplation of Jesus, as “ a Lamb that had “ been slain," displays their dreadful punishment; while, at the same time, it shews us that punishment borne, and guilt removed. Thus the fearfulness of nature is exchanged for confidence in divine grace; the tears of gratitude mingle with those of contrition; and the kindly relentings of genuine love, take place of the throbbings of remorse.
(2.) Believers, in the season of fellowship, address God for the supply of their wants. The honour of their situation gives them encouragement. Hath God admitted them to fellowship? he cannot refuse them the privilege of that condition. Have they been enabled to come into his presence? they cannot want a holy boldness, there to make known their needs. Such a situation, indeed, is the place of audience : the sceptre of grace is held forth; and the bounty of the eternal King, in sounds worthy of his infinite goodness, is proclaimed to the ears, and to the heart of the adoring communicant: “ Now what is thy petition ? and it shall be granted " thee: and what is thy request ? even to the king“ dom it shall be performed."* Does his heart then, now heave with the desire of riches, of ho. nours, or of length of days? or does he hesitate on what is fittest to be named ? No:-" Be merciful “ unto me,” he exclaims,” “ heal my soul, for I “ have sinned against thee !t • Let thy mercies
come also unto me, O Lord; even thy salvation, according to thy word ; thy word unto thy ser, vant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.” I * Sec Esther v. 6, &c. † Psalm xli. 4. Ibid, cxix, 41, 49.
A A A
And grant, he will subjoin with earnest importunity; grant that this may be added, without which, even mercy were vain, and heaven itself uninhabitable, a conformity to that image of thee and of thy Son, which now I behold and admire ! _Such are the first, and most ardent desires of the soul, when it is brought into the presence of the great King, and has his banner of love spread over it; while such other requests will also be preferred as are agreeable to the will of God, and suited to our own peculiar exigencies, to the welfare of those in whom we are interested, or to the prosperity of the spiritual Jerusalem.
(3.) The christian, when admitted to “ fellow “ship with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus “ Christ," is not unmindful of the inestimable blessings which he has already received, and of the obligations which have thereby been already conferred. He remembers, that natural life, with all its comforts, food, raiment, friends; that his soul, with all its faculties, whether of knowledge or enjoyment; above all, that salvation by Jesus Christ, the life spiritual and immortal, which " is in the “ Son,"* are the gifts of God. And with what overflowings of gratitude, with what transports of joy, are these felt and acknowledged in the season of near communion ! Lost in the contemplation of such marvellous kindness, the soul exclaims, “ © “the breadth, and length, and depth, and heighth “ of the love of God in Christ Jesus, which passeth “ knowledge !"# Comparing itself and its merits with the loving kindness of the Lord, it shrinks to nothing in its own sight. "Lord, what is man,
+ Eph. iii. 18, 19.
I John V. IL,
" that thou takest knowledge of him !"* The goodness and the grace of God are all the theme of its admiration and its praise. This, in short, is the spirit and the language of the christian in communion with his God: The sins which beset me, I deplore before thee. Save me from them. The afflictions which oppress me, I would receive as from thee. Support me under them. The blessings and the graces which I possess, are thine. I praise thee for them! the wants which I feel, thou only canst supply, Deny me not thine aid. To thee, to thy disposal, and to thy service, do I offer myself, and my all: to thy mercy, and to thy grace, do I commend me.
In me shew forth thy praise, “ Preserve me unto thy heavenly kingdom !”+
II. Let us briefly consider the blessedness of this sacred fellowship.
Of that blessedness a thousand views rush on the mind of him who knows the Father and the Son, whom to know is everlasting life :I and at each view, he is ready to cry out, “ Blessed is the man
whom thou choosest, and causest to approach un“ to thee, that he may dwell in thy courts; that he
may be satisfied with the goodness of thy house,
even of thy holy temple."| Were his fellowship no more, it is, for the time, an elevation above the cares, and fears, and griefs of this nether world; an elevation which affords to the soul a refreshment that sweetens remaining toils, and a vigour which enables it to endure them. Say, what is thy cause of bitterness or complaint. Does it arise from the calamities of life, heavy and perplexing? In the presence of God, you see his own tender hand ad* Psalm culiy. 3.
† 2 Tim. iv. 18. | John xvi. 3. S Psalm ļxv. 4,