MAN AN OBJECT OF DIVINE
Therefore say unto the house of Israel, I do not this for your sakes, 0 house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake. - EZEK. xxxvi. 22.
We have seen a sere and yellow leaf hang upon the tree all
the winter through. There, tenacious of its hold, dancing and whirling in the
playful wind, it appeared not beautiful or graceful, but out of place and
season, and in humbling contrast with the young and green companions which
budding spring had hung around it. Like that wrinkled and withered thing, some
men hang on by this world. They live too long, and die too late, for themselves
at least. Half-dead and half-alive, mind failed and memory faded, outliving
their usefulness, but the melancholy wrecks of what once they were, they tax
affection to conceal from strangers eyes the ravages of time, and do for
them the tender office of the ivy, when she kindly flings a green and glossy
mantle over the crumbling ruin, or old hollow tree.
It was the happy fate of Moses, and one most singular at his advanced age, neither to survive his honour nor his usefulness. The day he laid down his leadership saw him lay down his life. Death found him standing at his post. Palinurus was swept from the helm. When Heaven saw meet to take Moses, the earth and church would have gladly retained him; but the time has arrived when the pilot, who, in calm and storm, through winter and summer seas, has steered the Commonwealth of Israel for well nigh half a century, is to resign the helm to other hands. A faithful God calls a faithful servant to his reward ; but not till he has brought these weary voyagers within sight of land, and to the mouth of the very haven they had so long desired and looked to see. The children of Israel have arrived at the banks of Jordan. The people cluster with eager looks on every summit, and scattered along the banks, gaze across the flood on the Land of Promise - grateful sight to eyes weary of naked mountains or the deserts dreary level of barren sand. How they feed their eyes, nor ever weary looking on the verdant pastures, the golden harvests, the rocks clad with vines, the swelling hills crowned with wood, the plains studded with cheerful villages, and walled cities teeming with a population that told how rich the soil, and how well described the land, as one full of corn and wine, and flowing with milk and honey! In this posture of affairs, before he ascends to his rest, Moses summons the expectant tribes and, like the members of a family who gather from their different and distant homes around a fathers deathbed, they come to receive the old mans blessing, His parting counsels, and last, long farewell.
Propped up on pillows, bending on his staff, pausing for breath, speaking in brief and broken sentences, and by those groping hands that felt for Ephraims and Manassehs head betraying the stone-blindness of a great old age, Jacob gave his blessing to the twelve sons, who all, uncommon fortune in so large a family, survived their father, and were themselves the ancestors of the living millions, that, swarming out of Egypt, had now ended their flight on the banks of Jordan. But how different the bearing of Moses from that of the hoary patriarch! An old man ! if not as old a man, of age not far short of Jacobs, one hundred and twenty years had passed over Moses head, but they had neither blanched his beard, nor thinned his locks, nor drawn a wrinkle on his lofty brow. That eye had lost none of its fire, nor that arm any of its force, since the day when, striking in a brothers cause, he bestrode the prostrate Hebrew, arid, parrying the blow of the Egyptian, gave it back, like a battle-axe, on his head. Approaching the age of him, whose silver locks and aged form, as he entered leaning on Josephs arm, led Pharaoh to enquire, How old art thou? Moses bore himself erect, and looked the same as on the day, forty years before, when he boldly strode into Pharaohs hail, demanding that the Hebrews should go free. his sun went down in the evening of summers longest day, but sunk full-orbed and bright, as if it had set at noon ; his eye was not dim, nor was his natural strength abated, and we have him at the close of his life, pouring forth the noblest address that genius, patriotism, and piety have ever uttered.
Standing on some rocky platform, with his back tothe sky, and his face to the people, Moses delivered an address never forgotten. For long ages it continued to sound its trumpet echoes in the ears, and to breathe courage into the hearts of Israel. He blessed the tribes in succession; and - charged with inspiration, as a cloud with lightning - he burst forth at the close into these glowing exclamations, There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heavens in thy help; thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days so shall thy strength be; The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Jordan gleamed in his eye, and stretching out his arms to the land across its flood, he cried, Israel then shall dwell in safety alone; the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; his heaven shall drop down dew. Happy art thou, 0 Israel: who is like unto thee, 0 people saved by the Lord? Glorious words to the Hebrews ear! they are full of grace and truth to us. Faith claims them as part of her unalienable heritage; and looking on that pilgrim multitude as the dying type of a never-dying church, she serves us heirs to the spiritual blessings which lay veiled beneath these earthly promises.
It is not, however, so much of the close as of the commencement of Moses speech that I would speak. As their deliverer from the house of bondage, and the leader of their exodus to the promised land, he was a type of Jesus. Guided by the Shekinah, fed with manna from starry skies, and supplied with streams from the flinty rock, in its grinding bondage and great deliverance, its long wanderings and hard-fought battles, its varied trials and final triumph, that host was a type of the Church. We are undoubtedly heirs of all its promises. Yet, since we cannot take the sweet and reject the bitter, in serving ourselves heirs to Israels promises, we become heirs also to her chastisements, her guilt and sin, her warnings and rebukes. Now, listen to Moses as he addressed those over whose coming fortunes his dying words threw such a flood of glory Hear, 0 Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself: Not for thy righteousness or for the uprightness of thine heart dost thou go to possess their land. Understand, therefore, that thou goest not in for your own sakes. The Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiff-necked people, and hast been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you.
If there be one man on earth, in a situation corresponding to theirs who stood on the brink of the river and saw Canaans fields inviting them across, that man is a dying Christian. With life ebbing fast, his battle fought, the journey finished, the desert travelled, the world with its rough paths and illusive vanities behind him, heaven beyond opening its glories to his eye, and deaths dark stream rolling at his feet, he stands on its bank; and, ready to pass over when the High Priest has gone down to divide the flood, he waits but the summons to go. Well - I repair to the chamber where this good man dies, and, sitting down beside his bed, open the Bible, and read these words in his listening ear, Thou art to pass Jordan this day. Speak not thou in thine heart, saying, for my own righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess the land. Understand, that the Lord giveth thee not this good land for thy righteousness and uprightness; for thou art stiff- necked, and hast been rebellious against the Lord. To some these words would sound harsh, unseasonable, and most uncharitable. Self-righteous, ignorant of the truth and our meaning, they might turn round to tell us, what a good man, what an example of piety he had been; how bright and steady his light had shone; how much the church would lament his death; and how much the poor would miss his charity. But whatever harshness might appear to others in such an address, this, I am sure, would be his own humble, prompt, hearty response : - How true these words ! what a faithful picture! how descriptive alike of my original unregenerate state, and the many shortcomings of my renewed nature. Raising his dying eye to heaven, clasping his hands, and hushing into silence the ill-timed praise of friends, he adopts and repeats as his own the confession of Job, I have heard of thee with the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. In that solemn hour he clings like Peter to the hand of Jesus. Christ is in him the hope of glory. Mercy is all his prayer, and mercy all his praise. Hopes of mercy in the future light up his eye, while grateful thanks for mercies in the past employ lifes latest breath, and dwell on his faltering tongue. His last conscious look turns from his own works to fix itself upon the cross. His attitude in dying is looking unto Jesus, and Jesus is the last word that trembles on his quivering lip.
It were not easy to find a better example of this than one recorded in the history of Englands greatest apostle. When he lay on an expected deathbed (though God spared him some years longer to the world and church), his attendants asked John Wesley, what were his hopes for eternity? And something like this was his reply - For fifty years, amid scorn and hardship, I have been wandering up and down this world, to preach Jesus Christ: and I have done what in me lay to serve my blessed Master. Now, what he had done, how poor he lived, how hard he laboured, with what holy fire his bosom burned, with what success he preached, how brilliantly he illustrated the character - Dying, and behold we live; unknown, and yet well known; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, yet possessing all things ; - these things his life and works attest. They are recorded in his churchs history, and seen in the crown he wears in heaven so bright with a blaze of jewels - the saved through his agency. Yet thus he spake, My hopes for eternity? my only hopes rest on Christ;
I the chief of sinners am,
But Jesus died for me.
This confession, so full of Christian piety, and so honourable to
Wesleys memory, is in perfect harmony with the words of Moses to Israel.
And both harmonize with this great truth of the text, that God saves sinners,
not for their sakes, or out of any regard ,whatever to their personal merits.
We have already dwelt at some length on this truth. Why, then, it may be asked,
choose the same text, and expatiate again on the same theme? If I needed
apology or defence for lingering on this humbling, but salutary and most
important subject, I would find it in a high example. Observe how Moses, in his
dying address to Israel, dwells on and repeats, iterates and reiterates, this
very truth - Speak not thou in thine heart, saying, for my righteousness the
Lord hath brought me in to possess this land; but for the wickedness of these
nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee. Again - Not for thy
righteousness, or the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their
land. Again - Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this
good land to possess it for thy righteousness, for thou art a stiff-necked
people. Again - Remember, forget not how thou provokedst the Lord thy God to
wrath in the wilderness; from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of
Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the Lord.
Again - In Horeb ye provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the Lord was angry with
you, to have destroyed you. Again - The Lord spake unto me, saying, I have seen
this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people; let me alone, that I may
destroy them. And again - Ye have been rebellious against the Lord from the day
that I knew you. Thus Moses.
A master, who charges his servant with some important message, repeats and reiterates it. The careful teacher, who communicates some leading rule in grammar to his pupils, or some fundamental truth in science to his students, comes over it again and again ; just as a carpenter, by repeated blows, drives home the nail, and fixes it firm and fast in its place. For the same end we resume the study of our text. it divides itself into two branches; first, what does not; secondly, what does move God to save us.
To the first question our answer is, Not anything in us; to the second, His regard to his own holy name. Now, in speaking on the first of these, I remark -
I. The doctrine that God is not moved to save man by any merit or worth in him, is a truth of the highest importance to sinners.
This is no doctrine, like our Lords personal reign, or the question of adult or infant baptism, or the points of difference between Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Independents, in regard to which it is not of vital importance which side of the controversy we espouse. This doctrine has a direct bearing on the salvation of sinners. Like the rough and stern Baptist, it prepares the way for Christ. We must be emptied of self before we can be filled with grace; we must be stripped of our rags, before we can he clothed with righteousness: we must be unclothed, that we may be clothed upon; wounded, that we may be healed.; killed, that we may be made alive; buried in disgrace, that we may rise in holy glory. These words, sown in corruption, that we may be raised in incorruption; sown in dishonour, that we may be raised in glory; sown in weakness, that we may be raised in power, are as true of the soul as the body. To borrow an illustration from the surgeons art, the bone that is set wrong must be broken again, in order that it may be set aright. I press this truth on your attention. It is certain, that a soul filled with self has no room for God; and, like the inn of Bethlehem, given to lodge, crowded with meaner guests, a heart pre-occupied by pride and her godless train has no chamber, within which Christ may be born in us the hope of glory.
To tell man that he has no merit is, no doubt, a humbling statement. It lays the loftiest, self-sufficient, sinner in the dust. Yes. This doctrine, like death, is the true leveller. It puts all men on the same platform before a holy God. It sets crowned kings as low as beggars, honest men with rogues and thieves, and the strictest virtue, virtue which the breath of suspicion never sullied, alongside of base and brazen- faced iniquity.
I admit that, if we had no better righteousness than our own to rest on, we should do our best to establish its claims, and mayhap assert the right of decency to say to harlots, publicans, and sinners, Stand aside, I am holier than thou. But why cling to that when we have a better righteousness in our offer? No wonder at all that the mendicant, whose timid knock has called us to the door, stands there shivering in filthy rags. Poor wretch! His crimes or misfortunes have reduced him to this pitiful condition. Having no change of raiment nor choice of clothing, with none kind or rich enough to help him, he must make the best of what he has to conceal his nakedness, and protect his emaciated frame from the biting cold. No wonder also, that the prodigal, having wasted his portion in riotous living, in such a dress, if dress it could be called, sought his fathers house ; nor any great wonder that his father, so soon as the quick eyes of love espied him from afar, ran to meet the penitent, fell on his neck, and passionately. kissed him in that ragged and loathsome attire. To say nothing of those who have yearned over some unworthy child, every father understands that. But how had the wonder of the story grown, how had son, and servants, and neighbours concluded that the wretched youth had drunk away his senses as well as money, had he so loved his rags, as to decline to part with them; and, clinging to these wrecks of better days, these sad memorials of his sin and folly, had he refused to put the foul rags off, that he might put the fair robe on! He did nothing so foolish. Why should we?
God pronounces our righteousness - observe, not our wickednesses, but our devotions, our charities, our costliest sacrifices, our most applauded services - to be filthy rags. Trust not therefore to them. What man in his senses would think of going to court in rags, in rags to wait upon a king? Nor think that the righteousness of the cross was wrought to patch up these; to supplement, as some say, what is either defective or altogether awanting in our personal merits. Nor fancy, like some who would embrace a Saviour and yet keep their sins, that you may wear these rags beneath his righteousness. Away with them; not as a dress, which one may lay aside, to be afterwards resumed; but cast them away, as the beggar who, having got better clothing, throws his rags into the nearest ditch, and leaves them there to rottenness and decay. You cannot otherwise be saved. God says of every sinner whom Faith has conducted to Jesus, Take away the filthy garments from him, Behold I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.
If this doctrine is humbling to human pride, it is full of encouragement to the lowly penitent. It lays me low in the dust, but it is to lift me up. It throws me on the ground, that, like Antaeus, the giant of fable, I may rise stronger than I fell. Since it is not for our sakes that we are saved, since mercy stoops to the lowest guilt, since Christ came to save the chief of sinners, oh then there is hope for me, a man who has nothing he can call his own but misery and sin. I will not sit here to perish. Following a Manasseh and a Magdalene, the dying thief, and a blood-stained Saul, I will join the throng that, called from highways and hedges, are pouring, a motley and ragged crowd, to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Are any among you holding back, until, by this or that improvement in your moral habits, you esteem yourselves fit to go to Christ? Fit to go to Christ ! - fit to go to Christ, you shall never be, but only by going to him. Your warrant, in a sense, lies in your wants; your plea for mercy in Jesus merits; and your plea for an interest in his merits in your own demerit. Listen to the prayer of David, For thine own names sake, pardon mine iniquity. On what plea does the Psalmist rest that prayer? That his iniquity is little, not great, far less than that of others? No. This he adds, this he urges, for it is great.
Was ever Invalid so bereft of sense as to say, when I am somewhat better, when this fever burns less fierce, this pulse beats more calm, this running ulcer has a less loathsome and offensive discharge, I will repair to the hospital? But such is their folly who intend, when they are holier, to go to Jesus. Go to him as you are, just as you are. Shew the physician thy grievous wounds, thy bruises, thy putrifying sores; how the whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. It is said of the disciples, that they took in our Lord as he was into the boat; even so he is to take you in, as you are, just as you are. You can be made holy, but not till you repair to him, And what hinders you to go, and go now? Any thing that he has said? Hear him, I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Is your case bad, most perilous? The worse your case, the higher, in a sense, may be your assurance of an immediate salvation. Yours is the hope of the maimed and bleeding soldier whom kind comrades bear from the deadly trench. He knows that the worse his wound, the more confidently he can reckon on the surgeons earliest care: and that from the very couch, where noblest birth or highest rank lies stretched under some less serious injury, that man of humanity, image of the great Physician, will turn to kneel by the pallet of a poor orphan boy, the meanest private, a mutilated enemy, to tie the severed vessel, and stem the tide that pours his lifes blood upon the ground. God help you to say with Paul, It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief, and in the blessed hope of that, to cry with David, Make haste unto me, O God! 0 Lord, make no tarrying!
II. It is as important for the saint as for the sinner to remember, that he is not saved through personal merit, or for his own sake.
When age has gnarled its bark and stiffened every fibre, if, turning that to the right hand which had grown to the left, or raising a bough to the skies which had drooped to the ground, you bend a branch in a new direction, it long retains a tendency to resume its old position. Even so, when God has laid his gracious hand upon us, and given this earthly soul a heaven ward bent, how prone it is to start back again! For many years after its course has been changed, and the art, that triumphs over nature, has turned its waters into a new cut, the river needs careful watching; else, swollen by winter snows or summer flood, it bursts our barriers, and, in the pride of victory, foaming, roaring, raging along its old accustomed channel, sweeps dyke and bulwark to the sea. And when He that sitteth upon the flood, and turneth the hearts of men like the rivers of water, has sent the current of our tastes and feelings in a new direction, alas! how apt are they, especially when some sudden outburst of temptation comes sweeping down like a thunder-spout, to flow back into the old and deep-worn channels of a corrupt nature! Of this sad truth, David and Peter are memorable and dreadful examples. And who, that has attempted to keep his heart with diligence, has not felt, and mourned over the old tendency to be working out a righteousness of his own, to be pleased with himself and, by taking some satisfaction in his own me;its, to undervalue those of Christ? So was it with that godly man who, on one occasion - most rare achievement ! - offered up a prayer without one wandering thought; and afterwards described it as the worst which he had ever offered, because, as he said, the devil made him proud of it. So was it also with the minister, who, upon being told by one, more ready to praise the preacher than profit by the sermon, that he had delivered an excellent discourse, replied, You need not tell me that; Satan told me so before I left the pulpit. Ah! it were well for the best of us that we could say with Paul, We are not ignorant of his devices.
Step into this room, where the greatest Scotsman lies a dying, and see an example more striking, warning, alarming still. From the iron grasp of kings and princes, John Knox has wrung the rights of Scotland. Ready to contend even unto the death, he had bearded proud nobles, and yet prouder churchmen; he had stood under the fire of battle; he had been chained to the galleys oar; he had held the pulpit with a papists carabine levelled at his fearless head; to plant Gods truth, and that tree of civil and religious liberty which has struck its roots deep into our soil, and under whose broad shadow we are this day sitting, he had fought many a hard-won battle; but his hardest of all was fought in the darkness of the night and amid the solitude of a dying chamber. One morning his friends enter his apartment. They find him faint, pallid, wearing the look of one who has passed a troubled night. So he had. He had been fighting, not sleeping; wrestling, not resting; and it required all Gods grace to bring him off a conqueror. Till daybreak, Jacob Wrestled with the Angel of the Covenant; but Knox had passed that long night wrestling with the Prince of Darkness. Like Bunyans pilgrim, he had encountered Apollyon in the valley, and their swords struck fire within the shadow of death. The lion is said to be boldest in the storm. His roar, it is said, never sounds so loud as in the pauses of the thunder; and when the lightning flashes, brightest are the flashes of his cruel eye. Even so he, who goeth about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, often seizes the hour of natures greatest distress to assault us with his fiercest temptations. He tempted Job when he was bowed down with grief. He tempted Jesus when he was faint with hunger. He tempted Peter when he was weary with watching and heart- broken with sorrow; and, reserving perhaps his grand assault on us for scenes and seasons that offer him the greatest advantage, it was when Knox was worn out, and left alone, his head laid low on a dying pillow, that Satan, like a roaring lion, leapt upon his bed. Into that room the enemy had come. He stands by the dying mans side. He reminds him that he had been a standard-bearer of the truth, a reformer, the most thorough of all the Reformers; a bold confessor; a distinguished sufferer; the very foremost man of his time and country; and so attempts to persuade him,. that surely such rare merits deserve the crown. The Christian conquered; but hard put to it, only conquered through him that loved him. His. shield was the truth of my text. He had been lost, wrecked at the mouth of the very harbour, had he lost sight of this beacon, I do not this for your sake, but for mine holy names sake.
And seeing how, like a snake coiled up in a bed of flowers, there may be such danger lurking under our fairest attainments; seeing how, like the inflammatory attacks to which those are most liable who are highest fed, whose bones are most full of marrow, and whose veins are gorged with blood, we may be exposed to spiritual pride through the very fulness of our graces; seeing how he, who can turn the Bible into arguments for sin, may use our best works as fuel to the fires of vanity, let us watch, and pray, and learn to be humble. Oh, it is needful for the holiest to remember, that mans best works are bad at the best; and that, to use the words of Paul, it is Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to his mercy he hath saved us, through the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Hoiy Ghost.
III. This doctrine, while it keeps the saint humble, will help to make him holy.
Here, no ornament to park or garden, stands a dwarfed, stunted, bark-bound tree. How am I to develope that stem into tall and graceful beauty, to clothe with blossoms these naked branches, and hang them, till they bend, with clustered fruit? Change such as that is not to be effected by surface dressing, or any care bestowed on the upper soil. The remedy must go to the root. You cannot make that tree grow upwards till you break the crust below, pulverize the hard subsoil, and give the roots room and way to strike deeper down; for, the deeper the root, and the wider spread the fine filaments of its rootlets, the higher the tree lifts an umbrageous head to heaven, and throws out its hundred arms to catch, in dews, raindrops, and sunbeams, the blessings of the sky. The believer, in respect of character, a tree of righteousness of the Lords planting, in respect of strength, a cedar of Lebanon, in respect of fruitfulness, an olive, in respect of position, a palm-tree planted in the courts of Gods house, in respect of full supplies of grace, a tree by the rivers of water, which yieldeth its fruit in its season, and whose leaf doth not wither, offers this analogy between graceand nature, that as the tree grows best skyward that grows most downward, the lower the saint descends in humility the higher he rises in holiness. The soaring corresponds to the sinking.
I wish you to think little, very little of yourselves. But why? because the less you think of yourselves, the more will you esteem Christ; and the humbler you are in your own eyes, the higher you will stand in Gods. The guest who, stepping modestly in, takes the lowest place at the table, is called up to the seat of honour; and I have always thought, that none are so sure to lie in Jesus bosom as those I have seen lying lowest at his feet. Was it not on a woman, who, content to be spoken of as a dog, held herself well serveds with crumbs, and asked nothing but the sweepings of the table, that Jesus bestowed the most signal honour. God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble. How important, therefore, the sentiment of my text! In love and faith receive it; for the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low; and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. I wish you to think little of yourselves, because piety and pride are not less opposed to each other than light and darkness. No doubt strange and incongruous conjunctions are seen in grace as well as in nature. Like an ill-assorted marriage, a sour look and ascetic temper may be allied to genuine faith. Eminent piety has stood blushing in sackcloth on a pillory of shame. The sun of saintship has undergone a dreadful and unlooked for eclipse. Good and great men have fallen into the grossest sins, causing Gods people to hang down their heads, and cry, as they wept in secret, How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war, how are they perished! In short, the grace of God has been found in such strange company as to give occasion for the remark, The grace of God can live where neither you nor I could live. But, among these anomalies, passing sometimes almost into monstrosities, I will venture to say you never saw, no, nor the church, nor world, nor any eye nor any age ever yet saw, a saint distinguished for his holiness, who was not also remarkable for his humility. The grandest edifices, the tallest towers, the loftiest spires, rest upon deep foundations. The very safety of eminent gifts and pre-eminent graces lies in their association with deep humility. They were dangerous without it. Great men do need to be good men. Look at this mighty ship, a leviathan on the deep. With her towering masts, and carrying a cloud of canvas, how she steadies herself on the waves, and walks erect upon the rolling waters, like a thing of inherent, self- regulating life! When the corn is waving, and trees are bending, and foaming billows roll before the blast and break in thunders on the beach, why is she not flung on her beam-ends, sent down foundering into the deep? Why, because, unseen, beneath the surface, a vast well-ballasted hull gives her balance; and, taking hold of the water, keeps her steady under a press of sail, and on the bosom of the swelling sea. Even so, to preserve the saint upright, erect, and safe from falling, God gives him balance and ballast, bestowing on the man to whom he has given lofty endowments, the grace of a proportionate humility.
We have wondered at the lowliness Of one, who stood among his tallest compeers like Saul. among the people; wondered to find him simple, gentle, generous, docile, humble as a little child, till we found that it was with great men as with great trees. What giant tree has not giant roots? When the tempest has blown over some monarch of the forest, and he lies in death stretched out at his full length upon the ground, on seeing the mighty roots that fed him, the strong cables that moored him to the soil, we cease to wonder at his noble stem, and the broad, leafy, lofty head he raised to heaven, defiant of storms. Even so, when death has struck down some distinguished saint, whose removal, like that of a great tree, leaves a vast gap below, and whom, brought down now, as it were, to our own level, we can measure better when he has fallen than when he stood, and when the funeral is over and his repositories are opened, and the secrets of his heart are unlocked and brought to light, ah! now, in the profound humility they reveal, in the spectacle of that honoured grey head laid so low in the dust before God, we see the great roots and strength of his lofty piety.
Would you be holy? learn to be humble. Would you be humble? take my text, and, with a pen of iron and the point of a diamond, engrave it upon your heart; or rather pray, Holy Spirit, fountain of light and giver of all grace, with thine own finger inscribe it there
Would you be holy? you must be humble. Would you be humble? Oh then 1 never forget that the magnet, which drew a Saviour from the skies, was not your merit, but your misery. Be clothed with humility; and ere long you shall exchange the sackcloth and ashes for a shining robe. What! although this grace may impart to your feelings a sombre hue? Grey mornings are the precursors of brightest days; weeping springs are followed by sunny summers and autumns of richest harvest; and in the spiritual as in the natural kingdom, They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
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