Imagini ale paginilor

content themselves with the formal, careless performance of it.

This is the habitual character of that poor man to whom the Majesty of heaven vouchsafes the looks of his love. At times indeed he has but little sense of these things ; but then he is uneasy, and he labors to re-obtain it, and sometimes is actually blessed with it.

And is there no such poor man or woman in this as. sembly? I hope there is. Where are ye, poor creatures i stand forth, and receive the blessings of your Redeemer, Blessed are the poor in spirit, &c. He who has his throne in the height of heaven, and to whom this vast earth is but a footstool, looks upon you with eyes of love. This spiritual poverty is greater riches than the treasures of the universe. Be not ashamed, therefore, to own yourselves poor men, if such you are. May God thus impoverish us all ; may he strip us of all our imaginary grandeur and riches, and reduce us to poor beggars at his door!

But it is time to consider the other character of the happy man upon whom the Lord of heaven will graciously look: and that is,

II. Contrition of spirit. To this man will I look that is of a contrite spirit.

The word contrite signifies one that is beaten or bruised with hard blows, or a heavy burden. And it belongs to the mourning penitent whose heart is broken and wounded for sin. Sin is an intolerable burden that crushes and bruises him, and he feels himself pained and sore under it. His stony heart, which could not be impressed, but rather repelled the blow, is taken away; and now he has a heart of flesh, easily bruised and wounded. His heart is not always hard and senseless, light and trifling ; but it has tender sensations ; he is easily susceptible of sorrow for sin, is humbled under a sense of his imperfections, and is really pained and distressed because he can serve his God no better, but daily sins against him. This character may also agree to the jcor anxious soul that is broken with cruel fears of its state. The stout-hearted can venture their eternal all upon uncertainty ; and indulge pleasing hopes without anxiously examining their foundation ; but he that is of a contrite spirit is tenderly sensible of the importance

[ocr errors]

of the matter, and cannot be easy without some good evidence of safety. Such shocking suppositions as these frequently startle him, and pierce his very heårt ; “ What if I should be deceived at last? What if after all I should be banished from that God in whom lies all my happiness ?" &c. These are suppositions full of insupportable terror, when they appear but barely possible ; and much more when there seems to be reason for them. Such an habitual pious jealousy as this, is a good symptom; and to your pleasing surprise, ye doubtful Christians, I may tell you that that Majesty, who you are afraid disregards you, looks down upon you with pity. Therefore lift up your eyes to him in wonder and joyful confidence. You are not such neglected things as you think. The Majesty of heaven thinks it not beneath him to look down through all the glorious orders of angels, and through interposing worlds, down, down even upon you in the depth of your self-abhorrence. Let us,

II. Consider the remaining character of the happy man to whom the Lord will look : Him that trembleth at

my word.

This character implies a tender sense of the great things of the word, and a heart easily impressed with them as the most important realities. This was remarkably exemplified in tender-hearted Josiah. 2 Chron. xxiv. 19, 20, 27. To one that trembles at the divine word, the threatenings of it do not appear vain terrors, nor great swelling words of vanity, but the most tremendous realities. Such an one cannot bear up under them, but would tremble, and fall, and die away, if not relieved by some happy promise of deliverance. He that trembles at the word of God is not a stupid hearer or reader of it. It reaches and pierces his heart as a sharp two-edged sword; it carries power along with it, and he feels that it is the word of God, and not of men, even when it is spoken by feeble mortals. Thus he not only trembles at the terror, but at the authority of the word ;-which leads me to observe farther, that he trembles with filial veneration of the majesty of God speaking in his word. He considers it as his voice who spake all things into being, and whose glory is such that a deep solemnity must seize those that are admitted to hear him speak.


How opposite is this to the temper of multitudes who regard the word of God no more than (with horror I express it) the word of a child or a fool. They will have their own way, let him say what he will. They persist in sin, in defiance of his threatenings. They sit as careless and stupid under his word, as though it were some old, dull, trifling story. It seldom makes any impressions upon their stony hearts. These are the brave, undaunted men of the world, who harden themselves against the fear of futurity. But, unhappy creatures ! the God of heaven disdains to give them a gracious look, while he fixes his eyes upon the man that is contrite, and that trembles at his word.”

And where is that happy man? Where in this asembly, where is the contrite spirit ? Where the man that trembleth at the word? You are all ready to catch at the character, but be not presumptuous on the one hand, nor excessively timorous on the other. Inquire whether this be your prevailing character. If so, then claim it, and rejoice in it, though you have it not in perfection. But if you have it not prevailingly, do not seize it as your own. Though you have been at times distressed with a sense of sin and danger, and the word strikes a terror to your hearts, yet, unless you are habitually of a tender and a contrite spirit, you are not to claim the character.

But let such of you as are poor and contrite in spirit, and that tremble at the word of the Lord, enter deeply into the meaning of this expression, that the Lord looks to you. He does not look on you as a careless spectator, not concerning himself with you, or caring what will become of you, but he looks upon you as a father, a friend, a benefactor: his looks are efficacious for your


He looks upon you with acceptance. He is pleased with the sight. He loves to see you laboring towards him. He looks upon you as the objects of his everlasting love, and purchased by the blood of his Son, and he is well pleased with you for his righteousness' sake. Hence his looking upon him that is poor, &c. is opposed to his hating the wicked and their sacrifices, ver.

And is he whom you have so grievously offended, he whose wrath you fear above all other things, is he in

of you.

deed reconciled to you, and does he delight in you ? what cause of joy, and praise, and wonder is here! Again, he looks to you so as to take particular notice

He sees all the workings of your hearts towards him. He sees and pities you in your honest, though feeble conflicts with in-dwelling sin. He observes all

your faithful though weak endeavors to serve him. His eyes pierce your very hearts, and the least motion there cannot escape his notice. This indeed might make you tremble, if he looked upon you with the eyes of a judge, for O how many abominations must he see in you! But be of good cheer, he looks upon you with the eyes of a friend, and with that love which covers a multitude of sins. He looks upon you with the eyes of compassion in all your calamities. He looks upon you to see that you be not overborne and crushed. David, who passed through as many hardships and afflictions as any of you, could say from happy experience, the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry. Psal. xxxiv. 15.

Finally, he looks to you so as to look after you, as we do after the sick and weak. He looks to you so as to provide for you: and he will give you grace and glory, and no good thing will be held from you. Psal. Lxxxiv. 11.

And are you not safe and happy under the inspection of a father and a friend ? Let a little humble courage tren animate you amid your many dejections, and confide in that care of which you feel yourself to be so unworthy.

Here it may not be amiss to observe, what must give you no small pleasure, that those very persons who, according to the estimate of men, are the most likely to be overlooked, are those whom God graciously regards. The persons themselves are apt to cry, “ Happy I, could I believe that the God of heaven thus graciously regards me; but alas! I feel myself a poor unworthy creature ; I am a trembling, broken-hearted thing, beneath the notice of so great a Majesty." And art thou so indeed ? then I may convert thy objection into an encodragement. Thou art the very person upon whom God looks. His eyes are running to and fro through the earth in quest of such as thou art ; and he will find thee out among the in


numerable multitudes of mankind. Wert thou surrounded with crowds of kings and nobles, his eyes would pass by them all to fix upon thee. What a glorious artifice, if I may so speak, is this, to catch at and convert the person's discouragement as a ground of courage! to make that the character of the favorites of Heaven, which they themselves look upon as marks of his neg. lect of them! “Alas,” says the poor man, “ if I was the object of divine notice, he would not suffer me to continue thus poor and broken-hearted.” But you may reason directly the reverse ; he makes you thus poor in spirit, sensible of your sinfulness and imperfections, because that he graciously regards you. He will not suffer you to be puffed up with your imaginary goodness, like the rest of the world, because he loves you more than he loves them.

However unaccountable this procedure seems, there is very good reason for it. The poor are the only persons that would relish the enjoyment of God, and prize his love ; they alone are capable of the happiness of heaven, which consists in the perfection of holiness.

To conclude, let us view the perfection and condescension of God as illustrated by this subject. Consider, ye poor in spirit, who he is that stoops to look upon such little things as you. It is he whose throne is in the highest heaven, surrounded with myriads of angels and archangels; it is he whose footstool is the earth, who supports every creature upon it; it is he who is exalted above the blessing and praise of all the celestial armies, and who cannot without condescension behold the things that are done in heaven; it is he that looks down upon such poor worms as you. And what a stoop is this?

It is he that looks upon you in particular, who looks after all the worlds he has made. 'He manages all the affairs of the universe ; he takes care of every individual in his vast family ; he provides for all his creatures, and yet he is at leisure to regard you. He takes as particular notice of you as if you were his only creatures. What perfection is this ! what an infinite grasp of thought! what unbounded power! and what condescension too !-Do but consider what a small figure you make in the universe of beings. You are not so much

« ÎnapoiContinuați »