« ÎnapoiContinuă »
"went." I fee him travelling slowly on with his family; at length he approaches. Bethel. To revifit a place we have not seen for twenty-eight years, is al ways affecting, Many reflections will naturally, arise in a contemplative mind. "Since I last viewed this
spot, what unexpected connections have I formed! "What changes have I experienced! I have been "led by a way which I knew not; lover and friend" "haft thou put far from me, and my acquaintance "into darkness. How much of life is gone, to return "no more! it has passed away like a dream. How "little is there in looking back, upon which the mind " can fix with satisfaction! How often have I been de"ceived in my hopes; How varied does the world' "now appear! how much more of its vanity do I see, "and of its vexation, do I feel! It is time to seek a "better country. So teach me to number my days, "that I may apply my heart unto wisdom." Jacob is now arrived; he looks around; he descries partially covered with moss, the ftone which he had set up for a pillar; he embraces it, and calling to his family"Twenty eight years ago this very stone was my pil-. "low; here destitute of accommodations I was compel"led to sleep; here I paffed, my flaff all my store : and “hither He has returned me." What mingled emotions does he feel! what shame! what joy! what condemnation of himself! what praise to the God of Bethel !
Christians, you have no journey to take, no material altar to raise, no animal sacrifice to immolate. " Of "fer unto God thanksgiving, and PAY THY THY VOWS "unto the Most High." "Whoso offereth me praise
glorifieth me, and to him that ordereth his conver"sation aright will I fhew the salvation of God." What say you, Chriftians, have you had no day of "diftress," in which "He answered" you? Has there been no "way in which He has been with" you as your guide and your protector? Has He not disappointed your fears, and far exceeded your hopes? "But Hezekiah rendered not according to the bene"fits which had been done unto him.” "Were there "not ten cleanfed? but where are the nine?" "Go 166 up," says God, "to Bethel and dwell there." May you answer with Jacob, "let us arise, and go up "to Bethel; and there will I make an altar unto God, "who answered me in the day of my distress, and was "with me in the way which I went." To whom,
PART III. Does this apply? and who in this assembly is concerned in the command and the example ?
First, Have none of you been advanced in worldly possessions? Wealth is not always hereditary; Providence sometimes "raiseth up the poor out of the duft, "and lifteth up the needy out of the dunghill." Many know what it is to be "abased," as well as what it is to "abound." Look back to a period, when, if you were not embarrassed, you had, "none inheritance, no not so much as to set your foot on." Remember your feelings when beginning the world; you formed your plans, and endeavoured to secure his assistance, whose "blessing maketh rich and addeth no sorrow." "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. It is vain to rise up early, to sit up late and to eat the bread of sorrows. O Lord, I beseech
"thee, send now prosperity. With such opportunities "and capacities, I will promote thy cause, and relieve thy poor. The ftreams fhall remind me of the 66 source. Praise waiteth for thee, O God, and unto "thee shall the vow be performed." And He has more than realized your expectations. The staff has long since disappeared, and we behold your two bands; we see abundance, or shall I say extravagance? Where are your altars and your offerings? Where are your promised thankfulness and zeal? What have you rendered? What have you done? What are you doing? He calls upon you to follow this example; you are required to say, "Let us arise, and go up to Bethel ; " and I will make there an altar unto God, who an"swered me in the day of my distress, and was with "me in the way which I went."
Secondly, Have none of you been led back from "the valley of the shadow of death?" To think of dying was awful and affecting. To take a final leave. of earth; to drop schemes unfinished; to bid farewell to friends; to see weeping relations; to feel pain of body, and remorse of conscience; to contemplate an opening eternity; and to find the Judge standing before the door; all made you say, "O remember that my life is wind; mine eye shall no more see good. "The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no "more; thine eyes are upon me, and I am not.” "Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: O save me for "thy mercies sake; for in death there is no remem"brance of thee; in the grave who shall give thee "thanks?" You assumed an air of penitence; you promised to render life, if spared, sacred to religion. He
heard your prayer, saw your fears, removed the ftroke of his heavy hand, renewed your ftrength, recoloured your cheeks, and placed you in the circle of usefulness and friendship again. But the scene, as it removed to a distance, ceased to impress; your views of this world, as you ftood on the confines of another, were soon changed; your resolutions are now forgotten, or you blush to recal them; you are ashamed to think that any should have witnessed such inftances of your weakness: To remove every notion of your having been serious in them, you plunge deeper in dissipation than before; when these vows occur, you endeavour by company or pleasure to banish them. You cried, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my "last end be like his ;" you asked for serious christians and pious minifters, and said, “ pray for us." These you now shun; you know them not; they would give an edge to memory, and a fting to conscience. And "is it thus you requite the Lord, O "foolish people and unwise ?" Look back to the hour of affliction and of danger; remember your fears, your groans, your prayers, and your profeffions. Go, and acknowledge the Lord that healed thee. Let the physician who prescribed, and those friends who soothed thee on the bed of languishing, have their share of praise; but the Lord killeth and maketh alive; HE "bringeth down to the grave, and raiseth up." Say with David, "I was brought low, and he helped me; "what fhall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits "towards me? I will take the cup of salvation, and "call upon the name of the Lord; I will pay my "vows unto the Lord, now in the presence of all his
"people." Say with Hezekiah, "The living, the "living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day; the "father to the children fhall make known thy truth. "The Lord was ready to save me. Therefore we will 'sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the cc days of our life in the house of the Lord." Imitate Jacob ; "Let us arife and go up to Bethel; and I will "build there an altar unto God, who answered me in "the day of my distress, and was with me in the way "which I went."
Thirdly, Are there no backsliders here? When you had fallen by your iniquity, did not anguish and horror take hold upon you? Reflecting upon your fin, aggravated by knowledge, and by obligations the most tender and most awful, were you not ready to conclude your case was hopeless? And when at length you were encouraged to approach, and to address a God you had provoked, was not this your language? "Lord take away all iniquity, receive us graciously; "so will we render the calves of our lips: Ashur shall "not save us; we will not ride upon horses, neither "will we say any more to the work of our hands, ye are our gods; for in thee the fatherless findeth mer
cy. "Cast me not away from thy presence, and "take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto "me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy "free spirit; then will I teach transgressors thy ways, "and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Open "thou my lips, and my mouth shall shew forth thy "praise." Fulfil your engagements; follow the patriarch; "Let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will "build there an altar unto God, who answered me in I