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ill bring a nation upon you from far, O oase of Israel, saith tho Lord: it is a lighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a ution whose language thou knowcst not, iither uaderstandeth what they say. heir quiver is an open sepulchre; they ■e all mighty men. And they shall eat p thine harvest and thy bread, which >y »ons and thy daughters should eat: ley shall eat up thy flocks and thy herds: ley shall eat up thy vines and'thy Agrees: they shall impoverish thy fenced ities wherein thou trustedst, with the •ord." Such a state of things, it is supxsxl, was in part realized when the pro)het uttered the above language. Hence mm what follows:—"The snorting of is horses was heard from Dan : the whole ind trembled at the sound of the neigh»« of hi» strong ones; for they are come itd have devoured the land, and all that »in it; the city and those that dwell 'herein." The reference is, no doubt, to Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonish monarch, "to, haring subdued Phoenicia, was now pasiing through Dan on his way to Jeru»lem. By reason of the siege the people «« reduced to great straits. They had 'oped to have received assistance from the Egyptians, who were at this period the nveterate enemies of the Chaldeans. But he harvest being past, and the summer »<» orer, and seeing that winter was rapidly approaching, they despair of receiving sny assistance from that quarter, and hence p* themselves up to the bitterest lamenta"°n and woe. "The harvest is past, the lummer is ended, and we are not saved." this eiclsmation is prolific of suggestions.
I- The season of harvest and summer 'Winds ui of our privileges and obligations.
"w a season of fruitfulness. During "Wer all nature may be Baid to be barren. f» trees exist, but they have lost their »luge, and are like a forest of masts when Jnpped of their sails, yards, and rigging. ■he seed which has been 60wn lies buried TM the earth, and dies before it appears gam in the blade, the ear, and the fuU corn 11 the ear. But as spring approaches, the "th is carpeted afresh, blossoms appear »every hand, and life and beauty are the ienras of the scene. Thus it is that Bum""i which is but the advance and con'^mttion of spring, presents to us a •Md teeming with temporal blessings. "i one direction is to be seen a field waving ""h precious grain to the passing breeze; a ttoww ft rich orchard loaded with ripe
and delicious fruits; and in a third, the oxen are chewing the cud as they lie down on the soft and green sward. Wherever we turn our eyes, we see the pastures are dotted with flocks, the valleys are covered over with corn, and the hills rejoice on every side.
But should not summer and harvest remind us of our privileges—the plenitude of mercies we are permitted to enjoy? A gracious God has made provision for our bodies, but also a much richer provision for our souls. What a boon are the sacred Scriptures; the Scriptures in our own language; the Scriptures completed and in their purity; the Scriptures as the.instrument of all that is morally, spiritually, savingly, and eternally good: who can ever estimate the value of such a blessing as this? As the translators of the English Bible pithily remark :—" Men talk much of tipiaiivri, how many sweet and goodly things it had hanging on it; of the philosopher's stone, that it turneth copper into gold; of Cornucopia, that it had all things necessary for food in it; of Panacea, the herb that was good for all diseases; of Catholicon, the drug, that it is instead of all purges; of Vulcan's armour, that it was an armour of proof against all thrusts and all blows, &c. Well, that which they falsely or vainly attribute to these things for bodily good, we may justly and with full measure ascribe unto the Scripture for spiritual. It is not only an armour, but also a whole armoury of weapons, both offensive and defensive, whereby we may save ourselves, and put the enemy to flight. It is not a herb, but a tree, or rather a whole paradise of trees of life, which bring forth fruit every month, and the fruic thereon for meat and the leaves for medicine. It is not a pot of manna, or a cruise of oil, which were for memory only, or for a meal's meat or two, but, as it were, a shower of heavenly bread sufficient for a whole host, be it never so great, and, as it were, a whole cellar-full of oil-vessels, whereby all our necessities may be provided for, and our debts discharged. In a word, it is a granary of wholesome food against favoured traditions; a physician's shop of preservatives against poisoned heresies; a pandect of profitable laws against rebellious spirits; a treasury of most costly jewels against beggarly rudiments; finally, a fountain of most pure water springing up into everlasting life." Thus, when we consider what the Scrip
tures contain, how widely they are circulated, how faithfully expounded, and how adapted they are to the moral and eternal necessities of man, we may well exclaim with the first disciples, "Lord, evermore give us this bread."
It is a season of great activity. Not that any portion of the year with the husbandman is spent in idleness and repose, but certainly there is more labour and life in the summer season than in the winter. It is not merely that the feathery tribes of creation are emancipated from their long confinement, as though delivered from a prisou, warbling on high their great Creator's praise, but man himself is seen going forth at early dawn, bending his steps to the field, with scythe in hand, and cutting down the ripened ears of precious grain, which wait to bo gathered into the barn.
But what a lesson this in regard to our individual responsibilities! The harvest of privileges surrounds us, and it belongs to us to go forth and reap. The salvation of the soul is a work,—a work that demands the most serious thought, the most, fervent prayer, the most vigilant watchfulness, the most diligent use of the means which God has placed in our hands. Hot that we are saved for our doing, but in our doing. Hence such exhortations as these:— "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." "By patient continuance in well-doin^, seek for glory, immortality, and eternal life." "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." "Wherefore we labour, that whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him." All the figures under which the true Christian is exhibited give the idea of arduous, persevering labour. He is a racer, and is so to run as to obtain; ha is a soldier, and must wrestle against flesh and blood; he is a husbandman, daily sowing and reaping, till his barns are filled with plenty and his presses burst out with new wine.
It is a season of limited duration. Summe» and harvest occupy but a small portion of the year, only a few months, which soon pass away; and our life, the only period in which salvation is to be obtained, how quickly it is gone. It may be reckoned by vears, but more correctly by months and days. Solomon speaks of a time to be born, and a time to die, but Bays nothing of a time to live, as though our present existence were only a skip from the womb to the grave! How monitory such pas
sages as these :—" Our days upon earth are as a shadow." "What is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for <* little while, and then vanisheth away." "O remember that my life is wind. "My days are swifter than a weaYi shuttle." By such, comparisons brevity and rapidity of life are illustral Nor is there any hyperbole in such Usguage as this, for what one moment iito the duration of time, so, and still lesM time itself to the vast duration of etemitj, And yet within this limited, precarious period we are to become acquainted with God; to familiarize ourselves with terms of salvation; to obtain a new holy nature; to get our manumissi from the court of heaven; our passport the celestial world; and a valour and si which shall overcome all the temptation! life, and make us more than conquero over grim death itself! Surely there if work enough to do here, and truly, oV. how brief the time to do it. Well may tl» preacher exhort, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whitber thou goest."
II. The present period of our existi with its plenitude of saving blessing, often allowed to pass away, without yielding salvation to the soul.
It is harvest-time with us, for we ha« the Gospel, and the promise of the Holj Spirit to render it powerful and efficacious. But though the corn is waving to the breeze, and invites the Bickle, how man; are there too indolent, too careless, or too proud to gather in the precious grainThough the Scriptures are in their houses, how seldom in their hands; though the sanctuary is less than a furlong away, what trifles keep them from it; though the throne of grace stands in their very how slow and disinclined to kneel in the exercise of prayer; and though the Saviour repeats his messages of love, how vast th_8 multitude who refuse to hear. How is this to be accounted for? It arises, no doubt, from a variety of causes.
Sometimes from the influence ofthewond. This is very powerful, and hence the <* hortation, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world"—1'1 wealth, its fashions, and its maxims. "1 any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." The love of the world destroys the love of the Gospel, th< ire of prayer, the love* of the sanctuary, ic lore of Christ's kingdom, and the love ! eternal realities. Mammon sells the rest Teacher. Oh! how many through ie Silver Mines, the By-path Meadows, id the pleasant, sensual scenes of life— I tavern, the ball-room, and the convivial iird—have made a Bhipwreck of faith id of a good conscience. So true is it—
The world 'a a stately bark, on dangerous seas, With pleasure aeeu, but boarded at our peril."
But thiB indifference to the soul's welire may arise from perverted view* of 5ttn'ne truth. The doctrine of election on he one hand, and that which teaches the "ipotence of man on the other, have been flen n misunderstood and so abused, as J excite a prejudice in the minds of many jainst the very goodness and mercy of rod. He is regarded as partial in the istritration of his grace, and unjust in denanding what the impotence of man unfits lira to render. But the Redeemer puts ■I fact of the ease in its true light— 'This is the condemnation, that light is 'om« into the world, and men love darkle rather than light, because their deeds re eril." It is this perversity of man's 'ill and the depravity of his heart which wrenU his becoming a partaker of salva■B. It is not merely the Scriptures, but 1 man's oirn consciousness also tells him lhat he is guilty, and has no inclination to eome to Christ. Hence the ground of future punishments is resistance to the Sanour: "Bring these, mine enemies, who wuld not that I should reign over them, m slay them before my face."
Then again, the notions which many enpan of self-goodness act as a barrier to g> aalvation. "One of the most subtle PWons of the age," says Dr. Cheever, "is '"doctrine of human merit, which, like a U from the bottomless pit, or thick *P°ur from the caves of Antichrist, darkens ■ Gospel, and sends the soul wandering °'he mazes of pride and error." If there *>u external conformity to the moral law, *» a character which the law of man «• not condemn, it is thought the soul "nit be justified before God. No account 3 taken of the fact that the claims of Heaven W to the heart, the thoughts, the affecTM"i the inward springs of action; and *>' if there be the least defect here, our "ole character is imperfect, and the no*• of men's righteousness can no longer ■* retained. But beyond this, present
obedience, however perfect, will never liquidate past obligations. Were we as holy as Adam before the fall, or pure as a seraph before the throne, yet past transgressions would bang as a millstone on the soul, and sink it into the sea of eternal perdition. Remember this, ye that are puffed up with notions of Belf-goodnes?, and throw off the filthy attire of your own works, and seek the righteousness of Christ, as the only robe in which you can stand with acceptance before a pure and omniscient God.
And then finally, how many who assent to the terms of salvation are constantly procrastinating the safety of tlieir immortal interests. Theirs is the conduct of Felix: "Go thy way this time j at a more convenient season I will call for thee." But alas! how long is this convenient season in coming! Youth puts it off to middle age, and those in the zenith of their days to the period when the cares of a family and business shall be less than they arc at present. Thus old age creeps on, threescore years and ten are attained, and soon infirmities so multiply, that man becomes weary of himself. What consummate folly to defer salvation to auch a period as this! When the retrospect of life is so unsatisfactory; when the awful future is so near; when the pains of the body and the weakness of the mind unfit the man for serious thought and prayer — how uneuited the hour of death to obtain the requisites for the kingdom of heaven. Surely no infatuation can be greater than his who
"To the mercies of a moment leaves
III. But this period of existence, Bo invaluable, when once gone can never be reclaimed.
The summer and harvest may pass away to some farmers, and yield them, through negligence, no crop; and yet prudence and diligence for the future may compensate for the past. But if we allow this life to pass, and derive no benefit from its privileges, the favoured season will never be renewed.
Only in this life is salvation promised to those who seek it. "Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation." Now we may exercise penitence and prayer, but all this is unavailing when once we have passed the threshold of the grave. Only in this life does the Spirit of God operate. His agency is always in close association with the means of grace, but there are no such means amongst the inhabitants of Tophet. In the world of lost spirits there are no sanctuaries, no ministers preaching the Gospel, no domiciliary visitation, no tract distribution, no methods of any kind for the instruction and conversion of man. But no seed being in the ground, it were in vain for the rain to descend and the sun to shine. Hence, in the absence of such divine influences, all the wicked passions and corrupt habits of the sinner will remain in full foroe and become stereotyped for ever. Death will make no alteration in our character, but simply in our condition. It translates us from time into eternity, but not from sin to holiness, or from a hatred of God to a love of him. Thus, if death comes and finds us unprepared, our ruin is sealed for ever. Nothing can avert it, nothing can give us redemption. As the tree falls so it lies; and as the sinner dies so will he remain. There is often a presage of this as eternity draws nigh. The deathbed presents an awful retrospect. How many sins committed! How many mercies abused! How have the servants of God been despised! How has the Saviour been oruoified afresh, and the monitions of the Holy Spirit contemned! Ministers have reasoned, friends have besought, fathers have counselled, and mothers have wept and prayed, but all in vain. They have loved their idols, and after them they would go. And now has come the time for reflection, when the reminiscences of the dying hour are as Bo many daggers to the sinner, or as a worm gnawing at his soul. But if hope fails before death has done his work, who can pioture the oonfusion and
distress of the sinner, when he stands a naked, defenceless spirit before the bar of his incensed Judge? The God who made him will receive him with a frown, and He who created bim will show him no favour. What will such do in the day of righteous retribution? Whither can they betake themselves for shelter and defence? Alas! rocks will not hide them, and mountains will not cover them. Friends and companions are impotent to relieve; men and angels abandon them to their doom; even Christ himself will become an adversary, and armed with a two-edged fiery sword. What will they do? To escape will be impossible, for they are surrounded by the arm of God; justify themselves they cannot, for their iniquities testify against them j to make supplication to their Judge will be of no avail, for the day of mercy is gone. Hence, with no prospect of relief, and no hope of salvation, the bitter, heart-rending, doleful exclamation will be heard, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!" What hi the application of all this F It is just that which the poet says, and with which we close this paper:—
"Stop, poor sinner, stop and think, before yon
farther go; Will you sport upon the hrink of everlasting woe? Say, have you an arm like God, that you hia wiJJ
oppose? Fear you not that iron rod, with which he breaks
hia foes? Can you stand in that great day, when he
judgment shall proclaim? And the earth shall melt away, like wax before
the flame P But as yet there is a hope, you may hia mercy
know; For though his arm be lifted up, he still forbears
THE POWER OF DAEKNESS.
BY THE BET. JAMES DAVIS.
These are two rival kingdoms in the world—the one of light, the other of darkness; the one established by God and ruled by the "Son of his love," the other set up and sustained by "the ruler of the darkness of this world," who is also styled " the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." These Christians in Colosse were once the wretched slaves of this arch-despot, but having been snatched from his iron grasp by an arm "mighty to save," and translated into the kingdom of light and love, they were "made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. The Apostle, whilst congratulating them upon their blessedness
as heirs of this celestial heritage, seeks to awaken their gratitude by reminding them of their former miserable state. "Giving thanks unto the Father, . . who hath delivered us from the power of darkness." A deliverance this not to bo measured by human thought or sung by seraph tongue !" The power of darkness J" Let ua think of it for a moment as we have sometimes shudderingly thought of some terrible peril barely escaped. Let those still enthralled by this dreadful power pause and ponder.
1. Darkness has a poiver to hide. Beauty and deformity are alike invisible in the dark. When a darkness that might be felt turned the earth and air of Egypt into one black maaa, whoae eye was then charmed by the splendour of its palaces or the sublimity of its pyramids P Grope your way through a picture gallery in the dark,—will the creations of genius around delight you nowP Before you may be that masterpiece of Bubens, "The Elevation of Christ upon the Croas;" but whilst unseen, its power is unfelt. So the exhibition of Christ crucified calls forth no emotion from men in spiritual darkness. "The place that is called Calvary" haB no more charm than some unknown spot in a iar-ofF world. Never until the "power of darkness" has been broken will any one sing from the heart,—
"Forbid it. Lord, that I should boast,
And as darkness hides beauty, so it also hides deformity. In the dark you might enter a dissecting-room where human corpses lie in ghastly array, and, all unconscious of their presence, feel none of that awe and even horror which you would experience were those ghaBtly forms viaible. So the man who, notwithstanding his pretensions to piety, is but "a whited sepulchre," abhors not himself, because he sees not the "rottenness and dead men's bones" within his unhallowed heart. In both these reapecta, when the "power of darkness" is taken away, what a mighty change follows! The deformity of sin on the one hand, and the glory of the sinner's Friend on the other, are clearly seen; sin is seen to be exceeding sinful, and the Saviour appears invested with a glory before unseen and unimagined.
2. Darkness has a power to soothe. It is difficult to sleep in the broad glare of day; hence God himself draws the curtains of night, and sheds down sweet repose on weary mortals. In the soothing shade beast and bird and insect are lulled to rest. But what is a blessing in the physical world is destructive in the apiritual world. By "the power of darkness " men are lulled to sleep, and dwell in the region of dreams. Not a few there are who dream away life, who slumber and sleep till they are awakened rudely by the unwelcome cry, " Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him!" Let it be ours to seek deliverance from this fatal power by crying mightily to Him who alone can save. "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."
3- Darkness has a power to deceive. The benighted traveller, when neither moon nor stars are visible, is very apt to lose his way; after wandering for miles he may find himself farther from his destination than when he started. So there are some who think themselves pilgrims to heaven, who yet are so thoroughly deceived by " the power of darkness " that they know not they are travelling in the way to death. Like passengers who by mistake have got into the wrong train, it is to be feared that many at the end of their journey find themselves far away from the place they had hoped to reach! The history of all false religions is a striking instance of the power of darkness to deceive. Let the imposture be ever so palpable, let the superstition be ever so silly, let the idol be ever so woodpn, priests find worshippers will not be wanting. The biography