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to a guide. During their passage to Canaan, good people may by mutual exhortation, reproof, and instruction in righteousness, be occasionally, guides to each other. But the two grand, stated guides of the Redeemer's church are, the Spirit and the word of God: to which may be added, in humblest subordination to these two, the ministers of God. Generally speaking, these three guides do best together. A minister without the written word, would bid fair to be a false guide, a mere will-ofthe-whisp, a dancing meteor, who would only set you astray. And the word itself, without the spirit, is but as a dial without the sun, a dead letter, and a book that is sealed. Therefore, the way for us not to lose our way, is to receive nothing from man, but what bears the stamp of scripture; to beg of God, that he would shine upon the dial, that we may consult it profitably, and know whereabout we are, i. e. that he would make us understand the scriptures by the saving light of his blessed Spirit; and then, to look upon no influence, impulse, suggestion, or direction, as the certain voice of God in the soul, except it harmonise and coincide with that sacred scripture which himself inspired. -Thus wonderfully and wisely, are the means of salvation connected! The word of God directs us to the Spirit of God; the Spirit of God makes that word effectual; and the true ministers of God act in the most absolute subserviency to both.
Nor are the Christian travellers guided only, but guarded likewise. And a guard is requisite; for the highway of holiness is infested with robbers. Though the celestial road is inclosed from the common, and made a distinct way of itself; yet, it lies through an enemy's country, and the Canaanite is still in the land. Satan will study to annoy those whom he cannot devour. The world will try various arts, both of menace and allurement. And indwelling depravity, from whose remains we are never wholly de
livered in the present life, will on all occasions be ready to revolt from the obedience of faith, and to bring us into subjection to the law of sin. The foes without, though vanquished, are not slain : and original corruption, that beast within, though wounded, is not dead; nor motionless, though chained.
Happy is it for God's regenerate people, that they do not go through the wilderness, defenceless and alone. If they did, they might well fear with David, I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul. But they are under the escort of a truly invincible armada. Providence is for them without; and grace within. Though they appear as strangers and pilgrims upon earth, they are no less than kings in disguise; kings and priests unto God. His own inviolable faithfulness is their portion; and his angels, principalities, and powers, think it an honour to guard them for those exalted beings are all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister unto them that shall be heirs of salvation. Hence, in that grand writ of protection, recorded in the 91st Psalm, we read; He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways: they shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou hurt thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder, the young lion and the dragon shalt thou tread under thy feet. The gates of hell may assault, but they shall not prevail. They may endeavour to intercept the believer on his passage to Canaan; but God, who put it into his heart to go, will be his guardian even unto death.
There is no convenient travelling without proper accommodations, and a competent supply of provision. Deprived of these, the healthiest would become languid, and the most robust would faint by the way. For this reason, the God of all kindness has, figuratively speaking, furnished the road to his kingdom with houses of rest and refreshment, where his redeemed may occasionally turn in and renew
their strength. The good things of his providence may be considered as the temporal accommodations vouchsafed by his bounty, for the comfort and support of our mortal part: and the stated means of grace are the spiritual accommodations, designed to quicken, strengthen, and sustain the soul, unto life eternal. When outward ordinances are made ef fectual to this end, through the holy Spirit's influence, of which they are the ordinary channel; then is it, that God's travellers can pursue their way rejoicing; and sing as they go, The King of Sion has brought me into his banqueting-house, and his banner over me was love. In secret prayer, in public worship, in reading the scriptures, in sitting under the word preached, and in compassing the altar of the Lord; his saints catch some delightful glimpses of their heavenly Father's countenance, and lay up a stock of experiences and consolations for faith to feed upon afterwards, and in the strength of which they travel many days. Summer-experiences, viewed in retrospective, are what the soul can sometimes reflect on with comfort, during the cold and darkness of wintry desertions: just as the pot of manna, reserved in the ark, reminded Israel of the months and years that were past; and remained as a token for good, long after God had ceased to rain on his people the bread of heaven, and to feed them with angels' food.
Nor does his goodness only spread a table for us in the wilderness, by the bounties of his providence, and by the consolations of his presence. He even deigns perhaps at times to soften the toils of our warfare, and to sweeten the fatigues of our journey; by showing us as in perspective, the city to which we are hastening; and by giving us, in the full assurance of faith, a taste of Canaan's grapes, on our way to Canaan's land. Faith is the mount, and gospel promises and gospel ordinances are the pleasant windows, from whence (like Moses from the top of
Pisgah) we survey that good land which is afar off. The nearer we approach to heaven, the clearer, frequently are our views of it:
Divinely fair, and full in sight,
I mean, if and when the light of God's Spirit shines upon faith's eye, and illuminates the gospel windows. For the keenest human eye can discern no object, and the most transparent windows in the world can transmit no prospect, if light be totally excluded.
Sin, temptation, weakness of faith, or sense of guilt, may sometimes spread a mist between a child of God and his view of glory. But there are also intervals of assurance, seasons of holy rejoicing, when faith is high on the wing, when hope trims her lamp, and when seraphic love (like the ascending Tishbite's fiery chariot) wraps the elevated soul to heaven. The happy traveller emerges from the dark, deep, narrow lanes, where his feet were embarrassed with mire, and where the boughs met over his head, and all prospects of the adjoining country were shut out. He mounts the hill. The sky brightens, and the prospect widens. All is light, and cheerfulness, and joy. During these golden moments, this is the triumphant song: "God is my father. Christ is my righteousness. The Spirit is my sanctifier. The Messiah loved me, and gave himself for me. He died for my sins: he rose again for my justification; and, because he lives, I shall live also."
Under such comfortable anticipations of the glory that shall be revealed, when faith pierces within the veil, whither Jesus our forerunner is gone before; the believer cries out, "O how amiable is even this distant prospect of thy dwelling, thou Lord of hosts!" Or in the language of the spies of old, We have seen the land; and, behold, it is very good.
When shall we drop these mortal bodies? when shall we get through the desart? when shall we go up and take possession? when shall we receive the end of our faith, even the full salvation of our souls? How long, O Lord, holy and true! why tarry the wheels of thy chariot? Make haste, my beloved, to fetch me away; and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart on the mountains of spices!
Fear not, thou that longest to be at home. A few steps more, and thou art there. Soon, O believer, it will be said to thee, as it was to her in the gospel, The master is come, and calleth for thee. When that word is pronounced, when you are got to the boundary of your race below, and stand on the verge of heaven and the confines of immortality; then there will be nothing but the short valley of death between you and the promised land: the labours of your pilgrimage will then be on the point of conclusion, and you will have nothing to do, but to entreat God, as Moses did, I pray thee let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain and Lebanon. Or, with David: O send out thy light and truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to thy holy hill, and to thy dwelling-place!
Dread not the interjacent valley; it is but the shadow of death: and what is there in a shadow to be afraid of? Dark as it may seem, it will brighten as you enter; and, the farther you go, the brighter will it prove. When soul and body, like two bosom friends who have travelled long and far together, come to the parting place, where (like Abraham and Lot) they separate, and each goes a different way, one to the grave and the other to heaven; when death, your last enemy is subdued (for he is not destroyed entirely, until the morning of the resurrection dawn); when you have got to the extremity of the vale, and have actually breathed your last; you will find your equipage waiting for you on the other side, to take you from the