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for him I will surely have mercy upon him; saith the Lord."
"Ye that turn judgment into wormwood and leave off righteousness in the earth," says God by Amos, "seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, that turneth the shadow of death into the morning." The Ruler of the stars, he who turns the shadow of death into the morning, is the object to whom you are to address your prayers. He can give you songs in the night. The God who commands the light to shine out of darkness, can soon turn the shadow of death in your souls into the morning. "Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and rise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."
Meditate upon those truths by which God is pleased to work powerfully on the hearts of men. Perhaps when you hear the word of God, and find your affections moved by it, you would think yourselves happy if you had liesure and opportunity to hear these. truths more frequently sounded in your ears, by which impressions have been made of a salutary tendency. But why do you not preach these truths over and over to your own souls? David loved the habitation of God's. house, and the place where his honor dwelt; but when David was at a distance from the sanctuary, he could preach to himself."Why art thou cast dawn, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God."
When you go away from church, take the sermon with you, unless you wish to gratify those evil spirits who desire to steal away the good seed of the word from those hearts in which it is sown. When Paul speaks of the gospel which he had preached to the Corinthians, he says to them that they were "saved by it if they kept in memory what he preached to them, unless they had believed in vain." The words might, perhaps, have been better rendered, 'By which ye are saved, if ye retain, or keep hold of what I preached unto you.' He by no means intends to teach us, that our faith, or our salvation depends on the strength of our memories; but to hold fast what we learn by the reading and hearing of the word of God, and to make it the subject of our meditation by day and by night. The Spirit, who is like the wind that bloweth when and where it lists, may give that efficacy to the words of his grace, when we are musing upon them, which we did not feel when we were hearing them from the pulpit.
Of his own will," says the apostle James, "begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear." Not only those who are already begotten again by the word of truth, but those who are not yet begotten, should be swift to hear that word
which has been to so many the word of eternal life. Why else should the apostle subjoin that admonition concerning the right hearing of the word?" Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass. For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."
When men go away, and straightway forget what was said, what benefit can they expect from it? None, but much damage for turning a deaf ear to the voice of God, and refusing to give his word a place in their hearts. When God himself speaks to us in his law and gospel, we ought to hear him not once only, but again and again. your hearts," says Moses, "to all the words that I testify among you this day. For it is no vain thing for you, for it is your life," Deut. xxxii.
Beware of suffering what you read and hear to pass unimproved by serious reflections, especially those doctrines or exhortations that are peculiarly fitted to make good impressions on your hearts, or are peculi
arly suited to your present circumstances. But you ought not to confine your meditations to those truths that you have recently heard or read. There are truths which ought never to be absent from your hearts. Think often of your misery and sinfulness; of your own sins, and of their aggrava- · tions; of the awful denunciations of the word of God against sinners, and against such sinners as you know yourselves to be. It is painful, but requisite for you to know and consider you ways, that you may know your need of Christ and of his salvation, and how absolutely necessary it is for you to come to him as self ruined sinners that must be damned forever, or owe their salvation to sovereign grace.
Let your thoughts dwell upon Christ the Saviour, upon all that he did and suffered for our salvation, upon the riches of the glory of the grace of God manifested in him, upon the all sufficiency of the God of grace as a portion for men, upon the grace and power of the Spirit of God, upon the interest that sinners of the human race have in Christ as a Saviour appointed for them by God, upon the unspeakable blessedness of all those who partake of the salvation of Christ, upon those gracious invitations and promises by which we are encouraged to trust in Christ. These are truths by which faith already has been wrought in the hearts of millions of sinners,
upon some of them while they were hearing the gospel, upon others while they were in their own houses revolving what they had formerly heard or read. You cannot command the blessing of God to accompany your thoughts, but neither can you command the blessing upon your daily bread; yet you eat it in the hope that God will make it nourishment to your bodily frame. By the gracious truths of God do men live the spiritual life, for upon them God commands the blessing, even life forevermore.
The disciples of our Lord could not multiply the loaves which they distributed to the people, but they could give them to the multitude at the command of Christ, and Christ multiplied them in the distribution. Thus let us think upon the soul nourishing truths which God sets before us, and he can make them spirit and life to our souls. He promises to take away the stony heart, and to give the heart of flesh. For this, and other blessings, he will be enquired of by the house of Israel.
You may perhaps complain, that you find yourselves at a great loss to order your thoughts, and that your heart will never be like the pen of a ready writer to meditate upon the truths of the gospel, till you are blessed with illumination in the knowlege of Christ by his own Spirit. For this you are to wait more than they that wait for the