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EXPLANATION OF SCRIPTURE TERMS.
So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
SPIRIT and SOUL, are sometimes equivalent to self. The spirit of God is God; the spirit of a man is man. My spirit or my soul is I : thine is thou: his is he. The spirit of wisdom, and the spirit of the fear of the Lord, are real wisdom and piety. Spirit also signifies that which is not flesh; that which is not weak and frail: the spirit of God sometimes signifies the power of God, either in its ordinary or extraordinary exertions. These terms, spirit and soul, sometimes denote that part of the human constitution, which is the seat of life, consciousness, understanding, and affection. In this sense they are used, in a variety of forms, to express sincerity, real internal feelings, in contradistinction from the outward expressions of them. In this last, as well as in the first-mentioned import of spirit and of soul, the word heart is often used; that is, it is used in the sense of self, and also to denote the percipient and active principles of human nature; and thus it is sometimes contradistinguished from flesh. When it is said that the spirit of God has done any thing, the sense is that God did it, and it may have been either by natural or by extraordinary means, in a natural or extraordinary manner. When God is said to have done any thing by his spirit, by the spirit, it frequently signifies that he did it in or through the miracles which he wrought, in behalf of the gospel, or by its ministers, or upon its converts. When it is asked of God to send, to send down, to send forth his spirit for this or the other purpose, or that his spirit may do this or that; the sense is neither more nor less than that God would employ his power for these purposes, that he would do what is asked of him, in any manner whatsoever, or by any means that he uses of has instituted for the attainment of such ends. Spirit also sometimes signifies the gospel and its spiritual worship, as distinguished from the law of Moses and its carnal ordinances.
PRESENCE OF GOD. The sphere of his observation and action: the scenes in which we are beheld by him; those in which he is beheld by us the discoveries of God: the manifestation of his grace and favour, sometimes of his rejection and displeasure: the place where his friendship, his acceptance, or compassion is displayed: the means by which these are expressed: God himself. Such, in the language of scripture, is the meaning of this term and the countenance, the sight, the face of God, and some other similar phrases, bear a like import. To hide the face from, is, sometimes, not to see sometimes, to withhold some real or supposed expres sions of favour.
TO PROPHECY. To foretel futurities to praise God: to declare the will of God: to explain the word of God: to preach to teach. SANCTIFY. To appropriate to God or to his service: to pronounce holy to separate from what is common, from sin, from sinners to purify to esteem, respect, reverence, honour as holy and
TO SEE GOD. To know God: to enjoy him to be blest with eminent degrees of divine knowledge or favour. To see God's face; to see God face to face; to be admitted to a more perfect participation of the knowledge and favour of God.
RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.
And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain.
THE light of nature may render the doctrine of man's immortality probable, but cannot prove it. It did not satisfy the ancient philosophers, and it does not satisfy us. If Christ lives, we shall live also. If he ever lived, he lives now; if he lives now, he is crowned in heaven; if he is crowned in heaven, there is a crown of glory in reserve for each one of his faithful followers. What, then, is the evidence of Christ's resurrection? To answer this question, would require more space than our limits allow; and it is mentioned only that its great importance should be recognized, and a wish excited in all to examine and to ascertain the grounds of confidence in the fact. The argument is sufficiently clear, yet it consists of many parts, all of which require an ample discussion. It may be useful here, perhaps, to hint at the leading circumstances to which the proof refers. Our belief in the resurrection of Christ, and the demonstration of its truth, are derived from the testimony of credible witnesses, such as we should admit in any other case; from that of the Roman soldiers, who guarded his tomb, and who saw him rise;. of the women, who visited it at an early hour, and perceived that the body was gone, and one of whom spoke to him, before she left the place; of two disciples, whom he accompanied, as they were going to Emmaus; of the eleven apostles, to whom he frequently appeared, and who had the evidence of all their senses that he was alive; of above five hundred brethren at once, to the testimony of a majority of whom St. Paul boldly appeals; of St. Paul himself, who saw and conversed with him, after he had ascended to heaven; of the chief men of the Jewish nation, as well as of a large assembly of the people, in whose presence the apostle Peter openly declared the fact, whilst not one of them durst deny its truth, or attempted to convict him of falsehood: Ye rulers of the people and elders of Israel, be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that Jesus of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, God hath raised from the dead. In fine the truth of the resurrection of Christ is proved by the primitive martyrs, who sealed it with their blood; by the uninterrupted tradition of the church, and other circumstances, which demonstrate the credibility of the books of the New Testament,—— because if these books are genuine, if they were written by the authors whose names they bear, the reports contained in them must of consequence be true; and lastly it is proved by every argument, which establishes any other part of the christian religion; because the several facts of the gospel are closely bound together, like the atoms which compose an indissoluble rock, so that if one is firmly fixed, the whole mass becomes immoveable. The hints, which I have suggested, are an imperfect sketch of the argument; but I shall be happy, if they induce you to look into the books, in which the subject is fully discussed. Every man of impartiality and seriousness, who entertains any doubts, will examine it with care; for it is the most essential of all doctrines; because if Christ lives, we shall live also.
Now to our Saviour and our King,
And be prepar'd like him to die,
310 PRACTICAL INFERENCE FROM CHRIST'S RESURRECTION.
Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I place myself at Jerusalem after the burial of Jesus. Twice had the sun gone down upon the earth, and all, as yet, was quiet at the sepulchre Death held his sceptre over the Son of God; still and silent the hours passed on; the guards stood by their post; the rays of the midnight moon gleamed on their helmets, and on their spears. The enemies of Christ exulted in their success; the hearts of his friends were sunk in despondency and in sorrow; the spirits of glory waited in anxious suspense to behold the event, and wondered at the depth of the ways of God. At length the morning star arising in the east, announced the approach of light; the third day began to dawn upon the world, when, on a sudden, the earth trembled, and the powers of heaven were shaken; an angel of God descended; the guards shrunk back from the terror of his presence, and fell prostrate on the ground: "His countenance was like lightning," and his "raiment was white as snow;" he rolled away the stone from the sepulchre, and sat upon it. But who is this that cometh forth from the tomb, with dyed garments from the bed of death? He that is glorious in his appearance, walking in the greatness of his strength? It is thy prince, O Zion! Christian, it is your Lord! He hath trodden the wine-press alone; he hath stained his raiment with blood; but now, as the first-born from the tomb, he meets the morning of his resurrection. He arises a conqueror from the grave; he returns with blessings from the world of spirits, he brings salvation to the sons of men. Never did the returning sun usher in a day so glorious-it was the jubilee of the universe. The morning stars sung together, and all the sons of God shouted aloud for joy. The Father of mercies looked down from his throne in the heavens; with complacency he beheld his world restored; he saw his work that it was good. Then did the desert rejoice; the face of nature was gladdened before him, when the blessings of the Eternal descended as the dew of heaven for the refreshing of the nations.
The practical inferences from Christ's resurrection are many. It proves he was from God. He is thus shown to be a divine lawgiver, his precepts to be binding and his promises to be sure. His resurrection stamps all he said and did with the signet of divinity. It gives distinctness to christian faith, energy to moral truth, and sublimity to human hope. It gives his disciples assurance of all necessary aid. It satisfies us that christianity shall ultimately triumph; for He who raised Christ, will be with the religion he sent him to preach; and though it be buried for awhile in ignorance, fanaticism and crime, it will rise to renewed strength and glory, and conquer at the moment when men faint in despair of its success. Christ's resurrection makes it certain that we shall rise also. God has given a pledge which he will in no wise forget. With such a prospect, with such a recompense, shall the candidate for heaven slumber? Look at the tomb of Jesus! it is luminous with celestial glory. From this spot beams the cheerful light of immortality on the human soul.-Remember that Christ died for your sins, and rose for your justification. He died and rose again, that we, enlightened by his doctrine, swayed by his example, encouraged with the certain hope of mercy, animated by the prospect of eternal glory, may rise from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness.
ANNIVERSARY OF A BIRTH DAY.
And this day shall be unto you for a memorial.
As often as the revolving calender points to the anniversary of your birth day, you will sit down in silence and in thoughtfulness to examine yourself, your success and your failures, your progress and your hopes. From this faithful review you should make resolutions which shall double if possible, your speed in wisdom's way, and destroy wholly your propensities to folly. This great moral influence cannot be too earnestly urged upon you at this moment, when you are just passing another mile-stone on the road of time.
Retrospection and foresight are naturally indulged on this day. The mind goes back to the frolicksome gaiety of youth, and by a ready memory mingles again in the little rivalries, petty interests and temporary anxieties of boyhood. We remember what exceeding value we put upon our little all, our favourite dog, our miniature vehicle, and our own green chair-we remember the first story-book which arrested our attention, and the eager haste with which we would hurry back to it, after we had executed our mother's commands. As years advanced we began to be useful to our parents; assisting in the planting and care of the garden, or aiding in the lesser details of domestic duties. Our new school became an all engrossing topic, and we think of the playmates of those days with a freshness of feeling which we cannot have for later intimacies. How readily the tendrils of young affection cling round the objects they are allowed to reach.-How vividly we recollect the incident which gave a new direction to our thoughts, a bias to our wishes, and a determination to our will. We now mark the hand of God in thus making durable effects to follow causes apparently the most trivial. It seems but yesterday since we decided on our course of life; the daughter to devote herself to the cares of a family, and the son to go forth to his trade or begin his college career. What a host of associations here crowd upon the mind; our struggles and our ambition, our triumphs and defeats. If, for a moment, the forbidden emotion of envy rose within us, how completely is it now dead, and with what heart felt joy do we hear of the success of our former competitors.-But when the scenes of advancing life opened upon us, and we became responsible actors before an observing public, how clearly do we call up our doubts, solicitudes and discouragements. There is a fear which belongs to this period in life, which hangs as a millstone around one's neck; and while on our bended knees we sought God to guard, direct and help us, we remember well the trembling which pervaded our spirits. Having succeeded beyond our deserts, the permanent establishment of ourselves in domestic relations is next remembered with still fresher interest and a livelier gratitude. Around these luminous and determining points in our history, recollection lingers with tenacious fondness, and they are all hallowed in our minds because they were all virtuous.-Through our whole life, how distinctly we recollect the earnest activity of a father, the prompt kindness of a mother, and the warm love of brothers and sisters. On this day, then, we erect another altar in our hearts dedicated to God in gratitude for the past, and in humble trust for the future.-Eternal God, I would live to thee while I live in the world. May I be useful to the end of life; and when I die, may it be found that the kingdom of God is already within me.
AUTUMN HAS LESSONS FOR EVERY AGE.
Day unto day uttereth speech.
ANOTHER month has made its imperishable record concerning us; and, at this season, nature is hanging out awakening mementos of the speed of our days, in order to spur on procrastinating man to duty. Whatever our age or condition, nature at these hours has lessons which all may read and feel; lessons which have a gentle, unreproaching voice, making, as they do, the kind education of Him who is the Father of our spirit.
Let the young go out under the descending sun of the year, into the fields of nature. Their hearts are now ardent with hope, and imagination creates years of enjoyment. Let the scenes they witness in nature, moderate but not extinguish their ambition.
Let the busy and active go out, and learn the high lesson which nature teaches in the hours of its fall. They are pursuing fame, wealth and pleasure. Let them withdraw a moment from the agitations of passion, and view the strength of summer prostrated. This tells them, that the pulse of passion must one day beat low, and that the illusions of time must pass. It reminds them, with gentle voice, of that innocence in which life was begun; and whispers to them, amid the hollow winds of the year, 'what manner of men ought ye to be, who must meet the last decisive hour?' Let them read attentively and be wise.
To the aged especially, the Autumn speaks with heaver's own articulation. There is an "even-tide" in human life, a season when the eye becomes dim, and the strength decays, and when the winter of age begins to shed upon the human head its prophetic snow. It is the season of life to which the present is most analagous; and much it becomes, and much it would profit you, my elder brethren, to mark the instructions which the season brings. The spring and the summer of your days are gone, and with them, not only the joys they knew, but many of the friends who gave them. You have entered upon the Autumn of your being, and whatever may have been the profusion of your spring, or the warm intemperance of your summer, there is yet a season of stillness and of solitude, which the beneficence of heaven affords you, in which you may meditate upon the past and the future, and prepare yourselves for the mighty change which you are soon to undergo.
If it be thus my elder brethren, you have the wisdom to use the decaying season of nature, it brings with it consolations more valuable than all the enjoyments of former days. In the long retrospect of your journey, you have seen every day the shades of the evening fall, and every year the clouds of winter gather. But you have seen also, every succeeding day, the morning arise in its brightness, and in every succeeding year, the spring return to renovate the winter of nature. It is now you may understand the magnificent language of heaven,-it mingles its voice with that of revelation,-it summons you, in these hours when the leaves fall, and the winter is gathering, to that evening study which the mercy of heaven has provided in the book of salvation: And, while the shadowy valley opens which leads to the abode of death, it speaks of that hand which can comfort and can save, and which can conduct to those "green pastures, and those still waters," where there is an eternal spring for the children of God.