Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

that Being only, who “having brought them out of Egypt through a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm ";" exercising his omnipotence to save and defend them; justly claimed to be, in a more especial manner, their God. Moreover, knowing the infirmities of his creatures, and having compassion upon them; and judging that from the very pride which ignorance of spiritual things generates, they would hesitate to believe what they could not comprehend, He was pleased to accompany the declaration of this truth with such manifestations of his awful power and supreme majesty, as the God of nature, that doubt itself should yield ; confessing Him to be the God, the only od—and to this glorious evidence of his omnipotence all Israel did bear testimony ? !

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT.

[ocr errors]

This one “God is a Spirit.” They therefore “who worship Him, must worship Him, in Spirits ;” and not as the Gentiles. Hence the Second Commandment

proceeds to specify the modes in which this God is not to be worshipped. He is not to be worshipped under any similitude ; under any form or resemblance of outward things. That were to degrade the majesty of the Eternal, who is equally present at all times and in all places, filling all space; confined to no region, acknowledging no limits. To us in these days of evangelical light and truth-the Gospel ray pouring its flood of brightness far and wide, throughout the breadth and length of this Christian land--to us it appears scarcely credible, that rational beings could for a moment suppose it acceptable service to Deity, when they bowed before the idol which their own hand had made, or offered prayers to the similitude of ought created. Yet such was the case with the idolatrous nations, by whom the Israelites were surrounded. Even the sun, moon, and stars, though evidently created things and doing service to man, became in their turn, objects of man's worship, till at last so utterly debased was the human mind, that some, as the Prophet with just and scornful reproof expresses the folly of their sin ”, “ did take of the trees of the forest, burn part thereof in the fire, and of the residue make a God, even their graven image: they did fall down unto it, and worship it, and pray unto it, and sayDeliver us, for Thou art our God." Well might he add the bitter taunt, “ They feed of ashes.” Nay, not angels themselves, though the highest order of created beings, and “things of heaven,” are fit objects for man's worship. To kneel to them, to pray to them, is sin. They are but ministers of God's will. Nor let any urge, that because our best, our highest, our most spiritual worship cannot be really worthy in God's sight, therefore it be indifferent how we worship. There is a very intelligible distinction between the worth of a duty performed, and its necessity. So our prayers in themselves, cannot of course be of worth before God; and He could give the blessing we ask, or remove the evil we deprecate, without our supplications; yet, as if for ever to set this question at rest,

1 Deut. v. 15.

2 Exodus xx. 18, 19.

3 John iv. 24.

[ocr errors]

2 Is. xliv. 16-20.

show the fallacy of the caviller, and establish the distinction now drawn; after promise of blessing to Israel, large and free — prosperity for desolation ; security for ruin ; purity for uncleanness—thus saith the Lord God; “I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them." So here also, however the careless may think it of trifling moment how they worship, God adds an assurance, that He is jealous of his honour ; jealous of the heart, which ought all to be his own. He will not be content that half be his, and half the world's.

He cannot away with any indifference in his spouse the Church. He bears no rival. He claims her whole affection. We cannot serve God and Mammon-cannot serve religion and the world together. And if we love the world, where and when we ought to love God, He is jealous of our misplaced affections. Teach your child to apply the instruction this subject conveys, by pointing out that whatever we fear or love, more than we fear or love God, becomes to us an idol. Our attachment to it will be considered by God, as the sin of idolatry. Wealth, honour, pleasure, learning, influence-whatever interest divides our heart with God is idolatry, and idolatry is sin ?. Nor could any threat show more awfully the danger of thus withdrawing our reverence from the Lord our God, or dividing our love for Him with any other object, than the punishment denounced against the offenders among his people in old timesa punishment, whose peculiar character would seem to bring the stoutest heart to a sense of sin and its consequences. The punishment reacheth not the offender only, but extends to those who are dearer to him than himself. “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, and visit the sins of the Fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” Suppose for a moment any individual to be so insensible to his own welfare as to despise the threatenings of God, and persevere in a course of sin, and in awful obstinacy await its punishment-is there one, who would willingly bring down divine punishment upon his children? Let their life be periled, and lo! the parent stands the hazard, and meets the peril, and risks his life for theirs. Nay, you, a Mother-is there ought of toil, of danger, which you would not undergo to ease your child !

1 Ezek. xxxvi. 37.

2 Col. iii. 5.

Abstain then from wilful sin ! Make not an idol of the world, for it is at enmity with God: bow not down to the will of your own heart, lest you not only dishonour God, and ruin your own soul, but at least risk the misery of entailing upon those you love better than yourself, even upon your children and your children's children, the anger of the Lord for your sake! “O!” methinks your harrowed heart bursts forth in the language of indignation—"0! that be far from me !" It is well--God grant it be far from thee; and from every parent! But the warning is salutary'; and will

? It must be borne in mind that these peculiar enactments and conditions were provided for a peculiar state of things ; and the promises and threats accompanying them applicable to a temporal state: for God never will punish, spiritually or eternally, one man for the sins of another.

“ The soul that sinneth, it shall die.Still, if parents lead a sinful life, the consequences to their children are often misery and ruin. Indeed, that is but the common course of cause and effect. And as to the baneful influence of evil example upon young minds, it were needless to argue. Experience shows it

never lose its power, so long as fallen creatures have to struggle in this fight of faith ; this casting down the idols of their own untoward wills. But not only are we warned from evil by the dread of bringing punishment upon our children, by the sins of their parents ; we are encouraged and led on to virtue, by the hope of bringing upon them blessing, reflected from good

too fully. If parents neglect the Word of God, disregard his sabbath, think not of his Spirit, prepare not themselves for his judgment, honour not the Redeemer whom his love hath given them—do they not by such example tempt their children to follow in the ways of sin, and so lead them into the way of punishment ? Children are quick to catch excuses for their own neglect of duty, from the conduct of others : nor will they readily allow that to be wrong in themselves, which they see to be done or said by their parents. If these live to the world, it is little surprising that their children follow after them; and so eventually suffer for their parents' sin.

Happily, the converse of this truth holds good. What if parents are neither great, nor rich, nor learned ? Suppose them to have no temporal good to leave behind them for their children? Then is felt the inestimable value of a good example. Then, blessing is upon

the children for their parents' sake. Precept exemplified strengthens their faith, and confirms their hope. Having seen the power of religion operating upon the hearts and conduct of the honoured dead, they hold it, so bequeathed to them, a treasure beyond price.

“ Wilt thou seek comfort by partaking of the holy communion of the body and blood of Christ ?" was once asked of a dying mother by her son.

“Yes ! yes !” was the quick, and almost agitated reply. “ Yes ! for well do I now remember ; though for long years the memory of the fact has slept : well do I now remember how my own dying mother sought and found comfort in that holy ordinance. O her goodness! How brightly did it shine around that dark hour of sorrow. Her words still breathe counsel and love-- Children, dear children, seek the Lord early, you will find Him late. He is the bread of life.'— Therefore would I seek Him now ; and eat of that bread of life, of which they who eat hunger no more.”

Reader ! thus it is that a holy obedience to God in parents brings sure blessing upon their children.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »