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indeed, will be a horrible tempest. Sacrifices were consumed by fire, to signify that wrath from heaven is due to sin, and would fall upon the sinful offerer himself, if the victim did not receive it for him by substi tution. When the law was given on mount Sinai, the heavens flamed with fire, and the mountain burned below, to give the people a sense of the terrors of Divine judgment; with allusion to which exhibition, and other displays of his wrath, mentioned in the scriptures; God is here called a CONSUMING FIRE. As the earth came under the curse by sin, the "earth and the works therein shall be burnt up." There remaineth, likewise, a fearful vengeance of eternal fire. Happy the people who duly consider the awful character of Jehovah,and flee from his wrath, like Lot from the flames of Sodom, to Jesus Christ, the covert from the storm.
THE VALUABLE RECORD.
UNDER the various difficulties of the present state, it affords the greatest consolation to a good man, when he can look above, and, with the eye of faith, read his name written in the book of life. Thus Job, distressed and persecuted, observes, "Behold, my witness is in heaven, my record is on high." What Job said of himself, may apply to all the children of God; their citizenship is in heaven, and their names enrolled in the book of life. There are several things may be said of this record worthy of our attention.
1st. It is a record of antiquity. "According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the *Job xvi. 29.
world."* Antiquarians appreciate their collections in proportion to their age; and think themselves happy in obtaining and preserving the remains of antiquity. Christians may rejoice in having a record older than the world itself; and which all the revolutions of time, and the vicissitudes of human affairs, have not affected. Like its Author, it remains the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
2d. It is a record of gratuity. In human records the parties must often possess certain qualifications, or pay considerable sums of money before their names can be enrolled; but this is "without money and without price." "By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." This arises entirely from sovereign goodness, without any merit in, or recommendation from the creature; it will, therefore, be ever distinguished as the record of grace.
3d. It is a record of remembrance. It is said, "They that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard it; and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name." Those, therefore, whose names are written in this record, shall never be forgotten:-their circumstances, trials, wants, situations, prayers, and conflicts, shall come up in remembrance before God: "I will not forget,"§ saith the Great Jehovah, "I earnestly remember thee still.”¶
4th. It is a record of distinction. Things are often recorded, that they may be distinguished and separated
* Eph. i. 4.
† Eph. ii. 8, 9. § Isa. xlix. 15.
Mal. iii. 16.
¶ Jer. xxxi. 20.
from others. So God's people were recorded, on purpose to be distinguished. They are said to be "a chosen generation, a peculiar people." Their principles, their feelings, their views, their dispositions, their characters, their end, are all different from others; and, finally, they will be separated from the wicked, and for ever be distinguished as the objects of Divine favor.
5th. It is a record of security. Property, writings, names, and many other things are secured by records. This heavenly record runs thus: "I give unto my sheep eternal life, and none shall pluck them out of my hand." Believers, therefore, cannot be lost: they are bought with a price, and, as valuable property, they are secured by infinite goodness and power. They may lose sight of this record themselves, for a time, but it remains the same. "The foundation, or bond,* of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his."+ 6th. It is a record of honor. Among the dignified of the earth, titles, arms, distinguished offices, &c. are 、 given and recorded as insignia of honor. Believers are recorded and characterized as kings and priests unto God. They are invested with the highest privileges, and signalized by the greatest honors; they bear the image of, and have communion with, the King of kings; they rise superior to the world, and are "more excellent than their neighbors."
7th. It is a record of perpetuity. Many records are made on the most durable materials, such as vellum, stone, brass, marble, &c. for the purpose of preserva
* So Dr. Hammond thinks μé, in John xii. 28, may be
t2 Tim. ii. 19.
tion; yet, after all, time will wear them out. All things here are subject to decay, and soon will terminate in the general conflagration; but no length of time can obliterate the contents of this record, no circumstance can injure it. It will outlive "the wreck of matter, and the crush of worlds." Eternity itself will no erase it; "for this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in his Son."*
Should the reader be anxious to know whether his name be in this record, let him examine three records here on earth; his own conscience, his conduct, and his Bible. Let him compare these, one with the other. Let him tremble if he find nothing in the two first that corresponds with the last; but if his conscience be clear and his life consistent, let him rejoice, his name is writ
ten in heaven.
A DIALOGUE BETWEEN CRISPUS AND GAIUS.
Good morning, my dear Gaius. I am glad to sec you. The world is busy in discussing politics, and struggling for empire. Suppose you and I retire a little from the tumultuous scene, and discourse on subjects of greater importance. Let us step into the book-room. Pray be seated.
Gaius. I am glad, my dear friend, to find your thoughts engaged on such subjects as you mention. And though I have but little spare time this morning, yet that little I shall be happy to spend in your compa
* 1 John v. 11.
ny and conversation. Pray, what is the subject of your present reflections?
Crisp. I have of late employed my leisure hours in reading the works of some of our first reformers; and, on comparing their times with the present, I have observed that a considerable difference has taken place in the state of the public mind. At the dawn of the Reformation, the bulk of mankind were the devotees of superstition, and stood ready to extirpate all those who dared to avow any religious opinions different from theirs. Even the reformers themselves, though they inveighed against the persecuting spirit of the Papists, seem to have been very severe in their animadversions on each other, and to have exercised too little Christian forbearance, and too much of rigorous temper, towards those whose ideas of reformation did not exactly coincide with their own. A great deal of their language, and some parts of their conduct, would, in the present day, be thought very censurable. How do you account for this change?
Gai. Were I to answer that the rights of conscience have of late years been more clearly understood, and that the Christian duty of benevolence, irrespective of the principles which men hold, has been more frequently enforced, I should so far speak the truth. And, so far, we have reason to congratulate the present age upon its improvement.
Crisp. Do you suppose there are other causes to which such a change may be attributed?
Gai. I do. Skepticism and a general indifference to religion, appear to have succeeded the blind zeal and superstition of former ages. It has been observed on