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conflicts have not been so severe, if we have not been thus baffled and shamed, we know to whom we owe our preservation : and we have had so many humiliating proofs of our own perverseness, weakness, negligence, and relapses into idolatrous attachments and various evils; that we cannot but look upon our escapes as marvellous, and sometimes stand amazed, that we have not been left to renounce or disgrace the gospel! Every year, month, week, or even day, during which we have been preserved, and every declension from which we have been recovered, is an addition to obligations already great beyond all computation,
Indeed a general view of our situation in this evil world must increase our conviction, that the Lord alone hath kept us, or can keep us, from evil. The countless dangers of our path; the course of the world, with its maxims, fashions, examples, and allurements; the influence of fear, hope, affection, and even gratitude to men, upon our religious conduct; our natural strong desire of honour, friendship, ease, wealth, or indulgence; our aversion to censure, reproach, contempt, and poverty; and the various ways, in which these propensities may be addressed to turn us aside from the direct path, suggest many interesting reflections to the serious mind. The infectious examples even of some zealous preachers and professors of evangelical truth, and the worldly spirit sanctioned by them: with the snares, which are laid in all our
employments, connexions, and comforts; in solitude and company, and even in religious duties : the number, power, subtlety, and unwearied malice of our enemies the powers of darkness: the fallibility of our judgment, the scantiness of our knowledge, the weakness of our purposes, and the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of our hearts; all remind us, how greatly we are indebted. to the Lord, who hạth hitherto helped us. It is indeed a marvellous mercy, if we can say, “Having “ obtained help of God, we continue to this day;" and have neither made a shipwreck of our faith, nor brought a scandal upon the gospel; but still desire with purpose of heart to cleave unto the Lord.
Much more might profitably be added did time permit, concerning the continued kindness we have received: in the friends raised up for us; and the way in which our heavenly Father hath made up our losses, extricated us out of difficulties, moderated our temptations, renewed our comforts, revived our hopes and earneștness, prolonged our days, and afforded us means of grace and opportunities of usefulness. These, and many more subjects may be thought of, in our private meditations, while we endeavour to enter on another year, with thankfully acknowledging that “Hitherto “ the Lord hath helped us.”
II. Then we enquire whạt is meant by “Setting
“ up an Eben-ezer,” according to the common, and not improper, use of the expression.
The nature of the case, and the example before us, concur in proving, that it implies a disposition to give God the glory of all the blessings we have received. We do not ascribe the favourable difference between our situations, prospects, or character, and those of other men, to our own wisdom, management, or exertions; but to that God, ‘from whom 'all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just 'works do proceed.' We pretend not to have merited the divine protection, guidance, and blessings; but feel that all was given us as creatures, without our deserving any thing: and that every good thing bestowed on us as sinners, is contrary to our deserts. We ascribe none of our deliverances or successes to chance, necessity, or second causes : but trace them all to the great First Cause; to him "who doeth all things after the counsel of his own will.” Samuel gave not the honour of Israel's preservation to any of the servants of God, who had been raised up from the days of Moses, nor did he take it to himself; but ascribed it to the Lord alone. “Who then is " Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom "ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave “the increase. So then, neither is he that planted "any thing, neither he that watereth ; but God " that giveth the increase."" To set up an Eben
! 1 Cor. iii. 5—7
ezer therefore implies a disposition to say, in praise as well as in prayer, “Not ụnto us, O LORD, not “unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy “mercy and for thy truth's sake:"” and to ascribe all our blessings to the everlasting love of the Father, to the atonement and mediation of the Son, and to the sanctification of the Holy Spirit.
It implies also an open acknowledgment of our obligations to the Lord; a confession of our own unworthiness; and an endeavour, by all proper means, to perpetuate the memory of his great goodness towards us, in our families, and among all with whom we are connected. An open profession of the truth with a consistent example and conversation, attendance on the ordinances of God, diligence in the instruction of children and domesticks, and the improvement of our several talents to promote true religion, constitute such an avowal of our obligations to the Lord. These things tend to diffuse the knowledge of his abundant kindness, and to preserve the remembrance of it, for the encouragenient of our brethren, and an inducement to sinners to seek the participation of our privileges,
We must not, however, be satisfied with thankful acknowledgments of the past; but when we set up an Eben-ezer, and say, “Hitherto hath the " Lord helped us ;” we should renew our dedication of ourselves to him in respect of the future. * Thou hastavouched the LORD this day to be thy
! Ps. cxv. d.
# God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his "statutes, and his commandments, and his judg“ments, and to hearken to his voice. And the “ Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his pecu“ liar people, as he promised thee; that thou “shouldst keep all his commandments: and to make “thee high above all nations which he hath made, " in praise, in name, and in honour; and that thou " mayest be an holy people unto the Lord thy “God, as he hath spoken.'” Having thus far experienced the Lord's faithfulness and mercy, the pleasantness of his ways, and the misery of departing from them; we thank him for the past, and express our purpose and desire of walking with him all the residue of our lives. Our review of the way which we have come invigorates these determinations, increases our simplicity of dependence on his continued grace, and teaches us the necessity of greater vigilance and circumspection ; that " whether we eat, or whether we drink, or what“ever we do, we may do all to the glory of God.”'
In these respects the Lord's supper is a stated method of setting up an Eben-ezer. When, with serious recollection and self-examination; with renewed exercises of repentance, faith, and love ; with humble confessions, fervent prayers, and thankful praises, we commemorate the sufferings and death of our Redeemer: we then join ourselves to the Lord and his chosen people; we avouch him to be our God; we thank him for the past, and
* Deut. xxvi.