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like locusts, darkening the air, and devouring every green herb of the field. It was said by the Prophet, "0, Jerusalem ! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be ?"* Lord, make me clean, even now. Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.
Holiness is happiness. I want to feel every evil motion subdued, every thing contrary to the will of God entirely done away. I know that there is no arriving at sinless perfection in this life. But, perfection is the Christian's aim. It was Paul's desire for his converts : “ This also we wish, even your perfection.”+ An absolute freedom from all sin, in mind, affection, will, and conduct, forms one of the glories of heaven, where, in the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, will be gathered, the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and the spirits of just men made perfect. There they shall be arrayed in linen, white and clean, which is the righteousness of saints. Their sanctification will then be complete when they see Jesus, and are made like him in the perfection of holiness.
Is there a point at which the Christian may stop ? No, there is not. While running the heavenly race, we must forget the things which are behind, and reach forth unto those things which are before, and thus press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
“ As many as be perfect,
, all who have attained to a ripeness in graces,
and who have come to “ full age” in Christian experience, will be thus minded. I
The two great commandments are, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength, and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”'S® Where is the soul in this corrupted world, who, before conversion, truly loved the Lord ? The question will be intuitively answered, “ It cannot be Jer. xjii. 27.
+ 2 Cor. xiii. 9. # Phil. iii. 15. § Matt. xxii. 37, 39; Mark xii. 30, 31.
found.” And where is the soul who, after conversion, has never had occasion for one moment to "mourn over cold affections, or wandering desires after earthly things ? Where is the man who can boldly affirmI have never, since the hour of my conversion, in any one instance, sinned against God. He who can say so is lamentably ignorant of himself.
Oh! that I may have grace to humble myself in the presence of Him who looketh at the heart. I have no ground for self-complacency, no reason for self-exultation. I have daily cause for mourning when I review my own heart, that vile, deceitful, hateful thing. And yet, I have daily cause to rejoice in the Lord, whose faithfulness and truth, whose forbearance and long-suffering, whose pity and love, are like himself, infinite, unbounded, unsearchable.
Oh! that I had a vigorous, lively, active, faith. This, like the strong west wind in Egypt, which drove the locusts into the Red Sea, would drive away the hated evils from my heart. Guilty fears, painful apprehensions, dire forebodings, misgiving thoughts, anxious cares, tumultuous imaginations, with all the swarms of worldly lusts, carnal desires, and whatever else is formed and fostered in my wretched heart, would then be all destroyed like Pharoah's army, through the almighty power of Jesus.
Be thou glorified, O Lord, in my complete deliverance from the bondage of corruption and the dominion of sin. Fill me with spiritual light. Bring me into the glorious liberty of the Gospel, and at last conduct me safely through the Jordan of death into the celestial Canaan. Whilst a sojourner in the wilderness, guide me by the pillar of fire; screen me with the overshadowing cloud ; feed me with the heavenly manna ; refresh me with the waters from the smitten rock. Give me a holy courage in thy cause, a holy confidence in thy mercy, a holy consolation in thy exceeding great and precious promises. Strengthen me to fight manfully under the banners
of the Cross, to face my enemies without fear, knowing that He, who is with me, is greater than all they who are against me. As a good soldier of Jesus Christ, may I have grace continually to advance, never to retreat. In thy divine armoury, thou hast furnished me with the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit, but nothing is provided for the back. The cowardly Christian, who flies from his foes, is exposed to the fiery darts of Satan, and may fall vanquished on the field of battle. “Go forward,” was thy command to Moses, when Israel was enclosed by mountains, the army of Pharoah behind them, and the Red Sea before them. They obeyed thy word, the waters were divided, they passed in safety between the liquid walls, they saw their enemies dead on the sea shore, and sang a song of gladness unto the Lord who had triumphed gloriously, who had made the host of Pharoah to sink as lead in the mighty waters.
Oh! give me grace to go forward,” to follow the Captain of my salvation, strengthened by his promise, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”+
XXXII.-TRUE WISDOM THE SOURCE OF HAPPINESS.
ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace..... Happy is every one that retaineth her.”—Prov. iii. 17, 18.
EARTHLY things can never satisfy the enlarged desires of an immortal soul. This is the reason why worldly characters are so restless and changeable. Temporal objects soon cloy and satiate, therefore they fly from flower to flower like vagrant butterflies, till death closes their idle chace after an unreal happiness.
Exod. xiv, xv. + Rev. ii. 10.
Did they possess true wisdom, they would discover the source of true felicity. Christ and happiness are inseparable. If we find true happiness, it is because we have found Christ; for, if we find Christ, we must be happy. The pardon of sin, peace with God, purity of heart, and the hope of glory, cannot fail to render the believer blessed.
The first lesson which we learn in the school of Christ is HUMILITY. 66 Blessed are the
poor rit."* Many are eager to dive into the deep things of God, before they have well learned the first principles of the gospel of Christ. Hence arises that caution of St. Paul in his Epistle to Timothy, respecting the ordination of men to the ministry :-“ Not a povice," (one newly come to the faith) “ lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil." + " Lay hands suddenly on no man."I There is something dangerously pleasing in exercising our ingenuity, and in disputing about the hidden mysteries of our holy religion. But this unhallowed spirit not unfrequently leads to unscriptural theories, and even to scepticism itself.
Another lesson which we learn in the school of Christ, after the knowledge of our own nothingness, and the all-sufficiency of the Saviour, is the SoveREIGNTY OF God. His counsel shall stand, and He will do all his pleasure. Through his word, the Almighty has communicated his will concerning us. We know no further than he has been pleased to make known his ways unto us; therefore, to argue, and draw inferences, and make deductions, and come to conclusions upon those things, around which infinite wisdom has drawn an impenetrable veil, is presump, tuous, is sinful. True wisdom is ever accompanied with humility:
The Scriptures plainly declare, that man is a responsible creature, possessing an immortal spirit. Hc is treated as such by all those arguments, warnings, threatenings, promises, encouragements, and Matt. v. 3.
+ 1 Tim. iii. 6. I 1 Tim. v. 22.
entreaties, which are scattered throughout the sacred volume, to alarm and allure him, to rouse and draw him to the fountain of happiness, to his God and Saviour, from whom he has revolted, to whom he is invited, and through whose sovereign love alone he can be saved.
The Scriptures plainly declare, that man is in a state of spiritual death ; utterly helpless, and unable to repent, believe, and obey, through any natural power or willingness of his own; that if left to himself he must inevitably perish, like a man tied hand and foot and thrown into the sea. We
e are tied and bound with the chain of our sins, and if not saved by another, must be lost for ever.
The Scriptures also declare, that God's foreknowledge is infinite; that he sees the end from the beginning; that nothing can happen without his command or permission. This is proved by prophecies clearly foretold, and minutely accomplished, without forcing the human will; the guilt of the accomplishment resting upon the sinner, who acts freely, while the counsels of heaven are wisely and mysteriously fulfilled. “ Him," said Peter to the Jews, “ being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain."*
This short view should teach us the impropriety, yea, the impiety, of refusing to admit any truth of Scripture, because it does not exactly square with our preconceived ideas of the Christian system.Hence arises the necessity of continually reverting to our first lesson, HUMILITY. Like the letters of the alphabet, this sweet grace of the Spirit forms the basis of true heavenly knowledge, from the first rudiments to the highest attainments in the school of Christ; yea, the higher we advance in heavenly wisdom, the lower we shall fall in self-abasement.-“Children, young men, and fathers,”+ must all be Acts ii. 23.-See Acts iv. 27, 28; Acts i. 16; John xvii. 12;
+ 1 John ii. 12, 13.
Matt. xxvi. 24.