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it is quick sighted enough in discovering the failings of religious professors. The men of the world readily perceive their inconsistencies, and charge them upon the religion which they profess. Thus a vainglorious professor of godliness often spoils much good, and produceś much evil. Christian prudence is therefore necessary, and, when springing from a knowledge of the human heart, from self-distrust, from genuine humility, from a real desire to advance the cause of God in simple dependence on divine aid, it is the means of effecting great things. In such a world as this, how greatly do we need the wisdom of the serpent combined with the harmlessness of the dove. When the blessed Gospel renews and governs the heart, through the Almighty energy of the Holy Spirit
, then every excellence appears in its proper place and due proportion. The symmetry and beauty of the structure manifest a divine architect, whose prerogative alone it is to “ make all things new."*
The religion of the heart is simply FAITH WORKING BY LOVE.+ Jesus is the object of faith. Faith looks to him as the all-atoning sacrifice for sin. It comes to him as the helper and hope of the soul. It receives him as the Prophet, Priest, and King of his Church, the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Faith feeds upon him, as the bread of life; walks in his light, who is the light of the world; and, uniting the soul to him, as the
branch is to the vine, it draws from him that grace and strength which causes the fruits righteousness to appear and abound.
0! what a precious gift is faith, wrought in the heart through the power of the Holy Ghost.“ Without faith it is impossible to please God; for he that cometh unto God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” By faith, we stand in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. By faith, we walk steadily and perseveringly in the narrow way of holy obedience.
+ Gal. v. 6.
* Heb. xi 6.
Rev. xxi. 5.
By faith, we overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil
. By faith, we substantiate things hoped for, and realise things not seen.
Is faith thus precious ? Then surely it must be the solicitude of all to obtain it. Alas! no. Thousands of Christians who profess to believe, have it not. Where true faith dwells, its effects become visible. « Faith without works is dead." +
Does faith work by love to Christ to his people, his word, his ministers, his cause, his Sabbaths ? Then, where true faith is, there love will be in active operation. Do we perceive this energy of love in all who call themselves Christians ? Ah! no! Few, comparatively few, show their faith by a love, ardent, self-denying, and constant. Faith purifies the heart. Is sin hated by all Christian professors ? Is holiness the element in which they live ? Alas! the reverse is too often the case.
Faith overcomes the world. Do all who profess to follow the meek and lowly Saviour, renounce those pomps and vanities from which he came to deliver them? How many thousands practically deny the doctrine of their băptismal regeneration, by living in direct opposition to the vows and promises made in their names at their baptism! Are all baptised persons bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit ? Facts prove that they do not. The world maintains an awful power in the visible Church. It forms the crying sin
That love of money, that thirst for power, that fondness for vain show, that quest of pleasure which pervades all grades of society, evidences our fallen state as a professing Christian people. We forget the solemn warning : “ Repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”+
Lord, give me that deep conviction of sin which David felt, when he said unto Nathan: “I have * Heb. xi.
+ James ii. 17, 20, 26. Rev. ii. 5.
of the age.
sinned;"* that heartfelt repentance which Job experienced, when he declared : “ I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes;”+ that brokenness of heart which Peter manifested, when“ he went out and wept bitterly,”# that faith which upheld the blessed Paul, when he said: “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."
0! Almighty Saviour ! fill me with faith, hope, and love ; till faith be lost in vision, hope in enjoyment, and love be for ever perfected in the region of peace and joy, through thine own everlasting grace.
Father of Mercies, Thee alone I bless,
+ Job xlii. 6.
LIII.-REALISING THE DIVINE PRESENCE.
“ And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee
rest.”—Exod. xxxiii. 14.
HAPPY is the man who daily lives under the guardian care of the Almighty, who can say : “My beloved is mine, and I am his."* 66 This God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even unto death." + “ Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”“My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever."'S
0! what a mercy it is, to have such a gracious God to look to. Lord, be pleased to draw my
heart wholly to thyself, and enable me to place my trust under the shadow of thy wings; to realise thy presence at all times. Cause the light of thy countenance to shine upon me, then will sorrow flee away at thy presence, and joy spring up in my
heart. Í live in a world which abounds with sin and grief; the latter ever growing out of the former, as its natural fruit. But, the blood of Christ can remove the one, and the Spirit of Christ can alleviate the other, so that all things shall work together for good. O! for a living faith, which can appropriate to itself the Saviour's merits, and extract sweetness from the bitterness of affliction.
Soon, very soon, must this frail tenement be laid in the silent tomb; shut out from the eye
of man, and all the changes of this passing scene.' 0! that my soul may then be shut in with
Christ, where sin and sorrow can never enter. My happiness will then commence; my bliss will be completed, when my raised body, spiritualised and refined, shall be reunited to my redeemed spirit on the morning of the
+ Psa. xlviii. 14. # Psa. Ixxiii. 24.
Cant. ii. 16.
resurrection of the just. 0! blissful and glorious period ! How every earthly thing fades before it, as shadows before the rising sun.
“How vain are all things here below,
How false, and yet how fair ;
And every sweet a snare.” Our most endeared enjoyments are transitory, and mixed
If we cultivate the rose and admire its blushing leaves, and sweet perfume, the prickly thorn protects it; if we would possess the honeyed hive, it is guarded by a thousand stings. Truly our comforts are entwined with crosses.
This is not our rest.
The child of God can see wisdom and love in all this dispensation. Before Adam fell, there was no annoyance. In Paradise all was delight.' But now the earth is covered with thorns and thistles, emblems of the Fall. We are daily taught, that it is through much tribulation we enter into the kingdom. This world is a school of discipline to the children of God, and afflictions are sent as medicine to heal the diseases of the mind, through the power and skill of the heavenly Physician. This world is a place of trial; but thanks be to redeeming love, “ There remaineth a rest to the people of God;"* a purchased inheritance, a kingdom reserved for them.
În Scripture, we find that promises are in general made to characters. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”'t If we ask, who shall see God ? "the promise replies : “ the pure in heart.” There are some broad and indefinite invitations which include within them the greatest blessings, as “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”I 6.Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” And yet, even here, faith is included; for who will look to Christ, or come to Christ, but those who are Heb. iv. 9. + Matt. v. 8.
. Isa. xlv. 22. S John vi. 37.