Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

99**

talk about religion, and to give alms to the poor, are duties which may be performed, though the heart be not right with God. These things must be done to maintain the Christian character, as is evident from the word of God. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.' “ When thou prayest, enter into thy closett.” “ Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. “ Search the Scriptures."S “I am a companion of all them that fear thee." || “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

- Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in the land.”+$. But experience affords abundant proof, that all this may be done from a principle of self-righteousness; from a principle of vainglory; from a desire to be seen of men, and to obtain a name.

To ascertain my real character, I must look into the heart. Do I labour to perform these outward duties with a single eye to the favour and glory of God? Am I more anxious about UNSEEN duties, remembering the words of Hagar: “ Thou God seest me."#1 The flame of vainglory, which is kindled by the pride of fallen nature, is fanned and increased by the suggestions of Satan, and kept alive by the praises of men. O! how difficult it is, to keep down this unhallowed fire. Even when we think it is quenched, it is still smothering beneath the embers, ready to burst forth at the least blast of Satan's temptations.

Let me, then, look within. Do I strive to keep my heart with all diligence, from every impure thought ; from every idle imagination ; from all irregular passions and desires; from all evil affections and lusts?

Heb. x. 25.

* Matt. vi. 6. # Matt. xviii. 20. § John v. 39. || Psa. cxix. 63.

Col. iv. 6. ++ Deut. xv. 11. * Gen. xvi. 13.

Do I study to maintain a conscience void of offence towards God, as well as man? Am I continually watching over the motions of the mind, the rapid Aights of fancy, that the enemy may not rush into my heart by some unguarded avenue; or find me sleeping at my post ?

Conscious of my utter inability to help myself, am I daily, yea, constantly, looking unto Jesus for grace and strength, to mortify the flesh, and to cherish the influences of the Spirit ?

If, while diligently performing the outward duties of the gospel, I am unwearied in cultivating inward sanctity, then, I possess an evidence of being renewed in the spirit of my mind, and may draw nigh to God, through Christ, with filial confidence. But, if my religion be confined to forms and ceremonies, coldly performed, from education or custom, I am a self-deceiver; and should I knock at the closed door, saying, Lord, open unto me; the answer would be, as to the foolish virgins, “ I know you not."*

O! thou Shepherd of thy chosen flock, grant that the outward call of thy word may be accompanied by the inward call of thy Spirit. Then shall I be stirred up to call earnestly upon thee, to seek thee in all the means of grace, to pant after thee, as the hart panteth for the water brooks. Then will my interest in thee be unclouded; my peace, through faith in thy righteousness, be secured; for all thy redeemed ones are the purchase of thy blood, given to thee by the Father; chosen in thee before the foundation of the world ; called in time, and

preserved unto eternal glory. None of the tribulations of this evil world can separate their love from thee, and no created power can separate thy love from them.

O! blessed bond of union, cemented by thy blood; their salvation is sure; their names are written in heaven; they are engraven on thy heart; they are thine, and none shall pluck them out of thy hands.

Matt. xxv. 11, 12.

Such is the blessedness, the security of the sheep of thy pasture. Thou hast said, “I know my sheep, and am known of mine;" they “hear my voice, and “follow me ;” and “I give unto them eternal

[ocr errors]

life."*

Art thou Wisdom? They are taught of thee, and made wise unto salvation. They are guided into all truth.

Art thou Power? They are strengthened with might by thy Spirit in the inner man; and made more than

conquerors over sin and Satan. Art thou Goodness? They daily partake of its blessings; inviting others to taste and see how gracious the Lord is.

Art thou Faithfulness and Truth? This is the Rock on which they build ; and, being grounded and settled in thy Truth, can triumph over all their foes.

They that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." +

Art thou Righteousness? This is their glorious dress, in which arrayed, they can appear before the throne, with holy boldness, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Art thou Holiness ? By this, they are made like unto Thee, being sanctified in body, soul, and spirit. They bear thy image in righteousness and true holiness. They are beautified with thy salvation; and made “a peculiar people, zealous of good works."

Art thou Mercy ? This is their rejoicing and song, of praise. Thy grace is the theme of their thanksgiving. “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy." I “Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever." * John X. 14, 27, 28. + Psa. ix. 10. # Micah vii. 18.

§ Psa. cxviii. 4.

Art thou Love? Oh! how great is thy people's joy. They love thee, because thou hast first loved them.* They love thee, because with loving-kindness thou hast drawn them. They love thee, because thou hast shed abroad thy love in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto them. Their language is, “ By grace are we saved. By grace we are what we are.

To grace be all the praise. Art thou a Prophet, Priest, and King; a Redeemer, Advocate, and Intercessor? In all these offices and characters they admire and love thee. Thou art the Lord their God; their Portion; their All in All.

Dost thou feel, O my soul, this love to the Saviour; this faith and hope ? Is he precious to thee, the chief of ten thousand, the altogether lovely? Is he thy beloved and thy friend? Then rejoice; this cometh of the Lord ; this flows from the fountain of his Sovereign love. Rejoice, and look across this narrow span of time, to the boundless regions of eternity. There, in the world of glory, shall all the chosen flock, redeemed by his blood, surround the throne of Jesus, and swell with countless myriads, the chorus of his praise.

O! while life shall last, admire this free, this rich, this undeserved mercy. Lie low before him in humility. Rise high in gratitude. Never cease to love, till the

pure

Aame shall reach the source from whence it came. There it will burn with inextin. guishable blaze, to the glory of the Triune Jehovah.

Sweet is the day of holy rest,

To souls renew'd by love divine;
They lean as on the Saviour's breast;

Like Moses, on the Mount, they shine.
The Saviour's mild reflected grace,

Gives witness to their peace within ;
While they, with arms of faith, embrace,

The Great Atonement made for sin.

• 1 John iv. 19.

+ Jer. xxxi. 3.

#Rom. v. 5.

With joy, they hear the Gospel sound,

With pure devotion, join in prayer;
They praise the Saviour they have found,

And all his mercies richly share.

The sacred Sabbath of their Lord,

They love the best of all the seven;
With saints unite in one accord,

And antedate the bliss of heaven.

O that with them, I thus may love

The consecrated House of Prayer;
Then fly to purer

realms above,
And praise my Saviour ever there.

LXVII.-CHRIST'S INTERCESSORY PRAYER.

“I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter,

that he may abide with you for ever.”—John xiv. 16.

THE last discourses which our Saviour held with his disciples, closing them with his intercessory prayer, have been, and ever will be, a source of the richest consolation to his Church. While we read them in a spirit of love towards him who uttered them, our language will be that of the two disciples walking to Emmaus : “ Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way."*

Those are, indeed, to be pitied, who can peruse, unmoved, those gracious words which proceeded out of his lips. Truly he spake, as never man spake. His words are spirit, and they are life.t How many

Christians, baptised in the name of Christ, and professing themselves to be members of his visible Church, would rather read an exciting novel, or some highly-wrought work of fiction, than these words of eternal life. How true are the parables of our Lord, which describe those mixed characLuke xxiv. 32.

+ John vii. 46.; vi. 63.

« VorigeDoorgaan »