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any one, the more dangerous it becomes to his soul, because spiritual pride is fostered, and self is exalted in the place of Jesus. The graces of the Spirit are of a more silent, unobtrusive nature; they tend to make a man low in his own eyes; they lead him into retirement and spiritual communion with God, and cause him to avoid rather than court the observation of mankind. From hence it is evident that all are not Israel who are of Israel, and that there is no necessary connection between gifts and graces.
The kingdom of God consists not of gifts and ceremonies, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. It is not the able talkers about religion who will be rewarded at the last day, but the humble walkers with Jesus. Many, who are now despised on account of their slender capacities and weak intellectual attainments, or regarded as half Christians, because they cannot carry the point against a witty infidel, or define some mysterious doctrine of Scripture, but whose lives are the most convincing arguments for the power and truth of the Gospel, whose hope is founded on Christ alone, who strenuously oppose all sin, and labour, through the Spirit, to perfect holiness in the fear of God, will receive the plaudit, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant......enter thou into the joy of thy Lord;" while the gifted, but unsound professors of religion, will be frowned into hell. This, the Great Judge himself has declared: "Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not." Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away." Many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."
It is very desirable to "covet earnestly the best gifts," to increase in wisdom and knowledge, to be able to speak acceptably to others about the things of God; but still, St. Peter places grace before
knowledge: "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," for, adds St. Paul, "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth." Lord, I humbly beseech thee to give me grace to be faithful. Impart unto me this invaluable blessing experienced by the early Christians, when "great grace was on them all." May the grace of Christ dwell in my heart, destroying sin in the power thereof, and exciting me to childlike obedience to thy will; may the light of Truth irradiate my path, and thy Spirit guide me along the consecrated way, till I reach the heavenly world, where all is light, and life, and love for ever.
"Follow after Charity,"-delightful exhortation; as if the Apostle had said,-follow after happiness and glory; follow after that, which will form your blessedness in time and eternity. "God is love," and every one that loveth is born of God." Come, O my soul, and think upon redeeming love, till all thy powers are lost in this ocean of grace, this infinity
What? did the Great Jehovah condescend to veil himself in human flesh to save rebellious worms from endless woe, and can I, for whom he lived, and bled, and died, feel no concern about my eternal state? no return to Him, of grateful and adoring praise? no hatred of those sins for which he suffered? no fear of hell? no longings after heaven? Amazing hardness-dreadful insensibility.
Lord, take away this heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart susceptible of thy mercies. Draw me with the cords of love, and bind my wayward affections to thy Cross.
Give me an abstraction from the world, that while my hands are diligently employed in the way of duty, my heart may be set on things above. Impart unto me a spiritual mind, a constant relish for heavenly employments. Let me live in the spirit of this petition: "Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven." Create in me a new and contrite heart; a
heart deeply convinced of its own depravity, earnestly seeking for pardon of all sin, through the precious blood of Jesus, and daily growing in holiness through the Spirit of His Grace.
Lord, increase my faith, that being united to Christ, I may become a living branch in the true Vine, a member of his mystical body, a sheep of his pasture, a child of his family, a partaker of the divine nature, an heir of God, and a joint-heir with Christ. Oh! how wonderful are the revelations of thy love; how glorious are the privileges of thy people. Lord increase my faith to lay hold on this hope set before me in the Gospel of thy Son.
Give me, heavenly Father, I humbly beseech thee, an earnest desire to do those things which thou hast commanded, to avoid whatever thou hast forbidden, and to obtain those blessings which thou hast promised to every true believer. Give me a
single eye to thy glory. May thy glory be the end and aim of all my actions. Preserve me from all pride and vain-glory; and make me a little child in humility and simplicity, seeking thy honour and glory above every other object in the world.
Fill my heart, O God, with gratitude, and my mouth with praise for all thy mercy, grace, and love vouchsafed to one so vile and worthless. O! that I might every moment live for thee, think on thee, and speak for thee; then would my heart be pure, and my conversation be always seasoned with grace, good to the use of edifying. Happy will that period be when all these obtrusive cares of life will have an end, and nothing will be found to interrupt the work of adoration through the ages of eternity. Come, blessed Spirit, prepare me for thy abode of glory; wean my heart daily from this wicked world; impress the Saviour's image on my soul, that when he shall appear, I may be like him, when I see him as
XX. THE BLESSEDNESS OF A CHILDLIKE SPIRIT,
AND A GRATEFUL HEART.
“Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."-Gal. iv. 6.
No language can adequately express the condescension and forbearance of God towards his rebellious creatures: "Hear, O heavens; and give ear, O earth; for the Lord hath spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider."* "A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts."+ "Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord." "Return ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings."§ "If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the Lord, return unto me."||
The Almighty addresses us in the character of a tender Father, but of a father, slighted and disobeyed. What parent, who has experienced the ingratitude and disobedience of his children, piercing his heart with grief, can read, unmoved, these pathetic appeals? But, while his own soul has been bowed down with sorrow by the conduct of his children, has he not been acting a similar part towards his heavenly Father? And may not the very trials which afflict him, be sent in judgment for his own rebellions against the Father of mercies? How often do we read our sin in our punishment.
Who, then, can fully estimate the blessedness of a childlike spirit? See a family, where the children honour and obey their parents, and where the parents
* Isa. i. 2, 3.
+ Mal. i. 6.
Jer. iii. 14.
|| Jer. iv. 1.
love and watch over their children, and there you behold a lovely oasis, a green spot in this desert world. In such a family, where God is worshipped in spirit and in truth, where love, like a golden girdle, binds each heart to the other, you have a little heaven upon earth. But look into a household, where the children resist the authority of the father, and despise the admonitions of the mother; where the brothers and sisters quarrel with each other, and kindle a daily fire of discord,-and there, you have a picture of that place where each, hating the other, shall be miserable for ever.
The world is ready to stamp with baseness an act of ingratitude towards an earthly benefactor, who may have shown us some occasional favour, afforded us some seasonable relief; but, it passes over, as a venial fault, our forgetfulness of God. This is bad; but surely it is worse when those who make a profession of religion act as the world does. My people have forgotten me days without number." They have forgotten the Lord their God."+ They have forgotten their resting-place."+
The sin of ingratitude is unspeakably criminal when manifested towards the Almighty Father of mankind, by whom we were created, by whom we are preserved, and from whom we receive every blessing. Happy, indeed, are they who live in the spirit of adoption, and under the influence of grateful love. Blessed Lord, be pleased to give me a thankful heart to taste thy gifts with joy. Enable me to trace every mercy to its proper source, even to thy Covenant Love in Christ Jesus; to see thy hand in all the changing events of life; and to acknowledge thy goodness in the bestowment of my daily comforts. But above all, O eternal God, pour into my heart the spirit of praise and adoration for thine unfathomable love in the redemption of the world.
Never can I sufficiently extol the grace of God the Father, in devising such a glorious plan of salva+ Jer. iii. 21.
Jer. ii. 32.
Jer. 1. 6.