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"cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water."* This conduct is our folly, as it is made our misery. Our roses grow on prickly stems. Every thing, even our choicest comforts, have some admixture of sorrow, to remind us of the fall. There is, O blessed assurance! a world where all is perfect, where pleasures flow like a river, pure as crystal, from the throne of God; where Christian friends, united here in Christ, shall meet, in perfect holiness, to part no more. Oh! what a resplendent view is opened to us through the gospel. What pure delights those persons lose, who have no relish for communion with God, no participation in the communion of saints. The friends of Jesus, are the friends of each other. They love each other for His sake, who is their beloved and their friend. With united voices they can sing:
"Bless'd be the tie that binds
There is something magnetical in genuine Christian love. It attracts heart to heart. In such a world as this, how invaluable is a Christian friend; one, on whom we can rely, and into whose bosom we can freely pour those thoughts and feelings which occupy our own. This world, like "a peevish April day, is made up of rain and sunshine." Here,`we are called to endure: in heaven, we shall be privileged to enjoy. Brethren in Christ, whose hearts are knit together in love, shall, ere long, meet around the throne, united to their glorified Head.
How delightful is the thought of being for ever with the Lord. How composing under every trial is the assurance of seeing Him as he is, and being made like Him in the perfection of love. O that my heart were more and more assimilated to my divine Lord. Holiness is the health of the soul. Holiness is hap
* Jer. ii. 13.
piness. Holiness is heaven begun. Heaven must be a place of unspeakable bliss, where God our Saviour manifests his glory; where the holiest affections will be in their highest, perpetual exercise; where all the excellent of the earth shall be assembled; and where, the very element of the place, is ETERNAL JOY.
Bless'd is the tie which closely binds
In friendship sweet two kindred minds;
Jesus, of all the friends, most dear,
They feel his presence in their hearts,
In gloom, and sickness, grief, and care,
This grace divine, so freely given,
Cements the Church in earth and heaven;
My Jesus, seal me ever thine!
XL. CHRISTIAN PERSEVERANCE.
"Faint, yet pursuing."-Judges viii. 4.
THE journey of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan affords an instructive history to the Christian pilgrim. The opposition, dangers, trials, and temptations, which beset his path; the unbelief, misgivings, fears, and rebellions of his own heart; the love, power,
patience, and truth of his covenant God, are all set before him in this faithful record of the ancient church. He can read his history in that of Israel of old, and thus obtain a deeper view of his own corruption, and of God's everlasting love.
We read, that "the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.' Canaan was indeed before them, but the way was rough and thorny. "We went," said Moses, "through all that great and terrible wilderness," "wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought."+ But God was with them; the pillar of fire gave them light by night; and the cloudy pillar shaded them from the sultry heat of day. When they had passed over Jordan, their victories gave strength to their faith; but there remained yet very much land to be possessed, and their motto might be, "Faint, yet pursuing."
"Faint, yet pursuing," is truly descriptive of the wearied pilgrim anxious to reach his place of rest; and of the Christian warrior who fights, under much weakness, to obtain the crown. Though helpless in himself, he is strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inner man, and thus is enabled to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, to persevere in his heavenly course, and to put his enemies to flight. Often does he realise the blessing of Israel to Joseph: "His bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee." He remembers the divine declaration, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." He knows that God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, that no flesh should glory in his presence. Hence he renounces his own wisdom and strength, and relies on the power and grace of Jesus.
Numb. xxi. 4. + Deut. i. 19; viii. 15. Gen. xlix. 24, 25.
§ Zech. iv. 6.
O! my soul, what is thy aim, thy great design? Though often faint, through manifold infirmities, art thou still striving to enter into that rest which remaineth to the people of God. Art thou fighting the good fight of faith, that thou mayest lay hold on eternal life ?* Canst thou say with David, respecting thy rebel-sins, "I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed. I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet. For THOU hast girded me with strength unto the battle: THOU hast subdued under me those that rose up against me?"+ Hast thou experienced the promise of the Saviour by his inspired Apostle : "Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace:"-" The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly:"§ "We are more than conquerors, through him that loved us ?"||
Alas! I feel my utter weakness, and total insufficiency even to think a good thought. I am faint by reason of indwelling sin, for when I would do good, evil is present with me. What a corrupt fountain is my heart. Lord cleanse this polluted spring. I long after absolute holiness, unspotted purity. I know that to be like my Saviour is to be blessed. O! that I may have grace rightly to answer these important questions.
"O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be ?"**
Lord, it is my heart's desire to be cleansed from all sin, through the precious blood of Jesus. "When shall it once be ?" O let it be now, this very moment, for " now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."++ I cannot be happy too soon, and if I have Thee for my portion, if I am transformed into Thine image, I must, I shall be happy.
* 1 Tim. vi. 12. § Rom. xvi. 20.
+ Psa. xviii. 37-39.
Rom. viii. 37. ++ 2 Cor. vi. 2.
Rom. vi. 14.
** Jer. xiii. 27.
“O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved: how long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee ?"*
Blessed Redeemer! wash me throughly from my sin in the fountain of thy blood. Let me not be principally anxious about external washing, but may I seek above all things for internal purification. My words may be correct, when heart is like a cage of unclean birds. My attendance at thy house of prayer may be punctual, and yet I be "almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly." The whited sepulchre appears fair and beautiful, though full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. I may outwardly appear righteous before men, while filled with hypocrisy and iniquity. O! grant that my heart may be washed from wickedness, and then my outward walk and conversation will be according to godliness.
Preserve me, O Lord, from resting in the outworks of religion. Suffer me not to trust in sacraments, or any other means of grace, as if some inherent virtue were lodged in them, apart from the state of mind of those who use them. Give me true repentance and faith, that I may rightly receive the blessings which thou hast promised to impart, through the ordinances of thy gospel. Impress upon my mind this truth, that they are only the channels, and not the source of grace. Thou, and Thou alone, art the FOUNTAIN of all grace. From Thee, all good proceeds. O! keep me from the fatal error of the Church of Rome; and from every departure from the truth of the gospel.
O! Thou "Lord of peace, give me peace always by all means,"† and "holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." Let me not be satisfied with a name to live, with a reputation for piety, while dead in thy sight. Impart unto me thy Holy Spirit; enable me to tread in thy footsteps, while passing through the trials and persecutions of the world.
Jer. iv. 14.
+ 2 Thess. iii. 16.
Heb. xii. 14.