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and the fountain of all spiritual blessings, which he sheds abundantly on every contrite heart.
The doctrine of Election, as revealed in the word of God, is very sweet to humble holy souls, in an hour of darkness or affliction; whereby they are enabled to trust in the Lord, and to stay themselves upon their God. But it is dangerous for carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of God; for they convert the children's bread into poison, and thus, to them, the word of life becomes the savour of death unto death.
Let us, then, seek for those graces which are the undeniable evidences of saving faith, and the indisputable marks of the elect of God. These the Apostle mentions: "Put on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness."
Happy, indeed, are they who can read their own character, in some humble measure, in this concise description of true believers. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they," and they only, "are the Sons of God;"+ for, "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.'
O! all-gracious Father, whose love and power are infinite, enable me, while a sojourner on mercy's ground, to seek thee where alone thou canst be found, in Christ my Saviour. Stretch forth thine arm, and save me from sinking beneath the waves of destruction. Draw me to thy mercy-seat. Speak peace to my soul. Destroy all evil in my heart. Fill me with light and love; with all the fruits of the Spirit. Unite me to the Saviour by a living faith. Make me a member of thy true Church, that, being chosen in Christ through thy sovereign grace, I may glorify thee here, by a life of holiness, and then at death
*Col. iii. 12-14.
+ Rom. viii. 14.
Rom. viii. 9.
enjoy a life of happiness in thy blissful presence, where is fulness of joy; and at thy right hand, where are pleasures for evermore.
How can the world true bliss bestow,
If Satan comes in evil hour,
He, by his Cross, the foe subdues,
If I forsake the living way,
And careless from my Saviour stray;
"Did I expire upon the tree
That thou the friend of sin shouldst be ?"
A pilgrim here, I often sigh,
O'erwhelmed with grief and misery:
To this dear Friend I will repair,
L. THE UNSATISFYING NATURE OF EARTHLY THINGS, AND THE BENEFIT OF SANCTIFIED AFFLICTION.
“Behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit."-Eccles. ii. 11. "No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."-Heb. xii. 11.
ST. PAUL was in a happy frame when he could say: “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”*
Wealth breeds care. One staff is a help to the weary traveller; a hundred would press him down. There is much wisdom as well as mercy in the pre"Let cept : your moderation be known unto all men : ......Be careful for nothing."+ Superfluity often creates satiety. The man who lives continually in the midst of splendour, views with indifference those costly objects which attract the admiration of strangers. Solomon withheld his heart from no joy, but the fruit of all his toil was, "vanity and vexation of spirit."‡
The blessings of Providence are more evenly dealt out than is supposed. There are temptations and trials peculiar to every condition of life. St. James calls our attention to his important question : "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" And St. Paul, in like manner, addresses the Corinthians: "Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are Phil. iv. 11. + Phil. iv. 5, 6. Eccles. i. 14., ii. 11, 17.
§ James ii. 5.
despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence."* For "Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things do I delight, saith the Lord."+
O! my soul, earth and heaven are spread before thee. Each are inviting thee to closer union. God and Mammon are demanding thy service; but both thou canst not serve. Choose this day whom thou wilt serve, God or the world. Thou hast seen that, when the world has poured its envied greatness upon any individual, he is still every moment liable to the sorrows of the heart, to the diseases of the body, to the stroke of death; and, if unregenerate, to the worm that dieth not, and to the fire that never shall be quenched.§ Thy powers are vast, though weakened and corrupted through the Fall.|| Allied to angels by thy spiritual nature, thou art ever soaring beyond the boundaries of time, and longing for a something yet unpossessed, a happiness which earth can never give. ** This restless search for happiness shows thee, O my soul, that He who formed thee, made thee for a holier, happier state than this. When the world has lavished on thee all its bliss, the aching void still remains. God alone can satisfy those enlarged desires which stretch themselves into immortality.
Be wise, then, O my soul, look unto that glorious Being who inhabiteth eternity, who is the fountain of all blessedness, the only source of true, unmixed felicity. Behold him in the person of Jesus Christ;
* 1 Cor. i. 26-29.
Matt. xvi. 11.; Luke xvi. 13.
+ Jer. ix. 23, 24.
§ Mark ix. 43-48.
Job xiv. 4.; Psa. li. 5.; John iii. 6.; 1 Cor. ii. 14.
** Psa. viii. 5., Heb. ii. 7.; Eccles. v. 16., Mark viii. 36.
behold, believe, and love! This gracious Emmanuel left the mansions of glory to save thee from the abodes of misery. He became poor, that thou, through his poverty, mightest be rich.* O! tear thy affections from these transient scenes, and fix them upon Him who loved thee even unto death. Make him thy choice; thy portion; thy everlasting all. He can make poverty, abundance; and abundance, satisfying: for with him thou shalt have all things and abound. With him is treasured up all bliss and glory; all happiness and felicity; all joy and peace; every delight, and every precious thing.
Come, thou blessed Redeemer, Saviour of sinners, Friend of the lost and wretched, be thou my present and eternal portion. O! make me willing to choose thee, and to love thee, and to serve thee with all my powers. Take full possession of my heart. Enter, heavenly guest, and take up thine abode within me. Wash me from all my sins in thy cleansing blood. Clothe me with the spotless garment of thy Righteousness. Fill me with the grace of thy Spirit; and enable me to live to thee alone; to seek my all in thee; to devote my every power to thee; to commit myself, body, soul, and spirit, into thy hands, to be sanctified, governed, and preserved through thy grace, to the glory of thy holy name.
Nothing is more common than to approve of what is good, and yet to follow that which is evil. Few, comparatively, are faithful to their convictions. None can deny the uncertainty of life, and yet all live as if life were at their command. Schemes of future bliss are devised with as much security, as if the fond projectors were building their fabric on a rock. But soon the illusion vanishes like the Mirage of the desert, which leaves the disappointed traveller, when advancing as he hoped towards some refreshing waters, with nothing but the burning sand.
Every thing here below is fleeting and transitory. While journeying through this wilderness of care,
* 2 Cor. viii. 9.