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induced strength. There is scarcely a command in the whole. Scripture wbich has not either inmediately, or in some other part, a corresponding prayer, and a corresponding promise. If it says in one place “ get thee a new heari”-it says in another " a new heart will I give thee;"--and in a third “ make me a clean heart?” For it is worth observing that a diligent inquirer may trace ev. ery where this threefold anion. If God commands by Saint Paul “ let not su reign in your mortal body," he promises by the sanie Apostle “ Sin shall not have domin. ion over you;"--while, to co. piete the tripartite agreement, he makes David pray that his “ sius may not have dominion over him.”
The Saints of old, so far from setting up on the stock of their own independent virtue, seem to have had no idea of any light but what was imparted, of any strength but what was compiunicated to them from above,--Hear their importunate petitions !—“O) send forth thy light and thy truth!' - Mark their grateful declarations“ the Lord is ny strength and my salvation !"--Observe their cordial acknowledgments!“ bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.”
Though we must be careful not to mistake for the di. vine Agency those impulses which pretend to operate independently of external revelation; wbich have little reference to it; which set themselves above it; it is however that powerful agency which canctifies all means, renders ali exterual revelation effectnal.- Notwithstanding that all the truths of religion, all the doctrines of sal. vation are contained in the holy scriptures, these very scriptures require the influence of that spirit which dic. tated them to produce an influential faith. This Spirit, by enlighteping the mind, converts the rational persuasion, brings the intellectual conviction of divine truth conveyed in the New Testament, into an operative principle. A man, from reading, examining, and inquring, may attain to such a reasonable assurance of the truth of revelation as will remove all doubts from his own mind, and even enable him to retute the objections of others; but this bare intellectual faith alone will not operate against his corrupt affections, will not cure his besetting sin, will not conquer his rebellious will, and may not therefore be an etficacious principle. A mere historical faith, the mere evidence of facts with the soundest rea
sonings and deductions from them, may not be that faith which will fill him with all joy and peace in believing.
An liabitnal reference to that Spirit which animates the real Christian is so far from excluding, that it strengthens the truth of revelation, but never contradicts it. The word of God is always in unison with his spirit. His spirtt is never in opposition to his word. Indeed that this influence is not an imaginary thing, is confirmed by flie whole tenor of Scripture. We are aware that we are treading on dangerons, because disputed ground; for among the fashionable curtailments of scripture doctrines, there is not one truth which has been lopped from the modern creed with a more unsparing hand; not one, the defence of which excites more suspicion against its advocates. But if it had been a mere phantom, should we with such jealous iteration, have been cantioned against neglecting or opposing it? If the holy Spirit could not be « grieved," might not be- quenched," were not likety to be « resisted;" that very spirit which proclaimed the probibitions wonld never have said “grieve not,” " qaench pot," “ resist not." The Bible never warns us against imaginary evil, nor courts us to imaginary good. If then we refuse to yield to its guidance, if we reject its directions, if we submit not to its gentle persuasiops, for tuch they are, and not arbitrary compnisions, we shall never attain to that peace and liberty which are the pri. vilege, the promised reward of sincere Christians. "In speaking of that peace which passeth understandang, we allnde not to those illuminations and raptures, which, if God has in some iristances bestowed them, hé has no where pledged himself to bestow; but of that rational yet elevated hope which flows from an asshred persuasion of the paternal love of our heavenly Father; of that “secret of the Lord," which he himself has assured ins, « is with them that fear him;" of that life and power of religion wlich are the privilege of those " who abide under the shadow of the Almighty;" of those who“ kuow in whom they liave believed;" of those who walk not after the fleshi but after the spirit ;" of those“ who endure as seeing him who is invisible.”
Many faults may be committed where there is nevertheless a sincere desire to please God. Many infirmities are consistent with a rordial love of our redeemer. Faith may be sincere where it is not strong. But he who can
conscientiously say that he seeks the favour of God above every earthly good; that he delights in his service in. comparably more than in any other gratification; that to obey him here and to enjoy his presence hereafter is the prevailing desire of his heart; that his chief sorrow is that he loves him no more and serves íum no better, such a man requires no evidence that his heart is changed, and his sins forgiven.
For the happiness of a Christian does not consist in mere feelings which may deceive, nor in frames which can be only occasional; but in a settled, calın conviction that God und eternal things have the predominance in his heart; in a clear perception that they have, though with nuch alloy of infirmity, the suprenie, if not uudisturbed possession of his mind; in an experimental persuasion that his chiet remaining sorrow is, that he does not surrender himself with so complete an acquiescence as he ought to his convictions. These abatements, thougla sufficient to keep us bumble, are not powerful enough to make us unhappy.
The true measure then to be taken of our state is from a perceptible change in our desires, tastes, and pleasures; from a sense of progress, however small, in holiness of heart and life. This seems to be the safest rule of judging, for it' mere feelings were allowed to be the criterion, the presumptuous would be inflated with spiritual pride from the persuasion of enjoying them; while the humble, from their very humility, might be as unreasonably depressed at wanting such evidences,
The recognition of this divine aid then, involves no presiunption, raises no illusion, causes no inflation ; it is sober in its principle and rational in its exercise. In establishing the law of God it does not reverse the law of Nature, for it leaves us in full possession of those natural faculties which it improves and sanctities; and so far from inflaming the imagination, its proper tend. Cucy is to subdue and regulate it.
A security which outruns our attainments is a most dangerous state, yet it is a state most unwisely coveted. The probable way to be safe hereafter, is not to be presumptuous now. If God graciously vouchsafe us inward consolation, it is only to animate us to farther progress. It is given us for support in our way, and not for a settled maintepasce in our present condition. If
the promises are onr aliment, the commandments are our work; and a temperate Christian ought to desire nourishment only in order to carry himn through his business. If he so supinely rest on the one as to grow sensual and indoient, he might become not only unwilling but incapacitated for the performance of the other. We must not expect to live upon cordials, which only serve to inflame without strengthening. Even without these supports, which we are more ready to desire than to put ourselves in the way to obtain, there is an inward peace in an humble trust in God, and in a simple reli. ance on his word; there is a repose of spirit, a freedom from solicitude in a lowly confidence in him, for which the world has nothing to give in exchange.
On the whole then, the state which we have been describing, is not the dream of the Enthusiast; it is not the reverie of the Visionary, who renounces prescribed duties for fanciful speculations, and embraces shadows for realities; but it is that sober earnest of Heaven, that reasonable anticipation of eternal felicity, which God is graciously pleased to grant, not partially, nor arbitrarily, but to all who diligently seek his face, to all to whom his service is freedom, his will a law, his word a delight, his Spirit a guide; to all who love him unfeignedly, to all who devote themselves to him unreserva edly, to all who with deep self-abasement, yet with filial confidence, prostrate themselves at the foot of bis ' * thrope, saying, Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us and we shall be safe.
CHRISTIANITY A PRACTICAL PRINCIPLE.
IF God be the Author of our spiritual life, the root from which we derive the vital principle, with daily supplies to maintain this vitality; then the best evidence we can give that we have received something of this principle, is an unreserved dedication of ourselves to the actual promotion of his glory. No map ought to Aatter himself that he is in the favour of God, whose
life is not consecrated to the service of God. Will it not be the only unequivocal proof of such a consecration, that he be more zealous of good works than those why, disallowing the principle on which he perfornis them, do not even pretend to be actnated by any such motive? "The finest theory never yet carried any man to Heaven. A Religion of notions wirich occupies the mind, witlont filling the heart, mav obstruct, but calinot advance the salvation of men. If these notions are false, they are most pernicious; if true and not operative, they aggravate guilt; if unimportant thongh not unjuist, they occupy the place which belongs to nobler objects, and sink the mind below its proper level; stubstituting the tirings which only ought not to be left undone, in the place of those which ought to be done; and causing the grand essentials not to be done at all. Snch & religion is not that which Christ came to teachi månkind.
All the doctrines of the Gospel are practical principles. The word of God was not written, the Son of God was not incarnate, the Spirit of God was not given, only that Christians might obtain right views, and possess just notions. Religion is something more than mere correctness of intellect, justness of conception, and exactness of judgment. It is a life-giving principle. It must be infused into tbe babit, as well as governi in the understanding; it most regulate the will as well as direct the creed. It must not only cast the opinions, into a new frame, bnt the lieart into a new mould. It is a transforming as well as a penetrating principle. It changes the tastes, gives activity to the inclinations, and, together with a new heart, produces a new life.
Christianity enjoins the same teniper, the same spirit, the same dispositions on all its real professors. The act, the performance, must depend on circumstances which do not depend on us. The power of doing good is withheld from many, from whom, however, the reward will not be withheld. If the external act constituted the whole value of Christian virtne, then must the Author of all good be himself the Author of injustice, by putting it out of the power of multitades to fulfil his own commands. In principles, in tempers, in fervent desires, in holy endeavours, consist the very essence of Christiaa duty.