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wander wide of the mark, is not from any want of plainness in the path, but from the perverseness of our will in not chusing it, from the indolence of our minds in not. following it up.
In our attachments to earthly things even the most innocent, there is always a danger of excess, but from this danger we are here perfectly exempt, for there is no possibility of excess in our love to that Being who liaz de. manded the whole heart. This peremptory requisition cuts off all debate. Had God required. only a portion, even were it a large portion, we night be puzzled in seta: tling the quautuin. We miglit be plotting how large a part we might venture to keep back without absolutely forfeiting our safety; we might be haggling for deducs. tions, bargaining for abatements, and be perpetually compromising with our Maker. But the injunctiou is entire, the command is definite, the portion is unequivocal. Though it is so compressed in the expression, yet it is so expansive and ample in the measure; it is so distinct a claim, so imperative a requisition of all the faculties of the mind and strength; all the affections of the heart and soul; that there is not the least opening left for litigation; no place for any thing but absolute unreserved compliance.
Every thing which relates to God is infinite. We must therefore, while we keep our hearts humble keep our aims, high. . Our highest services indeed are but finite, imperfect. But as God is unlimited in goodness, he should have our uplimited love. The best we can offer is poor, but let us not withhold that best. He deserves : incomparably more than we have to give. Let us not give him less than all. If he has ennobled our corrupt nature with spiritual affections, let us not refuse their noblest aspirations, to their noblest object. Let him not? behold us so prodigally lavishing our affections on the meanest of his bounties, as to have nothing left for himself. As the standard of every thing in religion is high, let us endeavour to act in it with the highest intention of mind, with the largest use of our faculties. Let us obey him with the niost intense love, adore him with the most fervent gratitude. Let us " praise him according to bis: excellent greatness.” Let ns serve him with all the strength of our capacity, with all the devotion of our will.
of plas Grace being a new principle added to our natural
powers, as it determines the desires to a higher object, so E 1981 it adds vigour to their activity. We shall best prove its
dominion over us by desiring to exert ourselves in the cause of heaven with the same energy with wbich we once exerted ourselves in the cause of the world. The
world was too little to fill our whole capacity. Scaliger hisze lamented how much was lost because so fine a poet as
Claudian, in bis choice of a subject, wanted matter wora martha thiy of his talents, but it is the felicity of the Christian to
have chosen a theme to which all the powers of his lieart and of his understanding will be found inadequate. It is
the glory of religion to supply an object worthy of the endels tire consecration of every power, faculty and affection of By car an immaterial, immortal being.
TUE HAND OF GOD TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED IN THE
DAILY CIRCUMSTANCES OF LIFE..
If we would indeed love God, let us “ acquaint ourselves with him.” The word of inspiration has assured us that there is no other way to “be at peace." As we
cannot love an unknown God, so neither can we know in him, or even approach toward that knowledge, but on the Egyi terms which he himself holds out to us; neither will be os ou save us but in the method which he has himself prescriere, bed. His very perfections, the just objects of our adora. their tion, all stand in the way of creatures so guilty. His jus. that tice is the flaming sword which excludes us from the eine Paradise we have forfeited. His purity is 80 opposed to hin our corruptions, bis omnipotence to our infirmity, his tieth wisdom to our folly, that had we not to plead the great
propitiation, those very attributes wlich are now our trust, would be onr terror. The most opposite images of human conception, the widest extremes of human language, are used for the purpose of shewing what God 18 to us, iu our natural state, and what he is under the Christian dispensation. The “consuming fire” is trane. formed iuto essential love.
But as we cannot find out the Almighty to perfection, so we cannot love him with that pure flame, which ani. mates glorified spirits. But there is a preliminary acquaintance with him, an initial love of him, for which be has furnished us with means by his works, by his word, and by his Spirit. Even in this weak and barren soil some germs will shoot, some blossoms will open, of that celestial plant, which, watered by the dews of heaven, and ripened by the Sun of Righteousness, will, in a more genial clime, expand into the fulness of perfection, and bear immortal fruits in the paradise of God.
A person of a cold phlegmatic temper, who laniepts that he wants that fervour in his love of the supreme' Being, which is apparent in more ardent characters, may take comfort, if he find the same indifference respecting his worldly attachments. But it his affections are intense towards the perishable things of earth, while they are dead to such as are spiritual, it does not prove that he is destitute of passions, but only that they are not directed to the proper object. If however he love God with that measure of feeling with which God has endowed him, he will not be punished or rewarded, because the stock is greater or smaller than that of some other of his fellow creatures.
In those intervals when our sense of divine things is weak and low, we must not give way to distrust, but warm our hearts with the recollection of our best moments. Our motives to love and gratitude are not now diminished, but our spiritual frame is lower, our natural spirits are weaker. Where there is languor there will be discouragements. But we must not desist. “ Faipt yet pursuing," must be the Christian's motto.
There is more merit, (if ever we dare apply so arrogant a word to our worthless efforts) in persevering under depression and discomfort, than in the happiest flow of devotion, when the tide of health and spirits runs bign. Where there is less gratification there is more disinterestedness. We ought to consider it as a cheering evidence, that our love may be equally pure though it is not equally fervent, when we persist in serving our hea. venly father with the same constancy, though it may please him to withdraw from us the same consolations. Perseverance may bring us to the very dispositions the absence of which we are lamenting--. O tarry thou the Lord's leisure, be strong and he shall comfort thy heart."
We are too ready to imagine that we are religious because we know something of religion. We appropriate to ourselves the pious sentiments we read, and we talk as if the thoughts of other men's heads were really the feelings of our own hearts. But piety has not its seat in the memory, but in the affections, for which however the
memory is an excellent purveyor, though a bad substiof house tute. Instead of an undue elation of heart when we pe
?Pse some of the Psalmist's beautiful effusions, we should feel a deep self-abasement at the reflection, that howey. er our case may sometimes resemble his, yet how inap
plicable to our hearts are the ardent expressions of his ne B2 repeútance, the overflowing of his gratitude, the depth
of his submission, the entireness of his self-dedication, the fervor of his love. But he who indeed can once say with bim, “ Thou art my portion," will, like him, sur. render himself unreservedly to his service,
It is important that we never suffer our faith, any more than our love, to be depressed or elevated, by mistaking for its own operations, the ramblings of a busy imagination. The steacky principle of Faith must not look for its character, to the vagaries of a mutable and fantastic Fancy-La folle de la Maison, as she has been well denominated. Faith which has once fixed her foot on the iminntable rock of ages, fastened her firm eye on the
cross, and stretched ont her triumphant hand to seize er the promised crown, will not suffer her stability to demais de p end on this ever-shifting faculty; she will not be driven
to despair by the blackest shades of its pencil, nor be beint, trayed into a careless security, by its most flattering and Ferit vivid colours.
One cause of the fluctuations of our faith is, that we are too ready to judge the Almighty by our own low standard. We judge him not by his own declarations of what he is, and what he will do, but by our own feelings and practices. We ourselves are too little disposed to torgive those who have offended us. We therefore can. clude that God cannot pardon our offences. We suspect hins to be implacable, because we are apt to be so, and we are nowilling to believe that he can pass by injuries,
because we find it so hard to do it. When we do fora .:give, it is grudgingly and superficially; we therefore in
ter that God cannot forgive freely and fully. We make a lypocritical distinction between forgiving and forgetting injitries. God clears away the score when he grants the pardon. He does not only say, “ thy sins and thy iniquities will I forgive,” but “ I will remember no more."
We are disposed to urge the smallness of our offences, as a plea for their forgiveness; wliereas God, to exhibit the boundlessness of bis own mercy, has taught us to allege a plea directly contrary, “ Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is gredt." To natural reason this argument of David is most extraordinary. But while he felt that the greatness of his own iniquity left bim no resource, but in the nerey of God, he felt that God's mercy was greater even than his own sin. What a large, what a magnificent idea does it give us of the divine power and goodness that the believer, instead of pleading the smallness of his own offences as a motive for pardon, pleads only the abundance of the divine compassion!
We are told that it is the duty of the Christian to " seek God.” We assent to the truth of the proposition. Yet it would be less irksome to corrupt nature, in pur: suit of this knowledge, to go a pilgrimage to distant lands, than to seek him within onr own hearts. Our own heart is the true terra incognita ; a land more foreign and nnknown to is, than the regions of the polar circle: Yet that heart is the place, in which an acquaintance withi God must be sought. It is there we must worship him, if we would worship him in spirit and in truth.
But, alas! the heart is not the home of a worldly man, it is scarcely the home of a Christian. If business and pleasure are the natural element of the generality; a dreary vacuity, sloth, and insensibility, too often worse than both, disincline, disqualify too many Christians for the pursuit.
I have observed, and I think I lave heard others observe, that a common beggar had rather screen iimself under the wall of a churchyard, if overtaken by a shower of rain, though the church doors stand invitingly open, than take shelter within it, while divine service is per: forming. It is a less annoyance to him to be drenched with the storm, than to enjoy the convenience of a shelter and a seat, if he must enjoy them at the heavy price of listening to the sermon.
While we condemn the beggar, let us look into our own hearts; happy if we cannot there detect somewhat of