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our companions with care, and regulate our intercourse according to the principles and spirit of the Gospel. A Christian may, by various concerns of business, be called to mix with the world, and occasionally witness many of its enormities. But it is not in the company of men, whose discourse turns chiefly on the projects of towering ambition, the schemes of deep policy, and the base excesses, or gilded refinements of sensual pleasure, that he expects to have his mind enlightened, his faith strengthened, his hope enlivened, and his joy increased. In this turbulent element his soul cannot live and grow in holiness and comfort. He deems it a privilege to be rescued from the strife of tongues, and cries, in the language of the Psalmist, “ Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood. Better indeed is it for a good man to dwell in the wilderness, than to be continually vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.”
It is said by the prophet, “ They that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared the Lord, and thought upon his name.” Mal. iii, 17. Happy is that circle of friends where the wonders of redeeming love form
the theme of their cheerful and instructive discourse! Happy are those seasons when believers can take sweet counsel together, and walk to the house of God in company! Many a winter's evening passes delightfully away, while persons of congenial spirit and piety tell each other “ what God has done for their souls !” Nor will the imputation of fanaticism from a scornful world lessen the value of such society, or prevent those who have tasted that the Lord is gracious from seeking it. When Onesiphorus visited the city of Rome, no object of curiosity or interest in that splendid capital could divert his thoughts from incessant inquiries for Paul, who was a prisoner for the Gospel of Christ. " He sought him out very diligently and found him," and, no doubt, found in him a kindred spirit, and a joyful wel. come. Who can describe the lively sympathy and sweet refreshment of such a meeting!
Do you esteem the saints as the “ excellent of the earth, in whom is all your delight?” Are you, by deliberate choice, a companion of all those who fear God and keep his commandments ? Then I may ask, have you not often proved the benefit of free and friendly intercourse with good men ? Has not the image of Christ, seen in his followers, increased your love to the fair original, and made you more heartily magnify him as the brightness of the Father's glory? Has not converse brought together, and animated to a glow, those live coals of zeal, which, if separate, would have become cold and dead? Have you not often been struck with surprise, and filled with encouragement, to find the conflicts and comforts of others so similar to your own ? And do you not look back with regret on those social interviews, which have been wholly occupied on trivial topics ? When by our conversation Christ is rendered more precious, his yoke more easy, his commands more joyous, we are truly benefited. Let us then take the directory of heaven to regulate our Christian fel-, lowship. This unerring directory requires us to follow peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. Thus we may often be able to adopt the language of the two disciples who were going to Emmaus : “ Did not our hearts burn within us, while we talked with each other?” Let our speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that it may diffuse a savour of the knowledge of Christ wherever we go.
4. As a means of endearing the precious Saviour, there must be a strict conscientious attention paid to the public ordinances of Divine appointment. One duty must not set aside and displace another. Some, in cities and large
towns, are so much engaged in going from one place of worship to another, that they leave little or no time for closet and family devotion. Others, in the opposite extreme, though this is a much rarer case, from a love of reading and retirement, are in danger of neglecting public ordinances. God has graciously granted us a Sabbath, a Gospel ministry, and a house of prayer. How unspeakably important and valuable are these privileges !
Have you found rest to your soul in Christ Jesus? Then pray to be in the spirit of true devotion on the Lord's day, that you may enjoy in it , an antepast of heaven. “ There remaineth yet a rest, the keeping of a Sabbath, to the people of God,” of which the sacred day is but a pledge and a forerunner. Yet many a saint has hailed the day on which Jesus arose, and cried, “This is the day which the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Do you profess yourself a subject of Christ, the King of Zion ? Ministers, as ambassadors for him, proclaim his Gospel, and unfold the terms of peace with God, and the way of salvation. It is their work and delight to speak of things touching the King, who is the sole head and ruler of his church. Do you wish him to reign in your heart without a rival? Would you by faith “ see the
King in his beauty, and the heavenly land afar off?” Remember, he hath said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Animating words ! Surely they ought to move us every time we enter the house of God, as if we heard them actually repeated in our ears by the voice of our beloved. The presence of Jesus in the midst of us ! Stupendous mystery! The very thought of such a privilege ought to inspire us with deeper reverence, and higher joys, than if cherubic legions visibly hovered around us, with benign compassion and celestial glory in their looks! Nor is the Saviour's cheering promise liable to a failure in its fulfilment. Where his saints meet his special presence is felt, pouring forth the se spirit of grace and supplication," sweetening the melody of praise, and giving unction and power to the word of eternal life. “Shall we then forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is ?” God forbid ! Our experience enables us to understand that remarkable passage, Psalm lxxxix, 15, 16. “ Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound! They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. In thy name shall they rejoice all the day, and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.”