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to God. Whether it be through a divinely-appointed law of the human soul itself, or through some divine provision external to the soul and ordained on its behalf, but less capable of clear explanation than the conscious phenomena of the soul itself, it is a doctrine no less reasonable than scriptural to maintain, that our Heavenly Father gives a holy spirit to them that ask Him, and that their earnest asking and seeking is the condition of its larger and larger attainment.
But it is after all a question rather of practical than theoretical religion, a question of religious consciousness and experience, which must be referred to the thoughtful solution of those who in various degrees, according to their needs or aspirations, have tried it.
The most decisive experiments have perhaps been, for the most part, tried in the sorest human needs.
In pain, long continued and severe, and hopeless of relief short of its fatal issue, the only availing prayer has been for the only compensation of bodily suffering, the prayer for the holy spirit of patience to bear and faith to trust and love. And in how many instances sacred to our hearts has that holy spirit been manifested !
In sorrow, in the saddest, deepest, most mysterious of the countless sorrows that beset our mortal life,-helpless, hopeless, unable to comprehend or to imagine the use or purpose of the affliction, and unable therefore consciously to derive special instruction or improvement from it,—the child of God's chastening hand has asked, in the anguish almost of despair, for one thing only,
for strength to bear what the Divine will imposes. After many a fearful struggle he has ventured to use his Master's words : “Thy will, not mine, be done.” And out of his confessed helplessness a wondrous strength has begun to arise. From this self-negation has sprung a closer sense of the awful Will who now so sorely afflicts, and has all our joys and sorrows in His disposal ; a composure quite marvellous to the afflicted man himself has gradually spread over the desert of his heart; and a higher and holier spirit has become his than ever was his before, or perhaps ever could have been but for the test of such a sorrow ;—the spirit of severe duty and righteous effort, of earnest work and selfabandoning trust, serving God and loving man.
This holy spirit hath the Heavenly Father given to many who from the depth of stricken hearts, with all earthly wishes softened and subdued, and human affections tried and chastened, have implored the Author of their being to impart to them their sovereign good, Himself. No wonder that many a one, thus heaven-befriended in the midst of unutterable woe, should have believed himself to have been the subject of special or even of miraculous influence! But, blessed be God ! it needs no interposing miracle. It is the gift of His constant providence. This healthful spirit of His grace is freely open to all. It is not that His grace is scant, when the sharers of it are careless, remiss or few.
There are other occasions when we need as urgently to seek its help, yet are not so powerfully impelled to do so, as we are in seasons of sorrow. I mean in our temptations ; in each incipient thought or act of sin, in the commission of faults which we do not perhaps call sins, when we are yielding to unkind feelings, to selfishness, anger, false pride, foolish vanity, or any low or unamiable feeling. Then if, conscious of our failings, we desire a holier spirit to possess us,-if in the moment of the temptation we would realize the holy Will which is ever about us in approval or in pitying displeasure ;thus seeking, we shall find; thus asking, we shall receive; thus knocking, we shall see the door of loving welcome opened to us, and strength poured out from on high. Such efforts of daily self-control are true prayers. On such the Holy Spirit is that moment shed.
And O let us seek it, brethren, where some may think they need it not, in all the joys and happiness of our daily life! If we need it not for immediate comfort or increase of joy, we may need it for restraint, that our joys become not careless, heartless and soon sinful. We may need it for warning, not to stake our soul's bliss on the doubtful and temporary treasures of outward life, but to secure that good part which cannot be taken from us. And we all need it for the full appreciation, for the true use and faithful improvement of the outward blessings themselves, which have a religious worth if we receive them as from God, and which, if rightly, thankfully and beneficently used, though they may perish in the using, will never perish in their results upon our inward, spiritual and immortal good
0, if we know how to give good gifts to our children, let our own hearts assure us that our Heavenly Father will give these best things, these holiest things of the Spirit, to them that ask Him! Amen.
JOY FOR THE PENITENT.
BY REV. J. SCOTT PORTER.
LUKE Xv. 10:
“Likewise I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God
over one sinner that repenteth.”
THROUGH the whole of our blessed Saviour's labours and teachings, it runs as a pervading principle that sin is the greatest of evils,-not merely that it leads to the greatest of evils, but that it is itself the greatest of evils. And surely this is true; for it not only robs man of present peace and deprives him of coming bliss, but it wrongs his very nature ; enslaves him and degrades him ; destroys the fine sympathies and sensibilities of his soul ; blunts, deadens and perverts his noblest powers; and establishes a fierce anarchy in the place of that beautiful harmony which the Creator designed to be the characteristic of his own image upon earth. Compared with sin, all other evils are slight,--may be borne with equanimity,—may be contemplated without utter horror and detestation. Undoubtedly they are evils,-some of them great evils ; but they are smaller evils. Pain and poverty are evils; sickness, sorrow, disappointment, are evils. These things must always be felt as evils whenever they are felt at all ; that is, wherever they exist. But they affect only the outward part of man. They do not reach to the very seat of peace and freedom in the soul. They are as nothing when compared with the loss of man's true dignity and highest glory,—the forfeiture of the ennobling consciousness of virtue, and the angelic capacities for love and holiness which sin destroys. Compared with the evil of sin,-of sin considered in itself and without any regard to its consequences, immediate or remote, -no other evil that we are called on to endure or witness, none even that we can conceive by imagination, deserves to be considered as an evil. Even the endurance of the pangs which are to be the portion of the reprobate hereafter,-if we could conceive them as endured by any being whose guilt had not rendered their infliction necessary, would be, to the mind which could view objects in their proper light, an evil infinitely less, a misfortune of unmeasurably smaller amount, than that which is incurred by and in the very smallest violation of the law of conscience and of God, or the slightest departure from its pure and blessed requirements.
This is the view of the nature of sin which Christianity everywhere either takes or supposes. Viewing it in this light, the writers of our holy Scriptures would not be justified in speaking in less glowing terms than they employ, of the love and condescending mercy of God in sending forth his Son “to save the world from sin;" to "bless us in turning away every one of us from our iniquities;" “ to destroy sin and the works of the devil,” and to “bring in everlasting righteousness.” Viewing sin in this light, they naturally exert all their powers of language in depicting the benignity of the Saviour, who cheerfully accepted the heavenly mission with which he was invested, gave his life" a ransom for our sins," “sacrificed” himself for us, “that we, being dead to sin,” might live a life of purity, of innocence and love. Not only did the Son of God in the fulfilment of his mission submit to indignities, stripes and sorrows of the severest and most bitter