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ABSENCE FROM GOD.
My God, my Maker, I have called thee my all-satisfying portion, and my eternal good. When I contemplate thee, I stand amazed at thy grandeur ; thy wisdom, thy power, thy fullness of blessing, wrap my soul' up in astonishment and devout silence. In that happy moment my soul cries out, “What are creatures when compared with thee, but mere shadows of being, the faint reflections of thy light and beauty!" And yet, stupid as I am, I soon lose my sight of God, and stand gazing upon thy creatures all the day, as if beauty and light were theirs in the original.
What are they all, o my God, but empty cisterns that can give no relief to a thirsty soul, unless thou supply them with rivulets from on high? And yet we crowd about these cisterns and are attached to them, as though they were the unfailing springs and fountains of our blessedness. Every breath we draw is a new and unmerited gift from heaven; and yet we are contented to spend that life far from heaven and from God, and to dwell afar off from him, amidst the regions of mortality and death; we are ever groveling in this land of graves, as though immortal blessings were to be drawn from the clods of it.
Our real and eternal interests depend more on thy single favor, than on the united friendship of the whole creation; and yet, foolish wanderers that we are, we absent ourselves fron our God, and rove far and wide to seek interests and friendships among creatures whose character is weakness, vanity, and disappointed vexation. How fond are we of a word, a look from a worm in high station! How do we caress them and court their love, at the expense of virtue and truth, and the favor of God our maker! And yet they are nothing without God, but he is our all without their leave.
Should my father and my mother, and every mortal friend forsake me, and every good angel take his flight ; should these heavens and this earth, with all their innumerable inhabitants, disappear at once, and vanish into their first nothingness; thy presence with me is all-sufficient, thy hand would support my being, and thy love would furnish out an eternity of life and coeval happiness. Why, then, do I tie myself so fast to my mortal friends, as though my separation from them was certain misery? Why do I lean upon creatures with my whole weight, as though nothing else could support me?
O my God! I am convinced that I have more affairs, and of far higher importance, to transact with thee, than with all thy creatures, and yet I am ever chattering with thy creatures, and say little to my God; or at best give him a morning or an
evening salutation, and perhaps, too, with indolence and formality. Whom have I in heaven or on earth but thee, that can supply all my wants, and fill up all the vacancies of my heart? And yet how are my thoughts and hours busily employed in quest of satisfaction among the shining snares, or at best among the flattering impertinences of the world ; though every new experiment shows me they are all unsatisfying! If I happen to find any thing here below made a channel to convey some blessing to me from thy hand, how prone am I to make an idol of it, and place it in the room of my God!
How much, alas ! do I trust to my food to nourish, and physię to heal mel but it is thou alone that can bless me with ease, nourishment, and health, while I dwell in this cottage of flesh and blood. Let medicines and physicians pronounce despair and death upon me, a word of thine can shut the mouth of the grave, can renew the vigor and bloom of youth, and repair the decays of nature. If thou withhold the vital influence, ny flesh languishes and expires, even among luxurious provisions of the table, and the recipes of the learned; and it is thou only that can provide me a blissful habitation when this cottage is fallen to the ground. Father, into thy hand I commend my spirit, when it is dislodged from this mortal tabernacle ; and why should I not keep my spirit ever near thee, since every moment I am liable to be turned out of this dwelling, and sent a naked stranger into the unknown world of spirits ?
It is but a few days and nights more that I can have to do with sun, moon, and stars ; a little time will finish all my commerce with this visible world ; but I have affairs of infinite and everlasting moment to transact with the great God. It is before thy tribunal I must stand as the final Judge of all my conduct, from whose decisive sentence there is no appeal ; and yet how fond am I, and wretchedly solicitous, to approve myself rather to creatures, whose opinion and sentence is but empty air. It is by thy judgment that I must stand or fall for ever; the words of thy lips will be my eternal bliss, or my everlasting woe ; why then should I, a little insect, or atom of being be concerned about the smiles or frowns of my fellow insects, my equal atoms? Can all their applauses or their reproaches weigh a grain in the divine balance, that sacred and tremendous balance of justice, in which all my actions and my soul itself must be weighed? Let all the creatures above and below frown and scowl upon me; if my Creator smile, I am happy ; nor can all their frownings diminish my complete joy,
Forgive, gracious God, forgive the past follies and wander. ings of a sinful worm from thee, the highest and the best of beings. I am even amazed at my own stupidity, that I could live so much absent from thee, when my eternal all depends
upon thee. Oh, may the little remnant of my days be spent in the presence of my God; and when I am constrained to converse with creatures, let me ever remember that I have infinite. ly more to do with my Creator, and thus shorten my talk and traffic with them, that I mw have leisure to converse the longer with thee. Let me see thee in every thing; let me read thy name every where ; sounds, shapes, colors, motions, and all visi. ble things, let them all teach me an invisible Gud.
ACCESS TO GOD.
HOWEVER early in the morning you seek the gate of access, you find it already open ; and however deep the midnight mo ment when you find yourself in the sudden arms of death, the winged prayer can bring an instant Saviour near. And this wherever you are.
It needs not that you should enter some awful shrine , or put off your shoes on some holy ground. Could a memento be reared on every spot from which an acceptable prayer has passed away, and on which a prompt answer has conie down, we should find Jehovah-shammah, “the Lord hath
" been here," inscribed on many a cottage hearth and many a dungeon floor. We should find it not only in Jerusalem's proud temple and David's cedar galleries, but in the fisherman's cottage by the brink of Gennesaret, and in the upper chamber where Pentecost began. And whether it be the field where Isaac went to meditate, or the rocky knoll where Jacob lay down to sleep, or the brook where Israel wrestled, or the den where Daniel gazed on the hungry lions and the lions gazed on him, or the hill-sides where the Man of Sorrows prayed all night. we should still discern the prints of the ladder's feet let down from heaven-the landing place of mercies, because the starting-point of prayer. And all this whatsoever you are. It needs no saint, no proficient in piety, no adept in eloquent language, no dignity of earthly rank. It needs but a simple Hannah, or a lisping Samuel. It needs but a blind beggar, or a loathsome lazar. It needs but a penitent publican, or a dying thief. And it needs no sharp ordeal, no costly passport, no painful expiation to bring you to the mercy-seat; or rather, I should say, it needs the costliest of all : but the blood of atonement--the Saviour's merit--the name of Jesus, priceless as they are, cost the sinner nothing. They are freely put at his disposal, and instantly and constantly he may use them. This access to God in
every place, at every moment, without any price or personal merit, is it not a privilege ?--Rev. James Hamilton.
BY REV. G. A. LINTNER, D. D.
THE DUTY OF CHRISTIANS IN REFERENCE TO LEGAL
“But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded.''-1 Cor. 6: 6, 7.
It is the duty of Christians to “submit themselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake." God has appointed magistrates to rule over us in righteousness. It is his design that they should preserve the peace and order of civil society, protect the innocent, justify the righteous, and restrain evil-doers; and it is the duty of Christians to yield a ready and cheerful submission to the civil authority for these purposes. When we enter the Church of Jesus Christ, and place ourselves under the government of a spiritual kingdom, we do not cast off the obligations of obedience to the civil law. Christians should always evince a high respect for the government; they should set an example of obedience to the law of the land. There is no Christion principle or doctrine that interferes with the just claims of civil government, or that exonerates us, in any sense or in any degree, from the duty we owe to the civil magistrate.
But this is no reason why we should forsake the principles of religion, and resort to the law, in cases of difference between us and our Christian brethren, which should be settled in a relig. ious manner. The Church is an iustitution founded on the high
est principles of justice and benevolence, in which all differences are to be setiled according to those principles, as they are re. Pealed in the gospel, and exemplified in the character of Christ and his true disciples. And no disciple of Christ can, consistently with his Christian duty, go to law with his brother, before the civil magistrate, when the church is fully competent to decide the matter when it is a case belonging to the church, and cannot be properly judged by the magistrate, who may be an unbeliever, in unjust person, and give a wrong decision.
The apostle refers to this subject in the text, and the passages connected with it; and the instructions which he delivers are so important, and have'such a direct bearing on the conduct of professing Christians in our day, that they deserve our solemn consideration : “ Brother goeth to law withi brother, and that before unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law with one another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to bo defrauded ?
In the further examination of this subject, we propose to consider the duty of Christians in reference to legal prosecutions. We shall endeavor to show,
1. That Christ has made it the duty of his disciples to settle all their differences among themsclves, without resorting to legal prosecutions; and, 2. Exhibit some reasons why Christians should not go to law with each other.
The words of the text are addressed to Christians. Paul reproves them for what he considers a great evil in the church. "Brother goeth to law with brother, and that before unbelievers. Ho represents this as a great fault, committed openly, and in vioIntion of every principle by which Christians should be governed in their conduct towards each other. He speaks of it as an evil which admitted of no justification under any circunstances, and dosorved the censure and execration of all who felt for the hovor of Christ and the interests of the church. He raises his voice, and bears testimony against this sin, because he regarded it as a deep stain on the Christian character. It had brought a repro:ch on religion, and a scandal into the church, and could not be tolerated without endangering the very existence of the Church, and subverting those elementary principles by which alone it could be preserved. This was the view which the apostle took of the sin, and therefore he denounces it in the strongest and most emphatic language : “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law ? I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you—106 one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before unbelievers. There is it. terly a fault among you; ye do wrong." This is the language of