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Young Man's Sunday Book.
OUR FAITH MOST HOLY.
To make a wicked and sinful man most holy through his believing, is more than to create a world of nothing. Our faith most holy! Surely Solomon could not show the Queen of Sheba so much treasure in all his kingdom, as is lapt up in these words. O that our hearts were stretched out like tents, and that the eyes of our understanding were as bright as the sun, that we might thoroughly know the riches of the glorious inheritance of the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power towards us, whom he accepteth for pure and most holy, through our believing. O that the Spirit of the Lord would give this doctrine entrance into the stony and brazen heart of the Jew, who followeth the law of righteousness, but cannot attain unto the righteousness of the law! Wherefore they seek righteousness, and not by faith ; wherefore they stumble at Christ, they are bruised, shivered to pieces, as a ship that hath run herself upon a rock. O that God would cast down the eyes of the proud, and humble the souls of the highminded !--that they might at length abhor the garments of their own flesh, which cannot hide their nakedness, and put on the faith of Christ Jesus, as he did put it on, who hath said, “Doubtless I think all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have counted all things loss, and do judge them to be dung, that I might win Christ, and might be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law ; but that which is through the faith of Christ, even the righteousness which is of God through faith.” O that God would open the ark of mercy, wherein this doctrine lieth, and set it wide before the eyes of poor afflicted consciences, which fly up and down upon the waters of their affliction, and can see nothing but only the gulf and deluge of their sins, wherein there is no place for them to rest their feet. The God of pity and compassion give you all strength and courage every day, and every hour, and every moment, to build and edify yourselves in this most pure and holy faith.
IMPORTANCE OF THE SUBJECTS OF RELI
The subjects of religious knowledge are transcendently important. Its object is not to instruct us in physical or moral science, but in the divine character and government: not in the history of time, but in the realities of eternity. What is the true character of that Great Being who made, preserves, and governs all things? What are the relations in which we stand to him, and what are the duties that arise out of these relations ? How came moral and physical evil into our world, and how are they to be mitigated or removed ? How is guilty man to be restored to the Divine favour? What are the leading principles on which the moral government of the world is conducted ? And in what is that system of divine dispensation to terminate, so far as the destinies of mankind are concerned? These are some of the questions resolved by religionquestions, compared with which, the noblest discoveries of philosophy and science lose their importance, and appear “ less than nothing and vanity.”
EXISTENCE OF GOD.
God is a spirit, infinite, boundless, illimitable, unfathomable in his conceptions and capacities; but we are finite, circumscribed, and weak in our conceptions. Between the finite and the infinite, there must be an infinite distance; and if there be an infinite distance between the intellect of Gabriel and of God, what must be the distance between ours and his! Those morning-stars gather all the lustre their vast intelligence from him, and perpetually replenish their effulgent orbs at the fountain of light. Such is God; but God is the great subject of divine revelation, his being, his attributes, his purposes, the principles of his government, and the modes of his existence. Is it probable, then, that all which this volume shall reveal of God we should be able to understand ? Is it in the nature of things? Then must the mighty deep compress itself into a scanty rill—the glorious sun pour all its light into a twinkling star—the vast revolutions, the myriads of ages of eternity, be comprehended in the fleeting years of time. For not till then
“shall man by searching find out God," or the finite comprehend the infinite. But because we cannot comprehend it, is it therefore contrary to our reason? No! the very circumstance that we cannot comprehend it, commends it to our
The duration we can calculate, is not eternity ; the being we can grasp, cannot possibly be infinite. If God were comprehensible by us, he would be a finite being like ourselves; and if revelation told us nothing about God which we could not comprehend, we should say, either the revelation is imperfect, or this being of whom it treats is not God. The doctrine of a God, then, must necessarily be superior but not contrary to
MEANS OF MORAL IMPROVEMENT. If we would seek for that, which must be of all conceivable things of the highest moment both for the peace and improvement of the moral being, it is to be found in the habit of mind, in which there is the uniform contemplation of the divine character, with a constant reliance on the guidance of the Almighty in every action of life. “One thing,” says the inspired writer, “have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” The man who thus cultivates the habitual impression of the divine presence lives in an atmosphere peculiarly his own. The storms which agitate the lower world may blow around or beneath, but they touch not him; as the traveller has seen from the mountain's top the war of elements below, while he stood in unclouded sunshine. In the works, and ways, and perfections of the Eternal One, he finds a subject of exalted contemplation, in comparison with which the highest inquiries of human science sink into significance. It is an exercise, also, which tends at once to elevate and to purify the mind. It raises us from the minor concerns and transient interests which are so apt to occupy us, to that wondrous field in which “worlds and worlds compose one universe," and to that mind which bade them move in their appointed orbits, and maintains them all in undeviating harmony. While it thus teaches us to bend in humble adoration before a wisdom which we cannot fathom, and a power which we cannot comprehend, it directs our attention to a display of moral attributes which at once challenge our reverence and demand our imitation. By thus leading us to compare ourselves with the supreme excellence, it tends to produce profound humility, and, at the same time, that habitual aspiration after moral improvement which constitutes the highest state of man. “ The proud,” says an eloquent writer, “look down upon the earth, and see nothing that creeps upon its surface more noble than themselves; the humble look upwards to their God.” This disposition of mind, so far from being opposed to the acquirements of philosophy, sits with peculiar grace upon the man who, through the most zealous cultivation of human science, ascends to the eternal Cause. The farther he advances in the wonders of nature, the higher he rises in his adoration of the power and the wisdom which guide the whole;" Where others see a sun, he sees a Deity.” And then, in every step of life,