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persecuted, reviled, and slandered by an unbelieving world.
No real Christian bearing this exalted character, need droop or despond ; for he is assured by eternal truth itself, that great shall be his reward in heaven.
But is this the character of all the Lord's people without exception ? It is.-All do not indeed attain to the same degree of holy conformity to Jesus, but all must and do bear this divine image; since it is expressly said: “ if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." All true believers possess these inward principles of holiness all have these outward marks of true discipleship-all have to encounter the world's derision; though like the good seed in the parable, there may be in some thirty, in some sixty, and in some a hundred fold.
Let none of the children of God then startle at the sight of the cross ; for "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution.” Rather let them rejoice, since it is recorded by the pen of inspiration : “ if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him ; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”
Happy indeed are they, who most resemble the Saviour, and suffer the most cheerfully for his sake. I learn from these beatitudes, that all the graces, which our divine Redeemer pronounces blessed, meet, like the radii of a circle, in one common centre -the heart of the true believer.
These graces do not form so many distinct characters, but unitedly, they form one character the child of God. Some of God's children have shone brighter in one grace, and some in another ; but each possesses the whole.
Abraham is exhibited to us as a pattern for faith ; Job for patience; Joseph for purity; Moses for meekness; Samuel for integrity; David for contrition
and spiritual-mindedness; Daniel for devotion; Peter for zeal ; John for tenderness ! Paul for contempt of the world, and delight in the cross : yet all were filled with love; all were clothed with humility; for humility and love are the characteristic features of genuine excellence.
The angels are humble; as standing before the throne of God, they veil their faces with their wings.
The glorified saints are humble; when high in bliss, they cast their crowns at the feet of Jesus, exclaiming : “worthy is the Lamb.”
But, 0 ? amazing thought! even the great Jehovah, who humbles himself to behold the things which are in heaven and earth, condescended to empty himself of all but love: and in infinite compassion, to take upon him the nature of man, and to bleed upon the accursed tree!
And for whom did he die ? For his rebellious creatures, whom he could in a moment have annihilated ; and whose place he could have supplied by myriads of holy beings.
This Almighty Saviour, who inhabiteth eternity, even now condescends to dwell in the humble and contrite heart, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. O! for faith to contemplate this great sight. O! for a heart to feel the power of this grace ; and to taste the sweetness of this redeeming love. Lord ! come with all thy full salvation to my soul, that all my powers may be wholly consecrated unto thee.
Here I behold humility exhibited in its divinest form. Shall we then boast of our humility, and extol the lowly bendings of a sinful worm ?
Ah ! how little do our most abased feelings deserve the name of humility, when contrasted with the inconceivable abasement of the Eternal Word, when he was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.
Look and gaze, O! my soul, on thy condescending Saviour, till thou art laid prostrate in the dust of humiliation at the foot of the cross; and there drink deep into that spirit, which will assimilate thee to the Friend of sinners, and prepare thee for the bliss of heaven.
O how should I loathe myself! He, so humble, and I, so proud. He, so pure, and I, so polluted !
The thirsty traveller sees a cistern at a distance, and labours hard to reach it; but when he comes with longing desire to quench his thirst, he finds it broken. Thus earth disappoints all who trust in its supplies. It is a broken cistern. I look for its refreshing streams, but find none. Where then must I turn? To the Fountain of living waters. Jesus is this fountain of life and glory. To him I would now hasten. In him I shall ever find a never-failing stream of grace and comfort. He can delight and refresh my soul; and coming unto him by faith, I shall never be disappointed.
From these considerations I learn, that to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, is the highest wisdom of man ; for whilst so doing, all other needful things shall be added unto me.
I also learn, that Jesus has made an inseparable connection between the precepts and promises of the Gospel ; between the character and the privileges of his people.
If I am renewed in the spirit of my mind, and thus made humble, contrite, meek, spiritually-minded, pure, and peaceable; I shall enjoy his presence and love whilst journeying through this vale of tears, and his everlasting glory in the world above.
Then why should the souls of the faithful be “ discouraged because of the way ;" seeing that the way of the cross, is the way to the crown?
The world may light up its fires ; friends" may betray us to death ; Satan may roar like a lion; the flesh may cry out for indulgence, and tempt us to yield to our foes : yet, if Jesus be the God of our hearts, he will raise us above every temptation ; he will strengthen us for every assault, and at length make us more than conquerors to the praise and glory of his grace.
O! love without compare,
O! love beyond degree;
Should bleed and die for me!
For me, a wretch so vile,
For me, a rebel worm,
In its divinest form.
"Tis Jesus lives to bless ;
The Lord, our righteousness.
Extol thy Saviour's name;
And celebrate his fame.
He claims thy heart, thy love ;
He claims thee for his own;
Before his heavenly throne.
XXXVII. ON CHRISTIAN MOTIVES.
Christianity has justly been called a religion of motives. And yet, alas! how little are those sublime motives to action, which the Gospel inspires, considered by the great mass of professing Christians.
Men prosecute their worldly concerns under the powerful influence of some constraining motive, which impels them forwards with unabating ardour.
But in the affairs of eternity, they commonly act at random, without any fixed purpose whatsoever.
Education, or custom, gives the colouring to their religion ; and if they be asked to give a reason of the hope that is in them, a total absence of motive or purpose will soon be discovered.
They think as the world thinks and they act as the world acts. Treading in the steps of their forefathers, they retain the impression of early habits. And finding little leisure amidst the accumulating engagements of life, to investigate the claims of eternity, they are satisfied with the observance of outward ordinances, and a few crude notions of the Christian religion.
They pity those who are so weak as to prefer future to present enjoyments; and can scarcely conceive any rational motive sufficiently powerful to induce men to pass by the flattering prospects of the world, for the unseen possessions of futurity.
Hence they condemn such persons as visionary and enthusiastic; whilst they applaud the wisdom of those, who endeavour to make sure of present profit and advantage. To secure the rain chance, is their standard of wisdom ; their highest object of pursuit.
This, we may fear, is but too faithful a picture of thousands who call themselves Christians ; but who possess nothing beyond the name. Esteeming themselves wise, they becoine fools; and will, except they repent, eternally bewail their folly.
It is of immense importance to examine well into the motives of our actions, for “whatsoever is not of faith, is sin.”
Saul of Tarsus in his blind zeal conceived that he