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We must let men see the foundation of our practice, and why. we cannot do, as others do. We must make them acquainted with our principles, and let them know, what are those secret springs of action, which cause us to move in a direction so opposed to theirs.
This frank and ingenuous conduct may open the minds and touch the hearts of some, who, through grace, may be led to say; “we will go with you, for we perceive that God is with you.” At all events, such upright dealing will bring comfort into our own souls; and preserve us from falling into those snares, which Satan lays to catch the fearful and doubleminded professor..
But if we are habitually afraid of being decided; if we endeavour to keep fair with the world ; if we want to live like the borderers between the two kingdoms of light and darkness, maintaining a sort of friendly intercourse with the inhabitants on either side of the line; if we are ashamed of avowing our principles before men, when duty and the honour of Christ call for such an avowal; then we may be assured, on the truth of the Gospel, that we have no Scriptural evidence of being the children of God; for thus saith our divine Saviour ; “whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father, which is in heaven.” “If we deny him, he will also deny us.”
Blessed Lord! keep me from the snares and fascinations of a world which lieth in wickedness. May all my affections wing their way towards thee, and be ever fixed upon thee. Be thou the centre on which I rest, and to which all my desires tend.
Let my whole life be devoted to thy service, which is perfect freedom. In all things may I seek thy glory; and from the sweet constraining principle of faith and love, delight in every relative and personal duty to the glory of thy name.
What is earth and all its treasures,
Dazzling bright to mortal eyes ?
Deep within the shade it lies.
Earth is but the land of shadows,
Faintly tipt with glow-worm light;
Presage of eternal night.
O! thou Sun of glorious splendour,
Shine with healing in thy wing;
Holy light and comfort bring.
Round the earth with joy proclaim,
Through the great Emanuel's name.
Take thy pow'r, Almighty Saviour,
Claim the nations for thine own:
Till each heart become thy throne!
XLII. ON THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE.
And did Jesus say to his disciples, “ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of,” when in their zeal for the honour of their master, they wanted fire to descend upon the unbelieving Samaritans? Then, O! my soul, look well to thyself.
Search deep into thy principles of action, the ground of thy obedience. Weigh well thy motives in the balance of the sanctuary. Examine thy intentions. Behold and see what manner of spirit thou art of.
Amongst the twelve disciples I find a traitor. Amongst the early Christians an Ananias and Sap
phira. In the judgment-day, many will produce their wonderful works, to whom Jesus will say, “I never knew you."
How important then is, self-knowledge, the result of divine teaching and self-examination.
In the common business of life, those thrive best who examine most into their concerns.
When a tradesman neglects his accounts, he will soon have a painful account to give.
Negligence and bankruptcy are like substance and shadow. The latter follows closely upon the former.
These remarks are still more important when transferred to our eternal concerns.
O! then, ere it be too late! give me grace, blessed Redeemer, to examine well what manner of spirit I am of, lest I should remain in error till that awful period, when, standing before thy dread tribunal, every spirit shall be made manifest of what sort it is.
With all sincerity of heart I would inquire:
1. When I attend the ordinances of the Gospel, in what spirit do I attend them?
Do I come into the house of God as a poor beggar would go to the dwelling of the rich for bread to eat and raiment to put on? Is it the bread of life, and the garment of salvation which I earnestly crave at a throne of grace ?
Do I go as a poor debtor who has nothing to pay: as a guilty criminal on whom the sentence of death hath been passed: that my debts may be cancelled through the blood of Jesus; and my soul delivered from the curse of the law ?
Do I go, as one who is full of a sore disease, to the great Physician, for health and cure, for the gift of the Holy Spirit to renovate my corrupted nature ?
Do I go to the house of God, as my exceeding joy, to hear the glad tidings of salvation, to learn the way of righteousness, and to sing the praises of the Lord ?
Or do I go in a spirit of formality, for the sake of being thought religious; from mere custom and habit, and in spirit devoid of devotion and love ?
2. When I give alms to the poor, in what spirit do I give them ? Have I considered all my property as a trust committed to my care by the Almighty Proprietor of the universe, to whom I must one day give a strict account of my stewardship?
Do I view the poor as the Lord's bankers ; remembering who hath said, he that hath pity on the poor, lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given, will he pay him again ?
Do I esteem the pious poor, rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him, as brethren, whose necessities it is not only my duty, but my pleasure to relieve, consistently with the claims and necessities of my own family ?
Do I relieve them for the sake of Christ, because they belong to him, with a single eye to his glory; and as unobserved by others as circumstances will admit?
Or do I relieve the poor through public institutions only, that my name may be enrolled, and my beneficence made known to the world ; thus loving the praise of men, more than the praise of God ?
Are my charities confined to the body; or do I . seek the spiritual good, as well as the temporal benefit of my fellow-creatures ?
3. When I discourse amongst religious friends upon the truths of the Gospel, in what spirit do I discourse upon them? Is it from a heart-felt conviction of the sweetness, richness, and vastness of these mysteries ? Is it from a view to mutual edification, to provoke one another to love and to good works, to stimulate to exertion in the cause of Christ, and to excite others to greater usefulness? Is it
from a pure desire that Christ may be glorified; that his name may be honoured, and his righteousness exalted ?
Is it from a principle of love, that I converse with others on the preciousness of Jesus, the work of the Spirit, and the joys of heaven ?
Or do I speak of these things in a spirit of spiritual pride, to make a display of my religious knowledge, to be thought wise, and to be esteemed a saint?
4. When I perform the daily duties of my worldly calling, in what spirit do I perform them?
Is it with a view to glorify God in them, and to obtain an honest levelihood, through the divine blessing on my labours ; that I may thereby provide for my family, and have wherewith to give to him that needeth ?
Or is it from a covetous desire of wealth for its own sake; that I may vie in splendour with my richer neighbours, have a greater opportunity of gratifying my pride, of gaining the appellation of opulent, and raising my family in the world ?
5. When the religion of Jesus is traduced and the Gospel dispensation derided by carnal men, in what spirit do I hear these things ?
Do I pray that the Lord would convince them of their errors, and convert them by his grace? Do I labour to do them good, if opportunity will permit, by speaking a word for Christ, and exhorting them in a spirit of meekness and love?
Or, with the disciples of old, do I secretly pray for vengeance to overtake them, like the enemies of Elisha ; forgetting that I am a partaker of the same evil nature with themselves : and if made to differ in any measure, most humbly yet gratefully acknowledge with the apostle, “ By the grace of God, I am what I am"?
6. When reviled for righteousness' sake, in what spirit do I treat my persecutors ?