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er's command: “ Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”
If the glory of God be our first and chief concern; if our most anxious desire be that of the Psalmist; " Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon carth I desire beside thee:" if Jesus be precious to us, and all else esteemed as nothing when compared with him: then like Enoch, Noah, and Abraham we shall walk before God with a perfect heart; upright and sincere : then like Moses we shall endure as seeing him who is invisible: and like David, we shall set the Lord alway before us. With the Apostles, we shall then do all to the glory of God; and our whole desire and aim will be, that “ Christ may be magnified in our bodies whether it be by life or death.”
Such is the sacred purpose of the true believer. His aim is high; yet he deeply deplores those inbred sins which prevent his constant elevation. He resembles a bird, to whose foot a stone is tied. He struggles to ascend, but feels the gravitating force of nature. Yet grace enables him to rise above the level of the world, and to soar higher and higher towards the heavenly regions.
Not so, the generality of mankind. Most men die as they live. An awful forgetfulness marks their lives—and a stupid unconcern, their deaths. If conscience should perchance be heard amidst the clamour of a thousand lusts, each panting for gratification, Satan, too crafty to deny the claims of conscience, whispers the pacifying expedient in the sinner's ear:- death-bed repentance. Thus he lulls his fears to rest; well knowing, that the heart increases in its hardness by delay, and feels the less inclined to repent, in proportion as it defers repentance.
Lord, deliver me from this delusion of the artful enemy. Keep my conscience awake. Enable me to seek first thy kingdom of grace; that, at death, I may be admitted into thy kingdom of glory through the merits of my Redeemer.
Why is my heart so wayward grown,
So prone to start aside ?
Which once my God supplied ?
Have his redeeming mercies ceased
In copious strearns to flow?
To fill my heart with woe?
Has griev'd the Holy Dove;
And now I mourn his love.
Dark and deserted is my soul,
Who lies at mercy's door.
In pity listen to my moan,
Return with pard'ning grace;
And thou shalt have the praise.
XLVIII. ON WATCHFULNESS.
This life is a state of probation. Hence trials are necessary in order to prove us, as gold is tried in the fire.
God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man; but we are tempted, when we are drawn aside of our own lust and enticed. Satan works upon our corrupt nature, and there he finds materials ready prepared for his destructive purpose.
Whilst we are in an unrenewed state, we are under the dominion of sin. We naturally love it, and are captivated by it; for our heart is only evil continually.
Common prudence and worldly interest, as well as natural conscience, may prevent an unconverted man from committing many crimes which would outrage society. The fear of punishment, and the dread of public infamy may operate to the prevention of those evils, which would bring a man under the lash of the violated laws of his country. The certain consequence of disease and poverty attendant on some vices, proves a partial check to their commission; though alas ! too weak to arrest the general torrent of licentiousness.
Thus by the constant operation of these inferior motives, and through the goodness of a restraining providence, we are happily preserved from that inundation of iniquity, which would otherwise destroy the fabric of society.
There are, it is true, many amiable characters to be found, even amongst those who are hostile to the spirit of the Gospel, who may be considered as ornaments in the midst of surrounding depravity and pollution. Polite education and civilized society can varnish over the old Adam. But these amiable worldlings reject as fantastical, those unwelcome declarations of Scripture, which assert the radical corruption of our nature, and the absolute necessity of being born again of the Spirit. In the midst of all this boasted morality--this vaunted amiability of temper- this studious endeavour to appear fair in the eyes of each other; we perceive no filial fear of God; no hatred of sin; no delight in holiness ; no cordial reception of the blessed Jesus as the only Saviour from guilt and pollution; no self-abhorrence; no watchfulness against sins of the heart; no deadness to the vanities and smiles of the world.
Under every garb, whether plain or splendid, the carnal mind is enmity against God. This truth cannot be too much impressed upon the mind and conscience. Hence we see the necessity for renew. ing grace; for, till we are united to Christ by a true faith, we cannot receive those powerful principles of love and fear, which operate as perpetual excitements to holy obedience, and constant checks to presumption and carnal security. · When we are thus savingly united to Jesus, we receive out of his fulness every needful grace. Being "accepted in the beloved,” we have peace with God; we are adopted into his family ; are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise; enjoy sweet fellowship with the Father and the Son; and experiencing the strengthening consolations of the Spirit, are enabled to resist the world, the flesh, and the devil, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God. Such is the character, walk, and privilege of every true believer.
Lord, make me a branch in Jesus, the living vine. Create my soul anew, and fill me with every holy, pure, and heavenly affection.
Great indeed is the character of a child of God; yet, he is renewed but in part. The Canaanites are still in the land. Satan knows this well, and tries most assiduously to regain possession of that heart, from which grace has dislodged him. To effect his purpose, he studies tempers, natural constitutions, weaknesses, and peculiar situations in which believers are placed ; and thus endeavours to suit his temptations to the vulnerable parts of the Christian citadel.
How needful then is the duty of watchfulness. If an army, passing through an enemy's country, appoints its out-posts and centinels to observe the
Perfect hole world, lations
motions of the inhabitants, lest it should be surprised by an opposing force, and unexpectedly. defeated ; surely it behoves the Christian soldier to obey the command of the great Captain of his salvation; 6 watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”
Through the slothfulness and unwatchfulness of believers, Satan too often makes sad inroads into their peace and purity.
Mr. Winter, in one of his letters, makes this striking observation : “ Watchfulness and prayer form the Christian's intrenchment. These are the lines our enemy cannot break. Be the person who uses them ever so weak, he will be sure to stand ; be the person who neglects them ever so strong in himself, ever so judiciously taught, or ever so extensive in his knowledge, he is liable to fall.”
The farther the experienced Christian advances in his earthly pilgrimage, and the more he learns how needful to his safety is watchfulness and prayer.
There are some who treat as legal this circumspection and self-distrust. But the real believer well knows, that the more lively his faith is, the môre alive he himself is to the motions of his spiritual enemies, lest he should be overcome by some sudden temptation.
There are three evils against which we should earnestly pray to be preserved :-indecision-indifference-and insensibility. When the mind begins to be first affected with the importance of religion, many things are done, which were before omitted. But no sooner is the religious feeling of the heart made known to the world by this outward change of conduct, than the artillery of Satan is directed against the young professor; and too often alas! proves successful in shaking the newly formed purpose of taking up the cross and following Christ. The enemy of souls now plies his warlike engines