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golden calf, around which the people danced to their shame.
How faithful is the pen of inspiration! what indubitable marks of divinity are stamped upon the holy Scriptures. Here truth with impartial hand dips her pencil, now in the brighter, now in the darker colours, and thus draws her characters to the very
life. Here we see man, just as he is, both by nature and grace. If characters so eminent for holiness, have been stained with sin, where shall we find sinless perfection in this lower world? All need the blood of Jesus, all need the preserving grace of God; all need the constant exercise of watchfulness and prayer.
Those who take encouragement from these painful instances of corruption in the best of men, to trifle with sin ; who, like Ham, delight to sport with the spiritual nakedness of God's children ; -who-despise the truths of the Bible, because some holy characters recorded in it, have been drawn by Satan and their own hearts into grievous crimes ; evidence a total ignorance of their own hearts, and a total destitution of that grace, which, through the blessed truths of Scripture, leads men to holiness, to happiness, and heaven.
Whilst infidels tauntingly expose the sins of believers, let them behold with solemn awe the displeasure of the Almighty as manifested in their temporal afflictions: and those heart-rending sorrows, which like piercing thorns, sprang out of their iniquities. And when believers contemplate these Scripture characters, let them seek for grace to avoid their falls, and to copy their unfeigned repentance.
The all-conquering Lamb, who fought and overcame Satan by dying upon the cross for our redemption, will not suffer him to exult with shouts of final victory. He raises the fallen believer through an
act of inconceivable, unmerited mercy ; fills him with shame and self-abhorrence ; leads him to the fountain of his own most precious blood ; imparts to him a fresh supply of his Holy Spirit ! and thus enables him to renew the conflict with unabated vigour, in deep humility, self-distrust, and simple reliance on his almighty power, combined with constaŋt vigilance against the motions of every inward and outward foe.
But the soul which shall dare to presume upon such mercy, and so indulge in sin, is in the utmost peril of falling into perdition; for this very spirit of daring, proves a man to be a self-deceiver, an enemy of all righteousness.
A true believer may fall into sin; but he cannot sin on principle that grace may abound, or because Jesus hath said, “my sheep shall never perish ;" well knowing that the character of Christ's sheep is; that they hear the Shepherd's voice and follow him.
A true believer may fall into sin, but he cannot sin habitually, or with continued delight; -well knowing that “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin ; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” To do so, would prove him a hypocrite, and not a child of God. The grace of the Gospel gives no licence to iniquity. To imagine for a moment that it grants the slightest quarter to sin, is to cast a foul reproach upon the spotless purity of that Holy Being from whom all grace proceeds.
That evil men should abuse this revelation of mercy, is no more marvellous, than that they do every hour abuse the choisest blessings of providence. It is strange to think how ill men reason in general about spiritual things. They can invent a thousand objections against what they do not love; which
objections they would instantly repel, if brought against some favourite worldly scheme.
I perceive then, that there is great need to watch against the sophistry of my own mind. If I feel tempted to parley with sin, to grow lukewarm in religion, or to draw back into the world, let me ask myself these solemn questions :-Is my heavenly Father less kind and gracious than when I first knew the Lord? Is my Saviour less lovely and precious in the eyes of saints and angels ? Is the Divine Spirit less holy and comforting to the tried believer? Is sin less hateful in the sight of God and less destructive to the soul ? Is Satan less watchful and subtle against the sheep of Christ ? Is the world less vain and deceitful in its nature and pursuits ? Is the heart less vile and treacherous in its inward workings? Is heaven less glorious and desirable to the weary pilgrim ? Is hell less dreadful and tormenting to the perishing sinner ?
Have any of these objects changed their nature, since first the light of truth broke in upon my mind ? If not, then why should I begin to change my views and feelings respecting them? Why grow lukewarm and indifferent ? Oh! what need for suspicion, lest all should not be right? What need for watchfulness, self-examination, and prayer.
If these realities are still the same-if the truths of God are immutable, then why should I be less vigilant, less prayerful, less anxious about these infinitely momentous truths ? Time is rapidly receding. Eternity is rapidly advancing. My state must soon be irrevocably fixed in a world of happiness or misery. Then why am I so cold, so indifferent to the highest interests of my immortal soul? Is it not owing to the prevalence of inward corruption, and the workings of Satan in my depraved heart?
Blessed Jesus! look in mercy upon a wretched, lost creature. Were I to be crushed as in a moment, and sent quick into hell, it would be righteous judgment. But thou art gracious, thou art full of compassion, thou camest to seek and to save rebellious sinners.
Lord, save me-help me- - undertake for me. Snatch me as a brand out of the burning. Deliver me from the jaws of that roaring lion who is ever going about, seeking whom he may devour. Lord, , give me not over to him as a prey. Suffer me not to be carried captive by him at his will. Fill me with a constant dread of sin; make me ever watchful and vigilant. Bear me in thy arms of love, through all the dangers of my earthly course, till safe removed from every storm, I serve thee in thy everlasting kingdom.
0! thou gracious friend of sinners,
Save me from corruption's power,
As I wander through the desert,
Then, O! then, in sweetest rapture,
XLIX. ON THE DANGER OF RICHES.
There is a beautiful harmony in the doctrines and precepts of Scripture, whether promulged under the Patriarchal, Mosaical, or Christian dispensation, which strikingly proves its divine origin.
Every, enlightened reader of the Bible will perceive a rich vein of truth running through the whole of the sacred volume. What is obscurely revealed under the patriarchal dispensation, is more fully made known under the law, and exhibited in its brightest colours by the Gospel,
Å short review of the Scriptures with respect to the sin of covetousness, will verify this observation.
Job, when vindicating his character, makes the following declaration : “If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, thou art my confidence; if I rejoiced, because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had gotten much: if I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness ; and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand; this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge; for I should have denied the God that is above.” (Job xxxi. 24–28.)
We have here the closest connexion between covetousness and idolatry. The two sins are classed together as twin evils springing from one common source, the unbelief and earthliness of the heart.
This is in strict accordance with the other parts of the sacred oracle. St. Paul styles covetousness, idolatry, (Coloss. iii. 5.) and a covetous man an idolater. (Ephes. v. 5.)
Our Saviour explains the nature of this idolatry: « how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God. (Mark x. 24.)
To possess wealth, when imparted in the provi