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envy at the prosperity of others, repinings at our own condition if lower than our neighbours ; an unwillingness to part with all for Christ; a shrinking from the cross; a dread of suffering for righteousness' sake;—these, and many other evils, flowing from covetousness, prove the soul to be in a state of enmity against God: for “ if any man will be the friend of the world, he is the enemy of God."
From these four dreadful sources of evil ; unbelief, pride, sensuality, and covetousness, spring all the miseries which inundate the earth, and fill hell itself with horrors.
These sins are so interwoven with our fallen nature, that, until we are created anew in Christ Jesus, they form, as it were, part of ourselves. How needful then is self-examination! How important to consider our ways! We may quit the world with respect to its vain amusements, and yet never have the heart disengaged from it. Abstraction from the world, does not necessarily produce a crucifixion to it. It is one thing to leave the sinful customs and company of the world, and another to sit loose to its fading pleasures and possessions. We may be worldly in a lonely desert, and spiritual in the midst of a crowd. The world may reign in the cell of the monk; and be renounced in the counting-house of the pious merchant.
The exhortation of St. Paul is at all times most appropriate and seasonable: “ Brethren, the time is short ; it remaineth, that both they that have wives, be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it ; for the fashion of this world passeth away.”
Blessed Lord ! implant in my heart that lively
faith, that deep humility, that heavenly purity, that spiritual-mindedness, which will evidence my union to thee, and prepare me for thy beatific vision in the world to come.
When I survey my treach'rous heart;
Was this my only hope and plea,
But Jesus is my living way,
When death shall loose the silver cord,
LIV. ON TRIALS.
When I look into the world, and see all around me in pursuit of happiness; that certain something unpossessed, yet still desired; which eludes the grasp of thousands, who think they have just to make one effort more to seize the flattering shadow and be happy: I ask, why all this restlessness, this feverish
creat if the uth of the lingly wit at a
thirst for that which cannot satisfy an immortal soul? Is it not that man, blinded by his passions, fondly hopes to find felicity in a world, from whence it long since took its flight, when Adam ate of the forbidden tree?
« Thorns and thistles shall the earth bring forth to thee,” is the language of Jehovah to his fallen creatures, when he cursed the ground for man's sake; and if the divine inspiration of the Bible rested upon the truth of this one declaration, every age and every heart must feelingly witness to its holy origin.
Vain man would be happy at a distance from his God. He plucks the flower, and it withers in his hand. His fond expectations of earthly bliss, like wave succeeding wave, roll along in quick succession, without bringing him any nearer to the desired haven of rest and happiness.
This world is not a resting place to the wicked, nor the resting place of the righteous. “ There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” His desires are restless, his passions are restless, his spirit is restless. He wants what he has not, and does not truly enjoy what he has. He is of the earth, earthy. His aims, pursuits, and pleasures, all spring out of, and settle upon the world. Thus he reaps those thorns and thistles which spring up in such abundant crops, wherever he erects his dwelling. Disappointed and chagrined that happiness is ever eluding his grasp, he grows peevish in his spirit, or a complainant against his kind, yet insulted Creator. No wonder that misery marks his steps, even though like those of Asher, they be “dipped in oil.” (Deut. xxxiii. 24.)
Worldly riches cannot give quietness, when God giveth trouble. O! my soul, learn true wisdom from what thou seest around thee. Every situation is planted with thorns in this wilderness of sin.
Vain then is the expectation of man, to find a place of pure, uninterrupted rest below the skies. And yet--what crowds are daily in search of such a place of rest in the midst of a polluted and tempestuous world. Some think it lies in the region of wealth; others in that of pleasure; others in that of honour. Some fancy it is found in the busy throng; and some in the stillness of retirement. But all who seek it in the world, shall never find it.
Thou, blessed Jesus, art the true and only resting place for guilty sinners. Believing in thee, they enter into rest. Thy people, it is true, must bear thy cross, but they enjoy thy consolations also; they feel a peace and calm within, which all the panting candidates for worldly happiness can never obtain. They have peace with God, peace in their own consciences; and study, as much as lieth in them, to live peaceably with all men.
Thus they are enabled to bear with composure the varied trials of life; looking with assured hope to that rest which remaineth to the people of God, when this stormy world shall have passed away, and its votaries be doomed to that doleful place, where they have no rest day nor night, but where the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever!
0! divine Saviour ! be thou my portion, the lot of mine inheritance. Then shall I rejoice in the midst of sorrows, and be calm in the midst of storms.
0! speak peace to my troubled soul, and then all shall be still. Blessed Redeemer ! all who come to thee, find rest unto their souls; and I would now come. Receive me in mercy. Cause me to know thee as my Saviour, and to rejoice daily in the joyful sound of mercy extended to the chief of sinners.
When a sinner is first brought to the knowledge of the truth, and experiences the joys of faith and
the sweets of pardoning love, he fancies that the bare mention of his own comforts will be sufficient to make all around him anxious to possess them too.
A little experience however shews him, that the hard heart of man is not so easily to be moved.
Instead of converting those about him, he raises up a host of foes even in the bosom of his own family, and amongst his kinsfolk and acquaintance. He becomes the object either of their pity or their scorn; and meets with cold neglect, or many sharp rebukes, where once he enjoyed a hearty welcome. His name is cast out as evil; his motives are maligned ; his actions deemed precise and singular; his conversation whining cant; yea, his whole life condemned as unbecoming a man of spirit, or even a person endued with common sense.
The consistent believer in Jesus must therefore expect trials and opposition from an ungodly world. “ As he that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now."
The blessed Saviour has given his people clear and repeated intimations to that effect. “Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil for the Son of man's sake; rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy, for behold your reward is great in heaven."
The Christian's trials arise from various sources.
If the believer be divested of all unnecessary singularity in dress or deportment; yet his attachment to the Redeemer, evidencing itself by a firm adherence to the precepts of the Gospel, and a rooted aversion to all sin ; will, of itself, create dislike, and beget such a secret enmity in the hearts of the ungodly, as cannot fail of shewing its malignity by outward contempt or ridicule.