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well how to distinguish between the expansive charity of the Gospel, and that undefined latitudinarianism, which would level all distinctions.
There is a perfect consistency in preferring our own peculiar communion, to which we are attached from judgment and conscience; and in loving those of other communions who bear the image of the blessed Jesus.
Lord, preserve me from all selfish and uncharitable feelings. Be thou the centre of my affections ; and may their only boundary be thyself, O! thou unbounded ocean of eternal love! Enable me to give the right hand of fellowship to all who truly love thee; and to rejoice in being in any measure instrumental in hastening on that glorious period, when Judah shall not vex Ephraim; nor Ephraim envy Judah ; but when all shall love as brethren.
God is love. Love therefore brings heaven into the soul, and diffuses happiness wherever its influence is felt. Where love reigns, there is peace and joy, gentleness and goodness. How clearly does this consideration prove to us the divine origin of the Gospel of Christ, which breathes nothing but peace. Earth would indeed be blessed, if pure Christian love dwelt in every breast, and regulated every thought.
The period so glowingly depicted by Isaiah is fast approaching, when they shall not hurt nor destroy in all God's holy mountain.” But what is described as the cause of this blessedness ? " The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” What a stimulus should this be to strenuous exertion and fervent prayers. Every true believer should esteem it his privilege and duty, according to his ability, to aid in building the spiritual temple, and in ushering in the latter day of glory.
Daniel hath foretold, that “ many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased ;” while the diligent labourers are thus encouraged by Zechariah : 6 I will strengthen them in the Lord, and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the Lord.” Happy are those servants who shall be found so doing: may an increasing company of faithful missionaries ever abound in their labours of love, till all shall know the Lord from the least unto the greatest; till righteousness shall run down as water, and judgment as a mighty stream
Heaven is the place where love is enjoyed without alloy. In that blest region of delight, no pride, no envy, no discord dwells. In the angelic world, God is supremely loved, and feared, and obeyed. Each blessed spirit loves its fellow; and all are knit together in one family bond of love.
Happy state! Lord, mould my soul to theirs, or · rather to thine own most lively image. Let me drink deep into thy Spirit, and be daily preparing for those mansions, where all is harmony, and peace, and purity, and joy.
From the word of truth we are clearly taught, that notions however correct, forms however excellent, creeds however orthodox, ordinances however scriptural, labours however abundant, and sacrifices however costly, will avail nothing in the sight of God, if genuine love be wanting in the heart.
Love is the very essence of true religion. It is the main spring which puts all in motion.
Precious faith unites the sinner to the Saviour ; while love, the fruit of faith, produced in the soul through the power of the Holy Ghost, gives vitality to the new creature, and enables him to act for God alone.
It is evident then, that without love, all religious profession is hypocrisy. Our real character is not estimated by him who looketh at the heart, from what we know, or from what we say, nor even from what we do; but from the inward ruling principle of the mind.
We may speak with the tongues of men and of angels; we may understand all mysteries and all knowledge; we may give all our goods to feed the poor, and our bodies to be burned ; and yet be accounted by an heart-searching God, as no better than sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. We may attend the house of God with scrupulous exactness, and yet have no heart in the work. We may admire the preacher without loving the word; and extol a form of devotion, whilst destitute of pious feeling.
Oh! what need there is for inward searching of heart. True religion is less common than many imagine. “ Strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." · Formality and hypocrisy are two powerful and successful agents of Satan.
The enemy of souls is not very anxious whether men travel to hell by the road of profaneness or false profession. The latter being more creditable, is generally the most frequented. Gross vice startles the conscience; whilst the garment of decency, thrown over the general conduct, quiets the mind, and makes the deluded sinner more easy in his sins.
Blessed Lord, save me from the delusions of Satan and the deceitfulness of my own heart. Let me know myself. Guard me against self-deception, self-love, and vain glory. Make me humble, simple, and sincere. Fill me with love, and fit me for thy service and glory.
Love is the distinctive characteristic of all God's people. The soul which is savingly enlightened by the Spirit of truth, must, as a natural consequence, love God.
There is a knowledge which may be acquired by
reading, hearing, and reflection. Religion may be learned as a science. Its doctrines may be arranged with all the accuracy of systematic precision; and its precepts be admired as lessons of the purest morality. But such knowledge, springing only from the exercise of the intellectual faculties, leaves the soul in its natural state of pride, earthliness, and self-sufficiency. Such knowledge puffeth up, whilst charity edifieth.
Every awakened soul wants to feel the love of God as its actuating principle; and the glory of God as its constant aim. O! that I may experience these blessings more and more. Nothing can eradicate the love of the world from the heart, but this ardent and supreme love to God as the highest good, implanted in the soul through the power of the Holy Ghost. God is love. When, therefore, he draws forth the arrows of conviction, and lodges them in the sinner's conscience, he graciously dips them in the blood of Jesus, that he may heal, as well as wound.
Thus, the blessed Spirit, by first convincing of sin, and then revealing the Saviour, gives the brokenhearted penitent the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
How gracious are the operations of mercy. No sin however great, can exclude that soul from heaven, whom the Lord makes a monument of his sovereign grace. As soon might the black vapours of the night which skirt the horizon, prevent the rising of the sun. “By grace are ye saved.” “By the grace of God, I am what I am ;" is the language of Paul, who styles himself the chief of sinners, and whose delight is to magnify the exceeding riches of redeeming love..
God is love. Hence all holiness proceeds from him. He must first draw the heart to himself by the powerful attractions of his own eternal love, ort will for ever remain hard as adamant, and vile * hell. “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee;" are the sweet accents of mercy to a family of back. sliding children.
The Spirit of God can alone fill the heart with love. The apostle gives love the first place among the fruits of the Spirit; for if this heavenly grace be wanting in us, all the rest of our benevolent or amiable qualities will profit us nothing.
How important then is self-examination on a subject which involves our present and eternal happiness.
If I am a child of God, I shall love him supremely. It is impossible to be in the family of God and not love God; for every one that loveth, is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love. O! my soul, think what thou owest to thy great Creator. I am indebted to God for my being, my daily preservation, my hourly comforts. From him I receive every bless ing; health, friends, and domestic enjoyments. To him, I owe myself and all my powers; yea, all that I am and have. He not only made me; but O! wonderful love! he took my nature upon him, and died, the just for the unjust, that through his atoning blood, I might be saved from sin and the wrath to come.
If I am a child of God, I shall love all his children. If I am in the family of God, I shall love all the members of his family. This St. John declares as evidential of a state of salvation; we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” “For every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him." Thus Christian love passes over the threshold of home, sect, and nation; and embraces all who love