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best kind of knowledge. · May the author add that it is heartily to be wished that every head of a family would try to attain the holy skill of exposition in his family. He should be a priest in his own house, and this skill is of more easy attainment, and we are persuaded of much more important benefit, than is often supposed. Christians might thus become more fitted for extensive usefulness, and those Christian labourers who have peculiar talents might more easily be called forth into that field which is white for the harvest, while the reapers are wanting to gather it in. We would caution all however against any thing tedious and wearisome. Short striking addresses to the conscience drawn from the passage, like arrows from the bow, penetrate the heart; but full, and minute, and lengthened common place explanation, wearies and disgusts, and is in ordinary circumstances quite out of place in the family. Much, very much of the true blessedness of this service will depend on the lively piety of the expounder. We are persuaded that there are few Christian masters who might not thus make family prayer such a blessing, that the strife among children and servants should not be who
be absent, but who may be present, and a necessary absence would be felt to be a loss and privation. And while there would be this effect in the family, the master would be ripening day by day unto all the full maturity and rich experience of Christian wisdom.
VISITING THE POOR is another most instructive part of Christian holiness. All who have in a right spirit been thus occupied, will have found it quite a school of divinity. The very best lessons in divine knowledge are there acquired. We see the practical working of truth on the mind; we learn what
touches the heart ; what truths respond again. The poor are more free from some of those artificial trammels' which a highly cultivated and refined state of society has thrown around the upper ranks of life. They express their feelings more openly and strongly, and having often been greatly exercised, their faith and Christian experience are sometimes very great. One of the best universities, and one far too much unvisited, is the retired apartment of suffering poverty, the cottage or the garret of the afflicted ; and one of the best lectures in divinity, and most fruitful of Christian conferences, is conversation on the things of God, with those poor of this world whom God hath chosen rich in faith. Many a minister has there first learnt the lesson of saving knowledge for his own soul, and thence has carried the best lessons which he could give to his people. Christian student, then ever remember, that one leading part of pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction.
We would once more illustrate this subject by the Christian's GROWTH IN GRACE: The path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day : there is the light of knowledge, and the light of holiness, and both advance together in the path of the just, Our Lord told the Jews who believed on him, If ye continue in
disciples indeed ; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John viii. 31, 32. Knowledge and growth in grace are united in the direction, grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; and the connexion shows that this direction has an immediate reference to those things which are hard to be understood, and being led away with the error of the
wicked. The Apostle Paul in a similar way connects being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. Col.i. 10. The experienced Christian has acquired a deep insight of his natural depravity; he has seen his weakness and his tendency to fall into the worst sins when left to himself, and thence Jesus and his great salvation become increasingly understood, and increasingly precious. God reveals himself to the pure in heart, (Matt. v. 8.) and as the Christian advances in purity, in deadness to the world, and devotedness to God, he sees more of the divine glory in the face of Jesus Christ, and more admires that wonderful system of
grace which rescues the polluted sinner from the mire of sin, and makes him the child of God, the heir of heavenly glory, and meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. In that rich cluster of evangelical graces given by the Apostle Peter we see the reciprocal influence of advanced piety and knowledge fully displayed. Knowledge is here seen surrounded with lovely graces and virtues. Add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly-kindness, and to brotherly-kindness charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye
shall neither be barren nor un fruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar ofi, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
Let no student then think that his studying hours are lost because he is not always reading, but sometimes more actively and directly obeying ; because he is not always in his library, but sometimes engaged in visiting the poor and in the direct service of God. For every thing there is a time and season; and if we
are wise to discern the seasonable duty, and steadily pursue it, and duly improve it, knowledge and holiness will be progressively advancing as in a divine school ; the lessons may vary in different parts of the day, but the general improvement of the scholar is advancing in each lesson, and by these different parts pursued together the full ripeness of the Christian character is attained.
The most edifying works in the Christian's library have not been written by those confined exclusively to their closets. The Cyprians and Augustines, the Luthers and Calvins, the Cranmers and Jewells, the Owens and Baxters, the Halls and Leightons of former days, were men so full of active duty, that one is astonished that they could ever find time for their varied writings. Had they not been so occupied in works of righteousness, they would never have given us those rich experimental and practical treatises which we have received from them.
Let us then be willing to resign our studies for our more practical duties, even when most intensely engaged in them; even though a chain of thought may perhaps be broken which we cannot afterwards recover. The self-denying efforts will not be without an ample recompense in the very studies which we seem to be deserting
But let us, on the other hand, be diligent to resume (when the opportunity is again returned to us) that close study which ordinarily is essentially requisite to enable us to acquire that enlarged knowledge which leads to extended usefulness. And more especially let us begin our studies with getting our hearts into a right frame, remembering our Christian principles, and sending up our aspirations to the Father of Lights, and the Giver of all Wisdom.
There is another influence of holiness as it affects others. As Christ displayed the glory of the Father, so the glory of the Father, and of the Son is to be displayed to the world in the work of the Spirit on the hearts of Christians. Their truth, love, joy, peace, holiness, and happiness are to manifest the invisible God to man, so that he may be glorified. What a book is the Christian life! What a display of God's truth to all his fellow creatures, is the conduct of the Christian ! It is the most practical book in the world; it is of all appeals to the understanding and the heart, the most eloquent, and touching, and convincing. -...We cannot close this interesting subject, without adverting to that heavenly country to which the Christian is going, where both knowledge and holiness shall be perfected, and yet increasing through eternity. O blessed region, where his servants shall serve him, and they shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads ; knowledge will act upon holiness, and holiness upon knowledge, in an endless advance and progression; and beholding our Saviour when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is !
Christians, with what diligence, then, should we follow that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord !