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wards, in the same Epistle, he tells us first that nothing avails but faith working by love; but soon after, he calls this same availing principle a new creature : so that the new birth and a living faith are inseparable. Never, indeed, must it be supposed, as we are indolently apt suppose, that the gift of grace which we receive at baptism is a mere outward privilege, a mere outward pardon, in which the heart is not concerned; or as if it were some mere mark put on the soul, distinguishing it indeed from souls unregenerate, as if by a colour or seal, but not connected with the thoughts, mind, and heart of a Christian. This would be a gross and false view of the nature of God's mercy given us in Christ. For the new birth of the Holy SPIRIT sets the soul in motion in a heavenly way: it gives us good thoughts and desires, enlightens and purifies us, and prompts us to seek God. In a word (as I have said), it gives a spiritual life; it opens the eyes of our mind, so that we begin to see God in all things by faith, and hold continual intercourse with Him. by prayer; and if we cherish these gracious influences, we shall become holier and wiser and more heavenly, year by year, our hearts being ever a change from darkness to light, from the ways and works of Satan to the perfection of divine obedience.
These considerations may serve to impress upon our minds the meaning of the precept in the text, and others like it which are found in St. Paul's Epistles. For instance, he enjoins the Ephesians to “pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” To the Philippians he says, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto Godø.” To the Colossians, "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” To the Romans, “ Continue instant in prayer 0."
Thus the true Christian pierces through the veil of this world and sees the next. He holds intercourse with it; he addresses God, as a child might address his parent, with as clear a view of Him, and with as unmixed a confidence in Him; with deep reverence indeed, and godly fear and awe, but still with certainty and exactness : as St. Paul says, “I know whom I have believed?," with the prospect of judgment to come to sober him, and the assurance of present grace to cheer him.
5 Eph. vi. 18. Phil. iv. 6.
6 Col. iv. 2.
Rom. xii. 12.
If what I have said is true, surely it is well worth thinking about. Most men indeed, I fear, neither pray at fixed times, nor do they cultivate an habitual communion with Almighty God. Indeed, it is too plain how most men pray. They pray now and then, when they feel particular need of God's assistance; when they are in trouble or in apprehension of danger; or when their feelings are unusually excited. They do not know what it is either to be habitually religious, or to devote a certain number of minutes at fixed times to the thought of God. Nay, the very best Christian, how lamentably deficient is he in the spirit of prayer! Let any man compare in his mind how many times he has prayed when in trouble, with how seldom he has returned thanks when his prayers have been granted; or the earnestness with which he prays against expected sufferings, with the languor and unconcern of his thanksgivings afterwards, and he will soon see how little he has of the real habit of prayer, and how much his religion depends on accidental excitement, which is no test of a religious heart. Or supposing he has to repeat the same prayer for a month or two, the cause of using it continuing, let him compare the earnestness with which he first said it, and tried to enter into it, with the coldness with which he at length uses it. Why is this, except that his perception of the unseen world is not the true view which faith gives (else it would last as that world itself lasts), but a mere dream, which endureth for a night, and is succeeded by a hard worldly joy in the morning? Is God habitually in our thoughts? Do we think of Him, and of His Son our Saviour, through the day? When we eat and drink, do we thank Him, not as a mere matter of form, but in spirit ? When we do things in themselves right, do we lift up our minds to Him, and desire to promote His glory? When we are in the exercise of our callings, do we still think of Him, acting ever conscientiously, desiring to know His will more exactly than we do at present, and aiming at fulfilling it more completely and abundantly? Do we wait on His grace to enlighten, renew, strengthen I do not ask whether we use many words about religion. There is no need to do this : nay, we should avoid a boastful display of our better feelings and practices, silently serving God without human praise, and hiding our conscientiousness except when it would dishonour God to do so. There are times, indeed, when in the presence of a holy man to confess is a benefit, and there are times when in the presence of worldly men to confess becomes a duty ; but these seasons, whether of privilege or duty, are comparatively rare. But we are always with ourselves and our God; and that silent inward confession in His presence may be sustained and continual, and will end in durable fruit.
7 2 Tim. i. 12.
But if those persons come short of their duty who make religion a matter of impulse and mere feeling, what shall be said to those who have no feeling or thought of religion at all? What shall be said of the multitude of young people who ridicule seriousness, and deliberately give themselves up to vain thoughts? Alas!
do not even observe or recognize the foolish empty thoughts which pass through your minds ; you are not distressed even for those you recollect; but what will you say at the last day, when, instead of those true and holy visions in which consists divine communion, you find recorded against you in God's book an innumerable multitude of the idlest, silliest imaginings, nay, of the wickedest, which ever disgraced an immortal being? What will you say, when heaven and hell are before
you, and the books are opened, and therein you find the sum total of your youthful desires and dreams, your passionate wishes for things of this world, your low-minded, grovelling tastes, your secret contempt and aversion for serious subjects and persons, your efforts to attract the looks of sinners and to please those who displease God; your hankerings after worldly gaieties and luxuries, your admiration of the rich or titled, your indulgence of impure thoughts, your self-conceit and pitiful vanity? Ah, I may seem to you to use harsh words; but be sure I do not use terms near so severe as you will use against yourselves in that day. Then those men, whom you now think gloomy and overstrict, will seem to you truly wise; and the advice to
without ceasing, which once you laughed at as fit only for the dull, the formal, the sour, the poor-spirited, or the aged, will be approved by your own experience, as it is even now by your rea
son and conscience. Oh, that you could be brought to give one serious hour to religion, in anticipation of that long eternity where you must be serious! True, you may laugh now, but there is no vain merriment on the other side of the grave. The devils, though they repent not, tremble. You will be among those unwilling serious ones then, if you are mad enough to be gay and careless now; if you are mad enough to laugh, jest, and scoff your poor moment now on earth, which is short enough to prepare for eternity, without your making it shorter by wasting your youth in sin. Could
but see who it is that suggests to you all your lighter thoughts, which you put instead of divine communion, the shock would make you serious, even if it did not make you religious. Could you see, what God sees, those snares and pitfalls which the devil is placing about your path ; could you see that all your idle thoughts which you cherish, which seem so bright and pleasant, so much pleasanter than religious thoughts, are inspired by that Ancient Seducer of Mankind, the Author of Evil, who stands at your side while you deride religion, serious indeed himself while he makes you laugh, not able to laugh at his own jests, wh he carries you danc ing forward to perdition, doubtless
you would tremble, even as he does while he tempts you. But this you cannot possibly see, you cannot break your delusion, except by first taking God's word in this matter on trust. You cannot see the unseen world at once. They who ever speak with God in their hearts, are in turn taught by Him in all knowledge ; but they who refuse to act upon the light which God gave them by nature, at length come to lose it altogether, and are given up to a reprobate mind.
May God save us all from such wilful sin, old as well as young, and enlighten us one and all in His saving knowledge, and give us the will and the power to serve Him!
“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the
Kingdom of God.”
NONE can be saved, unless the blood of Christ, the Immaculate Lamb of God, be imputed to him; and it is His gracious will that it should be imputed to us, one by one, by means of outward and visible signs, or what are called Sacraments. These visible rites represent to us the heavenly truth, and convey what they represent. The baptismal washing betokens the cleansing of the soul from sin; the elements of bread and wine are figures of what is present but not seen, “the body and blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the LORD's Supper.” So far the two sacraments agree; yet there is this important difference in their use,—that Baptism is but once administered, but the LORD's Supper is to be received continually. Our LORD Christ told the Apostles to baptize at the time they made men His disciples. Baptism admitted them to His favour once for all ; but the Lord's Supper keeps us and secures us in His favour day by day. He said, “This do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of ME.”
Here, then, a question at once arises, which it is important to consider :-At what time in our life are we to be baptized, or made disciples of CẢRIST ? The first Christians of course were baptized when they were come to a full age, because then the Gospel