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action. The Christian is not satisfied with an understanding of scriptural doctrine, though he studies the Bible with an earnest desire of obtaining the truth; nor does he think it enough to place himself among those who constitute the correct portion of the community, though he holds in esteem the precept to 'follow whatsoever things are of good report;' but his chief care is to purify his heart, to bring the doctrines of religion to act upon his moral nature. His inquiry is not, what do men think of me? but, what am I? The question, 'what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' penetrates his soul, and when he has found an answer, it is followed by others that go yet deeper into the secrets of his life; have I done, am I doing this one thing needful? In this respect the Christian is habitually selfish, since his object of examination, watchfulness, and discipline is himself. He is always engaged in perfecting his own character. He knows that here lies his responsibleness, that this is the work which his Creator and Judge has allotted him. Hence the increase of his religious experience is his constant desire; he is more anxious to secure one christian grace than to accumulate all outward wealth.
We have said that such a man applies the truths of religion to himself. We will illustrate this remark.
He is told that there is a God, and he believes it; that this God is holy, and he believes this also; that this God is omniscient, and he believes this likewise. Is belief the only act of his mind in regard to these facts? With many who are called after the name of
Christ, it is. But not so with the genuine disciple. He pursues the train of thought which these facts suggest. If God be holy and omniscient,-he thus reasons in himself—if God be holy and omniscient, he knows my character and disapproves all that is evil. My motives and feelings are seen by him. Are they such as I should wish to offer for his inspection? The eye of this Infinite Being is on me, wherever I go; in my mercantile transactions, in my professional engagements, in my social pleasures, in my retirement. Do I act as if I felt the scrutiny of this omniscience? He is checked on the threshold of sin, he is made to reverence the Deity whom he cannot behold, to fear the presence which he cannot escape.
Again, the Christian is reminded that God is his Father. He then contemplates the offices of filial love which it becomes him to render, and he looks over the pages of memory to learn how faithfully they have been performed. He perceives moreover that this truth involves the idea of an immediate relation between himself and the Most High. This conviction is the support of religious character. Till it is admitted into the mind, and its power is acknowledged, there will be little, if any effectual devotion. We must be able to view ourselves apart from other human beings, alone with God. Take the illustration of a family on earth. Should you think it enough for the children to look on their father as the guardian and friend of the household? Would filial sentiment be ripened under such an influence? No; the child looks up to his
parent with individual love; he knows that he is an object of paternal fondness, that in his single capacity he enjoys the regards of a father's heart. So it is with our relation to our Heavenly Father, and so we must feel it to be. The Almighty is the guardian and friend of each one of us.
Again, we are exhorted to receive Jesus Christ as Master and Saviour. How is this doctrine to be made of personal benefit? By submitting ourselves to the control of Jesus, and by saving ourselves through an obedience to the motives which he has offered for our guidance. Each one of us should contemplate the sufferings of Christ as borne for himself. Christ died, the just for the unjust,—let the soul say—then I am one for whom he died; I owe him my gratitude and love. The feeling of personal obligation to the Saviour is something more than a sense of advantage derived from his mission through its effect upon the world, or upon that part of it in which we live. This is not enough. We must perceive in our own souls that the work of redemption is accomplished. Jesus must save us by the efficacy of his teaching, his example, and his death, upon each individual.
'Trust not a general truth, which may be vain
And for thy own, some evidence attain
For thee indeed he died, for thee hath risen again.'
Once more; we are entreated to forsake every sin, to mortify evil desire, to perfect holiness in the fear of God. We should regard these precepts as addressed
particularly to us. When the word of christian exhortation is uttered in the assembly, every person should feel as if he alone were the object of the counsel-as if he were the man.' " Not that every hearer should imagine himself guilty of all wickedness; discrimination and justice in regard to our characters are duties as imperative as repentance, But let each individual listen as if the entreaty was meant for him and no one else, for self-love will shield him from the blow which he ought not to receive. Let every man feel himself to be a sinner.
A personal interest in religion both produces and is increased by self examination. It teaches us to distinguish between what is good and what is bad in our characters. It inspires resolution and courage to amend our errors. It causes us to rejoice in the truth, and enables us to adopt for our support, and as the foundation of our hope, the promises of the gospel. Does any one say that such an habitual sense of religion is inconsistent with happiness? He shows his ignorance. True enjoyment can only be found in the path of religious obedience and in communion with God and love of Christ. Does any one plead that he is too much occupied by this world's cares? Here lies the evil which you must remedy. Rid yourself of those cares which prevent your giving due attention to religion. You continue in them at your peril. An habitual and intimate sense of God and his government will not interfere with any lawful prosecution of your business. Do you urge the excuse that you are too young? It
cannot be. Religion will not chill a single innocent joy, nor repress one pure feeling. Give to it then your heart. Does any one say that he is good enough at present? Fatal deception! We never can be good enough till we are perfect. Does any one promise to think of this subject some time hence? As fatal delusion! That time may never come. Meditate now upon the great concern of your salvation. Enter in at the strait gate, while it is open; it is the gate of repentance. Walk in the narrow way, while you are invited; it is the way of obedience. Its course may be steep and rough, but its termination is in heaven.
AN EXTRACT FROM THE RIGHT HANd of FELLOWSHIP, GIVEN BY MR MAY OF BROOKLYN, CON., AT THE LATE ORDINATION OF MR WALCUTT OF BERLIN, FEBRUARY, 1830.
We came not here, my Brother, to bind you to our creed. This right hand was not extended to fasten upon you the shackles of ecclesiastical authority. I did not reach it forth to require at your hand a pledge of submission or adherence to our sect or party. No, we would throw around you the chain of christian friendship alone, sincerely hoping that, if differences of opinion do exist, or shall hereafter arise between us, this chain