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unceasing intercessor in heaven. Can we his love to us, these he has given us in hand; ever cease petitioning for ourselves, when if life eternal, if blessedness that knows no we believe that he never ceases interceding measure and no end, be proofs of love, these for us?
he has given us in promise- to the Christian If we are so unhappy as now to find little we had almost said, he has given them in pleasure in this holy exercise, that however possession. is so far from being a reason for discontinu- It must be an irksome thing to serve a ing it, that it affords the strongest argument master whom we do not love; a master for perseverance. That which was at first a whom we are compelled to obey, though we form, will become a pleasure ; that which think his requisitions hard, and his comwas a burden will become a privilege; that mands unreasonable ; under whose eye we which we impose upon ourselves as a medi- know that we continually live, though his cine, will become ncecessary as an aliment, presence is not only undelightful but formiand desirable as a gratification. That which dable, is now short and superficial, will become co-1 Now every Christian must obey Gad pious and solid. The chariot wheel is warm-whether he love him or not; he must act aled by its own motion. Use will make that ways in his sight, whether he delight him or easy which was at first painful. That which not; and to a heart of any feeling, to a spirit is once become easy will soon be rendered of any liberality, nothing is so grating as pleasant; instead of repining at the per- constrained obedience. To love God, to formance, we shall be unhappy at the omis- serve him because we love him, is theresion. When a man recovering from sick- fore no less our highest happiness, than cur ness attempts to walk, he does not discon- most bounden duty. Love makes all labour tinue the exercise because he feels himself light. We serve with alacrity, where we weak, nor even because the effort is painful. love with cordiality. He rather redoubles his exertion. It is from When the heart is devoted to an object, his perseverance that he looks for strength. we require not to be perpetually reminded of An additional turn every day diminishes his our obligations to obey him; they present repugnance, augments his vigour, improves themselves spontaneously, we fulfil them his spirits. That effort which was submit- readily, I had almost said, involuntarily; we ted to because it was salutary, is continued think not so much of the service as of the because the feeling of renovated strength object. The principle which suggests the renders it delightful.
work inspires the pleasure ; to neglect it would be an injury to our feelings. The performance is the gratification. Theomission is not more a pain to the conscience,
than a wound to the affections. The implanCHAP. VII.
tation of this vital root perpetuates virtuous practice, and secures internal peace.
Though we cannot be always thinking of The Love of God.
God, we may be always employed in his
service. There must be intervals of our Our love to God arises out of want. God's communion with him, but there must be no love to us out of fulness. Our indigence intermission of our attachment to him. The draws us to that power which can relieve, tender father who labours for his children, and to that goodness which can bless us, — does not always employ his thoughts about His overflowing love delights to make us them; he cannot be always conversing partakers of the bounties he graciously im- with them, or concerning them, yet he is parts, not only in the gifts of his Providence, always engaged in promoting their interests. but in the richer communications of his His affection for them is an inwoven pringrace. We can only be said to love God ciple, of which he gives the most unequivowhen we endeavour to glorify him, when we cal evidence, by the assiduousness of his apdesire a participation of his nature, when we plication in their service. study to imitate his perfections.
I Thou shouldst love the Lord thy God Weare sometimes inclined to suspect the with all thy heart,' is the primary law of love of God to us. We are too little suspi- our religion. Yet how apt are we to concious of our own want of love to him. Yet|plain that we cannot love God, that we canif we examine the case by evidence, as we not maintain a devout intercourse with him. should examine any common question, what But would God, who is all justice, hare real instances can we produce of our love to commanded that of which he knew we were him? What imaginable instance can we not incapable? Would he who is all mercy produce of his love to us? If neglect, forget-have made our eternal happiness to clepeod fulness, ingratitude, disobedience, coldness on something which he knew was out of cor in our affections, deadness in our duty, be power to perform, capriciously disqualify. evidences of our love to him, such evidences, ing us for the duty he had prescribed? but such only, we can abundantly allege. Would he have given the exhortation, and If life and all the countless catalogue of withheld the capacity? This would be to mercies that makes life pleasant, be proofs of charge Omniscience with folly, and infinite goodness with injustice ;- no, when he made Preserver. But let us put the question fairduty and happiness inseparable, he neither ly to ourselves. Do we really love him? made our duty impracticable, nor our hap- Do we love him with a supreme, pay even piness unattainable. But we are continual with an equal affection? Is there no friend, ly flying to false refuges, clinging to false no child, no reputation, no pleasure, no soholds, resting on false supports : as they are ciety, 110 possession which we do not prefer uncertain they disappoint us, as they are to him? 'It is easy to affirın in a general weak they fail us ; but as they are nume- way that there is not. But let us particurous, when one fails another presents itselt. Ilarize, individualize the question-bring it Till they slip from under us, we never sus- home to our own hearts in some actual inpect how much we rested upon them. stance, in some tangible shape. Let us Life glides away in a perpetual succession commune with our own consciences, with of these false dependences and successive our own feelings, with our own experience; privations.
let us question pointedly and answer honestThere is, as we have elsewhere observed, ily. Let us not be more ashamed to detect a striking analogy between the natural and the fault, than to have been guilty of it. spiritual life ; the weakness and helpless-! This then will commonly be the result. ness of the Christian resemble those of the Let the friend, child, reputation, possession, infant; neither of them becomes strong, pleasure be endangered, but especially let it vigorous, and full grown at once, but be taken away by some stroke of Provithrough a long and often painful course. dence. The scales fall from our eyes, we This keeps up a sense of dependance, and see, we feel, we acknowledge, with brokenaccustoms us to lean on the hand which fos- ness of heart, not only for our loss but for ters us. There is in both conditions, an im- our sin, that though we did love God, yet we perceptible chain of depending events, by loved him not superlatively, and that we which we are carried on insensibly to the loved the blessing, threatened or resumed, vigour of maturity. The operation which still more. But this is one of the cases in is not always obvious, is always progressive, which the goodness of God bringeth us to By attempting to walk alone we discover repentance. By the operation of his grace our weakness, the experience of that weak- the resumption of the gift brings back the ness humbles us, and every fall drives us heart to the giver. The Almighty by his back to the sustaining hand, whose assis- Spirit takes possession of the temple from tance we vainly flattered ourselves we no which the idol is driven out. God is re-inlonger needed.“
stated in his rights, and becomes the suIn some halcyon moments we are willing preme and undisputed Lord of our reverento persuade ourselves that religion has made tial affection. an entire conquest over our heart; that we There are three requisites to our proper have renounced the dominion of the world, enjoyment of every earthly blessing which have conquered our attachment to earthly God bestows on us ;-a thankful reflection things. We flatter ourselves that nothing on the goodness of the giver, a deep sense can now again obstruct our entire submis- of the unworthiness of the receiver, and a sion. But we know not what spirit we are sober recollection of the precarious tenure of. We say this in the calm of repose and by which we hold it. The first would make in the stillness of the passions : when our us grateful, the second humble, the last mopath is smooth, our prospect smiling, danger derate. distant, temptation absent, when we have. But how seldom do we receive his favours many cornforts and no trials. Suddenly, in this spirit! As if religious gratitude were some loss, some disappointment, some priva- to be confined to the appointed days of pubtion tears off the mask, reveals us to our-lic thanksgiving, how rarely in common soselves. We at once discover that though ciety do we hear any recognition of Omnithe smaller fibres and lesser roots which potence even on those striking and heartfasten us down to earth may have been loos- rejoicing occasions, when, with his own ened by preceding storms, yet our substan- right hand, and with his glorious arm he has tial hold on earth is not shaken, the tap-root gotten himself the victory !' Let us never is not cut, we are yet fast rooted to the soil, detract from the merit of our valiant leidand still stronger tempests must be sent to ers, but rather honour them the more for make us let go our hold.
this manifestation of divine power in their It might be useful to cultivate the habit favour ; but let us never lose sight of him of stating our own case as strongly to our 'who teacheth their hands to war, and their selves as if it were the case of another; to fingers to fight.' Let us never forget that express in so many words, thoughts which 'He is the Rock, that his work is perfect, are not apt to assume any specific or palpa- and all his ways are judgment. ble form; thoughts which we avoid shaping How many seem to show not only their iuto language, but slur over, generalize, want of affiance in God, but that he is not soften, and do away. How indignant, for in all their thoughts,' by their appearing to instance, should we feel, though we our leave him entirely out of their concerns, by selves make the complaint, to be told by projecting their affairs without any reference others, that we do not love our Maker and to him, by setting out on the stock of their own unassisted wisdom, contriving and act-/ rolve the conduct which we impiously ques. ing independently of God; expecting pros- tion! It unrols the volume of divine Proviperity in the event, without seeking his di-dence, lays open the mysterious map of inrection in the outset, and taking to them- finite wisclom, throws a bright light on the selves the whole honour of the success with darkest dispensations, vinciicates the ineout any recognition of his hand ! do ther quality of appearances, and points to that not thús virtually imitate what Sophocles blessed region, where to all who have truly makes his blustering Atheist* boast': Let loved and served God, every apparent other men expect to conquer with the assis- wrong shall be approved to have been untance of the gods, I intend to gain honour impeachably right, every affliction'a merwithout them.
cr, and the severest trials the choicest The Christian will rather rejoice to blessings. ascribe the glory of his prosperity to the So blind las sin made us, that the glory same hand to which our own manly queen of God is concealed from us, by the very gladly ascribed her signal victory. When means which, could we discern aright, after the defeat of the Armada, 'impiously would display it. That train of second termed invincible, her enemies, in order to canses, which he has so marvellously dispolower the value of her agency, alleged that seci, obstructs our view of himselt. We are the victory was not owing to her, but to God so filled with wonder at the inmediate efwho had raised the storm, she heroically fect, that our short sight penetrates not la declared that the visible interference of the first cause. To see him as he is, is rtGod in her favour was that part of the suc- served to be the happiness of a better world. cess from which she derived the trucst ho- We shall then indied 'admire him in his nour.
saints, and in all them that believe ;' we shall Incidents and occasions every day arise, see how necessary it was for those whose which not only call on us to trust in God, bliss is now so perfect, to have been poor, but which furnish us with suitable occasion and despised, and oppressed. We shall see of vindicating, if I may presume to use the why the .ungodly were in such prosperity.' expression, the character and conduct of Let us give God credit here for what ve the Almighty in the government of human shall then fully know; let us adore box, asfairs ; yet ihere is no duty which we per- what we shall understand hereafter. form with less alacrity. Strange, that we They who take up religion on a false should treat the Lord of heaven and earth ground will never adhere to it. If they adopt with less confidence than we exercise to-lit merely for the peace and pleasantness it wards each other! That we should vindi-brings, they will desert it as soon as they cate the honour of a common acquaintance find their adherence to it will bring them with more zeal than that of our insulted Ma- into difficulty, distress, or discredit. It selker and Preserver !
|dom answers therefore to attempt making If we hear a friend accused of any act of proselytes by hanging out false colours. The injustice, though we cannot bring any posi- Christian 'endures as seeing him who is ittive proof why he should be acquitted of visible.' He who adopts religion, for the this specific charge, yet we resent the inju- sake of immediate enjoyment, will not doa ry offered to his character; we clear him of virtuous action that is disagreeable to him the individual allegation on the ground of his self; nor resist a temptation that is alluring, general conduct, inferring that from the nu-l present pleasure being his motive. There merous instances we can produce of his rec- lis no sure basis for virtue but the love of titude on other occasions, he cannot be guil- God in Christ Jesus, and the bright reier ty of the alleged injustice. We reason from sion for which that love is pledged. Withanalogy, and in general we reason fairly. Jout this, as soon as the paths of piety beBut when we presume to judge of the Most come rough and thorny, we shall stray inilo High, instead of vindicating his rectitude on pleasant pastures. the same grounds, under a providence seem- Religion, however, has her own peculiar ingly severe ; instead of reverting, as in the advantages. In the transaction of all worldcase of our friend, to the thousand instances ly affairs, there are many and great difficulwe have formerly tasted of his kindness ; in- ties. There may be several wars out o stead of giving God the same credit we give which to choose. Men of the first under to his erring creature, and inferring from standing are noi always certain which a his past goodness, that the present inexpli- these ways is the best. Persons of the deepcable dispensation must be consistent, thoughest penetration are full of doubt and per we cannot explain how, with his general plexity; their minds are undecided how to character, we mutinously accuse him of in-act, lest while they pursue one road, that consistency, nay of injustice. We admit may be neglccting another which mgut virtually the most monstrous anomaly in the better liave conducted them to their propo character of the perfect God
sed end. But what a clue has revelation furnished In religion the case is different, an ), in to the intricate labyrinth which seems to in this respect, easy. As a Christian can have
but one object in view, he is also certum • Ajax.
there is but one way of attaining it. When
there is but one end, it prevents all possibi- mented how much was lost because so finc lity of choosing wrong ; -- where there is but a poet as Claudian, in his choice of a subone road, it takes away all perplexity as to ject, wanted matter worthy of his talent; the course of pursuit. That we so often but it is the felicity of the Christian to have wander wide of the mark, is not from any chosen a theme to which all the powers of want of plainness in the path, but from the lis heart and of his understanding will be perverseness of our will in not choosing it, found inadequate. It is the glory of religion from the indolence of cur minds in not fol- to supply an object worthy of the entire conlowing it up.
secration of every power, faculty and affecIn our' attachments to earthly things, tion of an immaterial, immortal being. even the most innocent, there is always a danger of excess; but from this danger we are here perfectly exempt, for there is no possibility of excess in our love to that Be
CHAP. VIII. ing who has demanded the whole heart. I. This peremptory reouisition cuts off all de-The Fland of God to be acknowledged in bate.' Had God required only a portion,
the daily circumstances of life. even were it a large portion, we might be If we would indeed love God, let us acpuzzled in settling the quintum. We might quaint ourselves with him.' The word of be plotting how large a part we might ven- inspiration has assured us that there is no ture to keep back without absolutely for- other way to be at peace. As we cannot feiting our safety ; we might be haggling for love an unknown God, so neither can we deductions, bargaining for abatements, and know him, or even approach toward that be perpetually compromising with our Ma- knowledge, but on the terms which he himker. But the injuiction is entire, the com- self holds out to us ; neither will he save us mand is definitive, the portion is unequivo- but in the method which he himself has precal. Though it is so compressed in the ex-scribed. His very perfections, the just obpression, yet it is so expansive and ample, in jects of our adoration, I stand in the way of the measure : it is so distinct a claim, so im- creatures so guilty. His justice is the Haperative a requisition of all the faculties of ming sword which excludes us from the Pathe mind and strength; all the affections of radise we have forfeited. His purity is so the heart and soul: that there is not the least opposed to our corruptions, his omnipotence opening left for litigation; no place for any to our infirmity, his wisdom to our folly, thing but absolute unreserved compliance.' that had we not to plead the great propitia
Every thing which relates to God is infi- tion, those very attributes which are now nite. We must therefore while we keep our trust, would be our terror. The most our hearts humble, keep our aims high. opposite images of human conception, the Our highest services indeed are but finite, widest extremes of human language, are imperfect. But as God is unlimited in good used for the purpose of showing what God ness, he should have our unlimited love. is to us in our natural state, and what he is The best we can offer is poor, but let us not under the Christian dispensation. The withhold that best. He deserves incom-1'consuming fire' is transformed into essenparably more than we have to give. Lettial lore. us not give him less than all. If he has en But as we cannot find out the Almighty to nobled our corrupt nature with spiritual af-perfection, so we cannot love him with that fections, let us not refuse their noblest aspi-Ipure flame, which animates glorified spirits. rations, to their noblest object. Let him not But there is a preliminary acquaintance behold us so prodigally lavishing our affec- with bim, an initial love of hin, for which tions on the meanest of his bounties, as to he has furnished us with means by his have nothing left for himself. As the stan-works, by his word, and by his Spirit. dard of every thing in religion is high, let us Even in this weak and barren soil some endeavour to act in it with the highest in-germs will shoot, some blossoms will open, tention of mind, with the largest use of our of that celestial plant, which, watered by faculties, Let us obey him with the most the dews of heaven, and ripened by the intense love, adore him with the most fer- Sun of righteousness, will, in a more genial vent gratitude. Let us praise him accord-clime, expand into the fulness of perfection, ing to his excellent greatness. Let us serve and bear immortal fruits in the Paradise of him with all the strength of our capacity, God. with all the devotion of our will.
A person of a cold phlegmatic temper. Grace being a new principle added to our who laments that he wants that fervor in his natural powers, as it determines the desires love of the Supreme Being, which is appato a higher object, so it adds vigour to their rent in more ardent characters, may take activity. We shall best prove its dominion comfort, if he find the same indifference reover us by desiring to exert ourselves in the specting his worldly attachments. But if his cause of heaven with the same energy with affections are intense towards the perishable which we once exerted ourselves in the things of earth, while they are dead to such cause of the world. The world was too lit-las are spiritual, it does not prove that he is tle to fill cur whole capacity. Scaliger la-I destitute of passions, but only that they are not directed to the proper object. If, how- her triumphant hand to seize the promised ever, he love God with that measure of crown, will not suffer her stability to depend feeling with which God has endowed him, on this ever-shifting faculty ; she will not he will not be punished or rewarded, be- be driven to despair by the blackest shades c: use the stock is greater or smaller than of its pencil, nor be betrayed into a careless that of some other of his fellow creatures. security, by its most flattering and vivid co
In those intervals when our sense of di- lours. vine things is weak and low, we must not One cause of the fluctuations of our faith give way to distrust, but warm our hearts is, that we are too ready to judge the Alwith the recollection of our best moments, mighty by our own low standard. We judge Our motives to love and gratitude are not his not by bis own declarations of what he now diminished, but our spiritual frame is is, and what he will do, but by our own lewer, our natural spirits are weaker. feelings and practices. We ourselves are Where there is languor there will be dis- too little disposed to forgive those who have couragements. But we must not desist. offended us. We therefore conclude that • Faint yet pursuing,' must be the Chris God cannot pardon our offences. We sustian's motto,
pect him to be implacable, because we are There is more merit (if ever we dare ap- apt to be so, and we are unwilling to believe ply so arrogant a word to our worthless ef- that he can pass by injuries, because we find forts) in persevering under depression and it so hard to do it. When we do forgive, it discomfort, than in the happiest flow of de- is grudgingly and superficially; we therevotion, when the tide of health and spirits fore infer that God cannot forgive freely and juns high. Where there is less gratification fully. We make a hypocritical distinction there is more disinterestedness. We ought between forgiving and forgetting injuries. to consider it as a cheering evidence, that God clears away the score when he grants our love may be cqually pure though it the pardon. He does not only say, thy jy not equally fervent, when we persist sins and thy iniquities will I forgive,' but 1 in serving our heavenly Father with the will remember them no more.? same constancy, though it may please him We are disposed to urge the smallness of to withdraw from us the same consola- our offences, as a plea for their forgiveness; tions. Perseverance may bring us to the whereas God to exhibit the boundlessness of very dispositions the absence of which we his own mercy, has taught us to allege a plea are' lamenting- ( tarry thou the Lord's directly contrary-Lord, pardon my inileisure, be strong and he shall comfort thy quity, for it is great.' To natural reason heart,
this argument of David is most extraordinaWe are too ready to imagine that we are ry. But while he felt that the greatness o religious, because we know something of re- his own iniquity left him no resource, but in ligion. We appropriate to ourselves the the mercy of God, he felt that God's mercy picus sentiments we read, and we talk as if was greater even than his own sin. What a the thoughts of other men's heads were real-large, what a magnificent idea does it give ly the feelings of our own hearts. But piety us of the divine power and goodness, that las not its seat in the memory, but in the af- the believer, instead of pleading the smallfections, for which however the memory is ness of his own offences as a motive for paran excellent purveyor, though a bad substi-don, pleads only the abundance of the ditute, Instead of an undue elation of heart vine compassion ! when we peruse some of the psalmist's We are told that it is the duty of the Chris beautiful effusions, we should feel a deep tian to seek God.' We assent to the truth self-abasement at the reflection, that how- of the proposition. Yet it would be less irkever our case may sometimes resemble his, some to corrupt nature, in pursuit of this vet how inapplicable to our hearts are the knowledge, to go a pilgrimage to distant ardent expressions of his repentance, the lands, than to seek him within our own overflowing of his gratitude, the depth of his hearts. Our own heart is the true tera insubmission, the entireness of his self-dedica- cognitia ; a land more foreign and unknown tion, the fervour of his love. But he who to us, than the regions of the polar circle in leed can once say with him, “Thou art Yet that heart is the place, in which an acmy portion,' will, like him surrender him- quaintance with God must be sought. It is scif unreservedly to his service.
tlicre we must worship him, if we would It is important that we never suffer our worship him in spirit and in truth. faith, any more than our love, to be depress. But, alas ! the heart is not the home of a cd or elevated, by mistaking for its own ope-worldly man, it is scarcely the home of a rations, the ramblings of a busy imagina- Christian. It business and pleasure are the tion. The steady principle of faith must not natural element of the generality-a dreary look for its character to the vagaries of a vacuity, sloth and insensibility, too oftea mitable and fantastic fancy--La folle de la worse than both, disincline, disquably too Naison, as she has been well denominated. many Christians for the pursuit. Faith which lias once fixed her foot on the I have observed, and I think I have immutable Rock of Ages, fastened her heard others observe, that a common beso firm eye on the Cross, and stretched out/gar had rather screen himself under the