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world; but within themselves there would be all the blessings of God's Kingdom; a will resigned to his, evil passions and desires driven away, and peace, and love, and joy, continually abiding. It is the land of Beulah on this side the river; which enjoys the light of the Celestial City, and which the shining ones do not disdain to visit on errands of grace and love. . To this, by the grace of God, we may bring ourselves; and not ourselves only, but those too who are nearest and dearest to us. hold me and the children whom God has given me.” We come not alone to the kingdom of our Father, but our companions also may come with us with joy and gladness, and enter together into the palace of the heavenly King. And does this not concern us all? Is there any one amongst us who has no relation, no friend, whom he would desire to bring with himself to God; or, if indeed there be such an one, who should have neither son, nor brother, nor friend, still he has his own soul to deliver, to live himself in the light of the kingdom of God, though all the world besides should choose to sit in darkness. We are interested therefore in the principles shewn forth in the Sermon on the Mount : we are concerned to learn and to practise the tempers, the desires, and the conduct that belong to Christ's Kingdom. To learn them and to practise them from our earliest youth ; for they are not learnt in a day, and every year that we delay to learn them, gives strength to our natural passions and desires, and fortifies in our hearts the kingdom of Satan. For that kingdom exists wherever the kingdom of God does not : it exists and flourishes amidst thoughtlessness, and selfish love of pleasure, and neglect of the means of grace, as surely as amidst the practice of the most heinous crimes. The devils can never be kept out of the empty heart, they will enter and reign where the way is not closed against them by the indwelling Spirit of our God. This indeed is one of the most divine excellencies of the Gospel, that it asks not so much,“ What sins are you free from?” but “what advancement have in holiness ? what works of the Spirit shine forth in your daily living ?” It speaks of the love of God and of Christ as the signs of a state of salvation, because it knows that we love those naturally whom we are labouring to please, and that on the contrary we cannot love those whom we feel that we have offended, and whose anger we know that we deserve. They therefore
. that are in the flesh cannot please God; and therefore cannot love him. O that we would
well consider how much is meant by these little words," they that are in the flesh.” It means, those who are such as they were first born; those who have not changed their nature; those who have left their characters alone, to be formed at random, partly by the example of those with whom they live, partly by any prevailing passion by which they are most influenced. “ Such persons,” says St. Paul,
cannot please God." They can neither please him in youth nor in age : at whatever time they die, they must go down to the grave unredeemed; for Christ prays not for such as they are, because they have rejected and despised his precious sacrifice. They then who cannot please God, can know nothing of the peace and joy of his kingdom. Yet those blessings are to be gained, nor is our daily prayer necessarily fruitless. Thy kingdom come,” if not to all the world, yet at least to me and my neighbours; that we may be thine, though all besides should deny thee." Thy kingdom come;" and it will come if we strive to fulfil the prayer that directly follows, making ourselves so fully the subjects of God, that his will may be done by us on earth, even as it is done by the saints and angels, the subjects of his kingdom in Heaven.
John ix. 35, 36.
Jesus said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?
He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?
The question of our Lord was asked of one whom he had just delivered from blindness, but who knew nothing of the real nature and dignity of the person who had so relieved him. He was persuaded, indeed, that Jesus was a prophet; because he thought that none but a good man, and one endowed in a particular manner with heavenly gifts, could have wrought such a miracle as Christ had just performed : and he was cast out by the Jews, that is, he was shut out from their religious worship and church, because he tried to convince them of this truth; and would not join them in saying that Christ was a sinner. In this state Jesus sought him out, and asked him in the words of the text, Dost thou believe on the Son of God! The man replied, Who is he, that I should believe on him, for I never heard of such a person, nor do I know where he is to be found! It was an answer of complete ignorance, but of ignorance which was not wilful, nor did it proceed out of an evil heart. Christ therefore teaches him more plainly than he was wont to do to any, except his own peculiar Disciples. Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. The instruction was well received by him to whom it was given : he said directly, Lord, I believe : and in token of his belief, he worshipped Christ immediately.
Jesus said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God ? It is the very question which he still puts to the conscience of every man, and on the answer given to it does the salvation of every man still depend. How often also is the answer which our hearts would return, the very same with that which was made by the blind man to Christ: Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? It is not, indeed, generally the same kind of ignorance, it is not an honest want of instruction, accompanied with a desire to gain it; but it is a wilful and a proud ignorance, like that of Pharaoh when he said to Moses, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the