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son from honouring and regarding his parent, and the servant from yielding obedience and submitting to his master. It must, however, be allowed, that an adherence to duty on the one side is more difficult when there is a breach of it on the other, and renders the performance of it much more acceptable to God ee.
Let all implore the gracious assistance of God, to strengthen them for the conscientious discharge of the duties attached to their stations, in order that they may be able to glorify their Maker, by doing the work which he has given them to perform.
Pet. ü. 19, 20.
ON RELIGIOUS INQUIRY :-ADDRESSED TO SERIOUS IN
QUIRERS, WITH A VIEW TO ASSIST THEM IN OBTAINING THAT KNOWLEDGE OF DIVINE TRUTH WHICH CONDUCES TO SALVATION.
Jeremiah 1. 4, 5. Going, and weeping; they shall go, and
seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces thitherward; saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten! An inquirer is a person who solicits the advice and direction of others, that he may recover what he has lost, or obtain some good of which he is not possessed, and in the attainment of which he expects an increase of happiness.
A serious inquirer after religious knowledge acts from a conviction that he stands in need of heavenly wisdom, and of spiritual blessings; the possession of which is necessary to his salvation, and which he hopes to acquire by diligent seeking.
Those peculiar doctrines and duties of the Christian religion which form the subject of inquiry have been already set forth and explained.
Here it will be proper to notice some of the most striking circumstances which distinguish the conduct of a sincere inquirer after God from the careless indifference of the great majority of men,
who are contented to live without hope and without God in the world."
1. Sincere inquiry about celestial happiness begins with a deep conviction of our sin, its infinite demerit, and the misery to which it subjects us. When a sinner feels the sentence of eternal death in himself, he exclaiins, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.
Such a person will naturally ask, in words that prove the earnest desire of his soul, “What must I do to be saved b?" Indeed, it is only where a proper feeling of the exceeding evil of sin exists, that such questions are proposed. The generality of men, unconscious of the guilt of their transgressions, as well as the actual state of their hearts, imagine all is right, and thus go on, heedlessly, in a course of disobedience to God. They do not suspect the delusion which Satan practises on them, by lulling them into a false repose, which will terminate in endless perdition, if the grace of God does not awaken them, by a timely repentance, from their lethargic unconcern,
But the serious inquirer after God is roused from his former state of apathy. He is excited to examine himself, that he may know the worst of his condition, and find a remedy adequate to his wants. When he reviews his past behaviour towards God, he frankly confesses, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep“;" ] have wandered far from the path of happiness. I foolishly expected that I should have found pleasure in the indulgence of my passions; but I have been deceived; whilst I have rebelled against the Lord, and incensed his anger against me. I have wantonly trodden his law under my feet; and, in consequence thereof, I feel myself justly liable to its curse; and
• Isa, vi. 5. Acts xvi. 30. • Psalm cxix. 176.
that, without soine mode of atonement to appease the wrath of God which is kindled against me, I must suffer the just desert of my iniquities, and “ dwell with everlasting burnings." 2. Such a persuasion of guilt
on the one side, and à fearful apprehension of deserved wrath on the other,constrain the awakened sinner to inquire, “How can the vengeance of God, which is coming upon me, be averted? Is there any way of escape? Whither shall I fly for refuge? Who shall deliver me from the bitter pains of eternal death?” Thus he asks counsel, and is willing to receive the friendly advice of any one who can tell him how his grief is to be assuaged, and his soul healed, by a reconciliation with his Maker. A true penitent looks on such a counsellor with more than common regard, and receives his instructions with a willing and grateful mind. As a bewildered traveller is thankful to a friend who puts him in the way which leads to the place where he is journeying, so will a man who is conscious of having forsaken God, and lost the path of bliss, consider himself under infinite obligations to that spiritual guide, who, compassionating his ignorance and misery, assists him to retrace his steps, and return to the fold of happiness.
3. Anxiety to know the way to heaven makes the sincere inquirer ready to submit, with implicit confidence, to the instructions of his teacher. Renouncing his own wisdom, he is not ashamed to solicit the directions of those who are qualified to instruct him in the things which conduce to his everlasting peace. Like the Eunuch, he will say, “How can I know the will of God, except some man should guide med at or, like Cornelius, who, although he had made some
d Acts viii. 31.
advances in religious knowledge, sent for the Apostle Peter, to learn from his mouth those truths relating to the Gospel of Christ with which he was before but imperfectly acquainted dd; the seeker after God will be truly thankful for further information : or, like Mary, solely bent on promoting the interests of his soul, he will sit at the feet of Christ, and listen to his divine instructions, which are able to make him wise unto salvation. He will duly value the advice of the most humble Christian, whose life and conduct he is henceforth resolved to imitate; and, choosing the godly man as his companion and friend, he will say with David, All my delight is in the saints that are in the earth, and in such as excel in virtue.
4. Whilst, however, the humble seeker after God profits by the kind directions of others, he connects, with their admonitions, his own endeavours to obtain the inestimable blessing which he is pursuing. Now he will search the divine records of Scripture day and night; and constantly ponder them in his mind, in order that lie may discover the method by which he may find rest to his burthened soul.
And what effect is produced by the discoveries which he makes froin the Bible? At one time, he hears the terrible denunciations of the Law, which alarm and affright him. At another, he reads therein the sweet and alluring strains of Gospel mercy. The former excite his fears; the latter calın and remove them, by reviving in his soul a hope of pardon. Dissatisfied until he realizes the object of his pursuit, he “ lays aside every weight, and the sin which most easily besets him, and presses toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." 5. In this course of religious inquiry, he unceasdu Acts x. 1-48.
e Psalm xvi. 3.