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deceive God, who knoweth the secrets of the heart, is utterly impossible. Hence we are cautioned against hypocrisy in all our approaches with the Lord, as that grievous sin which will be finally 'exposed, and treated with the punishment it deserves. “Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
When, therefore, you present your supplications to God for mercy to blot out your sins, and for grace to renew and purify your hearts from vain and unholy imaginations; when you pray that he would enable you, by the assistance of his Sacred Spirit
, to put in practice the good resolutions which you have formed, and preserve you from the temptations of the world; be sincere in these applications to God, and let the words of your mouth be the nuine feelings of your breasts.
A deep sense of your spiritual wants will teach you the value of the means, and the expediency of using them with a special reference to the proposed end. The grand object which you profess to be seeking, namely, the salvation of your souls, should be ever kept in sight. You will never, like the insincere forinalist, be unconcerned whether your endeavours to obtain the blessing succeed or not: An answer to your fervent petitions will be looked for with the greatest solicitude".
2. Let the ordinances of religion be constantly and diligently observed. Religious habits are not acquired in a day. It is a work of much time to root out of the heart those bitter weeds which have been growing ever since we were born. The means, therefore, which God has appointed for eradicating evil lusts and affections, and for implanting righteous
c Gal. vi. 7. cc Psalm xix. 14. * ib. cxxx. 5, 6. '
dispositions in the soul, must be tried with patience and persisted in, until it shall please Him to crown them with the desired success.
“ Wait on the Lord; be of good courage; and he shall strengthen thine heart : wait, I say, on the Lord."
There is nothing truly excellent, in nature or art, which is the product of a inoment. thing that is destined for great usefulness, is slow in its beginnings, and sure in its progress towards perfection.
So it happens, generally speaking, in the kingdom of grace. The heart is, for the most part, gradually enlightened with the knowledge of God, until it emerges “out of darkness into marvellous light." “ The kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: but, when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches, so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it!.”
You will not desist, then, from perusing the Scriptures, nor from hearing sermons, nor from any religious exercise, because the spiritual good which you are seeking is delayed for the trial of your faith; but this delay will only increase your importunity, and cause you to say, “ I will not let thee go, except thou bless me"!” By this holy perseverance in supplication, the Canaanitish woman prevailed with Christ"; and by the same holy earnestness the blind man recovered his sight'. If you sue for pardon and salvation in a similar spirit of faith, you will most assuredly obtain "the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of your salvation.” “I e Psalm xxvii. 14. Mark iv. 30-33. & Gen. xxxii. 24-30. Mat. xv. 22–29. 'Luke xviii. 35–13.
said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me, in vain"."
Ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you'."
3. The means of grace should be used in faith. We should not make it a question whether they are efficacious, and adapted to answer the end for which they are designed, or not. It is affronting to God to despise or undervalue those“ wells of salvation? which he hath opened unto us; and to say with disdain, “ Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel ? may I not wash in them, and be clean" " Let the preaching of the word, and all the means of grace, be regarded as Divine appointments, which He will honour and bless; for “So (saith the Lord) shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void:; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it'shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it".
4. They must be used independence on the promise of God to make them effectual. “Then shall ye know, if ye
follow on to know the Lord,” is the gracious assurance given to every one who seeks salvation in the name of Christ. But the means cannot ensure the end, without the blessing of God upon the use of them. The exertion of ploughing and sowing will not produce a crop, if the sun and rain are withheld, which are requisite to bring the seed sown to perfection. In like manner, we must look up to God for his assistance; for without the quickening energy of the Holy Ghost, no means will ever succeed in converting the soul of man, and making it productive of every good word and work. * Isa. xlv. 19. Mat. vii. 7,8. * 2 Kings vol.14. Isa. lv. 11. • Hosea vi. 3.
The Christian is taught to exert himself most diligently; but, after all, to depend on Divine aid for crowning his exertions with success.
• Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do, of his good pleasure."
Seriously invoke, then, the influence of the Spirit, to seal the instructions of his word on your heart; in order “ that the means of grace may afford you the hope of glory.”
5. When the ordinances of religion are used in the spirit we have recommended, they will certainly conduce to the desired end ; because they are the appointed channels through which God conveys his grace to them that truly seek him.
Agreeably to his own declaration, we must expect his blessing in this very way,
“A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your Hesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh?." Yet, at the same time, to stimulate us to a holy activity in the use of means, God suspends the grant of this unmerited favour, upon our compliance with his command to be diligent in the pursuit of the promised salvation :-“ For all this will I be inquired of, to do it for them?”
How presumptuous, then, is it to dream of heaven, without using the efforts which are needful to obtain it! Can the husbandman reap where he has not sown? Can we succeed in any of our worldly concerns, without thought, and labour, and patience ? Now, although men admit these self-evident maxims as being applicable to the business of life, yet they practically deny them in religion, and generally
P Phil. ii. 12, 13. Ezek. xxxvi, 26, 27. Pib. v. 37.
concur in neglecting the means which' ought to be used for their salvation ; as if the unspeakable blessing could be secured without any difficulty.
This, however, is a sad infatuation, which cannot fail to destroy us, if it be rested in ; for the Lord will give his blessing to those only who do his will, “I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me'.” “ Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the
door.” • Prov. viii. 17.
"ib. viii. 94. John vii. 17. .
ON THE OBSERVANCE OF THE SABBATH.
Exod. xx. 8. Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy. AFTER Adam was created, God saw fit to determine that a portion of his time should be solely occupied in His service, and that the rest should be allowed him for the management of his secular affairs. That part of our time which God claims for the worship of Himself, is one day out of seven ; which is to be exclusively devoted to the glory of His name.
But it must not be forgotten, that Jehovah expects us to find leisure every day for those religious exercises, which tend to honour Hiin, and promote the health of our souls. Our bodies stand in need of constant aliment, to keep them alive: and will not our souls famish, if they are not regularly sustained by Christ, who is "the bread of life which came down from heaven?" To nourish our immortal souls, and to prevent us
John vi. 32-36.