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divine Teacher. While apart from the messenger who descends from above, you will never get an answer to the questions suggested from within,- so also apart from the monitor within you will never feel
need of that salvation which is revealed from above. Some converse with the divine oracle, and their understandings become enlightened on many points; but they are only enlightened. Truth goes no further than the understanding. They have right conceptions of the gospel in theory. They can see its truths, can harmonize them, can group them together into systematic form, but they have no appreciation of their value, like that which a lost wanderer has of the value of a guide, who has found him in an agony of despair on the edge of a precipice, and snatched him from death, and brought him safely home.
To know our own hearts is essential to our knowing Christ. He stands at the door and knocks. The door has never been opened. It is bolted. The bar is rusty. The portal is overgrown with tall matted weeds. It must be opened from within. Will “ any man hear his voice and open the door till he has seen the wretchedness of the abode-till he feels the utter ruin of his own soul-till he is convinced that there is no hope for him but in Christ? Never. Never is Christ let in, and welcomed, till the soul is conscious of its need, and that consciousness comes of listening to an awakened conscience, speaking truthfully as long as ever it will. And what rouses conscience, and enlightens it, and teaches it the truth concerning sin and perdition, but the holy Spirit of God, who is the creator of conscience, and the author of the Bible? He convinces the world of sin, and righteousness, and judgment to come, and then he testifies of Christ. First, he teaches us what sinners we are, and then he shows what a Redeemer Jesus is, and so be becomes “a Comforter." The gospel is but a theory to us, till self-knowledge, through the Spirit's agency, makes the salvation which it brings a blessed fact, and, at the same time, Christ once received, we know ourselves better than we did before.
Study, then, yourselves, that you may know your want of Christ, and pray for the Spirit to aid you in your study; and be assured, that when Christ is in you the hope of glory, the Holy Spirit will prove to you a most blessed and precious Comforter. He will speak to you by day and by night, when you are afraid and when you are hopeful, when you are faint and weary, and when you are strong and courageous—when life beats high, and when death comes near. His voice will mingle with other voices, and sanctify them all. His thoughts will mingle with other thoughts, and purify them all.
- If any
Once more I would
“ Commune with your own heart on the great subjects of interest contained in the Bible. They are all of immense moment. They are all practical in some way. They all relate to you. Let us select one. man be in Christ, he a new creature: old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new." That is just the thing to talk to your own heart about now at the present time.
“ In Christ." In Him as the ark of safety—the city of refuge. Believing in Him the Redeemer. Accepted in Him the beloved. Talk to your own heart about that—and ask, Are you in Him? “ If any man be in Christ” (and every man is invited to be in Him, for God so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life")—“If any man be in Christ"(the truth is of universal application—true for you and every soul), “ he is a new creature. The Spirit of God works in him a wonderful change, through the very faith which he has in Jesus Christ. Talk to your own heart, and inquire whether this change has been begun in you. And this is what we are to understand by “the new creature,”-first, “ Old things pass away.” It is new in the sense of putting an end to what is old. However early the change, there is an ending. There is the crushing of seeds, the trampling out of sparks. When the change is later the ending is more manifest, because there has been time for the outgrowth of evil. Though there has been little, if anything, in the way of vice, nothing in the way of crime, yet evil under a spiritual form has been existing and working. There has been alienation from God-indifference to devotion -intellectual pride-self-dependence. Whatever the previous life of sin, there is an ending of it when any man becomes a new creature. We can conceive of the condition of a being who only needs something to be added to what he has, who only requires that which shall cover and crown what is already possessed; the old things being the ground and foundation of the new.
Not so is it in reference to this change. The old comes to an end. It cannot be carried into the new world of regenerate life. There is a casting away as well as a receiving
stripping off as well as a putting on-a renouncing as well as an accepting—a dying to the past as well as a resurrection to the future. There is a crucifixion of the flesh which is corrupt—there is a putting to death of the old man with his deeds. And, secondly, “ All things become new." There is new light-new love-new hope-new joy-in a word, new life. It is transmuted, if not transfigured. If there be nothing outwardly startling to others, there is a change full of blessed
wonder felt by the subject of it himself. There is all the difference between a life “according to the course of this world,” and “a life hid with Christ in God.” Now talk over all this with your own heart, and inquire what you know of this ending, and of this beginning. It is no light thing, because it is your life.
Yet again, hear the inspired exhortation, “Commune with your own heart.” Remember, that self-ignorance and inattention to such matters as are now pressed upon you must be followed by an awful acquaintance with yourself and with them hereafter. The objects which now divert attention will ere long disappear. Fancy a traveller passing through a crowded city--going out of the gates, and coming down at length into a lonesome, dreary valley, where all is silence and death. What a contrast. What solitude of spirit comes. The mind is forced on itself-on its memories-on nature—on God. never been in such a lonely place that, in spite of all efforts to the contrary, you have been compelled to realize your own individuality, and to think of Him in whom you live and move and have your being ? But there is no loneliness and silence like that of death—like that of eternity. Oh! the solitude and stillness around a human spirit just quitting the body-just leaving the noise and bustle of this world—just dismissed from amidst the carnage and shout of the battle field—or from amidst the din and murmur of the market and the mart. Think of the solitude and stillness of it as it stands before God, and becomes conscious of Him, and of his relation to itself. All objects that could amuse and divert gone—for ever gone. All possibility of delusion at an end. The truth known
—its own condition known--its own destiny known. This knowledge succeeding the deepest ignorance before. Think of all this and tremble, lest knowledge of yourself should come then—too late!
Devote now some space of time to this exercise. Say one hour. Is that much for self-communion ? Let it be devoted wholly and honestly to the employment. Take into conference the divine teacher-the Word of God. What is it to thee ? What are thou to it? It is a guide. Art thou a follower? It is a law. Art thou obedient ? It is a refuge. Art thou a fugitive ? If not before, commune with your own heart on your bed, and be still.”
To-night do this. In the darkness and stillness of the night season, while others are slumbering, do this. There will be nothing then to intrude and disturb. The communion at first may not be pacifying. To “ be still” may be an impossibility. The revelation of yourself to your
self may be terrific—agonizing-but persevere in the inquiry. The more fearful, the more necessary. Go on till you see the cross shining through the darkness; till you catch a glimpse of the throne of grace. Behold Jesus dying, and Jesus glorified ; Jesus in the garden, and Jesus in heaven; Jesus under the burden of man's guilt, and Jesus wearing the crown of universal empire; Jesus ever nigh the retiring sinner, ever present with the believing soul. Through faith in him you will find peace and rest. Not in mere abstract propositions, but in a personal, ever living, and unchangeable Redeemer and Lord are you to trust and hope. Let communion with your own heart at once lead you to communion with Christ, and then at last
you shall see him as he is, and so shall you be for ever with the Lord.
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON: AND W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH.
London: J. & W. Rider, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close.
“ THE STRAY LEAF."
The following narrative is an illustration of the wonderful power of even one sentence of the word of God :
There resided some years since in a northern county, in Ireland, a Roman Catholic family, named de Lacy. Colonel de Lacy had married, rather late in life, a lady of his own country and persuasion ; both were zealous Romanists, and their circle of society was composed almost entirely of those who adhered to the same religion. A splendid mansion, large estates, and all the entourage of a princely fortune were theirs, and of their name and wealth their only child Marion was sole heiress.
In her the affections of her parents were centred from her earliest childhood, and as her character unfolded Marion repaid them by the warmest and most devoted love. For her father especially, her attachment was unbounded. She lived for him, valued all her childish possessions only because they were his gifts, and took delight in every accomplishment she acquired, less from pleasure in the acts themselves, than because it was her father's wish that she should excel. Devotion was the main spring of Marion's character, and its strength was her safeguard against the many dangerous influences which surround an only and an idolized child. The many gifts and graces which nature and fortune had lavished on her, and which to a less generous nature would have served but to deify self, were to Marion but the flowers with which she delighted to strew the path of those she loved. Though she was but an idolater of the creature, still her heart was worldly, and home was her shrine.
Very different was the character of the parents' attachment to their child. They loved her to idolatry,—but pride was their ruling passion, and they were ready to sacrifice even their affections to its demands. At the age of thirteen Marion was a very lovely as well as accomplished child, for her home had afforded facilities for acquiring every graceful art ; but her parents' ambition for her was not to be thus satisfied. She was naturally clever, and they were resolved that no pains should be spared to enable her to take her place in society as a woman of finished education and brilliant attainments. To effect this, they made arrangements to place her for the next few years in a convent, celebrated as a good finishing school, where she would have the advantage of studying under the first professors. Marion's grief at parting from her parents