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But observe: it must be believed faithfully. You must depend on the Son of God as your Redeemer-you must welcome the Holy Spirit as your Comforter, with the same kind of constant feeling wherewith you depend on, and welcome, those whom you know to be your nearest and dearest friends. This you cannot sincerely do, as long as you wilfully continue in anything that you know to be sin ; for so long the thought of their being present, and watching your very heart, will make you uneasy.
Consider, however, before it be too late, what it must be to reject their witness, or (what comes, in the end, to much the same) to turn carelessly away from it. After all, you must die ; and when you die, what pardon, what consolation can you hope for, if you have refused to let your Savior plead for you to his Father, and hardened your hearts against the Holy Ghost the Comforter ?
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE, A LIFE OF DAILY IMPROVEMENT.
PROVERBS iv. 18.
" But the path of the just is as the shining light,
That shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”
It has been endeavored on some former occasions to direct the attention of seriously disposed persons to certain practical truths—very plain indeed, and un. questionable-yet, perhaps, what we all need constantly to be reminded of, especially in times of trouble or at least of doubt, trial, and perplexity.
Thus, that “godliness with contentment is great gain”—the best plan and course of life that a person can follow, this is a doctrine of which one may venture to say that we cannot be sufficiently thankful to the Holy Spirit for revealing it to us. It effectually supplies us, in difficult times, with what we most need, viz., encouragement and guidance. The path of religious contentment is a safe path-that is the encouragement ; and no other path is safe—there is the guidance.
Now to proceed with some other thoughts of a kindred nature, suitable also (as I before said) for sin. cere Christians in seasons of trial and perplexity, from whatever cause arising. “The path of the just” (says the Holy Spirit, speaking to us by the mouth of Solo. mon, or rather perhaps of David) “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”
To understand somewhat the force of this divinely beautiful sentence, we must call to mind, what, how. ever, all attentive readers of the Scriptures must be well aware of, that our condition in this world in the
sight of Almighty God is very frequently spoken of as that of travellers on their journey ; and our life altogether is represented as a way—a path-a progress. Ånd this form of speech is so natural and easily apprehended by us, that it seems to us scarcely at all figurative-we seem to be literally passing onward through time into eternity.
At all events, on a very slight reflection, we can have no doubt what it is which our good God desires to impress on our thoughts and hearts when he tells
that " the path of the just is as the shining light.” It is a kind of parable, setting before us the thought of travellers setting out on a journey very early indeed in the morning, when there is a faint streak of light in the eastern sky; at first, I say, quite faint, but by degrees it grows brighter and brighter, till at last the sun rises above the horizon, and “ the perfect day” begins.
You see then that “the path of the just,” that is, the life and practice of the faithful servants of the Lord is expressly compared to the case of persons travelling on with a little glimmering, or as it is translated, “shining light.” But though small and faint, it is enough to show them their way and to guide them in it. And as they go steadily forward, the light increases also, and becomes brighter and brighter, till it shines out at last into “the perfect day.”
I consider that this divine sentence, at all times and places, but especially now in this country, is calculated to afford sincere Christians comfort, encouragement, caution. And may that Holy Spirit, who " caused the words to be written for our learning,” enable us to see and feel their sacred meaning, and to apply it each to our own eternal good.
As to the comfort and consolation which this and other similar passages are calculated to afford to sincere Christians, to persons of “humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient hearts;" we may contemplate the subject in two or three distinct points of view, out of many that offer themselves.
For instance, when a person has gone on in careless,
or perhaps, wicked ways, for a good while, and at length begins to feel the danger of his situation, death and judgment fast drawing on upon him, and he altogether unprepared and unfit to meet them ; his first natural question is (though in a different sense from that probably intended by the jailor at Philippi), “What must I do to be saved ?" How can I recover the ground I have lost, how can I answer for precious time wasted, precious talents misapplied ? how can I indulge any reasonable hope that my past sins and follies may be washed out by the blood of the Lamb of God, and that the Holy Spirit will grant me the surest evidence of my forgiveness, viz., that the rest of my life hereafter may be pure and holy? I say when a baptized Christian has led an evil or a careless life, these are the kind of thoughts and feelings, which may, and ought to arise within him, when he wakes to some sense of his danger.
And at such a time, at such a critical period (as it may be called) of his spiritual life, it is plainly of very great consequence that his general views of Christian truth and doctrine should be correct, lest he should enter on
a wrong path, and his conversion should prove to be a change, not from evil to good, but only from one evil course to another-of which instances are but too common in the present state of what is called the Christian world.
But perhaps some one might be inclined to ask, How is it possible, when a person has led a deliberately wicked or thoughtless life, that his general views of Christian truth should be correct?
I answer, that I suppose this to be as possible, as it evidently is possible, for a well-disposed person to be satisfied with false and incorrect views of religious truth. Good sort of people may think wrong, as well as bad sort of people may think right; though, perhaps, it must be confessed that the generality of persons do not think much at all, but are led by their feelings chiefly ; sometimes wrong, sometimes right, as it may happen.
However that may be, the sincere and humble penitent, looking back on the past with shame and sorrow, and feeling his own incompetency, even with the Bille in his hand, to frame for himself a plan and scheme on which he may place thorough dependance in so great a matter as that of his everlasting condition; such an one I say, is most thankful that God has not left him to him. self, but by the voice of his church (a voice heard only by humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient hearts, by most unheard) still calls him into the good and the right way, good and right I say, though narrow and difficult.
Such an one is comforted by being told, that “the path of the just is as the glimmering light of the morning dawn, which shineth more and more into the perfect day;" that he has no right at present to expect much light or aid, that if he can be satisfied with that imperfect, and what the world (even the so-called religious world) esteems poor,” instruction which the church apostolic has ever ventured to give to her penitent children; then by degrees he shall be led on through the strict path of discipline to higher knowledge, and shall, perhaps, enjoy that comfort, which, for the present at least, he acknowledges he has no title to.
As for all feelings of confident hope, and assurance of final pardon, and experiences (as they are called) of divine grace, these he is so far from earnestly seeking, that he rather fears they might be too much for him, fears they might lift him too high above the low ground of penitence, humility, and self-distrust, where alone he feels he can be safe.
Again, it is a great comfort to the sincerely penitent Christian, to be told that he is to go on his path as having but little light, because he is thereby convinced that he must not venture to trust to himself and his own guidance. And that, I say, is a great comfort to the Christian if he be sincerely penitent; for knowing by past experience his own frailty and blindness, he knows also the great danger and misery of his being left to himself, and therefore is most earnest in beseeching his heavenly Father that he at least may be kept free from the miserable plague of what is miscalled “religious ļiberty," and may be with the holy apostle St. Paul and