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great measure withholden, from a consideration that there are other cases more urgent.
Let us, therefore, hope confidently, and let Christian hope be never entertained excepting to quicken and invigorate exertion ; let us hope confidently and do valiantly.
The time is come when the church may take up again those words which she used of old
Seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not: for we preach not our
urselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.”
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.”
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed ; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed: always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”
“For which cause we faint not."
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
To those who know no pain equal to that of seeing unchristian principles prevailing, too often under the cloak of Christian profession, no times perhaps can be more distressing than these; but the more distressing they are, the more should we be excited, and again and again should we stir up ourselves, and call upon each other not to fret ourselves against evil-doers, who are to us
a sword of God ;” but to dwell habitually, as a source of comfort and principle of action, upon the bles. sed hope of better things; and by so much the more as we see the day approaching.
WE MUST HAVE ROOT IN OURSELVES.
St. MARK iv. 16, 17. « These are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when
they have heard the word immediately receive it with gladness; and have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time.'
Ir is, indeed, a melancholy and affecting picture, which these words of our blessed Savior present to all consid. erate minds: the picture of one listening to God's holy word, receiving it with real joy, going away, in his own and others account, full of good purposes and holy, desires to keep it—and, after all
, falling back, into his sins; unable to withstand, to any good purpose, the first seri. ous temptation he meets with. The seel falling on stony places, and presently springing up, because it had no deepness of earth, but scorched, as soon as the sun was up, and withering away for want of moisture ; this is not half so disappointing to the husbandman, as such flattering beginnings are to him, who is entrusted with the souls of Christians. Two or three such instances are often found enough to blight altogether men's prospects of doing good, and to make them quite give up the thought of beholding, in this world, any considerable fruit of their labors.
But the case becomes yet more fearful and lamentable, when one recollects from whom proceeded this affecting description of it. He who valued the souls of men so dearly as to quit his Father's bosom, and lay down his life for their sake ; he tells us expressly, that many of those souls, for all his infinite love, will be lost : not for want of opportunities of hearing what they ought to do to be saved: not for want of attention or interest in lis. tening to his Divine instruction. They hear, and they hear with joy; and yet it does them no good. Why? but because they have not the seriousness, the courage, the constancy, the self-denial, to do what they have heard, when occasion is given ?
It must needs be a peculiar grief and disappointment to the blessed Redeemer of all our souls, when persons come so very near his kingdom-seem as it were on the very brink, and ready to throw themselves, once for all, into the depths of his unspeakable mercy; and then he beholds them starting back-contradicting all the favor. able expectations, which good men and good angels might have formed concerning them: sinning themselves, and causing others to sin, in the very first moment of strong temptation. Who would not wish to save his best Friend, his Redeemer and Savior, such a sorrow, and so vexing a disappointment, as far as he is himself concerned ? If for the present you “receive the word with joy;" if you really admire the beauty of holiness, the wonderful tokens of wisdom and mercy made known to us in the blessed gospel: you shrink, of course, from the thought of making it void ; it is a real pain to you to imagine yourself, in some future trial, forgetting all, and falling away. Now then, while you are yet welldisposed; before the good thoughts have passed away, and the seducing world has found room and leisure to lay hold of your fancy again ; now hear, and earnestly consider, where your great danger lies. If you wish to do more than endure for a while, it is absolutely necessary you should have root in yourself.
By the expression, “ have root in themselves,” it seems that our Savior would put us on our guard against two errors in particular ; the error of those who have no root at all ; taking up good thoughts and wishes as a matter of liking and fancy, not of duty and principle: and the error of those who seem to have a kind of root, who may go on apparently well, and keep good rules for a while, but of whom, by-and-by, it appears too clearly, that their root (if it may be called so) was not in themselves, but in others,
First then : it cannot be denied, weekly and daily experience proves it but too certainly, that there is such a thing as receiving the gospel merely into the surface of one's mind : so that it may make no small show to ourselves as well as others, for a time; and yet no root be struck, no real hold taken, no effectual purposes of amendment entered into.
For instance: what shall we say of those, who make the reading of the Scriptures and other good books, and the waiting on the public service of the church, a matter of mere liking and fancy? It is certainly very possible for any person so to deceive himself; considering, what all must allow, that the Bible, besides containing the way of salvation is also, in many other respects, the most interesting and engaging book in the world. Observe how children are taken with the thousand beautiful and affecting histories, which the condescending providence of God's Holy Spirit has left for their and our learning, from the very earliest days of the world: observe how they listen to the story of Joseph, or to the miracles and death of Jesus Christ our Lord, long before they have any proper notion of the religious meaning of those passages; of applying them to save their own souls. It is very obvious that the same way of reading and hearing may be practised at other times of life: and I wish there were none of us, in this respect, who continue all their lives “ children in understand ing;” 'none who read the gospel for mere amusement, as they would any other remarkable narrative; receiving it with eager joy, as wonderful and beautiful in itself
, but thinking very little of it afterward, to any of those purposes for which God intended it.
In like manner, with regard to the service of the church, many-I may say, most-parts of it, have so much beauty and majesty, that it should seem as if every attentive hearer, naturally of himself, must for the time be affected with them ; except he be utterly lost and hardened. When in the more immediate presence of the great and dreadful, yet most merciful God, the person more immediately dedicated to his service begins to speak to you in his name, on that which most concerns you for ever. When the silence of God's house is broken by God's minister rising up, and repeating some one or more of those gracious promises of his, with which our daily services begin : no person, surely, who does but in earnest try to attend to what is going on, can help being impressed with it for the time. Or when a child is brought to be baptized, or the body of a neighbor laid in the grave, are not the collects, psalms, and lessons, so chosen, the service altogether so wisely and kindly ordered, that every one, who really listens, must feel the beauty and propriety of it? There are times in both these services-the baptism and burial services, I mean—when most men, however inclined to be unthinking, are apt to have their attention caught, and to enter into the spirit of the prayer-book. But it does not at all follow from this, that any real, abiding good is done. The attention is engaged, the fancy pleased, the feelings interested, for the moment; but no care being taken to continue the good effect, and make it habitual, the mind is taken up, it may be, the next hour, with something of a very different nature-something as bad as the church services are good.
The voice of the prayer-book, and of the Scripture itself, has done such persons no more good, than the Jews received from the prophet Ezekiel, to whom God gave this account of his hearers : " Son of man, the children of thy people still are talking of thee by th walls, and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord. And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And'lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an strument; for they hear thy words, but they do them not."
Every one must have seen, at one time or another,