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heaven; by faith he contemplates those invisible glories, and feels and relishes the pleasures of a heavenly life ; and he who has his conversation in heaven, while he lives in this body, is ready prepared and fitted to ascend thither when he goes out of it; he passes from earth to heaven through the middle region (if I may so speak) of a holy and divine life.
When you suppose a man to be a saint, or all devotion, you have raised him as much above all other conditions of life, as a philosopher is above an animal.
Happiness is not our end and aim. The Christian's aim is perfection. Every one of the sons of God must have some of that spirit which marked their Master, that holy sadness, that peculiar unrest, that high and lofty melancholy which belongs to a spirit that strives after heights to which it can never attain. On this earth there can be no rest for man. The motto of every Christian is “ Forward !” F. W. Robertson.
The Gospel brings peace to them alone who obey its precepts.
Is the kingdom of God within you ? Let it be seen in the subjugation of every thought, word, and action, to the obedience of Christ.
of true devotion must still be understood to be the same humble, secret, unaffected,
unaspiring practice of piety as it used to be of old. The cross which Jesus Christ carried for our salvation is still the true emblem of our profession, from our baptism to our departure out of this life, and is to be borne by us as a daily admonition to patient suffering and self-denial.
The self-denial which is the test of our faith must be daily. “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up
his cross daily and follow Me.” It consists in the continual practice of small duties which are distasteful to us. His trial is in that one thing in those several things in which to do his duty is against his nature. In reference to these you must watch and pray ; pray continually for God's grace to help you, and watch with fear and trembling lest you fall.
fall. It is right, then, to find out for yourself daily self-denial; and this because our Lord bids you take up your cross daily, and because it proves your earnestness, and because by doing so you strengthen your general power of self-mastery, and gain such habitual selfcommand as will be a ready defence when the season of temptation comes. Rise
then in the morning with the purpose that (please God) the day shall not pass without its self-denial, with self-denial in innocent pleasures and tastes, if none occurs to mortify sin. Let your very rising from your bed be an occasion of self-denial ; let your meals be so likewise. Determine to yield to others in things indifferent, to go out of your way in small matters, to inconvenience
yourself (so that no direct duty suffers by it) rather than you should not meet with your daily discipline. This is one great end of fasting. Make some sacrifice, do some painful thing, to bring home to your mind that you do love your Saviour, that you do hate sin, that
have put aside the present world. Let not your words run on; force every one of them into action, and thus cleansing yourself from all pollution of the flesh and spirit, perfect holiness in the fear of God.
In religious matters there are many habits and views which we bear with in the unformed Christian, but which we account disgraceful and contemptible should they survive that time when a man's character
be supposed to be settled. Love of display is one of these; whether we are vain of our abilities, or our acquirements, or our wealth, or our personal appearance ;
whether we discover our weakness in talking much, or love of managing, or again in love of dress. Vanity, indeed, and conceit are always disagreeable, because they interfere with the comfort of other persons, and vex them ; but besides this, they are in themselves odious when discerned in those who enjoy the full privileges of the Church, and are by profession men in Christ Jesus, odious from their inconsistency with Christian faith and earnestness.
Our Saviour expects that all who hope to be saved by Him should be eminent for piety and
religion toward God, as also for charity and righteousness towards
shine lights in the world. He expects that we do not content ourselves with the bare profession of His religion, nor yet with reading the Scriptures, hearing sermons, and praying now and then; but that we strive and study to excel the heathen moralists, the Jewish and Christian Pharisees, yea, and our former selves, too, in all true graces and virtue ; in humility and meekness, in temperance, in patience, in self-denial, in contempt of the world, in justice, in charity, in heavenlymindedness, in faith, in praying, in denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and in living soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.
We are bound to furnish our minds with needful knowledge of God's will and our duty; we are to bend our unwilling wills to a ready compliance with them ; we are to adorn our souls with dispositions suitable to the future state (such as may qualify us for the presence of God, and conversation with the blessed spirits above); it is incumbent upon us to mortify corrupt desires, to restrain inordinate passions, to subdue natural propensities, to extirpate vicious habits; in order to the effecting these things to use all efficient means, earnest prayer, devotion towards God, study of His law, reflection upon our actions, with all such spiritual instruments; the performing such duties as it requires great care and pains, so it needs much time; all this is not dictum factum, as soon done as said ; a few spare moments will not suffice to accomplish it.
Dr. Isaac Barrow.
Acting, as in this life we necessarily do, through the medium of the body, it is natural that our animal propensities should acquire daily strength from exercise, while the moral faculties, being less continually called into action, are in danger of losing half their energy from disuse. Virtue and religion, however, if they mean any thing, are the instruments, under the blessed guidance of the Divine Spirit, by which human reason corrects this incessant tendency to deterioration which
so strongly characterizes all earthly things.
Our Saviour's example was a gentle and steady light; bright, indeed, but not dazzling to the eye; warm, but not scorching the face of the most intent beholder; no affected singularity, no supercilious morosity, no frivolous ostentation of seemingly high, but really fruitless performances : nothing that might deter a timorous, discourage a weak, or offend a scrupulous disciple, is observable in His practice; but, on the contrary, His conversation was full of lowliness and condescension, of meekness and sweetness, and candid simplicity; apt to invite and allure all men to approach towards it, and with satisfaction to enjoy it. He did not seclude Himself into the constant retirement of the cloister, nor into the farther recesses of a wilderness (as some others have done), but conversed freely and in