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down by the enfeebling process decay, and the soul oppressed betwixt the infirmities of both, shall we imagine that we can be then in a capacity to make any effectual struggles against the influence of principles which time has ripened into an almost irresistible ascendancy? And such struggles must be made, if we expect to receive a favourable sentence at the day of judgment. “ Walk whilst ye have light therefore, lest darkness come upon you, for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.”
Thus it will appear evident that youth is the fittest season to set about the work of preparation for the last judgment, and that the difficulties of this preparation encrease in proportion as we advance in years and neglect to make it. Besides, the motives which actuate us to godliness in youth must be purer than when deferred to age; for in the latter, when we repent, after having spent a long life in iniquity, it is too frequently only because we are awakened to repentance by our nigh approach to eternity; whilst, in the former, our approximation to it being probably much more remote, we are far more likely to be actuated by a love of God and a desire to do his will.
If it happen, too, that in age we are afflicted with grievous bodily sufferings, how shall we, who have never accustomed ourselves in the days of youth and health, to detach our thoughts from our own pains or pleasures, be now likely to lift up our minds unto God, when the pangs of the body fix them down to ourselves? We shall recollect that we can deprave, but can not purify, our hearts, without the aid of Him whose Holy Spirit alone can sanctify them.
If, then, we have despised or neglected its divine influence, when the terrors of the future were stilled within us, shall we imagine that the grace of its visitation will be accorded, merely because we cry out in our pangs, and should never have solicited its operation upon our souls, but that we begin to dread“ the terrors of the Lord ?” How lovely are the latter years of life where the former have been spent as becomes the disciple of Christ? Where can there be an object more deserving of our admiration and love than the venerable Christian, approaching the last home of his forefathers with the calm and holy confidence of religious hope—whose youth, meridian and age have past in one consistent tenor of obedience towards God and love towards man? And such can we only behold in him who has “ remembered his Creator in the days of his youth.” Like a placid stream that is lost for a while beneath the surface of the earth, and rises again only to embody its waters with the ocean, he gradually sinks into the dust, whence he shall arise at the general resurrection, and flow forward, upon the wreck of time, into the shoreless ocean of eternity.
THE INSUFFICIENCY OF EXTERNAL RELIGION.
Romans, CHAP. II. VER 28, 29.
He is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh : but he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter ; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
In this most significant passage we are not to understand a Jew as signifying simply a professor of the Jewish religion, or a member of God's ancient visible church ; but one who is a son of Abraham, not indeed lineally, but spiritually descended, by professing faith and holiness like that for which Abraham was constituted the father of all true believers. In this sense the pious Gentiles, though uncircumcised, and members of no visible church, were equally, with his descendants according to the flesh, Jews, or Sons of Abraham, and therefore members of the covenant which God made with him, and equally entitled to all its blessings by virtue of the circumcision of their hearts. It is of Jews, in this sense of the term, that Christ speaks in his Epistle to the church of Smyrna. " I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan.”
The word Jew, then, in the text will apply to all true believers, so that christians are fully comprehended within the abstract meaning of the term, since they are spiritually, and therefore truly, the “Israel of God," inasmuch as they are the spiritual seed of Abraham, and the children of God to whom the promises of the covenant in their secondary and highest meaning belong.
We know that circumcision, like the rite of baptism between Christ and us, was an “outward and visible sign,” or seal of the covenant between God and Abraham, but there was a corresponding “inward and spiritual grace” to be sought after and obtained by those for whose benefit it was established, before the conditions of the covenant could be effectually performed. There was, as the Apostle characterizes it,
« circumcision of heart” also required to constitute a true “ child of grace,” which equally now, as it did then, applies to every member of Christ's visible church. And this circumcision consists, according to our earnest endeavours to obey his laws, in God's amending our state, by