« הקודםהמשך »
of our hourly acts and habits. And if, then, the things of the flesh and of the world have such continuous influence over us as, alas ! they have, it is because their ceaseless re-impression on the mind
their haunting us from hour to hour their streaming in upon us through every sense-gives them all the force and steadiness of a living pre
And how shall this be counteracted, and an equal, yea superior, force be gained for thoughts of God, and Christ, and holiness, and eternity ? Just by that frequent repetition of them to the mind -- that stirring and revival of them in the consciousness, which, in the use of the several means of grace, of prayer, and meditation, and reading, and social worship, are produced by the unseen, yet not inactive, energy of the Spirit of life. It is not because the things of sense possess more certainty than those of faith, that they move us with such superior force : it is because the evidence for them is so continually kept before us, so pressed upon us in every form, made so familiar to us. They have really no more certainty and force than what they have obtained by ceaseless importunity. They reiterate their lie till we believe it truth. And just, then, by this same method must we gain for the things of the spirit—the truly certain—that evidence which shall continually remind us of their certainty. Now, it is Faith which is the evidence of things. not seen, the substance of things hoped for; and in proportion, therefore, as we walk by faith, and not by sight, we shall both grow in the conviction, and act habitually on the conviction, that the world which we perceive is but the shadow; the world which is unseen, that only is the substance. And O, therefore, to dwell in that world! to be at home therein! to be familiar with its glorious realities ! to have its grand ideas shining down upon our minds continually in all their quiet brightness, undimmed by passion, unobscured by sense, till we find them truly the Stars of our destiny — the directors of our course - the mighty influencers of our character and will,
KEEPING OF GOD'S HOLY WILL.
MATTHEW, xix. 17.
THESE are the words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ; and they show how inseparably connected is moral excellence with the attainment of that eternal life which he came down from heaven to purchase for us. As, to the free compassion of the Father we owe the proclamation of this life ; and as to the gracious mediation of the Son we owe the title to this life ; so, only by the practical inworking of the Holy Ghost, forming us into a spirit and a character suitable to this life, can we ever reach its ultimate enjoyment. The proper end of our being is holiness. And all revelation is vouchsafed just simply as the means to this end—to supply the knowledge, and hope, and energy, whereby alone this holiness can be pursued and won. We
are taken gratuitously into the family of God — we are taught therein the truths of Godthat, becoming thus remodelled after the image of God, we may finally be transferred into the kingdom of God. We are called on to renounce what God hates, and to believe what God has revealed, in order to our doing what God has commanded.
And therefore the third and last particular engaged for every Christian child by his godfathers and godmothers is, that he should “ KEEP God's HOLY WILL AND COMMANDMENTS, and walk in the same all the days of his life.”
In which article of our baptismal vow we must first notice the NATURE of that holiness or moral excellence to which it pledges us. It is the keeping of God's holy will. As the grand purpose of Baptism is to consecrate us to God, so all the parts of its engagement have reference specifically to God. And all Christian excellence, therefore all religious virtue --is that, and that alone, which is begun, continued, and ended in God, and to the glory of his name. The proper distinction of a Christian is, that having been devoted to his heavenly Father, he “no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God."
Here, then, we are furnished with the criterion whereby we may judge whether the morality which
we practise is or is not Christian morality, and such as properly fulfils our baptismal vow. Every man, indeed, would fain persuade himself and others that morality, upon the whole, he honours and possesses. Every man almost will contend that even if he makes no pretensions to Religion, and does not set himself up as better than his neighbours, yet he trusts he knows his duty, and fulfils it, to his family and friends. But still, two questions unavoidably arise on such a claim. First, Is it certain, will it bear examination, that all our duties are fulfilled ? -a question which I to
not now. Give but a quiet hearing to the voice within you, and that voice must answer, No !-And Secondly, granting for a moment all that the most self-satisfied may assert, yet still it is equally important to inquire, -Why-on what principle — to what end do we perform the duties to which we so eagerly and confidently point ?
Is there, for example, much in our natural temperament which is amiable and kind? Do we look out on persons and on things from the sequestered nook of a benevolent, tranquil disposition, and throw upon them that sunshine of our own spirit which lights them up with radiance not their own ? This truly is lovely— this we may rejoice in—it is a precious gift of God. But this is not morality. It is the accident of nature, not the