« הקודםהמשך »
He will behold thee panting with desire in the pursuit of worldly pleasure, vowing ardent devotion to the idols of honour and wealth ; and when to Him thy most sincere love, thy most zealous obedience are due, be Himself content with the feeble homage of affections which are wasting their fervours on debasing and transitory gratifications ? View the prodigies of love in the sufferings and death commemorated on the altar. Contemplate the blessings of that spiritual banquet which a merciful Redeemer hath provided. Redemption from sin and its pangs; restoration to the favour of God, and the never-failing consolations of his love; purity of heart, and the inexpressible peace which is always its attendant ; communion with God, and the Divine pleasures which He pours upon the soul; a lively foretaste of the joys of heaven,—these are the exalted blessings which, in the spiritual banquet of his body and blood, the love of thy Saviour has prepared for thee. Impenetrable and hardened art thou, if blessings thus exalted do not excite thy most ardent desires; lost to every amiable feeling, and deserving of the wrath of heaven, if, at the very moment when thy Saviour displays the depths of his sufferings, and offers thee the eternal blessings which were purchased by them, thou canst repay his love with superficial vows of duty.
It is not enough that thy desires and resolutions be lively and sincere ; they must be uniform and universal.
Those desires and resolutions cannot be sin
cere, which, while they urge us to make partial sacrifices to the laws of God, still seek to retain some favourite gratifications. Those desires and resolutions cannot be sincere, which are only occasionally and rarely exerted. The ardours of holy desire and resolution should glow with steady and uniform fervour. No temptations, however seducing, should damp them; no duties, however difficult, should arrest them. The true penitent, who is awakened to a due sense of the immense debt of gratitude which he owes to his Almighty Father and Redeemer, will not measure his obedience by the cold calculations of selfish policy. His vows of duty will burst forth from a heart beating with grateful love. His vows of obedience will embrace all the sacrifices to which devotion to his blessed Lord may call him. They will extend to every act of duty by which he may advance the honour of his Redeemer and God.
Let, then, thy most ardent desires, O my soul, be uniformly exerted for deliverance from the dominion of sinful passions, and for a restoration to the image of thy Maker. Offer not to God resolutions of duty, the fruit of transitory glows of feeling. Let thy vows of allegiance be founded on a deep conviction of the obligations that should bind thee to Him, of the ennobling nature of his service, and of its glorious rewards. Except not from thy vows of obedience any precept of thy Saviour, though it may require thee to relinquish the indulgence to which thou dost cling with supreme affection.
Resolve on that universal
obedience to his commands which He requires, and which alone He will accept. Then “shalt thou not be confounded, when thou hast respect unto all his commandments." When disposed to murmur at the severity of the sacrifices to which He calls thee, at the extent and difficulty of his service, cast thy view upon the altar, contemplate the number and poignancy of his sufferings for thee, explore the riches of his
graceand blush that thou hast for a moment indulged an ungrateful murmur; lament the inadequacy of thy most zealous services to repay the debt of love, and offer to the gracious Redeemer, who bought thee with his blood, the best tribute thou canst render, though insufficient and unworthyzealous and uniform obedience to all his commands.
Thy desires for redemption from the dominion of sin, and thy resolutions of obedience, must be accompanied with thy own vigorous exertions, and with the diligent use of all the means of grace.
To work out thy salvation is, indeed, the business that should occupy thy supreme care.
Consider how potent the sway which sin maintains over thy affections. Consider how deep the stain of iniquity which is to be washed away. Consider how strong the chains of corrupt passion from whose thraldom thou art to be freed. Consider how holy the graces with which thou must be invested. Consider how extensive and important the circle of duties thou must resolve to discharge. Consider how many sacrifices must be made, how many obstacles must be surmounted, in that
course of holy obedience to God which thou art bound to render. Wilt thou indulge the expectation, that to fulfil these momentous engagements, feeble and occasional efforts only will be necessary? Wilt thou hope to subdue the dominion of sensual passions by those slight exertions which thou wouldest deem it folly to apply to any temporal enterprise that was difficult or hazardous ? Ah! the new and holy life at which thou must aim, as the only pledge of thy salvation, is opposed to the most powerful propensities of thy fallen nature, to the spirit of a corrupt world, to the pleasures which from a thousand quarters assail thee with their insinuating solicitations. Oh! what vigorous exertions, what bold resolution, what determined
courage will be necessary to surmount the obstacles which will oppose thee in thy Christian course, and to enable thee to persevere with unshaken fidelity in the service of thy God. The utmost strength which thou wilt be able to bring to the contest with thy spiritual enemies, the most vigorous exertions which thou wilt be able to engage in the discharge of the high duties of the Christian life, will prove vain, unless invigorated by the diligent use of the means of grace. By devout reflection on the ennobling privileges of thy holy vocation ; by the serious perusal of the pages of Divine truth; by humble and regular attendance on the ministrations and ordinances of the sanctuary, where the God of grace is ever ready to bless his penitent worshippers ; above all, by frequent and earnest prayer for the influences of the Holy
Spirit ;-by these pious exercises only wilt thou be able to advance in the course of holiness, with that increasing zeal which will insure success. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, thou mayest attain the most exalted heights of Christian virtue, but “ without Him thou canst do nothing." The
grace of God is sufficient for the most difficult trials—his strength will be gloriously perfected in the weakness of the most humble of his children. By his Almighty Spirit, “ the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified.” The work of sanctification, by which the soul is redeemed from sin, and reinstated in the Divine image, is, in its commencement, its progress,
and its consummation, conducted by the agency of the Spirit of God. Not independently on human exertions, but through their instrumentality, does this blessed Spirit effect the renovation of the soul. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do. Inscrutable, but claiming our supreme adoration and gratitude, is the wonderful method by which God accomplishes our redemption. The Spirit of the Most High descends and dwells in corrupt and fallen man.
O my soul, let the unsearchable wisdom of God prostrate the doubts of thy erring reason.
Let not that mysterious agency, by which thy redemption is effected, excite thy scorn. Justly due to God is the tribute of profound gratitude, that by the incomprehensible but powerful communion of his Holy Spirit with thee, He pours light and glory on thy blind and