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mighty master of the heathen schools would have bowed the knee with gratitude to his heavenly Benefactor, and have testified his ardent desire to be guided by “ that Light “ which lighteth every man that cometh into 66 the world!." Here, then, is a subject which may
well awaken in ourselves sentiments of devout
gratitude towards God, and of zeal to promote the
purpose for which these blessings have been conferred. Behold,” says St. John, “ what manner of love the Father hath be“ stowed upon us, that we should be called “ the sons of God" !” Through the Christian dispensation, we are become the adopted children of our heavenly Father, endowed with special privileges, and made heirs of eternal life. These blessings too are dispensed, as far as the divine Author of them is concerned, “ without respect of persons,” confined to no age or country, restricted to no condition of life, limited by no considerations but such as the most perfect equity must approve, and such as shall hereafter fully justify the ways of God to man.
A just sense of the value of these blessings will naturally lead to a consideration of the best means of testifying our gratitude for them, and rendering them effecI John i. 9.
m 1 John iii. 2.
tual. It will operate as a continual warning of the danger of “neglecting so great salva“ tion",” of either swerving from the faith itself, or “ holding the truth in unrighteous- ness." It will admonish us of the necessity of “ giving all diligence to make our calling “ and election sure',” by the awful suggestion, “ If the righteous scarcely be saved, where “ shall the ungodly and sinner appearP?”
But our duty ends not here. A regard to our own personal interest in this merciful dispensation will dispose us, when we have imbibed the true spirit of the Christian character, to extend to others the full measure of these benefits, and to give glory to God by doing good to man. Knowledge,” when applied to no other purpose than that of selfgratification, “puffeth up” its possessors;
it elevates them, in their own estimation, above their fellows; and in themselves its whole use and value terminate. But “ Charity,” that active charity by which knowledge is diffused for the general good, “edifiethy.” It helps to build
others in the faith. It enlarges the circle of Christ's household.
It adds new members to the Church. It confirms and strengthens those who already belong to it:
n Heb. ii. 3.
• Rom. i. 18.
and thus carries on the main design of the Gospel itself. The great end, for which the Apostles were permitted to see and hear what those before them had neither seen nor heard, was, that they might be instruments in turning others from darkness to light. The same end is still intended by the Almighty in the continuance of the Church. Christians are still to be “the light of the world;" “ a city “ set on a hill that cannot be hid;" “ the salt “ of the earth,” which, “if it have lost its
savour, is thenceforth good for nothing, but
to be cast out and trodden under foot of “ men'."
But whatever may be the zeal and activity of the members of the Christian Church, in thus endeavouring to enlarge the extent of our Lord's kingdom here on earth, ever let it be remembered, that the most convincing testimony we can give of our sincere devotion to the cause in which we are engaged, will be its practical influence upon ourselves. Neither the Apostles, nor the converts whom they made, were encouraged to expect a blessing upon a barren, nprofitable faith. “ know these things,” said our Lord to his Disciples,“ happy are ye if ye do them":" and 6 herein is my Father glorified, that
bear r Matt. v. 13, 14.
s John xii. 17.
“ If ye
“ much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples'.” To the Gentiles the Apostle says, “ Ye were “ sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in " the Lord; walk as children of light';" and contrasting their situation, as converts to Christianity, with that of the unbelieving Jews, he elsewhere charges them“ not to be high“minded, but to fearW.” What stronger language could be used, to shew the weight of responsibility which every Christian takes upon him by his profession, and the reproach brought on those who disgrace it by their misconduct or neglect ?
Let us look around, then, and see how far any such reproach may deservedly be fixed upon the Christian world in its present state; and for what portion of it we ourselves may individually be answerable. Our Lord warned the impenitent and unbelieving Jews, that
many should come from the East and West, and should sit down with Abraham, and
Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, “ but the children of the kingdom,” the Jews themselves, “ should be cast out*.” An Apotle has also admonished Christian believers, that "it had been better for them not to “ have known the way of righteousness, than t John xv. 8.
Ephes. v. 8. w Rom. xi. 20.
* Matt. viii, 11, 12.
“after they have known it to turn from the
holy commandment delivered unto them '. These are awful denunciations. The former has been long since verified in the temporal calamities of the Jewish people. The latter remains still to be executed in the final judgments of the Almighty. In both we are taught this instructive lesson, that even the case of the unenlightened Heathen may eventually be less desperate than that of the careless and ungrateful Christian.
HATH EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR !"
6 HE THAT
y 2 Peter i. 21.