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Lord Chesterfield says:
If you would make
a man pleased with you, the best way is to make him first pleased with himself." What wonder that, "the Faithful and True Witness" should in every age be "despised and rejected of men?" When any one is pleased with the Truth, and welcomes it, although it makes him displeased with himself;—in that person the grace of God is triumphant over nature.
IF self accusations sow any seed, there is many a dear brother whose soul will be a Harvestfield by and by. But here, and now, he is in a great strait. How, by suffering God's order to be fulfilled in him, he can earn this world's bread, is often a considerable perplexity. Yet if one could esteem the reproach of Christ to be more profitable than all the treasures of the world, and would steadfastly accept any thing, with Christ, and nothing without Him, an incalculable recompence of reward would be sure to that soul. Accept your Cross, whatever it is, for in the very heart of it, there lies a precious yield of holy peace. Your fortune is growing in God's hand: wait His time.
Says the world's bible: "A bird in the hand
is worth two in the bush ;" and that is the bible that most of us go by. The devil submits to us some shining apple to-day; while God promises to make us meet for a gainful, endless to-morrow. Fools that we are, we generally shake hands with the devil, and strike the bargain.
O Lord, if Thou wilt grow Thy meek lilies, on the graves of our former selves, no self-reflection, nor fond conceit shall spoil their fragrance. the kind eyes, kind words and kind affections directed to us, shall instantly pass to Thee. For the spirit of our life having gone out of us, Thou shalt wholly possess us. Thus, Thou shalt be the richer for our nothingness; and we, in our very nothingness, shall be more open to Thy sweet fulness.
THE ESSENTIALS TOWARDS THE END,
ARE NOT THE END.
EVERY thing has its beginnings, or first principles: Heaven itself had. Heaven has been younger and weaker than it is now. It is still not perfect before God. His purpose and plan concerning it, are not yet carried out. The angels are learners still, and will be for ages to come. God is perfecting Heaven, and innumerable angels and spirits of just men are co-operating with Him, to bring His Perfectness more and more fully into it. The first angels will have to wait for the last of the redeemed; and for the grace, wisdom and strength which they will bring. The first, we are told, cannot be perfect without the last. Heb. xi. 40.
II. No one becomes a beginner in any thing for the sake of being a beginner, but for the sake of being a master, or proficient. The beginner, therefore, in due time, leaves the first principles of his profession, or trade, and goes on to the higher
branches, and to the highest, namely, to all the secrets and mysteries of his calling.
III.-In Religion, the highest and noblest of all callings,—in Religion, the all-comprehending Art of the whole Divine Life,-nothing is commoner than for beginners to be never any thing but beginners. They ought certainly to be perfect in the beginning, for they are always beginning. They begin very properly with the a, b, c, of Christianity; but strange to say, nine-tenths of them stick there, and never get out of the alphabetclass. So confidently, and self-justifyingly, they ask 'Are not the essentials of all knowledge contained in the alphabet? It was in the alphabet
class that we first entered the school, and Church of God. Fundamentals are fundamentals: God forbid that we should ever leave them. In the alphabet-class we mean to live and die.' They say what they mean, and they do what they say. They do live and die there. And moreover, they are so comfortably sure, that they are the only wise men, that, without the least scruple they charge those who do not end their days in said alphabet-class, with leaving the grand essentials. According to their conviction, whoever leaves them, to go on, goes wrong. They never go on, and they
know that they are right.
Where they began,
they remain, and there they mean to remain. When the Master calls for His talent, they will take it out of their careful napkin, and delivering it to Him, say, 'Lo, there Thou hast that is Thine," exactly as we received it.
There are many things which, to them, were "hard to be uttered," when they were young converts, seeing that they were dull of hearing; and lo, after thirty, forty, or even fifty years, they are harder to be uttered, to them, than ever, for they have added to their dulness of hearing, great stubbornness. Teach them their a, b, c, and they will be very patient with you. Stick to their alphabet, and they will stick to you. But if you bring out "things new" to them as well as their own old things, they will leave you, charging you with leaving their gospel. As though persons who should accompany you unto a house, charged you with leaving the house, when you left them, to go into it.
They ought to be teachers by this time, but they are not they are not even learners, they are beginners, always beginning. They do not go to church to be instructed, but to hear whether the minister abides in their class, and faithful to his a, b, c, or not. If he does, then he is sound: if