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tion never occurs that soon they must go out into eternity-without a friend—without a home!
Such, then, is the true idea of the Christian life-a life not of periodic observances, or of occasional fervors, or even of splendid acts of heroism and self-devotion, but of quiet, constant, unobtrusive earnestness, amidst the commonplace work of the world. This is the life to which Christ calls us. Is it yours! Have you entered upon it, or are you now willing to enter upon it? It is not, I admit, an imposing or an easy one. There is nothing in it to dazzle, much in its hardness and plainness to deter the irresolute. The life of à follower of Christ demands not, indeed, in our day, the courage of the hero or the martyr, the fortitude that braves outward dangers and sufferings, and flinches not from persecution and death. But with the age of persecution the difficulties of the Christian life have not passed away. In maintaining, in the unambitious routine of humble duties, a spirit of Christian cheerfulness and con
ntment–in preserving the fervor of piety amidst unexciting cares and wearing anxieties -in the perpetual reference to lofty ends amidst lowly toils—there may be evinced a faith as strong as that of a man who dies with the song of martyrdom on his lips. It is a great thing to love Christ so dearly as to be ready to be bound and to die” for Him;
but it is often a thing not less great to be ready to take up our daily cross, and to live for Him.
But be the difficulties of a Christian life in the world what they may, they need not discourage us. Whatever the work to which our Master calls us, He offers us a strength commensurate with our needs. No man who wishes to serve Christ will ever fail for lack of heavenly aid. And it will be no valid excuse for an ungodly life that it is difficult to keep alive the flame of piety in the world, if Christ be ready to supply the fuel.
To all, then, who really wish to lead such a life, let me suggest that the first thing to be done that without which all other efforts are worse than vain-is heartily to devote themselves to God through Christ Jesus. Much as has been said of the infusion of religious principle and motive into our worldly work, there is a preliminary advice of greater importance still—that we be religious. Life comes before growth. The soldier must enlist before he can serve. In vain are directions how to keep the fire ever burning on the altar, if first it be not kindled. No religion can be genuine, no goodness can be constant or lasting, that springs not, as its primary source, from faith in Jesus Christ. To know Christ as my Savior—to come with all my guilt and weakness to Him in whom trembling penitence never fails to find a friend-to cast myself at His feet in whom all that is sublime in divine holiness is softened, though not obscured, by all that is beautiful in human tenderness — and, believing in that love stronger than death which, for me, and such as me, drained the cup of untold sorrows, and bore without murmur the bitter curse of sin, to trust my soul for time and eternity into His hands—this is the beginning of true religion. And it is the reverential love with which the believer must ever look to Him to whom he owes so much, that constitutes the mainspring of the religion of daily life. Selfishness may prompt to a formal religion, natural susceptibility may give rise to a fitful one, but for a life of constant fervent piety, amidst the world's cares and toils, no motive is sufficient save one-self-devoted love to Christ.
But again, if you would lead a Christian life in the world, let me remind you that that life must be continued as well as begun with Christ. You must learn to look to Him not merely as your Savior from guilt, but as the Friend of your secret life, the chosen Companion of your solitary hours, the Depositary of all the deeper thoughts and feelings of your soul. You can not live for Him in the world unless you live much with Him, apart from the world. In spiritual as in secular things, the deepest and strongest characters need much solitude to form them. Even earthly greatness, much more moral and spiritual greatness, is never attained but as the result of much that is concealed from the world—of many a lonely and meditative hour. Thoughtfulness, self-knowledge, self-control, a chastened wisdom and piety, are the fruit of habitual meditation and prayer. In these exercises heaven is brought near, and our exaggerated estimate of earthly things corrected. By these our spiritual energies, shattered and worn by the friction of worldly work, are repaired. In the recurring seasons of devotion the cares and anxieties of worldly business cease to vex us; exhausted with its toils, we have, in daily communion with God,"meat to eat which the world knoweth not of;' and even when its calamities and losses fall upon us, and our portion of worldly good may be withdrawn, we may be able to show, like those holy ones of old at the heathen court, by the fair serene countenance of the spirit, that we have something better than the world's pulse to feed upon.
But, further, in availing yourself of this divine resource amidst the daily exigencies of life, why should you wait always for the periodic season and the formal attitude of prayer? The heavens are not open to the believer's call only at intervals. The grace of God's Holy Spirit falls not like the fertilizing shower, only now and then ; or like the dew on the earth's face, only at morning and night. At all times on the uplifted face of the believer's spirit the gracious element is ready to descend. Pray always; pray without ceasing. When difficulties arise, delay not to seek and obtain at once the succor you need. Swifter than by the subtle electric agent is thought borne from earth to heaven. The Great Spirit on high is in constant sympathy with the believing spirit beneath, and in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the thrill of aspiration flashes from the heart of man to God. Whenever anything vexes you-whenever, from the rude and selfish ways of men, any trials of temper cross your path—when your spirits are ruffled, or your Christian forbearance put to the test, be this your instant resource! Haste away, if only for a moment, to the serene and peace-breathing presence of Jesus, and you will not fail to return with a spirit soothed and calmed. Or when the impure and low-minded surround you-when, in the path of duty, the high tone of your Christian purity is apt to suffer from baser contacts, oh, what a relief to lift the heart to Christ !—to rise on the wings of faith -even for one instant to breathe the air of that region where the Infinite Purity dwells, and then return with a mind steeled against temptation, ready to recoil, with the instinctive abhorrence of a spirit that has been beside the throne, from all that is impure and vile. Say not, then, with such aid at your command,