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ezer (the stone of help), saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.
The visible Church of God is thus a perpetual memorial of invisible things, in a world that walks by sight, and a constant witness from age to age, even before the eyes of men, of the great facts and truths of our holy religion. The mere material “ houses of God?,” that are raised every where through the length and breadth of our Christian land, answer this blessed purpose in no inconsiderable degree. The spire or tower which shows itself above the trees or clustering houses, testifies silently of the things of another world; and the mere sound of the church-going bell” breaks in upon the current of worldly thoughts, and suggests the things which concern our peace. And this is one reason why every house of God should be distinguished in style and character from common buildings, that it may the more strikingly remind us of holy truths. In like manner the presence of a clergyman or minister of God in every parish is itself a continual memorial or memento for God, and for the soul; and every minister of God should, on this account, (among many other reasons,) keep himself disentangled, as much as possible, from the things of this world, that he may the more singly and continually be a witness for unseen things, among those who are so eager for the things of time and sense.
The creeds and ordinances of the Church are, however, the great pillars and monuments of Divine truths. The creeds which have been recited in the Church for so many generations, are standing witnesses for the great fact, that faith in all the mysteries contained in them has ever been professed in the countless congregations of Christendom. The great ordinance of the Lord's day is a monument of the fact, that God in six days created the heaven and the earth, and rested on the seventh; and of the other glorious truth,
2 Ps. lxxiv. 8.
3 2 Tim. ii. 4.
that, “as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week our blessed Lord rose from the dead. The other festivals of the Church are monuments from year to year of the events which they severally commemorate. The sacrament of Baptism is a visible sign or emblem of the great truth, that a Christian must die to sin, and rise again to righteousness In the Lord's Supper, as often as we eat that bread, and drink that cup, we show forth the Lord's death, till He comes. Thereby also we visibly declare our faith in the necessity of feeding on that flesh which He gave for the life of the world 6. And thus the two holy sacraments (independently of the more high and mysterious benefits which they convey to us) are standing “pillars or monuments of the chief truths of our holy faith.
They know little of human nature, and are little sensible of the benefits which they have derived from the Church of God, who do not habitually bless Him for having thus set up in the world a visible “pillar
for the truth, and who do not earnestly strive that that pillar may stand as plainly and fully before the eyes of their children, as it has stood before their own. "It is a sure sign of self-conceit, as well as of a shallow judgment, to disparage in any degree the value of any one of these monuments or memorials of sacred things which have been alluded to; and still more, to depreciate the value of the blessed fact itself, that God has established on earth a visible body of faithful men, to be a witness and keeper of holy writ, and “a pillar and stay of the truth,” holding fast the form of sound words, which it received of the Apostles of the Lord; and by the Holy Ghost, who dwelleth in it, keeping that good thing which was committed to it?.
4 Matt. xxviii. 1.
5 1 Cor. xi. 26.
XXXI.-THE FAITHFUL MIRROR.
If any man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass : for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James i. 23-25.-See also Ps. cxxxix. 23, 24. Isa. xliv. 20.
When I behold my natural face in a glass, let me remember that God has given me a mirror, in which I may see the true character of my soul; in order that I may grow in self-knowledge and may adorn myself, not with what ministers to pride and worldly vanity, but with the ornaments of meekness and holiness, which are of great price in His sight. This mirror is His holy word; which holds up to us the true lineaments and features of the soul; and shows us how greatly it has lost the beauty of the image and likeness of God; and how it is disgraced and deformed by spots and blemishes of sin. The swellings of pride, and the lines of envy, and carefulness, and the shades of sensuality, sloth, and earthliness, appear too plainly, when I look into this faithful mirror; which is not like flattering friends who say smooth things to us, and sometimes puff us up with the notion that we are clothed with various Christian graces; but it tells us the very truth concerning our spiritual state: and no veil of false excuses, or artful cloking and colouring of our faults, will disguise from us our true state, if only we never neglect to consult this mirror in sincerity, and with earnest prayer.
It is not pleasant, indeed, to those who have fancied themselves rich in virtue, and increased in goods, and that they have need of nothing, to find that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; that, instead of the moral beauty in which they seemed to themselves to shine before God, they are indeed full of imperfections; their holiest things full of iniquityo. And therefore, men too often turn away from this mirror, and consult some more flattering glass. But what will be the end of such miserable selfdeception ? Let me sincerely desire to know the truth; that so I may ever walk humbly with my God, and strive heartily that the beauty of the Lord my God may be upon me'; and that I may really be renewed in the image of Him that made me?!
8 Rev. iii. 17.
And as there are many who do, indeed, behold themselves in this glass, but go away and turn to no good account the lessons which it so faithfully gives; let me beware of being only a forgetful hearer of the word. Holy Scripture compares such an one to 6 a man who beholdeth his natural face in a glass; but goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” The recollection of what is presented to us in the mirror of truth, must not thus fade away from our mind; but it must so abide with us as to influence our character, and conduct.
“ For (the Apostle proceeds) whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein;" that is, who looks continually into this glass, and suffers its truths to abide upon his mind; “he, being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
XXXII.—THE SPIDER'S WEB.
“ The hypocrite's hope shall perish: whose hope shall be cut off, and
whose trust shall be a spider's web. He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure.” Job viii. 13-15.-See also Prov. xxx. 28.
The spider weaves its web out of its own bowels, and with wonderful skill prepares a net-work which far sur
9 Exod. xxviii. 38.
1 Ps. xc. 17.
2 Col. iii, 10.
passes the most curious product of human workmanship in the regularity and fineness of its texture. It is said of her, that “she taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces.” She succeeds in fixing herself even in the mansions of the great, and clings tenaciously to the haunt or home which she has chosen. Her web is admirably woven for the purpose wbich she has in view; and such insects as are incautiously entangled in it, become an easy prey to their artful enemy. Yet is it also so frail and slight that a breath might rend it; and at last it is brushed
away a moment. And such, says Bildad in the Book of Job, is the hypocrite's hope. And all ages confirm that which is thus declared in what is perhaps the most ancient writing that exists. The hypocrite's hope is spun out of his own fancies, as the spider's web out of her own bowels; and it consists either in a groundless conceit of his own merits, or in an equally erroneous notion of God's character. By art and subtlety, however, he often succeeds in gaining his end; which is, to obtain the praise of men, and a large share of earthly prosperity. The skill which he shows for so unworthy a purpose, would be admirable, if it were applied to a nobler end; and he succeeds both in displacing the rivals who obstruct his path, and in preying upon any from whom he can get gain. Many have reason to curse the day when they were entangled in his snares; while he, for a long time, continues to keep his hold on men's good opinion; and little thinks how suddenly his fine web will be swept away, and himself be carried off with it by the besom of destruction.
At length, his false pretences no longer serve to deceive; and the hope in which he trusted, fails him, when he most needs its comfort. For the most part, even in this world, he is seen through; and he lies dow in shame, and sorrow. But even if his falseness is not made evident here on earth, the Great Day will bring all hidden things to light; and the spider's web is not so quickly and so liopelessly crushed in a moment, as will