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suitably acquainted with the Christian life. In the former case, there is a saving relation, not only established, but known and experienced, between the worshipper and him whom he adores, with a character of sonship, and a title of peculiar privilege involved in that relation; and thus a provision made both ample and efficient, as well as presently felt, for exciting the emotions of filial confidence, and prompting the utterance of gratitude and joy. But in the latter case, there is no such relation as yet existing, or at least at present in his view, and, of course, there can be no experience of any one specific emotion to which it gives rise. The man is distressed, because he is alive to the dismal indications of his guilt and depravity; or his distress, it may be, is alleviated, in some degree, by the loose and indefinite hope, that God may possibly grant him deliverance; but, in the mean time, there is nothing in him, or put upon him, so far as he has any evidence, which characterizes a child of God. It is a very possible thing, that this latter person may be a child of God, as really, although not so obviously, as the former—we shall assume it, that he is so, and that the spirit of adoption is stirring within him, although he cannot discern its symptoms; but whatever may be the secret fact, it is to him for the present, as if it were not, and when he approaches unto God, in such a state of mind, he is constrained to do so amidst all the confusion or distraction of thought which its character entails. He draws near, not with the confidence of a child, but with the feverish solicitude of an alien or outcast. Were this a case but seldom to be met with, it might occasion less regret, but if it be in fact a common case, as we fear must be ad. mitted, and if not a few who are really serious, are found to languish under its disquietudes, to the wounding of their spirits, and the grievous hinderance of their growth in grace, for many months or years together, it merits the gravest consideration.

But let it be carefully noticed here, that while the man who is a Christian, possesses facilities for the practice of piety, which are altogether peculiar to himself, the whole of these facilities arises from the fact of his knowing what he is, and from that fact alone. The spirit of the gospel is not a dormant spirit, giving life without consciousness, or imparting privilege which is unperceived. It is just the reverse of this; for in its very essence it is a matter of consciousness, distinctly appreciated, and uniformly digested into experience, by all its genuine subjects. But if this be its character, it is morally impossible for any man to avail himself practically of its high excitements, or do suitable homage to its great Author, except in as far as he feels it made out, that his heart is the seat of its saving influence.

There are but two spirits which can operate here, the spirit of bondage, and the spirit of adoption; and the soul which feels not the risings of the latter, must necessarily be repressed by the forebodings of the former. There may be the reality of vital religion where there is little of clearance or certainty, just as there may be bodily life amidst the symptoms of a weakening disease; but as, in the one case, the man must come short in discharg. ing secular duty, so, in the other, must he come short in discharging the duties which are religious.

That this shortcoming not only exists, but has attained a deplorable prevalence, we need no other evidence than the honest admissions and lamentations of Christians themselves. Although they choose not to unbosom their secret to those who have none of their sympathies, and cannot appreciate their regrets, yet among their intimates the complaint is loud and affecting, that although their external access to the Scriptures, or the Sabbath, or the preaching of the gospel, or the prayers and praises of the church, or the socialities of religion in domestic exercises, be free and unembarrassed, and although they are not only conscious of a sacred veneration for religious institutions, but cherish at their hearts a very vivid impression of the spiritual invigoration which they are fitted to impart, yet they derive from them little excitement, and experience in them little enjoyment. They are poor and perplexed, amidst a flowing abundance of spiritual wealth and spiritual solacement; or are peevish and querulous, under the very same privileges which minister to others satisfaction and delight.

Now we would call upon every one who is found complaining as above, most solemnly to inquire whether the cause of the evil complained of, may not be not only an uncertainty, but a culpable and tolerated uncertainty, about his true character in the sight of God and whether the precise kind of culpability which superinduced this uncertainty, or suffers it to deepen and extend, be not the entire omission, or the slight and fitful performance of the duties of a meditative solitude.


3. The Christian requires solitude, for the profitable management of the moral elements in which he has to move. We have said already, that man requires to be alone, to preserve his mind from that absorption—to speak so—in the minds of others, which injures or destroys his natural independence, and thereby unfits him for doing his duty. But, there is more than this which requires attention, in reference to society around him. Such society is intended, by the God of providence, to promote his education for the spiritual world; and besides preventing it froin injurious invasion, he ought to improve it for positive advantage. It is not enough that its evil be neutralized, it must be rendered serviceable; and the man who has failed to do the latter, is sure to come short in attaining the former. There is so much of the positive in the influence of human society, and so much of the susceptible in every one who comes near it, that good or evil, gain or loss, advantage or disadvantage, must result from its daily intromissions with him. It is clearly not possible for a man to mingle with other people, in their religion, or their business, or contentions, or friendly fellowship, or even in their lighter conversations, without taking impressions from them, of one kind or other; which go, it may be said, into his moral constitution, and powerfully influence the formation of his character. However taciturn his habits may be, he at least gazes on a scene of moral phenomena, which is ever shifting, and much deversified, and is all over-glowing with interest, just because he feels it a development of man. In fact, he lives in a moral element, the motion of which he feels, and the spirit of which he inhales, and the forms of which he puts on, and from the region of which he cannot escape; and although the action of its influence on his heart and character, may be slow or silent, or stealthy in its progress, yet it goes deep, and works pervasively, on both the one and the other.

For examples of this influence on classes of men, we have only to trace a comparison between the citizen and the man of the country; the Scotsman, and the English, or Irishman; the Briton, and the Frenchman; the travelled man, and the dweller at home;—all of whom are modified by the general influence of society, while each of them exhibits a specific modification according to the particular kind of society in which his character was formed-thus illustrating its powerful tendency, in all places of the earth, to mould the individual into the likeness of itself. Now, in the bosom of this tendency, there lies a moral agency, of very serious import to the

a individual Christian. It may in fact destroy him, as was hinted formerly, if he give himself up to it, and allow it to make of him whatsoever it pleases. But, on the other hand, it may do him much good, if he set himself with firmness to master its ascendency, and hold it in subordination to the great business of his life. Nay, it is fraught with benefits, some of them pleasurable, and others painful; but all of them fitted, when wisely improven, to consolidate within him the principles of piety, and make him skilful in the practice of righteousness. God has ordained it for this very end, and, without quarrelling with the ordination on the one extreme, or seeking its pleasures without its profits on the other,

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