Obrazy na stronie

distinguished from the crowd. You see them separated from the pollutions by which they are surrounded; and distinguished by views and principles different from those which govern the world thať lieth in wickedness. These are they which believe. Approach them more nearly, and examine them closely. Inspect their conduct; contemplate their objects; investigate their motives. What is the result of your

observation and inquiry? You perceive these persons more assiduous than others in frequenting public worship; not like others, glad to catch at excuses, and to fabricate pretences for being absent; but contriving leisure, and submitting to worldly inconvenience, and even loss, that their attendance on the House of God may not be interrupted. You perceive them forupulously regular in presenting themselves at the facramental table. You perceive them dedicating those parts of the fabbath, which are unoccupied by public devotion, not to idleness, not to trifles, not to the adjustment of domestic concerns, but to pious meditation, to religious reading, to edifying discourse, to works of mercy; not paring off corners and pilfering away fragments for secular employments; not fluctuating with an internal struggle between conscience and Mammon; not weary and impatient like the Jews, who turned again and again their eyes to the dial, and exclaimed, “When will the Sabbath be gone, " that we may set forth wheat* ?" not shortening the morning by studied laziness; not purloining the afternoon for festivities of the table; nor, under the scanty semblance of devotion, prostituting the evening to musical recreation; but faithfully conceding the whole period of sacred rest to such occupations as befit the day which God has hallowed unto himself; such occupations as comport with a special preparation for eternity; such occupations as are consistent with the tranquillity, leisure, and edification of their households; such occupations as are adapted to cause the day to be a blessing to their souls. In the midst of this their Christian strictness, you behold no oftentation, no superstition, no fourness, no gloom. You see something in their manner and deportment which shews that this fervice is not a matter of form, but that it comes from the heart: that the man does not render it by constraint, but that he would be unhappy if he did not * Amos, viii. 5.



[ocr errors]

render it. You daily perceive them in private cultivating an intercourse with God in prayer: and by devout study and subsequent reflection, gaining more and more knowledge of the divine will, and of the method of salvation. In the common dealings of life, you see them bringing religion into practice; conscientiously making it their object to be upright, punctual, moderate, and benevolent in all their transactions; pursuing their worldly callings with diligence, but pursuing them on Christian principles, and with Christian composure ; not Nothful in business, yet in their business, and by their business, serving the Lord; not elated by success, not repining under disappointment; not grasping, not avaricious, not envious, not full of care, but striving calmly and steadily to perform their duty, and cheerfully leaving the event in the hands of God. In their families you behold them quiet, considerate, affectionate, patterns of kind tempers, abounding in kind actions ; setting their faces against folly, against vanity, against the appearance of evil; against pernicious customs,

however popular, however widely diffused; and taking pains day by day to train their household in the nurture and


admonition of the Lord. Universally you discern that their desire is to do all to the glory of God, that God may in all things be glorified through Jesus Christ; to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts; to seek not their own things, but the things which are Jesus Christ's; to live not unto themselves, but unto Christ who died for them; to adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things; and to omit no means and opportunities which can discreetly be embraced for the purpose of attracting others to the knowledge and love of genuine religion. When they converse in the retired circle of their friends on sacred subjects; you read in their countenances the interest which pervades the heart. You behold them labouring to grow in grace: not stationary in religion, but making a progress ; laying up more and more treasure in heaven; pressing forward towards the mark; advancing onward towards perfection. For these men are not perfect : they are still frail and sinful. You behold among them many humbling instances of infirmity, many sins of surprise, manyproofs of thepowerof temptation, many tokens and effects of inherent corruption. But they do not allow themselves in sin.



They'abhor it; they fight against it; they suffer it not to obtain the dominion over them ; they oppose it in the armour of God, in the strength of his grace: they bitterly repent when they have fallen into transgression : they fervently sue for pardon through the great atonement: they derive from their fall additional motives to felf-abasement, watchfulness, and prayer. Why is it that this class of professed Chriftians exemplify the picture which has been drawn? Why is it that they are real Chriftians ? Because they have believed. Why is it that they have believed ? Because they have inclined their ear unto the things which were spoken. They have not refifted the Holy Ghost. They have bowed to the influence of divine grace. Therefore God hath taken away the heart of stone, and given to them a heart of flesh; a heart softened, purified, and sanctified; a heart replete with spiritual understanding, and spiritual desires. Therefore they are converted from darkness to light. Therefore God hath healed them.

II. Let us turn our thoughts to those who believe not. VOL, II,

I mean


« PoprzedniaDalej »