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endeavouring to serve God, though mistaken, in a great measure, as to the manner of his service. Let not, however, the hope of being “ saved as by fire," encourage any one to remain in a state of sin and ignorance. Such a one cannot build at all upon the true foundation; he cannot have any title to the promise even of that difficulty of salvation, of which the apostle speaks. But if, as we may gather from other passages, the state of heaven be a state of intellectual and moral happiness, fitted for the capacities of intellectual and responsible creatures, it follows, of necessity, that according to the different capacities of those who are admitted to heaven, will be the different degrees of happiness enjoyed. The pleasures, even of sense, afford not equal gratification to all. Why then may not the pleasures of the soul be more vividly enjoyed, and more fully realized, when the soul has been disciplined for that enjoyment; when she has been taught to rest her brightest hopes upon that eternity, where her happiness shall be complete? Has she learnt to
sing the Lord's song, even in a strange land ?” With what fervour of holy joy will she unite in the melody of heaven! Has she pierced by faith the clouds that surround the throne of the Highest ? With what delight will she approach the nearer view of his glory! Has she sought the society of the just, and longed for the courts of the Lord's house, even on earth?
With what eager
ness will she enter into that holy company, and join the church triumphant in the regions of the blessed! Even amid the hopes of heaven, we may find encouragement to holy exertion. Let us not rest satisfied with the bare attainment of some portion of heavenly bliss. Let us not serve God sparingly, as though we did not heartily engage in his service; but let us fix firmly the foundations of our hopes, our faith, and our principles, upon that rock, which can alone afford us security. Let us examine well, that we adopt not a false and unstable foundation ; for if there be some who, having built upon the true rock, shall yet scarcely be saved, where shall they appear who have neglected or despised it?
• Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” From him alone is our strength; in his atonement we have our only hope ; in his aid, and by his Spirit, we have righteousness and
peace. Yet, after all, we must watch well our actions, and guard carefully against ignorance and error, lest we build up only the wood, hay, and stubble, which are reserved for the burning, instead of the fine gold and the precious stones, which are alone acceptable to God. We must remember that our works will be tried by fire ; our motives will be judged ; our thoughts will be revealed ; our hearts will be examined ; and according to the scrutiny of eternal wisdom
will be our reward. May God give us grace to be so truly workers together with him, that we may all grow up into a holy temple to himself, and at last be received into the “ house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
THE OFFERING OF ISAAC.
Genesis xxii. 10—12.
And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and
took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham : and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him : for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
The contemplation of God's dealings with the sons of men, drew from the Psalmist this sublime acknowledgment of his greatness and his majesty : “ Thy way is in the sea, and thy paths in the deep waters, and thy footsteps are not known.” A confession this, expressive not only of the awful sublimity of God's character, but implying the full conviction of his truth and faithfulness. For though the ways of God elude
human sagacity, and transcend human comprehension ; though we are compelled to confess that clouds and darkness are round about him, we are still so far enlightened by the many beams of majesty and love which meet our sight, that we can repose with confidence in the assurance, that righteousness and truth are the habitation of his throne. The ways of God are not as our ways; and this results not more from the perfection of his holiness, than from the perfection of his knowledge. To his all-seeing eye, one glance conveys the most remote consequences, as well as the more immediate development of every dispensation. In the scenes of our prosperity, while we are anxious only for enjoyment, his ever-watchful care foresees the dangers into which our own folly and rashness may lead us, and mercifully adapts the aid of his grace to our necessities. In our afflictions, he administers the correction needful for our souls; and though we may repine under the rod that smites us, yet in his mercy he chastens us, that he may teach us to keep his law. Under all circumstances, and under all dispensations, these reflections ought to temper our joys, or to console our sorrows; these views of God's dealings ought to bear up our hearts under all our trials, so that resigning ourselves to his will, and submitting to his gracious purposes, we may learn, in patient