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we arm our enemies against ourselves; we cast away our vigilance, our armour, and our weapons. Have we chosen for ourselves the path of duty ? Have we been enabled to form our deliberate determination that the word of God shall guide us ? Let us not rest satisfied with the mere outward performance of its injunctions, but let us give up ourselves to its direction, in full and hearty devotion of our souls to God. Let us seek to acquire that full conviction of the truth and importance of his testimonies, that deep and abiding sense of the duty of unfailing obedience, which shall lead us to reject at once every thing that appears, even in the least degree, to contradict any express command of God; though perhaps obedience may be difficult or unpleasant. Above all, let us continually observe the caution of the apostle: let us avoid that security which is but too often the forerunner of destruction. In our progress towards holiness, let us never relax our endeavours, if those endeavours be successful; lest, after a victory over the violence of our enemies, we fall by their treachery and deceit. He that is described as a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour, is also said upon the same authority, to be sometimes transformed into an angel of light; and assuredly, in the disguise which thus veils his natural character with the lineaments of heaven, he is tenfold more dangerous than if he came clad in the terrors of his darkness.
Yet, under all circumstances, we are provided with the means of defence. Though we,” says the apostle, “or an angel from heaven, speak any other gospel than that which we have preached, let him be accursed.” Be the form of the temptation what it may ; be it but to eat bread and drink water in the forbidden city ; it will, if duly examined, be found to involve a contradiction of the truth that cannot be changed; and no one who avails himself duly of that aid which is promised under temptation, will fall by its deceit. But if, without due caution, or through unwise presumption, a man be drawn away from the truth, upon his own head will be the sin and the punishment. That dispensation which gives the gracious assistance of the Spirit under temptation, takes away, by this very
assistance, every excuse that would foster presumption, or make inadvertence appear a trifling fault.
Relying then upon this divine grace ; praying constantly that we may by it be kept stedfast under trials ; let us rejoice in the assurance of the apostle, that “God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it.” Thus shall we supply ourselves with the panoply of heaven, with armour of spiritual strength, and weapons of celestial temper; thus armed with the might of him who has conquered our deadliest enemy, we shall with him triumph over all our foes, and at length receive from his hands “a crown of righteousness that fadeth not away.”
FAITH, HOPE, AND CHARITY.
1 Cor. xiii. 13.
And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these
three : but the greatest of these is charity.
The religion of Jesus Christ comes to us recommended by the strongest evidences of a divine origin. Upon no other system are the grand characters of Deity so visibly impressed, whether we regard its declarations with respect to the being and perfections of God, or to the condition and the prospects of man.
It is not the overwhelming conviction resulting from the miraculous display of divine power
in the promulgation of the gospel, which affords the only, or perhaps even the strongest evidence in behalf of the truth : but the development of that truth itself, and its beneficial consequences, most forcibly appeals to the assent of the understanding and the affections of the heart. And this it does independently of the investigation of external evidence. Grant that the foundation on which Christianity rests, were as weak and as unstable as its bitterest foes could wish ; grant that the eternity, which the infidel dreads while he pretends to doubt, were as visionary as he could desire ; yet still Christianity has claims upon our acceptance, as a guide to our feet in the wilderness of this world ; still it is calculated to produce such beneficial effects upon the human race, that no one could suppose any change, by which even the temporal welfare of man could be more effectually promoted. Contemplate the varied and ever varying course of human life: the gospel gives the plainest directions for the performance of every duty, for the regulation of every action. Take any circumstances, whether of joy or of sorrow, of wealth or of poverty, of health or of sickness; still the human heart can find in the gospel a provision corresponding with all its necessities, a sympathy with all its emotions, a consolation in all its distresses. The
very first announcement of this revelation spoke of peace on earth, and good will to man; the
gradual exhibition of its tendency and its purposes confirmed these glorious tidings; and the more its knowledge is diffused, and the more its spirit is cultivated, so much the more will this its influence be felt, and this its end be accomplished.
It is not by changing the moral relations of our actions, or by altering the nature of good and