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will do our turn, and the soldier's hour-glass will soon run out. I am sure the saints, at their best, are but strangers to the weight and worth of the incomparable excellency of Immanuel. We know not the half of what we love when we i love Christ.” “ Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.”
“ A few more struggles here,
A few more partings o'er,
And we shall weep no more.
My soul for that bright day;
And take my sins away."
Wortby to be Praised." od is the object of praise, not only to His people
on earth, but to elect angels and glorified saints in heaven. Should we not live a life of praise,
as well as a life of prayer? What reply shall be returned to the question, Why is He “worthy to be praised"? There are the perfections of His character-an eternity without beginning and without end, an immensity which has no bounds, a power which is omnipotent, a knowledge which is universal, a wisdom which is infinite, i an immutability without the shadow of a change, a majesty which is unsearchable and incomprehensible, holiness unsullied, justice impartial, patience slow to punish, benevolence which delights to scatter blessings, faithfulness which is inviolable, sovereign grace, boundless mercy, and redeeming love. There is the Divine covenant, universal in its order, certain in its reality, sure in the principles on which it is founded, and in the blessings which it bestows, and in the glories which it secures. There is the gospel, with all
i Hosea vi. 3.
its representations of God, its revelations of a Saviour, its sublime doctrines, its holy precepts, its divinely appointed ordinances, its means of grace, its green pastures and still waters, and we'ls of salvation. There are the promises of God, great as the granite rocks, precious as diamonds, valuable as jewels, stable as mountains, bright as stars, firm as the throne of God, and as full of consolation as the sun is of light, and as heaven is of glory. There is Providence, with its upholding arm and bounteous hand, and benevolent step, and innumerable mercies, infinitely more numerous than our “iniquities, transgressions, and sins." There is the water of life, Divine and eternal in its source, inexhaustible in its living fountains, and spreading its streams of purity and salvation and joy through our world. There is the cross of Jesus, in which we behold the love of God to man in all the brightness of its glory. As we thus reflect on perfections and Providence, on the gospel and the cross, our souls adopt the language of the Psalmist, and we give utterance to the devout expression, “God is worthy to be praised."
We have Lost by Religion.”
the early part of life were poor, but who, by
at a comfortable independency, were one day called upon by a Christian minister, who asked them to contribute to a charity.
The wife, not feeling at that time disposed to give, replied, answering for both her husband and herself: "Why, sir, we have lost a deal by religion since we began. My husband knows that very well.” And turning to her husband, she said to him, “Have we not, Thomas ?"
Thus appealed to, her husband, who seems to have been of a more liberal turn than his wife, rejoined, after a long and solemn pause : “ Yes, Mary, we have lost a deal by our religion. I have lost a deal by my religion. Before I got religion, Mary, I had got a water-pail, in which I carried water; and that you know I lost many years ago. And then I had an old slouched hat, a patched old coat, and mended shoes and stockings; but I lost them also long ago. And, Mary, you know that, poor as I was, I had a habit of getting drunk and quarrelling with you; and that you know I have lost. And then I had a burdened conscience and a wicked heart; I had also ten thousand guilty feelings and fears; but all these are lost. And, Mary, you have been a loser too, though not so great a loser as myself. Before we got religion, Mary, you had a washing-tray, in which you washed for hire; but since we got religion you have lost your washing-tray. And you had a gown and bonnet much the worse for wear, though they were all you had to wear; but you have lost them long ago. And you had many an aching heart concerning me, at times; that also you have lost. And I could wish that you
had lost as much as I have, and even more; for what we lose by our religion, Mary, will be our eternal gain.”
We have told this story in the hope of persuading some one who reads it, and who is not religious, to become so.
But, first of all, we must make it quite plain what we mean by being religious.
A religious man, according to the New Testament, is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is how his religion begins—by believing. In the very act of believing, his sins are all washed away. His heart, too, is renewed by the Holy Spirit, whom the Lord Jesus gives to all who believe in Him. He enters then on a new life- La life of prayer, a life of trust in God, and a life of hearty, loving obedience to all God's will. Such a life we call a religious life.
Now every man should live a life like this, first and most, because it is right. God commands us to repent, commands us to believe in Christ, and commands us to
1 Told by Dr. J. Hamilton in “ The Happy Home."
take His Word for the guide of all our life ; and because He made us, because He is so great and good, and because He gave His Son to die for us, it is our duty to obey Him.
But what is thus our duty is also our interest, for both the life that now is and for that which is to come.
The man about whom the story is told, reminded his wife of some things which they had both lost, the loss of which was a great gain.
He had lost a great many bad habits. He had been a drunkard; but his religion had made him sober, and his drunkenness was gone. Nothing makes such sure work in reclaiming a drunkard as religion; and indeed we have never any very strong hope of a reclaimed drunkard standing firmly unless he gets the grace of God to help him.
He had been quarrelsome. Drink nearly always makes people quarrel. They quarrel when the drink is in, because it upsets common sense and reason; and they quarrel when the drink is out, because they are vexed with themselves and ashamed. Make a man sober, then, and you with one of the chief things which inclines him to quarrel. But whilst religion does that, it does a great deal more : it makes him loving and gentle; it helps him to keep his temper and to rule his tongue ; it inclines him to do all he can to make everybody happy. A blessed gain to lose a bad temper, and to get a good one instead of it.
He had been poor. Like tens of thousands of foolish men besides, having spent his money on drink, he had to put up with an old hat, and a patched coat, and mended shoes and stockings. He had to take work, too, which was poorly paid for, because nobody would give him anything better to do. Then, his wife had to toil and slave, like many a drunkard's poor wife whom we have known; and she, too, was badly clothed. But he had lost his water-pail, and his wife her washing-tray; and they had lost them through their religion.
Do not you think, if you are drunken and bad-tempered and in rags, it would be a great gain to get rid of your drunkenness and your bad temper and your rags? Well, if
anything in this world can help you to do that, religion can; and it will, if you will only try it.
And if you are sober, and kind, and respectable, nothing will keep you so like religion.
But if you “ get religion,” it will do a great deal more for you
than even all that. The good man spoke of “ten thousand guilty feelings and fears” which he had lost. If you have not such fears, and if you have not “a burdened conscience,” all we can say is, you ought to have ; for you have committed, only God knows how many sins, and they are all written against you in His “ book of remembrance," and if they are not pardoned the end will be everlasting death. But if
you believe in Christ, you too will lose all those "feelings and fears," and that “burdened conscience” that troubles or ought to trouble you; for all your sins will be forgiven.
That will not be all, no, nor nearly all. You will have a right to say, “God is my Father, and because He loves me, He will guide me in all my way, and supply all my need ;" when sorrow comes, you will have boundless comfort in Christ : when you are dying He will make you“ more than conqueror;" and at last He will open heaven for you.
People do sometimes “lose by their religion,” that is, they lose some present good-money, comforts, friends, by doing what they believe to be God's will. Prosperous tradesmen have their losses. What do they do in such cases? They set over against them their gains; and they are comforted when they find that the losses are trifles compared with the gains. If you have really to “lose by vour religion," put alongside the loss the gain : the gain now in God's great love and in the joy of His salvation; and then, beyond, the crown of everlasting life. You will soon see that the loss is the poorest trifle compared with the gain, and rejoice in heartily adopting the language of the apostle, “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
1 Rom. viii. 18.