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of others, and you will not only find that spirit well met, but the exercise of it in your own bosom will promote the purest joy. He who is ready to relinquish his own gratification, that he may promote the happiness of those around him, cannot fail of securing much enjoyment. He will have warm friends. Wherever he goes, he will be the dispenser of blessings. He will live and move in the midst of an atmosphere of love and joy.
Let any parents carefully cherish these principles, and they will have a happy home. No matter whether they be
poor or rich, no matter whether they live in a palace or in a cottage in the mountains. And children thus trained, will love their home, their parents, and one another. From such a home as this, they will carry out into the world those principles which will be their surest preservative against vice. And in all human probability, from this home of piety and love on earth, they will finally ascend to dwell in a home of perfect love and eternal happiness in heaven.
TAKING GOD'S NAME IN VAIN.
FROM MATTHEW HENRY.
Many who never curse or swear, yet allow themselves in the taking of God's name in vain; and consider not the evil of it, and the dishonour done to God by it. When you use those forms of speech, which are properly expressive of a pious ejaculation, in a light and careless manner, and to any other purpose than their genuine and original signification, you profane that which is sacred, and alienate to a common use that which appears to be dedicated to God, and hath holiness to the Lord written on it. To
say, Lord !” when you mean no more than “I am hurt;” and “ God knows,” when you mean no more but, “I do not know;" and, “God bless me,” when you mean no more but, “ I am surprised ;” and, “ God help you,” when you mean no more than, “I pity you;" or the like; is certainly taking the Lord's name in vain, and to no purpose, that is, to no good purpose.
Now, will you, who accustom yourselves to this language, consider,
First, That it is a great affront to the God of heaven. You hereby make His blessed and glorious name a bye.word, and put that slight upon it which you would not bear to be put upon your
There is a great example which the bishop of Sarum tells us was observed of the Honourable Robert Boyle, that he never mentioned the name of God, but with a discernible stop and pause in his discourse, in token of a reverence for that glorious and fearful name, and to leave room for a devout thought.
Secondly, Consider that it is certainly a breach of the law of the Third Commandment, which is very express: “ Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” And it is backed with a threatening that “The Lord will not hold them guiltless" who do so, in which more is implied than is expressed. It is supposing that many such will hold themselves guiltless, and think they do no harm; and others may hold them guiltless; but God will severely reckon with them, for He is a jealous God.
Thirdly, Consider that it is a great profanation of the holy ordinance of prayer. The better anything is, the worse it is when it is corrupted. There is nothing better than the devout and serious mention of the holy name of our God as there is proper occasion. Nothing better than solemn addresses to God in prayer, when the heart goes along with them; but if this degenerate in a mere mockery, if the dead carcase only is retained, or if there be not even so much as an outward solemnity and decorum observed, but the manner of using those good words plainly shews that there is nothing pious or devout intended by them, then it is in effect a banter upon prayer, turns it into burlesque and ridicule, and is exceedingly offensive to God and to good men.
Let the fear of God rule in your hearts, and always maintain & holy awe and reverence of Him; and then, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth will speak of Him with reverence, and will not dare to speak otherwise.
PEACE WITH GOD.
An ancient said, that he would rather have the king's countenance than his coin-a good look from him, rather than gold. And I dare say, that a Christian thinks himself richer when he is able to say, God is mine, than if he had a thou sand mines of gold. If the sün were wanting, it would be night for all the stars ; so, if the light of God's countenance be wanting, a man may sit in the shadow of death for all the glittering of worldly contentments. I beseech you tell me: suppose the houses were paved with pearls, and walled with diamonds, still if the roofs were open to the injuries of heaven, would these shelter you from the storm and tempest; would you choose to be so lodged in a hard winter! Suppose the king were to set you in the chair of state, at a table richly furnished, royally attended, but with his sword hanging over you by a thin thread, would that honour make you merry? Suppose God him. self should make you this offer: “Crown your head with rose-buds; clothe yourself in purple; fare deliciously every day; take your fill of pleasure; open your mouth wide, and I will fill you with all that heart could wish of worldly things—only this, you shall never see my face:” would you think you had a good offer? would you accept of the condition? No; if heaven fight against us; if the wrath of God hang over our heads; if he hide his face and be angry, yea, but a little. Happy are all they that put their trust in Him. Many say, "Who will shew us any good ? Lord! lift thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us."
Let our house be a prison-a dungeon; but let the light of Thy countenance shine in at some little opening, and that shall make it a palace, a court, a heaven! Let our bread be the bread of affliction, and our tears be our drink; but let the light of Thy countenance shine upon us, and that bread shall be changed into the food of angels, and that water turned into wine! Let friends, and goods, and life, and all forsake us ; but let the light of Thy countenance shine upon us, and that shall be life, and friends, and goods, and all unto us! For as Noah, when the deluge of waters had defaced the great book of nature, had a copy of every kind of creature in that famous library of the ark, out of which all were reprinted to the world; so he that hath God, hath the original copy of all blessings, out of which, if all perished, all might easily be restored. God is the best storehouse that a man can have; the best treasury that a kingdom can have. God is the best shield of any person, and the safeguard of any nation; if God be our enemy, nothing can secure us; if God be our friend, nothing can hurt us; for when the enemy girds a city round about with the straitest siege, he cannot stop the passage to heaven; and so long as that is open, there may come some relief and succour from heaven, if God be our friend. Let Pharaoh be behind, the Red Sea before, the mountains on each side, the Israelites can still find a way; and when there is no other way to escape a danger, a Christian can go by heaven! But if God be an enemy, for all their walls and bars, God could, as he did on Sodom, rain on us fire and brimstone from heaven.
I TIM. i. 15.
“A saying worthy of all acceptation," worthy the acceptance of men in every age: of those to whom it was first proclaimed, near two thousand years ago : of all, to whom it has ever since been proposed: of all that shall ever, to the end of time, hear the joyful tidings. A Saviour given to sinners! the only expiation of guilt, the only balm for the sorrows of the soul, the grand catholicon, the fountain of living waters, from the smitten rock, ever freely flowing for all that thirst! Well may the Gospel be called “the everlasting Gospel:" it accommodates itself to all the vicissitudes of time, all the changes of the world, all the varied circumstances of society; it-takes every individual apart, speaks to him by himself, treats him in his true character, his real situation, as belonging to a race that has fallen, as one of a family that must take up the prophet's mournful confession: "the crown has fallen from our head; woe unto us, for we have sinned!” and hating shewn us our misery, the Gospel informs us of its remedy; having convinced us of our sin, it assures us that “ Jesus Christ has come to save sinners.”
The consideration of a decree determining, and a Providence disposing all things that fall out, should work our hearts to holy Contentment. The wise God hath ordered our condition; if He sees it better for us to abound, we shall abound; if He sees it better for us to want, we shall want. Be content to be at God's disposal. God sees, in His infinite wisdom, that the same condition is not convenient for all; that which is good for one, may be bad for another. One season of weather will not serve all men's occasions; one needs sunshine, another rain: one condition of life will not fit every man, any more than one suit of apparel will fit
every body; prosperity is not fit for all, nor yet adversity. If one man be brought low, perhaps he can bear it better; he hath a greater stock of grace, more faith and patience; he can gather grapes of thorns, pick some comfort out of the cross: every one cannot do this. Another man is seated in an eminent place of dignity, he is fitter for it; perhaps it is a place that requires more parts and judgment, which every one is not capable of; perhaps he can use his estate better; he hath a public heart as well as public place. The wise God sees that condition to be bad for one which is good for another; hence it is He placeth men in different spheres; some higher, some lower. One man desires health, God sees that sickness is better for him: God will work health out of sickness, by bringing the body of death into consumption. Another man desires liberty, God sees restraint better for him: he will work his liberty by restraint; when his feet are bound, his heart shall be most enlarged. Did we believe this, it would give check to the sinful disputes and cavils of our hearts. Shall I be discontented at that which is enacted by a decree, and ordered by a providence? Is this to be a child, or a rebel?
GEORGE HERBERT'S LAST HOURS.
He continued meditating, and praying, and rejoicing till the day of his death; and on that day said to Mr. Woodnot, “my dear friend, I am sorry that I have nothing to present to my merciful God but sin and misery; but the first is pardoned, and a few hours will now put a period to the latter, for I shall suddenly go home, and be no more seen.” Upon which expression, Mr. Woodnot took occasion to remember him of the re-edifying Layton Church, and his other acts of mercy ; to which Herbert made answer, saying: “They be good works, if they be sprinkled with the blood of Christ, and not otherwise." His wife then observed him to breathe faintly, and to fall into a sudden agony. She asked him how he did ? to which he replied, “ that he had passed a conflict with his last enemy, but had overcome him by the merits of his Master Jesus.”