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with prayer and watchfulness. If they cannot always live and abide close to the ark, and the pot of manna, and the cherubims, and the mercyseat; yet they are drawing the water and gathering the wood necessary for the service of the camp. But let their hearts still turn toward the place where the Glory resideth.
The Christian's fellowship with God is rather a habit, than a rapture. He is a pilgrim, who has the habit of looking forward to the light before him: he has the habit of not looking back: he has the habit of walking steadily in the way, wbatever be the weather, and whatever the road. These are his habits : and the Lord of the Way is his Guide, Protector, Friend, and Felicity.
As the Christian’s exigencies arise, he has a spiritual habit of turning to God, and saying, with the Church,“ Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flocks to rest at noon. I have tried to find rést elsewhere. I have fled to shelters, which held out great promise of repose; but I have now long since learned to turn unto thee: Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flocks to rest at noon."
The Christian will look back, throughout eternity, with interest and delight, on the steps and means of his conversion. My Father told me this! My Mother told me that! Such an event was sanctified to me! In such a place God visited my soul !" These recollections will never grow dull and wearisome.
A VOLUME might be written on the various methods which God has taken, in Providence, to lead men first to think of Him.
The history of a man's own life, is, to himself, the most interesting history in the world, next to that of the scriptures. Every man is an original and solitary character. None can either understand or feel the book of his own life like himself. The lives of other men are to him dry and vapid, when set beside his own. He enters very little into the spirit of the Old Testament, who does not see God calling on him to turn over the pages of this history, when he says to the Jew, Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years. He sees God teaching the Jew to look at the records of his deliverance from the Red Sea, of the manna showered down on him from heaven, and of the Amalekites put to flight before him. There are such grand events in the life and experience of every Christian. It may be well for him to review them often. I have, in some cases, vowed before God to appropriate yearly remembrances of some of the signal turns of my life. Having made the vow, I hold it as obligatory: but I would advise others to greater circumspection; as they may bring a galling yoke on themselves, which God designed not to put on them.
True grace is a growing principle. The Christian grows in DISCERNMENT: a child may play with a serpent; but the man gets as far from it as he can: a child may taste poison; but the man will not suffer a speck of poison near him. He grows in HUMILITY: the blade shoots up boldly, and the young ear keeps erect with confidence; but the full corn in the ear inclines itself toward the earth, not because it is feebler, but because it is matured. He grows in STRENGTH: the new wine ferments and frets; but the old wine. acquires a body and a firmness.
TENDERNESS of conscience is always to be distinguished from Scrupulousness. The conscience cannot be kept too sensible and tender: but scrupulousness arises from bodily or mental infirmity,
and discovers itself in a multitude of ridiculous, and superstitious, and painful feelings.
The head is dull, in discerning the value of God's expedients: and the heart cold, sluggish, and reluctant, in submitting to them: but the head is lively, in the invention of its own expedients ; and the heart eager and sanguine, in the pursuit of them. No wonder, then, that God subjects both the head and the heart to a course of continual correction.
EVERY man will have his own criterion in forming his judgment of others. I depend very much on the effect of affliction. I consider how a man comes out of the furnace: gold will lie for a . month in the furnace without losing a grain. And, while under trial, a child has a habit of turning to his father: he is not like a penitent, who has been whipped into this state: it is natural to him. It is dark, and the child has no whither to run, but to his father.
Defilement is inseparable from the world. A man can no. where rest his foot on it without sinking. A strong principle of assimilation combines the world and the heart together. There
are, especially, certain occasions, when the curs rent hurries a man away, and he has lost the religious government of himself. When the pilot finds, on making the port of Messina, that the ship will not obey the helm, he knows that she is got within the influence of that attraction, which will bury her in the whirlpool. We are to avoid the danger, rather than to oppose it. This is a great doctrine of Scripture. An active force against the world is not so much inculcated, as a retreating, declining spirit. Keep thyself unspotted from the world.
THERE are seasons when a Christian's distinguishing character is hidden from man. A Christian merchant on 'Change is not called to shew any difference in his mere exterior carriage from another merchant. He gives a reasonable answer if he is asked a question. He does not fanatically intrude religion into every sentence he utters. He does not suppose his religion to be inconsistent with the common interchange of civilities. He is affable and courteous. He can ask the news of the day, and take up any public topic of conversation. But is he, therefore, not different from other men? He is like another merchant in the mere exterior circumstance, which is least in God's regard;—but, in his taste!-his views !--his science! -- his hopes! -- his happiness! he is as