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mind must mortify itself in whatever would retard its ascent toward heaven: it must rise on the wings of faith, and hope, and love.
A spiritual mind is an INGENUOUS mind. There is a sort of hypocrisy in us all. We are not quite stripped of all disguise. One man wraps round him a covering of one kind, and another of another. They, who think they do not this, yet do it though they know it not.
Yet this spiritual mind is a sublime mind. It has a vast and extended view. It has seen the glory and beauty of Christ, and cannot therefore admire the goodly buildings of the Temple: as Christ, says Fenelon, had seen his Father's House, and could not therefore be taken with the glory of the earthly structure !
I would urge young persons, when they are staggered by the conversation of people of the world, to dwell on the characteristics of a spiritual mind. you cannot answer their arguments, yet mark their spirit: and mark what a contrary spirit that is which you are called to cultivate.”
There are various MEANS of maintaining and promoting a spiritual mind. Beware of saying concerning this or that evil, Is it not a little one? Much depends on mortifying the body. There are silent marches which the flesh will steal on us :— the temper is too apt to rise: the tongue will let itself loose: the imagination, if liberty is given to it, will hurry us away. Vain company
will injure the mind : carnal professors of religion especially will lower its tone: we catch a contagion from such men. Misemployment of time is injurious to the mind : when reflecting, in illness, on my past years, I have looked back with self-reproach on days spent in my study: I was wading through history, and poetry, and monthly journals; but I was in my study! Another man's trifling is notorious to all observers: but what am I doing ?- Nothing, perhaps, that has a reference to the spiritual good of my congregation! I do not speak against a chastized attention to literature, but the abuse of it. Avoid all idleness : Exercise thyself unto godliness: plan for God. Beware of temptation : the mind, which has dwelt on sinful objects, will be in darkness for days. Associate with spiritually-minded men: the very sight of a good man, though he says nothing, will refresh the soul. Contemplate Christ: be much in retirement and prayer: study the honour and glory of your Master
DECLENSION IN RELIGION.
A CHRISTIAN may decline far in religion, without being suspected. He may maintain appearances. Every thing seems to others to go on well. He suspects himself; for it requires great labour to maintain appearances ; especially in a Minister. Discerning hearers will, however, often detect such declensions. He talks over his old matters. He says his things, but in a cold and unfeeling manner. He is sound, indeed, in doctrine; perhaps more sound than before ; for there is a great tendency to soundness of doctrine, when appearances are to be kept up in a declining state of the heart.
Where a man has real grace, it may be part of a dispensation toward him that he is suffered to decline. He walked carelessly. He was left to decline, that he might be brought to feel his need of vigilance. If he is indulging a besetting sin, it may please God to expose him, especially if he is a high-spirited man, that he may hang down his
head as long as he lives. He acted thus toward David and Hezekiah. But this is pulling down, in order to build up again.
The CAUSES of a decline in religion should be remarked :
The world has always much to do in religious declension. A Minister is tempted, perhaps, to sacrifice every thing to a name. If any APPETITE is suffered to prevail, it will stupify the mind : religion is an abstract and elevated affair: The way of life is above to the wise, to depart from hell beneath. KEEPING ON GOOD TERMS WITH THOSE WHO RESPECT us, is a snare. A SPECULATÍVĚ TURN OF MIND is a snare: it leads to that evil heart of unbelief which departs from the Living God. VAIN CONFIDENCE thinks himself in no danger: he knows the truth: he can dispute for the truth : “ What should we fear?” Why, that we have no fear. TRIFLING WITH CONSCIENCE, is a snare : no man indulges himself in anything which his conscience tells him ought not to be done, but it will at length wear away his spirituality of mind.
The SYMPTOMS of a religious decline are many :
When a Minister begins to depart from God and to lose a spiritual mind, HE BECOMES FOND SOMETIMES OF GENTEEL COMPANY, who can entertain him, and who know how to respect his character! This genteel spirit is suspicious : it is associated with pride, and delicacy, and a love of ease: in short, it is the spirit of the world. It is the reverse of condescending to mean things : it is the reverse of the spirit of our Master.
It is a symptom of decline, when a man will unNECESSARILY EXPOSE THE IMPERFECTIONS OF THE RELIGIOUS WORLD. “ Such a man,” he will say, “is fond of praying: but he is fond of money," This is the very opposite spirit to that of St. Paul, who speaks even weeping of those who mind earthly thing's.
A VIOLENT SECTARIAN SPIRIT is a sign of religious declension. Honest men stand firm for the vitals of religion. If the mind were right, the circumstantials of religion would not be made matters of fierce contention. The spirit of St. Paul was of another kind. If meat make my
brother to offend, I will eat no meat while the world standeth lest I make my brother to offend-One believeth that he may eat all things: another who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him, that eateth, despise him that eateth not; and let not him, which eateth not, judge him that eateth.
AVERSION FROM REPROOF marks a state of religious decline. The man cannot bear to have his state depicted, even in the pulpit. He calls the preaching, which searches and detects him, Arminian and legal. Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? Why should he quarrel with the truth? If that truth is delivered in its just proportions, his quarrel is with God!