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You deceive then your own selves, if ye imagine, that no exertion on your part is necessary to obtain the mansions above.
The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent taketh it by storm." It is that holy violence, that wrestling with God, like Jacob's, that can prevail; it is the fervent and sincere prayer, which is acceptable to God, and the leading a holy and religious life by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, that maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.
We have only to press upon your notice the exhortation in the text; and if any of you pride yourselves on being individually and peculiarly the elect of God, we exhort you to read the whole Epistle, according to its history, and its just rules of interpretation, and particularly to weigh the practical lessons in the latter part; for the first contains the doctrine of the Gospel, and the latter a strong exhortation for us to lead a holy and religious life. May a blessing rest upon your endeavours, however weak! and may your eyes be opened, that you may see and believe the written things
of God. Mortality is around us-the graves are opening-the Almighty is calling his faithful followers to heaven, and what, oh! what, if when our turn shall come we be not ready! we, who have had the Gospel preached faithfully and fearlessly to us, what if we be not saved! "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
JOHN iv. 48.
"Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe."
WHEN Jesus Christ appeared upon earth, every means were taken to induce men to believe in his Gospel. As a mere teacher of morality, few in those days would have flocked to his standard; and though he appeared as a man who knew no sin, still there was something more required for men to be verily persuaded, that Jesus was the Son of God. The Divine Master was well aware of the prejudices, against which he had to contend, when he brought those tidings from heaven, which were to instruct them in the ways of life and to attain for
them hereafter that bliss which he disclosed. His sinless life, the credentials of ancient prophecy, and even the occasional admissions of his enemies, as to the elevated purity of his doctrines, were insufficient to convince the disbelieving Jews, that he was their promised Saviour; they required something more; Jesus verily knew this, for said he, “except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe."
But there were many in those days, who were actually eye-witnesses of the miracles, which Jesus performed, and yet refused to become his followers. Many were to be found in his train and among his hearers, whom curiosity had induced to find out what all these things meant, but who were still far from him, and far from embracing his doctrines. But why? because they tended to reduce the pride of the human heart; they struck at the centre of every vice that pervaded the habits and customs of those, to whom the Gospel was addressed.
His tenets, like the Divine mind from whence they sprung, were directed against
every barrier, which was raised against the kingdom of heaven. They tended to cast down the heathen temples raised by human hand, and to build up temples fit for the presence of the great Jehovah. Yes! they tended to destroy the heathenism, and to disperse the moral darkness, in which the world was involved, and to set that light up on high, which no eclipse nor occultation should ever extinguish. But they not only tended to remove the paganism and the wretchedness of the world, when suffering from the malady which the apostate transmitted to his race; but in the place of these disorganizations, they introduced that harmony to the world,-that scheme of love, that redemption, which the Saviour wrought out for every creature, wherever born, or wherever educated.
The simple testimony of the acts of Jesus, when upon earth, proves the good which he then effected. The miracles, which he performed, were doubtless designed to substantiate the truth in the minds of his followers, that he was the Son of God; and they appear to have been