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away. We are powerfully impressed with the truths of religion for a time. We are roused to the solemn consideration of our obligations and dangers. We are surrounded, as it were, with the realities of eternity: and then we rise to a vigour of purpose, before which difficulties and disappointments vanish like mist. But ah! how easily we descend. Before we are aware, the vision has fled; not a trace of its splendour remains; and we seem to have fallen into a lower region, where we are surrounded with objects which are gross and perishing.

There is great necessity, then, for taking heed to ourselves, that we do not fall away from the elevation of privilege and enjoyment, to which, by divine grace, we have been raised. If we leave ourselves to the influence of passing events and circumstances, and are hurried on without consideration, we may be involved in fearful delusion. We may lose the idea of our spiritual state, and be betrayed into sins from which, a short period before, we would have instinctively shrunk. There is great diligence required in the right keeping of the soul. Worldly things must often be shut out. Delusive opinions must be condemned; and the glorious realities of faith kept before the mind in all their magnitude and brightness. There is a perpetual obligation to watch what thoughts enter the mind, as well as what thoughts are cherished there; and the remembrance of the divine goodness in past times, as well as of the warnings with which we have been favoured, should often be referred to, that we may be excited to diligence, and rendered more fervent in prayer. The things seen by the ancient Israelites were no doubt wonderful; miracle on miracle had passed before them, revealing at once the power and the mercy of God; and one would have supposed it impossible that these could ever be forgotten. But they were forgotten; forgotten so completely, that the very people who seemed borne down to the earth with awe, in a few days were found rioting in idolatrous rites, and surrendering themselves to the gross abominations of the heathen. And if the Israelites forgot even the marvellous things which they saw, need we be surprised if Christians lose sight of the lofty views of divine truth which at times have cheered and comforted them, of the passages of happy experience which have given them assurance that they are indeed in Christ, and of the aspirations after heavenly blessedness, which, succeeding to seasons of high privilege, seemed to bear them on, as on eagles' wings, in the path of duty?

There is evidently a close connection between

taking heed to ourselves and teaching our chil dren. There can be no doubt, that the habit of teaching the young is eminently fitted to promote the knowledge, and the improvement of Christians. In any science, any department of human knowledge, the mere effort to impress its principles upon the minds of others, is eminently useful. Indeed, though it may seem a paradox, we may say that the best mode of learning any science, is to teach it. The advantage of teaching is, that it brings principles before you. It never allows you to escape from them. It presses them upon you, not only in general, but in their details; so that if they should fail to impress when stated in a broad and expansive form, they are likely to be carried home in some of those more minute and incidental relations, which, in the process of teaching, we are frequently called upon to state. With respect to religion, this is most important; for owing to our dislike of its spiritual truths, we require 'line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little.' We are reluctant scholars,-slow to learn, and swift to forget. It is not by one, but by many lessons, that the truth is to be impressed on the heart. And there is no teaching so effectual as that which has for its object the instruction of our children. Their claims upon us, the interest which we feel in them, the familiarity of the circumstances in which instruction is imparted to them, all combine to give to our efforts to teach them a peculiar character of earnestness and simplicity. This is most profitable to the parent. It keeps divine truth before him in all its grandeur. It connects it directly with its practical influence. It presents the truth in such a variety of lights, as well as surrounds it with such a multitude of associations, that it can scarcely fail to become incorporated with the whole frame of thought and feeling.

Intimate and important, however, as the connection is between teaching our children the truths of religion, and taking heed to ourselves, it is nevertheless necessary we should earnestly pray for the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Unless, he writes the divine law upon our heart, the best impressions produced otherwise will be very transient and superficial. He must soften the heart by his renovating power to receive right impressions. He must impart knowledge, so that the impressions made may be accurate and distinct. He must sanctify more and more, so that the truth may continue to be relished and enjoyed. We must daily say with the Psalmist, 'Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes.'

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'And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates,' Deut. vi. 8, 9.

PRAYER for divine teaching must be accompanied by the earnest and diligent use of the means, which God has appointed to aid us in learning and remembering the truth, as well as in following out its practical design. The office of the Spirit is not, in any way, intended to supersede the utmost effort and anxiety on our own part. On the contrary, the promise of his mighty power supplies a most encouraging motive to diligence and care. The glory of our salvation, in all its stages, belongs to the free and sovereign grace of God; so that nothing, at any time, done by us, is or can be meritorious in his sight. But the divine wisdom is made manifest in combining our exertion with the agency of the Spirit; and though nothing we do is efficacious in itself, yet is it as necessary we should do our utmost, as if we were able of ourselves to do all that is required. The Bible which reveals God's message of grace to a lost world, is the most practical of all books. The believer, who is set forth as a debtor to divine grace for every blessing, is represented at the same time as the most active, zealous, and energetic of labourers. The work of the Spirit does not set aside the ordinary exercise of our powers; it does not reduce man from an active into a passive being; or come in with a blind sovereignty like that of instinct, and impel man to action, without allowing him to judge of the fitness and propriety of what is to be done. On the contrary, the mind under it puts forth its powers as in reference to things not spiritual. It reasons, it compares, it remembers, it imagines, as it does in the ordinary business and pursuits of life. But the Spirit gives to all these faculties a new direction, supplies a powerful influence to excite them, and gives weight to motives, formerly unfelt, or not understood.

It is generally true, that an opinion or rule, in order to have any permanent or powerful influence on the conduct, must be often in the mind. It must frequently form the subject of reflection, and be so familiar as readily to recur with vividness and force. With a view to secure this, men have sometimes resorted to the practice of inscribing valuable maxims in prominent places, where the eye was likely often to fall upon them, and the mind to be led in the direction of the trains of thought, which they were fitted to

suggest. The Jews, in like manner, were enjoined to inscribe portions of the divine law upon the posts of their houses, and on their gates; nay, to wear them as ornaments on the brow, and on the hand. The meaning of all this clearly was, that the divine law should be frequently thought of; that besides those special occasions, when it was made the subject of serious meditation, or of formal instruction, it should be brought before them even amidst the business and engagements of life; and thus that even the brief intervals of leisure, which are ever recurring in the lives of the busiest men, should be turned to profitable account, by fixing the mind upon important spiritual truth.

This language is figurative as respects Christians, but it is very significant. It means that the divine law is to be frequently in the mind, to be remembered not merely at stated seasons to be fixed on for that end, but even when we go forth on business or relaxation, and to be connected with all that we see and do. It is entitled to this attention, as coming from God, who is infinitely wise, just, and good. It is entitled to it, as given us for great ends, being designed to purify, to guide, to comfort; being, in fact, in its comprehensive sense, the grand instrument by which the Holy Spirit enlightens, converts, renovates, and sanctifies the soul. That it may have a suitable influence on the mind, it must be often in it as a subject of thought, and that it may be often in it, means must be used for that end. It is the more necessary to use these means with earnestness and care, from the strong tendency of the mind to yield itself to the delusive influence of merely secular things. How easily the world acquires an undue ascendancy! and when its objects and interests are once allowed to possess the mind, how difficult it is to shut them out, to withdraw the thoughts from them, and to turn the mind towards spiritual things! The things of this life, as to a certain extent necessary and important, must often be attended to; and it is no small part of the believer's discipline to keep them in their subordinate places, to narrow the sphere of their influence, and to prevent them from throwing into the shade the things which are unseen and eternal. We must labour, therefore, to keep the truth of God before the mind. It must be as the atmosphere which we breathe, and as the food which we eat. We should carry it with us, wherever we go. We should multiply the associations by which it is likely to be made interesting, and to be easily recalled. When we go forth from our houses, it should be within us, and around us, shedding

fragrance on all we say and do. When we are in the world, it should be, as it were, written on our hand, so that when we stretch it forth or raise it, it should meet the eye as a witness for God. When we return from our engagements, we should behold it in inscription on our gates, calling us away from the influence of the world, and awakening us to the claims and the glory of Jehovah.

Thus means being accompanied with prayer, we may reasonably expect, in some measure, to live under the influence, and enjoy the comforts of the truth. God will fulfil his covenant with us; 'After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts: and will be their God, and they shall be my people.' Happy, honoured state! in which we are enabled to exclaim with the Psalmist, O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.'


‘And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?' Deut. iv. 8.

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GOD conferred a high distinction on the Jewish nation in giving them a revelation of his will. From the brief occasional notices of scripture on the subject, and also from the history of the heathen nations of antiquity, it appears that, at a very early period, all knowledge of spiritual truth was, in a great measure, lost. Men did not like to retain God in their knowledge,' and though they had idols and a form of worship, yet this was merely a proof that religion was an essential part of their nature; while the extreme corruption mixed up with religious observances, indicated the most profound ignorance of the real character and claims of God. Thus before the flood, which happened little more than 1500 years after the creation of man, the power of sin, in darkening the mind and corrupting the heart, had been fearfully shown; and after that appalling catastrophe, a few hundred years only elapsed, till we find the earth, with scarcely any exception, overspread with spiritual ignorance and heinous sin. The truth was preserved in the family of Abraham, and when his descendants grew into a nation in Egypt, they already stood alone upon the earth, distinguished from all other people by opinions, customs, and hopes, in which, more or less, some of the leading truths of religion

were embodied. When they were travelling through the wilderness, their peculiar economy was fully revealed and established. The law was written on tables of stone, and read in their hearing. A variety of ceremonial observances and remarkable typical institutions was enjoined; and the whole was sanctioned and enforced by promises and threatenings, the former powerfully fitted to encourage, the latter to solemnize and restrain.

In the possession of their peculiar economy, the Jews were distinguished above all other nations. Among them alone the knowledge of the true God was spread. As when felt darkness was upon the land of Egypt, there was light in Goshen; so when spiritual ignorance prevailed among all other people, there was spiritual knowledge among the descendants of Abraham. They alone enjoyed a revelation of the divine will; they alone offered spiritual worship; they alone were cheered by the hope of the great Deliverer, promised after the fall. Some of the nations around them rose to high distinction in war, science, literature, and the useful arts; so that, in many of these respects, the chosen people were greatly inferior. Even Egypt, at an early period, was the scene of civilization and learning; and at a later period, Assyria, Chaldea, Persia, and Media were remarkable for their conquests, luxury, and refinement; not to speak of Greece and Rome, which became the fountains of philosophy and elegant literature, from which all other nations received supplies. But Judea was the only seat of true religion on the face of the earth. There, men not only knew the true God, but knew how to please him. There, a light shone from heaven to guide into the ways of peace and truth. What elsewhere, on the subject of duty, was doubtful, uncertain, or altogether unknown, was to the Jews a clear, definite, and authoritative rule, made familiar from childhood by parental instruction, and in the more advanced stages of life, kept vivid and distinct, by public ordinances and national rites.

It is an high privilege to possess the knowledge of the divine will. Even when our own will is opposed to it, this knowledge is the grand instrument by which the Spirit operates in convincing and renewing the soul. When the soul is renewed, this knowledge is its food, by which it is nourished and strengthened. He who values it aright, is a happy and honoured man. He may be without the distinctions which the world idolises, ignorant of the wonders of science, and incapable of enjoying the beauties of literature; but he possesses a treasure beyond the gold of east or west, compared with which science in its

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boldest flights, and literature in its most exquisite | right. forms, are empty names. How justly and forcibly does the Psalmist express his satisfaction and joy in possessing a knowledge of the divine law? O how love I thy law,' he says, 'it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients.' If David felt thus, how much more should not we, who possess a revelation so much more full and explicit? What was to him and his contemporaries a comparatively dim light, is to us a noon-day blaze. The whole scheme of grace is now unfolded; prophecy has become history, type reality; and the law is as the handmaid to the gospel. We have the knowledge of the divine will from its earliest communications, when it was a simple promise, down to the latest, when it was given in long discourses, and familiar epistles. Contrast a Christian with a heathen nation, a bible land with one abandoned to superstition and idolatry. In the one, whatever the practice may be, all is light; in the other, all is darkness. In the former, there are spiritual institutions; in the latter, the ordinances of religion are incentives to vice. Even where the divine law is not made the standard of duty, it is a mighty treasure to possess the knowledge of it. It is all pure, a contrast to the laws and opinions of men; and by its silent testimony, serves as a check to error and sin, even when it is not honoured and obeyed as a rule.


The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes,' Psal. xix. 8.

Enough that God had spoken-there was instant and cordial assent; and in that happy state of the moral constitution, the will inclined to whatever the judgment approved. But when sin entered, the divine law was no longer honoured and obeyed. It was the same law as at first-as holy, as just, as good; but the heart was now estranged from God and holiness; the understanding was darkened, the will perverted, and the affections debased. The statutes of the Lord were no longer felt to be right, and did not rejoice the heart. The Psalmist describes the experience of a renewed mind. The Spirit subdues the enmity of the heart to God, awakens a love of holiness, and disposes to obey the divine law. When this great change has taken place, the statutes of the Lord are again felt to be right: their wisdom, their purity, and their obligation are, in some measure, understood; and as an expression of the divine will, and an instrument for promoting the happiness of men, they impart a lively joy. The renovated mind perceives their consistency with the perfections of Him from whom they proceed, and regards them as springing from those immutable principles upon which the moral constitution of the universe depends. The laws and opinions of men are fluctuating and capricious, taking their complexion from capricious dispositions and passing events, and admitting of being accommodated to circumstances, as they arise. But the love of God, like himself, is unchangeable. It can no more be modified than his own nature. This, however, is the very property in which the renewed mind rejoices. Amidst the ceaseless changes of human opinion, the divine law is ever the same, and the believing mind turns to it with confidence, as to a rock amidst the restless waters. Its rectitude meets with a tion to high moral ends fills with admiration; and prompt and fervid response within. Its adaptathe knowledge of it, as pointing out what is best to be done, is regarded as a precious treasure.

The divine law is pure. It breathes the very spirit of holiness. It condemns and forbids all sin. There is no defect in it, no laxity whereby the corruption of the heart might find scope and sanction. Emanating from a Being of infinite purity, it is consistent with that attribute of his nature. Amidst the fearful pollution which has flowed from sin, its supplies a perfect standard of moral excellence, by which the errors of the judgment may be corrected, and the corrupt tendencies of the heart restrained. When savingly applied, it enlightens the mind.

THE law of God, as proceeding from a Being of infinite wisdom and holiness, must be right in itself, as it is binding on all his intelligent creatures. He can only will what is in accordance with perfect justice and truth; and as we are accountable to him, so whatever he is pleased to prescribe, we are bound to do. So man felt, when as yet sin had not made him a rebel against his Maker. His own conscience responded to the law which God gave him to obey. He approved it as holy, just, and good; as necessary for the advancement of the divine glory, for the maintenance of peace and order, and for his own hap-moral ignorance which sin has occasioned. It piness. Then, the statutes of the Lord were marks out the boundary which separates duty

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from sin. While there is an utter confusion as to moral distinctions in the world, many actions being sanctioned and enjoined by it, and more connived at and tolerated, which are impure and degrading, this law alone tells man what he ought to do, and what to shun, if he would avoid the divine displeasure. This law, in short, is a rebuke to the world, frowns upon many of its pleasures, and shows it to be a scene of defilement and error. Hence, how wondrous the transition made by a sinner, when by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, he is enlightened to discern, and purified to relish, the purity of this law! How different the aspect of his life from what it once seemed to be! He detects sins and short-comings numberless, where before all had the appearance of propriety and uprightness. The heart, which he once imagined to be good, now appears to be a scene of pollution and guilt; and his notions of duty, once thought to be correct and lofty, are now considered as conventional, inconsistent, and dishonouring to God. He has passed, as it were, into a new region. He resembles a man let out of the gloom of a prison into the broad sunshine of a cloudless day. All is comparatively distinct, definite, clear. New objects, unknown before, now stand out in brightness and beauty. Objects, once seen in imperfect lights, are now revealed in their true places, colours, and proportions. His eyes are not merely opened, but enlightened. How truly he may say, 'Once I was blind, but now I see.'

The divine law continues to be a light to the believer. In his intercourse with the world, he may at times fall from its rectitude and purity, and find himself lowering its high standard to meet the tastes and habits of those around him. But the law continues unchanged. Like the sun in the heavens, it shines on and on, piercing through the mists and shadows by which it may be, for a time, obscured, and pouring its light on every object and scene. By meditating upon the law, the believer imbibes its spirit; corrects the errors into which he has fallen; learns to judge of the world, its opinions, and practices, according to its requirements; and becomes more firm and decided in his opposition to every encroachment on what he considers to be duty. His ideas of what is duty, and what is not, become more vivid and minute; and thus, he is a child of the light, and of the day, and therefore he walks in light. Let us seek then to understand the law of the Lord. Let us be concerned that it may be to us a source of joy, and that enlightened by the saving knowledge of it, it may be a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path.'


'Now we know, that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that mouth may every be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God, Rom. iii.


THE law was the covenant made in the beginning between God and man; and it continues to be the covenant under which each member of our race enters this fallen world. It is true that man is not now qualified to fulfil this covenant, as he was at first; but this is because he has sinned; sin having incapacitated him for the obedience which the covenant required. The covenant itself, however, still continues in all its original entireness and purity; and is as strictly binding on each descendant of Adam, as it was on that federal head and representative of our race. As all men are under the law, and no man can obey it, all men are guilty before God; and this great fact lies at the foundation of that economy which announces a new and better covenant, designed to supersede the law, and to raise sinners to the hope of life through a Saviour. In this epistle, therefore, the apostle sets himself diligently to establish the doctrine of the depravity of all men, inasmuch as all are under the law, and being unable to obey it, are, without exception, liable to its righteous condemnation.

The doctrine thus asserted by the apostle, applied, as we have said, to all men, Jews as well as Gentiles; but it was felt by the former to be peculiarly offensive. They were ready to admit the truth of the strongest statements regarding the moral character and condition of the Gentiles. whom they regarded with contemptuous pity and dislike. But they considered themselves as occupying a very different place, and insisted that, though the Gentiles were under condemnation, they were not. This opinion was founded on a false estimate of their privileges. These were undoubtedly high. They had been chosen from among the nations of the earth to be the depositories of divine truth. They had been favoured with a peculiar economy, in whose typical institutions the leading doctrines of a new and restorative dispensation were shadowed forth, while they had a revelation of the moral law, pointing out the path of duty, and reminding them of their obligations to pursue it. They had also many temporal blessings connected with the purpose which they were chosen to fulfil. But they were under the law, as all men naturally are; as such, they were liable to condemnation, and from that evil there was no deliverance to them any

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