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be said, that there is to be found any where an arrangement, or an object, having no beneficial use, and whose sole and ultimate end is to produce misery. Whence then has evil been derived, wherefore has it been permitted to enter? This is a mystery which the scriptures explain in the most explicit manner. By one man's disobedience sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death hath come upon all men in that all have sinned.'

displayed; when mortal shall put on immortality, and corruption incorruption, and death shall be swallowed up of victory; and the saints of God set free, shall rise and reign in the kingdom of the Father for ever and ever.


'It is good for me to draw near to God,' Ps. lxxiii. 28.

THE benefits of religion are incalculably great and precious. It constitutes the safety, the blessedness, and the ornament of our nature, to cherish its spirit, to taste of its joys, and to follow its counsels. Of all religious duties, 'to draw near to God' is the most sacred ; and whenever it is rightly engaged in, it cannot fail to be accompanied with benefits which will enable the sincere worshipper to join in the auspicious acknowledgment of David, it is good for me to draw near to God.' It is eminently a spiritual duty; and consists in realizing with more than usual solemnity and awe the divine presence; in resting with vigorous faith and confidence in the divine word; in feeling and confessing our deep unworthiness and guilt before him who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; in laying hold of the righteousness of Christ, and confiding in his all-prevailing intercession and infinite merits; in exercising the privilege of transacting with God in prayer, and praise, and other religious duties; and in drawing from his excellencies and perfections motives for love, for hope, and for joy in God.

But the visible creation forms as it were only a platform for the exhibition of a still more glorious work, the work of redemption. In it the perfections of God as the Saviour, as well as the Creator of man, are revealed. The purest justice blends with the richest mercy; and the holiness of the lawgiver is seen in unison with the tender compassion of our Father in heaven. The gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.' At first man was made to be as it were the priest of the glorious temple of creation; and with rational soul, articulate speech, and spiritual service, the duty belonged to him of celebrating the worship and praise of the great Author and Governor of all things. But what, alas, has man become, and what does he continue to be, until washed from his sin in the blood of Jesus, and renewed in the spirit of his mind after the image of him who created him? He is an apostate from the kingdom of righteousness, an alien from God, a slave of sin and Satan, and the devoted victim of condemnation and death. And how wonderful the interposition of sovereign grace; whether we regard the state in which it finds us, or the rank and the honour to which it designs to raise us. The work of God, in reconciling a guilty world to himself, not imputing to men their When compared with any of the other pretrespasses, stands forth to every reflective mind vailing employments of life, what an enhancement who devoutly regards it under an aspect as pecu- is conferred upon that which is here commended liarly divine, as the astonishing operation by which to our adoption, whether we consider its nahe formed all things out of nothing. To educe ture or effects. There is a social principle in from a state of moral evil, such as this world pre-human nature, and rightly exercised it may be sents, those glorious results which the gospel con- productive of much good; but how often does templates, to convert rebels into sons; to give man employ it to evil. What baneful lessons them the victory over sin, and Satan, and death; may be learned in the society which is most conto advance them to the enjoyment of a glorious genial to the ungodly mind; and how injurious are immortality, and to set them at his own right the effects produced by an indiscriminate mixture hand in heavenly places, manifests an infinitude of with the world. But wisdom, grace, and holilove and mercy, of unparalleled grandeur, such ness, the blessing which addeth no sorrow, the as no created mind could have conceived, until it joy unspeakable and full of glory, and which was actually revealed. When the heavens and the maketh not ashamed, form the portion of those who earth were made, the morning stars sang together, habituate themselves to wait upon God, and who and the sons of God shouted aloud for joy; but seek his face in spirit and in truth. Like Moses what higher and intenser acclamations of delight on descending from the mount, who bore upon his and praise shall distinguish that day, when all countenance and his person the indication of that the glory of the work of redemption shall stand glorious presence in which he had stood, they will

carry with them unto the duties, the labours, and the trials of life, a sacred influence which will at once dignify their characters, and strengthen, and comfort their minds. For whether it be to temper the gaiety of youth with discretion, to abate the pride and presumption of a fleeting prosperity, to check the repining murmurs of a state of distress, to soothe the sorrows of bereavement and desolation, or to cheer the bed of affliction and of death; how good is it to draw near to God.

It is also good to draw near to God, as your Preserver; to celebrate his goodness every morning, and his faithfulness every night. He is the strength of our lives, and the length of our days; he compasseth our path and our lying down, and is acquainted with all our ways. The Lord reigneth, let the earth be glad, and the multitude of the isles rejoice.' What contentment, security, gratitude, and resignation, would it not inspire, to cast all our care upon God, and to acknowledge the righteousness, the faithfulness, and the mercy with which he governs all his creatures, and makes all things work together for his own glory and the best interests of those who love him.

It is good to draw near to God as your Redeemer; to supplicate the aids of his grace, to treasure up the promises and consolations of his faithfulness and loving-kindness, to meditate upon all the excellence of his character, all the riches of his grace, and all the glory of his kingdom.


But farther, as a sacred duty, how appropriate and just is the acknowledgment, here made, in regard to drawing near to God. There is a conscious enjoyment in following the dictates of truth and righteousness; and in acting in unison with the principles of an enlightened conscience; whilst, on the other hand, there is a sense of bitterness and self-reproach attendant on the neglect of known duties, and the violation of sacred and acknowledged obligations. We cannot, and we ought not, indeed, to draw near to God, to minister to a selfrighteous and self-complacent spirit. We need forgiveness, even for our best duties; and our devotional services, no less than our ordinary actions, can only find acceptance with an infinitely holy God through the merits of the Saviour. At the same time, to draw near to God' with a sincere and humble desire to serve him acceptably, through Jesus Christ, cannot fail to be accompanied with comfort and joy; for it shows to the extent that we are enabled to do so, that our hearts are impressed by divine grace, that we are alive to a sense of our spiritual duty, and that we have become reconciled to God through the blood of the cross. A knowledge of this should dictate the earnest and habitual prayer that God would quicken us by the Holy Spirit to love and serve him; that he would draw us, by the cords of love, into a state of closer and more spiritual communion, and that he would increase in us that faith without which it is impossible to please God. All scripture is given by inspiration of God,' 2

It is good to draw near to God as your Creator; to realize your dependence upon him, to reverence his high and glorious perfections, and to stir up your minds to gratitude, adoration, and thanksgiving, towards him, as the supreme source of all being, and of all blessing. How delightful to be able to see God in all his works, and to find incentives to praise him in the glory of the havens, and in all the fullness of the world.' The inspired psalmist exhibits, in many interesting passages, how the pious mind may hold conVerse with God, through the medium of his works, and offer up the tribute of an intelligent praise in behalf of universal nature, to its Creator

dits King.

In fine, it is good to draw near to God as your Judge; to examine yourselves by his holy word, to implore, in the spirit of unfeigned penitence, the forgiveness of sin, and an interest in his grace; beseech the sacred guidance of his wisdom and the powerful efficacy of his Spirit amidst the snares and temptations of life; and to devote yourselves, both soul, and body, and spirit, to his holy and blessed service. 'Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.'

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Tim. iii. 16.

How endlessly diversified, and even opposite, have been the views and sentiments of those reputed the wisest men by the world, upon subjects of the highest and most sacred importance. What a labyrinth the history of the schools and sects which from time to time have risen, flourished, and then passed into oblivion. We need not wonder, although a mind perplexed and bewildered with the endless mass of incongruous tenets which have been promulgated, should almost sink into despair about the possibility of ever finding truth. But the gracious Author of our being, he who gave man understanding, has mercifully interposed to remedy this great and sore evil, and has placed

before us, in the sacred oracles, the knowledge | loftiness of pride disdains to learn from the source which is necessary to make us wise unto salvation.

of revelation, as something altogether abject and useless; the presumptuous complacency of a selfrighteous spirit scorns to admit its humbling truths, and rejects it as a libel on the character of human nature; the boldness of impenitence and infidelity calls in question the justice and truth of its representations, concerning the guilt and penalty of sin, and affects to compliment the mercy of God at the expence of his truth; the love of the world spurns the sacred principles which it inculcates as visionary and enthusiastic, whilst the lawless violence of vice and licentiousness blasphemes its authority as a tyranny subversive of the natural liberty and happiness which are the prerogative of man.

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The doctrine, that all scripture is given by inspiration of God, impresses a peculiar value upon every portion of the sacred volume, and should secure the conviction that a design, worthy of infinite wisdom and righteousness, pervades all it contains. Let us aspire to possess an eminently sanctifying and comforting experience of the majesty, the power, the purity, the wisdom, and the excellence which distinguish the sacred oracles. They are more precious than gold; yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey or the honey comb.' The main design of the Spirit of inspiration, in both the Old and the New Testament, is to reveal Christ; to make known his character, his offices, and his work as a Saviour; to invite sinners to come to him, and believe on him, that he may be made unto them of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and complete redemption.' How solemn are the warnings against despising the divine testimonies, and rejecting Christ. Whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind them to

The subjects about which scripture is concerned, though the farthest from the reach of mere human investigation, are of the highest practical moment and of the most enduring personal interest to every member of our race. The being, the perfections, and the counsels of God; the nature, the authority, and the sanctions of the divine law; the demerit of sin; the method of restoration to the favour of God through a Redeemer; the regenerating and sanctifying agency of the Holy Spirit; the covenant relation in which God stands to his people; the unalterable love which he bears to them, and the ineffable blessedness to which he shall exalt them, constitute an outline of the grand themes presented to our knowledge in the divine testimonies. Every great and solemn question which we can desire to have solved in relation to our duty, our interests, and our prospects, as accountable beings, is satisfactorily settled in the scriptures, and it is no slight demonstration of their excellence that whilst they shed a copious light upon every subject truly interesting or important, in a religious and moral point of view, they utterly abstain from gratifying the idle inquiries of a mere fruitless curiosity. To derive benefit from the holy scriptures, we must read them with reverence, humility, faith, penitence, and an earnest and prayerful spirit, that we may find them to be to our souls a savour of life unto life. Relinquishing the proud spirit of self-sufficiency, which is so natural to the human mind in its unregenerate state, we should sit with the teachableness of little children at the feet of inspiration, and the sacred testimony, 'thus saith the Lord,' should be decisive upon every subject, and command the profoundest homage of our understandings and of our hearts. Whatever appar-powder.' ent difficulties we may find in any part of scripture, we should reflect, that it ought to be expected that the only wise God' should have discoveries to place before us beyond our capacity fully to conceive, and works to reveal past finding out. A consciousness of our spiritual blindness and liability to err on all subjects relative to salvation, should dictate a spirit of fervent and habitual supplication to the great Father of lights, from whom cometh down every good and perfect gift. To how many does the power of indwelling corruption render the volume of inspiration a scaled book, because they neglect the duty to which they are called in this respect; 'If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.' The

'Within this awful volume lies
The mystery of mysteries.
Oh! happiest they of human race,
To whom our God has given grace
To hear, to read, to fear, to pray,
To lift the latch, and force the way;
But better had they ne'er been born,
Who read to doubt, or read to scorn.'


But the Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things,' John xiv. 26.

IT is the privilege of the redeemed to be exalted to the most distinguished rank, and to the most



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glorious prospects. Not only are they delivered assert that they are insufficient of themselves, exfrom a state of condemnation, but they are ad- clusive of the power of the Holy Spirit, to make vanced to the dignity of the sons of God, and men wise unto salvation. They claim for themreceive the spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, selves no higher honour than that of being the Abba, Father.' And although the world knows sword of the Spirit,' the instrument which he them not, as it knew not their divine Master, wields for penetrating and subduing the soul of that renders not the communications with heaven, the sinner. The divine Author of Christianity And one of the which they are privileged to enjoy, or the bless- teaches us that it is the Spirit who quickeneth, ings from on high with which they are visited, the word profiteth little. The Holy greatest apostles and ministers of the New Testhe less real or the less precious. Ghost, the third person in the adorable God- tament has placed it upon record, that the nahead, is equally concerned as the Father and tural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit the Son in promoting the work of human re- of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither demption; and it constitutes his special province can he know them, because they are spiritually to form the medium of communication through discerned.' The constant misapprehension of our whom Christ and the blessings of salvation are Saviour's own immediate disciples, it has been A knowledge well observed, of which we read so much in the sealed and applied to believers. of his person, and of his work, accompanied with gospel, was certainly due as much to their being an earnest desire to enjoy the benefits which he blind, as to their being in the dark; to their deconveys, is essential to salvation; and, accord- fect in the power of seeing, as to any defect in gly, the Saviour concluded not his personal the visibility of what was actually set before ministry, nor left the earth, until he had first in- | them. stracted his disciples, that they were henceforth to look upon themselves as placed more immediately under the guidance, protection, and consolation of the divine Spirit, whom, at his intercession, the Father should send down upon them. agency of the Spirit is distinguished by the most consummate wisdom and grace, and he adapts his communications and blessings with admirable suitableness to the various circumstances of the church, to the diversified exigencies of beevers, and to the peculiar openings of providence, and to the state of the world at different periods. On the day of pentecost, and during the age of miraculous interposition, he manifested his preence by affixing the seal of heaven, by signs, and waders, and mighty deeds, to the doctrines which At all times his operathe apostles delivered. fon is necessary to render the ordinances of the pel efficacious, that sinners may be convinced and converted; saints edified and comforted; and the church built up in faith and holiness to eterzal life.


The necessity for divine teaching arises from corruption and moral blindness, together with alienation of heart from God, characteristic It is not ✔human nature in its fallen state. agh to have the objective knowledge of divine dings set before the mind in the volume of inration, if the mind itself is incapable of rendering the attention to them, by an aversion which rethe subject altogether, or by sinful prejudices which warp its vision, and prevent the truth from fairly and distinctly felt. We do not deprete the value of the divine testimonies when we


It is the province of the Holy Spirit to open the heart, as in the case of Lydia, to attend to the things that are revealed in the gospel, and spoken by the ministers of Christ; to impress convictions of sin, as took place on the day of pentecost, with the three thousand who were converted under the preaching of Peter; to impart faith, and to enable the sinner effectually to flee to Christ for salvation, as happened with the Ethiopian eunuch, the Philippian jailor, and others; and to produce a growing experience of the power and efficacy of divine grace upon soul, and a persevering devotedness in the Christian life under all its duties, and under all its trials, as was exemplified by the faithful disciples of the apostolic and of every subsequent age. When Paul would express his confidence, that the Thessalonians had received the gospel, when it was first preached to them, in a saving manner, he does so by ascribing their reception of it to the agency of the Holy Spirit. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.' All vital godliness, all genuine and permanent religious principles, must then be implanted in the soul by the Spirit in every instance; and his agency, and his blessing, must also continue to attend the work, throughout all its progress, onwards to its final consummation in glory. The gift of the Holy Spirit, and of his precious influences, was the purchase of the Redeemer's blood; and it was in virtue of the efficacy of his atoning sacrifice, that when he ascended up into heaven, he obtained his interposition to

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