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generation, and I appoint unto them a kingdom.'—'Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!'"
II. If We Have Access To Superiors, We Should Toe It FOR Oood. Many of the Jews could not approach Artaxerxes; but the office of Nehemiah gave him an introduction: and he resolves to intercede for his country and his people. In this way some have opportunities of usefulness which are denied to others: they have the eye, the ear, the favour of the rich and great And they should lay hold of these opportunities—not to indulge and aggrandize themselves—but to mention truths which persons in elevated circumstances seldom hear; to recommend religion, of which they generally entertain mistaken notions; to place before them scenes of distress, which are not often noticed in the high places of the earth.
Should it please God to call them by his grace—though their souls are no more valuable than those of the meanest slaves, they can be more extensively exemplary and beneficial than others: or, if not—it is well to remove their prejudices; it is well to moralize them; it is well to derive from them external assistance in relieving the poor, and maintaining the cause of God.
Let us remember that we are answerable for all our talents, and one of them is—the influence which in various degrees we have over others. How are we using it? Are we followers of him "who went about doing good V He made this the grand business of lifb. It was his leading aim in every situation and company. To this he rendered everv thing subservient May the same mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus! III. The Best Way To Succeed In Amy
ENTERPRISE WITH MEN Is TO COMMEND THE
Matter To Goo. So did Nehemiah: "Prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man." And the propriety of this action fully appeared in his management of the undertaking, and the success with which it was crowned. Every thing b sanctified by the word of God and prayer. Nothing B too little to bring to the throne of grace. Our intercourse with God will best prepare us for our dealings with men. It will repress every unhallowed purpose; it will give decision and vigour to good resolutions; it will inspire rectitude and dignity in action; it will enable us to bear disappointment or success.
When we have thus commended a concern to God, the mind is set at liberty, and feels satisfaction and composure. Hence, says Solomon, "Commit thv works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established:" as if he luul said, " An enterprise will neces
sarily give rise to much thought and solicitude, but when we carry it to God, and leave it with him, the mind is fixed, and no longer driven hither and thither, troubled and perplexed." And in unison with this is the admonition of the apostle: "Be careful for nothing: but in every thing, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passeth all understandmg shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
When we have thus addressed ourselves to God, difficulties vanish. We know that if the aflair be injurious, he can easily hinder it; and if it be good for us, he can as easily pomote it "His kingdom ruleth over afl. Every event is under nis direction, and every character under his control. When Herod had imprisoned Peter, the church assembled together to obtain his enlargement—But what did they? Did they draw up a petition, and address it to the king, signed with their names? No, they applied at once, not to the servant, but to the master: they applied to One who had Herod completely under his check: "Prayer was made, without ceasing, of the church unto God for him."
And what was the consequence? What were bars and fetters to God ?" When Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands."
Solomon has told us, and not without reason, that "the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water; he turoeth it whithersoever he will." Eastern monarchs were absolute: tbey consulted nothing but their own pleasure: yet God had them more under his command than the husbandman has a direction of the water in a meadow. Now the husbandman can easily give it a new current by digging a new channel—and in this case it is worthy of our observation that the nature of the water remains the same, arid no violence is offered to impel it along'— it flows as freely as before. Admirable image this, of God s overruling providence in makmg use of princes and heroes and politicians, to accomplish his own designs, while their dispositions are unchanged and unrenewed, and tbey willingly follow the leadings of their pride, avarice, or revenge!
There is a two-fold dominion which God exercises over the mind of man. The one is by the agency of his grace. Thus he cast enlighten the most ignorant understanding', and subdue the most rebellious will; he can take away the heart of stone, and gives heart
all thy mercies." David says, "So foolish was I, and ignorant, I was like a beast before thee." And Paul, " I am less than the least of all saints: I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest, having preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away." I would rather hear a person expressing a humble hope, than a towering assurance. Zion's travellers are represented as coming " with weeping and supplication." We are now in a world of action and of trial—not of rapture and triumph. "Blessed is the man that feareth always." Even Nehemiah only speaks of his "desiring" to fear God's name.
Indeed there are many who must derive their satisfaction from their desires, rather than any thing else. They cannot say they do fear him, or love him, or depend upon him —but they know they "desire" to do it But for all such there is a most encouraging nromise: "Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." These desires are proofs of something good, and pledges of something better. They are evidences of grace, and forerunners of glory. Desires are the pulse of the soul, by which we may judge of our spiritual life and health. In some respects they are more decisive than actions. Actions may be counterfeited, desires cannot; we may be forced to act, but not to will. And therefore let us have recourse to this. Let us observe the prevailing bias of our minds; the direction in which, and the objects towards which our desires move.—Let us examine whether we are not restless after the friendship and image of God. Let us see whether we cannot make the language of David our own: "As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? Remember me, O Lird, with the favour that thou • bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation; that I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance."
We may add, that all the people of God while here, must place their religion in desires rather than action. Let me not however be misunderstood. I do not mean to intimate that the desires of the Christian are not active ones—for they are; and in proportion to their degree they will necessarily excite him to strive, to wrestle, to fight, and to use all the means which lead to the end he has in view. And, I am sorry to say, that, for want of knowing this, many individuals are deceived, to their everlasting ruin—ima
Sining that they have gracious desires, while ley are strangers to Christian diligence. Balaam could say, " Let me die the death of the righteous, ana let my last end be like his:" but he had no concern to live their life.
Herod wished to see our Saviour work a miracle, but would not take a journey for the purpose. Pilate asked, what is truth i And would not stay for an answer. There are many languid, occasional, temporary desires, which are far from indicating the existence of Divine grace in the heart The desire of many is like that of the sluggard, of whom it is said, "The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour." Desires then are nothing without endeavours.
But our meaning is this—That what a Christian does in this world is very little, compared with what he ought to do, and even would do . If you view his dispositions; if you judge of him by his desires, he would attend on the. Lord without distraction;" he would " run and not be weary, and walk and not faint;" he would equal a seraph in the service of heaven. But if you view his executions; if you judge of him by his attainments, he cries out, "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that I cannot do the things that I would. When I would do good, evil is present with me, and how to perform that which is good I find not O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death!"
Christian! This will not be the case always. He who has given you the wilt, which once you had not, has promised; in due time, to give you all the power you now want You will soon drop every burden, and escape every impediment You will soon appear before his throne, and serve.him day and night in his temple: "When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."
"Grace will complete what grace begin*.
AN ADDRESS TO YOUTH,
(THE FIRST DAY OF THE YEAR.)
Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, Ms Father, thou art the guide of my youth J— Jer. ill. 4.
It is a lovely view which the Supreme Being has given us of himself in the words of Ezekiel, "As I live saith the Lord, I hive no pleasure in the death of the wicked." His mercies are over all his works. But if there be any of his creatures for which he seems more peculiarly concerned than another— they are you, my dear children—they are you, my young friends!
Hence, to engage you in his service betimes, he has laid hold of every principle of to the grave. What you now do will give not only a colouring but a character to the whole of your future life.
Youth then needs a guide. But whom will you choose ?—We have to remind you,
II. That God Is Beady To Become Tour Leader, and that it is your duty and privilege to place yourselves under his direction. He would have you cry unto him, saying, "Thou art the guide of my youth."
The Israelites of old, in passing through the wilderness to Canaan, found in God all that their situation required. They were exposed to danger—and he was their defence. They were destitute of provisions—and he furnished them with supplies.' They were in a trackless desert—and knew not the way they should take—and he was their guide. By the fiery cloudy pillar he determined all their encampments and journey ings: as this rose they rose; as this turned they turned— till by a right way it led them to a city of habitation. And he is equally the leader of his people now. "A good man's steps are ordered by the Lord."—" In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." And who can express the satisfaction of mind which arises from such a reflection as this!—" Well, I have a dangerous world to pass through, and I wish to pass through it safely and usefully, and to reach heaven at last This is my aim as well as desire: and I am not a lonely, nor an uncertain traveller. God is with me. I am under the care of his providence. I have the Scripture for my rule. I have also the promise of the Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth—' and as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.'"
And this is surely enough to incite you to apply to him. For, my dear young friends, what properties could you wish for in a guide, that are not to be found in God? He is infinitely wise, and cannot lead you astray. He has conducted millions; and " the wayfaring man, though a fool, has not erred" under his direction. He is infinitely powerful. He can support you under the heaviest burdens, deliver you from every adversary, and " make all thmgs work together for your good." He is infinitely kind. He will bear with your infirmities, and sympathize with you in all your troubles. And he is infinitely faithful: not a word shall fail of all that he has spoken; and you may say with David, "This God is our God for ever and ever, he will be our guide even unto death."
Thus " he leads his people, to make himself a glorious name." And thus all who have been under his guidance have extolled their leader—especially after they have finished their course. When they looked back upon his dealings with them, the review furnished them with peculiar songs of wonder and of praise; and their language has been, " To
him that led his people through the wilderness —for his mercy endureth for ever."
And this is he who is willing to become your guide; and who proposes himself u your guide—only,
III. Remember, How von Abb To Engage His Attention—you are to " cry to him." "Wilt thou not from this time cry unlo me, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth!"
This familiar expression intends prayer and supplication; and it prevents you from using as an excuse for the omission of the duty— that you are not masters of words, and cannot deliver yourselves in proper language. For what is prayer? Is it not the desire of Uie heart towards God ?—If you cannot pray —cannot you cry unto him t He can hear the voice of your weeping. He knows the meaning of a sigh; of a look. "My desire," says David, "is before thee, and my groaning is not hid from thee."
And let me here remark two things—the first is—that you are not to expect this guidance without prayer. His own declaration is sufficient to decide this—" For all these things," says he, " will I yet be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them." And the second is—that you are not to despair of this guidance with it It is God's way to produce in us conviction of our need, and to draw forth our desires after the influences and blessings he has to bestow; but he that commands and inclines us to call upon him will not sufler us to call upon him in vain. "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth, and he that sccketh findcth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."
Therefore " let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord." And if unhappily you have lived without him in the world; if other lords have had dominion over you—but you are now willing to abandon them, and to make mention of his name only, saying, "Lord, I am thine, save me;"
"Grant me thy counieh for my gurdc,
—be assured he will in no wise cast you out; but will receive you graciously, and love you freely. We have therefore only to observe,
IV. That There Are Particular Seasons In Which He Expects To Be Bought Aftkb By The Yoong, and from which he dates the expostulation—" Wilt thou not from this tine cry unto me, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth V
And "first—this is the case when they leave the house of their friends, and the wing of their relations. Behold a yonth removing from home—to go to school—to learn a business—to travel. He departs. The fond mother views him from the window—and turns away—to weep. The father accompanies