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swered; but there are others which, as the experience of all ages assures us, are dangerous ones, because they are so effectual. Often the word has passed the tongue, and is written in heaven, and in spite of our own change of wish, it is accomplished. Among such prayers are prayers for affliction, and for trial; and again, those which I have been describing, for the manner of life of the Apostles and first Christians, or (what may be called by way of distinction) the scriptural life. Let no one then rashly pray for that scriptural life; lest, before he wish it, he gain his prayer. Yet still, if after much thought he considers he really and deeply covets it, let him pray for it, and pray for grace to endure it; but this will be enough, he need not take any vow.
4. What was said just now naturally leads to one other remark, viz., that when men are in the first fervour of penitence, they should be careful not to act on their own private judgment, and without proper advice. Not only in forming lasting engagements, but in all they do, they need a calmer guidance than their own. They cannot manage themselves; they must be guided by others; the neglect of this simple and natural rule leads to very evil consequences. We should all of us be saved a great deal of suffering of various kinds, if we would but persuade ourselves, that we are not the best judges, whether of our own condition, or of God's will towards us. What sensible person undertakes to be his own physician? yet are the diseases of the mind less numerous, less intricate, less subtle than those of the body ? is experience of no avail in things spiritual as well as in things material ? does induction lose its office, and science its supremacy, when the soul is concerned? What an inconsistent age is this! every department of things that are, is pronounced to be capable of science, to rest upon principles, to require teaching, to exercise the reason, except self-discipline. Self-discipline is to take its chance: it is not to
be learned, but it can be performed by each man for himself by a sort of natural instinct. And what is more preposterous still, a person is thus to be his own guide and in-, structor at the very time, when by the nature of the case he.. is in error and difficulty. How can a person show himself, the way, when by the very hypothesis he has lost it? how can he at once guide and be guided? The very seasons I am speaking of are those, when a man is agitated, excited, harassed, depressed, desponding; the very time when of course his judgment is not clear, when he is likely to be led away with fancies, when he is likely to be swayed by inclination, when the light that is in him becomes, if not darkness, yet a meteor leading him the wrong way. But if the blind lead the blind, shall not both reason and passion, shall not the whole man, fall into the ditch ?
Nor is it to the purpose to say, that we cannot be guided without the grace of God, and that the grace of God will guide us; and that the grace of God is gained by private prayer. For still God makes use of means; we must do our part; we must act, and God will guide us, while we act, and the question is, whether taking the advice of others is not God's way, through which he blesses and enlightens us, and without which our souls will not prosper.
I state my deep conviction when I say, that nothing healthy can be expected in the religion of the community, till we learn that we cannot by our private judgment manage ourselves; that management of the heart is a science which it needs to learn; and that even though we bave paid attention to it, we are least able to exercise it in own case, that is, then when we most need it. We must use in religious matters that common sense which does not desert us in matters of this world, because we take a real interest in them; and as no one would ever dream of being his own lawyer or his own physician, however great exposures, whatever sacrifice of feeling may be
imihe consequence, so we must take it for granted, if we would Il serve God comfortably, that we cannot be our own divines, ill-and our own casuists. be To conclude, let us.excite each other to seek that good sel part which shall not be taken away from us. Let us labour 01 to be really in earnest, and to view things in the way in s! which God views them. Then it will be but a little thing 20. to give up the world; but an easy thing to reconcile the
mind to what at first it shrinks from. Let us turn our mind e heavenward ; let us set our thoughts on things above, and in in His own time God will set our affections there also. All ** will in time become natural to us, which at present we do he but own to be good and true. We shall covet what at presalent we do but admire. Let the time past suffice us to have
followed our own will; let us desire to form part of that 20 glorious company of Apostles and Prophets, of whom we all read in Scripture. Let us cast in our lot with them, and te desire to be gathered together under their feet. Let us beg it of God to employ us; let us try to obtain a spirit of perfect t, self-surrender to Him, and an indifference to one thing js above another in this world, so that we may be ready to fol5, low His call whenever it comes to us. Thus shall we best
employ ourselves till His voice is heard, patiently preparing % for it by meditation, and by looking for Him to perfect -; what we trust His own grace has begun in us. ze There are many persons who proceed a little way in re1. ligion, and then stop short. God keep us from choking the
good seed, which else would come to perfection! Let us
exercise ourselves in those good works, which both reverse t the evil that is past, and lay up a good foundation for us in
the world to come.
THE THREE OFFICES OF CHRIST.
Psalm xlv. 3, 4.-“ Full of grace are Thy lips, because God hath
blessed Thee for ever. Gird Thee with Thy sword upon Thy thigh, 0 Thou most mighty, according to Thy worship and renown."
Our Lord is here spoken of in two distinct characters. As a teacher,—“Full of grace are Thy lips ;” and as a conqueror,-“Gird Thee with Thy Sword upon Thy thigh ;” or, in other words, as a Prophet and as a King. His third special office, which is brought before us prominently at this season, is that of a Priest, in that He offered Himself up to God the Father as a propitiation for our sins. These are the three chief views which are vouchsafed to us of His Mediatorial office; and it is often observed that none before Him has, even in type or resemblance, borne all three characters. Melchizedek, for instance, was a priest and a king, but not a prophet. David was prophet and king, but not a priest. Jeremiah was priest and prophet, but not a king. Christ was Prophet, Priest, and King.
He is spoken of as a prophet by Moses, as a prophet like, but superior, to himself.—“A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear.” And Jacob had already described Him as a king, when he said, “Unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.” Balaam, too, speaks of Him as a conqueror and great sovereign—“There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel ... Out of Jacob shall come He that shall have dominion.” And David furetells Him as a priest, but not a priest like Aaron. -“Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek;" that is, a royal priest, which Aaron was not. And again, the very first prophecy of all ran, “ He shall bruise thy head (that is, the serpent's) and thou shalt bruise His heel."* He was to conquer through suffering.
Christ exercised His prophetical office in teaching, and in foretelling the future ;-in His sermon on the Mount, in His parables, in His prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem. He performed the priest's service when He died on the Cross, as a sacrifice; and when He consecrated the bread and the cup to be a feast upon that sacrifice; and now that He intercedes for us at the right hand of God. And He showed Himself as a conqueror, and a king, in rising from the dead, in ascending into heaven, in sending down the Spirit of grace, in converting the nations, and in forming his Church to receive and to rule them.
Further, let it be observed, that these three offices seem to contain in them and to represent the three principal conditions of mankind; for one large class of men, or aspect of mankind, is that of sufferers,—such as slaves, the oppressed, the poor, the sick, the bereaved, the troubled in mind; another is, of those who work and toil, who are full of business and engagements, whether for themselves or for cthers; and a third is that of the studious, learned, and wise. Endurance, active life, thought,—these are the three perhaps
* Acts vii. 37. Gen. xlix. 10. Numb. xxiv. 17. 19. Psalm cx. 4. Gen. iii. 15.