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my life's end.” You will see, then, that what is meant, is a true and hearty desire and aim to obey God, and a humble dependence on his grace, which is never withheld from those who feel their need of it, and earnestly implore it. There is a passage in Jeremiah, chap. L. 5. which seems exactly to describe a beginner in religion ; "Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant, never to be forgotten.”-“But how can it be perpetual ?” says the beginner : “ already have I often forgotten and broken my vows: how then can I dare to vow perfect constancy, and unfailing remembrance of my obligations to the Lord ?" To which I would answer, that though we are changeable and forgetful, yet not such is the other Party in this covenant, even the Lord himself. We are fickle: He changes not; and He is able to keep those, who feel their inability to keep themselves. If we wait, expecting some period when we shall at once step into perfection, we shall probably never begin at all: and that is the worst thing that can happen to ús. We must be content to act like little children, trying to walk : they stumble, but are up again ; they totter, but catch hold of a hand. They do not walk all at once.
2. Closely connected with what I have now described, is the disheartening discovery of the Corruption of our own hearts. This is soon opened to our view. But, wherein is this different from St. Paul's experience—“I find, then, a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me. For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not.” (See Romans vii. 22–25.) You will see from this, and similar passages of Scripture, that your case is not peculiar; that there hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man; and that, in general, each one must say, “I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” This doctrine, however, greatly offends our natural pride. If we could claim the merit of never sinning, such a notion of our character would give us something to boast of; but fallen man is never allowed, by the Gospel, to be a boaster. He must be a debtor to free grace, from first to last. The daily and hourly repetition of pardon, forbearance, pity, and help--this is the boon which he
must be content to receive from Jesus : but oh! how much more than content should he be! How thankful, how full of amazement and adoring love, to think that he, with such vile corruptions, has such a Jesus to look to! After his many backslidings, this compassionate High Priest still says, “ Only return, and confess thine iniquity: I will forgive: I will heal : I will cleanse : I will restore comforts to thee."
You will learn therefore, by experience, that Religion is not all comfort. But whence does this arise ? Assuredly from our own fault. But be well convinced of this—that there is no such thing as solid peace without Religion: and the comforts which attend faith in God, the love of Christ, and a life of holiness, are growing comforts. This is the only yoke that is easy, the only burden that is light. Be thankful, even when you can only serve your Master with tears: for in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
3. There is one thing against which I would specially caution you; namely, Relaxing your endeavours after holiness. This sometimes
arises from weariness in well-doing, or the allurements of some new and unexpected temptation. At other times, it may arise from the most presumptuous of all imaginations—that we can return, when we please, to the same state and degree of grace, and stand again just where we did before. All these workings of the heart exceedingly grieve the Spirit of God ;-and we never thus depart from God, without sorely smarting for it. What a character is that—" He hath left off to behave himself wisely!” May it never be yours! Thou hast a little strength: hold fast that thou hast. · 4. In connexion with this, I warn you against Trifling with conscience. Honestly hail its admonitions, and encourage its reproofs. Make friends with Conscience; for in what state is that man, who has closed his ears against a real friend! Rather let the Apostle's word be your motto: “ Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence, both towards God, and towards men.” Remark the expression_“I exercise myself.” It may sometimes be a painful exercise ; but it will bring with it increasingly, solid peace; the testimony
of a good conscience during life ; and, especially, peace at the last.
The most common way in which we trifle with Conscience, is by procrastination. We say to it, as Felix did to St. Paul,“ Go thy way for this time”:-as if we should say to a serious friend, “I am too busy now, or too happy, or even too frightened: send me some gay companion.” This would be very unwise and very unkind, towards a really valuable friend. As such regard Conscience: at all times give Conscience a free entrance, and a ready hearing. No friend likes to be sent away with the words“ Come to-morrow."
I remain, Dear ,
Affectionately yours, &c.