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Having now introduced thee, my reader, to the company
of my two friends, before I bid thee farewell, let me put one plain, but important question to thy conscience. What dost thou think of the subject they have been discussing? Can the slavery of sin and Satan, or the empty pleasures of the world, afford enjoyments, or lead to comforts like theirs? If thou art capable of serious thought, I know thou wilt answer, No! Then, let me add another question, Art thou acquainted with their Master? What dost thou think of Christ? Dost thou say, He is to thee all and in all! If so, I bless God on thy behalf. Or art thou as yet a stranger to Him? Then it is not yet too late to seek Him. “Ask, and thou shalt receive; seek, and thou shalt find; knock, and the door of mercy shall be opened unto thee.” So shalt thou say, from happy experience, that the ways of God are ways of pleasantness, and all his paths are peace. And with thine heart join the blessed apostle in his testimony, that "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come.”
I am surrounded on every side with mercies: and yet feel myself a vile, unthankful wretch. I seem to grow more insensible of them, as they are poured upon me more abundantly from the Lord. Nothing suits my evil nature but a furnace. I am seldom well, except when I am ill. Bitter cups sweeten my heart, strength
en my appetite, and melt my soul. Lord, bless me with a broken heart, and lead me weeping all the way to Canaan, weeping at my own vileness, and weeping at the love of Jesus. Oh! the depth of that mercy which can look on such vileness! Oh! the riches of that love which has purchased this mercy! Seldom do we think of the agonizing woe of Jesus; and when we do think of it, how little are our hearts affected with it! “They shall look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn." But where is this Gospel mourning? We are piercing him daily, but who is mourning daily? mourning with sweet sorrow, made up of shame and love? Some are mourning for the world; mourning for perfection; some are mourning for their own sins, and cause enough they have; yet who is mourning at the sight of a crucified Jesus? Oh! the wonders of that cross! Here let me lie, and love, and weep. Nothing crucifies sin and self like this cross, and nothing kindles humble love like it.
ARCHBISHOP USHER was a man of distinguished learning, piety, and diligence. The following circumstance will shew that his humility equailed his other valuable endowments.
A friend of the archbishop repeatedly urged him to write his thoughts on SancTIFICATION, which at length he engaged to do; but a considerable time elapsing, the performance of his promise was importunately claimed.
The Bishop replied to this purpose: “I have not written and yet I cannot charge myself with a breach of promise; for I began to write; but when I came to treat of the new creature, which God formeth by his own Spirit, in every regenerate soul, I found so little of it wrought in myself, that I could speak of it only as parrots, or by rote, but without the knowledge of what I might have expressed; and therefore I durst not presume to proceed any further upon it.”
Upon this, his friend stood amazed to hear such an humble confession from so grave, holy, and eminent a person. The Bishop then added; “I must tell you, we do not well understand what sanctification and the new creature are. It is no less than for a man to be brought to an entire resignation of his own will to the will of God; and to live in the offering up of his soul continually in the flames of love, as an whole burnt-offering to Christ; and 0, how many who profess Christianity, are unacquainted, experimentally, with this work upon their souls!”
THE OCULAR TREATY.
Thoughts on Job xxxi. 1.
I made a Covenant with
It was a proof of thy wisdom, venerable sage, that thou didst so! O that I had done the same thirty years ago! I had then escaped many a snare, the recollection of
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which covers me with shame. I still find the need of a similar precaution; and most heartily recommend Job's ocular treaty to my
friends. Our nature is totally corrupted by sin, and every sense is the port of evil. The eye is an organ of exquisite workmanship, its mechanism beyond measure marvellous, its powers amazingly extensive!* O my God, that so distinguished a branch of thy creation should ever be perverted to purposes that debase my Rature! It was formed to survey thy glorious works, and thence deduce the deinonstration of thy infinite wisdom and goodness; but, ah, how soon was it prostituted to base and destructive uses. The first sin, that fatal act of rebellion, which ruined us all, found admission to the heart of Eve by this organ. The interdicted tree was beautiful to the eye; she was captivated with its pleasing hue, and rashly snatched the poisonous fruit. The universal tragedy, the deluge of the world, owed its origin to the same source: the sons of God beheld the daughters of men, were smitten with their exterior beauty, and lost sight of their idolatrous deformity.
“High in the head, bright and conspicuous as a star in the brow of evening, is placed the eye. In this elevated situation, like a centinel posted in his watch-tower, it commands the most enlarged prospect. Consisting only of simple fluids, inclosed in thin tunicles, it conveys to our apprehension all the graces of blooming nature, and all the glories of the visible heavens. how prodigiously wonderful, that an image of the hugest mountains, and a transcript of the most diver. sified landscapes should enter the small circlet of the pupil! How sur. prisingly artful, that the rays of light, like an inimitable pencil, should paint on the topic nerves; paint in an instant of time; paint in their truest colors and exactest lineaments, every species of external objects!"--Hervey's Dialogues xii.
Unhappy Achan too, perished in consequence of one unbridled glance of the eye.
The renowned Achilles, it is said, was invulnerable, save in his heel. Of how many is the eye the only vulnerable member.* Here David, the wise, the valiant, the pious, received that wound, in the agony of which he vented the mournful groans of the fifty-first psalm, and which, no doubt, made him go softly all his days. O my
soul! how many strong and good men have fallen down wounded, the miserable victims of one unguarded sally of the eye!
How prudent, then to imitate the patriarch, and make a treaty with a power so able to hurt us. I find a noble heathen presenting us with an example. . Scipio would not venture to behold his fair captive, but in the presence of her mournful husband, to whom he honorably restored her. Even that rash madman, Alexander, called the Great, would not see the beautiful daughters of Darius, lest the conqueror of the world should be tempted by their charms. Zaleucus, the Locrian legislator, ordain. ed that the crime of adultery should be punished by the loss of the offender's eyes. But a greater than these has enjoined us to pluck out our own eye if it offend; that is, to restrain and inortify its sinful lusts. Let a solemn treaty, then, be instantly ratified; let my eyes, let every member of my body, be “holiness unto the Lord.” So shall I, one holy day, shut my eyes to all
* An excellent puritan writer, referring to the motto of Cesar. veni, vidi, vici, I saw, I came, I overcome; observes that, “many will have cause to say, we came, we saw, we were overcome.” The drunkard, the covetous, the adulterer, will have occasion to adopt that motto.