« AnteriorContinuar »
how they will clasp the long neglected Saviour in the arms of faith, like good old Simeon, and receive, like the thirsty and prepared ground, the sanctifying and cheering influences of his grace. And he who has all hearts in his hands, and in whom all live, and move, and have their being, can thus bring a nation to the birth even in a day, as easily as he can do one soul. He has only to vouchsafe a sufficient portion of his Almighty Spirit, and the dry bones, however numerous and extensive, shall live. I love to dwell on this cheering thought. It puts life and expectation into all our missionary feelings. It silences the suggestions of unbelief and despair. We must use the means, and the Lord can in an instant of time, by the operation of his Spirit on the hearts of men, bless them to the very largest extent.
But the very thing which the Jews required, we require also : more of a divine influence on the heart. Motives, arguments, principles, invitations, warnings, are all very good and very needful in their place; but they are all as nothing without the softening influence of the Spirit of God on the heart. They are all like knocking a hard, cold piece of iron on which the power of fire has not come.
Oh! reader, how is it with you in this stage of your pilgrimage ? Pause to-day, and look within. By the help of your God, you continue unto this day. Mercies have not ceased to follow you through past years. God has spared you, nor suffered his merited vengeance to fall on you; been better to you than all your fears ; borne with your follies, and not given you over entirely a prey to your enemies. But are you mourning over the influence of prevailing, though hated sins ? Does the world ensnare you? and, as you advance on your journey, do you more and more doubt whether with such unsatisfactory experience as yours, you can indeed be a child of God and an heir of heaven ? Perhaps this is the case with many who read this. Once, every thing seemed clear and sure. You could triumph over enemies, as if forever vanquished—you dreamt not of defeat, or deadness of spirit, or of difficulty. But what strange things you
have met with in the wilderness. What unlooked for windings, what enemies, what temptations ! And now
are ready to ask, if I am a child of God, why am I thus ?
Dear reader, the new year's advice which I offer to you is this : carry all your fears and troubles with a penitent, broken heart to the throne of grace, and beg of God to make all new. Plead his own promise, “a new heart will I give you." Entreat him to put forth the exceeding greatness of his power towards you, to give you the feeling heart of flesh. Then sin will be duly felt, and hated. Then there will be an entire and undoubted weaning from its unhallowed dominion. Then Jesus will indeed be precious, and all things will readily be counted loss for the excellency of the knowledge of him. Then the powers of the world to come will be felt; and nothing will appear worth living for, but heaven. All, all will be placed in its proper light, and have its proper influence over our whole souls, when the heart is made new.
May we all forget the things which are behind, and press forward to those which are before. There are degrees of grace yet within our reach, of which, as yet, we have no conception. The unruly wills and af. fections effectually subdued, and the heart undividedly and fully under the renewing influence of the Spirit; and what holy, devoted lives there will be ! what enjoyment of privilege ! what a bright and glorious hope of heaven! Let us only believe the promise, and plead the promise in patient persevering prayer, and in due season we shall reap,
if we faint not.
TO DO GOOD AND
TO COMMUNICATE, FORGET Nor.”
Dear Friend,—This is a good text for the commencement of a new year. We are prone to forgetfulness, and sometimes weakly hope our forgetfulness of active duty, in some particular points, is an excuse for neglect certainly there is danger of its being the case, hence the exhortation in this text, “ Not to forget.” Ah! surely there is enough in the misery of the world around us to keep us from forgetting its claims upon our sympatby, prayers, and endeavours ! Surely, there is enough in that plain command, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy. self,” to keep us from indifference, selfisbness, and inactivity, lest our perishing neighbours sink from our view, unaided by our exertions in the path to life, into the blackness of darkness for ever! What a solemn thought! How it should rest upun our minds by day and by night; every ungodly neighbour has a soul ibat must live for ever! and if unwarned, uncared for, and unblessed by the Holy Spirit of God, that soul must appear on the left hand of the Judge, and partake of that wisery which is ceaseless and bopeless; and can we be indifferent to such a thing? “ That wicked man,” said the Lord to the prophet, “shall surely die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand.” Would the prophet bave ventored to reply, as an excuse for his guilt, that his duty was forgotten? Alas, alas! the commission was received from the Lord of Hosts, and demanded prompt and direct attention; and is it less so with us, dear friend ? Is the dear Redeemer less worthy of our attention ? Has be not said to us, “ Go work to-day in my vineyard ;
compel them to come in, that my house may be filled ;” “go out quickly into the lanes and streets of the city, and bring in bither the lame and blind, and the halt;
go ye also into the vineyard ; " " work while it is called to-day, for the night cometh in which no man can work”? Ob! surely we are drawn and exborted by every valuable consideration to be up and doing ; to forget not that “the King's business requireth haste; " that “there is but a step between us and death; ” and that wbatsoever our hands findeth to do “we are to do it with our might: for there is no wisdom, nor knowledge, nor device in the grave, whither we are going!” Death canaot (in this way) celebrate the Lord ; in the grave we cannot give him thanks, or prove our gratitude to him by labours of love or works of mercy; but the living, the living, as we are this day, the living are to praise him, to speak of his wonderful works, and to say to all around us, “0! magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together;" "taste, and see that the Lord is good; “ let him that heareth say, come ;” and as Andrew brought Peter, and as the woman of Samaria spoke to ber neighbours, so let us invite our neighbours to Jesus, and bring them to the throne of mercy, that they may find his salvation, and flee from the wrath to come. Dear friend, life is very uncertain; the breath you have to-day may not be yours to-morrow; the opportunity of to-day may to.morrow be gone for ever; the present moment is ours; let us labour now,
that we may be found faithful, labouring and watching for souls, wbenever the master shall come and say,
Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou mayest be no longer steward.”
TRANSPORTATION. How true it is, that “the way of transgressors is hard.” Sin finds men out, even in this life, not only in its disgrace, but its misery. If men would only take a full view of the matter, they would soon be brought to the conclusion, that to do well is, in the long run, the best
To do wrong may seem at the time to offer some advantage, but we may depend upon it, we shall live to regret it.
Now, just look at the case of those who offend against their country's laws. Is the case at all bettered, because now the punishment of hanging is in a great measure done away with? Oh! let none be bold to transgress, because the worst that can befal them is transportation. Is it nothing to be torn away from friends, and kindred, and home? True, you say, but do not hundreds go to America of their own accord, and do well there? But pause, before you put the felon at Botany Bay and the emigrant to America on the same footing. Think what it must be to work in cbains, with the coarsest food, and the vilest company.
Recent accounts from Hobart Town state the punish. ment of transported felons to be so rigorous, and their state of suffering so constant, as to have rendered many reckless and desperate; in so much so that several are reported to have committed murders and other capital offences, that they might be removed from the penal establishments to which they had been sent, though ouly to meet the last punishment of the law.
One day in One day in seven seems from the very beginning sevel, why kept holy.
to have been sanctified by God, (Gen. ii. 3.) and
commanded to be set apart for the exercise of religious duties. All the mysteries of it perhaps are beyond our comprehension ; but to be sure one design of it was, that men, by thus sanctifying the seventh day, after they had spent six in labour, might shew themselves to be worshippers of that God only, who rested the seventh day, after he had finished the heavens and the earth in six. Saturday,
The reasons why the Jews were commanded to why the Jew. observe the seventh-day, or Saturday, in particuish Sabbath. lar for their Sabbath, were peculiar and proper to themselves : it was on this day God had delivered them from their Egyptian bondage, and overwhelmed Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, so that no day could be more properly set apart to celebrate the mercies and goodness of God than that on which he himself chose to confer upon them the greatest blessing they enjoyed.
But the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt by Sunday, why observed by the ministry of Moses, was only intended for a the Christi. type and pledge of a spiritual deliverance which
was to come by Christ. Their Canaan also was no more than a type of that heavenly Canaan, which the redeemed by Christ do look for. Since therefore the shadow is made void by the coming of the substance, the relation is changed; and God is no more to be worshipped and believed in, as a God foreshewing and assuring by types, but as a God who hath performed the substance of what he promised. The Christians indeed, as well as the Jews, are to observe the moral equity of the fourth commandment, and after six days spent in their own works are to sanctify in the seventh; but in the designation of the particular day, they may and ought to differ. For if the Jews were to sanctify the seventh day, only because they had on that day a temporal deliverance as a pledge of a spiritual one; the Christians surely have much greater reasons to sanctify the first, since on that very day God redeemed us from this spiritual thraldom, by raising Jesus Christ our Lord from the dead, and begetting us, instead of an earthly Canaan, to an in