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suits which he thinks likely to advance his earthly gains-what assiduity---what perseverance! Is he disappointed? Disappointment only serves as a spur to future exertions. Are his hopes baffled ? New ones arise, and he is still diligent in the pursuit of the objects which he desires to realize. Do reverses overtake him? These
be the precursors of success.
Thus the tide of life rolls on, and he is still busy, still eager,
prosperity should waft him down its current.
What are but too frequently the labours even of the professedly spiritual man? How listless, how inactive, how reluctantly pursued! He often feels his duty to be a burthen, enters upon it with indifference, if not with unwillingness, and rejoices when he has offered up his homage to God, only that he may return with a keener relish to the affairs of the world. Even with him these have a mighty value : he cannot detach himself from an overweening anxiety about them : in spite of his better reason, in spite of the suggestions of conscience, they will still predominate over the most momentous considerations; and here again does it appear, that “ the children of this world are, in their generation, wiser than the children of light.” If we occupy our chief thoughts with the advantages which may accrue to us here, though we may “have praise of men;" or even though the praise of the Redeemer should be bestowed upon our industry, in acquiring mere treasures that corrupt and consume, or for the ingenuity we may have displayed in obtaining them, still, such praise can have no influence beyond the objects by which it was occasioned; consequently, our interests, after the close of this life, will not be advanced by it. Let us remember, that we have two interests to consult, the one in time, the other in eternity. The choice as to which we make the first object of our pursuit is with ourselves. May God direct our hearts to do that which will be most profitable for us when we come before Him at the general resurrection! May we so follow His directions as “not to be conformed to this world,” but “ transformed by the renewing of our minds,” that, He
being our Ruler and Guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal."
SALVATION THE GIFT OF GOD.
EPHESIANS, 11. 8.
For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of
yourselves : it is the gift of God."
In all the dispensations of Providence the prevailing character is mercy. His grace is poured out upon us as from a fountain of living waters. It gushes from the rock of our salvation, to strengthen and refresh us—as it did to the thirsting Israelites, in their arduous journey to the land of promise—during our progress through the wilderness of life to that heavenly Canaan, where we shall dwell with the “root and the offspring of David;' and where the beams of “the bright and morning star,” mentioned by the Prophet, shall rest upon us for ever.
When we turn our thoughts to the mighty scheme of Providence, with respect to man, how does the subject overwhelm the pious Christian
with astonishment at God's love and his own unworthiness! The divine mercy has prepared for us an everlasting abode beyond the realms of mortality and the boundaries of time, where “he that overcometh shall inherit all things;" where “ there shall be no more death,” but one uninterrupted and eternal day, “ for the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." Such a habitation has the Deity prepared for us, who have already forfeited all title to his favour, but whom he has restored, through the merits of the Redeemer's death, to the privileges which we had lost by transgression.
Let us now proceed to consider the mercy of God, as it is exhibited in the words of St. Paul. First, “ By grace are ye saved through faith.” Here, then, we perceive how mercifully the Almighty condescends to level his requisitions to the moral capacities of fallen man. Did he rigidly exact from us the full conditions of legal obedience, all flesh must perish, because perfect obedience is incompatible with an imperfect nature. All law demands a complete performance of its conditions. The least infraction provokes the penalty. If, then, we could only be justified by works of law, we should be utterly without hope of salvation ; because, being imperfect creatures, we could not by any possibility perform that which is perfect. But mark the divine mercy, extended to us in consequence of Christ's remedial sacrifice,
“ by grace are ye saved, through faith.” As the Almighty then has dispensed with the strict exaction of perfect legal obedience, because it is utterly impossible for us to perform it, and condescends to accept, as an equivalent, that“ righteousness which is by faith,” because we are able to attain to this; there can be no question, but that our sin assumes a highly aggravated character, when, by closing our hearts against the ingression of the Holy Spirit, we neglect to encourage and acquire this faith, as it is absolutely slighting a divine indulgence. It is virtually to proclaim “the blood of the everlasting covenant, wherewith we have been sanctified, an unholy thing." It is practically to deny “the Lord that bought us.”
Our justification by faith, is at once a full and sufficient proof of God's desire that our redemption should be complete. It is by his grace alone that our faith—that is, a living faith, is “imputed to us for righteousness:" and this is, indeed, a prodigious manifestation of indulgence towards the infirmities of creatures, who have never done one single act of meritorious service. No impediments are thrown in the way of our salvation. On the contrary, all the aids which we can require, are extended to us. The Holy Spirit is constantly ready to assist us in our struggles against the opposing desires of the flesh, if we will only devoutly yield our hearts to its holy impressions. So that we but too justly deserve condemnation, if