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need of nothing, and knowing not that he is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked," as a broken and contrite spirit, we know, God will not despise ; but a heart divided between two masters can have no acceptance in his sight.
Let it not be alleged, that it is placing religion on a very selfish footing, thus grounding the necessity of it on personal comfort; for as we feel assured that not only can there be no walk with God without it, “ for can two walk together except they be agreed ?" but no entrance even into the divine life, we press it upon the attention, as the very post from which we must start to begin the journey heavenwards.
And unless religion presents itself with an agreeable aspect to our minds, we cannot expect it will have power sufficient to attract our regard, and win our affections, which are seduced on all sides by the enticing pleasures of the world, that assert their influence over our senses, and require some counteracting influence, fully stronger than theirs, to conquer their ascendency over us. We may indeed gain converts from the ranks of those who are mourning over the withered hopes and blighted joys of earth; but we have no chance of tempting any from its ensnaring amusements, or rendering any superior to their force ; unless we can insure them, in compensation for their loss of these idle vanities, a real, substantial, and sensible good, which
will effectually supplant all these lesser objects, and overpower, with its superior sweetness, all these alluring but dangerous sources of gratification. And let the disciple of Christ be well assured, that with the many self-denying sacrifices “ of the things which perish in the using,” and of those tempers and tastes which are inimical to our progress heavenwards, are given to us joys unspeakable here, and a hope full of immortality hereafter!
How many are wandering from preacher to preacher, and from party to party, seeking rest and finding none, while the elements of peace lie neglected in their own minds: for “ Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.” And we must cultivate this seed sown within us, and strewn around us, to fill our bosom with the sheaves of those fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy,
Those who are seeking for their rest in the secondary and subsidiary means of outward ordinances of any kind, in place of having their eye singly directed to God, may obtain a temporary relief from them, but one which only makes them feel more sensibly afterwards, they do not possess the things which they longed for : for they have a committed two evils, they have forsaken the fountain head of living waters, and have hewed out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, which hold water;"
and when these are removed, they feel with one of old, “ Ye have taken away my gods, and what have I more ?” For when our eye is double, “our whole body is full of darkness,” and consequently misery ; “ for if the light that is in us be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
“ I am the light of the world,” saith the Lord, 6 and he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life:” and, “ These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye should have peace ;” and, “ These things have I spoken unto you, that your joy should be full." If any, then, are filled instead with anxiety, uncertainty, and distress, with regard to their soul's interests, they prove to a demonstration that “ they are not following the Lord fully.” Or they are not possessed of his truth : the distinctive proof of obtaining which, was to be evidenced by such a strong influence over our feelings, that none who possessed it could remain unconscious of: and by such a powerful effect on our conduct as to make it observable to every one round us: “For if we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth :" for “ I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in me should not walk in darkness.” Therefore, « while there be
who will show us any good ?” Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us, should be our prayer ;
and let us follow the directions of the Psalmist, who says, this light put more joy and gladness in his heart, than in the time when their corn, and wine, and oil increased, who sought their joy from other sources. “ Stand in awe, and sin not; commune with your own heart in your chamber, and be still ; offer the sacrifice of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord :" neglect not outward ordinances and means of grace, but lean not on them, look not to them as the end, but as the instruments of obtaining for us the end of our salvation, even making Him take his abode in our hearts, “ who is our Peace.'” And let us form the resolution the pious and learned Joseph Mede advises all to do, “Renounce all kind of peace, till thou hast found the peace of conscience; discard all joy, till thou feelest the joy of the Holy Ghost : doe this, and there is no calamity so great, but thou maist undergo: no burden so heavy, but thou maist easily bear it: doe this, and thou shalt live in the fear, dye in the favour, and rise in the power of God the Father, and help to make up the heavenly concert, singing with the saints and angels Hallelujah.”
BESIDES the grief man is subject to from any of the misfortunes of life, or “ the ills flesh is heir to," befalling him; from the distraction which its cares may occasion him, and the discomfort arising from the insecurity of his best enjoyments, and the fleeting nature of them all; it must be evident to every reflecting and observant mind, that there is a yet deeper seated source of disquietude within his own bosom, which gives him more uneasiness than all the rest put together, and which is often a cause of acute misery to him, in the absence of all these, in a feeling of want, and a sense of mental vacuity, for which this world, richly furnished as it is with means for the supply of his necessities, and with everything that can minister to the gratification of his tastes, affords him no adequate provision, and which his own efforts have as utterly failed in supplying, as they have in ascertaining the cause by the efforts of his own understanding.