Images de page

the covetous passions must likewise be subdued. These are more dangerous, because less easily detected and exposed than the former. Christians, who would blush to be found indulging sensual propensities, or giving themselves to the impulses of violent passions, are easily drawn to yield too much to the world. Here the creditable names of industry, economy, prudence, and discretion, with a thousand fair and specious pretexts, serve to deceive: the mischief is less palpable, but, on that very account, more pernicious. The apostle calls covetousness idolatry; and it unquestionably deserves to bear the brand of this odious designation. Let the Christian remember it, and beware, lest he be inveigled, and drawn from God by it. Here is much need of self-denial. Let him be ready to distribute, willing to communicate, not merely while charity attracts the public eye, but in circumstances where few witness, and none applaud his conduct. To visit the sick, when poverty and disease unite to render all access to them irksome and unpleasant; to be at the expense and trouble of instructing the ignorant, when they are neither teachable nor thankful; to aid in diffusing the Gospel, when bigotry, prejudice, and the popular cry, are against it: these are efforts which require the surrender of self-will; the sacrifice of pride, fastidiousness, and avarice; and the more such dispositions and tempers are subdued, and contrary habits formed and promoted, the less will you be obstructed in your communion with God. Every inch of ground gained from the world, will be consecrated to devotion ; and the trophies won from the enemy, shall adorn the temple of the Lord.






The divine institutions, which are usually termed the means of grace, are of great importance, whether we consider their obvious design, or their happy influence. They bear the signature and stamp of heaven upon them; they are admirably adapted to the state and condition of man; and they are made the channels through which the richest blessings are communicated to him. The means by which grace is both given and continued, have an intimate connexion; so that if one of them be despised, the rest cannot be duly honoured and valued. “ The Scripture saith, whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then, says the

[ocr errors]

apostle, shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher ?”

Every one," observes Dr. Dwight, " at all acquainted with language, knows that these questions have exactly the same import with that of strong negative declarations; and that the apostle has here, in the most forcible manner, asserted that men cannot call on him in whom they have not belieyed; nor believe in him of whom they have not heard ; nor hear without a preacher. In other words, he declares the preaching of the Gospel to be, in the ordinary course of providence, indispensably necessary to faith in Christ, just as that faith is indispensable to the invocation of his name in prayer.” In this view of the matter, a contempt, or even neglect of the means of grace, is, positively sinful, as well as pregnant with the most deplorable and direful consequences. Of such neglect, and the miseries which issue from it, the prophet speaks : " And there is none that calleth on thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us because of our iniquities.” (Isa. lxiv.7.) It was a time of general apostasy and lukewarmness; and the prophet, having spoken of many grievous sins, separately, here traces them to their fountain,-a neglect of God's worship,

which is comprehended under the invocation of his name. There is none that stirreth


himself to take hold of thee, that rouses and excites his dormant powers with a resolute and continued effort, as to a business of serious and vast moment; that shakes off sloth, and withdraws his mind from inferior objects, in order to arrest the Lord in his march of awful judgment, and cause him to return in mercy.(Ezek. X. 4.) Thus both Jacob and Moses are represented as taking hold of God; one to obtain a blessing for himself; and the other to avert a curse from the chosen tribes. Gen. xxxii. 26. Exod. xxxii. 10.*

It has been already observed, and the observation will bear to be often repeated, that the life of religion in a great measure depends upon prayer, which is to the soul what breath is to the body. It gives the vital impulse, and keeps every internal movement in play. But though prayer is a means of maintaining divine life in the Christian, yet there are means necessary to preserve and promote the spirit of prayer. All the institutions and appointments of Jehovah display bis infinite wisdom, consummate holiness, and unbounded love: it is one of these appointments, that our peace and spiritual prosperity should spring from com

* See Poli. Synop. in loco.

« PrécédentContinuer »