Imatges de pÓgina

tive eye, may seem divested of every charm. It enjoins self-denial, requires rigid adherence to strict rules, makes a light estimate of the most valued possessions of earth, is much in converse with death and judgment, and these are the only features of it which are discernible by the mere spectator. He accordingly infers that it is unfriendly to enjoyment and enshrouded in gloom. Pretenders to religion, and even Christians, who are ill-informed and weak in faith, not seldom give countenance to this false impression by repelling cheerfulness, as a temptation of Satan; and imagining that a habitually clouded brow is the most appropriate index of a right state of heart. Need we say how mistaken their opinion?

It is true there is a mirth that is unseemly, and a jesting which is not convenient in the Christian. Frivolity ill becomes his character, as one who is in daily expectation of a summons to the tribunal of God. Still it is the privilege of every heaven-born soul to "rejoice always." Even when weeping in penitence, he may rejoice in hope; when mourning over the ruined condition of the world, he may be glad at his own deliverance. Who has a right to be cheerful, if not the Christian? All valuable things are his by divine legacy. If he cannot command the luxuries which pamper the appetite, he has, besides the hidden manna, food convenient for him; and these necessaries are made sure to him by promise. If he cannot boast of gay and costly apparel, he is clothed with the pure white raiment, which renders him beautiful in the eyes of heavenly beings. If he cannot stretch forth his hands and point to his rich domains, he can lift them up and exultingly point to the skies,

where is his inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. He can look within and behold the temple of the Holy Ghost, and rejoice in the presence of his peace-inspiring influence. Conscience, which ceaselessly tracks the footsteps of the sensualist, and mars his enjoyment by its dark auguries for the future, is his friend and counsellor. Hope buoys him up amidst the adversities of life; faith points out to him glorious visions yet to be realized, and love brings him into sweet communion with heaven. The bitterness that mingles the cup of the worldling is converted into sweets for him; the thoughts which trouble others cheer him. Affliction is to him a blessing; death lays aside his character as a ruthless executioner, and becomes his pioneer and guide to the land of endless delights.

Should not a Christian be cheerful? Should he not have a song in the house of his pilgrimage? He travels on his own King's highway under a safe escort; no muttering thunder alarms, no lurid lightning flashes dismay; in God he has a friend, in the Son of God an elder brother, and he is hastening towards a possession, where his joys will be unspeakable and full of glory. Happy, thrice happy the man that is in such a case as this!

My soul, does the candle of the Lord shine upon thee, and does light beam in upon thy soul from the face of a reconciled God? If so, be glad in the Lord. Let the joy of thine heart shine out on thy countenance, as an index of the happiness that reigns within. Redeemed by the precious blood of the cross, thou hast overcome the fears and escaped the pains of hell. How wonderful thy deliverance, and how joyfully should it

be celebrated! The angels of heaven held a jubilee when thou didst repent, and since thou art turned to the Lord, thou mayest well participate in their gladness. Honour thy Master and his glorious work, by joyfully recalling to thy mind all the way in which the Lord has led thee. Go to his house and partake of his ordinances with joy. Fulfil his commands, and endure his chastisements with joy. Receive his daily favours and submit to his blessed will with joy. Contemplate death, as thy joyful release from all remaining infirmities and sins, and lay thy body in the grave in the joyful hope of a glorious resurrection and immortality.


KEEP thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are
the issues of life.

As the heart is the seat of all the principles of action, which give form and tone to the character of man, it may, with great propriety, be said, that as is the heart, so is the man. A right state of the affections will issue in life, while a contrary state will have a totally opposite issue. The Christian religion justifies its claim to the reverence of men, from the very circumstance that it deals with the motives and principles of action, as well as with the actions themselves; that it demands more than an exterior correctness, and determines character upon better data than mere outward appearance. It may be a sufficient recommendation to men, that an individual is unimpeachable in his deportment; but in our relations with God, the state of the heart is the matter of chief consideration. It is true that the life is generally a very fair index of the inward feeling, but it is quite possible that a mere worldly policy may induce a person to conceal the real sentiments of his heart, and even to act in opposition to them. Thus, to all appearance, a man may be our friend, while at heart he cherishes a spirit of implacable enmity; or he may be ceremoniously religious, while his heart is not right in the sight of God. Christ, who is the true expositor of the divine law, traces all genuine obedience to right principles, and insists that no outward conformity to the law will avail,

unless it proceeds from sanctified affections. The tree must be good before the fruit can be so, and, in like manner, there can be no genuine religion, unless the heart feels and acknowledges the teachings and restraints of divine grace. There is much implied in the expression, "God looketh upon the heart ;" and he does it that he may see whether its thoughts are holy, its feelings spiritual, its passions controlled, its inclinations heaven-directed. Whose experience does not corroborate the declaration of Christ, "out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies?" These are the deadly issues of an unsanctified heart; and it is only by going to this polluted fountain and correcting it, that there can be issues of life.

Hence we see the force of the injunction, "keep thy heart with all diligence." Great pains are requisite to success, for the very reason that the heart is not easily kept. It is deceitful, it is desperately wicked. Its natural inclinations are evil, they resist subjection to the law of God; and hence the necessity of supernatural aid, to change their direction. The thoughts are to be kept from wandering; the desires from being worldly; the passions from being sensual. We are to keep the heart in the fear of God, in the love of God, and in all holy obedience. To use the language of another, "we must maintain a holy jealousy of ourselves, and set a strict guard accordingly, upon all the avenues of the soul; keep our hearts from doing hurt and getting hurt; from being defiled by sin and disturbed by trouble; keep them as our jewel, as our vineyard; keep a conscience void of offence; keep out bad thoughts, keep up good thoughts; keep

« AnteriorContinua »