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Title: Way-Marks - or Directions to Persons Commencing a Religious Life
Author: Bedell, G.T.
Language: English
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                               WAY-MARKS;
                    DIRECTIONS TO PERSONS COMMENCING
                            A RELIGIOUS LIFE.

                          SELECTED AND ARRANGED
                         BY G. T. BEDELL, D. D.
                 Rector of St. Andrew’s Church, Phil’a.

                             _PHILADELPHIA_:
                     HENRY PERKINS, 159 CHESTNUT-ST.
                                  1839.

     Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1832, by
      _Key, Mielke, & Biddle_, in the Clerk’s Office of the Eastern
                        District of Pennsylvania.

                      _Stereotyped by L. Johnson._



PREFACE.


The great variety of useful little books lately published, under such
titles as _Daily Food_, _Daily Crumbs_, _Devout Exercises_, &c. and the
favour with which these have been met, suggested to the compiler, the
utility of attempting something of the same kind. He had accidentally met
with a little work, called, “Directions,” &c. published by _Maltbys_, New
Haven; and though there were some things in it which he did not like, he
thought it, on the whole, a very valuable little manual of instruction.
The compiler has made such alterations as seemed necessary to make it
please himself, and added some few particulars from a valuable tract
of the late President Edwards.—The Letter to a young Lady, &c. is one
which the compiler has been in the habit of presenting to young persons
under certain states of mind; and the “Memento,” by whomsoever prepared,
is most admirably done, and worthy to be read by all Christians.—The
article on the question, “Am I a New Creature?” taken from the Spirit of
the Pilgrims, is one highly useful and important in the present period of
religious inquiry.

The sole object of the compiler is to do good; and this he trusts and
prays may be accomplished.

_Philadelphia, Feb. 1832._



CONTENTS.


    1. _Directions to Persons commencing a Religious Life_—selected
       from an anonymous publication; with additions, from “Advice to
       young Converts,” by President Edwards.

    2. _Letter to a Young Lady, on the outset of a Religious Life._
       From the “London Christian Guardian.”

    3. _A Memento of Affection_, written in the language of the
       Scriptures—selected from the anonymous publication above
       noticed.

    4. _Am I a New Creature?_ From “The Spirit of the Pilgrims.”



WAY MARKS.



DIRECTIONS TO PERSONS COMMENCING A RELIGIOUS LIFE.


1. Remember that the commencement of the Christian life is to be like
the “dawning light, which increaseth more and more to the perfect day.”
Therefore when the hope of peace and pardon dawns in the heart, do not
consider the great business of life as _accomplished_, but only as
_begun_.

2. Keep up as great a strife and earnestness in religion, as if you knew
yourself to be in a state of nature. When persons are under conviction
of sin, they are advised to be earnest and violent for the kingdom of
heaven. You ought not to be less in earnest now, if you wish not to lose
a sweet and lively sense of spiritual things.

3. Do not cease to strive and pray for the very same things which you
sought before you had reason to hope you were converted. Those who have
most light and most grace, have, nevertheless, need of more. There are
very few requests that are proper for an impenitent sinner, that are not
proper for one who professes godliness. At any rate, the mistake will do
you no harm.

4. Evidence of piety is not so much to be sought in _high emotions_ of
any kind, as in real humility—self-distrust—hungering and thirsting after
righteousness, sorrow for sin, and a _continual effort_, in every day
life, to regulate our thoughts, feelings, and conduct by the word of God.
It is the _nature_ and not the _degree_ of our affections, which is to be
regarded in the examination of our evidences. The best way to know our
feelings is, to see how they influence the _conduct_. “By their fruit ye
shall know them.” Always look upon those as the best _comforts_, which
have most of these two effects—those that make you least and lowest and
most like a child, and those that most determine you to deny yourself,
and to spend and be spent in the service of your Master.

5. Do not expect to find in your own case, every thing you have heard
or read of in the experience of others. For it may be that many things
we hear and read of, are not correct feelings, and do not afford just
grounds of confidence to any one; and if they are _correct_ experience,
it may be the experience of a _mature_ Christian, and not to be expected
in the beginning of a religious life. It must be remembered, that as no
two countenances are formed alike, so no two hearts are fashioned alike,
or placed in exactly the same circumstances; and it would be as vain to
seek all the varieties of Christian experience in one person, as to seek
all varieties of human features in one face.

6. Do not expect that the evidence desired will all come immediately and
at once. It will be most likely to come _progressively_, as the result of
continued effort in obedience to the will of God.

7. Do not suppose that religion is a principle of such _self-preserving_
energy, as that when once implanted in the soul it will continue to
thrive and increase without effort. The plant of divine grace can no more
thrive without care, and diligent and patient cultivation, than can those
rare and valued plants, that demand the physical efforts and culture of
man.

God will not sustain and bring to maturity the work of grace, without
your own voluntary concurrence in the diligent use of means. He will not
do it any more than he would cause the harvest to whiten in the field
of the sluggard. Indulge, therefore, no such ideas of _inability and
dependence_ on God, as shall impair a full sense of perfect obligation to
do whatever _can be done_ in working out your own salvation. God never
promises to assist any but those who make efforts to aid and advance
themselves.

8. Entertain no such ideas of the sovereignty of God in the bestowment
of his grace, as would awaken any doubt of his affording needful aid,
where he sees sincere endeavours to grow in grace. If some christians are
more eminent than others, it is simply because they _make more efforts_
to be so, and God aids these efforts. So that all worldly minded and
indifferent christians continue in this state, because they do not choose
to make efforts to get out of it. Any person can be an eminent christian
that chooses to be so. Christians are too apt to feel as if eminence in
piety was a distinction made by the sovereignty of God, and to suppose
that high attainments are not within the reach of all, and that languid
and inefficient piety is the result of divine sovereignty rather than
negligence and sloth. A more false or more pernicious opinion cannot
easily be adopted by Christians. The truth is, that the road to eminence
in gifts and graces, and the means of obtaining them, are open to all
who seek them, and if any do not attain them; it is owing to their own
sloth and inefficiency, and not to any deficiency on the part of God in
blessing _diligent_ efforts. It always pleases him to crown with success
the hand of the diligent instead of the hand of the slothful, not only
in temporal but in spiritual things. This thought cannot be too strongly
impressed upon the minds of those who are just commencing the christian
life. To them _peculiarly_, are such promises as these directed; “Ask,
and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be
opened unto you. _Every one_ that asketh receiveth,” &c.

Do not be afraid of indulging in feelings which may seem to be right,
from the fear of deception. On the contrary, cherish such feelings and
try to recall them often. Go forward and _do your duty_, and God will
save you from deception while thus employed.

10. There is one caution which is peculiarly needful to those who have
been greatly interested in the subject of religion, and that is, to _take
particular care of the health_.

There is such a mysterious and intimate connection between the mind and
body, that one cannot be wearied or suffer, without affecting the other.
When the mind is fatigued and exhausted, it affects the body, and this
again reacts on the mind.

Every person ought to be aware, that the more anxiously and intensely the
mind is interested on any subject, the greater is the need of _exercise_,
_sleep_ and _frequent relaxation_. Attention to religion, does not demand
that _all_ lawful business be suspended, and forbids the neglect of all
needful rest and exercise; but be very cautious here, lest you mistake
_negligence_ in religion, for a necessary attention to the health.

11. Do not expect to be made very happy by religion, unless you become
_eminent_ christians. A _half way_ christian can neither enjoy the
pleasures of the world nor the pleasures of religion; for his conscience
will not let him seek the one, and he is too indolent to obtain the
other. The christian may be the happiest man on earth, but he must be a
faithful, active, and devoted christian. None are disappointed in finding
religion a source of unfailing peace and joy, but those who refuse to
drink deep of the wells of salvation; unless we except those who, from
some derangement of the nervous system, or failure of health, do not
enjoy the clear and undisturbed exercise of their faculties. A healthy
mind in a healthy body, may always be made happy by religion.

12. Do not look at the practice and example of _other_ christians, in
forming the standard of piety at which you aim. The allowance of this
thing, has probably had a more disastrous influence on the church and on
the world, than all other causes that could be named. Generally, when
persons commence a christian life, their consciences are susceptible and
tender. They are strict and watchful in the performance of duty, and
are pained even by a slight neglect. They have been wont to feel, that
becoming religious implies a _great_ change; that “old things must pass
away and _all things_ become new.” But when they begin to look around
among their christian friends, and turn to them for aid, and those who
have had experience and have made advances in christian life, they find
that _they_ seem to look upon duties and deficiencies in a very different
manner. _They_ seem to neglect many things which the young christian
has felt to be very important; and to practice many things which he had
supposed inconsistent with religion. _Then commences the disastrous
effect._ The young christian begins to feel that he need not be more
particular than those to whom he has ever looked up with deference and
respect. He begins to imagine that he has been rather _too strict_
and particular. He begins to take a retrograde course, and though
his conscience and the bible often check and reprove, yet after a few
inefficient struggles, he lowers his standard and walks as others do.

Look into your bible and see how christians ought to live. See how
the bible says those who are christians _must_ live, and then if you
find your christian friends living in a _different_ way, instead of
having cause for feeling that you may do so too, you have only cause to
fear that they are deceiving themselves with the belief that they are
christians, when they are not. Remember that the farther your christian
friends depart from the standard of christian character laid down in
the bible, the less reason have you to hope that they _are_ christians.
And do not hesitate on this subject because you find _many_ professed
christians, who are indifferent and lax in their practice and example.
Remember that Christ has said, “_Many_ shall say unto me in that day,
Lord, Lord,” thus claiming to be his disciples, to whom he will say, “I
never knew you.” Do not let _professed_ christians tempt you to fall into
the society of such unhappy _castaways_.

13. Do not be _periodical_ christians. There are some who profess
religion, who never seem to feel any interest on the subject, except when
every one else does. It is true, there are special seasons of revived
religion in the hearts of all christians, but if it is only at such times
that progress is made in divine life, and interest is manifested in the
salvation of souls, there is great reason to fear that what is called
religion is nothing but sympathy with the feelings of others.

14. Do not let the adversaries of the cross have occasion to reproach
religion on your account. How holily should the children of God,
the redeemed and the beloved of the Son of God, behave themselves.
Therefore, “walk as children of the light, and of the day,” and “adorn
the doctrine of God your Saviour;” and especially, abound in what are
called the Christian virtues, and make you like the Lamb of God: be meek
and lowly of heart, and full of pure, heavenly, and humble love to all;
abound in deeds of love to others, and self-denial for others; and let
there be in you a disposition to account others better than yourself.

15. Be sure that there exists a _marked difference_ between _your_
appearance and conduct, and that of those who are not christians.
Remember that Christ has required this of you, and that even _the world_
expects it.

16. Do not suppose you can recommend religion, by appearing interested
in every thing that interests those who have no better portion than this
world.—Remember that your deportment, your conversation; your interest
in dress, in company and amusements; the manner in which you perform
your religious duties, are all carefully noted and weighed by those
around you, who do not love religion; and if they do not see a _marked
difference_ between you and themselves, they either conclude there
is nothing in religion, or else that you are a hypocrite. Worldlings
_expect_ that you will be _very_ different from them, and _despise_ you
in their hearts if you are not. If you wish to recommend religion, let
the world see it acted out according to the beautiful pattern laid down
in the bible, and do not suppose that you can improve this pattern by any
addition or subtraction of your own. On one subject there are some who
need instruction. There is a class of christians who appear taciturn,
unsocial, and even sad. This appearance is altogether inconsistent with
the spirit of religion. Christians ought to appear cheerful and happy; to
appear to receive with pleasure and gratitude all the lawful enjoyments
bestowed by their Heavenly Father. Such a gloomy deportment as has been
described, does not do honour to religion, and causes those whom we wish
to win to the ways of pleasantness and peace, to feel that religion is a
melancholy, unsocial, and forbidding subject.

All professors of religion should endeavour to have such views of God,
his love, his providence, his care; and should so live, as to _be_
cheerful and happy, and to _appear_ so.

On the contrary, there is a class of professed christians, who indulge in
frequent trifling and levity. This is quite as inconsistent and injurious
as the former, and if any thing it is more so. Let the _christian_ at
least, learn to make a distinction between _cheerfulness_ and _levity_.
Remember we are commanded to avoid _foolish talking and jesting_, and
that it is possible to be happy, cheerful, affable, and kind without any
trifling or levity.

17. Remember that your evidence of possessing religion _ceases_ when _any
thing else_ has the _first_ place in your thoughts and interests.

Religion should not lessen our love for our friends, or our real
enjoyments; but _the desire to please God in all our ways_ should be
the _prevailing feeling_ of the mind. Our Saviour says, we cannot have
_two masters_; _God and his service_ must be first in our thoughts and
affections, or else the _world and its pleasures_ are first. If then we
would find whose servants we are, we must find who has the first place in
our thoughts and affections.

18. Never for _one day_ omit to read the bible with prayer. This is a
most important direction. It is of the utmost importance that you should
never _for once_ break over this habit. Prayer and the bible are your
anchor and your shield, which will hold you firmly in the path of duty,
and protect you from temptation. You had better give up one meal every
day, if it is necessary, in order to secure time for this duty. You had
better give up any thing else. _Nothing is a duty_, if the performance
of it will interfere with this duty. Remember this is the bread of your
life, and the water of your salvation; and that you cannot live in health
a single day, without their strengthening and invigorating influence.

19. Be regulated by a principle of duty in _little things_. This is
the way that common christians are to cause their light to shine. Few
christians can expect to do any _great_ things to show their love for the
Saviour, but all can “deny themselves, and thus daily take the cross and
follow him.” Religion should govern the temper and the tongue; should
save us from indolence, from vanity, from pride, from foolishness, from
levity, from moroseness, from selfishness, and all the little every day
foibles to which we are exposed. Religion should exemplify its gentleness
in your kind and affable manners; its purity and propriety in your
conversation; its benevolence in your conduct, and its consistency and
heavenly tendency, in all your ways.

20. It is a most excellent method to go to some sincere and candid
friend, and inquire what are your own defects in temper, character, and
every day deportment, and when you have discovered these, make it the
object of your prayers and efforts to correct them.

21. One thing ought to be strictly regulated by principle, and that is
the _employment of time_. Always feel that you are doing wrong when
your time is passing unprofitably. Have some _regularity of method_ on
this subject. Endeavour to ascertain how much time should be devoted to
your friends and to relaxation, and to let the remainder be _all of it_
employed in the most useful manner you can devise. Never be satisfied
with the manner in which you are spending your time, if you can think of
any possible way in which it might be more usefully employed.

Remember that _time_ is the precious talent for which you must account
to God; and if you find yourselves indulging in listless inactivity, or
tempted to engage in employments of no practical use, _remember your
account to God_. _Be in a habit_ of inquiring when you commence any
employment, “Is there any thing I can do, more useful than this?” And do
not be satisfied till you have settled the question, that you are doing
all the good you can.

22. Attempt by your efforts and example, to raise the standard of piety
and activity. If all who are now commencing the Christian life, should
make this an object, and not fall into the temptation which professed
christians so often set before the lambs of the flock, the church would
indeed soon rise before the world, “fair as the moon, clear as the sun,
and terrible as an army with banners.”

Resolve to be an example to those who ought to be an example to you, and
take the bible, and the _bible only_, for your guide in forming christian
character.

23. Be active in promoting all benevolent objects. Make it an object to
prepare to lead with propriety in all social devotional duties. At this
period, when prayer and effort must unite in hastening the great day of
the Lord, let every young christian learn to guide the devotions of
others, as well as to lift up his own private supplication. There is
nothing which so much promotes the “brotherly love,” required in the
bible, and nothing which so much promotes union of effort and interest,
as social prayer: and every one who commences religious life, should
aim to be prepared to perform such duties with propriety; and should
stimulate others to engage in them.

24. Do not hesitate in the performance of all the _external_ duties of
a christian, because you do not find satisfactory evidence that your
_feelings_ are right.

Religious duty consists of two parts—feeling and action,—and because we
find great deficiency in one respect, we surely ought not to neglect
the whole. It is as unreasonable, as it would be, not to attempt to
_feel right_ till every _external_ duty was perfectly performed. If we
are dissatisfied with our evidence, let us go on and _do_ every thing
that a christian should do, as the most hopeful way to _produce_ right
_feelings_. We surely cannot hope to bring our hearts right by neglecting
our outward duties.

Go forward then, and take a stand as an _active_ christian, and if your
hearts are not right with God, you may be sure you are in less danger in
taking this course than in neglecting it.

25. Under special difficulties, or when in great need of, or great
longings after, any particular mercy, for yourself or others, set apart
a day for secret prayer and fasting by yourself alone; and let the day
be spent, not only in petitions for the mercies you desire, but in
searching your heart, and in looking over your past life, and confessing
your sins before God, not as is wont to be done in public prayer, but
by a very particular rehearsal, before God, of the sins of your past
life, from your childhood hitherto, before and after conversion, with
the circumstances and aggravations attending them, spreading all the
abominations of your heart, very particularly, and fully as possible,
before him.

26. Remember that the principal duty of a christian, as it respects
others, is to excite them to the _immediate performance_ of their
religious duty.

Our Lord Jesus Christ appears to have intended that through the
instrumentality of Christians, the perishing may be saved. There is no
christian but can find some _one_ mind at least, over which he can have
some influence; and if we can do _any thing_ to save others from eternal
death, nothing should for a moment prevent our attempting it.

But to perform our duty faithfully in this respect, requires both
discretion, and some knowledge derived from the experience of others.
The following hints, therefore, are added as the result of long
experience and observation, and as a sort of guide to those who may be
anxious to save a soul from death.

Let your _first_ object be to persuade your friend to give an earnest and
immediate attention to the subject. Serious remarks upon religion, do not
produce much effect, unless some _direct object_ is had in view.

Urge the immediate duty of giving the affections of the heart to God.
Show them that if they will only love God, they will then feel their
guilt in refusing to obey him, and will greatly desire to live for his
glory. If they will only love their God and Saviour, they will feel that
they can trust in the merits of his atoning blood. Do not, for a moment,
allow them to feel that performing the outward duties of religion, is
doing any thing to recommend them to God, but is only a _means_ of making
them feel more deeply their immediate obligation to give the affections
of their hearts to him, and of realizing the reasonableness of his
holy law which requires it. Speak to them as if you really _felt_ that
there was no need of any delay, but that they could immediately perform
what God requires; and in order to do this, endeavour to have a deep
and realizing sense of this truth yourself. If they complain of their
inability, or of the difficulty they find in performing their duty, show
them that it is because they have so long forgotten and neglected God,
that though it has really become difficult, it is a difficulty they have
made for themselves, and which is an addition to their guilt. Show them
that whatever the difficulty is, they can overcome it; for God never
requires of his creatures, what they cannot perform, and his standing
unalterable law is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy
heart.” Remember always that the more clearly, constantly, and forcibly
the truth is presented to any mind that will attend to it, the more hope
there is that it will be obeyed.

One caution however, needs to be added, and that is, that when it becomes
apparent that the mind _will not_ be brought to attend to the subject;
when you find that the efforts become wearisome and unpleasant, always
_cease for a while_, and wait for another time, or else you will do more
harm than good. Persevering after this will only affect their minds with
disgust and aversion towards a subject to which they have resolved they
will not attend.

Another caution is also important. Always _speak kindly and
affectionately_ to friends upon this subject; and if you find all your
efforts vain, though you cease to urge neglected duty, still continue
to express the same kindness and interest for them. Do not give them
occasion to feel that, because they will not take your advice, you have
cast them off as reprobates, and no longer desire their society. We may
still continue to love the amiable natural traits of our friends, even
though we find that they refuse to have them crowned and beautified by
religion. Let all your efforts for the good of others be accompanied by
earnest and constant prayer.

Lastly, do not be discouraged because you find that you are _very
deficient in any of the particulars specified_.

Remember, that Christian life is a _warfare_, and that it is only at
the _end_ that we are to come off conquerors and more than conquerors.
Remember, that He whom you are striving to serve and please, is not a
hard master. Though you have been inexcusable in fostering habits of
neglect, and all the difficulties you find are of your own making, yet he
can be “touched with the feeling of your infirmities.” When he sees that
you really are afflicted because you are so constantly tempted to forget
him, he pities you “as a father pitieth his children;” and so long as you
see the means he has appointed to keep you from sin, and wait upon him
for strength and guidance, he will never leave nor forsake you. When you
feel your own strength and resolution failing, go to him who hath said,
“my grace is sufficient for thee, and my strength shall be made perfect
in weakness.” Call upon him, “and he will be very gracious unto the voice
of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. And thine ears
shall hear a word behind thee, saying, this is the way, walk ye therein,
when ye turn to the right and when ye turn to the left.” Remember also,
that the conflict is short; the race will speedily be accomplished—soon
your deficiencies and guilt shall pain you no more—soon you shall “see
him as he is,” and “awake in his likeness and be satisfied therewith.”



LETTER

TO A YOUNG LADY AT THE OUTSET OF A RELIGIOUS LIFE.


My dear young Friend,—As your mind becomes more enlightened in the
knowledge of divine things, I am sure you will ever find fresh cause
to wonder at the goodness of God. The contemplation of his character
is a theme of never-ending delight; and in proportion as we discover
our own worthlessness and guilt, we shall likewise have the brighter
manifestations of his unspeakable excellence. And it is most profitable
to cultivate such inquiries; for, the more we are impressed with the
infinite holiness and purity of God, our hatred to sin will increase.
This, again, directly leads to the promotion of genuine humility, and
lively gratitude, and unfeigned piety. We are humbled to the dust when
we think of “the rock from whence we are hewn;” that we are the apostate
children of apostate parents: still more so when we feel the awful
aggravation of our guilt, in having wilfully forsaken and estranged
ourselves from a God, whose peculiar characteristic is love; a God,
who, in spite of all our rebellions against his authority, and all our
violations of his law, and all our contempt of his gracious warnings, is
yet ready to extend his merciful forgiveness, and to restore his lost
favour to every penitent and returning sinner. I have often considered
the following passages from the prophecies of Isaiah, as a most engaging
and encouraging delineation of Divine goodness; “Therefore will the
Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you; and therefore will he
be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you.” The most hardened and
abandoned criminal is often melted into tenderness by the compassionate
sympathy of the person whom he has offended. He not only humbly confesses
his guilt, but is overwhelmed with grateful, joyful surprise. So it
frequently happens, when the sinner, convinced of his guilt, first
discovers that the great God against whom he has been offending all his
life long, is actually waiting that he may be gracious; and is exalted
on a throne of mercy, as it were, for the very purpose of dispensing the
blessings of forgiveness. “The goodness of God leads him to repentance:”
and then, with the most affectionate humility, at once he leaves off his
rebellion, enlists himself into the service of so kind a Master, and,
with the newly converted Paul, exclaims, “Lord what wouldest thou have
me to do?” This devoted attachment kindles into acts of open and decided
piety. He feels his unspeakable obligations to redeeming love; and these
obligations are ever acquiring fresh strength, as he grows in a more
thorough knowledge of the “desperate wickedness” of his own heart: he
loves much, because much has been forgiven.

I doubt not but the workings of your own experience have some
correspondence with those I have described. You have now been happily led
to flee from the wrath to come, and to embrace Christ crucified as all
your salvation. But on the retrospect of former years, does it not strike
you with amazement that God did not “cut you down as a cumberer of the
ground?” that he did not inflict the awful curse which your unceasing
provocations had so justly incurred? that he persevered so long in a
course of tender forbearance? and, above all, that at last he should fix
upon you as a special object of his clemency, and “pluck you as a brand
from the burning?” You must ascribe all the change in your condition—the
condemnation from which you are rescued, and the blessings to which you
are exalted—to the free, unsought, and unmerited love of God in Christ
Jesus. O, my friend! let the range of your meditations often run in this
direction. It will take eternity itself to unfold the manifold wisdom,
and the matchless love of God, in the redemption of your soul; but, O!
begin the work at present, and let the beginning and the ending of your
reflections and your praise be, “Hear what the Lord hath done for me.”
Delight yourself in the Lord. It is, indeed, an interesting employment
to think on the glories of his person, the excellences of his character,
and the wisdom of all his dispensations, especially in reference to
yourself. It will expand your mind with the most sacred delight. It will,
unconsciously, cultivate a spirit of prayer and devotion; and in thus
holding communion with God, you will experience that “fulness of joy,”
which nothing earthly can bestow.

But, alas! methinks I can anticipate your lamentations. Are you not
desirous of telling me, that through the deceitfulness of sin, you are
often beguiled of your privileges, and robbed of those spiritual comforts
for which your soul pants? It is your wish to love God from every
consideration, but especially because he commended his love towards you,
in that, while you were a sinner, Christ died for you. It is your wish
to live in communion with your God, and to follow after that holiness
without which no man shall see his face. But your imaginations are full
of vanity, and your best endeavours after heavenly meditation are
interrupted and marred by the frequent intrusion of evil thoughts. All
this may be true enough in your case; for I firmly believe it accords
with the experience even of the most advanced Christians. But allow me to
say, that while you thus groan under the burden of remaining corruption,
and are grieved on account of your natural aversion to what is good,
you have reason to bless God for making you _feel_ your proneness to
evil, and teaching you that your _entire_ dependence must be on his
promised grace. At the same time that you confess and mourn over your
imperfections, are you not powerfully affected with a sense of the
Divine long-suffering, in bearing with them, and in even sympathizing
with you under them; and in the readiness with which our gracious God
condescends to help the infirmities, and supply all the wants of his
people? In short, as you grow in grace, you will always find growing
cause to humble yourself on account of your manifold short-comings, and
to exalt the Saviour for the riches of his grace and love, so freely,
so suitably, and so abundantly conferred. This is the tendency of the
whole gospel dispensation. The sinner is nothing, and can do nothing.
Christ Jesus is all in all. The blessings which he died to purchase, and
now for ever lives to bestow, are inestimable in their nature, infinite
in their extent, and eternal in their duration. O, amazing boon! And
these blessings are offered without money and without price. They are a
gift, a free gift; the gift of the great eternal God to the creatures
of his own formation: the gift of the heavenly Father to children who
are unconsciously upheld by his power, and fed by his bounty, and loaded
with his benefits from day to day. What condescension! what love! And
yet, strange to tell, both the Giver and the gift are alike despised
by blinded, degraded, ungrateful man! This is a most affecting and
humiliating view of human nature. But is it not a just one? We cannot
look around us without perceiving innumerable proofs of its truth.
Nor can even the renewed mind of a Christian free itself from the sad
accusation of undervaluing that great salvation, which nothing could
accomplish but the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of
God. How then shall those escape who despise the proffered mercy? Solemn
consideration!

But study you, my dear young friend, to keep yourself in the love of
God. Live habitually under the influence of your own unworthiness, and
of his unspeakable goodness. God is love: it is your duty to love him in
return, with _all_ your heart and soul. See that you never forget what
he has done to save you from everlasting perdition, and to raise you to
glory, and honour, and immortality. Remember the infinite obligations
under which you are laid; and let it be your constant aim to walk in his
ways, and to keep his commandments; to serve him with a willing mind;
to glorify him with your body and your spirit, which are his. Nor will
you ever find that this is a hard service. On the contrary, the nearer
you live to God, you will enjoy the larger measure of that “peace which
passeth all understanding.”



MEMENTO OF AFFECTION.

FROM CHRISTIAN PASTORS, TO THOSE WHO, UNDER THEIR CARE, HAVE COMMENCED A
RELIGIOUS LIFE: IN THE LANGUAGE OF THE SCRIPTURES.


To them who have obtained like precious faith with us, through the
righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

We thank our God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer
of ours, making request for you with joy. Being confident of this very
thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you, will perform it unto
the day of Jesus Christ. Even as it is meet for us to think this of you
all, because we have you in our heart. For, ye remember our labour, how
we exhorted, and comforted, and charged, every one of you, as a father
does his children; and we were with you in weakness, and in fear, and
in much trembling; and our exhortation was not of deceit, nor in guile;
neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know; nor of men
sought we glory, neither of you. But we were gentle among you, even as a
nurse cherisheth her children; so being affectionately desirous of you,
we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only,
but our own souls also, because ye were dear unto us.

Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we
should be called the _children of God_. For you hath he quickened, who
were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein, in times past, ye walked
according to the course of this world according to the prince of the
power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of
disobedience; among whom _we all_ had our conversation in times past,
fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature
the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for
his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins,
hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together,
and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. For ye
_were_ as sheep going astray, but now are returned unto the shepherd and
bishop of your souls.

Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children, and walk worthy of
the vocation whereby ye are called. For ye were sometimes darkness, but
now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of the light. If then ye
be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ
sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above,
not on things on the earth. For all that is in the world, the lust of
the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of the
Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust
thereof; but he that doth the will of God abideth for ever. And this is
the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith. Who is he that
overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of
God? And Jesus saith, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no
man cometh unto the Father but by me. If a man love me, he will keep my
commandments, and my father will love him, and we will come unto him, and
make our abode with him. This is my commandment, that ye love one another
as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay
down his life for his friends—Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I
command you.” If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. For
every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of
him. And by this we know that we love the children of God, when we love
God and keep his commandments. For _this is the love of God_, that we
_keep his commandments_. And we have known and believed the love which
God hath towards us.—God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth
in God, and God in him. Know ye not that your bodies are the temple of
the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God? And ye are not
your own, but are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your
bodies, and in your spirits, which are his.

_Search the scriptures_, for in them ye have eternal life. For the
entrance of that word giveth light, and giveth understanding to the
simple. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the
testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of
the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandments of the Lord are
pure, enlightening the eyes; more to be desired are they than gold, yea
than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and the honey comb. Let the
word of God, therefore, _dwell_ in you _richly_, teaching and admonishing
one another, in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace
in your heart to the Lord.

_Pray without ceasing_; in _every thing_, by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of
God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds
through Christ Jesus.

_But of the times and seasons_, ye need not that we write unto you, for
ye know Him that hath said, “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work, but the seventh day is
the sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Blessed is the man that doeth this,
and the son of man that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it. And if
thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, and from doing thy pleasure
on my holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord,
honourable, and shall honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding
thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words, then shalt thou delight
thyself in the Lord. Exhort one another daily while it is called to-day,
lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin; not
forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is.

_Be not conformed to the world_, but be ye transformed by the renewing
of your minds. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth
and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay
up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth
corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal. For where your
treasure is, there will your heart be also. Love not the world, neither
the things of the world. If any man love the world, the love of the
Father is not in him. No man can serve two masters, for either he will
hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and
despise the other.—Ye cannot serve God and mammon.—Hear now what the Lord
saith; “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of
me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me;
and whosoever doth not _bear his cross_ and come after me, cannot be my
disciple.”

_Beloved, believe not every spirit_, but _try_ the spirits whether they
be of God; for they are not all Israel, that are of Israel; for many
walk, of whom we have told you often, and now tell you even weeping,
who are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose
glory is their shame, who mind earthly things. Not every one that saith
unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that
_doeth_ the will of my father which is in heaven.—Ye shall know them by
their fruits.

In all things show yourselves a pattern of good works, that they of
a contrary part may have no evil thing to say of you. Be not wise in
your own conceits, for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to
the humble. For the wisdom that cometh from above is first pure, then
peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits,
without partiality, and without hypocrisy. Be kindly affectionate one
to another, in honour preferring one another. Be not desirous of vain
glory, provoking one another, envying one another. How can ye believe,
which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour which cometh
from God only. Be content with such things as ye have, for godliness with
contentment, is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and it
is certain we can carry nothing out, and having food and raiment, let us
be therewith content. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they
be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God,
who giveth us richly all things to enjoy. That they do good, that they be
rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.

Let your _conversation_ be as becometh the gospel of Christ. Let no
corrupt communications proceed out of your mouth; neither foolish talking
nor jesting. Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an
account thereof in the day of judgment; for by thy words thou shalt be
justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. Speak evil of no
man, let your speech be always with grace, that ye may know how to answer
every man. Bear ye one another’s burdens; have compassion one of another,
be pitiful, be courteous. Your adorning, let it not be that outward
adorning of wearing gold, or of putting on of apparel, but let it be the
hidden man of the heart; even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit,
which is, in the sight of God, of great price. And whatsoever things are
pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report,
think on these things.

Wherefore, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so
easily beset us, and let us run with patience, the race that is set
before us. Looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith,
who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising
the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For ye
have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our
infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without
sin. Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out
of the way, for in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is
able to succour them that are. Trust in him at all times; pour out your
heart before him; and he will be very gracious at the voice of your cry:
when he shall hear it, he will answer. And he will feed his flock like
a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in
his bosom. And forget not the exhortation that speaketh unto you as unto
children, “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, neither faint
when thou art rebuked of him.” For whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth,
and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. For our light afflictions,
which are but for a moment, work out for us a far more exceeding and
eternal weight of glory.

For ye are not come to the mount which might be touched, and that burned
with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and a tempest; but ye
are come unto mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly
Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general
assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to
God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to
Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling,
that speaketh better things than that of Abel. Having, therefore, these
promises, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation
and godliness.

Therefore, dearly beloved, our joy and our crown, so stand fast in the
Lord, our dearly beloved. For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
And what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy
wherewith we joy for your sakes, before our God. For what is our hope,
and joy, and crown of rejoicing? are not even ye in the presence of the
Lord? For the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice
of an archangel, and with the trump of God. Then we shall be caught up
together to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall be ever with the
Lord. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.

Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you
faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy; to the
only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both
now and ever. Amen.



AM I A NEW CREATURE?


“If any man be in Christ,” says the Apostle, “he is a new creature.” In
the first part of this sentence it is more than intimated, that some men
are not in Christ, are not true Christians. Such was the fact in the days
of the Apostle; such it is now. There still are enemies to the cross of
Christ. There still are open opposers, decent objectors, and multitudes
thoroughly indifferent to Christ and heaven, the soul and eternity. We
see them all around us. The world is full of them. In the straight and
narrow path that leadeth heavenward, only infrequent prints of the feet
of travellers are to be seen; while the broad road is thronged by an
unnumbered multitude, regardless whence they came, and whither they are
going.

The few who have chosen to desert their companions in folly and sin, and
become Christian pilgrims, in search of a heavenly city, are called by
the Apostle “new creatures.” This, and other language of similar import,
the sacred writers frequently employ, to describe a regenerate state,
a transformation from the complete dominion of sin to the dominion of
holiness. Every truly converted soul is turned from darkness to light,
and from the power of Satan unto God. This is no eastern allegory,
no oriental fiction, no dream of a disordered fancy, but the simple
statement of a tremendously important fact—a fact, which, whether
regarded or not, takes fast hold on the interests of the soul, and the
destinies of eternity.

The new birth, the new creation in Christ Jesus, regeneration, &c. are
words of strange and unimaginable import to many minds. And well they
may be. These persons know little about them, and what little they
suppose they know, is often any thing but truth. They may talk but they
do not understand. They may fancy, but fancy and fact are seldom at one.

Notwithstanding the mystery which, in the view of many, hangs over this
subject, to the honest and humble mind it may be simplified and rendered
intelligible; and this is what I shall now attempt.

The new creation produces no change in any of our bodily or mental
_faculties_. The subject of it sees with the same eyes, hears with the
same ears, and labours with the same hands, which he had before. Neither
is the sight of his literal eye, nor the hearing of his ear, nor the
vigour of his hand strengthened. The same also may be said as to any
change of his _mental_ faculties. No person, by becoming spiritually a
new creature, receives a new understanding, or a new imagination, or a
new memory, conscience, or faculty of choice. His mental faculties may
indeed be invigorated, through the influence of the Spirit, and by a
proper use; still, they are not essentially changed.—In what, then, does
the great change of which we are speaking consist? In what respects is
the subject of it a new creature?

Man, in the full extent of his capacities and affections, possesses
something more than mere organs by which to look abroad upon the earth,
and hear the voice of his fellow man, and procure subsistence for his
perishing body. He is something more than a mental being, who can
recollect, and reason, and imagine. He can wish as well as see; desire
as well as hear; love as well as recollect; hate as well as reason;
choose and refuse as well as imagine. The existence of powers and
faculties, corporeal and mental, is comparatively a small matter. _How
are they employed_—is the great question. How does a man feel? What are
his affections? What are his principles? What is his practice? These are
questions which go deep into the soul, and discover what a man is, in the
sight of Him who looketh on the heart, and cannot be deceived.

I say, then, with reference to the point before us, that the truly
regenerate soul has _a new object of supreme affection_.

Formerly self was first and last with him. Morning, noon, and night,—in
youth and manhood, and declining years,—at home, and abroad, in the
church and in the field, seeking property or bestowing it on the
destitute, in health and in sickness, in life and in death, the
unregenerate heart pours forth its highest affections upon self. If
it looks upward to God and abroad to his kingdom, these are regarded
as secondary objects. He cannot think complacently of God, as ruling
for himself, for the display of his perfections, for the manifestation
of his character, and as making the impenitent sinner illustrate that
character throughout the universe and through eternity. Such thoughts,
if they force themselves into his mind, are unwelcome intruders, and
are banished, as you would drive from your house a suspected guest, who
you feared would rob you of your treasures, and deprive you of life.
Just so it is with self. Whatever it suspects as inimical to its little,
paltry ends, it eyes with suspicion and fixed hostility, and opposes
with all the vigour that sin and Satan can impart. God, his character,
his government, his perfections, his will,—these are objects that cross
the path and thwart the purposes of self. Both cannot be first. ‘Ye
will love the one and hate the other.’ This is the irreversible law of
man’s moral nature.—The selfish person may for a time be ignorant of
his selfishness, and may think himself actuated by noble, generous,
disinterested views; but even when the wrappers are taken off, and his
true character is revealed, still, he will continue to love himself.
Still, he will dread and hate the holy character and government of
Jehovah.

But he is a _new creature_. That Divine character, once so hateful, is
now lovely; that government once so dreaded, is seen to be established
in wisdom and goodness; while those perfections, once odious, break
forth and beam out with a heavenly splendour, the source of joy and of
unfailing confidence to all holy beings. ‘Be thou exalted, O God, above
the heavens. Let thy glory be above all the earth.’—Truly this is a
great and wonderful change. ‘Old things have passed away; all things have
become new.’ The principle, which ran through and actuated the whole
man—the entire mass of his moral nature, has been changed, renewed,
supplanted. A new and hitherto unknown principle has entered the heart,
from which the former occupant has fled abashed. The ground, formerly
overgrown with the weeds and tares of selfishness, now brings forth,
under divine culture, the fruits of holiness,—one of the first of which
is supreme love to God, itself the seed, the germinant principle, the
proof, the pledge, of all the rest.—It may be said then with perfect
truth, that when a man becomes a Christian, he has a _new God_,—a new
object of supreme regard, affection, and veneration. Self formerly
occupied the throne; but self is now upon the footstool and in the dust
that covers it, while God, his Maker, Redeemer, and Judge, is enthroned
in his rightful supremacy.

The regenerate man is a new creature, because _he has a new rule of duty_.

Formerly his own inclination, his own will, provided there was no outward
impediment which prevented, directed his actions. Who does not wish to
gratify his own desires? Who would not do it if he could?

But here is a _new creature_. The first question the new born soul puts
forth, is that of Saul, ‘Lord, what _wilt thou_ have me to do?’ The
will of another being, a being invisible to human eye, impalpable to
human touch, whose literal voice no man hears, is now the rule of duty
to the new creature. The law of God takes the place of man’s desires,
wishes, and propensities. He who formerly took council of his own selfish
heart, now yields to the revealed word; he who once sought to please
himself, now seeks to obey his heavenly Master; he who followed his own
headlong propensities, now holds them in check, while he consults the
lively and life-giving oracles of truth. And these utter no uncertain,
ambiguous responses, but plainly point out the path of duty, which, to
the regenerate man, is the path of peace.

The unregenerate man, on becoming a true Christian, exhibits a marked
novelty, a noticeable transformation of character, in the trait here
specified. He puts aside his old rules of duty, whether they were his
own will, or supposed advantage, or the maxims of the world; and, in
place of them, adopts God’s law as the standard by which to estimate his
character, mould his affections, and regulate his conduct. This is a
great change, very great; greater far than most people imagine.—Reader,
Do _you_ know what it implies? Are you ready to adopt the will of God as
your rule of duty? You must do it, or you can never be a new creature.
Heaven and hell turn on this pivot. Let God’s will govern; and holiness,
heaven, peace in life, triumph in death, and joys, which eye hath not
seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, are yours. Follow
your own will, in opposition to that of God, and you shut yourself out
from Heaven, cut yourself off from all holy affections, and poison the
fountains of life in your soul. You deprive yourself of all certain
present peace, plant thorns in your dying pillow, and make the final
Judge your eternal enemy, murder hope, and shut yourself up in the prison
of despair.

What can be more proper than that a creature of yesterday and liable to
err, should look up to his Creator, who is from eternity to eternity,
and who cannot err, for instruction and guidance? Would it be proper that
children scarcely out of the cradle, should follow their short-sighted
and perverse whims, rather than the kind and wise commands of their
experienced parents? Your child has lived three years. You have lived
thirty. Surely it is proper that the child of three should be directed by
the parent of thirty years. And is there no propriety that the creature
of thirty should be directed by the all wise and eternal Creator? The
simple statement of the subject carries home conviction to every mind
with irresistible force.

Another distinctive trait of the new creature is, _new views of man’s
native character_.

The moral, reputable, but impenitent man, may, by reading, by observation
and reflection, become convinced that something is wrong about man—very
wrong. He may see that unhesitating truth, and fearless honesty, and
straight forward integrity are but seldom to be met with. He may know
that pride, and vanity, and jealousy, and envy, and suspicion, and anger,
weave a large portion of the web of human life. He may call falsehood
contemptible, and intemperance beastly. He may acknowledge that laws
are necessary to intimidate, that judges and courts are required to
convict, and that prisons and penitentiaries are indispensable to confine
the thief and the robber. All this presents to his mind a dark picture
of human life and character. But then he contemplates another part of
the picture, and finds some relief. He sees the kindlier sympathies of
our nature discovering themselves in various forms. He sees conjugal,
parental and filial affection warm and vigorous in many bosoms, and the
sight is pleasing. But he does not see that the father and mother and
child may all be supremely selfish, while exhibiting the generous natural
affections. He does not see, at least he is not apt to see, that all
these and similar principles of human conduct come under that description
of which the Saviour said, ‘Verily I say unto you, they have their
reward.’ There is no holiness in them. They do not spring from holiness;
they do not produce holiness. Who thinks when he sees the red-breast
bearing in its bill food for its young, that the bird is holy? Yet has it
not affection for its young? Is not the sight pleasant? Others must have
different feelings from mine, if it be not so. Often have I watched the
efforts and parental solicitude of the warblers of the woods, and admired
the wisdom of the God of nature, who feedeth the young ravens when they
cry. Is the fond mother, rocking her sleeping infant, and smiling as it
smiles, therefore holy? Is her love to her child necessarily connected
with love to God, and with penitence for her sins? There are those that
tell us that these natural and kindly affections, of which, (were we
destitute,) we should be below the very brutes, are proof and exhibition
of holiness! ‘Blind leaders of the blind!’

But here is a _new creature_. He sees, that the most amiable unrenewed
men, in all their moral, accountable exercises, are sinful, only sinful,
and sinful without any mixture of holiness. Once he did not believe
this. It was a harsh and uncomfortable view of the human character and
condition. Or if he did believe it, as a doctrine too plainly revealed to
be doubted, still it was a bare intellectual assent to a repulsive dogma
of revelation. But now it comes home to his bosom, as a truth of awful,
personal import. ‘I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but
now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore _I abhor myself, and repent in dust
and ashes_.

Truly, here is a great change. He who exalted now abases; he who excused
now convicts; he who justified now condemns, himself. He who rose in
opposition to God’s laws, now rejoices to submit to them. He who raised
objections, sought out difficulties, and uttered complaints of injustice
and partiality, now ascribes righteousness to his Maker, and takes shame
to himself. He sees, realizes, and feels through his whole soul, that the
only difficulty was in an impenitent, selfish, unhumbled, unholy heart,
that, knowing its Lord’s will, would not do it. The truly regenerate man
knows, by an evidence of consciousness and personal feeling equal to
demonstration, that the natural heart is enmity to God. He has felt this
enmity in his own heart, and he knows that, as in a glass face answereth
to face, so does the heart of man to man.

The new creature has _a new foundation for his hope of acceptance with
God_.

Formerly he was as good as his neighbours. He was no hypocrite. He did
not make any great pretensions to religion, it is true, but he was honest
in his dealings, kind to the poor, and ready to do what he could to
relieve the suffering and deliver the oppressed. Or if his circumstances
did not admit of his really _doing_ this, he was disposed to do it. Had
he possessed the means, he certainly should have done it; and he who
looketh on the heart and requires only according to what a man hath, will
readily take the will for the deed.—Some make a great merit of their
sobriety. They are not intemperate, not dishonest, not profane, respect
the Sabbath, read their Bibles, have read them for a long time, attend
meeting regularly:—surely, putting all this together, their characters
must stand fair, and their hopes be good.

But here is a _new creature_. He no longer compares himself with his
neighbour. He examines himself by the law of God, and he cries ‘Woe is
me, for I am undone; I have broken God’s holy laws, and there is no
health, no strength, no soundness in me. I am guilty. I am ruined.’ His
honesty, integrity, and kindness, his attention to the means of grace,
his attendance in the sanctuary, his reading of God’s word, all his
feelings and actions are now seen to be defiled. He can no longer look
to them for hope. He turns away from these refuges of lies, and flies to
the hope set before him in the gospel. He no longer balances his good
deeds against his defective ones. He no longer attempts to number his
benevolent actions and weigh his holy desires. He feels that he never
did a good deed, not one; that he never performed a benevolent action,
not one; that he never entertained a right feeling, not one. In the light
which heaven pours down upon his book of debt and credit, which he has
been keeping so long, astonished he perceives, that the sum total of his
life stands against him in characters black with sin. He despairs of all
hope from himself. His own fancied merit, the idol so long worshipped,
now is a burden of sin that would sink him to perdition, were there
not outstretched a divine arm to rescue him from impending ruin, and
raise him to hope and peace. He turns, self-loathing, to the cross of
Christ, and sees that thereon only can a sinner like him hang his hope
of forgiveness and heaven. It is the blood of Christ, applied to his
accusing conscience, that alone can calm his agitation, and speak peace
to his troubled soul.

Here, then, is a great change. Every thing else is renounced as a ground
of hope before God, but Christ and his cross. Truly, the regenerate man
is a new creature. He has a new Saviour. Jesus, formerly a despised
Nazarene, deserving none of his confidence or love, is now his Lord and
his God. ‘Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become
new.’

Reader, is it so with you? Is self, or God, your object of supreme love?
Is your own will, or the will of God, your rule of duty? Do you think
yourself commendable or abominable in the sight of God? Do you trust to
your own merit for salvation, or do you see and deeply feel, that it is
only by repentance for sin, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that any
can be saved?


THE END.





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