Page images

Lord is gracious, is not enough to satisfy him. He will ever remain unsatisfied till be reaches the fountain-head, and drinks to the full of the river of life, which flows from the throne of God and the Lamb. The more he sees of the evil of sin, the more he desires to see. The more he hates it, the more he desires to hate it. The more he sees of him. self, the more he abhors himself, and the more does he desire to abhor himself. The more he is emptied of himself, the more does he desire to be emptied of himself; the more he desires to become poor in spirit, to feel that he is cut off from every hope, and to rest on Christ alone. The more he is engaged in duty, the more delight he finds in performing it. The more severe his conflict with the enemy, the harder he presses it, and the more vigorous his resolution to maintain it to the last

There are some things in which the in. crease of grace is more visible, both to the world and the subject, than others. Partic.. ularly have the people of God less and less confidence in themselves. They cherish an. increasing sense of their dependence. They have been so often disappointed in their false confidences, that they have in some good measure become weaned from them. They know, by bitter experience, the folly of trusting to themselves, They have learned that the way of inan is not in himself; that it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. The independent, self-sufficient spirit of the car.

nal heart is broken down. They walk by faith, and not by sight. They daily taste the sweetness of that heavenly precept, "in all thy ways acknowledge God, and he shall direct thy paths: Cast all your care on the Lord, for He careth for you."

They are more and more patient in sufferings. The more they are accustomed to the yoke, the less do they repine under the weight of it.

They are also more and more charitable in their opinions of others. Young Christians are too often very uncharitable and censorious. They are more apt to take notice of the infirmities of their brethren, than their graces, and the infirmities of others, than their own.

But the more they know of them. selves, the more reason do they see to exercise charity toward others. They fear to judge, lest they themselves should be also judged. They walk with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love.

They have also the more full government of their passions. They are slow to wrath.

They are more and more punctual in the performance of the relative duties. Young Christians are apt to neglect them. They suffer the duties they owe immediately to God, to swallow up those that belong to their neighbor. But as they advance in the divine life, they become more uniforin in the exercise of grace, and more punctual in the discharge of all duty. They do not love God

[ocr errors]

less, but they love their fellow-men more. As they grow more fervent and more constant in their devotional exercises, so they become more circumspect, and unexceptionable in their intercourse with the world.

Perhaps there is no one point in which growth in grace is more visible, than in that harmony and consistency of character, wbich are too often wanting in young Christians, but which shine with so much beauty in those who are advanced in the Christian course.

In every thing that belongs to the exceldence of real religion, the true believer is in a state of progression. He seeks and strives, he wrestles and fights. He is ever aiming at the prize. View him in the early part of the divine life; follow him through the various stages of his progress; and you will find, that notwithstanding all his doubts and declensions, he makes a gradual advance. He does not feel, he does not act as though he bad already attained, either were already perfect; but he follows after, if he may apprehend that for which also he is apprehended of Christ Jesus."

“This ONE THING I do," says Paul, “forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forth to those that are before, I -press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God 'in Christ Jesus." Where is the Christian, that does not mako the spirit of the Apostle his own? Tell me, ye who have just begun the heavenly race;

tell me, ye who are verging toward the goal; was there ever a Christian, that felt satisfied with present attainments? Is not the unvarying voice, both of early and long-tried piety, responsive to the language of Paul? Yes, reader, it is both the highest point of Christian experience, and the clearest evidence of Christian character, to PRESS FORWARD. The disciple of Jesus desires to be perfeet; to be more and more conformed to the image of Christ. He presses after this. It is his grand inquiry, how to be, and how to live, more like a child of God.

Mark the way of the upright. As you trace his steps through this dreary pilgrimage, sometimes he wanders from the patlı; sometimes he halts and tires. His progress is far from being uniformly rapid, and often far from being perceptible, cither by himself or others. Sometimes his motion is re. trograde. There are seasons when, instead of advancing, he is the subject of great defection. Still it is true, that on the whole, ke advances. If you compare his present state and character with what they were a considerable length of time past, you will find that he has made gradual progress. I know there are seasons-dark and gloomy seasons, seasons of guilt and declension when the real Christian will make this comparison at the expense of his hopes. Be it

Seasons of guilt and declension, ought to be seasons of darkness. I know too that there are seasons, when he is liable to dis


couragement, because he does not always experience that light and joy which crowned the day of his espousals. This is a serious error. There is a glow of affection, a flush of joy, which is felt by the young convert, as he is just ushered into the world of

grace, which perhaps may not be felt at any future period of his life. And you cannot from this draw the inference that he has made no 'advance. All this may be true, while there is a power of feeling, a strength of affection, in the saint who has passed through the wilderness and knows the trials of the way, to which the young convert is a stranger. As he ascends the mount, his eye is fixed; his step is more vigorous; and his path brighter and brighter. He remembers his devious steps, and how he traced them back with tears. But the trials of the way are forgotten. He is rising to that brightness of purity, which sheds the lustre of eternity” on his character, and aiming at the crown of righteousness which fadeth not away.

Here then is another test of the genuineness of your religion. I am aware that it is

But it is one which bears the seal of truth; and we must not shrink from it. Professing Christians are apt to place too much confidence on their past experience, and think little of the present; to think much on what they imagine to have been their conversion, their first work, and then give up the business of self-examination, and allow themselves to droop and decline.

a severe one.

« PreviousContinue »