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and for earnest resolve, in Divine strength, to correct what is amiss, and to avoid the occasion of past disobedience? It is in this way that self-examination will minister to that watchful circumspection which in its turn will contribute to advancement in holiness; or, in other words, to growth in grace.
One remark with respect to the frequency with which self-examination ought to be performed: surely no one who is eager to preserve a high degree of spirituality, and to grow in the Divine life, will readily let a single day pass without some scrutiny at its close as to the prevailing bent of his thoughts, words, and actions.
The evening sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving should be combined with meditation and self-inquiry. Special seasons naturally demand, however, a more diligent and careful exercise of its duty. From time to time it is well, therefore, to enter upon its discharge with greater minuteness. Such periods will naturally sug
gest themselves to any reflecting mind. The recurrence of special anniversaries may fitly be turned to profitable account for this purpose: the close of a year, or the commencement of a fresh term of earthly existence, seem fitting periods for some special inquiry, How have we advanced in our spiritual pilgrimage ? — nearer to eternity, are we riper for heaven? The Apostle's precept points to sacramental seasons as also appropriate for more than ordinary diligence in selfscrutiny. The weekly return of the sabbath may be embraced as a period peculiarly fitted for careful self-examination, and earnest resolve to cleave with full purpose of heart to the Lord.
But oh, how fruitless will all these endeavours prove — how utterly ineffectual to advance our spiritual progress, except as we continually recognise our need of the Spirit's help! It is man's part to spread the sail, but the breath of heaven must swell the canvass and waft the vessel onward. Dear
brethren, I long for you each to feel more and more of your dependence upon the Holy Spirit. What are all means without his energising presence ? They are but as empty forms, and worse than unprofitable ceremonies. Blessed be God, however, He can make any mean effectual to accomplish mighty results. He can transform the most barren wilderness into the fertile and luxuriant garden, making the desert to blossom as the rose. He can eradicate the most deeplyrooted corruption, elevate the most debased form of human nature, purify the most corrupt heart, and sanctify the most rebellious will. When He wrought by the preaching of Peter, three thousand souls were converted in one day. Wheresoever His presence abides, though, like the wind, we may hear the sound thereof but know not whence it comes nor whither it goes, the effects will appear in the new creation ; in the resurrecrection from the death of sin to the life of righteousness.
LUKE, xxiv. 32.
Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked
with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures ?
Our subject this morning is religious intercourse, considered as a mean of spiritual improvement; religious converse maintained between the Lord's people, and upon the subject of their common hopes, their common duties, their common fears, and their common prospects.
In the words which I have just read, we find allusion to one effect which may be expected to flow from such intercourse as
that to which reference is now made. The occasion upon which they were spoken must be familiar to us all. He who had presented upon earth a faultless example, in whom there was no guile, and who spake as never man spake, had accomplished His great act of redeeming love: through dying upon the cross, He had expiated human transgression, and presented a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world. His immediate disciples, hampered by prejudice and remaining unbelief, were ready to give up all for lost, when they beheld Him expire. Utterly forgetful of prophecies which had foretold, and of the many types which had prefigured the event, they could see in the death of their Master nothing less than the destruction of every hope which they had cherished respecting Him as the Saviour of Israel. They were ready in a moment to conclude that all the evidences which He had put forth of