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Saviour." Whilst the exhortation to believers is : “ Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
Blessed Lord, give me that wisdom which is from above. Preserve me from falling into those errors, which would excuse spiritual sloth, or feed spiritual pride. Bestow upon me the spirit of prayer; and give me grace to live in the spirit of my prayers.
Cause me to walk before thee with a humble, loving, obedient heart; that, living a life of faith in thy beloved Son, I may work by thee and for thee, while it is called to-day, before the night cometh when no man can work.
Where'er I turn my eyes within,
Deceit, ambition, lust, and pride,
But Jesus comes ! the mighty Lord !
Glory to God in heaven above,
Come, mighty conqu’or of the heart,
XXI. ON THE CAUSE OF SCEPTICISM.
What a multitude of opinions we find in the religious world. How many different sects and parties; each walling themselves round with their own peculiar tenets, and maintaining their own views of doctrine as the only standard of truth. But in the midst of all this diversity of sentiment, how, busy is the great enemy of souls in sowing the tares of uncharitableness, angry zeal, violent passions, and every unchristian temper in the Gospel field.
The visible church has too long been the arena for combats, which have ended in deluges of blood. Witness those many persecutions which have been carried on by Christians against Christians in almost every age.
0! Almighty God, look down upon thy church, the vine which thine own right hand hath planted, that the boar out of the wood may not waste it, or the wild beast of the field devour it. Return, we beseech thee, O! God of hosts, look down from heaven, behold, and visit this vine.
It may be useful to inquire, from whence arises all this angry disputation in the professing Christian world? It arises chiefly from the pride of our hearts.
To contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, is a duty; "to give place, no, not for an hour,” to those who seek to destroy the foundation of our faith, is a duty.
There is however an existing evil of great magnitude, and which springs from that pride of intellect, which seeks to be wise above what is written.
Man is not willing to act upon the plain, revealed command of heaven. He must search and
into the secret counsels of Jehovah. He wishes to ascertain why the Almighty issues such and such commands. He endeavours to bring every revelation
from God, to the rule and standard of his own peculiar mode of reasoning; and when two declarations present themselves before him, apparently opposed to each other, though practically leading to the same point, viz: the glory of God and the salvation of the soul; instead of humbly receiving both, as stated in the word of truth; and seeking to draw from each the practical improvement intended by them ; he cannot rest, till he has filled up the seeming chasm with his own confused ideas, thinking thereby to vindicate the ways of God to man!
Now as each inquirer claims an equal right to fill up this chasm in his own way, and as very few will entirely submit to the system of another; so on this account it is, that the Christian world is filled with such heterodox opinions.
Thus, leaving the sure path of revealed truth, men plunge into an ocean of inexplicable difficulties and by labouring to be wise above what is written, become very fools in divine things.
Lord, grant that I may never exercise myself in matters which are too high for me'; which thou didst never intend should be fully known in this present state ; nay, which I cannot comprehend, till the natural blindness of my understanding be wholly removed.
In heaven all darkness will be excluded. Here, I know but in part; there, if admitted by thy grace, I shall know, even ás also I am known. Make my soul then, O! Lord, as a weaned child. Give me that simplicity of faith, which cheerfully receives as truth, all that thou hast revealed, though mystery surround me on every side.
I find many plain and clear declarations, which nothing but a wilful hatred of the truth can misrepresent and pervert. On these I would continually dwell; from them I would draw all the sweetness
and comfort, wisdom, and strength, which they were mercifully designed to convey; As a new-born babe, may I desire the sincere milk of the word, that I may grow thereby.
I find other declarations high and sublime; far surpassing man's understanding. From these, I would learn humility. To these, I would submit my reason with humble reverence. By these, I would exercise my faith, and place implicit confidence in the word of truth, although many things ! therein be difficult to comprehend, and many, past finding out.
Whilst St. Peter acknowledges, that in the epistles of his beloved brother Paul, are some things hard to be understood ; he also declares, that the unlearned and unstable wrest them, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction. From these considerations. I perceive, how wonderfully the holy Scriptures are calculated to instruct the humble believer, whilst they bewilder the proud sceptic.
Like the cloud in the wilderness, they afford light to the Israel of God, whilst “ the disputer of this world" is left in darkness. “Who is wise and he shall understand these things, prudent and he shall know them; for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them ; but the transgressors shall fall therein."
All speculative and practical errors originate in the unbelief and pride of our hearts. We are continually pained with instances illustrative of this truth.
Many who, to all outward appearance, set out well, holding the grand essentials of Christianity, and exhibiting the humble walk of the Christian ; have by degrees got so high in doctrines, as to pass over the limits of the precepts, considering every
enforcement of the moral law as derogatory to the freeness and liberty of the Gospel.
The promises are to them like the the manna for sweetness ; whilst the precepts resemble the bitter waters of Marah. By this perverted view of the Gospel of grace, which makes provision for the holiness, as well as the acceptance of the believer, they endeavour to disunite what God has inseparably joined together.
Advancing in their career of bold inquiry and daring investigation ; leaving the precincts of the written word, and soaring into the interminable region of wild conjecture, they fall at length, giddy with their flight, into the fatal reveries of fanatical delusion, sceptical indifference, Socinian heresy, or deistical prophaneness.
Such wandering stars leaving their proper orbit, afford an awful warning to the church of Christ; and happy is he, who learns wisdom from their end; and thereby resists the first risings of pride and unhallowed speculation.
Some indeed are restored by that sovereign grace which they have abused; whilst others are left to the misery of their own delusions, according to St. Jude, who denominates them “wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.”
In the midst of surrounding darkness and abounding iniquity; in the midst of distracting opinions and guilty fears :
Where must we look for saving help,
'Tis Jesus pleads his people's cause,