« PreviousContinue »
Look and gaze, O! my soul, on
soul, on thy condescending Saviour, till thou art laid prostrate in the dust of humiliation at the foot of the cross; and there drink deep into that spirit, which will assimilate thee to the Friend of sinners, and prepare thee for the bliss of heaven.
O how should I loathe myself! He, so humble, and I, so proud. He, so pure, and I, so polluted !
The thirsty traveller sees a cistern at a distance, and labours hard to reach it; but when he comes with longing desire to quench his thirst, he finds it broken. Thus earth disappoints all who trust in its supplies. It is a broken cistern. I look for its refreshing streams, but find none. Where then must I turn? To the Fountain of living waters. Jesus is this fountain of life and glory. To him I would now hasten. In him I shall ever find a never-failing stream of grace and comfort. He can delight and refresh my soul ; and coming unto him by faith, I shall never be disappointed.
From these considerations I learn, that to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, is the highest wisdom of man ; for whilst so doing, all other needful things shall be added unto me.
I also learn, that Jesus has made an inseparable connection between the precepts and promises of the Gospel ; between the character and the privileges of his people.
If I am renewed in the spirit of my mind, and thus made humble, contrite, meek, spiritually-minded, pure, and peaceable; I shall enjoy his presence and love whilst journeying through this vale of tears, and his everlasting glory in the world above.
Then why should the souls of the faithful be “discouraged because of the way;" seeing that the way of the cross, is the
to the crown? The world may light up its fires ; friends" may
betray us to death ; Satan may roar like a lion; the flesh may cry out for indulgence, and tempt us to yield to our foes: yet, if Jesus be the God of our hearts, he will raise us above every temptation ; he will strengthen us for every assault, and at length make us more than conquerors to the praise and glory of his grace.
O! love without compare,
0! love beyond degree;
Should bleed and die for me!
For me, a wretch so vile,
For me, a rebel worm,
In its divinest form.
'Tis Jesus died to save,
"Tis Jesus lives to bless ;
The Lord, our righteousness.
Then, O! my soul, rejoice;
Extol thy Saviour's name ;
And celebrate his fame.
He claims thy heart, thy love ;
He claims thee for his own;
Before his heavenly throne.
XXXVII. ON CHRISTIAN MOTIVES.
Christianity has justly been called a religion of motives. And yet, alas! how little are those sublime motives to action, which the Gospel inspires, considered by the great mass of professing Christians.
Men prosecute their worldly concerns under the powerful influence of some constraining motive, which impels them forwards with unabating ardour.
But in the affairs of eternity, they commonly act at random, without
purpose whatsoever. Education, or custom, gives the colouring to their religion ; and if they be asked to give a reason of the hope that is in them, a total absence of motive or purpose will soon be discovered.
They think as the world thinks--and they act as the world acts. Treading in the steps of their forefathers, they retain the impression of early habits. And finding little leisure amidst the accumulating engagements of life, to investigate the claims of eternity, they are satisfied with the observance of outward ordinances, and a few crude notions of the Christian religion.
They pity those who are so weak as to prefer future to present enjoyments; and can scarcely conceive any rational motive sufficiently powerful to induce men to pass by the flattering prospects of the world, for the unseen possessions of futurity.
Hence they condemn such persons as visionary and enthusiastic; whilst they applaud the wisdom of those, who endeavour to make sure of present profit and advantage. To secure the main chance, is their standard of wisdom ; their highest object of pursuit.
This, we may fear, is but too faithful a picture of thousands who call themselves Christians but who possess nothing beyond the name. Esteeming themselves wise, they become fools; and will, except they repent, eternally bewail their folly.
It is of immense importance to examine well into the motives of our actions, for “whatsoever is not of faith, is sin."
Saul of Tarsus in his blind zeal conceived that he
ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth : but when his understanding was enlightened, he saw himself to have been a persecutor, a blasphemer, and injurious.
When Abraham went to offer up his beloved Isaac, it was an eminent instance of faith. He acted on this trying occasion from a good motive ; in simple compliance with a divine command, though an apparent frustration of a divine promise. Yet he believed God, and cheerfully obeyed his will.
This childlike reliance on the truth and faithfulness of Jehovah, was honoured by a rich promise of abundant blessings. But when the Israelites, on the contrary, caused their children to pass through the fire to Moloch, it was an awful instance of human depravity. Their conduct sprang from a bad motive, being in direct violation of a divine prohibition, and was therefore quickly followed by heavy judg
the nation. The command to Abraham was designed by the Almighty to be a trial of his faith ; a test of his obedience; a proof of his love. But more especially to be a signal representation of his own unspeakable love, in not withholding his Son-his well-beloved Son from us, when he gave
him to be a sacrifice for sin, on one of those very mountains of Moriah. Now can any one for a moment suppose
that these two actions shall receive the same recompense of reward? We shudder whilst we contemplate the unnatural infatuation of the idolatrous Israelites.
We feel humbled whilst we meditate on the astonishing exercise of faith, obedience, and self-denial which was exhibited in the case of Abraham.
Their motives were as widely distant as the east is from the west ; as distant as holy faith is from rebellious unbelief.
Some actions are criminal in their very nature,
whilst others may be good or bad according to the motive from whence they spring.
The hypocrites, whom Jesus condemns in his sermon on the mount, gave alms, and prayed, and fasted. But when they distributed their charities, they sounded a trumpet before them : when they prayed, they stood in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets ; when they fasted, they disfigured their faces: thus making their religious performances as public as possible.
And why did they take such pains to be seen ? Our Lord tells us : “ that they might have glory of men." They obtained that which was the governing motive of their actions, and consequently they had their reward.
Our blessed Saviour exhorts his people to the performance of the same duties, but from a far different motive. Secresy in alms-giving-retirement in devotion--and unostentatiousness in fasting, are opposed to pharisaical publicity.
Duties, thus performed from a principle of faith and love, and directed simply to the glory of God, will be approved of by him who seeth in secret, and who will graciously reward them openly.
We hear of a man extolled for his charity and benevolence to the poor. His name appears in the list of benefactors to almost every laudable institution ; but if to be extolled be the secret motive of his actions, this man has his reward.
Another is very regular in his attendance on public ordinances. His seat is never vacant. He talks much about doctrines, and seeks the society of religious characters. Hence he obtains the appellation of pious. If to be so esteemed be the moving spring of his conduct, verily he has his reward.
Ill this is equitable. Those who act from no