« PreviousContinue »
higher motive than human approbation, on receiving such commendation have their coveted reward.
They may speak with the tongues of men and of angels; they may understand all mysteries and all knowledge; they may bestow all their goods to feed the poor ;-yea, in a season of fiery persecution they may even give their bodies to be burned : and yet, if faith working by love be not their principle of action, all these splendid gifts and costly sacrifices will profit them nothing.
In the day of judgment, they will be found no better than sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal ; whilst the widow's mite, and the cup of cold water given to the least of the brethren of Jesus, out of love to his name, shall in no wise lose its reward.
How important then is self-examination. How necessary to ascertain the motive of our actions, lest self-seeking, vain glory, and the desire of human applause, should render them odious in the sight of God.
O! that I may never forget this Gospel truth : that no work is accounted good in the judgment of heaven, but what springs from faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, till I am united to Christ by faith, and justified through his righteousness, all my boasted moral virtues, are nothing but “ splendid sins.”
Brought to this touchstone, how many actions, highly esteemed and far-famed amongst men, will be rejected as “ reprobate silver" by that holy Being, who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins.
For want of due consideration in time, many thousands, it is to be feared, will reap the fruit of their criminal indifference through an awful eternity.
From this view of the subject, I learn that where there is a will to serve God, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
The holy purpose will be recognized, even when circumstances prevent the performance. Nathan, when informed of David's purpose to build a house for the God of Israel, said: “ go and do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee.”
David, though not permitted to erect the temple, received the most gracious assurances of the divine approbation : which Solomon took special notice of, in his beautiful prayer at its dedication :
“ The Lord said to David my father, forasmuch as it was in thine heart to build an house for my name;
thou didst well in that it was in thine heart : notwithstanding thou shalt not build the house, but thy son which shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house for my name.”
Let no one then despise the day of small things, since the inward ardent desire to promote the cause of Christ in the earth, may be accomplished through the “good hand of our God upon us," by our children, and our children's children.
Blessed Lord ! be pleased to give me the precious grace of simplicity and godly sincerity. May all my desires be to thee, and to the glory of thy name. Reign in my heart the Lord of every motion there. Purify my motives. Elevate my purposes. Preserve me from seeking the applause of men.
Guard me from the poisonous influence of flattery and self-love. Clothe me with humility; and whatever I do in word or deed, may I do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Assist thy servant, Lord, to pray,
Illuminate my mind ;
Where sinners comfort find.
In mercy, Lord, thine ear incline,
To ev'ry servent pray’r ;
My soul for beav'n prepare.
Reveal thy great salvation, Lord,
Dispel each rising doubt ;
“Thy sins are blotted out.”
To my redeeming God;
In Zion's blest abode.
XXXVIII. ON CHRISTIAN CONVERSATION.
The spirit in which Christian converse should be conducted, is delineated with peculiar accuracy in the word of God.
How delightful would be the society of professing Christians, if the humble, loving, gracious, improving spirit, so much enforced in the holy Scriptures, filled every circle.
How needful then at all times is the prayer of
He is surrounded by a holy atmosphere, in which the trifler cannot live. As his motives are elevated, so his conversation is pure. The giddy and the vain avoid his society, not because he is repulsive in manner, but because his views and feelings are so spiritual and heavenly
He is ridiculed as “the saint," and taxed with pride and self-conceit. But his heart is known unto God, with whom he holds sweet converse in the midst of a naughty world.
Such is the Christian. His character is little understood by the thoughtless multitude, whose time is occupied and whose affections are absorbed in the trifles of a day; but ere long he shall shine, as the sun, in the kingdom of his Father.
The following hints may tend to improve our intercourse with each other.
We ought never to speak ill, not even by insinuation, of absent persons, except when duty positively requires it; and even then, there should be a marked and sincere regret, that the occasion calls for such an exposure of character.
We must guard against attributing wrong motives to the actions of others ; even when appearances might favour such a conclusion: remembering that God alone knoweth the heart ; and who are we, that we should judge our brother?
We should avoid every thing that borders upon oily praise and flattering adulation, especially towards those who are present; knowing how pernicious praise is to a fallen creature, and how few are able to withstand its influence.
This does not exclude a proper commendation, or a suitable encouragement, when dictated by Christian simplicity and prudence.
We must not indulge in those high colourings, those strong hyperboles, those varnished representations, which seem to give force to conversation, but which actually destroy its delicacy and beauty.
This mode of speaking, by stretching out too far, touches upon the confines of falsehood. pears most beautiful in its own native simplicity.
Christian conversation is marked by love, humility and purity.
These are the peculiar features by which it is known. Although so attractive from its nature and excellence, yet how few know how to appreciate or relish its charms.
Love leads us to converse with delight on all subjects conected with the glory of God and the good of man.
Humility draws a veil over our own graces, and
Truth apdelicately discovers the excellencies of others. It frankly confesses our own faults, and carefully conceals the failings of our brethren.
Purity, like the refreshing rose, sheds a fragrance peculiarly its own over our whole conversation ; and like that lovely flower, leaves its reviving scent when we are gone.
How different from the conversation of the wicked, whose throat is compared in Scripture to an open sepulchre, loathsome and offensive disgusting and pestilential.
We naturally love to discourse on subjects which lie nearest our heart. No wonder then, if real Christians, who feel the love of Christ constraining them, delight to talk together on the most glorious of all subjects—the love of God in the gift of his Son.
May not believers now say with the disciples of old: 6 did not our hearts burn within us, whilst he talked with us by the way ?”
But alas ! how little is there of this spiritual discourse amongst us.
The men of the world, when they meet together, can enter with enthusiastic ardour on their various objects of pursuit, whether political, commercial, or philosophical. The warrior recounts his battles, the sportsman his pleasures, the merchant his adventures, the politician his schemes, the philosopher his discoveries, the libertine his excesses, with a feeling and animation, which demonstrate at once that their soul is engaged in the subject.
And shall Christians be less alive, when they meet together for the avowed purpose of strengthening each other's hearts, and kindling each other's devotion ?
If our faith and love were stronger, our intercourse would be more profitable and delightful.
In this our day of outward prosperity and religious liberty, there is great danger of imbibing a