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worldly spirit, and of suffering our intercourse to degenerate into religious trifling and religious gossipping
The conversation of too many, although it may be technically called religious, resembles the cloud and the well without water, so strongly reprobated by St. Jude.
When such persons separate from each other, they feel no real good derived to their souls. And why? Because their conversation was destitute of that “unction from the Holy One,” which is life
Jesus and his salvation-heart experience and genuine godliness, as felt and exhibited in the soul and conduct of the believer-were not the subject matter of discourse. The head, and not the heart, was called into exercise.
Some religious publication-some popular preacher-some recent occurrence-some common-place remarks filled up the hour; and 'no wonder if the mind, at parting, retained its wonted flatness and leanness, after such an unsubstantial meal. - If it be asked, must our conversation be altogether confined to evangelical subjects ? We answer, our conversation must always be in the spirit of the Gospel. If our hearts be right we shall always have one end in view the glory of God and the edification of our neighbour.
With this aim constantly before us, we shall not wander far from true Christian discourse. The danger arises from entering on religious conversation without religious motives and religious affections ; from having a desire to talk, merely for the sake of talking
The apostolic injunction, “whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus," if duly obeyed, would cut off every idle and unprofitable word.
How apposite is Malachi on this point: “ Then they that feared the Lord, spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard it; and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon
And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him."
From the whole tenor of this beautiful passage, we may be assured, that what these believers spake so often one to another, was highly pleasing to the Lord of hosts. He was their theme. Their delight was in him. They feared the Lord and thought upon his name.
The following portions of Scripture may serve to shew the nature and spirit of godly conversation :
Hear, O! Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them, when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deut. vi. 4 to 7.) My tongue shall speak of thy righteousness, and of thy praise all the day long. (Ps. xxxv. 28.) I will meditate of all thy works, and talk of thy doings. (Ps. lxxvii. 12.) My tongue shall speak of thy word, for all thy commandments are righteousness. (Ps.cxix. 172.) The mouth of the righteous man is a well of life. In the lips of him that hath understanding, wisdom is found. The tongue of the just is as choice silver. The lips of the righteous feed many.
The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable. (Pro. x.) The lips of the wise disperse knowledge. (Pro. xv. 7.) The lips of knowledge are a precious jewel
. (Pro. xx. 15.) A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things. (Matt. xii. 35.) Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephes. iv. 29.) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Col. iii. 16, 17.) Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Col. iv. 6.) Comfort yourselves together, and edify one another. (1 Thess. v. 11.) Speak evil of no man. (Tit. iii. 2) Exhort one another daily while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb. iii. 13.)
The blessed Jesus, who will shortly come in the clouds of heaven to judge the world, hath solemnly declared, that “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment; for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matt. xii. 36, 37.) Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matt. vii. 21.) Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say. (Luke vi. 46.) If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John xiv. 15.)
Blessed Saviour! be pleased to touch my lips with a live coal from thine altar. Preserve me from a vain and trifling spirit. Solemnize my mind. Spiritualize my affections.
affections. Give me to feel the importance of eternal things. Shed abroad thy love
in my heart, and may the law of kindness dwell upon my tongue. Make me an instrument in thy hands of good to others. Whilst labouring to promote the cause of truth by spiritual conversation, may I feel the blessedness of thy Gospel in my own soul. Keep me from self-seeking, and from slavish fear. Enable me to speak and act for thee, and never to dread the frowns of dying worms. With increasing fervour, may I love the society of thy people, and find my happiness in sweet communion with thee, my Saviour, and my God.
How sweet to bless the Lord,
These seasons of delight,
O! blessed Jesus, pour
May ev'ry waiting heart
O! blest assurance this,
Thus will our joys increase,
But oh! the bliss sublime,
There shall the ransom'd throng
XXXIX. ON CHRISTIAN PRIVILEGE.
Under the old dispensation, many of the great privileges of the church of God were veiled under emblems and figures drawn from natural objects.
The Psalms of David, and the writings of the Prophets, abound with the most beautiful images, to describe the power, faithfulness, and love of Jehovah.
Under the new dispensation the veil is removed, and they are revealed in all their glory and beauty to the eye of faith. Life and immortality are brought to light by the Gospel. But, as in former ages, so now, the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned : yea, they are foolishness unto him. Hence the Gospel is to them that perish foolishness; but to them that are saved, it is the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
Happy are they who are thus taught of God; for the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew them of his covenant.
Man is naturally blind to his real condition, as a guilty, condemned sinner. Enjoying the pleasures of time, he never inquires after those of eternity.