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we might have strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us; which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil ; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an High-Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."
Yet, in the Holy Scriptures, we meet with many alarming passages which ought to awaken our solicitude, and cause us to ponder the path of our feet.
“ The just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”
“ If we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain, fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”
“ It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come'; if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh and put him to an open shame."
“ If after they have escaped the pollution of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome; the latter end is worse with them than the beginning; for it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to depart from the holy commandment delivered unto them.”
These and other similar passages shew us the importance of that proverb : “ the fear of the Lord tendeth to life, and he that hath it shall abide satisfied ; he shall not be visited with evil.”
How many do we see in the course of our lives,
who after flourishing for a season, begin to fade and die. Is it not because the root of the matter was not in them: because their hearts were never savingly changed: because they were never really and truly in a state of grace ?
St. Peter calls such characters; “spots and ble. mishes." St. Jude styles them; “spots in your feasts of charity”—“ clouds without water-trees without fruit, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever !”
Awful words indeed! O! what need there is for close examination, lest haply we should be found amongst those self-deceivers who fancy themselves to be something while they are nothing; and who, after having made a noisy profession before men, will prove, at last, mere cast-aways! The blessed Saviour has not left us at uncertainties in these important enquiries.
He has given us solid marks whereby to judge of our true state and character.
“ If ye love me, keep my commandments”—“ye are my friends, if ye whatsoever I command you”—“ follow me.
As love is the surest evidence of faith; so obedience is the truest test of love. How vain then is that profession which is destitute of these graces. Universal holiness is the distinguishing mark of genuine Christianity; “Be ye holy for 1 am holy," is the command of him who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.
Supreme love to the Lord Jesus Christ is the governing principle of every believer. This sacred attachment to the Saviour forms the grand distinction between the children of God and the children of the wicked one.
A man may make a reputable profession of religion for a season, and appear like a flourishing tree, and a fertilizing cloud; but if his heart be destitute
of “the true grace of God,” he will be found at last, to resemble the character reprobated by St. Jude66 without fruit” and “without water."
In seasons of temptation he will wither away, not having a rooted principle of grace in his heart; and thus manifest to the church and the world, by his declension and apostacy, that he was never truly ingrafted into Christ by faith.
The force of temptation soon destroys his feeble attachment to the visible church ; and he remains a solemn warning to all who call themselves Christians, of the danger of false profession.
0! blessed Lord, preserve me, thy unworthy creature, from this awful state of self-delusion. O! give me true grace, deep repentance, and fervent love. Unite my soul to thyself, in the bonds of the everlasting covenant. Let sin be
Let sin be my daily aversion; and holiness my everlasting delight. Prepare me for the enjoyment of thyself here; and crown all thy mercies with the gift of thyself, as my everlasting portion, in thy kingdom of glory.
In seasons of doubt and of gloom,
How kind is our merciful God ;
Should Satan come in like a flood,
By nature unable to stand,
XLV. ON SELF-DECEPTION.
A good thought does not consist in simply think. ing about good things. We may meditate upon the most excellent subjects, and even feel some delight in them, whilst our meditations are neither pleasing to God, nor profitable to ourselves.
From the habit of attending a Gospel ministry, and reading religious publications, we may be led into an evangelical train of thinking ; and yet, both the faithful preacher and the pious author may
be to us only as the summer shower falling upon the bar
“ Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your ownselves," is the monitory voice of revealed truth. There is a danger of being satisfied with the sentimentalism of religion. If a person can express himself with energy and elegance on the grand peculiarities of the Gospel, and thus convey his thoughts with acceptability and usefulness; he may be in danger of substituting this knowledge and gift of utterance, for humble, heart-felt religion.
As he is not a Christian who only talks about Christ, so he is not a spiritually-minded man who only thinks about spiritual things. It is a great blessing to have spiritual views; but what do they avail, without spiritual affections, and a spiritual walk?
We are in continual danger of self-deception. What is knowledge without love? What is a ready tongue without genuine experience ? David said: “I believed, therefore have I spoken." And St. Paul when quoting this passage, adds: “We also believe, and therefore speak.” Hence the Apostle exhorts the Ephesian converts to speak the truth in love, that they might grow up into Christ in all things who is the head of his mystical body the church,
I would then with all solemnity put these searching questions to my heart: Do I esteem Jesus precious ? Do I feel him precious ? Do I love him as my only Saviour ? Do I trust wholly in his atonement and intercession? Do I delight in his precepts as well as in his promises ? Do these views and feelings make me humble, and self-denying, thankful and obedient ? Is it my study so to walk, that I may please God in all things ? Am I looking continually to the Holy Ghost for power to repent, believe, love, and obey ? Do I daily come as an humble suppliant to the foot of the cross ? Have I laid hold by faith on the promised salvation, so freely held out to me in the Gospel of grace? If this be the character of my religion, then my thoughts on good things are good thoughts; they are the inspiration of the Spirit of God, from whom alone “all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed.” They are evidential of that spiritual-mindedness, which is
life and peace.
Come, O! my soul, and pour out thy heart at a throne of grace. There, thou mayest ask for whatsoever thou needest, with the fullest assurance that the blessed Jesus will supply thy every need out of his inexhaustible fulness.
Blessed Saviour! I ask for a more spiritual mind; a greater purity of heart; an increasing deadness to the world; a growing likeness to thee; a more lively faith; more ardency of affection; more love for