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materials ready prepared for his destructive purpose.
Whilst we are in an unrenewed state, we are under the dominion of sin. We naturally love it, and are captivated by it; for our heart is only evil continually.
Common prudence and worldly interest, as well as natural conscience, may prevent an unconverted man from committing many crimes which would outrage society. The fear of punishment, and the dread of public infamy may operate to the prevention of those evils, which would bring a man'under the lash of the violated laws of his country. The certain consequence of disease and poverty attendant on some vices, proves a partial check to their commission; though alas ! too weak to arrest the general torrent of licentiousness.
Thus by the constant operation of these inferior motives, and through the goodness of a restraining providence, we are happily preserved from that inundation of iniquity, which would otherwise destroy the fabric of society.
There are, it is true, many amiable characters to be found, even amongst those who are hostile to the spirit of the Gospel, who may be considered as ornaments in the midst of surrounding depravity and pollution. Polite education and civilized society can varnish over the old Adam. But these amiable worldlings reject as fantastical, those unwelcome declarations of Scripture, which assert the radical corruption of our nature, and the absolute necessity of being born again of the Spirit. In the midst of all this boasted morality -- this vaunted amiability of temper - this studious endeavour to appear fair in the eyes of each other; we perceive no filial fear of God; no hatred of sin; no delight in holiness no cordial reception of the blessed Jesus as the only Saviour from guilt and pollution; no self-abhorrence;
no watchfulness against sins of the heart; no deadness to the vanities and smiles of the world.
Under every garb, whether plain or splendid, the carnal mind is enmity against God. This truth cannot be too much impressed upon the mind and conscience. Hence we see the necessity for renewing grace; for, till we are united to Christ by a true faith, we cannot receive those powerful principles of love and fear, which operate as perpetual excitements to holy obedience, and constant checks to presumption and carnal security.
When we are thus savingly united to Jesus, we receive out of his fulness every needful grace. Being “accepted in the beloved," we have peace with God; we are adopted into his family, are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise ; enjoy sweet fellowship with the Father and the Son; and experiencing the strengthening consolations of the Spirit, are enabled to resist the world, the flesh, and the devil, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God. Such is the character, walk, and privilege of every true believer.
Lord, make me a branch in Jesus, the living vine. Create my soul anew, and fill me with every holy, pure, and heavenly affection.
Great indeed is the character of a child of God; yet, he is renewed but in part. The Canaanites are still in the land. Satan knows this well, and tries most assiduously to regain possession of that heart, from which grace has dislodged him. To effect his purpose,
he studies tempers, natural constitutions, weaknesses, and peculiar situations in which believers are placed ; and thus endeavours to suit his temptations to the vulnerable parts of the Christian citadel.
How needful then is the duty of watchfulness. If an army, passing through an enemy's country, appoints its out-posts and centinels to observe the
motions of the inhabitants, lest it should be surprised by an opposing force, and unexpectedly. defeated ; surely it behoves the Christian soldier to obey the command of the great Captain of his salvation ; “ watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”
Through the slothfulness and unwatchfulness of believers, Satan too often makes sad inroads into their peace and purity.
Mr. Winter, in one of his letters, makes this striking observation : “ Watchfulness and prayer form the Christian's intrenchment. These are the lines our enemy cannot break. Be the
person them ever so weak, he will be sure to stand ; be the person who neglects them ever so strong in himself, ever so judiciously taught, or ever so extensive in his knowledge, he is liable to fall.”
The farther the experienced Christian advances in his earthly pilgrimage, and the more he learns how needful to his safety is watchfulness and prayer.
There are some who treat as legal this circumspection and self-distrust. But the real believer well knows, that the more lively his faith is, the more alive he himself is to the motions of his spiritual enemies, lest he should be overcome by some sudden temptation.
There are three evils against which we should earnestly pray to be preserved :-indecision-indifference-and insensibility. When the mind begins to be first affected with the importance of religion, many things are done, which were before omitted. But no sooner is the religious feeling of the heart made known to the world by this outward change of conduct, than the artillery of Satan is directed against the young professor; and too often alas ! proves successful in shaking the newly formed purpose of taking up the cross and following Christ.
The enemy of souls now plies his warlike engines
with Satanic violence. Worldly interest-carnal ease-false shame--the fear of man---the frowns of relations and the raillery of sinful companions, are all employed with consummate skill to undermine his good resolves.
These powerful attacks, if not resisted through the energy of Almighty grace, soon produce inde cision in the purpose ; from indecision, the step is easy to indifference; from indifference to the voice of conscience, the transition is quick to insensibility; from insensibility to the threatenings of God, how short is the road to obduracy-the very seal of perdition !
Who can contemplate this awful progress of de clension, and not acknowledge the immense importance of watchfulness and prayer.
There cannot be a more humbling representation of the fallen state of man, than in the falls of those eminent saints whose lives are recorded in the pages of Scripture. The Almighty, in his wisdom, may have permitted these falls, to humble the best of men, by leading them to feel, that their stedfastness in holiness does not depend upon their strength, but on his grace; that their resistance of evil is not from any natural power of their own, but entirely from the communicated influence of the Holy Spirit upon their hearts. When Noah lived before the flood, he testified preacher of righteousness” against the
prevailing iniquity of the age. He walked with God in faith, fear, love, and obedience, and found grace in his sight.
But when safe in the bosom of his family, a monument of mercy, after the tremendous deluge; he drank wine and was drunken,and lay uncovered in his tent! Can this be Noah-the holy Noah? then let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall !
Lot, whose righteous soul was vexed from day to day with the filthy conversation of the wicked, when rescued by the hand of mercy from the devoted cities of the plain, and safely sheltered in the mountain, fell into the combined atrocity of drunkenness and incest. This speaks with awful voice: “ be not high-minded, but fear.”
David, the man after God's own heart, who never once defiled his soul by heathen worship ; when raised to the throne of Israel, and enjoying rest in his palace, was enticed by deceitful lusts, into the dreadful sins of adultery and murder.
Solomon, who was honoured with the name of Jedidiah, beloved of the Lord; who built a splendid temple for the worship of Jehovah, and whose wisdom attracted the Queen of Sheba to Jerusalem : when grown old, and after having witnessed the. faithfulness of God in the promises made to him on ascending the throne; "was turned after other gods," through the allurements of “his strange wives;" and erected "high places” for the abomin. ations of the heathen. Surely we must say : “ Lord what is man, that thou shouldest be mindful of him!”
Hezekiah, so mercifully raised from a bed of death, was lifted up with pride, perhaps on account of the stupendous miracle wrought on his behalf.
Peter, so zealous and confident, denied his Lord with oaths and curses.
Abraham, so eminent for faith, betrayed the evil of mistrust, shewing that the fear of man bringeth
Jacob, under the semblance of piety and filial affection, with a lie obtained his father's blessing.
Moses, so renowned for meekness, was condemned to die in the wilderness, because he spake unadvisedly with his lips.
Aaron, the High-priest of the Lord, made a