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60 (LEAP YEAR.)— FEBRUARY 29. Behold these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and
find none, 8c. Luke xiii. 7-9. Thou fruitless fig-tree, thou barren professor, dost thou hear this, and not tremble? God is come seeking fruit;-will thy bare profession, thy knowledge of the principles of religion, satisfy the great God? Will the notions of truth in thy head, thy talking and disputing, thy hearing the word preached, thy commending or censuring sermons and preachers, just as thou art in the mood, will this serve thy turn ?-and wilt thou thus endeavour to warn off the heart-searching God? Know thou, God is come to seek for fruit, and for good fruit from thee; not the fruit of good words only, but the fruit of good works; not the fruit of talking well, but of walking well, the fruits of holiness in life and conversation :—fruit short of this God will not regard. If thy conscience be awakened, look to thy merciful High Priest, consider well his intercession for such a barren soul as thou art: “ Lord, let it alone,' &c. Father, let this man live one year longer; -O turn away from this thine anger! I will yet see what
may be done: I will take other methods, I will try what corrections may do ;--perhaps the rod
him than my
word has hitherto done, and may tend to make his barren heart fruitful; I will also stir up my servants to awaken him by a more sharp and searching manner; and if these new efforts be blessed to him all shall yet be well, thy grace magnified, and his soul saved; if not, then thou shalt cut him down.
If under means of grace, no fruits of grace appear,
It is a dreadful case ! tho' God may long forbear,
And lay the barren fig-tree low
I live by the faith of the Son of God. Gal. ii. 20;
2 Cor. v. 15; read also 1 Thess. v. 10, and 1
Peter iv. 2. In spiritual things we are too often living upon self; we seek in frames, forms, creatures, and animal life, that inward peace and stability of mind which is only to be found in the Redeemer. Outward duties are well in their places; they are to be performed, but not to be trusted in; they are as the scaffold to the building, a mean for carrying on the work; but not the work itself. When favoured with the gracious presence of Jesus, they are blessings; without it, they are nothing. The whole dependance must be on Jesus. He being the way, the truth, and the life, without him, prayers, praises, rites and ordinances, are carcasses without a soul. This is the case with every external service that is destitute of the presence and blessing of the Holy Spirit, who alone imparts communion of heart, and a quickening of the soul in faith, and in love to Jesus, and often a delightful view of that which is behind the vail of outward ordinances, such as no carnal eye can behold, a purely spiritual discovery of the Lord in his goodness, beauty, grandeur, and glory. O may the Spirit be poured out on my soul, and by the faith which he imparts may I get a foretaste of the joys of the heavenly statel Amen.
I wish, as faithful Christians do,
Dear Lord, to live to thee;
That thou hast died for me.
me, through thy precious blood,
Thus stall thy works thee praise.
Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and
many there be which go in thereat; but narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matt. vii. 13, 14; Read also
Luke xiii, 24. This sounds too harsh in the ears of the old man, who would not have the Law made use of in these Gospel times, either to the converted or unconverted; and yet to the old man, the Law, and not the Gospel, properly belongs. St. Paul, the great preacher of the Gospel, made use of the Law to rouse unconverted Felix from his security, Acts xxiv. 25, and to warn the converted Romans from falling into it again. Rom. viii. 13.
Which way dost thou walk? Examine thyself. . Is it in the narrow way? Art thou quite sure of it ? Venture not to go on any farther at random. It is matter of great consequence ; if thou wilt be safe, try better for it; thou mayest easily be deceived. Alas! thou art surely in the broad way to destruction, if thou still lovest and art conformed to the world. . Art thou but indifferent with regard to the things of God, relishing more the vanities, pleasures, companies, treasures, and honours of this world ?-thou art not in the good narrow way that leads unto life. O consider this well, and stop short before it is too late, and thou drop into the bottomless pit of perdition ! Nothing renders this way either narrow or difficult but sin. Leave off thy sin, and thou mayest not only find the way, but abide, walk and persevere in it till the end.
Strait is the way, the door is strait,
That leads to joys on high ;
While crowds mistake and die!
Aaron shall bear the names of the children of 18
rael in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth into the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually ; and thou shalt put into the breastplate of judgment the Urim and Thummin, namely, light and integrity.
Exod. xxviii. 29. Now am I, saith the believer, for ever in gracious remembrance with God, since my great high priest and advocate, Christ Jesus, bears my name continually before him on his heart. Whenever I am troubled about my sins, his powerful mediation will surely obtain mercy for all my transgressions, and supply my wants abundantly! God not denying him anything, I can through him continually be heard, and obtain grace ; for he makes perpetual intercession for me in heaven, by which all my prayers, at all times, and even now, are sanctified, and presented to the Father, who heareth him always. O who would not send up his petition to heaven in faith! Yet, O my soul, is thy prayer the prayer of faith?
of faith? Dost thou offer it believing that thou shalt receive, and dost thou with anxious expectation look for the answer? Ah! consider well, dost thou not pray, and then think thy work is done ? Prayers without the longing desire are no prayers at all. Let not such be thine.
Now may our joyful tongues
Our Maker's honour sing ;
And bears them to the King !
Before his Father's eye
Our humble suit he moves ;
And looks, and smiles and loves.
If any man will come after me, let him deny him
self, and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke ix 23; See also Matt. x. 38; Mark viii.
34; and Luke xiv. 27. Doing this, all the rest will be easy. If we know that we are nothing, are unworthy of everything, and having nothing of our own, we can lose nothing. We have no property, since we are but stewards of the Lord. We have no honour or shame of our own, after the manner of the world : this being our only honour, if God be glorified ; and our only shame, if he be dishonoured by us. The glory of God we must have at heart, and in his cause be like lions ; but in our own cause like lámbs. Therefore, when we are crossed in things which do not concern the glory of God and the real good of our neighbour, but our own interest, and are unwilling to suffer anything, we shall miscarry, and be involved in greater troubles ; but denying ourselves, we shall lose only a good deal of vexation; and instead of this, receive Christ, with all his spiritual and temporal blessings, as far as we want them; which alone can make us cheerful and happy. But whoever desires to please the world, seeking himself and his own glory, cannot be a follower of Christ. And how will it be with him in the hour of death and judgment? By this every one, learned or unlearned, may try themselves : whom do they please? God or the world ?
Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave, and follow Thee;
Thou, from hence, my all shalt be.
All I've sought, or hoped, or known,
God and heaven are still my own!