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earnestly pray to God to forgive it you? Are you more mindful of your own trespasses against God than of the trespasses of others against you?
Temperance is also a symptom of the soul's health, temperance in the ordinary acceptation of the word. Do you pray to God for “ grace to use such abstinence that your flesh being subdued to the spirit you may ever obey his godly motions in righteousness and holiness ?”
Are you always vigilant and careful that your table be not made a snare to you, and are you careful to avoid the least excess in that respect not only as injuring the body, but as contributing to the blindness of the soul ?
Goodness is also a symptom of the soul's health. In general with respect to goodness ; is it your ambition to be good, or only to be thought good? Do
you endeavour to please God or men? Do you ask yourselves what shall I do to be thought an intelligent, clever, honourable, upright and pious person, or what shall I do to set forth the glory of my gracious Lord ? What shall I do to impress upon the minds of my neighbours that life is short, , that God is just and holy, and that death and judgment are rapidly approaching? This you
will say belongs to ministers; but it also belongs to every one, as they have received the gift so to minister it. It belongs to every one to set a good example, so to order his conversation as to administer
grace to his hearers, and so to please his neighbour as for his good and to his edification.
Joy and faith are also symptoms of the soul's health. With respect to these you ask how can you always have joy in a world of sorrow? And how can the faith of things unseen counterbalance the strong impulses of sense ? I answer, joy and faith, and all the fruits of the Spirit are not things which spring up in the mind by chance. They are engendered by God's Holy Spirit in the patient study of his word. Concerning which study I shall make three observations and then conclude. First if any one wishes to profit by reading his Bible, let him never take it into his hands until he have most humbly besought God to forgive his sins and to enlighten his mind with his Holy Spirit that he may understand that holy word. Secondly let him not confuse and perplex himself by reading over and over again what his own unassisted understanding cannot comprehend; but let him have recourse to the references in the margin, to his minister, or to any of the thousands of excellent books which breathe the spirit and help to the knowledge of that sacred word: for, reading the Bible, and reading books which are written for the express purpose of expounding and conveying scriptural truths to the mind may often amount to nearly the same thing. And thirdly let him not as soon as the Bible and such books are closed
way as he who having beheld his natural face in a glass straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was, but let him, according to his leisure and ability, commit to memory, let him learn by heart any thing relating to scriptural truth that may convince his heart, and help his sanctification and salvation; and thus let him as his business permits, preach to himself; for men will learn of themselves when they will learn of no other preacher. This is the way my brethren to profit by the word of God so as to convert it into the food and nourishment of the soul. It must be read, marked, learnt, and inwardly digested. St. Paul exhorts us to speak to ourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing, and making melody in our heart to the Lord. We are commanded to lay up his words in our heart and in our soul, speaking of them when we sit in our house, and when we walk by the way, and when we lie down, and when we rise
ир. Remember also the parable of the Sower. The devil is always ready to take away that which is sown in the heart. Therefore let men store and exert their memories as they can bear it with whatever in the treasury of God's truths purifies and comforts their hearts; and this conjoined with prayer will (Divine grace concurring) drive away all by which men's minds are pestered in solitary hours, and will effectually kill those weeds and thorns which hinder the growth of the blessed fruits of the Spirit.
And let us not my brethren be discouraged although these fruits do not at first appear in their full maturity and perfection, but let us tenderly watch over them and cherish their growth. The great Husbandman indeed expects his vine to be fruitful, but he patiently waiteth.
Woe to us
if He did not. His long-suffering is wonderful, and shall we my brethren continue to abuse it, and continue in sin that grace may abound? Shall another and another year pass and find us as unfruitful as the barren fig-tree? Shall we go on until we hear at length, Cut it down why cumbereth it the ground?
If our sluggish carnal nature have kept us long in ignorance, O let us at length be persuaded to arise from the dead that Christ may give us light! That light must shine upon us whether as upon the sluggard that rises at noon-day or as upon the diligent servant that cheerfully begins his work at day-break. It is more difficult to exclude it than to receive it, as to exclude the light of heaven from our waking sight is more difficult than to receive it. I do not mean to say that men are often changed in their minds as some will be in their bodies at the general resurrection, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye; but that as the day at length shines in full splendour, although darkness at first mingle with the dawn, so will the life of the regenerate, although at first it be darkened and defiled by the workings of a carnal mind, become purer and brighter, shining more and more unto the perfect day.
Now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honour, praise, and glory, might, majesty, dominion, and thanksyiving, for ever and ever. Amen.
ON PREPARING AND JUDGING OF THE STATE OF
OUR LAST ACCOUNT.
ROMANS xiv. 12.
Every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
O this account! Lord Jesu! To whom shall we render it but unto Thee, who art ready to judge the quick and the dead! Be merciful to us when we appear before thy judgment-seat! Be merciful to our unrighteousness, and remember our sins and iniquities no more, and write thy laws in our hearts and in our minds! For thou art the life of our soul. Thou quickenest whom thou wilt. Thou art the Lord of Life. We derive the life of our soul from none but thee.
To prepare for this account is the great business of our life. Religion aims at nothing else. Now there are certain means laid down in Scripture by which we may not only prepare, but have good assurance of the state of our account. First
Repentance is necessary to prepare for this account. Repentance stands in place of many deficiencies. Except ye repent ye shall perish.