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phira. In the judgment-day, many will produce their wonderful works, to whom Jesus will say, “I never knew you."
How important then is self-knowledge, the result of divine teaching and self-examination.
In the common business of life, those thrive best who examine most into their concerns.
When a tradesman neglects his accounts, he will soon have a painful account to give.
Negligence and bankruptcy are like substance and shadow. The latter follows closely upon the former.
These remarks are still more important when transferred to our eternal concerns.
O! then, ere it be too late! give me grace, blessed Redeemer, to examine well what manner of spirit I am of, lest I should remain in error till that awful period, when, standing before thy dread tribunal, every spirit shall be made manifest of what sort it is.
With all sincerity of heart I would inquire:
1. When I attend the ordinances of the Gospel, in what spirit do I attend them?
Do I come into the house of God as a poor beggar would go to the dwelling of the rich for bread to eat and raiment to put on ? Is it the bread of life, and the garment of salvation which I earnestly crave at a throne of grace ?
Do I go as a poor debtor who has nothing to pay: as a guilty criminal on whom the sentence of death hath been passed: that my debts may be cancelled through the blood of Jesus; and my soul delivered from the curse of the law ?
Do I go, as one who is full of a sore disease, to the great Physician, for health and cure, for the gift of the
Holy Spirit to renovate my corrupted nature ?
Do I go to the house of God, as my exceeding joy, to hear the glad tidings of salvation, to learn the way of righteousness, and to sing the praises of the Lord ?
Or do I go in a spirit of formality, for the sake of being thought religious; from mere custom and habit, and in spirit devoid of devotion and love ?
2. When I give alms to the poor, in what spirit do I give them ? Have I considered all my property as a trust committed to my care by the Almighty Proprietor of the universe, to whom I must one day give a strict account of my stewardship?
Do I view the poor as the Lord's bankers ; remembering who hath said, he that hath pity on the poor, lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given, will he pay him again?
Do I esteem the pious poor, rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him, as brethren, whose necessities it is not only my duty, but my pleasure to relieve, consistently with the claims and necessities of my own family ?
Do I relieve them for the sake of Christ, because they belong to him, with a single eye to his glory; and as unobserved by others as circumstances will admit?
Or do I relieve the poor through public institutions only, that my name may be enrolled, and my beneficence made known to the world ; thus loving the praise of men, more than the praise of God?
Are my charities confined to the body; or do I seek the spiritual good, as well as the temporal benefit of
fellow-creatures ? 3. When I discourse amongst religious friends upon the truths of the Gospel, in what spirit do I discourse upon them ?
Is it from a heart-felt conviction of the sweetness, richness, and vastness of these mysteries ? Is it from a view to mutual edification, to provoke one another to love and to good works, to stimulate to exertion in the cause of Christ, and to excite others to greater usefulness? Is it
from a pure desire that Christ may be glorified ; that his name may be honoured, and his righteousness exalted ?
Is it from a principle of love, that I converse with others on the preciousness of Jesus, the work of the Spirit, and the joys of heaven ?
Or do I speak of these things in a spirit of spiritual pride, to make a display of my religious knowledge, to be thought wise, and to be esteemed a saint?
4. When I perform the daily duties of my worldly calling, in what spirit do I perform them ?
Is it with a view to glorify God in them, and to obtain an honest levelihood, through the divine blessing on my labours ; that I may thereby provide for my family, and have wherewith to give to him that needeth ?
Or is it from a covetous desire of wealth for its own sake; that I may vie in splendour with my richer neighbours, have a greater opportunity of gratifying my pride, of gaining the appellation of opulent, and raising my family in the world ?
5. When the religion of Jesus is traduced and the Gospel dispensation derided by carnal men, in what spirit do I hear these things ? Do I pray that the Lord would convince them
and convert them by his grace ? Do I labour to do them good, if opportunity will permit, by speaking a word for Christ, and exhorting them in a spirit of meekness and love?
Or, with the disciples of old, do I secretly pray for vengeance to overtake them, like the enemies of Elisha ; forgetting that I am a partaker of the same evil nature with themselves : and if made to differ in any measure, most humbly yet gratefully acknowledge with the apostle, “ By the grace of God, I am what I am"?
6. When reviled for righteousness' sake, in what spirit do I treat my persecutors ?
of their errors,
Do I return good for evil—blessing for cursingkindness for abuse ?. Do I bear them on my heart before God in prayer; and earnestly implore, like my compassionate Saviour when nailed to the cross, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” ? Or do I resent their injuries by sourness of temper, irritation of spirit, retaliation of wrongs: returning, when possible, evil for evil ?
Almighty Saviour! thou who art the author and finisher of faith, give me a right spirit; a purity of intention ; a principle of love ; that all my thoughts words, and actions may be regulated according to thy will. With true humility of heart, may I ever study to advance the spiritual welfare of my fellowcreatures, by exhortations, prayers, influence, and example. Suffer not the enemy of souls to fill me with high notions of my own excellence; but ever keep me low in my own eyes,
Preserve me from spiritual pride, the bane of all true godliness. the lowly attitude of deep contrition, may I daily come to thy bleeding cross for renewed forgiveness and renewed strength. There may love and gratitude fill my heart, till passing through the gates of death into the celestial city, my soul shall be for ever dedicated to thy service and glory.
Ah! who can tell the joy,
Which reigns within the breast,
And Jesus is the guest.
Like some sweet summer's rose,
It sheds a fragrance round;
Of nature may be found.
A bright celestial day
Pours light and warmth within ;
Its beams through inbred sin.
Here is the seat of war,
Where sin and Satan rage ;
Who fighting quits the stage.
Blest Jesus, to my soul
Thy grace and strength impart;
I see thee as thou art.
XLIII. ON THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER.
There cannot be a greater blessing imparted to us, than a spirit of prayer. It is the earnest of all other blessings. When it pleases God to bestow a spirit of prayer, every other spiritual blessing is, as it were, waiting to descend upon the seeking soul. The spirit of grace and supplication is closely connected with believing contrition.
"I will pour upon the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplications, and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and mourn."
A spirit of prayer implies faith in the promises of God, and an earnest desire for the promised blessings. It includes waiting and hoping. “I waited for the Lord,” says David, "yea I waited patiently for him.” And what was the happy result? “He inclined his ear unto me, and heard me.”
O ! it is a blessed state of heart, thus to wait upon God continually in the spirit of humble, fervent, believing prayer. Satan well knows the value of such a spirit, and therefore tries hard to prevent its exercise. He labours to extinguish this sacred fire, kindled in the soul of the Holy Ghost. He endeavours to disturb the mind; to ride upon the wings of the imagination ; and to fill the soul