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treated, that if partaken in at all, it must be partaken of in sincerity, then they avoid it altogether. And this is the real reason why so many persons attend the common church service, while so few in comparison will be partakers of the Lord's Supper.
Now we have many of us, during the course of the last week, had more than our common share of pleasure; there has been gaiety, excitement, enjoyment of one kind or another, but all worldly, of which we have almost all tasted. And this in common language, is said to unsettle the mind; that is, to make it feel its common pursuits dull, to disturb it while engaged in them either with a restless recalling its past pleasures, or with an equally restless looking forward to their coming again. Thus there is much in them to make us sin, and to draw away our hearts from God; it being a most certain truth, that whenever we find our duty dull, then the thought of God becomes dull to us also; we are in the first beginnings of cursing Him in our hearts. So we need that something be done for us; that this evil state should be shaken off, lest it grow on to be our ruin.
What then is it that we want? It is not burnt offerings to atone for evil done, but something to stop evil actually doing, and living within us. The sweets of the pleasure are now gone, what enjoyment there was for us in the week past, we have had it all, it is over, all but the evil of it; and
surely it is our wisdom to get rid of this also. Nay, we may do more; we may not only get rid of the evil of it, but may still preserve it as good, and may be as glad to have had it, now that it is over, as before it came we earnestly wished to receive it.
If we think of any pleasure as of God's gift, undoubtedly we cannot repent of having had it, but must continually delight to dwell upon it. Now do we think so of our several pleasures of the week past? Were they God's gift to us or no? Are we at a loss to answer the question ? Certainly if any of our pleasures were sinful in themselves, they were not God's gift; of this at least there can be no doubt. Or if not sinful in themselves,—if we abused them by carrying them too far, if they excited in us any bad temper, any bad passion whatever, if they made us proud, or peevish, or jealous, or indolent, or sensual, certainly they were not the gift of our heavenly Father. But suppose they were neither; that they were innocent, and moderate, not exciting any bad feelings, but rather awakening kindly ones; that they were in the best sense of the word refreshments to us. Were they then God's gift to us? Surely they were, if we choose to think them so. It now depends wholly on ourselves; they were God's gift to us, good and tending to good; or, pure as they were and wholesome, they have not come from Him, but have done hurt to us rather than good. It
depends wholly on ourselves; they were God's gift to us, if we can thank Him for them at this moment with a sincere heart, and feel desirous to show by our after zeal, how much we are grateful to Him for His goodness.
Believe then that they were the gift of God, believe that God loves you, and that these as well as all other things which you enjoy, are the fruits of His fatherly affection. Even here it may be said, “ If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth ;” and here too we may join in the answer made to our Lord when he spoke these words, “ Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.” We do find it very hard to believe heartily in the fulness of God's love to us; and it is something bad in our own hearts that is still our hinderance. But believe heartily that all that we have been enjoying innocently was indeed God's gift; believe it really, not merely saying it; believe that He loves us tenderly; then we need no sacrifice of atonement to sanctify our joys to us, and to save us from the punishment of inward blasphemy; all is atoned for, all is peace and safety; for we have received the spirit of adoption, and cry Abba, Father; and the Spirit itself witnesseth with our spirit that we are the sons of God through Jesus Christ. They were God's gift, one of ten thousand, and amongst the poorest of them all, but yet an earnest of what He will do for us more. Now
then, the sacrifice for sin is no longer needed; for Christ has died, yea rather is risen again, and through Him we are accepted and justified. No need then of sacrifice, which if it were necdful, we should strive in vain to pay. No need of sacrifice, but much of thanksgiving, much of cheerfulness, much of an earnest zeal to show that we are thankful.' God has refreshed us; let us arise with rejoicing hearts and strength renewed, and go on upon our journey. No more loitering, no ungrateful wasting of the time and spirits which He has given. We must not do dishonour to His goodness, we must not shame our feelings of gratitude. There is our daily work before us; with us it is yet day, although there are on whom the night has closed before they could do half they wished to do. It is still the day; let us hasten to make use of it, blessing God that He has given us strength of body and mind to help us to show our thankfulness. And what if on us too the night close prematurely, still if such be our feelings, it is no matter; our work will have been done already, for it is our work to love God and His Son Jesus Christ, to be glad to serve Him here, to be happy to be taken from this life to be with Him in glory.
April 29th, 1832.
PSALM xxiii. 1.
The Lord is my shepherd, therefore can I lack nothing.
Those who attend ever so carelessly to the several parts of the church service, which vary from one Sunday to another, such as the Psalms and Lessons, must have noticed, I should think, the remarkable beauty and character of the Psalms which have been read this evening, as well as of the first of those which were read this morning. And although the notions about them may be indistinct, yet every one would feel, I think, that such Psalms as have been read this evening were well made a part of the service of the Church, that there was in them that which fitted them for the expression of the feelings of God's people at all times and in all countries, which rendered them the one perpetual sacrifice of prayer and thanks