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erful operation of the Lord's spirit upon their minds and consciences, their obstinacy and unwillingness must be entirely overcome. This is true, and thus we distinguish between the presencè and the spirit of Jesus Christ, such as do truly receive him are not only adjoined to him by presence but they are also conjoined to him in spirit; and it is these latter alone who suffer themselves to be convinced, and on whose minds the Holy Spirit operates freely, to the salvation and happiness of their immortal souls.
Jesus Christ is alike present with every one, in all places, at all times, and in every state; he is as intimately and immediately present, at this moment with you and with me, as he was with his disciples when he said, "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid!" It is true you cannot see him with the material organs, with which you now look upon one another; but you also cannot see the inner man, the souls or spirits of your friends and companions! you cannot see the natural body of your Redeemer which once hung upon the cross; but you may even now, by the eye of faith, see an object infinitely more glorious and lovely to behold; namely, that glorified body, which as a Divine Man, is in all time without time, and in all space without space. Again, you cannot now be admitted to the high honour and privilege of walking and conversing with the Saviour of the world on this earth, as the disciples of old once did: but you now enjoy an advantage superior to this, great indeed as that was. You may walk with him, by regulating your lives according to his divine precepts, and thus be advancing daily nearer and nearer to the heavenly Zion! you may be continually proceeding on your journey towards "Jerusalem the Holy City," in the spirit and power of your God, while your bodies are performing their functions and uses in the place and station which Providence has assigned them. You may also have the satisfaction day by day, of beholding your God, in his Word, in his Providences, and in his works!
Do you complain, that your friends and acquaintance are cold and reserved towards you; that their behaviour is uninviting and repulsive, and do you suffer any vexation on that account? fond and foolish man! the poet will tell you, "he builds too low, who builds beneath the stars," and the Word of God exhorts you to cease from man whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of ?" Did the poor woman, who said within herself, "if I do but touch the hem of Jesu's garment, I shall be healed of my malady," resort to any sinister and indirect means to effect her purpose? did she seek to ingratiate herself with his disciples? was there anything like hypocrisy, adulation, or meanness in her conduct? was she to be deterred from her purpose
by the frowns and menaces of the multitude about her? was she to be awed into submission by the selfish, the envious and the malignant? She asked no favour from any one, for she expected none: her poverty, her obscurity, and her insignificance in the great scale of being, precluded all hopes of assistance from man; she, therefore, threw herself at once on the Divine mercy and protection, nor was her confidence in that mercy misplaced.
The wise, the pious, and the good, can alone know wherein true humility consists, because on their minds alone the Divine Being has impressed an awful, though consoling sense, of his own mercy, greatness, and majesty; and, at the same time a feeling conviction of their own nothingness, helplessness, and wretchedness. And although on account of certain external distinctions, one man may appear superior to ten thousand of his fellows, yet still it may only be an appearance; for the truth is, the peasant and the artizan, in many cases, are dearer objects in the Lord's sight by far, as abounding in qualities and excellences of unearthy extraction, and of eternal duration, and of which the haughty though mitred prelate, and the profligate and titled prince, may be utterly destitute.
Earthly potentates, it is true, and persons in general who abound much in the wealth and honours of the present world, are often sedulous to exclude, even from their presence and intimacy, all such as are subordinate in rank or station to themselves; and in a political point of view, this may sometimes be expedient and necessary; nay, such conduct may be justified, when it is merely resorted to as a kind of defensive armour in order to repel the encroachments of the violent and contumacious, the ignorant and assuming; for certainly, to a refind and cultivated mind, nothing can be more disgusting than the impertinence and low familiarity of such characters.
But we speak of rejecting from our presence and intimacy, individuals of our acquaintance and neighbourhood, yea of our own particular society and religion, from feelings of pride and contempt; or from total indifference and unconcern about them; and thus prevent those reciprocal attachments, and that mutual comfort and assistance, which, as different members of the same aggregate body, ought constantly to prevail in sweet and endless
The truth is, that in the fulness of our own self-estimation, and our minds being puffed up with the idea of our own fancied greatness, we do in reality forget what we are! we have lost our own identity in the mist of phantasy-we have formed to ourselves artificial and imaginary heavens, and our souls are fraught with
complacence and delight, as often as we reflect on our own con-sequence and superiorty.
We may have heard of certain devotees to romance, whose imaginations have become so abstracted from the meaner and grosser concerns of this material system, and so totally absorbed in the airy regions of fiction, as to fanoy they themselves were the very heroes or heroines which has so captivated the mind in the reading, and which ultimately has led to the most insane extravagances, Nor will their conduct be deemed much more consistent and rational, by the more sober and pious part of mankind, who, through the charm of a little popular favour, and the splendid attractions of wealth, become intoxicated at the idea of their own importance, and are ready to thank God, even in this respect, that they are not as many other men are.
It will not excite our surprise, if characters such as these, should look down with contempt on their less fortunate neighhours, however great their talents and acquirements may be, or however excellent their inherent qualities; for we know that where the treasure is, there will the heart be also; and further, that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh and the body acteth.
If the true christian, therefore, depended for comfort and support on the friendship and favour of man in his journey through the wilderness of this world, his case would often he pitiable indeed, since his fond predilections and anticipations would frequently lead him into the grossest errors, and terminate also in the severest mortification and disappointment. He would, on many occasions be ready to exclaim, alas! how have I been deceived! and in the anguish of his spirit cry out, "cursed is the man that putteth his trust in man!"
Here then, we may safely rest in this conclusion, namely, that it is the spirit and presence of Jesus Christ alone, that can form a rational source of joy and consolation to the true believer. We have before stated, that Jesus Christ is alike present with every one. On his all pervading presence and operation in the inmost recess of every human soul, depends the life and existence of that soul continually, yea from moment to moment. The lifegiving energies of this omnipotent and awfully glorious Being, is perceived in every breath we draw, and felt in every pulse that beats; and were it possible for Jesus Christ, who is the true God and eternal life, to withdraw his providential care and protection from his creation, even for the smallest part of a moment, in the same instant all things would perish and be reduced to a universal chaos.
But even this presence and operation of Jesus Christ, close and
intimate as it is with all and each of us; for "in him we live and move and have our being," is, nevertheless, inadequate, as we have already seen in too many instances, alas! either to procure for us or to put us in the possession of those blessings which it is the primary intention of our benevolent Creator we should ever experience from his affinity and proximity to us.
It is said by an apostle, that "our God is a consuming fire," and to the impenitent and wilfully obdurate he is so; but he is also to the penitent and the good a refreshing and vivifying fire: and to these latter a continual sense of the Divine presence with them enables them, at all time, to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." For can any circumstance be better adapted to infuse perpetual serenity and gladness into the purified heart than the rational conviction that the Lord is not only ever present with, and near to us, but that he is infinitely able and willing likewise to impart unto us every blessing commensurate with our utmost wishes. From some such-like experience of the Divine bounty and goodness as this, the Psalmist might well exclaim, "Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he will give thee the desires of thy heart."
What powers of language can describe, or what mind can conceive, the worth and dignity of an immortal soul; that is, of a purified and regenerated soul; it is not for us to grasp so vast a subject within the limits of our comprehension; it can only be duly appreciated by Him who knoweth all things. But so far, at least, we may know, that our souls may become the habitations of our God; the living temple of the Most High! Such are the men whom God delighteth to honour. And if the very hairs of our head are all numbered, every individual regenerate person may safely conclude that he is as much the object of Divine benediction and care, as though the whole of Omnipotence was exerted on his behalf alone; nay, as if a fond father should make it his sole study to promote the happiness and aggrandizement of his beloved and only child. Sentiments like these, and the consolation and courage which they are calculated to inspire, would, no doubt, pervade the bosom of the upright Daniel, when shut up in the Lion's den, and would ensure to him tranquillity and peace, amidst the horror and danger which then surrounded him. It was the presence of Jesus Christ which suspended the ordinary and powerful operations of fire in the case of the three men who were cast bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace; and enabled them to walk in the flames and receive no manner of harm. Again, it was the presence of Jesus Christ, which made Paul and Silas, in the gladness of their hearts, to sing praises unto God at midnight,
though their bodies were fettered and mangled; though they were almost deprived of every earthly comfort and support; and were now immured in a dark and loathsome dungeon! But if Jesus. Christ whispers peace to the soul, if he says, "Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid!" lo! what a wonderful change immediately takes place! darkness is in a moment converted into the light of day! doubt and perplexity into clearness and satisfaction! fear and terror is changed into holy confidence and peace; the pains and infirmities of the body are suspended, and swallowed up in present delight, and joyful anticipation; even the hatred and contempt of our enemies are succeeded by sentiments of admiration and respect.
To conclude:-From the preceding observations, we trust we are warranted in making the assertion with which we set out; namely, that Jesus Christ is the only rational source of joy and consolation to the true believer. It is admitted that there are many other sources of joy, or rather pleasure, which it may be said, are independent of Jesus Christ, as having no immediate connexion either with his presence or with his spirit, but are such enjoyments worthy of the name of rational delights? may they not rather be called the pleasures of insanity? are they not such as frequently to rank us in the scale of, and to reduce us to a level with, the brute creation? may we not trace their origin in hell, and cannot we hereby perceive how closely we are linked to the infernal crew? we perhaps laugh at the idea, and those malignant and damned spirits laugh at us in their turn, to find us so completely duped; to see us so effectually entangled in their snare.
What shall we call the gratifications of the drunkard and the epicure? In what light shall we view the seducer of innocence. the wily adulterer, and the filthy fornicator? What shall we say of the flinty hearted miser, the profligate, spendthrift, and the unprincipled gamester? Is it not enough to rouse our indignation, yea, to call forth our execration, when we hear the ungrateful and sacrilegious wretch open his mouth in blasphemy against the God who made him; and see him trample under foot that Holy Word which has brought salvation and liberty to a lost and guilty world.
Surely the delights and enjoyments of such persons may well be deemed most irrational, in the truest sense of the word, and not only so, but they are totally opposite to the delights of wisdom, and so long as indulged and persisted in, will present an insuperable barrier to all free access to that Being in whose favour alone is life, benediction, happiness and peace.
"Lord to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal