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"Go to now, ye that say, To-day or to-morrow we will go into such a city, sell, and get gain: whereas ye For what is your life? It is little time, and then vanisheth

and continue there a year, and buy and know not what shall be on the morrow: even a vapour, that appeareth for a away."


"THERE," said my friend, as we entered the pretty churchyard of "there lie a father, mother, two children, and a sister, who two years ago were walking the streets of W- in perfect health." Such were the inroads of consumption !


"Here is Mr. who was an exceedingly nice man. A banker, most active and obliging. He had a peculiar dread of fever; so much so, that he would commonly turn his head, in walking the streets, to avoid contact with the poor. In the early part of this summer he took the fever, and died in the space of three or four days."


66 A young, and once beautiful girl lies here: she was taken ill, and speedily laid low."

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"This was a young man of great promise; but he married a Roman Catholic lady, from which time he became an altered character. Disappointment and discomfort induced him to drink; returning home one evening from a public house, he mistook his road, walked over the quay into the river, and was drowned!"

Reader, if a village churchyard thus furnishes materials for thought, what will city-scenes afford? Imagine London, with its thousand souls departing every week. Suppose yourself endued with light and wisdom from above, were sent upon a mission of inquiry. You start upon your errand. You investigate, as best you can, the spiritual condition of these dying ones. Day follows day, till Saturday night arrives, and where does it find you? What name-what number-have you reached? You stand aghast at seeing how little you have accomplished. But this regards your scrutiny alone. Mark its results. Behold the destitution -the spiritual death that reigns amid these dying circumstances. How heart-sickening! How merciful the dispensation that withholds from view that direful data, which would drive God's messengers into dark despondency.

But if a village, town, or city only, rouse such cogitations? If these possess the mind with thousand gloomy scenes, as the product of a single week, what would a kingdom-what a world produce, and that not for a week, or merely for an age, but for age on age-century after century, even from the day-dawntill the setting sun of Time? And with all these facts thus furnished, God, our mighty God, is perfectly familiar.



My time is not yet come" (John i. 6).

(Concluded from page 262.)

As you find yourself crumbling away, you will begin to recognize the hand of God the Spirit dealing with you, and making His sovereignty manifest. The sublime truth of Jehovah's sovereignty is one to which you may have assented all your life; but you will now be brought to an experimental acquaintance with it; for your mind will gradually open to perceive that minute events are under His control, so that not a sparrow perches on the ground without His leave. The earlier lessons in this branch of Divine knowledge will probably be taught by some apparently trifling incident. An incident which once would have passed unnoticed, shall now deeply impress, because the Sovereign wills that it shall lead your mind to a contemplation of His ways and His attributes. It is the prerogative of Jehovah to make His providences speak or be silent as He pleases. A thousand events pass us by unheeded, because God the Spirit does not call our minds to give particular attention to them. But when it is His good pleasure to make a particular event vocal, He singles it out from the great bundle of His providences, endows it with a voice and power to hunt and follow you; so that, do what you will, it can neither be forgotten nor disregarded. Such is man's natural aversion to God, that, doubtless, you will fly from His providential voice, or employ all your resources to smother it. But neither shyness nor perversity can alter God's purpose, or extinguish the love which has burnt in His bosom towards your person, from everlasting. He knows all about you; you are where He placed you; your history from the cradle needs not to be told Him, for it is but a fulfilment of His decrees. And although you may not have been put in jeopardy, like Moses in a bulrush-boat, yet the ordering of your infant destiny was as much under the Divine control, as that of the august lawgiver of Israel.

You will soon become conscious that there is within you an unconquerable desire to follow the impulses and principles of your natural mind; and from the influence of this desire no power can deliver you but the Holy Ghost. I knew a man who reached maturity as ignorant of God as a wild ass's colt. Nor was this for want of study and reflection. He was by nature thoughtful and inquiring, and consumed his days and nights over books, chiefly such as relate to man and his destiny, works on moral philosophy, metaphysics, and natural theology. The Bible he had read, and heard read, many times, yet could discover in it nothing more valuable than some meagre historical details, some choice poetical images, and some alleged inversions of the course of nature. The gospel he had heard preached, and he was acquainted with what Christians say respecting their hopes. But all to no purpose. The work which neither books, writers, speakers, or study were able to perform in many years, was accomplished in one instant by the breath of the Spirit of God taking


the name "Jesus Christ," and applying it with power to the sinner's soul. It awoke him from spiritual death, and showed him that he was in a perishing condition. Yea, it is the work of God the Holy Ghost to quicken a dead sinner, and to God the Holy Ghost be all the glory. Till He comes with power, nothing is done; but, when He condescends to appear, His faintest breathing throws down the strongholds of Satan, and lays the proudest of men in the dust, with the piteous cry, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" It is the fashion of the world to despise the work of God the Spirit, and to transfer it into the hands of the creature. Many degrade the Holy Ghost to the rank of adjutant, whereas He is the Spirit of the Captain of our salvation. They parcel out the work between the creature and God, as if the creature had to finish what God cannot, or will not, do; or, as if God had to complete what the creature leaves imperfect after doing its best. The Scripture ascribes the whole undertaking to God the Holy Ghost, and to Him alone; hence it is a sort of treason against His prerogative to apply elsewhere for a performance of the work. It is needless to say such applications must prove abortive, for finite power must fail in a work which, by reason of its magnitude, the Eternal has reserved for His own omnipotent arm. Do you ask how you are to act until this work shall be performed for you? The answer is, "Fear ye not; stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord" (Ex. xiv. 13); "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps. xlvi. 10); "Your strength is to sit still (Is. xxxiii. 7); "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him" (Ps. xxxvii. 7), "for without Him you can do nothing" (John xv. 5). The true and safe posture of a Christian, at every period of his career, is a waiting posture, waiting on God to work in him to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil. ii. 13).


From this dependent condition the children of the Most High never are emancipated. On the contrary, the higher a soul rises in the school of Christ, the more dependent does it become on the power of Christ, and the more does it perceive, and feel experimentally, that Christ's power holds it up and carries it heavenward. The believer is, indeed, often full of fears and apprehensions, which destroy his comfort, but they cannot impair the love which Christ bears towards him. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever (Heb. xiii. 8).

Truths, such as the foregoing, appear sheer nonsense to the world, for the Comforter dwelleth not with the world, neither doth He guide the world into truth as He doth the redeemed and elect people of Jehovah (John xiv. 17). If, then, these things appear to your mind as some of the heights of folly, rather than as some of the heights of eternal wisdom, you may be sure that the set time to favour you as a daughter of Zion is not yet arrived. On the other hand, if they are readily admitted by your soul, or even respectfully entertained as things that may be true, though you do not clearly see how, you may take this as evidence, though but slight, of a work of grace begun; for such things are positive foolishness (1 Cor. ii. 14) to all minds, except those on which the Spirit of God hath breathed.

At some stage of your course you will be curious to inquire if it be true that Jehovah has an elect people, whom He loves with especial favour, and you will be anxious to ascertain if you are one of that blessed number. Your mind may have discussed these questions formerly, with that kind of interest which we take in a learned speculation

that does not personally concern ourselves. Now the inquiry will come home to your bosom with vital interest. It will continue to haunt your soul, nor will you obtain any solid or permanent peace till you get the question satisfactorily answered. He who has incited your mind to the inquiry will, at His own set time, supply the answer. It is His way to make us ask when He has predetermined that we shall receive; to make us seek when He intends we shall find; to make us knock when He is preparing to open unto us (Luke xi. 10). As you prosecute your research, you will find the fact plainly stated in Scripture, that the Lord has a chosen people, upon whom His affections have been set from everlasting, and for whom Jesus died. But this information will not now satisfy you. The inquiry will be pressed in a personal shape, "Am I one? Did He die for me? Will the Father ever reveal Himself to me as my Father? Will the Holy Ghost sensibly dwell in me according to promise?" Ah! were you to be heard sighing out these questions in secret, there would be reason to know that you were already born of God, for these are the cries of the spiritual infant-cries which are always put forth when God, of His own will, begets one of us with the word of truth (James i. 18).

It is not impossible that your conversion may be one of a very decided character. The conviction of sin may be deep, and the deliverance into the joy of God's salvation conspicuous. The stream of supplications has run strong for a work of grace of a decided kind, in order that the Lord may get great praise from your soul. Nor is there anything presumptuous in this anticipation, for the Spirit of God hath applied these words to my heart, and compelled me to believe them: "I have chosen you and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name He will give it you" (John xv. 16).

The truth is, that when we are brought this length at the throne of grace, we are not presumptuous, for we are only instruments or cyphers in the Lord's hands, asking, under His influence, for what He has predetermined to grant in answer to the prayer of His Spirit.

What things soever ye desire, when ye pray believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them (Mark xi. 24). "For verily I say unto you, that whoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith" (Mark xi. 23).

To the carnal-minded professor, this familiar confidence between God and the soul that is born of the Spirit, appears impious, for the carnal mind is enmity against God, and is never so much at ease as when it conceives itself to be most out of His sight. It is not until the life of Christ enters the chosen vessel, and engrafts a spiritual understanding, that the sinner-saint begins to hold intercourse with God in Christ. And even after this intercouse is begun, its extent, depth, and familiarity do not depend on the creature, but are greater or lesser, according to the will of the Lord. Some souls are brought into amazing closeness of filial intimacy, while others are not drawn so near, and many, though children, are suffered to live at a great distance. We observe a difference in this respect among the apostles. Peter seems to have been admitted to familiar intercourse more than any of his comrades, except John, who is

emphatically styled the disciple Jesus loved, and who alone leant on His bosom. Yet there is nothing wonderful in God making intimates on earth, of the persons whom He intends shall be His companions in eternity. The only wonder is, that the Lord should fix His love on such as we are, and predestinate us to share in His glory (Rom. viii. 29; John xvii. 22, 24). If we once get over this deep primary wonder, it seems but a trifle that He should give us, while here below, a foretaste of the rich favour He has reserved for us in heaven. The astonishing freeness of His love is strongly exemplified in the parable of the prodigal son. The Father does not wait till the young runagate comes home, but when he is yet a great way off, the parent sees him, and has compassion, and runs, and falls upon his neck, and kisses him (Luke xv. 20). So Jehovah deals with some of His prodigals, while "yet a great way off," upon earth. He falls on their necks, and bestows on them a few Divine kisses, in earnest of the glory that awaits them. In this very generous manner He was pleased to deal with me. Indeed, the Lord, who foreknew all persons at the time He spake this parable, may have had my case in His eye when He sketched the character of the youngest son. He certainly had His gracious Father and mine in view when He painted the character of the forgiving parent. "Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and be merry for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found" (Luke xv. 22-24).

We are so tied to the vindictive policy of treating men as they deserve, that our pigmy conceptions cannot take in the depth and breadth, the fulness and richness, of Divine grace; whereas, God our Father heaps the treasure of heaven upon creatures whose demerit is so vast, that nothing less than the infinitely meritorious sacrifice of the Almighty Son of God could make atonement. Mighty work! wonderful grace! worthy of its Divine Author, whose ways are indeed past finding out! Well and truly doth He say, " My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways" (Isa. lv. 8). You expect vengeance; but I say, return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon you, and to your God, for He will abundantly pardon."

Before I drop my pen, it seems incumbent on me to testify to the fact, that God does hearken to, and answer in specie, the prayers which He causes His Spirit to inspire. Having for years experienced the faithfulness of Jehovah in this matter, I am enabled to bear witness that He is indeed and in truth what He represents Himself to be to His people, namely, a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God. Innumerable are the mercies, both of a temporal and of a spiritual kind, which He has bestowed in answer to prayer, after teaching me to turn my wants into petitions, and to leave them at the throne of grace. The lessons I have been taught on this point have brought me to understand that, when the Lord has it in contemplation to bestow a gift for His glory, He puts a precursive cry into the soul. Hence, where such a cry is found, we may confidently argue that the thing asked for will inevitably follow; not perhaps, as soon as the petitioner could wish, but assuredly at the set time, which Christ has appointed.


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