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selves thoroughly upon this besetting sin: it is a sin so abounding in the heart, that few, perhaps, are found who are not, in some measure or other, guilty of it before God. Sometimes it is spiritual, sometimes worldly pride: sometimes the pride of understanding, of birth, of riches, of dress, and outward bodily appearance; and sometimes it is the pride of bodily strength and those earthly qualities, wherein the dumb animals of the world far
So common is this overpowering sin among the rich and
that we may be all safely warned, and earnestly cautioned against it. It is pride which makes man an enemy to his fellow-creatures, and renders one man hateful to another. It is pride, working with evil power in the heart, which encourages the love of self, and fills the circles of domestic life with family woe; for pride rejects with disdain the Scripture precept to “ esteem others better than ourselves,” not to be “ easily provoked,” and so blights the tenderest charities of human life.
A second duty more immediately owing to God the Holy Ghost, is a faithful and consistent use of the appointed means of knowing and doing the will of God. These are, the frequent study of the word of God; faithful attendance upon the Public Service and Sacraments of the Church; a free and
unreserved intercourse with the Ministers of Religion in our spiritual wants and difficulties; and, above all, frequent private prayer for the help and direction of divine aid, in all that we thus seek after and desire to obtain.
In our consideration of the promised efficacy in these God's own appointed means, well may we ask, how it comes to pass that Christians, who outwardly make trial of them, do not grow in grace, and peace, ,
and spiritual holiness!
The failure arises, not from any thing unequal to their promised fruits in the means themselves, but from some deeply-seated error in those who thus unprofitably apply to them. By some, they are scarcely used at all; by others, they are depended upon without a corresponding endeavour, on their own part, to profit by them; and by others, who do use and duly value them, they are so opposed by some secret sin and worldly-mindedness, that, like the seed sown upon bad ground, they spring up, wither away, and bring forth no fruit. Under such outward means, no wonder that better wishes, sometimes cherished in the soul, come to nothing, and end, as every vain and earthly pursuit must end, in“vanity and vexation of spirit.”. Christians, thus inconsistent, never prosper in the spiritual life.
They mix a little religion with an indulged love of some sin, or the wilful forsaking of some known duty; and, unless, by God's grace, they awaken from this dangerous dream of error and confusion, all the terrors of a sinful life will burst over them at the last, here in this world, or in that other state of their being beyond the grave, where repentance cannot come.
If the consideration of these awful truths heretofore have brought, or now, for the first time, bring us to the heartfelt desire of hearing and doing the will of God made manifest in the great mystery of our Redemption in Christ, and sanctification through the Holy Spirit, let us henceforth shew that we are duly and seriously impressed with them; let us use the appointed means of growing in grace, and God will not forget His promise on our behalf, that He will bless the means.
To this end we must read, and hear, and meditate upon the word of God; but it must be done with a proper spirit: not for unhallowed purposes; not for mere controversy's sake; not in spiritual pride; not for party spirit's sake; but honestly, and with a single eye, to know God's will, and to do it.
We must go the public services of the church, and there attend, at the appointed seasons, the Holy Sacraments of our Lord :
but we must take heed how we go, and how we hear.
When we go to the House of God, we must go as humble penitents, as true believers in the faith of Christ crucified, lest, when we come within those sacred walls, we be found at the wedding feast, without a “ wedding garment;" and so sinning when we come, sinning while we are there, and still going on in our sin, we render unto God nothing but “ the sacrifice of fools ;” and He, at the judgment day, render unto us according to our evil deeds. We must go, as to another means of spiritual help, to the appointed ministers of the church : we must consult these our spiritual pastors in all our spiritual wants and difficulties, and shew them that we are in earnest about the great work, common to them and us, the salvation of our souls: we must shew them that we seek their aid, their advice, their prayers herein, as of persons set apart by God Himself from the common cares and business of this world, to watch for our souls as hereafter to give account thereof. But, at the same time, we must beware how we ever haye “men's persons so in admiration,” as to forget that they are but “ earthen vessels, in whom this spiritual treasure is contained ; we must beware how we ever so look to them for help, as to forget that it is upon God, the
Holy Spirit, upon whom alone, in all things spiritual, we are to depend. Though Paul may plant
, and A pollos water, it is God only who can give any increase." We must use, and thank God for, these means of grace, but trust only in Him. In these times more especially we must beware of the sin condemned in Holy Writ, of having " itching ears,” going about frorn place to place,“ unstable, enduring sound doctrine," but thereby promoting “ false doctrine, heresy, and schism :” in these matters we must remember what the Scripture saith, and “ meddle not with them that are given to change;" but see and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and we « shall find rest for” our “ souls.”* And let us be assured that if we seek a way of our own, and not of God's choosing, it will not profit us; that if ever we look up to the ministers of religion, be
esteem them” upon other grounds than for their works' sake," as ministers of the Most High God, so long shall we derive no spiritual good from their ministry; so long shall we be found unprofitable hearers, deceiving our own souls.
And, lastly, let us go; as unto the chief means of obtaining the spiritual help and comfort of the Holy Ghost, to frequent private