« PreviousContinue »
laws. He, therefore, sets himself, seriously, to the business of religion; knowing the un speakable value of everlasting salvation, and aware that if a man should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul, he would still be in a most deplorable condition. He repents him truly of the sins of his former life; not merely feeling sorry for what he had done, but loathing and abhorring those iniquities which have made Gop his enemy, and solemnly resolving, that, with God's assistance, he will repeat them no more. He strives after a firm, steady, and sincere faith in the word of GOD, and in the of the LORD JESUS CHRIST; praying that his faith fail not, but, that it may be " “creased more and more, till it become a deeply rooted principle in his heart. Seeing, however, in the word of God, and hearing from his ministers, that faith, without obe dience to the commandments of his Saviour, will be of no avail, he implores the aid of the Holy Spirit, to render a poor, weak, and sinful creature, capable of fulfilling the various Iduties of fan christian life; and readily gains the object of his prayer. Strengthened by this assistance, he puts in practice, the faith he has been blessed with. Has GoD been -pleased to give him a large portion of this world's goods ? he endeavours to dispose of
them in a manner agreeably to the will of Him who gave them. He relieves the wants of his needy fellow-creatures; encourages the industrious; rewards the deserving; and protects the oppressed. He makes his "light "to shine before men, that they may see "his good works, and glorify his Father "who is in heaven;" and is an example to others, in all that is pious and virtuous; reverencing the day, and temple, and ordinances, of GOD; and shewing forth, in a holy and benevolent life, that he is not ungrateful for, nor undeserving of, those blessings which his goodness has conferred upon him. Is the man with whom God's Holy Spirit abides, in a humble situation of life? the proofs of his being under its blessed influence are still equally evident; because he observes all the duties of his station, whatever it may be, in a conscientious and christian-like manner. If he be a poor man, and dependent for support upon his labour, he is contented with the lot assigned him, and industrious in his endeavours to make the best of it; pursuing his toil with a cheerful and thankful heart, and scorning to increase his gains by any thing but honest industry. He knows that the journey of life is but for a few years; and does not think much of the difficulties of a read that will lead him to
heaven at the last. While his thoughtless ungodly neighbour is rendering his home a scene of wretchedness, and want, and pro fligacy, his own dwelling is the residence of comfort and peace. His wife, treated with that affection and kindness which GoD and nature have made her due, returns him love "for love;" while his children, growing up "like olive branches around his table," give, the fair promise of imitating their parents' piety, honesty, sobriety, and industry. Meanwhile his worldly means increase by little and little. The small remains of the gains of each successive day, preserved with care, instead of being spent in waste, grow in time into a sum that will prevent future want; and he can look forwards to the years of age and infirmity, without th: dread of being then destitute of the means of subsi tence, or of being obliged for support to the bounty, of the rich, or the allowance of the parish. But what is of infinitel more importance to him, the state of his soul is every day bet tered; and as he walks in the fear of the LORD Continually, so does he grow daily in the comfort of the Holy Ghost. Does he labour under worldly wants and difficulties? Patience has her perfect work, and teaches him to sub mit to the will of GOD without a murmur. Does he suffer pains and infirmity of body?
The Comforter gives him christian consolation as a medicine to heal his sickness. Does he approach the valley of the shadow of death? The same holy friend bids him fear no evil; for that God is still with him, and will never desert him. It cheers and revives him till the last gasp and when his soul is separating from the body, it cleaves the clouds as it' did to the dying Stephen: shews him the glories of heaven; and whispers to him, "Blessed are the dead which die in the "LORD." Surely, my brethren, no other argument need be urged to make us sensible of the blessing of the assistance of the Holy Ghost, than such a picture as this of the happy effects which his abiding with us will produce in our souls. If health be desirableto the sick, freedom to the slave, and a reprieve to him who is under sentence of execution; how much more earnestly should we long after the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and endeavour to render ourselves worthy of his in-dwelling, by a conscientious, upright, and christian life; since, through his guidance alone can we be conducted to that Saviour, who only can, and will, cure us of the dis order of corruption; free us from the captivity of sin; and reprieve us from the sentence of everlasting perdition.
JAMES i. 26.
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
T is generally agreed by learned men, that St. James wrote this general epistle a few years before the destruction of Jeru salem by the Romans, which took place about forty years after our Saviour's cru cifixion. At this time, the prophecies of JESUS CHRIST, in the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth chapters of St. Matthew, (and in other places of the four Evangelists,) and of St. Paul, in his second epistle to the Thessa lonians, (concerning the temper and beha viour of the Jewish nation, as tokens of their approaching, ruin,) were going on