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To what purpose is it that we are Christians, so far as the honour of Christ is concerned, if our Christianity is not of this living, energetic character ? To what purpose is it that we are alive from the dead, if our life is but death? Why should we be epistles, known and read of all men, if we be not living epistlesepistles breathing life--epistles concerning the life of godliness?
THE FULNESS OF GOD.
“That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”_Eph. iii. 19.
Was this the desire and prayer of the apostle for the Ephesian converts? Why, then, should it not be the desire and prayer of my heart for myself? « Filled with all the fulness of God!” Oh! how holy in heart, how heavenly in our affections, we may hope to be! Yes, even here, we may be “changed from glory to glory;" even here Christ Jesus, “ dwelling in the heart by faith,” can hallow all within us! yes, “every thought" can be brought into subjection by his power! But I feel to draw back. I seem to be so “ filled with all the fulness of” sin, as to make it quite impossible that “the fulness of God” should ever enter my
heart! Let me praise and bless God for this view of myself; let me take my vile and polluted pitcher to the Fountain of Living Waters ; let me sit beside the heavenly spring, yea, like another Mary, at His feet; trusting in the promises of God's word, and labouring in earnest prayer. Then will the cleansing and refreshing waters of the Holy Spirit of my God be poured forth, and its overflowing stream descend into my polluted heart; till, like a vessel of dark and poisonous liquid, which, by receiving continual supplies of water, loses the colour and flavour of its first contents, I shall be changed from the defilement and love of sin, being “filled with the Spirit"-even « all the fulness of God.”
May I begin the new year with a high aim. May nothing less satisfy me, than being " filled with all the fulness of God.”
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHRIST AND HIS
PEOPLE. We acknowledge that there is a vast difference between saint and saint; that, although in the article of justification there is none;
in the depths of sanctification there is much. But oh! how vast the difference between the saints of God and the King of saints ! My dear reader, look at the union of the lion and the lamb; look at the union of the dove and the serpent. Where do we see it in God's people? Some are bold; they want meekness. Some are gentle ; they are tame and yielding. Some are actively serving God; they forget the secret walk. And how oftentimes those who are watching over their secret walking with God, are wanting in active, selfdenying service for God! How we see there is, indeed, a sad want of resemblance to our blessed Lord. The time will come when there shall be perfect purity: no spot, no defilement within ; and without, heart, and lip, and life—all like Christ. Blessed an. ticipation! blessed hope ! it is the “hope of our calling."
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.
“ Through much tribulation ye must enter the kingdom of God.”
We stand up before an ungodly world, and say, “ All your happiness is but froth and folly !” And yet, beloved, conflict is our portion. It is no light thing to “ live by faith on the Son of God;" it is no light thing to live out of myself upon another; it is no light thing to live upon the Lord Jesus Christ as my “ all and in all.” It is called a fight—the fight of faith-because there is so much inward conflict in it. To go in my poverty, and behold my
riches in Him; to feel my weakness, and behold Him as my strength; to be conscious of my sorrow, and look to Him as my soother; to rely upon Him as my All, when I feel myself to be nothing: this is a mighty work, and the work of God the Eternal Spirit within us. It is no light matter to do it.
It is no light matter, believe me, to “put off the old man,” and to “put on the new man;" to arise in the morning-every morning -to new warfare, new conflict; and that not merely day by day, but hour by hour, and moment by moment; to “mortify the deeds of the body," not only in the case of some gross appetites, but in the case of allowable propensities, when they would hurry our souls into bondage; to “crucify the flesh with the affections,” as well as the “ lusts.”
It is no light thing to lie in the dust, when the pride of our hearts would cause us to soar into the clouds ; to stretch out our neck, and take the yoke, and bear it; and if the Lord sends for us, to rise up,
“ Here am I;" or if he sends for our Joseph, or our Benjamin, because our light hearts require the sacrifice, to take it patiently and meekly; or if he sends for our Absalam, as the sacrifice which our sins demand, to give up our Absolom.
O beloved! it is no light thing to dare to be singular; to hold fast integrity; to work out principle; whether we be in our families, or whether we be amon our friends, and relatives, and companions, or whether we be among our foes—among those who love, or among those who love us not-to follow Christ.
TIMES OF TRIAL.
Times of trial let us know ourselves; they teach us what we are. They do not so much make us bad perhaps, as shew us what bad things there are still within us. Many people, when they do wrong in times of trial, speak as if the trial was the cause of the wrong which they do; whereas the trial does no more perhaps than bring out to light, evils that were previously existing in the soul. I was speaking with a person very lately in reference to the excitement and commotion which took place some time ago; and he said, “ They often make me very wicked.” I thought it would be more correct to say, that the thing which had taken place had shown him something wicked about him, which he had not previously seen; that the agitation had not so much caused his imperfections, as brought them to light, and given him an opportunity of learning what was amiss within him.
It would be well for people, when they find themselves, in time of excitement and persecution, carried away by anger and resentment, if, instead of throwing the blame on the events and circumstances, they would take the blame home to themselves, and suspect the state of their souls. We have no right to reckon ourselves any better than we prove to be in times of trial. We are not to reckon our religious attainments according to what we feel in our public worship, nor according to the pleasure we find in reading good books; but according to the decision with which we choose the good and reject the evil in time of temptation, and according to the firmnes and calmness with which we pass through reproach and persecution, and the perseverance with which we pursue the path of arduous duty. If we would know ourselves, we must ask ourselves what we are in our families, when our children try us,
and when our husbands or wives disappoint and grieve us; and not what we are when sitting under a sermon from a favourite preacher, or when reading a book of our favourite author. We must ask ourselves what we are when we meet with rebukes, as well as when we meet with commendations; when we are betrayed, insulted, and reviled, as well as when we were surrounded by a host of smiling friends. We must reckon ourselves to have just so much religion as we exhibit in the hour of trial. If we do right no longer than while all things around us go on pleasantly, we have no right to reckon ourselves to have any religion at all. If we are good. tempered only so long as no one injures or insults us; if we are calm and kind only so long as we are allowed to go on without persecution and disappointment, we have no right to reckon ourselves good-teinpered, or patient, or kind, or calm, at all. We have just so much real, solid religion, as we find ourselves to have in the hour of trial. We are not to conclude that we are what we ought to be, because we feel little or nothing amiss with ourselves, when all things go on pleasantly around us; and to suppose, when we find ourself wanting in the hour of trial, that the trial makes all the badness that we find about us; we are to consider those trials as bringing out to our view our real character, and shewing us exactly what we are and what we are not.
LIFE A SEED-TIME FOR ETERNITY.
The diligent believer gains bright anticipations from a tendency of progressive holiness to increase to him the blessedness of that holiness. All true blessedness can be no other than the maturity of holiness ; for our joy in God must grow in proportion to our love and our ability for the service of God. Amid the trials of earth, God's service is the only unmixed joy of those who love Him. Try to recollect any one enjoyment which has been pure and satisfactory; and you will find that nothing deserves this character, but the lingering sweetness of some work of holiness, or some divine effort in God's cause. All other delights are as a dream. The joys of holiness only are deep and permanent. The blessedness of self-improvement only grows with us as a part of ourselves. The well of water which Christ opens in the soul, only sheds abroad in us those refreshing streams which spring up to everlasting life. O, then, the unspeakable mercy of God to give his Son to open in us that perennial fount! Let none of the clouds of earth throw gloom upon your course. Outward things may come and go with creature fickleness; but you have in yourself a pledge with which no man intermeddleth; the pledge of constantly increasing blessedness through all eternity. Christ in you now is the assurance of glory hereafter. “ Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father—for the path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”
Live while you live !—the epicure would say,
ON WHAT ARE YOU BUILDING ?
On the rock, or the sand ? On truth, or error ? On creatures, or God ? He who seeks the meat that perisheth, is every whit as hard a labourer as he who labours for that meat which endureth to everlasting life. He who runs to obtain a corruptible crown, undergoes self-denial, and fatigue, and anxiety, as well as he who runs for an incorruptible crown, which the righteous Judge shall give. In both cases men must labour; but he who labours for Christ, shall receive his reward; but the expectation of all others shall perish.
Look at the hypocrite! He has as much care as the true believer - he has great expectations, and he grudges no labour. He hopes to deceive God and man ; therefore he is unwearied in his schemings and his workings. He hopes to gain the whole world, and save his own soul; and with so great a hope, he cannot be a sluggard-he cannot refuse to do many things gladly, even though they are odious and difficult. He labours in hope, and consequently earnestly ; but he succeeds in deceiving only himself, and gaining this as his portion from God, that he shall lie down in sorrow.
Look at the worldling! Is his a life of sloth, or ease? How much anxious thought disturbs his rest—his mind is ever tossing with calculations of profit and loss, pleasure or trouble. The shifting scenes of every day undo the plans so cautiously laid yesterday. His life is excess of labour. The ant is outdone in toil and industry