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and maketh alive: He maketh poor and maketh rich: He bringeth low and lifteth up. Surely I am a witness for God, that He will keep the feet of his saints; for, as for me my feet were almost gone, my steps had well nigh slipt: but he led me with his hand, and quieted me in himself. The wicked may proudly boast, and the righteous for a time seem forsaken; but God abideth faithful: he cannnot deny himself. Yet a little while, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness, for by strength shall no man prevail. No: the adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces: out of heaven shall he thunder
upon them. The Lord shall judge the ends of the earth. He shall give strength unto his King, and exalt the horn of his anointed” (or Christ.)
Thus have we seen, my Dear Hearers, a divine life in the soul tried and honoured.
But am I to presume that all before me this day are, like Hannah, alive unto God through Jesus Christ, and maintaining a communion with him in their sorrows and in their joys? Are not many of you, on the contrary, living without God in the world? Let conscience speak; and let it be heard when it speaks. Does not conscience declare that you live like men in general, without repentance ?-- without faith in Christ? --without that heart-felt religion and that secret prayer, which mark the character of those who are alive to Gol? Compare the sorrows and the joys of VOL. 111.
this woman with your own. How do reproaches? How do you answer, when unjustly accused? Whither do you go in trouble? Is it to your Bible? Is it to your Saviour? or is it to some broken cistern of human power or carnal pleasure? Examine, I pray you: who are your chosen companions? what are your oracles? where are your expedients? Are they like those of this woman? Are they not the very reverse ?
You may regularly attend the public worship of God: you may contend warmly for revealed truth : you may protest against the conduct of the ignorant and profane, and may appear religious at certain seasons. Thus, perhaps, Penninah, the adversary of Hannah, appeared. But beware of putting the mere picture of religion for the substance. If your friend is dead, you find it but a small comfort that you retain his picture. How wretched do you esteem the emigrant, who wanders over Europe with an assumed title, a star, or a plan of an estate; but who possesses neither rank nor property!
Examine, therefore, yourselves, whether ye be in the faith: prove your ownselves : know ye not your ownselves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates ?
God is witness, and your own souls are witnesses, that you, whom I am now particularly addressing, have not the life of God within you.
Brethren, his word declares, that to be carnally minded is death:—that the carnal mind is enmity against God:-that they that are in the flesh cannot please God:—and that if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if none of his, whose are they?
Trouble is that dreary path, which every one, soon or late, must tread: but, to enter into it without a guide, to faint in it without a comforter, to meet death at the end without a prospect:If any man, however gay or great, is reduced to this, I say that an untimely birth is better than he.
What then must be the consequence of dying in such a state? What language must, at length, proceed from such lips? Will not one say, “I am the man, who once stood praying before the Lord; but the world kept possession of my heart: I talked of religion; but had none. I see, too late, that religion is a divine life, which I once despised, and have now lost for ever!”
Will not another reply, “ I am the woman, who stood, not praying, but trifling before the Lord. I heard, indeed, the truth: I felt some convictions ; but I lost them among the giddy. I recollected them in death ; and now meet them in eternity, as the worm that dieth not ?”
May the Holy Spirit awaken you from such a fatal delirium, before it be too late. It is not too late, as yet. The ordinances of this day are the call of Christ to your hearts. He ceaseth not to
complain, Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.-Turn ye, for why will ye die? Lift
your hearts to him in reply, “ Lord, to whom shall we go, but unto thee? Give us the life which thou requirest; and which, when tried, thou wilt bring forth as gold.”
I turn to you, who need not to be informed that true religion is a divine life. You feel it to be something very distinct from the flighty speculations of some men, or the graver forms of others. You know what it is to take your cares, like Hannah, to one who careth for you. You have felt a sympathy with her, as we have passed on: for there is something common in the exercises and experience of every living branch in the True Vine.
I more particularly address those Younger Christians, who tell me that they faint in endeavouring to combat sensible evils with spiritual reflections :—that to bear up against and work through their difficulties merely by faith in a promise, is the greatest difficulty of all: and readily do we grant, that believing, which some think so very easy, is found by the real believer to be his hardest work.
But, first, CONSIDER THE NATURE OF YOUR
We walk by faith, and not by sight. Observe the footsteps of the flock. How did Abraham,
Jacob, Moses, David, Hannah, and the rest of that cloud of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews xi, make their way? Was it by faith, or sight? They advanced only on the ground of divine assurances; and they were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims
Do not, therefore, allow yourself even to wish for the by-path, which needs no faith, and presents no trials. Let it be enough for us, that we are passing through a dispensation to glory, through which our Master himself once passed, and through which all his Disciples follow him. It is experiment: it is exercise: it is education: which, though at the time not joyous but grievous, yet worketh the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby,
When we object to his methods of advancement we resernble our children, who would be learned, but would not go to school; or, when they go, would endure nothing there. We know how to answer them: let us learn thus to answer ourselves.
“ Teach me,” said a king once to a mathematician, “that art of yours which I so much admire. I would fain be a geometrician, but cannot think of passing through the ordinary paths of the science.”—“ Your majesty must be told,” replied
" that there is no ROYAL way to geometry,"