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doubt whether you can act habitually on the principles of Jesus ? whether you can do as you know he would do under the same circumstances ? Let me ask, Do you
Have you ever tried ? Can you say, that the earnest, first wish of your soul has been to be a dear child of God ; that you have put forth all the power you possess, have made the utmost exertion, have been willing to lay aside every weight, to deny yourself any thing, to part with any thing, sacrifice any thing, that stood in your way, and yet that you have failed ? I doubt not you have wished to be good, but then you have wished to be rich also. I doubt not you have wished to be good, but then you have wished to get into some office ; or you have wished that your political party, or your religious sect, should get or maintain the ascendency. I doubt not you have at times wished to be a child of God, but then, I venture to say, you have wished for something else rather more than you have wished to be truly good, and that is the reason you have failed. Confess this, and charge not your failure to the Author of your nature. He has made you a rational and moral being. He has placed Jesus before you as the one in whom such a being has been perfectly developed. He has called you to be holy, as Christ was holy. Now, then, receive Christ as the one with whom the Heavenly Father is perfectly well pleased. Consider the principles on which he acted, the spirit by which he was animated. Commune with him daily. Keep his life and character continually before you, and you shall be incited and strengthened to follow wherever he has led the way ; you will be roused to attempt whatever he has commanded ; and you will be willing to suffer whatever loss, obloquy, or persecution you may incur in the way of true righteousness.
This is what each one can do and must do for himself. And in doing this for ourselves, we shall be doing much for others. Yes, much more than we can do in any other way. For we may be very ingenious, eloquent, and zealous in the exposition and defence of this or that theory of religion ; but if it be not evident that we are earnestly striving to be truly religious, our ingenuity, eloquence, and zeal will be expended for naught. It is to no good purpose that we talk to others of the beauty of holiness, if we be not ourselves holy. Though we speak with the tongue of men and of angels, if we have not the love of God and of man living in our hearts, and active in our lives, we are no better than sounding brass.
Too much account has been made of words. We hear often of the profession of religion. There would be less need of the profession were there more of the practice. There would be less need of words were there more of deeds. Sometimes, in certain emergencies, at great crises in the progress of mankind, words are acts ; but ordinarily the homely proverb is true, that actions speak louder than words. The want of correspondence between the professions and the practices of Christians, the principles they inculcate, and the lives they lead, - has been, and ever will be, a greater stumblingblock than all the avowed enemies of Christ have been able to put in his way. How earnestly did the Apostles entreat the early Christians to show their faith by their works, to put on Christ in their daily life and conversation. Their -NO 234.
exhortations on this point should press upon us with equal weight ; for the cause of the Redeemer is to be carried on to its consummation by the power of the same spirit in which it was begun. We can do nothing for the redemption of others, except so far as we are ourselves redeemed from the power of sin, the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life. How can we help to raise others, unless we ourselves have first risen with Christ? If it be seen and felt by those who are witnesses of our daily life, that our affections are set on things above, on the unseen, the perfect good, then will their hearts be quickened in aspiration for the
If in us there be the true life, our life will be a light to those about us. He only who gives himself gives any thing to the cause of Christ, the redemption of the world. If you forget all else that I have said, remember this short sentence. He only who gives himself gives any thing to the cause of Christ.
The rich man may give his money. He may contribute largely to build churches, sustain Christian institutions, support ministers, send the Gospel to the heathen ; but if he give not himself in obedience to God, the lesson which he teaches will be (will it not ?) that religion is something good for the poor, the unfortunate, or for the heathen ; but the wealthy and prosperous may live and do very
well without it. The learned may expend their lore in the elucidation of the Scriptures, in exposition and defence of the doc trines and precepts of Christianity ; but if they are seen to live in disregard of its principles, it will fairly be inferred (will it not ?) that with all their learning they have
been able to discover nothing in the commandments of Jesus that deserves their obedience. So also a man may be eloquent in his appeals to oth
- in his exhortations and entreaties to them to be reconciled to God in Christ ; but if he be not himself obedient to the law of our Heavenly Father as taught us by his beloved Son, his appeals, exhortations, entreaties, prayers, will fall as idle words. Though he speak with the tongue of an angel, he will be no better than a tinkling cymbal.