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ON GRIEVING THE SPIRIT.
EPHESIANS iv. 20.
“ Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.”
i Cor. vi. 19.
INCONSISTENCY in the Christian profession must be highly grieving to the Holy Spirit of God. To mark a want of harmony between the professed principles and the habit of life in one avowedly his temple; to trace a love of the world, a panting for its fame, a grasping for its wealth, an adoption of its policy, a conforming to its maxims, its pursuits, its pleasures, and its religion, cannot fail to wound the sacred guest—the indwelling Spirit. And yet this worldly spirit, this painful inconsistency of avowed Christian principle, how many many professors does it mark ! What numbers there are professing and calling themselves Christians, the disciples of the Lord, the followers of the meek and lowly Lamb of God, who think lightly of putting on gay worldly attire-of frequenting balls or moving in the dance—of joining in foolish songs-of attending plays, and reading novels and romances—all of which are at variance with the Christian character, are violations of the Christian rule, are dishonouring to the name of Christ, and are deeply grieving to the Holy Spirit of God. You are professedly a temple of the Holy Ghost. What! shall
you adorn that temple with earthly splendour, after the fashion of this world? What says the Holy Ghost by his servant? “ In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array ; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” (1 Tim. ii. 9, 10.) Again, “ Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their husbands.” (1 Pet. iii. 3—5.) Does,
the extravagance, the costliness, the worldliness, the studied attention to taste, that marks the outward adornment of so many professing Christians, comport with the spirit and the precept of the Gospel ? Rather, are they not such indulgences as the Gospel clearly interdicts, and on which Christianity severely frowns ?
Again : Shall the believer, the professed temple of the Holy Ghost, be found mingling with the world, taking pleasure in its amusements, courting its society, working upon its principles and adopting its policy? Ought this to be the line of conduct pursued by a professing Christian ? Is this the way to illustrate the holy power of the truth, to recommend the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to rebuke the sin, and folly, and rebellion of the world, and to win it over to the obedience of the faith? Assuredly not!
And how can the divine life in the soul be fed and sustained from such a source ? What nourishment does it derive from the light and frothy readings of the day—from the pages of a sickly romance, a frivolous novel, a tale of fiction? What food can the unhallowed, unsanc
tified imaginations of men, prepare for the strengthening, supporting, and expanding of this divine principle in the soul ? Surely none.
And what meetness for prayer, for communion with God, for the reading of His sacred work, can a believer find in the giddy dance, in the silly song, in the immoral novel? What preparation of mind do these pursuits afford for approaching to God, for the proper discharge of Christian duties, for sober reflection, for the hour of death, and for the day of judgment ? Oh! the awful inconsistencies that mark the profession of some, who can find a near and an easy path from the sanctuary, the communion-table, and the closet, to the evening party, the ballroom, the mazy dance, the empty novel, the very heart of a gay and giddy world! Is this true Christianity ?—is this like Christ?—is it after his command, his precept, and his example? Judge ye.
But what is the line of duty marked out for the walk of a professing believer? It is as clear in the word of God as the meridian sun. Thus is it laid down : “Be not conformed to this world : but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. xii. 2.) “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor. vi. 17, 18.) “ Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the
eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John ii. 15, 16.) “ Ye adulterers and adultresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (James iv. 4.) Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (i. 27.) Thus implicitly and clearly is the line of Christian duty, in reference to a believer's connexion with the world, laid down by the Holy Ghost; he cannot depart from it without grieving the Spirit, wounding his own soul, and compromising his Christian profession.
Grieve not, then, the Holy Spirit of God by any known inconsistency of conduct, any sinful conformity to the world, any inordinate pursuit of its wealth, its honours, its pleasures, its friendships, and its great things. Pray against the sin of covetousness, that canker-worm that feeds at the root of so many souls; pray against a love of dress, that sin that divests the mind of so many professors from the simplicity of Christ, and takes the
eye off from the true adornment; pray against a thirst for light and trifling reading, that strange and sinful inconsistency of so many, the certain tendency of which is to starve the life of God in the soul, to engender a distaste for spiritual aliment, for the word of God, for holy meditation, and for divine communion and fellowship; yea, pray against the spirit of worldly sinful conformity in everything, that the Holy Spirit be not grieved, and that Christ be not dishonoured and crucified afresh in and through you. It is to be feared that much of the professed Christianity of the day is of a compromising character. The spirit that marks so many is, “What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you ?” There is a betraying of Christ for the world—a bartering of Christianity for its good opinion, its places of honour, and mfluence, and emolument. The world, the flesh, and Satan, are ever on the alert to frame a bargain with a Christian professor for his religion. “What will you give me in return ?” is the eager enquiry of many. Oh, awful state! oh, fearful deception! oh, fatal delusion! Reader ! are you a, professing Christian? then guard against the least compromise of your principles, the least betrayal of Jesus, the first step in an inconsistency of walk : above all, pray and watch against a worldly Christianity-a Christianity that wears a fair exterior, so far as it is composed of attendance upon sanctuary services, and sacraments, and religious institutions, but which excludes from it the Cross of the meek and lowly Lamb of God—a Christianity which loves the world, and the things of the world, “ makes a fair show in the flesh,” speaks well of Christ, and yet betrays him with a kiss !
But let not this be the model of your religion. You are not of the world, even as Christ was not of the world : if the world hate you, it hated him also, before it hated you : if you were of the world, the world would love you.
Marvel not at this! Do not expect more from the world than your Master received. The world that crowned your Lord with thorns, will never, if you “ live godly in Christ Jesus,” crown you with garlands: the world that crucified him, will never, if you are his consistent disciple, enthrone you. The world is the sworn enemy of your Saviour, let it not be your friend. No; come out of it and be ye separate. Let your whole life be a solemn rebuke of it: let your integrity rebuke its want of principle—your sobriety rebuke its frivolousness—your upright sincerity rebuke its heartlessness—your crucifixion to it, rebuke its emptiness, folly, and sinfulness ; let your dress, your spirit, your whole conversation, evince what a splendid nothing is all its pomps, and glory, and pretension; so shall
Lord and Master-he who loved you unto the death, whose glory was in his humiliation, whose path was humble, lowly, and obscure, and whose death was the ignominious and accursed death of the cross : thus, too, you shall resemble his beloved apostle, who, taking his place by the cross, and looking down upon the world from the holy elevation where he stood, could exclaim, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
HINTS TO PARENTS.
Among the spots of the leprosy of sin which cleave longest to the heart of man, we may perhaps reckon an anxiety to please the world. Of course if such an anxiety have for its object the glory of God in the salvation of our worldly neighbours, it is right and good; but it is to be feared that the feeling too often originates in mere selfishness, and it is then undoubtedly part and parcel of “ the world” which our faith is to overcome. This guilty toying with the world, is seldom more distinctly seen than in the anxiety which even Christian parents too often evince that their children should be attractive even to mere worldly people. If a child's beauty, or his carriage, or his polished manner, be commended by one who stands well in fashionable society, how greedily is the praise
received by the parent. And yet if such praise be weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, how lightly must it be esteemed! Yea, if the child have not received God's grace in his heart, such commendation should make the parent tremble; for it is certain that the more attractive our children are in their persons, the more likely it will be that they will be enticed into the circle of this world's pomps and vanities. Beauty of person, polished manners, and accomplishments, if found in a child of God, are talents for good ; but without the grace of God, they are temptations and snares. I am bold, then, to say that a parent should have no anxiety about his children's mere personal appearance or accomplishments ; his agony should be that they be “ born again ;" he should seek first that the kingdom of God be established in their hearts, and then much more will be added” than the best proficients in this world's wisdom can give. They will be truly “courteous;" they will have “the law of kindness" not merely on their lips but in their hearts; they will honour not only the rich and great, but “all men ;” and instead of hollow and assumed sincerity, they will have truth in their thoughts, words, and actions. And for a parent's encouragement to use earnest prayer that their children may be regenerated of God, 1 point to the many instances in which the Saviour, while on earth, attended to a parent's cry. Let there be but the "great” faith of the poor Canaanitish woman, and our success will equal hers. “I say," writes Luther, “that infants are succoured by the faith of others.” Again, how often do Christian parents greatly rejoice if their children obtain the favour and patronage of some noble or wealthy person, without much regard being paid to what he may be in the sight of God. Is not this inconsistent and trusting in an arm of flesh, yea, in a broken reed, that may pierce and wound the hand that leans upon it. But enough. I commend this subject to the prayerful consideration of Christian parents. Stella, March 2, 1845.
ONE WAY OF INTERPRETING SCRIPTURE.
An English Clergyman was in Rome, witnessing all the ceremonies of the Church there, attended by a priest well acquainted with these performances, who acted as his interpreter. One day, when the cardinals moved along in procession, on arriving at the Monte Pincio, they came out of their carriages; the Protestant took notice of the extraordinary beauty of their stockings, on which a variety of the richest patterns were worked in different colours. He asked the interpreting priest to explain the mystery of the stockings. The priest, looking at him with mingled pity and contempt, proceeded to enlighten his ignorance by asking him, did he never read in the prophet, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth glad tidings ?" The reader will doubtless smile at the puerility which finds the fulfilment of this evangelical prediction (Isaiah lii. 7,) in the gaudy stockings which encase the feet of luxurious cardinals who help the Pope in keeping the Bible from the people; but there are many other prophecies, describing the Christian Church in the reflected
brightness of her glorified Head, which when applied to the Church of Rome seem to be interpreted with as little propriety.
Review of Books.
ESSAYS ON CHRISTIAN UNION. 8vo. pp. 540. London: Hamilton,
Adams, and Co.
We could almost have wished that incompetency to enter into it so fully this volume had never been put into and so ably as we could wish, yet we our hands. It touches a tender string, cannot refrain from offering our longwhich vibrates with thrilling interest matured sentiments, willing, at least, through every inward feeling, and to show what spirit we are of, in reawakens the liveliest and sincerest gard to this all-important matter; and sympathy. Yet it is an oppressed in what spirit we would go to work and afflicted sympathy; one that in venturing to endeavour to influence would gladly respond to the call, and the sentiments of others. that appreciates the object, but that But, it will be asked, what is there sees not in existence the material for to give alarm in this call to union? its attainment. If there be one con- We reply, that in looking over the sideration which, more than any other, names of the writers of the Essays, tells the sad tale of the sunken and the first thought that occurred was unworthy condition of the professing one of regret that such a subject Church of Christ, it is that of her should fall into such hands. Nearly disunion and her strife. At that all the writers are persons who stood critical moment when our Lord was most prominent in the late secession leaving His disciples, the prayer from the Church of Scotland : who, which He, in His infinite wisdom, whatever be the view which may be deemed the most essential, was, that taken of their conduct, have at all they all might be one, as He and the events been the means of effecting one Father were one. But oh, the riven of the most serious and extensive disand distracted condition of Christ's unions in the Church of Christ which body! its dry and parched condition! the annals of history have left upon Where is the precious oil of godly record. Be they right or wrong, the unity, softening and refreshing the fact is unquestionable; and men, and entire body, like the dew of Hermon? good men too, will variously judge of and where is its holy fragrance, “the their motives and their wisdom; and smell of Lebanon,” rising like incense therefore we cannot but think that a from this barren desert out of the good cause is in danger of being Church of the faithful, as welcome to damaged in such hands, and that even the God of Heaven, as it is cheering the truth will be thought to come and refreshing to all under its influ- from a prejudiced and suspected ence? It is here we must take our quarter. stand, and learn to weep our tears of
We must own that we are ourshame and sorrow, and of alarm also; selves increasingly impressed with the for if this be Christ's test and badge conviction, that the Scotch Seceders of genuine, honest discipleship, “by have made a false step: and we tremthis shall men know that ye are my ble to see such men allowed to do it. disciples, when
have love one for We never can get over this view of another," we may well fear indeed the matter—that schism is an evil, a lest He should repudiate our profes
most serious evil: that nothing can sion of faithful allegiance, and disown justify it, but the clearest and most and desert a people crying, Lord, unequivocal reasons: that in the inLord, but overlooking the practice of stance of a Church doctrinally sound His new, and best, and highest com- and pure; of a Church, unchanged, mand.
and still the same in its fundamental We feel most strongly upon this articles of essential truth; and of a subject; and, though sensible of our Church which God has honoured and