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which the Christian needs, is such as will not only carry him through things temporal, but may also fit him for things eternal ; a training, such as will enable him, not only to do his part well here, and live respectably, and die peacefully, but such as may be an earnest and preparation for Heaven. And what alone can do either ?-Godliness. It is said of godliness, that it hath the promise of the life which now is, as well as of that which is to come ; yet which is to come first, be the main object for which we live? this temporal life, or that which is eternal ? I
suppose the words of St. Paul mean much the same as our Lord's great rule of living; Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all outward things shall be added unto you: seek the life which to come, and the life which now is shall go well. However the course of this world may go, you will not much remember the years of your life, because God will answer you in the joy of your heart. He will make all things work together for good to them that love Him.
In the world the days are always evil days; in Him they are always good days. In the world we shall have tribulation, in Him we shall have peace. Abraham had good days, but it was from within that they were so. His days outwardly, when he left his country and kindred, when he went in search of food, evil. St. Paul had “ good days,” even in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness. The LORD HIMSELF had not what we call good days in this world of sin and sorrow ; He had not where to lay His head ; He was all His life-long a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; He took upon Him the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. He closed a life of poverty and contempt with a death of torture and ignominy. And is the disciple to seek to be above his MASTER, the servant above his LORD? Are we, with this example before us, to look for a long life, and a happy one on earth ? Surely not. What have we to do but to trust to His promise, that so long as we are followers of Him, and that which is good, imitating His example, and keeping His commandments, nothing shall harm us, nothing shall really hurt us which does not separate us froin Him. We shall have no need to fear any thing in this world, if only we sanctify the Lord God in our hearts; recognizing His gracious Presence within us, and looking through the trials of this present time to the glory which shall be revealed in us, when this our vile body shall be fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body, according to that mighty working, whereby He is able to subdue all things to Himself. This blessed sight-the sight of Christ our God and Saviour, and being made like Him in His eternal and glorious kingdom, this is the only true end and consummation, of that“ love of life” and “ desire of good days” which so many look for here below, and make it the object of their teaching and training. Some persons are glad to make their children scholars, to fit them, as they say, for life, and to see them thrive and prosper. Such, however, never will be the view of those who truly lay to heart what I have been alluding to-the godless lives, and hopeless deaths of Christians, and who consider the great end for which we are created, and redeemed, and sanctified. Words cannot describe the vanity of all things here below, except so far as they bear on our eternal condition. A few years, and what will it matter to each of us where he lived, so he lived unto Christ? where or how he died, so he died unto Christ? what has been his scholarship, so he has been a disciple of Christ? If to him to live was Christ, to die was gain, and to rise again is life everlasting. If it was to live only to this world, he has bis reward, he has received his consolation; he is gone to his own place.
The end of the Christian, the true end of his love of life, and of his desire to see good days, is simply the sight of CHRIST. And what then is his training and education to be, amidst a world of trial and temptation ?-a training of an immortal soul for life and immortality, the training of a child of God in this world, to be a child of the resurrection in the next.
And this is the holy discipline described by the holy Psalmist, together with this mention of the love of life and happiness, which it is the business of Christ's Church to give. No words can represent more affectingly what Christian education should be, as described by the pure wisdom which is from above, as contrasted with that low view of it which is talked of by the wisdom of this world. The wisdom of this world, earthly, sensual, devilish as it is, says, 'What has a man to do but to live, and do as well as he can in the world ? I will do the best part I can for my child; I must make him a scholar, and then he must take his chance.' How different the view of Heavenly wisdom in the text, beginning with the training, not of the understanding, but of the heart and conscience from the earliest childhood ; with the government of the tongue, with the watching of the thoughts : with that fear of the LORD which is the beginning of all wisdom, and which, in the beautiful words of the wise man, “tendeth to life,” and “prolongeth the days!"
Hear the call of the Psalmist, or rather of Christ by his mouth :
“Come, ye children, hearken unto me: and I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
“What man is he that lusteth to live, and would fain see good
I will teach you that fear of the LORD which tendeth to life, and prolongeth the days; which will give you peace and security in this life and fit you for another and a better, for a long life, even for ever and ever.
Take them as the words of our Heavenly Father, speaking to us His own adopted children in Christ Jesus. Take them as the words of our Saviour CHRIST, speaking to those which were objects of His tenderest interest and compassionate care when on earth, little children, calling them to Himself, not only to be blessed by Him, but to learn of Him. Or take them as His words addressed to grown-up people, disobedient children, and needing conversion, who, except they repent and be converted, and become as little children, shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, who have fallen from the grace of Baptism, fallen from their first love; who have to unlearn the evil habits of their riper years, and to go back with broken hearts to the lessons of their childhood.
How inexpressibly touching and solemn they are, as addressed to such children of God, old or young, by their God and Saviour: “Come ye children, hearken unto ME.” Some, who though disobedient children, are called His children still ; others, who are yet His. This makes the well-known familiar words of the Psalmist ring in our ears, and thrill through our hearts. Many have been blessed even here beyond all we could desire or deserve; yet we who are older, and who all well remember the time when we looked forwards to a long life, and a happy one, now that the prospect is fast vanishing from before us, we have lived long enough to learn how little there is in this life to satisfy the longings of an immortal soul ; how far we are from true happiness at best. Yet have we a sort of consciousness that our enjoyment even of this poor transitory life might have been greater than it is, our view of death more cheerful, and our prospect in eternity brighter, had we loved knowledge and chosen the fear of the LORD; had we sought peace where it is to be found.
Are we not just so far discontented and unhappy, have made life wearisome, and our days evil, as we have failed daily to live in His holy fear, to think, and speak, and act, as in His Presence, to live unto Him, and pray unto Him, and hold communion with Him, as conscious that His eyes are ever over the righteous, and His ears open unto their prayers ? Has not the fear of the LORD, which might have been a filial, affectionate, reverential fear, now become, to many of us, what we, by our sins, have made it, a fear which hath torment? Is not what should have been the loving, confiding fear of a tender FATHER, now the fear of a righteous JUDGE ? Yet well were it for such to understand the terror of the LORD, so it may bring them to repentance, and lead them back, like the prodigal, to His fear and love.
Think, each of you, how much evil he has spoken, how much evil he has done, how much good he has left undone, how much time he has lost, how many prayers he has neglected ; of how many sins, both in thought, word, and deed, he has been guilty, under God's eye, and in God's hearing, which, had he really known what the true fear of God is, what His Presence is, what it really is to have His Eye over us, or His Face turned against us, he never could have done. Life is a burden to many an one whose conscience may tell him he has made it so; he complains of the times, without seeing and owning the share he may have had in making them what they are; how much good one single sinner destroys ; how the idle words of one, the blasphemies of another, the falsehoods of another, the malice of another, the drunkenness of another, the dishonesty of another, the impurity of another, the sloth and indolence of another, the neglect of public and private prayer and communion in others, make up the misery of an age or of a neighbourhood, and render life to individuals so sore a burden, that they run away from themselves, and try to forget themselves in bad company, in eating and drinking, and gaming, till they become some in one way, some in another, but all from having lost the fear of God, reckless, i. e. neither knowing nor caring what becomes of them in this world or the next. Think, each of you, in what measure this has been his own case, how far by his own careless life, and evil influence, and bad example, he has brought misery on himself, and ruin on his family, and judgments on his neighbourhood, and done mischief which can never be undone to his own soul, and to the souls of others, whom, perhaps, he has never seen, but whom he must one day meet where all hearts shall be manifested, before the judgment seat of Christ.
Let each, I say, think of this; and if his conscience troubles him, and he shrinks from the thought, and is tempted to drown it, or to run away from it, and so go from bad to worse ; if he has so lived as to make the thought of temperance, righteousness, and judgment to come more than he knows at once how to bear : let him consider, that upon his bearing it, and making this the convenient season and accepted time to return to God, to confess his sins and forsake them, depends his everlasting peace. A happy life and good days, such as he once wished, and might have had, had he kept innocency, he cannot have, nor expect them : sorrow and weariness is the penalty he must pay for disobedience; he carries about with him a body of death. But this much he may be quite sure of, that the remainder of his life will only be so far truly spent at ease, and his remaining days, so few and evil, and those rendered fewer and more evil by past transgression, will be only so far rendered “good,"
good,” as they are spent in amendment of life, in repentance for the past, in strictness for the future, in returning to God and making his peace with Him; in learning to love His House and Presence; to be more instant and regular in prayer ; and in living all the day long in His holy fear. He has gone wrong, and he is restless : “ the foolishness of man perverteth his way, and his heart fretteth against the Lord;" his only remedy is to trace the disease to himself, to probe the wound to the bottom; and instead of shrinking from the Eye which saw him stray, to arise at once and meet it as it watches for his