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exists in any degree in our hearts, and whether we are making use of all appointed means to foster and cherish it into the governing and "constraining principle of life.*
That which you experience to be your daily cross, will be of great help in ascertaining, which is in the first place very important, whether the love of God in any degree influences your instinctive feelings, or whether, on the contrary, "your affection is fixed on things on the earth;" then, consequently, your instinctive emotions of anxiety, pleasure, or disappointment, will have a reference to them. Pray that this day's discipline may be so blest as to bring to your heart conviction of the sin of worldliness, if it really exists, and that it may also help you to the means of cherishing its only effective counteractive, namely faith in the Son of God +
* 2 Cor. v. 14.
† 1 John, v. 5.
Should the discipline of this day expose you to some heavy trial, to some severe disappointment, where and in what do you seek for comfort and compensation? In time of sorrow a reaction almost immediately takes place, and the human heart, after the first burst of anguish, turns almost unconsciously to seek for some source of comfort; it instinctively feels that such must be within reach. During these, the first and instinctive, impulses of feeling, do you recur to worldly sources of consolation, or is a sense of God's love "shed abroad in your heart,"* the principal and the effectual solace of your affliction? We all know how the time of sorrow deepens and strengthens our sense of the value of a strong earthly affection. How, at seasons when the heart would otherwise refuse to be comforted, a sense of the love that is still left to us will soothe anguish into gentle sor
* Romans, v. 5.
row, and again awaken the faded light' of hope. Were "your affections set upon things above," such and far higher solace would be found in His love, who, "as the Father loveth him, even so he loveth
Further, when the general tenor of the discipline of life impresses sternly on your mind the chilling certainty that this our mortal existence is "of few days and full of trouble,"† is your readiest, your instinctive source of consolation, a believing view of the glorious inheritance prepared in heaven for you? or, on the contrary, does this discipline excite pain, by awakening a vague, indefinite, but not the less profane idea, that there is a sort of cruelty, a species of injustice, in creating man to be "born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward?" This, indeed, is worldliness, essential worldliness; for what is it but estimating the whole des† Job, xiv. 1. ‡ Job. v. 7.
* John, xv. 9.
tiny of man by the short and transitory period of this world's existence? "Ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God." Your heart has not yet learned them, if for a moment you admit even the shadow of a doubt that all the ways of God towards man are not directed by love" everlasting love."† Even while deeply penitent for the sinful source of your painful feelings, be thankful that such pain has brought into notice an unsuspected taint of unbelief. And try, by earnest prayer and more diligent study of the Word of God, to acquire a deep, a firm, and grateful conviction of the full extent of "the great love wherewith God hath loved us."
It may be a part of your daily cross to be perpetually reminded that you occupy a very different position in life from that
* Hebrews, v. 12.
† Jeremiah, xxxi. 3.
you would yourself have chosen. You pine, perhaps, after the pomp and magnificence, the graces and refinement accompanying high rank or great hereditary wealth. You are ambitious, but ambitious in a small way, not for the reality, but for the symbols of power. How far ambition, in any degree, in any form, is compatible with "bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ," * it belongs not to man to judge, except for himself alone. Of one point we may be certain, that the temptations involved in worldly ambition are too strong to be overcome by ordinary natures, or by ordinarily vouchsafed degrees of grace. In cases, however, where ambition cannot lead to energetic action, where there is no possibility of its object being attained, the feeling must be one of unmixed evil. You may easily ascertain this by the pain it causes. Can "your affections be set
* 2 Corinthians, x. 5.