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CHAPTER V.

CULTURE OF THE MIND.

If any truth is taught with clearness, it is, that Christian believers must grow

in
grace,

and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Such is the instruction given in the New Testament; and we can conceive of no requirement more reasonable than this. The Christian, when he becomes converted from the error of his thoughts and ways to the belief of divine truth, and the humble desire to practise it, has just entered a school of instruction. He has learned the first elements from his Master, Christ, “ the teacher come from God,” and is now to sit at his feet and hear his words; to listen as he communicates the precepts of holiness, and guides the understanding and the heart into new and more glorious fields of heavenly truth. Merely to enter the school is not enough. True scholarship is required; and this can come only of diligent application to the sublime science of religion.

The Scriptures abound in proof of the advancement and expansion of the Christian mind. Jesus himself is said to have “ increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." The apostles, after their conversion to Christ, needed much enlargement of faith and hope, much growth in love. Paul, notwithstanding his sudden and thorough change in feeling and sentiment, continued to receive new light and new strength during his earthly pilgrimage. He wished to “perfect that

press onward

which was lacking in the faith" of his Thessalonian brethren; and desired, that all with whom he held intercourse should understand from him, that he could not consent to stand still; but that he would 66 toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”; that they might “grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” He would have them “ rooted and grounded ” in him, that they might “ be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that they might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

The apostle Peter, notwithstanding the zeal with which he entered the service of his Master, was comparatively ignorant and blind, until he became quickened and his mind enlarged, in consequence of the vision by the Sea of Joppa. Previous to this, Jesus had occasion to say to him, “ Get thee behind me, Satan, for thou art an offence unto me.- When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. — Thou shalt deny me." When he began to advance in the Christian course, he learned, that “God had granted unto the Gentiles repentance unto life.” He saw, that his master's service was one of discipline and progress; and therefore exhorts his brethren, that they be not “ led away by the error of the wicked, nor fall from their own steadfastness." He instructs and admonishes in the true spirit of a faithful brother and friend. “ Grace and peace be multiplied unto you, through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge ; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure : for if ye do these things ye

shall never fall.'

Directions from the Scriptures need not be multiplied. The New Testament everywhere informs us of the growth of the mind in truth and virtue. It is proper, therefore, that we understand the importance of the subject, and seek to make ourselves proficients in the wisdom that cometh from above.

Without conveying the idea, that every religious mind must also be a learned mind, I would lay it down as an indisputable truth, that every Christian mind will seek to know and learn all it can, of nature and of revelation. It will realize, that it is in a world of greatness, wonder, and intelligence ; that everything therein may be made subservient to its wants and real interests ; and that, according to the means bestowed, the whole mind should be kept in healthful, vigorous action.

* 2 Pet. i. 2-10.

The mind is justly compared to a garden ; it needs cultivation. We are to employ ourselves busily in it, seeking to remove all the noxious weeds, that impede the growth and impair the beauty of the plants of holiness, and striving to bring forth fruits in rich abundance, to the honor and glory of God. We are to understand our weaknesses, so that they may be overcome ; and our wants, so that we may seek supplies for them. Life is short. While we live here, we wish to know and enjoy as much as possible. This is the general desire of mankind. And how shall it be gratified ? The true answer is, by understanding and improving the powers given us. The mind is the seat of enjoyment. “The mainspring is within. If that works, there is life, and growth, and upward progress.”

So an admirable writer has said ; and her subsequent words are worthy our attention here. “I have earnestly desired to make you realize, that religion is not something by itself, apart from our common concerns, something to be got at some sudden turn, or distant period of life; but the golden thread, which should run through all your actions, the leaven that leaveneth the whole lump. If this be so, then this world's work, which inevitably occupies the greater part of your time, and the social pleasures that are your recreation, the commonest services, and your every day family intercourse, may be consecrated by a spirit of religion. If this be so, there may be altars in your hearts, and your homes may be temples of God." *

This is truth. All enjoyment has its seat in the mind.

* Miss Sedgwick.

And if the mind be under the influences of divine truth, it will realize the most exquisite happiness of which the soul of man is susceptible. Then we shall not be obliged to wander abroad for sources of delight and pleasure ; nor shall we ever, as thousands do, feel ourselves alone. What a feeling for a living, improving believer in heaven's revelation ! Alone! There is no such word in the Christian's vocabulary. It is the barrenness of the mind, the neglect of the heart that causes loneliness, and leads thousands to be filled with dulness and displeasure at the idea of being in close communion with themselves. Let it be understood, that in all things we are to be religious; that religion is a progressive work in the mind, a constant exercise of all the true virtues in every action of life ; an attendant, which should never for a moment forsake us; and the foundation is laid for the enjoyment of that gospel life which will shed over the whole soul, and all its affections, the sweet fragrance of heavenly love and peace.

The mind then must be disciplined; and this discipline is the work of the whole life. Persection cannot be gained in this existence, although we are to aim for it. Thus aiming, we shall live higher and holier, and bring forth more abundantly of the fruits of the Spirit. There will always be some work to do; so that we never need repose in indolence or inactivity.

Some of the practical duties of the Christian have already been pointed out, such as self-examination, watchfulness, and prayer. Without these, no permanent advancement can be made. If the mind is to improve, all necessary means are to be put in requisition. And these means are clearly set forth in the Scriptures. ,

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