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clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in "her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh "well to the ways of her household, and eateth "not the bread of idleness. Her children arise 66 up and call her blessed; her husband also, and "he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favor "is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman "that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give "her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own "works praise her in the gates."* Instil into their minds the propriety of attending to domestic duties, which
"God has assign'd them; nor of man shall pass
The parable before us, is alike applicable to the actual and promised enlargement of Christ's visible kingdom on earth; and to the internal government which he introduces, maintains, and perfects in the hearts of all his subjects;-to the progress of the gospel in the world at large; and to the expansion and growth of the hidden man of the heart.
* Proverbs, xxxi. 25-31.
It were pleasing indeed to notice the small and comparatively contemptible origin of Christ's kingdom in the world, and the most stupendous and extensive triumphs it has already achieved; to trace the progress of the little stone cut out without hands, smiting the image and becoming a great mountain; to observe the root planted in a dry ground and in an unfavourable soil, flourishing like the cedars of Lebanon, and when grown, affording shelter and defence, the leaves fair, the fruit much, and in it meat for all; to see the "Child born," in a stable at Bethlehem Ephratah, assuming and exercising with full right and Divine power, the universal rule committed to him in heaven and in earth; and finally, to contemplate the illustrious successes of the small band of the apostolic fellowship, who, through faith, subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, and overcame the world; but though these were pleasing, it may prove more profitable to consider our text in reference to the kingdom of God which is within us. Religion is a personal thing, and our Lord's allegory may teach us the nature, origin, operations, progress, and completion of that vital principle in our hearts,—of that hidden life which is Christ in us, as the hope of glory.
I. Real religion in the heart of man is foreign in its nature; no essential part of the mass of his mind. The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a wo
man took, and hid in three measures of meal. Leaven is that substance which is used to promote fermentation in meal, that it may be made into bread, and differs most essentially from the flour and other ingredients with which it is mingled.
Piety is not the natural production of the human breast, but is derived from some external source, introduced by some outward agent. This humiliating truth requires no confirmation; the threefold evidence of Scripture, daily observation, and personal experience, establishes the fact. The Book of God affirms in language the most express, that the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; that the carnal mind is enmity against God, is not subject to the law of God; and that there are none that do good, no not one, nor any that seek after God. Society, as a large and opened volume which he that runs may read, affords the most affecting and ample proof on this subject. "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, mur"ders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, "blasphemies." Those, who taught of God, have learnt the plague of their own hearts, most acutely feel and lament that in them, that is "in their flesh, there dwelleth no good thing."
So alien in its nature is this religious principle,
* Matthew, xv. 19.
that on its introduction into the human breast, there immediately commences a ferment of spirit; "the "flesh warreth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, these are contrary the one to "the other."
"So darkness struggles with the light,
"Water and fire, maintain the fight,
Perhaps the most certain criterion of the new birth, the most unequivocal evidence that we are partakers of the Divine nature, is this inward conflict between the law of our minds and the law of our members; a conflict invisible to others—a conflict in its earlier stages, marked by comparatively faint exertions-a conflict most difficult to wagea conflict in which there is no discharge-a conflict occasioning the most poignant anguish of spirit, exciting the cry, "O wretched man that I
am !"--a conflict, however, where victory is cerqain on the side of the law of God implanted in our hearts. The Christian shall overcome the Man. I speak not now of any other battles, but those which a believer fights with himself.
"His warfare is within. There unperceiv'd "His fervent spirit labors :-There he fights, "And there obtains fresh triumphs o'er himself, "And never with'ring wreaths; compar'd with which "The laurels that a Cæsar reaps are weeds."
II. Genuine piety is small in its origin; the kingdom of heaven is like leaven-a little leaven, leaveneth the whole lump. The disparity between the quantities of this and other ingredients of which bread is composed, is generally known,
From the smallest causes, have ensued the most important consequences! How great a fire a little matter kindleth! The smoaking flax shall not be extinguished; the spark of grace shall become a light to the world; the grain of mustard seed, "which indeed is the least of all seeds; but when "it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and "becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come "and lodge in the branches thereof."*
The struggling desires after holiness; the feeblest religious impressions; the scanty and slender information on Divine subjects; the imperfect services; the manifold infirmities; the wavering hopes; which mark the commencement of God's work on the soul, ought neither to be discouraged or despised, They are the incipient existence of an immortal nature; they are the infancy of grace; they are the rudimental parts of that Christian Epistle which shall be known and read of all men; they are the component parts of that temple reared by the Holy