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possessed by Satan, and the God of this world found a home in my heart; now I am inhabited by the Holy Spirit, and am an acknowledged temple of God. Can any change be more wonderful? Can anything set forth more the riches of God's grace, the merit of Jesus, or the power of the Holy Spirit ? O the contrast between the past and present! and all must be ascribed to the grace of God alone.
BETTER AND BETTER. .
BY THE REV. C. ELVEN. In our article of two months since, the | neath the silent clod, or the precise moment text of which was from 2 Tim. iii. 13, when the darkness of night was succeeded “Worse and Worse," we sought to describe by the first faint beam of the morning ; yet the retrograde course of the ungodly as one no one doubts subsequently the reality of of increasing sin and misery. We shall “the blade, the ear, and the full corn in the now endeavour to furnish a companion ear;" or of the “light shining more and picture, the motto of which shall be, more unto the perfect day.” aBetter and Better." It is true we do not We the rather dwell on this point, inasfind these exact words in our Bible, but much as it is so common a device of Satan the sentiment they express is clearly in to perplex sincere Christians by making volved in the utterance of the wise man, them doubt the reality of their conversion, “ The path of the just shineth more and because they cannot, as others, define the more unto the perfect day" (Prov. iv. 13). mode of it. Let all such, having evidence
As in creation chaotic darkness preceded of the existence of grace, no more be disthe Divine fiat, “ Let there be light," and tressed concerning the commencement of as now the darkness of night precedes the dawn of the morning, so all men, previous “ The ray that lights you may be faivt indeed, to conversion, are in a state of spiritual
And scarcely seen the sunbeam which you need :
Even as when we watch the opening day, darkness. They are subjects of the prince To catch the glimmering and uncertain ray, of darkness-slaves to sin, which is the
At first it seems so loitering and so slow,
We almost doubt if it be morn or no; work of darkness—and, but for preventing
But sure as twilight brings the perfect day, grace, their end must inevitably be the A brighter sun shall light thy future way,
blackness of darkness for ever.” But 'Till mercy perfected, thy soul dismiss Cbristians are brought out of darkness into
To boundless knowledge and unmeasured bliss." marvellous light; and, in accordance with Permit us, therefore, to point out some our motto and text, we will endeavour to of the progressive evidences of Divine grace trace the progress of the Holy Spirit's work in the heurt. upon the heart from its commencement in First, there must be such a conviction of grace to its culmination in glory. . sin as shall awaken the anxious inquiry,
Our first observation is, that in many “ What must I do to be saved ?" In this instances the commencement of the work of stage there is, as in the dawn of morning, grace is as indistinct and undefinable as the a seeming struggle between light and darkfirst dawn of day. Undoubtedly, as in ness : it is at best but twilight with the the cases of Zaccheus, the woman of Sa soul, like unto that of the man who in the maria, the dying thief, Saul of Tarsus, and curative process saw “men as trees walkothers, there would be no difficulty in their ing," or as a benighted traveller who at the pointing at once to the precise time, place, first faint' beaming of the rising morn has and circumstances of their conversion; but just light enough to discover that he has in innumerable other cases, as genuine in lost his way. But even this is a valuable their nature, and no less glorious in their discovery : it arrests himn in his erring results, the subjects of Divine grace can no course ; it awakens reflection and anxious moro fix the precise time of their conver cogitation, like unto that of the p-almist, sion than we can detect the first germi “I thought on my ways, and turned my nating process of the grain of wheat be. I feet unto thy testimonies” (Ps. cxix. 59).
In this state there is commonly much legal
I sinned and stumbled but the more ;
Come hither, soul; I am the way." Yet “better and better." His sorrow now is turned into joy. He has passed through the obscuring mists of conviction, and the rain-dropping clouds of penitence, into the sunshine of peace, the joy of God's salvation ; for “light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” He can now exclaim with the apostle, “ Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not; yet believing, we rejoice with a joy unspeakable and full of glory." Oh! what human tongue, what seraph's harp, can tell the joy of Mary's heart when the Lord, whose feet she had been bathing with her tears, so graciously assured her, her sins were all forgiven ? The joy of pardoned sin is a bliss which angels never knew. None but the sinner saved by grace knows the joy of communion with God, or of those hallowed Beasons when in fellowship with the saints he is brought into the Saviour's “banqueting house, and his banner over him is
love." It is true, the storm-cloud of afflio. tion or temptation may overshadow his path, but he sees the rainbow of the covenant there, and in the midst of tribu. lation he rejoices in hope of the glory of God.
Yet again, far from being stationary like the emblem in the heavens, he must shine more and more. “Better and better" is still his motto. “Excelsior" is still in. scribed on his banner.
The allusion is not taken from a transient meteor, that blazes for a moment and then disappears, but from the rising sun, as cending upwards and shining onwards till the perfect day. Therefore the exhortation, “ Grow in grace ;' and of the Thessalonians it is said, “ Their faith grew exceedingly; and the love of every one of them towards each other abounded." No right-minded Christian will therefore say, “I am con. verted, and I desire nothing more, nothing better." Alas for those whose religion is stationary or circular, like a door on its hinges, or a wheel in a circle only moving backwards and forwards in outward means, or round and round in forms and ceremonies! Those who "livo in the Spirit will walk in the Spirit," going from strength to strength till every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.
The growth in grace involves a progressive advancement in every particular grace. The experience of the late Mr. Simeon, of Cambridge, at an advanced age, furnishes a beautiful illustration of the growth of humility, which, like the ripening corn bending lower and lower as the harvest approaches, becomes more evident as the saint is ripening for heaven. Thus the aged servant of God expressed himself: “ It is now more than forty years since I began to seek God; and within three months I found peace in Jesus ; and although I have never lost my hope and confidence in him, I have, alas, deep and abundant cause for humiliation. With the sweet assurance of acceptance with God, though I have enjoyed cheerfulness before men, I have at the same time laboured to cultivate the deepest humiliation before
God. There are two objects I have ever | desired to behold : the one is my own
vileness, and the other is the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ : by this I seek to be humbled and thankful, but at the same time to be humbled in thankfulness before my God and Saviour continually."
A higher example we have in the case of
the great apostle : first he says, “I am the least of the apostles ;” at a later date, “less than the least of all saints ;" further on in his Christian course, "the chief of sinners ;" and finally he sinks in his own estimation to “NOTHING” (2 Cor. xii. 11).
Is it not equally the desire of a believer to grow in faith? Should we not pray with the disciples, “Lord, increase our faith”? It is well to say, “Lord, help thou my unbelief ;” but it is better to be able to say, “I know whom I have believed.” In a word, without enumerating all the graces of the Spirit, take the comprehensive summary of Peter : “Adding 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 be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
But a Christian cannot eat his morsel alone ; with true growth in grace there will be a growth in usefulness. The shining of
Bury St. Edmunds.
the sun is not merely progressive, but beneficial. It warms, it fertilizes, it makes our valleys stand thick with corn, and causes the little hills to rejoice on every side. Beautiful emblem of Him who es went about doing good.” So may we, while disclaiming all merit, be every day “better and better” in the influence we are diffusing in the Church and the world.
At length the shock of corn is ripe in its season, the race is run, the life-long battle is fought, the pilgrimage is ended, and however sweet have been the foretastes of heaven by the way, to depart and be with Christ is far better. The rising and setting of the orb of day does indeed resemble the dawning and the close of the spiritual
“ Just such is the Christian-his course he begins Like the sun in a mist, while he mourns for his
THE CITY OF PILGRIMS.
BY THE REV. W. ABBOTT. “ For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”-Heb. xii. 14. This is true of all the converts of Christ. It cannot be true of any others. Is it then true with relation to ourselves ? If it is, then the subject is one of deepest interest to our present and future well-being. But what is a convert of Christ ! A changed person; changed in heart first, and changed in habits next. There will be the enlightened mind, the loving heart, the holy deportment. Such have received the Gospel, received Christ, are become his sincere followers, pilgrims bound for heaven.
I. That here we have no continuing city. This implies that the Christian has no home on earth. But how does the truth of this appear? As a creature has he not a home here ? He is of the earth, and finds a dwelling-place here ; his animal life is sustained by the fruits of the earth; and he finds a home of social comfort in the bosom of his family and in the circle of his friends. And as a new creature has he not a spiritual home here? Is he not born in the spiritual Zion, and does he not share its privileges ? Is not the Church of Christ his spiritual home, and is not the ministry of the Gospel, with its ordinances, his soul comfort and joy? Does not the heavenly Father dwell here, and are not his children made happy by his presence and blessing? All this is true, but the text says, “No continuing city ;” no permanent home. It means that he feels like a traveller journeying from place to place; that he uses the world in passing through it with like spirit and design.
But this was not always the case with him. No: once he felt that this world was' bis bome, bis true element, the boundary of all bis hopee. “Ah," he said, “ this is a merry world, and I mean to enjoy its sweets.” “ Rejoice, o young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thi! youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: be: know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgmen: (Eccles. xi. 9).
But now he cannot find a home in the world ; he cannot be happy in the world's pleasures and joys. Well, how comes this about? Is the world changes: No; but his heart is changed, his soul is quickened by the Spirit of God, he 3 alive to God and heaven; and this makes all the difference. * If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new."
He has now the spirit of a pilgrim. They are men of another spirit: thes have in them the Spirit of Christ; they are Christlike. By this Spirit they are led, helped, and comforted. They live by faith, endure with patience, and rejoice in hope. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me."
He must expect the circumstances of pilgrims. There will be many inconveniences, many dangers, many things trying and grievous to the flesh. There will be storms as well as sunshine; rough roads as well as green and flowery paths; cloudy days as well as bright ones; yes, and dark nights too.
Perhaps some may be ready to say, Who then would be pilgrims? Ve reply, “It is our choice: we had rather be pilgrims than princes." There are also many mitigating circumstances and considerations. Jesus, the Prince of pilgrims, says, “These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye migh: have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation : but be of good cheer ; I hare overcome the world” (John xvi. 33).
II. That we seek a city to come. This implies that they had heard of this city; of a home in this city. God had sent them good tidings respecting a new and happy home. Man sinned, and was driven from his paradise, and the world he been to him a wilderness ever since. As he wandered from God, so he lost his home; and as he returns to God, by Jesus the Saviour, so he finds his home. God sent his beloved Son, the elder Brother, Jesus, to tell us of the Father's love, and that he had provided for us a home in heaven. The Gospel is the Father's message respecting home, and the way that leads to it. Christ, by b's sacrificial death, opens the way to this home for us, and by his presence prepares it for our reception. He redeems us from sin and hell, and meetens us for heaven and happiness.
The character of this home gives us lively anticipations respecting it. The Bible is the book from heaven, and is about heaven, and leads us to heaven: 9 guide-book of the way, and a news-book of the home beyond the way. I speaks of heaven as a city, and of God as the Founder of the city. “The city of the living God, the new Jerusalem.” God is the originator of all its priti: leges, the source of all its joys, pleasures, and glories. His presence is this home of his children. He is their resting-place, and the overshadowing of ther delight, and will ever be the life and sweetness of their happiness.
The citizens of this city are God's pilgrims. They are his elect, hie redeemed. his saints ; those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life ; wasbeu in his blood ; made just by his righteousness, holy by his Spirit, obedient br his love, hopeful by his promise. Those who have heard the good news have believed it, have come out from the world, have sought and found the Saviour, and now love and serve him.
This city is of eternal duration. A city " that is incorruptible, and under filed, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for the saints." A homeo choice delights, of everything to make us happy; and all perpetually secured to us. A home that can never decay, and into which no sin, nor sorrow,. pain, nor death, can enter. A home of ceaseless love, of smiles and joye.
Death is in the way to this city, in the way to this happy home. But let the brightness of home shine upon the gloom of death, let the music of home quiet the groans of death, let the sweet joys of home reconcile us to all that is bitter and painful in death,
“ And dying is but going home.” Are my readers seeking this home? Or are you making the present world your home? If so, it will surely disappoint you, as it has thousands of others ; for true and lasting happiness is not to be found here. We therefore warn you of the delusion. But are some of you seeking the heavenly home? Are you seeking it believingly, heartily, habitually: Thus seek, and you shall surely find it. Be sure and do not mistake the way. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life : no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John xiv. O).
I KNOW not if the dark or bright
Shall be my lot;
Be best, or not.
Toil's heavy chain;
On bed of pain.
With smiles and glee;
Be strange to me.
By breath Divine ;
Other than mine.
I bave on board :
I hear my Lord.
I shall not fall :
He tempers all.
The end is this;
Far into bliss.