Page images

that religion is far from easy to a beginner, and that “her ways are ways of pleasantness," only after they have been walked in for a long time; and so, going forth into the world with these erroneous sentiments, no wonder that you stumbled at the first offence, and were disheartened, and defeated, by the first difficulty that occurred. Not aware how great faith and courage were required, to walk upon the sea of life, you ventured upon the experiment in confidence of your own powers; but when


“ saw the wind boisterous," you were “afraid,” and “immediately began to sink.”

In the explanation which I have now given of the cause of your former failure, I have also intimated how you should act, so as to be able to calculate on greater success.

I will therefore only ask your patience to listen to a few concluding remarks.

Your feelings (I am addressing those who have received the seed upon the rock,) have hitherto been ineffectual-How should it be otherwise? How should such a corrupt creature as man be able, of his own accord, to bring forth fruits of a holy and religious life with patience ? How should such an impotent creature be able to accomplish that which requires great strength and exertion ? How should such a fickle creature be able of himself to persevere in a consistent course of piety? Can a house resist the violence of storms and floods, if it is founded upon the sand? Can a man hope to stand upright in the rugged and slippery paths, in which he has to travel, if he rests only on the broken reed of his own feelings and resolutions ? It has never been experienced ; it is never to be expected; he must fall. What are you to do then? Why do what our Saviour in vain charged his disciples to do in the garden of Gethsemane, and what if they had done, they would not have forsaken him and fled; that is, “ watch and pray;" watch because you have many enemies to contend with ; and pray, because you cannot conquer them by yourselves. Forget not the latter part of this exhortation ; for though your vigilance might prevent you from being taken by surprise, it will not save you from being overcome by force; though it may be a security against the treachery of your adversaries, it will be no help against their power. Pray therefore, while you watch; pray frequently and earnestly for the assistance of God's Holy Spirit; pray for the heart to perceive what is right, for the will to chose it, and for the ability to perform it. Trust not in your feelings, excited though they may sometimes be, by the preaching of the word of God; you have tried them before, and they have failed you in the moment of your need. Beseech God therefore to guide the thoughts of your hearts, to purify their desires, to regulate their affections, to confirm their resolutions; this you will find the surest, the only way, to enable the seed of the Gospel to flourish and bring forth fruit; the only way to persevere in the faith and practice of the holy religion of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.



St. MATTHEW, xvi. 26. What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

The Greek word here rendered "soul,” signifies both soul and life, or at least (which comes to the same thing) both temporal and eternal life; and our blessed Saviour has used it in both senses in this verse, and in the one preceding. “Whosoever will save his life, shall lose it;" that is, whosoever will refuse to sacrifice his life in my service, should he be called to such a trial of his faith, shall lose eternal life; “and whosoever will lose his life, for my sake, shall find it;" į. e. whosoever will lay down his life, rather than deny me, shall live for ever hereafter; and wisely,


« PreviousContinue »