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Brothers let us come to God with enlarged expectations. We can never weary Him, for it is His delight to give. We can never exhaust His fulness, for it is infinite. Come let us spread our wants before Him; though they be as numerous as the waves, His mercy like the heavens encompasseth them.
What a view does this give us of heaven! Expectation is a principle of the human mind. Man is always living in the future. The past is little to him : from the future he derives the largest portion of his joys. This principle will exist in heaven. We shall be always anticipating; and the more we receive the more we shall anticipate. New fields of thought, fresh scenes of delight, brighter and still brighter manifestations of the everlasting God will be eternally displayed.
III. THE AGENCY WHICH HE EMPLOYS FOR THEM. “Through the power of the Holy Ghost.” All this happiness is to be referred to the influences of the Holy Spirit, without whose sacred operations man's enjoyments in this world will be nothing but carnal, his hope but a delusive dream, his destiny the blackness of despair for ever.
Now this Divine Agent is employed by God for this purpose. What an exhibition of mercy is this! Had God employed the greatest, the oldest, or the noblest spirit that he ever created for this purpose, it would have been wonderful mercy; but He employs His Holy Spirit who is equal with Himself. We are not sufficiently impressed with the value of this Infinite gift. We profess to estimate and be impressed with the gift of His Son to bleed and die for us. How unconscious we seem to be of the fact that we have as great a gift from God in us and around us as the disciple had, who rested upon the bosom of Jesus, or listened to His words. Both are divine; the same natures and attributes are possessed by both. Both are indispensable. True, the world could never be saved without the suffering and death of Christ; and it is equally true that the world could never be saved without the operations of His Spirit. Without the Atonement the Spirit would never have been employed ; without the Spirit the Atonement would have been of no use to man's salvation. No! that Spirit is as necessary to “convince of sin, of righteousness,” &c., as was the death of Christ to redeem. It is true that no man can come unto the father but through Christ, and it is equally true that “not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” &c.
Both have been ill treated. We cannot be too deeply impressed with God's love towards us in the gift of Christ. When we think of his persecutions and sufferings, when we think of the groans of Gethsemane, and the pangs of Calvary, we feel it. But has not the Spirit been ill treated ? Has there been no vexing of Him, no grieving of Him? Christ after having spent a little more than thirty years in this world ascended up on high, and seated himself in heaven, with the diadems of worlds upon his brow, and the splendors of heaven beaming around him ; but the Spirit has existed in our world for 1800 years ;—He has been vexed and grieved by millions of men in every land. Is not the mercy of God seen in employing such an agent ?
SUBJECT :-Fitness for Higher Duty and Knowledge.
“ Lord, increase our faith.”—Luke xvii. 50.
Pnalysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Forty-third.
UNDER what circumstances, may we appropriately use this prayer ?
I. IN THE PRESENCE OF NEW, OR IMPORTANT AND DIFFICULT, DUTIES. Some people who know us, may imagine that we are ready for the performance of any new command which may be pealed into our ear from the throne of God, as we travel on life’s common way. But we kuow too well how weak and ignorant we are. In our serious moments of introspection we are ordinarily accustomed to observe our puny faith, our cold love, our enervated activity. It may be that we can struggle through the duty of the passing
day, and feel thankful for the strength we have; but for tomorrow we are not prepared. And here, perhaps, at this moment arises a duty at which we stagger; here rushes in a temptation which causes us to quiver in our entire being; here appears a self-denial which will cost a real sacrifice.
We know to our dismay how erring these hearts of ours are. In prosperity they are elated, but fickle; in adversity they are weakly and wretched. Our footsteps are apt to slip; our knowledge in the way in which we should go is slight and imperfect; our preparation for new duty is slender and inadequate ; the world is alluring, and our hearts are tender
“Darkness is strong, and so is sin.” Every voice cries—“Who is sufficient for these things ?" Every heart yearns forth the prayer—"Hold up my goings in thy paths that my footsteps slip not."
The request of these apostles presents itself as being urgent and suitable. Faith is the groundwork—the deep motive principle in the divine life, and we need that this principle should be intensified and increased. Faith will nerve us for exertion, and insure to us the victory. It will give power and fulness to the heart-throbs which originate and import a determined and glorious life. It fixes its eye upon heaven, and fights vigorously along the pathway thither.
II. IN THE PRESENCE OF NEW AND STARTLING TRUTHS. I use a term which might procure me much misrepresentation; but I use it advisedly. You say that there is no new truth; I echo your remarks. But there is new truth in its relation to you and me If we have not known it
fore, it will be new in its relation to ourselves. Truth itself is older than the Bible, and everlasting as the throne of God. But it is new to you and me when we apprehend and appreciate it for ourselves.
When God lifts His hand, and casts aside the folding clouds which enshroud Him from my view, and saith to meLord,
“Behold my glory!” I gaze upward with adoring love, but I am almost instantly appalled at the wondrous spectacle; and like the Children of Israel who surrounded Mount Sinai, and heard those rolling thunders, and saw those fierce lightnings curling in coronets of awful fire about its terrible brow, I "exceedingly fear and quake." I cry instinctively “Show me not thy glory lest I die!" At such moments no fitter prayer can be upon my lips than that of the apostles
faith!” There are some religious people who have no need to use this request; their knowledge of God and truth seldom improves. It is not difficult for them to believe all they know; and when a man staggers under views of the great God which they have never obtained, they instantly throw their darts at him, and call him hardest names. It may be that they shall be a million years in heaven before such views of truth shall be presented to their minds.
We have too much regarded the inscription in the Church Book as a certificate of a completed religious education. And perhaps many who might have seen and known more, have turned away from the great sight, fearing that the foundations of their faith were shaking. Why not use this prayer ? Faith would enable us to receive with joy into our hearts these higher views of Him which at present are beyond our comprehension.
At every stage of intellectual progress let us humbly and devoutly plead—“Lord, increase our faith!” let us say no more than we can believe; for what we say and do not believe, turns to sour temper, gloomy doubt, and black despair!
SUBJECT :-Human Resistance and Divine Power.
“Is not my word like as a fire ? saith the Lord ; and like a ham. mer that breaketh the rock in pieces ?"-Jer. xxiii. 29.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Forty-fourth.
HERE we have the resistance, the “rock," the unchanged heart of man; and the instrument, or the Divine means in God, the "word.” For the unfolding and enforcement of this important question, we shall consider these two natural and suggestive thoughts.
I. THE MORAL RESISTANCE OF MAN. " The “rock.” This we have already called the unconverted heart of man. There are several points of resemblance between the rock and the hard heart, which it will be interesting and profitable to consider.
First: Every rock has a character. The external portion, or crust of our globe, is composed of solid substances, known as rocks. These may be composed of soft clay, loose gravel, beds of sandstone, or masses of granite; all are termed rocks, and rock formations. There are aqueous and igneous rocks stratified and unstratified rocks. So that wherever we find a rock, it has a certain geological character and comes under a known classification. As it is with rocks, so is it with hearts. Every heart has a character; some are hard and unyielding, others are soft and flexible ; some are full of pride and selfishness, others are gentle and benevolent. Though there are so many wicked hearts in the world, differing from each other in some particular, they are all “rock” -hard against God. However morally good and beautiful, they are opposed to His will and Christ's yearning love. They all agree in this, though they may differ in other respects.
Secondly: Rocks remain in the same condition for ages. We know that rocks are old-we have read of them for ages, and we are able by science, to give them considerable antiquity. They have remained for many centuries.