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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 be re, 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 me
“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“Lord, increase my
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 hanmer 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 rocksstratified 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. The rocks of Sinai, for instance, are the same as those on which Moses looked. Since that time, they have been exposed to the action of the weather, the force of storms, and the tooth of time, yet there they are as hard and as firm as
Some rocks grow harder the longer they are exposed; they retain their position and appearance, age after age:-nothing seems to have any influence upon them. So it is with sinhardened hearts. Under the kindly rays of the Father's countenance, and the Saviour's love, they remain in the same unmoved and unfeeling state. Time and blessings come and go, narrowing the circle of life, bringing the body nearer to its grave, and the soul to its destiny, and yet there is no softening of the heart, no earnest seeking for God's loving favor.
How strange it is that men can remain so long unaffected by these solemn truths and undoubted realities! They are like the hard rock, which remains the same, though the gentle rains descend, or the storm rages, or the waves thunder at its feet. In the world multitudes are to be found who have been the subjects of God's varied providence, who have had strong convictions, and yet have remained dead in sin, and hardened in guilt. They have felt, but have not yielded -steeling their hearts; every arrow of conviction has glided away, and the heart has not been touched. The Lord has called, but they have not answered—they have despised His reproofs.
Thirdly: These rocks may be broken. If we look at them, we shall see that this is true. They are composed of blocks of stone. The hardest is formed by the adhesion of minute particles; these may be separated-pieces may be detached, and the whole rock broken. Such is man's skill and perseverance—such his mechanical appliances, that no rock can withstand him. If he please, he can bore into its very heart, and make a path for the rushing engine; or he can blow it into the air. He has various ways of breaking rocks. Rocks are broken every day. Those who have never seen one broken might doubt whether it could be done, and deny the possibility, yet we know that this would not affect the certainty. If we now apply this to the heart, we shall see the points of resemblance. Here we have hearts of stone daily becoming harder in active and open sin, and we ask, can these be broken? Scripture and facts affirm that they may. Each heart has many parts and many avenues. One part after another is conquered, until the whole soul is subdued, and brought in humble submission to Jesus. Now whatever the unbelief of some suggests as to the impossibility of it, we know there is no ground for it; as sinners of every class and character have been made obedient to Christ. Well is it for us if we have the strongest proof of this in our own conversion--in our own subjugation to the power
of God. We take it then to be a soul-cheering fact, that these human rocks, hard though they be, can be broken by Divine grace.
Fourthly: These rocks may be made useful. That is, they may be usefully employed. Stone is used for many important purposes. What is better for foundations and buildings? What noble temples, dwellings, and public works, it enables us to rear! And yet these stones are but detached pieces of rock. We may not see the value and usefulness of a rock, as we look upon it in its huge shapelessness, yet all the elements of usefulness are there.
Rock then is valuable in many ways: it girds the seacoast and stops the encroachment of the waters; it is the best foundation for the friendly lighthouse; it gives us the most solid and the most beautiful of buildings.
So with the wicked hearts around us. It is true, that they are not only useless but injurious in their sinful unquarried state; yet from these must come the able and devoted servant of Christ, the loving disciple, the brave defender of the Faith, and the real benefactors of a needy world. Let us not then look with indifference upon these rocky hearts, but with a full appreciation of their unutterable worth, and vast capabilities. They need only to be broken to be useful. Here then we have