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danger we apprehend, is one in which he is able to defend us, we are, of course, quite secure while he is at hand to protect us. Have we been laid under any great obligation by a dear and valued friend ? It will be our natural desire to please him. If we have but a common sense of gratitude, it will be our constant endeavour to make him perceive that we estimate the services he has rendered us. When he is in our thoughts, our relation to him will necessarily have an important influence on our conduct. When he is actually with us, it will have a still greater influence. If our friend is a virtuous man, the affection we feel for him will necessarily form a very considerable check to sin, and a very strong inducement to virtue. We are ever wille ing to conceal an act of sinful conduct from those whom we respect for their excellence. Nothing can be more likely to make us cautious and regular, than the presence of a valued and pious friend. In proportion to the affection and gratitude we feel towards him, will be the reluctance we shall feel to hazard his good opinion by an act which he would be likely to disapprove.
Now this is precisely the effect which must be produced upon us by a sense of the presence of God. If we set Him before us by an act of lively faith ; if we make him the object of habitual contemplation; if we come to regard him as always present with us, it is quite clear that it must have a most important influence on our hearts and lives. If we believe God is our greatest Friend, the friend to whom we owe every thing, and that He is actually present, beholding our very thoughts,- why, we must have the very first principles of our nature taken to pieces, and be suddenly altered in what most belongs to us, unless we feel it restraining us from sin, and leading us to holiness.
If we set the Lord always before us, as he will be on our right hand, we shall not be moved. Faith brings before us the duties that lie upon the Christian. The same blessed record that makes us acquainted with what it is necessary for us to know of God, sets before us what he requires of us. The same principle which receives what is told us of God, receives also what is made known to us with regard to the way in which we may please him. We cannot separate the idea of God from that of holiness as acceptable to him. To know God, is, therefore, to be acquainted with the will of God: his will is our sanctification; we know what he requires of us. While we have him before us,“ we shall not be moved" from what he requires of us, but shall walk before him in righteousness and true holiness.
It is easy to trace the effects of the practice which the Psalmist's example recommends to us, to see that it is naturally calculated to diminish the force of temptations, and greatly to augment the strength of the motives which would move us to holiness. Have we felt its force? Have we yet learned to “set the Lord always before us,” and consequently been brought to a pious and secure resting-place? There is no security against being “moved” to be derived from any other principle. Unless we are living as in the presence of God, and doing what we do to the glory of God, we have no ground of safety. It is Christian motives alone that can lead to consistent holiness; it is a firm belief in the great truths which the Bible reveals to us, that can alone bring forth fruit meet for repentance. Have we received the Gospel? Have we felt our wretchedness as sinners, and sought salvation in the way in which God offers salvation, as the purchase of the atoning blood of the Saviour ? We have then the only claim a sinner can have the claim of want. If we come, we shall not be cast out; if we seek, we shall find ; if we desire a new heart, we may expect to receive it. And no single principle can have a greater tendency to holiness than this of the Psalmist : “I will set the Lord always before me.” May we make it our own by grace,—and then, because the Lord will be at our right hand, we shall not be moved from present safety, and from future bliss.
St. Mark xii. 41-44.
" And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and be
held how the people cast money into the treasury : and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury : for all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”
It has often been noticed as a remarkable peculiarity of our blessed Lord's teaching, that he often availed himself of passing occurrences to illustrate and enforce com