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tory way, but with zeal and ardour. They are willing to take pains about it. They are willing to watch, and fast, and undergo hardness, if they see it necessary to compass their object. In fact, they exhibit all the qualities, which, if rightly employed, would bear the names of the most precious virtues. Would that Christians equalled them! Would that in the energetic pursuit of their favourite object, the children of this world were not in their generation wiser than the children of light ! But they are wiser.
We rarely see any one who, in the concerns of the soul, displays the energy which we just noticed. Though the immense importance of religion is theoretically acknowledged, the moment people in general begin to see a man acting in earnest in the matter, they denounce him as an enthusiast. The thing is so rare, that all their notions are disturbed by it whenever it occurs. it is only strange, because it is so reasonable. What would men think, if Christians would act consistently, and be as wise in their generation as the men of the
And yet world? In good truth, they would be very different from what they are now.
Their prayers would be more frequent and ardent, their self-examination would be more earnest, their self-mortification would be more severe, their noble conduct would be more correct and exemplary. But as things now are, the children of light are greatly inferior, in the energy of their conduct, to the children of this world. They manifest little resolution of character. They seem little disposed to take the kingdom of heaven by violence. While the children of this world are toiling night and day in their occupations, and are straining every nerve to effect the purposes which they have in view, Christians are scarcely bestirring themselves to gain the prize of their high calling of God in Christ Jesus. True it is that their “strength is to sit still.” That they are not to make haste, or exert themselves in the world's fashion ; but in this quiet, docile course, they are to be diligent and active. They ought to be watching for their Lord; they ought to be pilgrims incessantly journeying
to the heavenly Jerusalem ; they ought to be soldiers fighting manfully under the banner of the Captain of their salvation, clad in the panoply of faith and holiness, and brandishing the sword of the Spirit. In the world, with meekness and prudence they may forward their Master's cause. In solitude, in all seasons, they may be cultivating their own spirits. They may be learning to exercise a more simple faith, to entertain a more lively hope, to feel a more ardent love. They have to contend with the obstacles which impede their spiritual progress: to overcome unbelief, to resist their natural indolence and inaptitude for spiritual employments, and to get the mastery over their lusts. To do this effectually, they must know themselves, must feel their peculiar infirmities, must be conversant with Divine truth. Here are objects that require the exertion of the greatest energy. Here is a field for the exercise of the most unfailing diligence. We may well avail ourselves of every aid, and thankfully follow the example which our blessed Lord sets before us, when He reminds us that the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.”
The subject might profitably be treated in detail ; we might carry the comparison much further. But enough has been said to illustrate the words of the text. Let us endeavour to apply it to our conduct. Let the spectacle which the world sets before us, painful as it is to those who regard it in the light of Christian knowledge, teach us wisdom.
Even the voluptuary is in earnest in pursuit of pleasure ; the merely indolent man is at some pains to indulge his sloth. Every point in the view is full of admonition and instruction. May God Almighty grant us hearts to receive it, and profit by it, that we, for our parts, may at length learn wisdom, and, with the aid of that grace which can alone effectually strengthen us from time to time, become less exposed to the reproaches contained in our Lord's complaint, that “the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.”
THE STRAIT GATE.
ST. LUKE xiii. 24.
“ Strive to enter in at the strait gate : for many, I
say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”
It is one of the most gratifying parts of the duty of those who are commissioned to preach the gospel, to enlarge upon those various passages of the inspired volume which proclaim the freeness of salvation, and to remind their hearers of the Saviour's assurance, that those “ that come to him he will in no wise cast out.” We willingly recur to words which express encouragement and invitation, and delight in the attempt to kindle in
hearts the grati