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tion. Flee youthful lusts; follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, and study to show thyself approved unto God. Then indeed, you will be truly happy. Then if you are called away in the summer of your days, or when the sun has set upon your meridian, you will depart in peace, in sure and certain hope of a joyful resurrection ; looking for that Happiness and enduring Love, which is reserved for the Just,—" I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day!"
"Awake my soul with solemn care,
Thy true condition learn;
And what thy chief concern.
With better thoughts the year begin;
Raise all thy hopes to heaven;
Through Christ may be forgiv'n.
Devoutly yield thyself to God,
And on his grace depend;
Nor doubt a happy end."
"The Lord seeth not as man seeth ; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh to the heart."
1 Sam. xvi. latter clause 7th verse.
This is a declaration and a truth so much forgotten, that it cannot be too often brought before the christian: it is a fact, which the more he is reminded of, the better; for the daily practice of the world is so diametrically opposite; the fashion of the world is so built upon appearances, that little can be said or done without bending to its sway. Hence, while the worldly-minded are so soon led away by it, the christian in some measure is tempted to regard it also; thus, private character, and private principles, and private habits are unnoticed :—the " outward appearance," if morally good, becomes alone considered, and alone appreciated. And here may be noticed, the attendance at a place of worship; a duty which we all owe to our Maker, and which he doubtless expects from all who presume to be his followers; but how often such attendance is regarded a sufficient exercise of devotion, and a man is oftentimes considered full of piety, while his private course of living is unknown. In this case, and it is not, alas ! of a small number : many may be found quietly going on, without any apprehension of dany-i. ,r !, ar a "iiV mpt from their friends, satisfied as they are that ti.eir " outward appearances" are good, without reflecting for one moment, that " the Lord seeth not as man seeth," and He can never be deceived; he knoweth all things. "I, the Lord, search the heart; I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings."
We well know the ambition of the man of the world is to keep up appearances; and how often he makes a sad jumble of it, even before the eyes of his fellow-creatures; so also, does the professing christian, who placing too high an estimate upon certain exterior acts of devotion, forgets his responsibility for not privately following up to his outward professions, and when his devotions are over, he again mixes in the world to revel in its vices and impurities— "to eat and drink, lest to-morrow we die." True it is, we may by "appearances," show ourselves to be what we are not, and bystanders and lookers-on, (above all the great multitude of evil-doers, "who strain at a knat, and swallow a camel," and who are ever watching the professing christian to find fault with him, as the Pharisees who watched our Saviour,) may pay homage to us accordingly ; but the knowledge of the Lord will one day exhibit us in our true character; we shall appear according to the lives we have led, and shall be recompensed by a righteous judgment:—we shall reap the fruit of our doings. If we have sown to the whirlwind of fleshly gratifications, we shall reap the whirlwind; if we have sown to the spirit, we shall of the spirit reap life everlasting. "Behold, thou art called a Jew, saith the Apostle, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructer of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of truth in the law. Thou, therefore, which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly ; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." (2 Romans, 17—29.) So likewise, we are to consider a godly man to be him who " walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful; whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his laws doth he meditate day and night: that walketh uprightly and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. That backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour."
Alas! of how many may it be truly said "ye are yet carnal, and walk as men." (1 Cor. iii. 3.) This was St. Paul's charge to the Corinthians, but equally applicable against the christians of our times. There is an unhappy characteristic now of running to the extreme one way or the other; either paying little or no deference to outward ceremonies; or else, laying too much importance upon them. The middle course is what is so desirable. Your attention to outward ceremonies acting as a stimulant to your holy living; and your holy living encouraging you to call upon the name of the Lord, and to feel with the Psalmist, " a day in thy courts is better than a thousand: I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." And like Joshua, " As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
How natural for the worldly-minded quickly to discern the want of practise in professing christians, and to make it a plea for their own neglect. They will talk thus,—" Oh! this, forsooth, is a saint; and yet how covetous ; how griping and greedy! Well, of all men, deliver me from falling into the hands of a saint.—They are proud, and impatient, and earthly; and, if these men get to heaven, why may not I? It is true they talk of self-denial and mortification; but look into our lives, and mine is as harmless and innocent as theirs,—they discourse of experiences, and communion, and acquaintance with God, and a road of words that I skill not; but certainly, if God will not condemn them, although they do nothing but talk, he will not condemn me, for not talking as they do." It is these sentiments which throw religion so much, in the background, and induce many to regard it as a matter of form or mere deceit. Thus the wicked make of such a great weapon to fortify themselves in their unregeneracy. How is it with thee? Be not satisfied with appearances.- "the Lord seeth not as man seeth." You may be esteemed amongst men, and yet be hated by God. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen." (1 John v. 21.)
There may be some indulging themselves according to the bent of their inclinations, and who imagine that if they were to repent, of what importance would it be to others. But remember, that every sin, and what are called little sins, from indiscretion of youth or otherwise, only drop into the ocean of sin itself, increase its size, and hereafter will produce shame and vexation of spirit; and so in proportion, on the other hand, will the repentance for every sin,