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If we are Christians, we may this year get rid of a wicked world without, and a wicked heart within, and be introduced to Him whom our souls love, and see him as he is, and be like hiin, and be with him forever, evermore.
Jan. 2.- The Holy Scriptures. 2 Tim. iii. 15. THE Scriptures are a revelation from God, and are able to make us wise unto salvation.” Let us therefore inquire what we owe to the Scriptures in a way of PRIVILEGE, and to do this let us view the advantages we derive from the Sacred Writings under seven aspects. First, As inspired ; “for holy men of old wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Wise men, indeed, differ a little as to the mode of this inspiration; but this does not affect the reality nor the nature of the communications. All we meet with is acknowledged to be of divine origin; and of this we have internal evidence in the purity, in the dignity, and in the consistency of its contents; and we have external evidences in the numberless miracles openly performed in the presence of enemies who would have gladly denied them if they could. We have prophecies, many of which have been fulfilled, and others which are fulfilling under our own eye. And here we have something upon which we may rely, for our Saviour says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Secondly, As preserved. What immense multitudes of books have perished in the lumber of the world! Yet this book has been exposed to innumerable dangers peculiar to itself, from the malice of deyils and the wickedness of men. The ark is in safe keeping, and the "gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Thirdly, As translated. How much do we owe to the translation of the Scriptures! What would the Scriptures be to many in their original languages? only as a dark room filled with beautiful pictures, but none of them can be seen. They would be “a garden enclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” Now every man can read in his own language “the wonderful works of God.” Fourthly, As printed. A copy of the Scriptures transcribed would cost as much as a man's labour during a lifetime. Now all may have a Bible either for a trifling sum or by donation. Now, while one copy of the Scriptures could be written by the pen, a million may be printed by the press. Fifthly, As ex
pounded. And how much we owe to many of those who have thus written! Calvin wrote as a commentator. It seems amazing that he should have succeeded so well, when we consider he had no one to follow. Yet he is seldom found to differ from those who followed him in the same course. What a glorious work is Scott's !--perhaps for ministers, superior to any other. But oh, dear Henry, thou prince of all expositors, nothing can ever equal thy commentary for personal profit and pious use. Sixthly, As preached. We are far from undervaluing the reading of the Holy Scriptures; yet after all, generally speaking, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Nothing is capable of producing so much impression and effect as a living address from man to man. Lastly, Let us view the Scriptures as experienced. There are many who have the Scriptures in their houses, in their hands, and some of them in their mouths, but not in their hearts; but in others they are as “a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The gospel has come to them, not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance, and they have found these words to be “spirit and life.”
Jan. 3.—Let your conversation be without covetousness.
Heb. xiii. 5. The gospel is a system of benevolence. Every thing in the gospel shows the value of this principle. How it enjoins it ! “ As we have opportunity let us do good to all men.”
« Be not weary in well-doing.” And in our present motto, “Let your conversation (that is, your habitual behaviour and course of action) be without covetousness.” How it commends this principle! “Faith, hope, and charity, and the greatest of these is charity.” “Charity which is the bond of perfectness.” “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” And saith the Apostle James, “He shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy." Here let us refer to the scenes of the judgment of the last day. “ Then shall the King say to them on his left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” But what had they done? Were they robbers of temples, murderers of fathers, or murderers of mothers ? Were
they blasphemers, that they are thus accursed ? No. No, they were hard-hearted, covetous, and close-fisted. They are those whose eyes and hearts never bewailed suffering and misery. “I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Forasmuch as ye did it not unto the least of these my brethren, ye did it not unto me." These, these, “ THESE shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal." Nothing, therefore, can be so unbecoming the gospel, or so unworthy those who profess the gospel, as a selfish temper, as a grasping, sordid disposition; because persons of this disposition love in word only, and not in deed and in truth, and have not charity. They say, "go in peace; be ye warmed, and be
filled.” But it is all in vain, inasmuch as they give nothing to alleviate the miseries or satisfy the wants of these sufferers. They sow only for this world's ends. The man who seeth his brother in sin and suffering, who seeth him in want, and yet "shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him ?” Such men commonly give less—not only comparatively, but absolutely-much less than many of their poorer brethren. They give much less now than they did formerly. The good and the evil that men do live after them; and if shame and sorrow could enter heaven, how much would the covetous professor of the gospel have to suffer, if such persons do go to heaven, for which there seems no necessity, if they could look down and witness, and see the immediate result of their scrapings and their hoardings; whilst others, who have been constrained from love to Christ, and to do good to the souls and bodies of their fellow-creatures, will be able to look down and see how they are still making the widow's heart to sing for joy; how they are dropping the balm of comfort to those who are ready to perish; and how “out of the mouth of babes and sucklings" they are bringing forth praise. The benevolence of the gospel has no limits; it is of necessity subject to no exclusiveness. But it has its preferences, and ought to "abound in all wisdom and prudence." Charity to the soul is the soul of charity. The greatest evil from which we can deliver a man is sin—for sin involves every evil—and the greatest blessing we can bestow upon a fellow-creature is godli
ness, because “godliness is profitable to all things,” saith the apostle, “having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” While the tendency of the gospel is to minister relief to every kind of misery, its chief blessings are “spiritual blessings in heavenly places." What is the body compared to the soul ? What is time compared to eternity ?
Jan. 4.-All things come of thee. 1 Chron. xxix. 14. God is to be acknowledged as the Source of all our supplies. However abundant the streams, or varied the channels, with him is the “ fountain of life.” The silver and the gold are his; and whatever we possess, from him we have received it all. He it is that "giveth power to get wealth." And early prosperity lacketh its firmest support, its loveliest ornament, its sweetest relish, if there is not a full acknowledgment of the fact that it is his blessing alone that “maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow with it.” Is this acknowledgment constantly and heartily made by us? What should we think of an individual who, when relieved by a fellow-creature, and supported in affluence, whose necessities were not only attended to, but all his wishes anticipated; what should we think of such a dependant if he should never wait upon, or send to, his benefactor, never speak favourably of him to others, never think of him—but should take all the goodness shown to him as a matter of right rather than of kindness, and act as if he would have all around him to believe that it was of his own producing or purchasing ? Could we expect the kindness shown to be continued ? and must not his conduct appear hateful and abominable to every one who witnessed it? Yet, alas, how little God is owned by us! We are too prone to sacrifice to our own net, and burn incense to our own drag. We ascribe, too frequently, our success to our own wisdom, to the power of our own arm, or to the interest we have in the favour of our fellow-mortals; or we act as though it were a matter of chance. God is not in all our thoughts. Continued enjoyment seems to give us a kind of prescription, and to induce self-reliance, and forgetfulness of God. In reference to the benefits so frequently and so constantly bestowed upon us, let us sanctify the Lord God in our hearts. Let us think of our duties, and compare our condition with that of others, and while we see that
the “lines have fallen to us in ple:sant places,” and that we have a goodly heritage,” let us say, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."
JAN. 5.—Man is born unto trouble. Job v. 7. Thus we see there is an inheritance of grief, and to this patrimony all of Adam's kind are heirs. Its possession is as sure to all the seed, as the laws of nature are inviolable. Some portions of our appointed lot are less painful than others, but, under every aspect in which we may view our earthly condition, we find that every situation, more or less, exposes us to trouble and sorrow. Life is a warfare, and earth, at best, is a vale of tears. Solomon in all his glory was not exempt from its disappointments and griefs. He had sought pleasure in its most favoured spots and sunniest aspects. All that wealth could purchase, or that skill could devise, or power command, failed in procuring an immunity for him from trouble. After exhausting its envied resources, and studying its universal history, he thus records the result of his extended observation and personal experience: "All is vanity and vexation of spirit.” And who is there of the children of men that has purchased an exemption from trial and temptation, from danger and disease, from woe and want? On every hand we find foes that molest and oppose us; cares that corrode us; fears that dismay us; bereavements to grieve us; and disappointment to confound us. Yea, in our very comforts we find the elements of the bitterest grief; in our possessions the sources of greatest peril; in our successes the excitements of envy and detraction; in our affections the seeds of anxiety and anguish; and in our connections the pledges of apprehension and separation ; and “every drop of honey hides a sting.” As this is the common lot of all men, the apostle enjoins upon all sufferers, “not to think it strange concerning the fiery trials, as though some strange thing had happened unto them; knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in our brethren which are in the world.” For “there hath no temptation,” saith he, “taken you, but such as is common to man.” Religion does not exempt us from suffering, but it prepares us for it, and shows itself most to advantage when all other re