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To say nothing of believing in God's unlimited goodness ; in his pure, perfect, spontaneous, and self-denying goodwill towards us; in his everlasting and infinite love ? nothing even of believing “ that God is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him?” Heb. xi. 6. Though we did not believe that he is an ever-waiting, untiring, infinitely generous rewarder of them that diligently seek himto say nothing of that, still, did we only believe that God is a fair and honest rewarder of all who make him the first object of their search, even then it is manifest how devout we should be in waiting upon him ! how rich should be our petitions ! how numerous the favours which we should implore ! how long continued and delightful our seasons of supplication ! how ardent our fervour ! how urgent, unremitting, unyielding, our importunity! how pleasant, refreshing, and joyous to watch unto prayer ! The command “to pray always,” we should understand, appreciate, and practise. For prayer is the Christian's vital breath, the Christian's native air.' How circumspect should we be in all our ways, lest our prayers in secret should be damaged by our follies in social life!
Reader, are you among those whose sins are yet unforgiven, and whose heart is yet at enmity with God ? Seek pardon, and peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Are you reconciled to your offended Maker ? Seek grace--grace more abundantly—for this is a time of need—to contend with the world, Satan, and the flesh-to do God's will, and to suffer God's will in all things. Ask these blessings from your
Father in heaven, as a child asks some precious gift from his earthly father, or as a passing beggar asks an alms at your generous door. Consider for a moment the condition of a cold, famishing fellow-creature standing at the threshold of your comfortable home. The rain is, perchance, dropping from his matted hair, and his limbs shivering in the winter blast. He is seeking food and shelter. Mark the humility of his aspect, the earnest urgency of his tone, the entreating fervency of his eye, the short and plain language of his petition. He is asking for the meat that perisheth ; sinful man! ask thou for the bread of life. He is asking a shelter for his body; ask thou a refuge for thy soul. He is asking shelter for a night; ask thou refuge for eternity. He is asking shelter from a passing storm ; ask thou refuge from the ever-abiding wrath of Almighty God. He is asking a mite; ask thou the exhaustless treasures of Divine grace. He is asking a worn-out raiment; ask thou the robe of righteousness, the garment of salvation.
He is asking from a fellow-man, whose nature is selfishsometimes cruel and unfeeling; ask thou from God, who is rich and tender and plenteous in mercy. He has no promise to plead ; you can plead a free, generous, and unfailing promise. He scarcely knows what argument to employ; you have a most persuasive and powerful argument taught you by God himself. He knocks at your door and pleads his destitution as if it were his only hope, his last resource, though he well knows that if he be repulsed by you he may find your neighbour more benevolent; but you have one only door of hope; if you were to be repulsed there, you would be repulsed by all, and repulsed
If, then, you ask or seek at all the blessings which you
need from the God of heaven, what language can express the depth of your humility, the urgency of your earnestness, or the fervency of
entreaties? “And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh.
And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me,” Gen. xxxii. 26.
“ Behold, a woman of Canaan cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David ; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away, for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith ; be it unto thee even as thou wilt,” Matt. xy. 22-28.
“ If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone ? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent ? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion ? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?” Luke xi. 11-13.
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON; AND W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH. London: J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close.
THE RIVER OF ETERNITY.
I BECAME acquainted years ago, while residing in the north of Scotland, with a venerable servant of God, whose early history was no less interesting than his subsequent career was remarkable. Like the ancient Hebrew monarch, he was, in youth, frequently employed to tend a flock of sheep. The pasture field to which he led them from day to day, was beautifully situated near a river. One day, while the youth was reclining on the bank of the river, surrounded by the flock, admiring the constancy of the flowing stream, he suddenly recollected having heard somewhere in a sermon that
a river was like eternity." He felt now, as he had not done before, solemnly arrested by the illustration. Still gazing on the ceaseless .current, he inwardly exclaimed,—“When I die, I must either go to heaven or to hell. If I go to heaven, my happiness shall be like that river, always flowing, and always flowing; and if I go to hell, my misery shall be like that river, always flowing, and always flowing; and never, never come to an end."
Thus thought the youth, as hour by hour the flood of water calmly flowed past. It was the grand crisis of his life. He heard no loud call from on high, summoning him to prepare for eternity; but the still small voice of God's mercy spoke to him from the bosom of that river, and it reached his heart. He arose, and returned home; but he could not dispel the solemn impression which had thus been made upon his mind. The Spirit of God had now awaked his soul to consider his immortality, and to ponder the awful question, “ Whether that immortality should be to him an endless 'river of pleasure at God's right hand,' or a ceaseless stream of anguish ?”
Day after day, as he returned with his flock to the pasture, the renewed sight of the river ever and anon recalled to his mind-ETERNITY. He felt he was a sinner, deserving of everlasting suffering for his guilt; but soon he obtained rest to his burdened soul by at once, and just as he was, fleeing to the Redeemer, to obtain freely, through bis atoning blood, the forgiveness of his sins, and a preparation, through the power of the Holy Spirit, for that endless futurity. Then
he began to live to God, and at length was called to the work of the ministry. For many years he became a distinguished blessing to the church of Christ. He had, through grace, honoured God in his youth; and God honoured him throughout a long career. Emphatically may it be said, that he lived for eternity.
Such indeed was the impression produced on his mind by the circumstances just narrated, of the awful greatness and endless perpetuity of eternity, that it was reported to me, by one who knew him intimately, that he seldom or never spoke of eternity afterwards to the end of his long life without calling it emphatically “A VAST ETERNITY.” Soon an opportunity occurred for testing this interesting fact. Being called to exercise my ministry, for a season, not far distant from the venerable patriarch in the north, I entered his peaceful abode. Not long had I been there when he impressively uttered the identical expression just mentioned, exclaiming devoutly, while offering thanks for the blessings about to be enjoyed, "O LORD, PREPARE US FOR A VAST ETERNITY !”
My dear reader, are you preparing every day for a eternity ?"
Are you habitually looking to God as your Father? to Christ as your Redeemer ? to heaven as your home? Are you abounding in prayer for the Spirit of God, and earnestly pressing after that holiness, without which no man can see the Lord ? If not, how fearful are your prospects! The anticipation of entering that boundless ocean to which you are every day rapidly approaching, cannot be to you, while
you remain as you now are, a source of happiness and consolation unspeakable, but on the contrary a dark foreboding, a subject which must be banished from the mind before comparative ease can be enjoyed.
But how miserable is that ease or hilarity which can only be procured by forgetting the reality of our circumstances-by banishing truth from the mind ! Surely this deceitful repose cannot effect a deliverance from a dreaded prospect, but must tend ultimately to enhance it by the fearful remembrance, that to secure a passing momentary delirium of ease or pleasure, you deliberately lost the opportunity of a great salvation! Why should it be so? Why remain one of that number, of whom it is written, that “through fear of death, they are all their lifetime subject to bondage ?” The glad tidings of salvation have been sent as directly to you, by the command of the Redeemer, as they were sent originally to any saint now on earth or in heaven. And the moment you regard these tidings as worthy of “all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, even the chief,” and willingly and unreservedly submit to his sceptre, you become at once reconciled to God; and then, so far from being afraid of a “ vast eternity,” you will exult in anticipation of everlasting glory!
Let us consider for a moment the grand relation between time and eternity. Our life on earth is described in scripture, as it were but a moment—a span—a passing shadow. But who can comprehend the amount of beatific joy in heaven, or the ceaseless floods of unavailable sorrow in perdition, which through endless ages shall date their awful commencement to that moment—that span—that little beginning! There is indeed nothing extraordinary in the parent source of a magnificent river; and yet the first sight of the little stream, peacefully gliding down to the valley, inspires the traveller with feelings of profound interest and wonder. Whence this sudden emotion ? Because he regards that rivulet as the commencement of a deep, broad river, rolling its majestic flood into the ocean.
Such, then, is human life. However transient or apparently insignificant here, it is nevertheless, in every case, the grand source of an ever-deepening river of spiritual existence, which, after it is lost to earthly view, shall flow onwards in other regions to the remotest futurity, enlarging in happiness or misery, and deriving its entire character, intensity, and direction in eternity, from the history or character of the little rivulet on earth. Thus does all eternity, to man individually, take its character and colouring from time! Hence the awfully sublime descriptions of holy writ. First, Ineffably glorious ; “I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” SECOND, Terrifically dark; “But Abraham said ” (to the rich man, who had lived and died, preferring the world to the favour of God), “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things : but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” Oh! the only answer that can be given to a lost spirit imploring relief-one who had habitually put away the word of life, or neglected the great salvationis mournfully brief: “REMEMBER THY LIFETIME!”
Now, it is the continual aim of the enemy of God and man practically to hide this essential relation between time and eternity, and to cause the minds of the unregenerate, and as far as possible also the minds of Christians, to be so absorbed