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greatly is the evil spirit superior in natural strength to that which is wise and holy!
The enquiry would be too long and too metaphysical ; it is, perhaps, too hopeless to attempt, with our imperfect knowledge of the ways of God,
, to give a reason why things are suffered thus to be, or to trace to its source that mighty strife between good and evil which is coeval with all created things, in which the angels first, and afterwards our parents fell; and which, crushed as the serpent's head has been by Christ, continues still, and, till the final triumph of our Redeemer, must continue to shake with its convulsive struggles the pillars of the universe. It is enough for us to know. that we are by nature sick unto death, but that we have a great Physician at hand to heal us. It is sufficient for us to recollect that we must not complain of evils for which a remedy is provided; and that the apostle himself, who would seem to plunge us in despair by the picture which he draws of our natural condition, bursts forth, immediately after, into a noble exclamation of thankfulness to that God who hath delivered us through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Of the means whereby this great deliverance was effected; of the dreadful ransom which the Son of God has paid for our souls; and how, by His own dying agonies, He stopped the jaws of that death which else had gaped insatiably for all, I need not, as I am addressing Christians I surely need not, proceed to treat more largely. I shall, therefore,
only observe, that the two points in which that deliverance consisted were, precisely, those which, according to St. Paul's argument, could not be supplied by any human code of morality, nor even by the Jewish law itself and the commandments given from Mount Sinai. These points are pardon and grace; pardon for past offences, grace to enable us to lead new lives, and to make us less unworthy inhabitants of that Heaven whither Christ is gone before. The one restores us to the same degree of favour with God which our nature possessed before its fall; the other supports us against those temptations under which we must else, of necessity, again have fallen; and thus, by the Christian covenant, are boasting and despair alike excluded ; boasting by the sense of our natural inability to please the Most High, and despair by the knowledge that the Most High Himself is on our side, and that if we fall not away from Him, we may in security look on the assaults of our spiritual and fleshly enemies.
From all which I have said, the following practical conclusions may be drawn. First, since our condition is by nature so perilous ; since our pas- . sions are so strong, and our flesh so frail and
prone to evil, what constant vigilance do those passions and propensities require, of which St. Paul complains so heavily? If we were shut
in the same den with a wild beast; if we were opposed to an armed enemy; if we were steering a vessel through an unknown sea, amid the dash of waves and the
glimmering of breakers, we should need, I apprehend, no admonition to be watchful and diligent. Alas! my friends, our own hearts are wilder than the savage of the woods; our own hearts, uncontrouled, are more formidable than the deadliest adversary; our own hearts are more changeable and deceitful than the winds, the waves, the depths, and shallows of the ocean. Watch, then, and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. Watch and pray! Without prayer to God “the watchman waketh but in vain ";" and without an answerable watchfulness and care for our souls, displayed in the usual tenour of our lives and actions, our idle prayers will be only an offence to God.
Nor should the difficulty of the task hold us excused from attempting it; seeing that what is necessary to be done, it becomes us, at least, to try to do; and what God commands, we may be sure that He will also give us strength to accomplish. Of ourselves we can do nothing, but we can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth us; and the same glorious Being who commanded the lame to walk, gave his limbs, at the same time, ability to perform His bidding! So far indeed from the weakness of the flesh being able to destroy the hope of the sincere and industrious Christian, “ My grace,” saith Christ, “is sufficient for thee ® :" and the triumph of that grace is shown, not only in enabling the reasonable soul to subdue monies of our religion, and of whose souls one day a strict account must be rendered by all whose example has made the way of truth be evil spoken of, and all who have not employed to the good of their fellow men, and to the glory of the Most High, the abilities, the influence, the leisure, and the abundance which the wise and good God has entrusted to them.
1 Psalm cxxvii. 1.
2 2 Cor. xij. 19.
ON THE LOVE OF GOD.
[Preached at Cawnpoor, October 11, 1824.]
St. MATT. xxii, 37-40.
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with
all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
This beautiful summary of duty, even before the time of Christ, appears to have been proverbial among the Jews, as the statement of those objects which the law of Moses was intended to secure and illustrate. But whoever was its original author, (something like it, though not the very words themselves, may be found in the Psalms, and in the prophet Micah a still nearer approach to its import) yet as thus solemnly adopted by Christ it becomes entitled to the acceptance and obedience of every Christian, and an adherence to its rule as among the surest pledges which any Christian can
1 Micah vi, 8.