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THE WAY OF PROGRESS.
CANT. 1. 4.
“ Draro me; we will run after thee." THE text before us contains a prayer and a resolution; but on comparing the two clauses of the verse, we observe a small alteration in the terms; for in the first clause an individual prays, and more than one express concurrence in the last.
6 Draw me," is the petition of one; “we will run after thee,” is the engagement of an indefinite number. This change of number, however, is not without an important meaning; and, without adverting to other views of it, we think it is designed to teach us that true religion is both a personal and a social thing.
First, Religion is a personal concern, and calls for direct and personal application to Christ for an interest in the grace of his salvation. No man is safe amid the generali
ties of contemplated truths, as they lie spread before him in the field of revelation. The Gospel is not a display of abstract philosophic verities, which, when we have studied and understood them, leave us nothing more to do: All those truths are subservient to one great design-to lead the sinner to Christ, and to God in Christ, for salvation. They all point to Christ as the centre, and are meant to conduct our souls to him; and until we come to him, we are nothing, and have profited nothing, in order to everlasting life. He is the treasure hid in the field of revelation, and to be enriched with
grace, we must win Christ. We have to do not merely with Gospel truths in contemplation, but with Jesus as a person who hath already done much for us, and who will yet do more,—only to obtain it; we must apply to him individually, and solicit his special notice of our helpless situation. We cannot be moved along with the multitude, in à professing age, as by a common impulse, peculiar to none; we cannot enter heaven in a crowd of the redeemed, without previous relations of grace, and without much transaction with God in Christ about the things that belong to our individual state. If we seek and find no personal
knowledge of Christ in this present world, he will disown us in the next, and will say, Depart from me, I never knew you.”
Here, then, is a matter of infinite moment. A personal experience of the grace of Christ is indispensably necessary to the exigencies of our case. The sinner awakened to a sense of his need, or enlightened to perceive the personal glory of the Saviour, must have to do with Christ for his own soul, just as if not another existed. Others are converted, others are drawn, and are far advanced on the
way to heaven under the conduct of Emmanuel; what do we ? Shall we refrain from application to Christ, and perish ? No! let each one of us cry for himself, “ Draw me !” And it is consolatory to know, that the Lord deals with his people individually, extending to each an exercise of special mercy, and performing in each a special work of regeneration. This is known to all whom he instructs; and hence, in the text, the whole Church prays for individual grace.
But, secondly, while the necessity of personal transaction with Christ is here held up to our view, we are at the same time taught, that true religion has its social relations“ We will run after thee”We are drawn individually, but not alone,
66 Draw me,
shepherd gathers his sheep into flocks, and will not tend each of them solitary and apart. Believers are collected and bound together by church-relations; and while each feels within himself the divine energy of drawing grace, they form fellowship, and run together. The believer, though he prays
spe, cial grace, does not affect any speciality in the way of progress; he does not seek to be drawn in separation from others-for that would be a departure from the order of grace, as well as a great hinderance to his own progress and enjoyment; he does not affect singularity ;- he does not say, I will run;” but “ we will run.” He does not propose to run alone; and if any, through diffidence, or through pride and self-sufficiency, betake themselves to a course of separation, they will suffer for their wilfulness or distrust. The fellowship of others beguiles the weariness of the way. A company of believers, having the same mind and the same object in view, will bear one another's burdens, relieve each other's necessities, and exhort one another daily, to maintain the ardent race, and persevere in following Jesús unto the end. The benefits of social religion are many and valuable, though among ourselves, for the most part, wonder
al fully disregarded. It is pleasant, neverthe14 less, to mark Christian unanimity; it is inmai expressibly good to hear many, as with one 11 heart, engaging to Christ in terms like these IN " We will run after thee.” 1 This twofold view of religion in its perOra
sonal grace, and in its social aspect, is so
important, that we might well pursue the e illustration of these topics to a much greater in length: But we must no longer delay rea curring to what was alluded to at the close ai of the preceding discourse.
In it we of exhibited the believer praying, and be:
lievers engaging themselves to run. But ei what connects the prayer and the practice?
This will lead us to explain how the prayer
in the text is answered, which we shall atdi tempt by showing, In what manner and by
what means, the Redeemer draws believsi ing souls after him to glory. We need,
and we implore, his own Spirit to instruct us in matters so great and too high for us, without Him.
Now, we remark, in general, that we are drawn in a way agreeable to the principles ll of our reasonable nature. We are not, like
stocks or stones, dragged mechanically along, without our own knowledge or concurrence; neither like irrational natures, are we im-,