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an acquaintance with God, and a greater love of him, and a greater knowledge of him, the passion and the business of existence. It is this passionate pursuit after holiness, never intermitted, but returned to with the recurrence of each day, and maintained with an habitual perseverance of feeling and effort, that at length shall wear the channels of blessedness so deep in the soul, that all its energies of sensibility and activity shall pour into them; that shall make the hungering and thirsting after righteousness as inseparable a movement of the daily tide of life, as undying a passion of the heart's daily experience, as is any form whatever of this world's idolatry in the souls of its worshippers.
It is this which was David's experience when his soul was following hard after God. It is this to which he refers when he breaks out, “ As the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God!” It is this which has constituted the secret of the eminent attainments of all eminent saints, in the Scriptures and in all history. It is this which feeds the secret fire of men's souls, who have still sought God amidst terrors, sufferings, and deaths. It is this which has constituted the secret power of assurance ; not so much the consciousness or the belief of holiness already attained, as the experience of this inextinguishable, unquenchable thirst, and daily intense effort of the soul after it. It is this which in an eminent degree is its own reward, and its own blessedness.
It fulfils in its own exercise the promises of God beforehand. It is a well of water springing up to everlasting life. It brings God and heaven near to the soul day by day, in the very intensity of the effort after him. It is accompanied with a great promise, that the soul, so seeking him, shall find him,—that he that thus hungers and thirsts after righteousness, shall be filled.
And this promise is fulfilling with every increase in the earnestness of the soul's desires after God, with every addition to the power of that passion, and the immutability of that habit, which binds the soul to the business of seeking God.
the business of seeking God. The very intensity of this search after God is an element of power. It puts every thing else at a distance, every interference aside, every earthly glory into darkness. Its keen gaze sees God, and all things else are shadows. It gives great superiority to the world and to temptation, great clearness of view, great power to faith, great nearness to the unseen world, a great victory over things seen and temporal. It touches all experience with glory, converts all events into ministers of grace and goodness, making even sore trials the means of still greater nearness to God, and earthly disappointments but so many steps in the ladder, up which the soul is mounting to its Maker.
The positive happiness of such a life is greater than the Christian in the ordinary frame of custom can conceive. The very effort of thus seeking after God is itself positive blessedness. And we would ask any Christian, and especially any one just setting out in the Christian life, whose habits for life therefore are now forming, Had you
not better be employed in such an effort, even though you seem to fail, even though your soul be much discouraged by the way, and you seem to meet with enemies of which others are entirely unconscious ? Would not that life be infinitely happier which is so spent? If you do not meet with those enemies, it is not because they do not exist; and if you peace without this holy effort after God, it is not because these enemies are overcome, or that sin is dead within you, or that your vision is bright toward heaven. It is rather because sin is alive, and you know it not, or care very little for it; it is because sensibility is dead, and not sin ; it is not because you are really secure that enemies do not trouble you, but because they are secure of you, and quietly waiting till they shall have full possession of you. Now again in regard to this pilgrimage, it is clear that there is great blessedness in this search after God, and certainly no blessedness without it, although in it the earnest pilgrim may see șis sins and his enemies with a clearness of which they that are at ease can have no conception, and though he may have to pass through conflicts which they that sleep know nothing of. Better by far to have these conflicts now, and rest and triumph at the end, than rest and peace now, and a conflict with sin and its consequences for ever and ever. It were better to be all one's lifetime in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, to emerge from it into light and life eternal, than to be walking in a false light here, to be followed by the blackness of darkness for ever.
It cannot be denied that the way of this pilgrimage is a straight and narrow way. The difficulties, and hardships, and terrors, have not been magnified in the Allegory of Bunyan. It is a strictly scriptural representation. Nor can it be denied that the world spreadeth in our way many alluring baits, and that the sense hath for the time exquisite and intoxicating delights. So that, in becoming a pilgrim, one seems to turn his back
upon a present and positive enjoyment, and to choose self-denial, painfulness, and sorrow. But at the very outset we are met by the tremendous question, “ What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul ??
We cannot unmake our being or annihilate its conditions. We must die, and die only to be immortal. If while we live we live to the world, when we come to die and leave the world, we shall die to all blessedness. But if while we live, we die to the world, then when we come to die and leave the world, we shall live to blessedness perfect and eternal. So let the world be as pleasant as it may, and the pilgrimage as toilsome and forbidding as it may, in choosing between them we must remember we are choosing between heaven and hell. If we would laugh now, we must do it at the cost of weeping for ever; if we would laugh and rejoice for ever, we must consent to be weeping pilgrims Now what will it profit you to gain the whole world at the cost of your
soul? But when the choice is once made under the strong principle of duty, and the conviction of substantial and eternal gain; and the man with violent resistance shuts out the alluring voices of the world, by putting hïs fingers in his ears, and its alluring prospects by turning his back upon them, and runs for the entrance into the narrow way, crying out Life! Life! Eternal Life !—then there springs up the excitement, enthusiasm, and joy of a new and glorious interest. What has he to do now? To become holy, like God; to lead the life of Love, like God in Christ; to win heaven for ever and ever? Having turned from the world, its fascinations depart from his soul like a light vapour and vanish into nothingness. And fixing now all the energies and insight of his being upon the work and prospects before him, the life of the pilgrim and the crowning rewards stand out continually in increasing beauty and glory. "And thus is he more and more conformed to that which he seeketh after; and gaineth even in the winning of heavenly blessedness, a taste of it, which maketh the keenest delight of the world appear utterly insipid. The pilgrim has a precious reward as he goes along ; it meets him at the cross, at the hill of difficulty, in the valley of humiliation, in the valley of the shadow of death, it meets him most abundantly when to the world he appears most wretched; it is an inward light and love which enables him to see, and draws him towards the gate of heaven—it is the promise and the earnest of the world to come. And when at last his flesh and heart faileth, then God becomes the strength of his heart and his portion for ever.
FU'LLARTON AND CO., PRINTERS, STEAD'S PLACE, EDINBURCH.