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“I am the light of the world.”
The meaning of these words doubtless is, that the way to be truly enlightened, and to be delivered from blindness of heart, is to make the life of Christ our guide, and to form our wills and actions upon the perfect model of his bright example. The first step, therefore, in following Christ is the employing of our thoughts every morning upon the perfections of this bright original, ere we admit into the heart the intrusive cares of worldly objects.
The Gospel is the instructions of divine wisdom and mercy, breathed from lips of everlasting love ; and every man, endued with a Christian spirit, will not fail to find there hidden manna, fitted both to nourish and to delight the soul. What a treasure does the true Christian find, and what an inward satisfaction and delight in its excellency, as the spirit takes of the things of Christ, and shows them to the soul.
The heart prepared by the love of God shed abroad in it, and flowing on the soul which follows Christ, produces the fruit, even a holy life, and from hence arises the benefit of meditation and prayer. “Love God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Turn the whole force of desire upon the right object, upon the God that formed you; whose boundless power encircles you; and as you are hastening toward eternal mansions, , think constantly that God so loved you as 10 give his own Son for you; and that
6. Come unto me." Follow not then the paths of sin, and lose the favor of God.
" Believe not every spirit.”
But consider calmly and make a conscience of giving your credit with due caution. Be not more prone to speak and believe ill than well of your neighbor. This is our infirmity and unhappiness. He that guides his steps by the true lamp, - the word of God, will consider our proneness to this sin, will suspend his opinion, neither believing all that he hears, nor officiously reporting all that he believes.
It is a proof of true wisdom, to do nothing rashly, nor to be obstinate and unyielding in our opinions, and to be cautious in spreading reports, is a necessary branch of Christian perfection. Advise in your affairs with wise men, and think it better to be instructed than to be self-willed, — for a small understanding, with the fear of God, is better than much wisdom, with transgression.
A virtuous life is crowned with God's favor, and shines in wise conduct. The more humble and observant we are to his directions, by a constant application of our will and understanding to his glory, the greater satisfaction and peace of mind we shall find resulting from all we do.
He, who inquires into the affairs of his neighbor, seldom or never descends into his own breast, that he may examine and understand himself. We find it hard to part with our vices,- our old friends, and to unlearn habits; but we must resist and conquer, lest we become assaulted day by day with greater difficulties. Think of God and his love, which He has manifested toward us; and be resolute, and impatient to grow every day in his favor, and advance daily toward the fountain of everlasting love. The axe must be laid at the root of the tree, and the love of the world overcome, before we can attain unto holiness, or taste its fruits, - everlasting peace.
“Let no one say, I am tempted of God."
We can never, in this world, be exempt from tribulation and trials, - nor should it seem strange when we carry the enemy within us; for with our innocence we lost our happiness and safety, and must be born to trouble, for it is the very ground of our nature, — the growth of sin, — for temptation and miseries to press hard on the heels of each other; these are inseparable from each other.
The true Christian, however, will derive great profit from these onsets; it humbles him, purifies the heart, and makes him wiser and better by suffering. This is a rough way to happiness, which all the saints of God have travelled before us, and by it they were at last safely conducted to their journey's end.
Neither is it safe to consider our temptations as overcome, by declining or flying from them. The way to overcome is by pa