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tects it from the wild boar of the wood ; nevertheless the firm tread of the destroyer cannot crush this fragile plant; the winds of heaven “ are not suffered to blow over it too roughly.” Jesus appears to choose his haunts of retirement among the wilds and briars of nature, where the dew of his blessing may descend in silent attestation of his Almighty presence. When we would praise “ the good pleasure of his will,” we must ask the Lord to carry us with him on these tender visits; and while he shows us the bud of grace, which his right hand hath planted, let us curiously examine every wonderful fold, and inquire the properties of its root, the manner of its growth, and the nature of its fruit. Let us admire how the slender stem waves under the influences of faith, pliantly yielding as the word of the Lord passes over it'; and when we leave the sacred blossom to its loneliness, do not let the contemplation pass away with the scene; but recur to that pensive walk in the wilderness, and the wild rose on its pathway: fancy the pure dew drops which sparkled on every leaf, and the ripening buds which were hastening to expand. Appropriate these incidents to spiritual occasions, and learn
to investigate the detail of moments, by a ray of light from heaven. In this refulgence we shall discover that the “ secret of the Lord” has no local habitation; it is not connected with seasons or places, but pervades the system of life, linking the analogies of nature with the mysteries of grace. Christ hath said, “ I am with you always ;" therefore our want of perception can be no impediment to his presence ; neither does the Lord mean to hide himself from our apprehension ; but he so consults the low estate of our regenerate faculties, as to manifest himself to his people in such manner as they can bear: “now we see through a glass darkly;" there is always a medium of communication which intervenes between the glorified Jesus and his brethren; yet this obscurity is no, hindrance to the Lord's conversation with us : so far from being an impediment, that ordinances of his appointment and circumstances of his guidance are like the machinery, of a well, by which supplies of water are attained for our use.
A farmer asked the eminent Romaine in what manner he should prove his walk with God. “Do not buy a cow, or sell a sheep,” said the minister, “ without consulting the
Lord.” It is in trifles (as they appear to us) that we forget the friendship of Christ. And we know that his presence is as apparent, when infused through the blessing of every hour, as in removing the curse which contaminates our whole existence. Were we more initiated into this noble familiarity of faith, we should gain numberless interviews with our adorable Lord. We should rescue our very troubles from the malice of the adversary. Neither sorrow nor temptation would avail to withdraw us from Jesus, if we received the first as a corrective, mixed and administered by his hand; and carried the weariness of sin and self into the hallowed resort of Gethsemane, dropping as we go tears of supplication, and mourning over the dismal waters of Cedron. When the Holy Spirit appoints this sacred enclosure as a place of meeting with some broken hearted believer ;. it is his purpose to communicate the things of Christ. While we traverse its awful desolation, the Holy Ghost signfies the meaning of that amazing narrative; stops us at each memorial in contemplations which cannot be uttered : and when we retire from this mystic garden, the Comforter reveals to our apprehension what it is to be made par
takers of the sufferings of Christ. Our conformity to the death of the Lord becomes a warrant for our likeness to his resurrection ; and in proving that we have fellowship in his temptations we ascertain our participation in his victories.
Exercises of mind, which do not lead to a fuller assurance of hope, a firmer clasp of the promises, are always to be received with diffidence. Supernatural teaching is sure to be evinced in growth; therefore we may doubt the benefit of all experience which does not confirm our trust in God. Divine “faith worketh by love;" it is an emanation from the Holy Ghost, and penetrates the soul with a subtle and irresistible unction. Semblances of this vital principle, though they may counterfeit its energy, cannot take the scope and design of its purposes. Natural reason may give us religious opinions, and natural sensibility may stimulate our feelings; but the operation of the faith of God, and this acquired assent, is contrasted by the tendency of their effects: the spiritual gift, as it comes from the Father of lights, so it leads to the source of all illumination. Gospel faith is like Jacob's ladder, whereon the messengers of Christ ascend and descend, and by which there is an established intercourse erected between earth and heaven; a sympathetic unison between grace and glory. Every scripture is the answer, and command of Christ, signified to our wants and ignorances, by such ambassadors as he shall appoint: these are all angels of mercy, walking to and fro, upon the steps which separate heaven in time from heaven in eternity.
Human instruction is very industrious, but its activity takes a level direction ; whatever wants the aerial property of divine life sinks downward into the materialism of selfishness. The most accurate test, by which we may discover whether our views are taught of men or learnt of God, is to examine how far the bias of their results will lead us to seek the praise of each other, or look with a single eye to the Lord. Is our “ life hid with Christ in God ?” then will our conversation be in heaven ;-for “ where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” The theme of the thoughts will appear in the utterance of the tongue. If worldly applause is our standard, we shall remain satisfied with obtaining the paraphernalia of religion ;