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will both have to ratify the sovereignty of God in distinguishing grace: and with equal rapture “ sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the Lamb; saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name, for thou only art holy.” Rev. xv. 3,4.
The introduction which I had solicited to the servant of God, whose ministry I attended with assiduity and respect, was naturally followed by a knowledge of others in his congregation, and some intercourse with the vicar's family. I never remember having a taste for numerous acquaintance; Bacon's definition of its emptiness was always assimilated with my judgment: “ A crowd is not company, and faces are but'a gallery of pictures, and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.” Such an aphorism will limit our association, even with the most eminent and amiable among the followers of the world. It is scarcely less applicable to our selection from the list of professed believers. As children who are under tutorage, the Lord arranges our lessons and our recrea
tions so as to subserve to his wisdom in our time state. I have found this particularly verified in my familiarity with such who are high in the scale of attainment. I have coveted their conversation, to benefit by their knowledge; but have returned to my own thoughts, with an inquiry why the visit was ineffectual ? Had I sought Jesus, instead of the gifts he bestows, or the regard of those who own them, this perplexity would have been spared.
What we advance in gospel doctrines, by hearing the creed of great saints, is like a progress in any other science: we apprehend the instruction, and therefore we remember it; but unless the spiritual affections are brought upon a parallel with the opinions of the mind, we shall find that our stores of truth have been prematurely gathered. ..
On the subject of a large religious acquaintance, I once heard an aged minister (not a member of the establishment) give advice to a young convert, which I felt to be valuable. “ Do not go too much into the company of the Lord's people ; for our talk chiefly arises from selfish motives. We want to show how much we have learnt, or how well we can teach.
There is no Christ in all this; see if the Lord like your company in reading the word : you will soon find if he does; and then, though all other may not lose its advantage to you, you will greatly lose your relish for frequent meetings.” This sensible caution by no means militates against that kind invitation in Malachi, iii. 16. “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard it; and a book of remembrance was written for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name." The above sentiment rather puts a judicious comment on the prophet's language. Malachi's commission is to pronounce a blessing upon social assemblies for purposes of worship, and intimates that the private intercourse of Christians should not be supported according to the manners of those who know not the name of Jesus : but that in all their friendly visits, “ the friend that loveth at all times,” should be first entreated to grace the circle ; and first addressed to hallow our recreations, and suggest themes of profitable discourse. The promise of this scripture takes the scope of our mental condition; for the Lord notices our seasons of retirement, and remem
bers when we do but think upon his name : indeed how can creatures of sin be so sweetly employed, but at his own suggestion? If we love to sound Christ's name, the Holy Spirit must have taught us its melody. The privileges of religious seclusion are as much intended by the preacher as the good offices of religious neighbourhood. :
Obliged by the civilities of many, I waited for a little time to confirm me in the esteem of a few. “ He who knoweth our frame, best can guide us to the heart which shall respond to our own; the temper which will, by contrast or sympathy, conduce to our welfare; and the judgment which, as a balm or a tonic, shall be medicinal to our infirmities.” Gospel liberty infuses its benign temperature into every minutiæ of our conduct: nothing “is hid from the heat thereof,” which, as a principle of life, cheers and invigorates all our actions. It is only under the influence of this spiritual warmth, that different ranks and outward advantages of station or education are melted and blended into gradations, which harmonize with philanthropy. The fall brought mankind on a level with devils; hence all their interests are jarred by selfishness : grace places the objects of its mercy into a relationship with the incarnate Godhead; wherefore all the latent discord of our renewed minds is hushed into peace; because divine love has modulated the instrument to its own note. The brethren of Christ have a more powerful bond of affinity than the ties of natural blood. The connection of spirits must be more complete than any earthly union. To this view of the solemn and endearing bond, which links the hearts of believers into one unbroken chain, I owe some of the most pleasant cordialities of my Christian fellowship.
When I am equipped on the errand of visiting my friends, I find much amusement, and some profit, in contrasting the walk in prospect with the design of morning calls, as they are instituted by fashion, and not long since emulated by myself. In the very pursuit of our entertainments, and the conduct of our pleasures, we prove that the unawakened mind has no capacity of choosing true happiness. To hear a footman's thundering rap reverberate across
the hall of a London mansion; and, without • asking if its owner is within, (an interview being
no concomitant of the pleasure,) pass a ticketed .