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your own will. The influence those tyrant sins of yours exert over you, you gave them, whatever form they assume, whether debauchery, drunkenness, indecision, or indifference. To be convinced of this, review calmly that last act of deliberate sin. Now what would you think of the professions of a man who declares his anxiety to live, and yet drinks off a cup of poison ? Yet you are acting thus. You refuse to comply with the only means of safety. You reject the gospel of Christ, and “there js salvation in no other," Acts iv. 12. God warns, the Saviour invites, the Holy Spirit strives, Providence instructs, death alarms, conscience whispers; all are however useless ; you will perish! What a sight is this! How is it? Pray reflect. You pity the suicide ; have you no pity for yourself? and yet, sinner,
Thou hast destroyed thyself.”
But you must not be left thus. If you be now alive to your condition, admitting in self-condemnation the justice of God's sentence against sin, and inquiring after salvation, it is a happy privilege and duty to direct you to the gospel of peace. Behold your help in that God who was the help of Israel of old. He is a help in every necessity. To the penitent, he is "mighty to save,” Isa. Ixiii. 1. To the mourner, he is a “ God of consolation,” Rom. xv. 5. To the weak believer, he gives strength equal to his day, Isa. xl. 29. He will be a help when all others fail. It frequently happens that our friends desert us when we most need them, either from inability to succour, or from indifference to our lot. This can never be the case with God, Heb. xiii. 5. He will do that for you which no other helper could. There is distress which nothing in this world can remove. There are blanks of the heart which the world itself cannot fill. There is an hour coming when all earthly helps will be found insufficient. Go then to the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, the only true and living way; and notwithstanding the past he will welcome you kindly; for while ho says, “ Thou hast destroyed thyself," he graciously adds, “but in me is thine help.”
Shall this be your reflection thri ughout eternity? It rests with yourself ALONE.
orld caitself cannot found inChrist, there will
O Lord, the treasures of thy love
Are everlasting mines;
And boundless as our sins.
Stand open night and day;
And drive our wants away.
ne ad neil “ I CANNOT UNDERSTAND IT." But is that a reason why you should not believe it? Has the reader of these lines ever felt inclined to make use of the above expression with regard to any plainly revealed truth of the Bible, or with regard to the conduct of those who profess to be guided by that book ? If so, he will perhaps do well to pay attention to the three following certain facts.
First. There are some things which we cannot understand, because they are above our comprehension.
Second. There are others which we do not understand, because we have not directed that degree of attention to them which is requisite to enable us to understand them.
Third. There are other things, again, which it is impossible we should fully or at all understand, because we have never experienced them.
But in no one of these cases is there any reason why we should refuse to believe a doctrine or a fact, if sufficient evidence of its truth or reality be afforded us.
First. As to the first of these cases. The union of our own body and soul, forming one single being ; the formation and growth of our bodies; the preservation of life from day to day ; the production and growth of stem, leaves, flowers, and fruit, from a seed which we put into the ground, and the manner in which such flowers are made to produce seed, each one of its own kind;—to doubt these and a thousand other things because we cannot understand them, that is, because they are brought about by a wisdom and skill very far above our own, would be to doubt the evidence of our own senses. Just so, why should it be thought a thing incredible, that the great Creator of all things should, in one sense, have a three-fold subsistence, as Father, Son or Word, and Holy Spirit, and yet that in another sense these three are one? Why should we doubt the incarnation of Jesus Christ, that is, that he is God and man in one person, the work of the Holy Spirit upon the mind of man, the resurrection of the body, and other truths of the Bible? The only question is, Has God revealed them? If he has, he is wiser than we: he knows all things; he can do all things.
Second. Of things which we do not understand, merely because we have not directed our minds to them, instances without number will occur to every one. If book were given to you in a language you had never learned, you would of course be unable to tell what were its contents. If it were given to another, however inferior to you in understanding, who had acquired the language, he would read it without difficulty. Eclipses of the sun and moon are foretold every year, and for many years to come, and the exact moment when they will begin is set down, which always proves correct. How is this done ? If you have never studied astronomy, you cannot tell. But you do not for a moment doubt the possibility of understanding languages and sciences, because you have not turned your mind to them; and you would laugh at a man who said he did not believe that the eclipses mentioned in the almanack for next year would really happen, because he could not understand how their occurrence could be foretold. Just so, again, it is possible you have never studied and examined the Bible, in such a way as to enable you to understand it. You may never have paid that attention to it which you would have done to the grammar of a language you were anxious to learn, or to an explanatory work on any science, a knowledge of which you wished to obtain; or you may not have set about the study of it in that manner which the Bible itself directs, which will be noticed presently. Now in this case, it is no matter of surprise that you do not understand it; but that is obviously not the slightest reason why you should disbelieve the statements of those who have examined it thoroughly.
Third. It is equally plain that there are many things of which we have no right conception, or no conception at all, simply because we have not experienced them. A person blind from birth does not understand what sight is, because he has never possessed it. Light and colours may be explained to him, but
“ I CANNOT UNDERSTAND IT."
have his other faculties, he does not for a moment doubt, (how can he ?) that others possess that advantage, whatever it may be. Many circumstances of difficulty and suffering, or of joy and satisfaction, will occur to the mind of every one, which we may relate to another person, and what we say will not be at all doubted, but yet they will never be understood except by those who have passed through sorrows or joys of the same kind. They will understand our meaning in a way which no one else will. Thus, again, the Bible speaks of a change of mind and heart as absolutely necessary to our salvation and future happiness, a change so great that it is compared to a “resurrection from the dead," and to a“ new creation,” in which “old things pass away, and all things become new," Rom. vi. 5, 6, 11; Eph. i. 19, 20; i. 1-6; 2 Cor. v. 17. You may possibly never yet have experienced such a change, and if so you cannot have any right conception of it; you may never have passed through it, and therefore cannot understand it: but this is no reason why you should doubt the testimony of those who have, and who can honestly say with regard to those things which the Bible reveals, “ This one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.”
What then are you to do?
First. If anything be plainly stated in the word of God, do not question it for a moment, because it is above your reason. If there were nothing of this kind in the Bible, it would want one of the strongest evidences that it came from God. “ For who by searching can find out God ?" "My thoughts are not your thoughts ; neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord,” Isa. lv. 8; Job xi. 7. It professes to reveal mysteries : “ Great,” says the apostle, when speaking of the incarnation, “is the mystery of godliness," I Tim. iii. 16. Mystery is only another name for what is incomprehensible.
Second. “ Search the Scriptures." Your welfare for eternity depends on your knowledge of them. Study to make yourself thoroughly acquainted with their contents, and especially with that only way of salvation through the righteousness and atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ which they so plainly reveal. Act in the same manner that you would, if, as just hinted, you were desirous to acquire a language, or to have a correct understanding of some particular science. Remember only to carry on the study in the manner the Bible itself prescribes. Almost every branch of knowledge has some method peculiar to itself, in which alone a right understanding of it can be obtained. And the method laid down in the Bible to attain an acquaintance with its meaning is this; diligent reading and examination, in connexion with earnest prayer to the “ Father of lights" for the teaching of his Holy Spirit to accompany such reading, without which it is said we cannot understand it; for “they," " the things of the Spirit of God,” are “spiritually discerned," 1 Cor. ii. 12–15. · Third. Of that change which the Bible states to be necessary to salvation, and essentially connected with repentance for sin, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, it is expressly said God is the author : see John i. 13; Eph. ii. 1, 4, 5; Jas. i. 18. Listen not, then, to any cavil upon the subject. Do not say any longer that you cannot understand what it is impossible you ever should understand if you have not experienced it, but at once pray to God to accomplish this change in you. Take with you the words of the Bible itself — " Turn thou me, and I shall be turned ;" “ Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me,” Jer. xxxi. 18; Psa. li. 10. You have every encouragement to do so. “Exceeding great and precious promises" there are, that those who thus “ ask" shall “receive,” that those who thus “ seek” shall “find.” “ If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?” Luke xi. 13. “ Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord : his going forth is prepared as the morning,” Hos. vi. 3. The morning twilight is, you know, the certain forerunner of sunrise. When the benighted traveller, or the tempest-tossed sailor, after a long, dark night, catches the first streaks of the coming morning in the eastern sky, he is quite certain that it is not a light which will go out, to leave him in darkness again, but that it will shine more and more till it attain the brightness of noon. It is in this manner, then, that “ His going forth is prepared ;" and the path of every one who earnestly and perseveringly seeks knowledge, and grace, and holiness, from the great “ Author and Giver of every good and perfect gift,” shall be in that “shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”