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that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne; even as I also overcame, and am sat down with my Father in His throne."
But we must not say to all "Go forward." If we did, we should be urging many to what is directly wrong and ruinous. Some of you may be yet in your sins, and, as such, in the broad way which leadeth to destruction. Surely, the sooner you stop the better ; the more prompt and speedy your return the better; lest by a life of criminal delay you destroy both body and soul in hell! Conscience testifies that to this hour you have walked in the way of danger and of death. Shall we then say, " Go forward?" God forbid! The Bible forbids it; Christian benevolence forbids it; common humanity forbids it. Stop, therefore, before it be too late. Consider where you are, what you are doing, and whither you are going. These are matters of eternal moment, and cannot be regarded with too much seriousness and self-application. "Thus saith the Lord "-He speaks to you who have hitherto wandered in the paths of folly and sin-"Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls."
"SEE, then, that ye walk circumspectly; not as fools, but as wise." Eph. v. 15. Religion is often represented under the idea of a journey. The figure teaches us that the godly are the subjects of spiritual life. The dead cannot walk. They remain motionless amidst all the activity going on around them. The natural state of man is one of spiritual death. He has no true faith in God, no sincere love to this glorious Being, no relish for spiritual things; hence he remains indifferent to the claims of God. But when he is born again, when the Holy Spirit breathes upon him, when he is made a new creature in Christ Jesus, then he begins to live, and his soul moves towards God, and he begins to obey His
laws, to seek His glory, to walk in the way of His commandments. The apostle says of Christians, "And you hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and in sins." Dead souls in the new birth are raised out of the grave of sin, and they commence their journey towards the heavenly Canaan. Happy moment! Now they begin to live to purpose, for they begin to live to God, for eternity, for heaven. The way in which these travellers are to walk is prescribed by their infallible Guide. He has given them a map of the narrow way which leads to eternal life. They must not walk according to the opinions of the world, the dim light of their corrupt reason, the inclinations of
of their minds, they are taught of God, they are the children of a King, and must walk worthy of their character, relationship, high destiny. The apostle saw the importance of all Christians walking circumspectly in the way to heaven. There are many powerful reasons why they should do this. There is the glorious country to which they are going. Heaven is represented in the Scriptures as a very glorious land. This is a country where there is no sin, no temptation, and no sorrow. The society is glorious; the occupations glorious; the scenes are glorious. This is the palace of the Prince of Peace. This is an eternal Paradise. This is the metropolis of the universe. This is the inheritance of the saints. This is a good land. Hence, how melancholy the condition of those who come short of it.-Heb. iv. 1. The travellers have need to walk circumspectly because of the temptations which beset them, the numerous observers who are looking on, and the influence of their example upon others. There are many snares in the narrow way, laid by the devil to entrap the unwary. He is a skilful, vigilant, experienced fowler, and all who would keep out of his way had need to watch, "Lest Satan should get an advantage over you; for we are not ignorant of his devices." He tries hard to get an advantage over us, and he is sure to succeed, if we do not open our eyes and walk circumspectly. Many observe how we pursue our journey, and it is wise to pray, "Lead me in a plain path, because of my observers." The influence of our example upon others is most im
their sinful minds, but according to the plain, positive, imperative declarations, instructions, wise counsels of the word of God. The travellers must remember the words of the Psalmist, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. "This light from the glorious Sun of truth discovers the evils we must try to avoid, the precepts we must obey, and the excellences we must cultivate. This is a sure guide in every temptation, affliction, and difficulty. This is put into our hands by One who is deeply interested in our welfare, whose eye sees the right path every step of our way, and who has a perfect right to speak to us with authority. He is truly wise who resolves to trust this Guide, to take His counsel, to give heed to all His warnings. This walk to heaven requires perseverance, effort, patience, earnestness, constant care.
"See, then, that ye walk circumspectly," i.e., carefully, anxiously, thoughtfully, lest you fall into sin, yield to any temptation, deviate from the right course. The way of obedience to God is a narrow way, and without care we shall get out of it, and walk in the broad way of sin. Christians must not walk like the people of the world, who indulge in sin, who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, who mind earthly things, they must not be as foolish as they are. They pursue the solemn journey of life without proper thought, they are careless, and reckless of consequences. They live merely for time, they walk by sense, they live under the dominion of an evil nature.-Rom. vii. 5. Christians are renewed in the spirit
portant. Suppose we break the Sabbath, are dishonest, impure, trifling, inconsistent, careless, how sad the influence upon others. How we shall strengthen the wicked in their evil course, and discourage the righteous.-Matt. v. 16. The wise see and feel the importance of walking circumspectly. The Saviour has left us an example to follow. Life is short. God has converted us that we may show forth His praise. He has commanded us to walk carefully, and obedience will secure our happiness.
Now, what are the means Christians should employ for this important purpose? They should often consult their guide, they should cherish vital religion in the heart, they should listen to the voice of conscience, they should resist temptation to evil, they should keep the glorious prize in view, they should live on the fulness of Christ by faith, and seek help from heaven. God has given us a sure, constant, faithful, accessible, suitable guide, and He requires us to give heed to its counsels.-Psa. i. 2, 3. The travellers must cherish a vigorous faith in revealed truth, supreme love to God, godly fear, sincerity of heart, an earnest mind. The guide says, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." This fountain of our actions must be kept pure. God is able and willing to help us; therefore let us cry, "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe." This walking circumspectly in the closet, in the family, in the church, in the furnace, and in the world, is the duty of all Christians. The Scriptures give us examples of careful walking with God. There is the
example of Joseph, Samuel, Daniel, Noah, Paul, and others. Such a holy walk is a proof of true wisdom, for it is pleasing to God, it helps us in our progress towards heaven, it is a noble example, it promotes our happiness, and prepares us for the coming of Christ. "Mark the perand behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace." He has peace with God, peace in heaven, peace for ever. Enoch has peace in heaven. Daniel has peace in heaven. Stephen has peace in heaven. God is able to make us wise, and He encourages us to look H. H. to Him.-James i.
EARLY AND LATE.
Too much importance cannot well be attached to the earlier period of life as influencing a man's later career. It is indeed true, that under the system of grace, abundant provision is made for the recovery of sinners in every stage of their downward course, so that it is both false in principle, and wrong in temper, to despair of the aged transgressor. Yet observation clearly shows that after a certain age-an age comparatively early-the number of conversions decrease in a fearfully rapid ratio. The reasons are sufficiently evident. Habits of neglect of God, and of positive transgression, not only become confirmed, but sin augments as well as perpetuates itself. A single evil habit, instead of remaining stationary, exerts a depraving influence upon the entire character. It enters into all its powers, and helps to determine their action in all the relations of life.
Nay, not only will a single posi
tively evil habit tend steadily to the destruction of all the germs of moral excellence that may exist in the soil of a youthful heart, but a mere neglect of the Gospel, the failure to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, places the foot on slippery ground. God's grace is the only reliable moral conservator. The unholiness that closes the door of the heart against that, opens it to the herd of positive evils.
We have witnessed melancholy illustrations of this fact. We have known one brought up under the tender and solicitous care of a parent, whose life was the expression of high and varied traits of Christian excellence, that have left his name as a precious legacy to the church; we have known such a youth, by refusing to copy his father's piety, to mature a character the sad and almost perfect contrast of his. That father is identified with men's ideal of Christian purity and saintly virtue. The graces of the Spirit in him occupied the place whence malevolence and worldliness had
been expelled. His life flowed serenely on through a channel of active beneficence, until it emerged in the paradise of God.
That son was esteemed a youth of rare promise. Of outward vices, he had contracted none. He was of a gentle spirit and unblemished character. An intellect of no common order had been cultivated, till its inherent richness shone forth. The lapidary had brought out the sparkle of the diamond to the admiration of all who looked. But mark the issue. as the youth grew to the maturity of his character!
Native gentleness and purity, youthful tenderness and generous impulse, are, of themselves, shortlived. They were intended, by Him who created us, like the green twigs that grow up in the soft sunshine and showers of spring, to be soon absorbed in a maturer, and therefore lasting growth. Childish loveliness belongs to childhood, and must lose itself in the stronger spiritual growth of faith and love, in a heart regenerated and sanctified by the Holy Ghost. If this result is not realised, the mere natural goodness of the most lovely child, or the most attractive youth, will droop and wither under the scorching temptations of mature life.
It was thus in the case of which we speak. We saw him at the meridian of life, with an intellect and cultivation admired indeed by all, but with a heart proverbially cold and selfish. He was lovely nowhere-not even in his own family. He was without natural affection. The spring-time had gone, the blossoms had withered and fallen, exposing a stalk of character, bare, shrivelled, repulsive.
Behold here the sad result of impenitence in youth. The mere neglect of personal religion in the choice of this world, rather than Christ and His salvation, may send its baleful influence down through all the subsequent history. The impiety, or indifference to God, that can resist a parent's or a minister's earnest entreaty to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, is a spring-head of evil, out of which may flow the poisoned waters of universal depra
vity, so that the mature character shall resist the combined influence of both example and precept-proving their insufficiency, in any stage of life, to redeem the man from selfishness and sin. Oh! let the young take warning, and remember now their Creator.
"True wisdom early sought and found, In age will give thee rest."
THE SEAL OF THE SPIRIT. WHAT is the seal of the Spirit? We are very plainly taught in the New Testament that, whatever it be, it is an invariable element of true Christian experience. In his epistle to the Corinthians, the apostle names this in connexion with the other essential features of that gracious work: "Now He which establisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." Writing to the Ephesians, the same apostle speaks of this seal twice in the same epistle: "In whom (in Christ) after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise;" "Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." An attentive reading of these passages will satisfy any one, we think, that what is named belongs to the very nature of the saving work, and is, therefore, always to be found in a true Christian. What, then, is the seal of the Spirit?
In the passage first quoted, the apostle seems to say that the seal of the Spirit, and "the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts," are the same thing. This is distinctly stated,
however, in connexion with the former of the two quotations from Ephesians; for having said how the Ephesian Christians were "sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise," he adds, immediately, in the next verse," which is the earnest of our inheritance." The seal of the Spirit is, then, the earnest of the Spirit. But what is that?
The Greek word means a pledge, that is, a part of any price agreed upon, and paid down to ratify the engagement. In English, it has the wider sense of first fruits; including, also, the idea of a pledge made by payment in advance. The earnest or seal of the Spirit is then the Spirit's own work in the heart; that gracious experience which comes of His regenerating and sanctifying agency. It is the spiritual and eternal life in its first fruits; blessings of salvation, given now, as foretastes, and as a pledge that what has been promised is sure. To be sealed by the Spirit is to be made the subject of His work. Sealing is an act of confirmation; it is the ratification of an agreement. The Spirit ratifies, confirms, the covenant beween God and the soul. Thus "the Spirit witnesses with our spirits that we are the children of God."
Now, we know what these "fruits of the Spirit" are; they are "manifest;"-"love, joy, peace, long-suffering, faith, meekness, gentleness, goodness, temperance." These are a Christian's evidences, they are the beginning of heaven in his soul. In proportion as they are more developed, he has the more reason to believe that he is a child of God. But how if they be wanting? evi