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different surround us at every step; every step we take is an instance of resolution and selection; every case of resolution or selection is a case of habit strengthened, of sin incurred, or goodness furthered.
How watchfully then should the Christian live, how cautiously and delicately should he tread in the midst of these indifferent things, about which others feel themselves so free to take their pleasure! And, above all, how zealously should he beseech the aid of God's Holy Spirit to direct his path aright! With that aid duly asked and anxiously cherished, his course will be clear, and his success certain; without such prayer, without a humble teachable spirit to co-operate with such prayer, there can be no limits to his wandering. And let him not suppose, that because he begins with things indifferent, he is in no danger of passing on to tamper with things vital. No man plunges into the extremest sins at once. By degrees conscience becomes emboldened, good habits are laid aside, presumption is encouraged, the sternness of self-discipline relaxed, the moral mind enfeebled; things indifferent pass with slight gradations into things unlawful, and things unlawful are soon done by him who has not trained his mind. by the right conduct of things indifferent.
I have attempted to instance one case of conduct in things apparently indifferent, in order to shew the sort of considerations by which we ought to be guided in them. Yet even in this case, how various
are the arguments which have been necessarily omitted! how infinite in number and diversity the peculiar circumstances which beset each real case of action, which give to it its own particular colour and complexion, which involve sin, wilful often and grievous sin, if they be not rightly observed and attended to,-true moral improvement, real progress in Christian holiness, if their real practical requirements be carefully studied, and simply obeyed! Our minds are fearfully and wonderfully made; sensitive, beyond description sensitive, of certain things, and those things the very circumstances of the world in which they are placed. Not a law which God has given, not a single trait of natural temper or disposition, not a single temptation which assails us from without or from within, not the slightest example of another's conduct, not one of the innumerable particulars of our condition and situation on earth, but has the power of operating, with vast influence for good or ill, upon our character and prospects.
All things indeed are lawful. We will not strive to diminish or contract our Christian liberty. St. Paul asserts four times in this Epistle, that all things are lawful. But as often as he asserts it, he adds a clause of great restraint: "All things are lawful, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. All things are lawful, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful, but all things
edify not." God give us grace to lay to heart his precept; to pray for constant light to apply it to ourselves; that though our daily path be in the midst of things lawful, we may be guided in it by the light of Christian expediency and edification, and, “whether we eat, or whether we drink, or whatsoever we do, we may do all to the glory of God!"
LOVE OF GOD.
ST. MATTHEW Xxii. 35-38.
"Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked Him a question, tempting Him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment."
THE love of God is often spoken of by the writers in Holy Scripture as the great duty, and the great motive of duty in all religion. Judgment, and the love of God," are called by our Lord the weightier matters of the law. "The love of God, and the patient waiting for Christ," form a brief summary of Christian duty, in the language of St. Paul to the Thessalonians; and St. Jude, like St. Paul, sums up a Christian's work, while on earth, in these words: " Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto eternal life."
The writings of St. John are full of the subject of the love of God, and the love of man as rising out of it; and St. Paul to the Corinthians says,
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be Anathema Maran Atha;" and to the Ephesians, "Grace be with all them that love the Lord Jesus Christ with sincerity."
From these, and similar passages of Holy Scripture, it appears that the love of God is in two respects indispensable in a Christian's heart: first, as it is his fit and proper motive, and reason for doing his duty; and, secondly, as it is itself the sum of duty, containing in it, by implication and force of consequence, all particular acts expressive of love.
Thus important on its own account, the subject of the love of God further becomes a most important one, on account of various practical mistakes which men make concerning it. Some persons have so understood it as to imagine that all real Religion consists in feeling. The love of God with all the heart, with all the soul, with all the mind, and with all the strength, they conceive to be nothing else than a complete rapture of the heart and affections. High and excited feeling is what they seek for; coldness of heart, depression of spirits, are, in their view, a proof of being cast out of God's presence.
Such opinions are full of various kinds of danger. In a heated and enthusiastic temper they generate most unfounded confidence; in a less ardent and