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duct of the same man restored once more to health, and mingling again in the business of society. It is not in a few solemn thoughts, abiding but for a season, that the essential part of real conversion consists ; it is not in a state of spiritual alarm, which may be quieted again by vain and unsubstantial pretences; it is not in a mind which is agitated by the remembrances of past sins, and by agonizing anxiety for the future safety of the soul: and which may soon be occupied by the schemes of traffic and the delusions of pleasure ; but it is shown in our daily practice, in the fruits of a godly conversation, in the denial of our besetting sins, in the reformation of our habits, in the discipline of our tempers, whether we have indeed been “ turned from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God.”.
It was the assurance of a future day of retribution, and the uncertainty when that day should arrive, which our Saviour proposed to his apostles as an all-sufficient inducement to perseverance in the spiritual discipline of their own hearts and lives, and in the unceasing fulfilment of the special duties which belonged to their arduous office.
And do we, in our times, stand in less need of some constraining principle to uphold our goings in the path of Christian duty, that our footsteps slip not? Are our principles stronger, or our spiritual resources mightier, or our temptations less deceitful or less attractive ? What our Lord said to the apostles, he said unto all,“ Watch.” Do we obey the precept? Do we keep a guard over ourselves? Do we avoid every occasion of sin ? Do we examine and prove our spirits, and see whether they be such as become the followers of Jesus Christ?
That we may really become acquainted with the process which is going on within our minds,—that we may be enabled to judge whether we are advancing or retrograding in the course of Christian sanctification, that the work of circumspection and watchfulness may be effectually and profitably executed,-it is above all things necessary, that we have fixed periods and fixed methods for examining ourselves. Let something of this kind precede our daily evening prayers; let us recall the transactions in which we have been engaged, and the motives by which we have been guided: and so judging ourselves, that we be not judged of the Lord, we may be enabled to make a more particular confession of our errors, infirmities and sins; and gratefully to acknowledge the grace by which we have been upheld. This trial of ourselves will be no great tax upon either our memory or our time : it will give an earnestness and an interest to our private devotions, which will prevent them from degenerating into a mere lip-service ; it will prove our best security, under God's grace, against the formation of evil habits.
But besides this system of daily self-examination, it will be necessary occasionally to take a larger space of time under review, that by comparing ourselves with ourselves, we may determine whether we are better prepared for death and judgment, the nearer they approach. For this, also, there should be a fixed time; else there is too much reason to fear, that it will be neglected entirely. The commencement of a new year; the recurrence of a birth-day; the anniversary of the death of a parent, of a child, or of a dear friend; these, and other occasions of a like nature, calculated to suggest serious thoughts, may be very fitly appropriated to the fulfilment of this duty. It may be a labour of disappointment and humiliation. Be it so! Surely it is far better that we should discover ourselves now, while the mis-spent time may yet be redeemed, and the soul rescued from the snares of the destroyer, than that we should defer it, till it may become impracticable or ineffectual. The mind unused to meditate upon holy things cannot at once turn from the vanities of earth, to the awful realities of eternity. The failing memory,—the bewildered understanding, --the weakness and the pains of the diseased body, -all are against us! We cannot at such an hour put on the whole armour of God; for we have not proved the weapons! The time of our dismissal is at hand; we cannot commence the duties of the active sentinel! The Lord standeth at the door and knocketh; and we have just awaked to learn that the period appointed for our service is over! God grant that we may be wise in time! God grant that the warning of our Master may not have been given us in vain,—“ What I say unto you, I say unto all, -Watch !"
DOMESTIC PEACE AND HAPPINESS.
(REV. H. H. MilMAN.] IN every relation of domestic life, whether nearer
or more remote, if differences of opinion should arise, as sometimes they will unavoidably arise, few can have studied human nature so imperfectly as not to have discovered that the peaceful influence of the kind and gentle, is more efficacious than the angry vehemence of the intemperate. Supposing that we feel, without any improper or unbecoming assumption of superiority, the painful conviction that the Christianity of our dearest and most intimate friends is defective. Be assured that men judge, in general, according to the Scriptural precept of the tree by its fruits. The noiseless and unpretending exercise of the Christian virtues, will work with tenfold greater force than the repeated argument or the earnest exhortation. Excepting, or scarcely perhaps excepting, the miracles wrought by our Lord and his apostles, the lives of the early Christians were the most effective means of the conversion of the world. The sudden change of so many of all orders from cruelty and licentiousness, and ungodliness, to humanity, to purity, to rational piety, through the blessed hope of everlasting life in Christ Jesus, was the great standing miracle of God's
and power. It was the harmony, the peace, and the holiness of Christian families, which extorted by degrees the homage, and even at length the imitation of mankind.
When it was seen how entirely Christian brethren became brethren ; how Christianity sanctified every natural duty, and warmed, as it were, the blood of kindred to each other; how, wherever the ties of tender relationship existed, it wound them more closely around the heart, and when they were severed by inevitable death, spoke the consolatory assurance of a better and more enduring world, in which earthly attachments might revive for an eternal duration, men began to acknowledge that they hated the Master and the faith alike, without a cause.
The promise made to the Christian not merely of the world that is to come, but of that likewise which now is, was not without clear and intelligible meaning. If, then, the members of a Christian family, instead of harassing each other with unnecessary disputation, would take the apostle's explicit advice, in provoking“ each other to good works;" instead of vying in the knowledge of doubtful points, would vie in the exercise of the acknowledged Christian virtues, we should not apprehend the possibility of the misapplication of our text. We say not that any point of Christian knowledge, or any part of religious practice, can be entirely unimportant, but we may say that there are few of such importance as for an instant to demand the sacrifice of Christian love, Christian meekness, and Christian forbearance.
There are, even in the apostle's estimation, difficult and doubtful points in Christianity: there must be till we have more than the understanding, and holiness as perfect as that of the angels. But it is impossible to misapprehend the meaning of the simple precepts in the apostolic writings, which enjoin both