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Short Meditations for the Aged. 413 daily sée or feel realized either in our own persons or in those of the aged around us. Long before we have attained the ninety and eight years of the venerable Eli, we find our bodily powers begin to fail, we feel the infirmities of old age creeping over us, and are ready to exclaim in the words of Job, “I am made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed me."
; But let us consider who it is that hath appointed these things, and see what is the merciful end He bas in view when he thus deals with us. “Who maketh the deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the Lord ?” saith the Almighty. We should be ready then to say with the pious Eli, 6 it is the Lord ; let Him do what seemeth Him good :” and with his patient servant Job, “ The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Nor doth He afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. When He chastens us, it is for our profit. God hath in'deed done all things well; and He has wisely and mercifully appointed these infirmities and this decay of nature, in order to wean our hearts from this perishing world, and to turn our thoughts to "the things that belong to our peace.” The loss of our outward faculties, may be conducive to this end by lessening those temptations to which the bodily senses but too often minister. We are exhorted to "look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Are our “ eyes dim" that we can no longer see; is the faculty of our hearing impaired ; do our failing limbs refuse to bear us about ?-May we not feel thankful for infirmities that must exempt us from many of those worldly engagements which in our days of health and strength too often engrossed our minds to the exclusion of the higher concerns of the soul, which have deprived us of all relish for those dangerous pleasures which were perhaps the first pursuit of our youthful days ? Let us receive them as warnings to detach our thoughts and affections from this world, to turn the eyes of our spirit in'ward, to examine into the state of our souls, and to search out, that we may repent and put away from us every thing that can be displeasing to Him, who is of purer eyes than to beheld iniquity.” Let us implore of Him the aid of His Holy Spirit to assist us in this great work, to enlighten our darkness, and to “open our eyes (the eyes of our understanding) that we may see the wonderous things of His law.” Above all, let us watch and pray that what God designs as a means of our spiritual advancement, be not turned into a snare by the great enemy of our souls. His temp tations will not be wanting to draw us into fretful. ness, and impatience, and sinful repining, under our infirmities and deprivations. But, when we feel the first stirring of these wicked emotions in our hearts, let us see the need of increased watchfulness, that these trials may bring us nearer to God, and lead us to His feet in earnest prayer for grace to help in time of need. We are only safe, when we are thus continually lifting up our hearts to Him; and, while we do so, we shall feel the truth of that comforting assurance, “ as thy day so shall thy strength be." “ For He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength: even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” “ He shall keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon Him," a peace over which outward events shall have no power, but which increasing in the midst of trials and deprivations will shine brighter and clearer unto the perfect day.
415 Thus as the night of mortal darkness closeg around us, may the sun of righteousness shine more brightly on our souls ; thus as “the outward man perisheth may. the inward màn be renewed day by day.”
QUERY TO E. W. B. A CONSTANT reader will be much obliged to E. W. B. to answer the following query. It is said, that if a narrow white ring be made round the branch of apy fruit tree, by stripping off a line of the bark near where it joins the main stem, that branch will bear double the portion of fruit there is on any other branch. Is this so? can E. W. B. assign any reason for it? and does he consider such a practice likely to injurė the tree on which the experiment is tried ?
"Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that
believeth that Jesus is the Son of God ?” This is a remarkable text: it furnishes a complete answer to those who think and say "If a man does his duty, if he is charitable, honest, sober, and industrious, it is no matter what he believės;' for it tells us that a man cannot do his duty according to the Gospel precepts, i. e. cannot overcome the world unless he believe in Jesus Christ. There are two things here which should be clearly understood.
1. What is meant by overcoming the world.
2. What it is to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
1. By the world, in the epistle of St. John, must be understood all corrupt principles, maxims, fashions, and customs, which are contrary to, and forbidden by the Gospel. Now it is easy for a man
to know when his desires and actions are contrary to the commandments of our Saviour; but it is a difficult thing, we all know, to resist evil desires, and to abstain from wicked actions. There must be a contest; therefore St. John says the world must be overcome or conquered. The young man in the vigour of his strength is tempted by the “ lusts of the flesh” to sin against God. Men of corrupt principles tell him that it is only natural for him to satisfy his desires, and that there can be no great harm in so doing; while men of vicious habits entice him by their example. If he resist the temptation, he overcometh the world. The man of business is tempted by the “lust of the eyes," by a desire of wealth and magnificence, to over-reach and defraud his neighbour. The maxims of the world tell him, that to be happy, it is necessary for him to be rich; that it is proper to provide large fortunes for his children; and the fashions of the world would lead him into much extravagance and expence. If he overcome this temptation, he overcometh the world.—The desires of all men are set too much upon earthly things; we are all too much inclined to join in customs which tend to corrupt the mind, and to turn it from devout and religious thoughts. The world, then, offers temptations to all men, and must, if we seek to be good Christians, be overcome. But who is he that overcometh the world ? St. John tells us," he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God." This leads us to enquire,
2. What it is to believe that Jesus is the Son of God ?-It is to believe in his divine nature, and that He died to redeem us.—But how can this faith give us strength to overcome the world ?-By believing in His divine nature, we know that all which our Lord Jesus said is true; that the day will come when He will judge the world, and call the righteous to eternal glory, and leave the wicked to misery. The fear of this punishment and the hope, ..: On Faith,
417 of that reward must influence the lives of all who have this faith. By believing that Jesus Christ died to redeem us, to save us from the punishment which our sins justly deserve, our hearts are filled with gratitude and love. This love makes us anxious to do what he commanded; and, finding, in the attempt, the weakness and sinfulness of our nature, we are led to pray earnestly for the assistauce of the Holy Spirit to free us from the dominion of our lusts and passions, that we may be able to overcome the world...
Perhaps the reader will here say to himself-What, do not all Christians believe in the divine nature of Christ, and that by His death he made atonement for our sins? yet we know that this belief has not much effect upon their practice.--I tell him, the faith which overcometh the world, is not a mere casual assent to these doctrines by the understanding, but anabiding belief of the heart cherished and confirmed by devout meditation and earnest prayer. Such a belief must influence the actions of a man, In the hour of temptation, checked by the fear of punishment, and remembering the sufferings which his Saviour endured, he will say, “ How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" No one can be made religious by that which is seldom in his thoughts. After the understanding has in. vestigated the grounds of belief, if the heart be unmoved by, and receive not, the objects of such belief, it is certain, bowever correct that belief may be, that it will produce nu fruit. It is with the heart that man believeth unto righteousness. He, then, who wishes to obey the Gospel, but is disheartened by the obstacles which the world' opposes, let him by earnest and persevering prayer, implore the Giver of every good and perfect gift to establish in his heart that faith which overcometh' the world.
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