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we are to take care that our motives are pure and upright; that we are to have lawful ends in view, and pursue them by lawful means; that we are approving ourselves to God by a conformity to His word ; and then we need not be afraid that God will be with us and bless us. We may, indeed, still err, judging according to the rules of human estimation; that is, the event may show that, as far as temporal prosperity is concerned, we should have been in a better state had we made a different choice, but we need not in that case disturb our minds; we have done the best we could, and we may safely trust that it was the will of God that we should be subjected to trials and disappointments for some purposes, which will more clearly appear in another stage of our existence.
Indeed, in judging of providences, there is always this difficulty, that we are very imperfect judges of what is really good for us. We are always too apt to consider temporal prosperity as the chief good; whereas it may be good for us that we should be afflicted and humbled. We must always leave it to God to determine what is for our good. But we almost always err in this, that we would prescribe to God in what way and manner He shall bless us, as if He did not know what was best for us. We forget that here it is our duty to walk by faith, and not by sight; we are to leave to God the appointment of events; our province is only to submit to them with cheerful resignation, or to rejoice in them with humble praise.
The view of this subject which I have endeavoured to give, may warrant us in laying down the following rules, which perhaps may be of some use in directing our conduct in important and difficult cases.
(1.) Let our first rule be, that we are chiefly solicitous to discharge Duty. But then, what should we understand by Duty? Not the manner in which we are to act in any particular case, but the general duties which are laid down in the written Word. That is, let it be our first care to be humble, holy, heavenly minded; to watch against sin, to mortify and subdue our selfish and evil passions, to perfect holiness in the fear of God. In a word, let the one thing needful be uppermost in our thoughts and wishes; then everything else may be justly expected to find its proper rank and place, and to be valued in its order. But the mistake which many make, is that they confine their views of duty to the particular manner in which they shall act with respect to their present circumstances, as if that were to be the chief thing. Now the rule just laid down is of so much importance that nothing can atone for our dispensing with it,-because if the heart is not in a right state, if the aim is not upright, it is in vain to expect the blessing and direction of Providence. Thus, for instance, you want to know whether it is God's will you should remove to a particular situ.
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ation. Of what importance is this, or why should you expect God's direction, if you are living in the breach of His commandments-if you are worldly, sensual, vain, and trifling. It should be your first concern, to correct these evils of your life, and then you may hope God will direct you in other affairs of less innportance. To judge whether this or that situation is preferable, your own mind ought first to be brought to a proper state, and then you will perhaps judge by very different rules from what now would determine your conduct. You would then consider how far this or that situation would be advantageous for your soul.
(2.) Beware of mistaking your own inclinations for the suggestions of Providence. This is a very great source of error. The mind is preoccupied; the affections are already engaged; the end and the means are already secretly determined upon; and then you want Providence to sanction your determination, and, as it were, make Him responsible for the event. Thus, in Cromwell's days, whenever a new form of the administration of government was intended, they sought the Lord by fasting and prayer; and thus, perhaps, deceived themselves, and attempted to deceive others, by saying that the Lord had directed this or that measure of violence and injustice. Now it requires no little care to free the mind from prejudices and inclinations; but in order to do this, every person should make a point of suspecting himself, and be careful rather to lean to the side which is opposite to his natural inclinations and interests. Yet even here there may in some cases be a danger of a man's following his prejudices even in denying and mortifying himself.
(3.) It may be laid down as a maxim, that Providence never sanctions the neglect of any duty to point out other courses of action. There is a beautiful uniformity in the conduct which God prescribes for us. No duties ever clash with each other. Providence never calls to neglect or violation of duty. Thus, suppose you are a prisoner, and have given your word that you will not escape, no circumstances that offer, however remarkable, by which you might gain your liberty can ever be conceived as providential, except as trials of your integrity. There are duties which you may owe to parents, clear and positive, and no advantageous prospects ought ever to be considered as sanctioned by Providence, which are founded in the neglect of them. If you are manifestly unfit for a station, no appearances of providential interposition can justify your accepting it.
(4.) We ought to beware of seeking for other directions than those which Providence has been pleased to appoint. Do not expect revelations where God has not promised them. Do not seek for indications of God's will when He has referred you to the ordinary rules of prudence. Do not lay too much stress on the suggestions of your own imagination, which, if encouraged, will give a constant direction to everything you hear, or read, or see, or think favourable to your inclinations. Persons of a sanguine temper can thus read the will of God in almost every line of Scripture, and find explicit promises in every page. Nor has there been anything so absurd or strange but what has had the sanction of such fancied scriptural warrant. In like manner, let me caution you against laying too much stress on remarkable coincidences of circumstances, as if by them God explained His will. These are to be rather acknowledged with gratitude as various instances of God's goodness, after the event has proved them to be such, than regarded as sure indications of the will of God beforehand. They may be trials to prove how you will act. The case of David, when in the cave at Engedi, was very remarkable. Saul came into the very cave in which David and his men were asleep,—“And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the Lord said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee.” (1 Sam. xxiv. 4.) How providential did this appear! God had promised the kingdom to David ; Saul was unjustly seeking his life. God had said he would deliver his enemy into his hand. How admirably does the character of David shine, when he resists all this false and inconclusive reasoning, and considers only the duty which he owed to Saul as a subject. “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master the Lord's anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.” In like manner would I caution you against being too much determined by any remarkable degree of liberty in prayer, or the want of it, on any particular subject. For this depends wholly upon the strength of your own desire;-where the current of the will strongly sets one way, it will be followed by enlargement of ideas, and fluency of speech; but surely this is no test that it is the right thing. One of Cromwell's generals was confident that it was the will of God that the King should be deposed and murdered, because, wbenever he prayed for his life, his tongue cleaved to the roof of his mouth; and his chaplains, the day before the death of Cromwell, had such enlargement in praying for his life, that they all united in thanking God that He not only had heard them, but had given them full assurance of it. And when the event should have shown them the falseness of their rule, they rather accused God than suspected themselves. “Thou hast deceived us," one of them
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(5.) Let me also caution you against a partial use of the means which providence has afforded us for our direction. You pray, perhaps, very sincerely.; but do you also listen to the suggestions of prudence; do you take the advice of wise and faithful friends? Do you give a due weight to the circumstances of the case, and to the probability of the consequences which may happen? You may, when you have a secret inclination to dispose you to it, even be the more earnest in prayer, as a kind of commutation for doing what else you would not see yourself warranted to venture upon.
To conclude, the proper means to be used in affairs of importance, when direction is needed, are these. Having impartially examined your motives, and seeing that they are pure and right, and not dictated by your own passions rather than by the Spirit of God; and having had reason to be convinced that you are pursuing a lawful end by lawful means, commit the matter in earnest prayer to God, not that He would direct you by any visible signs, but that He would superintend you, that you may not err; and confide in His gracious providence to keep and direct you. This confidence would indeed be unwarranted while you neither have lawful ends in view, nor pursue them in a lawful manner; but when both these unite, you may justly pray and confidently hope for Divine direction. Use, then, the most prudent means to determine the path of your conduct. Take time for deliberation, weigh your conduct on all sides; and, with an impartial mind, consult prudent friends, and depend more upon the sound reasons they give than upon your own imaginations; and then, when you act, you may reasonably hope you will not be permitted materially to go wrong. And be not disturbed afterwards that you do not find the event what you expected it to be. It may be wisely ordered for you that you should be disappointed. You may esteem it providential. At any rate, forget not that you have a heavenly Father who loves you, and that you are always under His care. If you err, He may chasten and correct you, but it will be with loving-kindness and mercy,
BAYLEY ON THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS.
A Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, with Sermons.
By Emilius Bayley, B.D. London ; Nisbets. 1869. We have read this volume with very great interest, and it is with sincere pleasure we recommend it as a most seasonable and valuable publication. It will quite confirm the reputation which the author has attained as an able preacher and a sound divine. A Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians must neces
we can sebe a crucial tes the all-important
1869.) Bayley on the Epistle to the Galatians. 303 sarily, in consequence of the all-important questions which it discusses, be a crucial test of orthodoxy; and from first to last we can record a verdict of unqualified satisfaction with the views so ably propounded by Mr. Bayley. The work is, as he explains, intended for English readers; and consists of four parts: Analysis, Commentary, Paraphrase, Sermons. The Analysis is intended to show, at a glance, the chief subjects contained in the Epistle; the several steps in the argument, and their connexion with each other. The Commentary is intended to bring within the reach of English readers the results of the labours of modern critics, such as Ellicott, Wordsworth, Alford, Lightfoot, &c. The Paraphrase sums up the fruit of the preliminary investigations, and the Sermons, as might be expected, enforce upon modern readers the great truths which St. Paul urged upon the Galatians. It will be seen, from this brief review, that a complete apparatus is fur. nished for the study of this most important epistle. No reader will be deterred by any ostentatious parade of learning; but all who are capable of judging will be conscious that they are following the guidance of one whose natural abilities qualify him to be a judge in controverted points, and who has placed before them the substantial result of much learned research in a most plain and attractive form. We most beartily concur with Mr. Bayley in his estimate of the special value of this epistle in its bearing upon the popular Christianity of the day, and feel thankful that his labours will be serviceable in making this precious antidote, furnished by the Holy Spirit of God, more available against the manifold forms of error which abound in every direction. It will be seen, from the use which he makes of the Word of God in combating the follies and superstitions which are occupying the time and thoughts of numbers busy about many things professedly in the service of God, that the sword of the Spirit has lost none of its efficacy, but that it is still quick, powerful, and sharp, when wielded aright in the service of Him who gave it. As a specimen of the manner in which the errors which distracted the Churches of Galatia are shown to be identical with the ritualistic delusions now prevalent, we subjoin the following extract :
"An attempt is being made to bring the ritual of the Church of England into conformity with the ritual of Rome; to go back from our Protestant simplicity and spirituality of worship to the elaborate ceremonial of the Romish Church.
“Now it has been often shown that the ritual of Romanism bears a very suspicious resemblance to the ritual of that heathenism which it supplanted, and that the worship which it practises is little better than baptized paganism. But let that pass. The advocates of advanced ritualism - call it Roman or Anglican, it matters