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are allowed to hear the secrets of their heart unbosomed. Through this medium we sometimes learn more of their private character, secret exercises, and religious experience, than was perhaps disclosed to their most intimate companions, while they lived.
Every one who has perused these faithful records of Christian experience, must have felt their touching power. With thrilling efficacy they often move the tenderest affections, and excite some of the holiest aspirations, and noblest purposes of heart. Yes, my reader, by frequently reading such portraitures of godliness, you will find yourself greatly quickened and improved. You will learn to profit by the errors, falls, and chastisements of the best; and to avoid the snares by which they were entangled and hurt. Their diligence will reprove your slothfulness, and arouse you to run with patience, ardour, and perseverance the race which is set before you. Their trials and sorrows will prevent you from desponding, when placed in similar circumstances. Their consolations and blissful experience will animate your zeal, to be sharers with them in the joys of God's heritage. And, in fine, their example will excite you, with holy emulation, to be followers of them who, through faith and patience, are now inheriting the promises."
12. If you would grow in grace, daily recognise the hand of God in his providential dispensationsYou profess to believe, that “the Lord God omnipotent reigneth ;" that “ his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to ge
neration; and that he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and that none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou ?"* Far, therefore, from regarding passing events as the results of accident, if you be properly exercised, you will trace them all to Him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will. You will view the actions of all creatures, from the highest to the lowest, as equally under his control; and all incidents, from the most obviously important, to the seemingly most insignificant, as under his superintending direction. Especially in the diversified occurrences of your own lot, your health and your sickness, your prosperity and adversity, you will account them all parts of his ways, who has promised to make "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." +
Thus exercised, when the Lord bestows upon you the good things of this life, you will feel yourself called to gratitude and thanksgiving to Him from whom
have received them; and to such a use of his gifts as shall meet with his approval, in that day when you must account for your stewardship. When his allotments to you are dark and mysterious, and apparently the very reverse of what your own wisdom would have dictated; you will not dare to condemn what you cannot comprehend. Though “ clouds and darkness are about him ;" yet, believing * Rey. xix. 6; Dan. iv. 34, 35. + Rom. viii, 28.
that “righteousness and judgment are the basis of his throne,* and that it is his province to bring real good out of seeming evil; where you cannot unriddle, you
will learn to trust. In a word, in every occurrence, whether it respect yourself, your neighbours, the church, or the state, you will mark and revere the power and the justice, the wisdom and the goodness of God; and experience a tranquillising confidence in the belief, that “ He is a rock, his work is perfect ; for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth, and without iniquity; just and right is he." +
13. Occasionally set apart some time for a full and particular inquiry into your progress in holiness, and your preparation for eternity:- Already I have endeavoured to call you to frequent self-examination, and to show you how beneficial it would be to spend some time in this exercise every evening, before you engage in secret prayer, or at least on the evening of every Lord's day. But in addition to these ordinary seasons for this duty, it would be of great advantage to set apart a day, or a portion of a day, at seldomest once every year, to take a grand balance of your accounts in the view of death and eternity. The first day of every year, or your birth-day, or any other which is to you the anniversary of some noted deliverance from danger, will at once more readily remind you of the return of this special service, and tend to impress your mind with additional solemnity.
+ Deut. xxxii. 4.
* Psalm xcvii, 2.
This has been the practice of many of the most distinguished saints whose lives are on record; and, as they themselves have testified in their written diaries, they found it highly conducive to their spiritual quickening and comfort. Some of them have observed this day in the exercise of fasting ; and all of them have employed it in deeply humbling themselves before the Lord; in reading suitable portions of Scripture ; in devout meditation ; in searching and trying their ways; and in confession, thanksgiving, and importunate prayer. By taking a careful and minute retrospect of the past,-by endeavouring to know their present standing, and whether, on the whole, they have, or have not, made some advances in the way to the heavenly Zion,--and by renewedly devoting themselves to the Lord; they have been better prepared both for duty and suffering, for living and dying.-Go you, my reader, and do likewise. Deem not this too much, that you may win a kingdom and a crown. The animating hopes which are set before you, might well make you willing to spend every day of your life in this manner, were it consistent with your other duties. Grudge not, therefore, the little time thus redeemed from the cares and business of this world. It will turn to good account in the close of life, and when time to you shall be no
ADVANTAGES OF GROWTH IN GRACE.
1. By growing in grace, you will promote the glory of God.—2. You will advance your own happiness.-3. You will prove beneficial to those who are strangers to godliness.-4. You will strengthen the hands and encourage the hearts of God's children.-5. You will contribute to the joy of heaven. 6. You will render every duty more easy and pleasant.-7. You will be qualified becomingly to bear trials and afflictions.-8. You will be prepared to meet death itself with composure and triumph.-9. You will advance your meetness for heaven.-10. You shall obtain distinguished approbation from Christ, before assembled angels and men.-11. You shall obtain an enlarged share of heavenly glory.-12. It will afford you delightful reflections through eternity.
To excite his people ardently to aspire after growth in grace, God has kindly made known to them, not only the means by which it may be promoted, but also numerous and important advantages with which it is connected. Knowing that they need motives to arouse them to action in the business of their own salvation, much more than in the pursuit of worldly objects, he has graciously been pleased to set before them the most powerful inducements. Had he simply made known to them his will, and commanded them to study to perfect holiness, without condescending to specify any of its benefits ; they would have been bound to obey. Instead of this, however, he deals with them as rational creatures. He tells them its present advantages, as well as those which are future ; the blessings with which it is accompan