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Effects of Christian knowledge.

Ways of influencing the character.

do, by simply trying to feel thus. The heart is to be moulded and guided in other ways.

Some of these ways by which the heart is to be led more and more to God, I shall describe.

1. By acquiring true knowledge. If you are a Christian at all, your piety will be increased and strengthened by bringing often before your mind those truths which show the necessity of piety. Instead of struggling directly to bring penitence to your heart by an effort of the will, spend a part of your little season of retirement in reflecting on the consequences of sin. Look around you and see how many families it has made miserable, how many hearts it has desolated! Think of the power it has had in ruining the world in which we live, and how dreadful would be its ravages if God should permit it to have its way among all his creatures. Reflect how it has destroyed your own peace of mind, injured your usefulness, brought a stain upon the Christian name. Reflect upon such subjects as these, so as to increase the vividness of your knowledge— and though you make no effort to feel penitence, even if you do not think of penitence at all, it will rise in your heart if there is any grace there. You cannot look upon the consequences of sin without repenting that you have ever assisted to procure them. Peter did not repent of his treachery by trying to feel sorry. The Lord turned and looked upon Peter; that look brought with it recollections. He saw clearly his relation to his Savior, and the ingratitude of his denial.

It is so with all the other emotions of piety. You will not succeed in loving God supremely by simply making the effort to do so. Look at his goodness and mercy to you; see it in the thousand forms in which it shines upon you. Do not dwell upon it in generals, but come to minute particulars, and whether old or young, and whatever may be the circumstances of your lives, reflect carefully upon God's kind dealings with you. Are you a mother? --as you hold your infant upon your knee, or observe its playful brothers and sisters in health and happiness around

The mother.

The child.


Christian action.

you, consider a moment by whose goodness they were given to you, and by whose mercy they are daily spared. Are you a child?-look upon the comforts, and privileges, and the sources of happiness which God has given you— and while you view them, remember that every week there are multitudes of children around you suffering from cold, from hunger, from neglect, or who are summoned to an early grave. I have stood at the bedside of a child who was, a fortnight before, in her class at the Sabbath school, -and seen her sink from day to day under the grasp of sickness and pain, until her reason failed and her strength was gone, and at last she slumbered in death. A few days afterward she was deposited, in the depth of winter, in her cold grave. Blustering storms and wintry tempests do not indeed disturb the repose of the tomb, but when you are sitting in health and happiness at your own cheerful fireside, and hear the howling winds which sweep around you or in a more genial season feel the warm breath of spring upon your healthful cheek—can you think of the thousand cases like the one I have alluded to, and not feel grateful to your kind Protector? If your heart is not entirely unrenewed, (and I am speaking now to Christians,) these affections will be warmly awakened while you reflect upon God's goodness, and thus learn how much you are indebted to him.

It is thus with other feelings, they are to come to the heart, not by the direct effort to bring them there, but by bringing to view the truths which are culculated to awaken them. If your heart is right toward God in any degree, the presentation of these truths will awaken penitence and love; and the more knowledge you acquire in regard to your relations to your Maker and his dealings with you, the more rapid will be your growth in grace.

2. The second means of growing in grace is Christian action. Faith will not only show itself by works, but works will increase faith. Let a man make an effort to relieve a sufferer, and he becomes more and more interested for him. He first sends him a little food, or a little

Why Howard became interested for prisoners.


fuel, when he is sick, and he finds that this does good; it relieves the pressure, and brings cheering and encouragement to the family, before just ready to despair. The benefactor then, becoming more interested in the case, sends a physician; and when the patient is cured, he procures Business for him; and goes on from step to step, until perhaps at last he feels a greater interest in that one than in all the suffering poor of the town beside. It all began by the simple act of sending a little wood, which was, perhaps, almost accidental, or at least prompted by a - very slight benevolent feeling. This feeling has, however, increased to a strong and steady principle; and to what is its increase owing?—simply to his benevolent effort.


I have already once or twice alluded to the benevolent Howard, who went through Europe, visiting the prisons, that he might learn the condition of their unhappy tenants. and relieve their sufferings. And how was it that he became so much interested in prisoners? It devolved upon him, in the discharge of some public duty in his own county. in England, to do something for the relief of prisoners. there-and the moment he began to do something for the prisoners, that moment he began to love them; and the more he did for them, the more strongly he was attached to their cause.

The Apostle Paul is one of the most striking examples of the power of Christian effort to promote Christian love. He gave himself wholly to his work, and the consequence was, he became completely identified with it. He loved it better than he did life, and the strongest expressions of attachment to the Savior that the Bible contains, are to be found in the language he used when he was drawing towards the close of his labors upon earth.

If we then would grow in attachment to our Savior, we must do something for him. But notice-it is not the mere external act which will promote your growth in piety; the act must be performed, in some degree at least, from Christian principle. You can all put this method immediately

Dependence upon the Holy Spirit.

An evil heart.

to the test. Think of something which you can do by which you will be co-operating with God. The design of God is to relieve suffering and promote happiness wherever there is opportunity; and as sin is the greatest obstacle in the way, he directs his first and chief efforts to the removal of sin. Now endeavor to find something which you can do, by which sin can be removed or suffering alleviated, and go forth to the work feeling that you are co-operating with your Savior in his great and benevolent plans. Perhaps you will find an opportunity in your own family-or perhaps in your neighborhood; but wherever it is done, if you go forth to the duty under the influence of attachment to the Savior and love to men, these feelings will certainly be increased by the effort. You will feel, while you do it, that you are a co-worker with God-that you are as it were making common cause with him, and the bonds by which you were before only loosely bound to him are strengthened.

Go forward then efficiently in doing good; set your hearts

upon it. If you feel that you have but little love to God, bring that little into exercise, and it will grow.

3. The last of the means of growing in grace which I shall now mention, is an humble sense of dependence on the influences of the Holy Spirit, and sincere prayer for those influences. I freely acknowledge the difficulty which this subject presents. If we attempt to form any theory by which we can clearly comprehend how accountability can rest upon a soul which is still dependent upon a higher power for all that is good, we shall only plunge ourselves into endless perplexity. We know that we are accountable for all our feelings, as well as for our words and deeds, and at the same time we know that those feelings within us which reason and conscience condemn, will come, unless the Holy Spirit saves us from being their prey. How emphatically does the lauguage of Paul describe this our melancholy subjection to this law of sin!

"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not. For the good that

An evil heart.

Divine influence necessary.

For I

But I

I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me. delight in the law of God, after the inward man. see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

The conclusion to which he comes in the next verse is the right one, that God will deliver us through Jesus Christ our Lord. We must feel, then, humbly dependent on an influence from above. Let us come daily to our Father in heaven, praying him to draw us to the Savior; we shall not come unless he draw us. Let us feel dependent every day for a fresh supply of divine grace to keep these hearts in a proper frame. It is not enough to express this feeling in our morning prayer; we must carry it with us into all the circumstances of the day. When we are going into temptation we must say, "Lord, hold thou me up and then I shall be safe," and we must say it with a feeling of entire moral dependence on God.

Nor need we' fear that this sense of dependence on God will impair our sense of personal guilt, when we wilfully sin against him. I do not attempt to present any theory by which the two may be shown to be compatible with each other. We cannot easily understand the theory, but we feel and know that both are true. We all know that we are guilty for living in sin; and we feel and know that our hearts do not change, simply by our determining that they shall. Since then the two truths are clear, let us cordially admit them both. Let us in the spirit of humility, and entire trust in God's word, believe our Maker when he says, that he has mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Let us believe this cordially, however difficult it may be to understand what can, in such a case, be the guilt of the hardened one:-and applying the declaration to our own case, let us come before him pray

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