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In literature and in life, she served her generation with rare effectiveness. Her works are suffused with a beautiful glow of spiritual health; and in reading her books of sacred poetry and devotion, honored with an almost unprecedented circulation, we wonder if any one in our day has spoken more directly to the heart of man, and more direct ly from the heart of God. And thus the lesson is pressed upon us anew of the power of a sanctified life.
In treating thus of special acts of consecration, we would interpose a caution against written covenants with God. To yield ourselves up to Him in full self-surrender is one thing; to bind ourselves to do and to suffer certain things for Him, is quite another. The divine nature within us may be strong enough to perform such vows, but human nature is insolvent, and all its promises are but a bankrupt's bond. And this human nature is still a partner in the firm that makes the contract, just as our Lord so solemnly declared in the face of His disciples' failure and desertion. "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Dr. Doddridge recommended a written compact with the Lord. "Set your hand and seal to it, that on
such a day of such a month and year, and at such a place, on full consideration, and serious reflection, you came to the happy resolution, that whatever others might do, you would serve the Lord." The excellent Samuel Pearce of Birmingham, followed this advice in his early Christian life. He wrote his solemn league and covenant with God, and to make it the more binding he opened a vein in his arm and signed it with his own blood. But when in a little while he found how utterly he had broken this sacred engagement, he was plunged into despair, and only found release when he tore up the document and scattered it to the winds, and cast himself henceforth entirely upon the "blood of the everlasting covenant." *
We do not say that such a method can never be of use. It may in some instances. John Frederick Oberlin, the devoted and apostolic pastor, seems to have found it so. He certainly furnishes another striking illustration of the influence of defi
* John Howe, in his discourse on Self-dedication, tells of a devout French nobleman who made a quit-claim deed of himself to God, and signed the document with his own blood - "whose affection I commend," he adds, "more than his expression of it." And well he might. When God takes security he wants a good name, and a trustworthy signature. We are only safe when we present "the name above every name," and trust alone in "the blood of the New Testament."
nite and entire consecration.
Let one read of the
astonishing change effected through his ministry in the morals and condition of his little flock in Waldbach, amid the wilds of Northern France; or let one ponder the exquisite story of the orphan girl, Louise Schepler, so impressed by the holiness and self-denial of this good pastor's life, that she begged the privilege of serving him without wages or reward, so long as she should live. The clue to his remarkable power may doubtless be found in a document which was left among his papers. It is long, but we give a paragraph which contains its pith and substance:
"In the name of the Lord of Hosts, I this day renounce all former lords that have had dominion over me; the joys of the world in which I have too much delighted, and all carnal desires. I renounce all perishable things in order that God may constitute my All. I consecrate to Thee all that I am, and all that I have; the faculties of my mind, the members of my body, my fortune and my time. Grant me grace, O Father of mercies, to employ all to Thy glory, and in obedience to Thy commands. For ardently and humbly, I desire to be Thine through the endless ages of eternity. Should Thou be pleased to make me in this life the instrument
in leading others to Thee, give me strength and courage openly to declare Thy name. And enable me, not only to devote myself to Thy service, but to persuade my brethren to dedicate themselves to it also." *
Strasbourg, 1st of Jan., 1760.
Renewed at Waldbach, 1st Jan., 1770.
We have given quite enough in these examples to exhibit the intimate and certain relation of personal consecration to spiritual power. But in all that we have said, we have assumed that the Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier and Sealer of this consecration. Our Lord Jesus Christ here, as in all things, is our Pattern and Exemplar. "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth."† Exemplar, we said. He is more than this He is our life. It is His divine nature working in us which can alone effect this great transaction. He acted in and through the Holy Ghost in His self-devotement"Who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot unto God." How much more must we rely upon that divine inworking! We need the Spirit by whom to seek the Spirit, Christ's consecration by which to consecrate ourselves, God's *Life of Oberlin, p. 26.
† John 17: 19.
+ Heb. 9: 14.