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the most affecting considerations which the incidents of the last year force upon us is, that the cultivated youth of India, who have cast off the fetters of Brahmanism, honour the Lord Jesus only as the best and wisest of men, instead of turning to Him as the Incarnate Son of God, the one perfect Sacrifice for sin, the Refuge of the perishing, and the Source of life and purity to the polluted spirit of man.
Under such circumstances are we entering, as Christ's professed servants, upon another year. It begins with the Holy Sabbath; and, in our own communion, that Sabbath will witness the solemn assemblies of believers, gathered to renew, with humility and prostration of spirit, and yet with cheerfulness, and confidence, and gratitude, their covenant-engagement with God. May that day be the commencement of a season of blessing which shall last throughout the year, and produce effects that shall pervade eternity itself!
THE OPENING of this year calls every Christian man to earnest thought and holy purpose. It summons us, especially, to entire self-dedication to God. Our whole nature is to be sanctified to Him; and then we are blessed indeed. In the habitual consciousness that we are not our own, but God's, our spirits find repose, and attain a moral strength. It is impossible to overrate the importance of a daily surrender of ourselves, with all our powers, to God,that surrender being combined with a lively faith in the Lord Jesus, the Mediator of the covenant of spiritual blessing, and with earnest prayer that the grace of the Holy Ghost may actually consecrate the offering which we thus present to the Triune Deity. Many will retire from the covenant-service, on the first day of this year, rejoicing that they can indeed claim the Eternal Jehovah as their God; and we would affectionately exhort them to adopt, for themselves, the resolve,—
"High Heaven, that heard the solemn vow,
Till in life's latest hour I bow,
And bless in death a bond so dear."
Among the special duties of the Christian life, we may single out the cultivation of love-real love-to GOD. Let there be the going forth of the soul to Him as a living, personal Being; and let us ask, and expect, that He will come into direct, spiritual contact with our souls, imparting life, and peace, and strength, and manifesting Himself unto us as He does not unto the world. Do we sufficiently reflect, that we are called to delight in God,-to feel a sacred pleasure, chastened with reverence and lowly submission, in thinking of Him, and speaking to Him, as in meditation and
prayer we come to Him through His Son ? In a few years, at the most, the changes of earth will have ceased with us, and its relations will be rent asunder; but then we hope to dwell with God, to gaze upon the unclouded vision of His majesty, and to have an ineffable pleasure in the consciousness of His immediate presence, as well as in intercourse with the Lord Jesus, through Whom alone we are brought near to the Father. Let us cherish the love which will make heaven attractive,-not only the love of gratitude, but that of esteem and delight. This will be a preservative against sin, amidst the perils to which we are constantly exposed. When unholy imaginations occur to us, we shall instantly turn to God, and, looking for His special succour, shall repel them as offensive to His purity. This, too, will give freshness to our religious converse, and will enable us to show to others the loveliness of the Christian character, and the blessedness of the Divine service. Among the hymns in our Collection which express the aspirations and resolves of the pious mind, few are more beautiful than that which closes with the words,
"Give to mine eyes refreshing tears;
Give to my heart chaste, hallow'd fires;
The love that all heaven's host inspires;
Thee will I love, my joy, my crown,
Thee will I love, my Lord, my God;
Or smile,-Thy sceptre, or Thy rod:
Let these words be the language of every heart that knows the Saviour. Amidst the vicissitudes of this probationary state, when the providence of God seems-though only seems-to frown upon us, and when our path is lighted up with the joys of friendship and the comforts of prosperity, let us turn to GOD Himself as the Object of our reverent delight, and seek Him as the chosen portion of our spirits.
But if, as the people of Christ, we would accomplish the work assigned to us, and be a power for good during the few years which He "in whose hand our breath is, and whose are all our ways," may allot to us on earth, it is most important that we should keep a firmer hold than ever of the great facts of the Christian scheme. Is it, indeed, true, that the Son of God has folded our nature around His Eternal Person,-that He lived upon this earth the Man of sorrows, and, as the Representative and Substitute of our sinful
race, died upon the cross,-that He has come forth from the tomb, no longer oppressed with sorrow, but the triumphant Mediator,that He is enthroned at the Father's right hand, and rules this world, and all worlds, as the Mediatorial King,-and that He is now carrying on in heaven His priestly ministration, presenting Himself to the Father as the true and perfect Sacrifice for sin, and dispensing blessing to all who come to the Father through Him and bow to His gracious sway? Yes, all this is true; and in this GLORIOUS PERSON our hopes centre. The consciousness of past sin would utterly overwhelm us, if it were not for His atonement; and the thought of going into eternity would fill us with dismay, did we not feel that we can commit our souls into His hands, and that if He is ours, and we are His, we are safe and blessed. But, in the presence of such facts all others fade into insignificance; and one thing which the Church needs is, that the heart of every one who names the Name of Jesus should be surrendered to their power. If these facts are distinctly recognized and firmly held, they will influence all our views of the relations, the events, the joys, the sorrows, of the present life. They will place the value of man's nature under an aspect unspeakably affecting. While a sweet attraction draws our hearts to Him who is at once our Brother and our Lord, and in Whom the dazzling brightness of the Divine glory is softened to our gaze, we shall think of men around us who are living with. out Him with a feeling of distress, and an intense desire to lead them to Him for salvation. The present times call for men who are profoundly penetrated with the great realities of the Christian scheme. We must be men of faith,-men who cling to a living Saviour, who vividly apprehend His sovereignty and priesthood, and who habitually feel that He sends us forth, as His ransomed people, to work for Him. This is essential to our perseverance in duty, and it will contribute largely to our success. Let us seek to have "the same spirit of faith" with those who of old were eminently honoured by God; and let us always be able to say with the Apostle, "As it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak."
Another important consideration is thus suggested. We should go forth to every duty in the strength derived from communion with an unseen Saviour; and we should enter upon every religious service, whether we have to lead it, or only to unite silently in the worship, and to listen to and embrace the message of the Lord Jesus, in the spirit of dependence upon the grace of the Holy Ghost, and with a firm expectation of the actual putting forth of His power upon our souls and the souls of others. If the ordinances of the Church are to be crowned with blessing, the Holy Ghost must be acknowledged and honoured. The Christian
ministry derives its transcendent importance, not only from the fact that it is a direct and special service to Christ, intended to convey to the minds of men truths of infinite and undying interest, but also from the fact, that it is the plan of the Lord Jesus to connect with the announcement of His message the living energy of the Holy Ghost. It is the privilege and honour of Christ's faithful servants to be engaged in "the ministration of the Spirit ; and never should we preach without a firm expectation that then and there the Holy Ghost will put forth His saving operations, rousing the consciences of men to healthy action, bringing home the conviction of sinfulness to many who are careless, subduing the heart that admits this conviction to penitential tenderness, and then disclosing to the penitent spirit the evangelical method of justification, and fixing its gaze on HIM who has wrought out its redemption, and is now in heaven, "able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." The Spirit's abiding presence and unfailing power are the hope of the Church, in relation both to the stability of its members, and the conversion of the ungodly. The commencement of this year will doubtless be marked, in many places, by special services, designed to arouse the attention of the indifferent, and to lead them to the house of God. Such services have, again and again, been signally owned of God, and have issued not only in the awakening of unconverted men, but in the quickening of believers, and in raising the general tone of spiritual feeling. But, while we value them highly, we are yet more solicitous that Christ's people should never come up to the house of God, and that Christ's ministers should never enter upon the delivery of their message, without a vivid conviction that it is their privilege then and there to realize a special working of the Holy Ghost, or without seeking in earnest prayer the actual communication of His grace.
At the beginning of this year, how gladly should we welcome to the full privileges of Christian discipleship the young people of our families! Affectionately would we press on their regard the counsels and admonitions contained in the last number of this Magazine, and urge them to a personal closure with Christ and the open confession of His Name. The writer of this paper has been gladdened by witnessing a gracious movement of the Spirit of God on the young people of the flock committed, for a while, to his own pastoral care, and that of his esteemed colleagues; and he will not soon forget one blessed sacramental service, in which the heads of families knelt at the table of the Lord with several of
* See pages 1097-1099.
their children around them,-these last having found the Saviour, and now confessing, thoughtfully and with commingling reverence and gratitude, their purpose to live to Him. O for a movement, throughout the Connexion, among the children and young people to whom we minister! For this earnest prayer should ascend to God. The Church cannot afford for her youth to pass out of "the kingdom of God," to which they were provisionally introduced, that they might be trained up amidst its blessed and saving influences, to join "the kingdom of Satan," and to go down to hell with the great Deceiver. But Christ calls for instant decision; and He welcomes our children to Himself, to give to them the deepest, purest joys of piety, and to be their Friend and Saviour for ever.
It is proper, also, to urge upon Christ's people, as the opportunities of service to Him which this year may afford are commencing, that, if they have not already done so, they should now resolve practically to recognize their stewardship to God in the use of worldly property. It is scarcely possible to assign too great importance to a systematic and proportionate giving of our substance to the poor and to the cause of God. The blessedness of such a course, the inward satisfaction which it brings,-the freedom from the love of money which results from it, sustained, as it must be, by the cherished conviction, that we are stewards and not proprietors,-are known only to those who have adopted it and persevered in it. Even yet, it is to be feared, the sin of covetousness is enfeebling the Church, and ruining souls. How many, through its insidious influence, have lost the freshness of their love to the Saviour, and how many are held back by it from a decided closure with Him! Solemn and affecting are the appeals of our Lord Himself:-"If, therefore, ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?" (Luke xvi. 11, 12.) Does He not here teach us, that the refusal of some persons to act upon the principle of their stewardship to God, in relation to worldly property,-which, alas! is so often "the mammon of unrighteousness,"—is the reason why they remain destitute of the "true riches" of holy peace and spiritual life and power, riches which no earthly change can take away or impair? And has He not, after charging His people not to lay up for themselves "treasures upon earth," but rather to lay up for themselves "treasures in heaven," that there their hearts may be, added the emphatic warning, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Matt. vi. 24.) Such declarations of our blessed Master