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or two, when he comes home of an evening, and of a morning before going to work. Now a couple of verses well thought over will do a man more good than whole chapters swallowed without thought. Do but this little, my brethren; and God, who judges us according to our means, and who looked with greater favour on the two mites of the poor widow, than on all the golden offerings of the rich, will accept your two verses, and enable your souls to grow and gain strength by this their daily food. Christ, who is the way of life, will open your eyes to see the way. He will send you the wings I just spoke of; and they shall bear you up to heaven.
For this must be always kept in mind, that God alone giveth the increase. Unless he gives it, no increase shall we receive. Our light will not be increased; so that we shall gain no new insight into the wondrous things of God's law. Our joy will not be increased; so that the study of God's book will continue an irksome task. Our labour will be without fruit; because it has been without a blessing and we shall have to say, as the apostles did, before Jesus came to help them in their fishing, "We have toiled all night, and have caught nothing." (Luke v. 5.) The only way of ensuring that our labour shall not be thus fruitless, is by prayer: the only way of drawing down a blessing
on our study, is to ask for it. Let us pray then to Jesus, the Author of our faith, that he will finish the good work he has begun. Let us beseech him to come to us by his Spirit, and join himself to us, as he came and joined himself to the apostles, that our studies may prosper, and our labour be successful, and that out of the living waters of salvation we may draw truth, and hope, and constancy in well-doing, and gentleness, and active love toward all our fellow-creatures. Let us beseech him that "through patience and comfort of the Scriptures we may have hope.” (Rom. xv. 4.) For unless there be patience, there can be no comfort. If a medicine is to do us good, we must take it. If we read the Bible in the spirit of patience, it will bring us to a knowledge of ourselves. It describes and lays bare every evil propensity, every weakness, every wandering, to which the heart of man is liable. It comes home to our business and to our bosoms. It puts its finger on the dark spot within us, and plainly and loudly utters in the ears of every one those dreadful words, "Thou art the man." As you love truth, as you prize the welfare of your souls, do not shrink from that touch, however painful; do not shut your ears against those warning words, however harsh. Be patient of Scripture truths. Place yourselves honestly, after prayer to God, in
the light of those passages of the Bible which fall the most piercingly on your besetting sin. Look at yourselves narrowly by that light it will scatter any fogs which may be covering the hollows of your conscience, and will lead you from the darkness of contented ignorance into the pure and marvellous light of God. Begin with patience of God's holy word, and you will assuredly get in time to the comfort of it. Let us only be persuaded that our strength at the best is but weakness; let us be brought to feel that we are labouring under a sickness, which none save God can heal, that we are threatened by dangers which he alone can ward off, that he, and none else, can deliver us from the burthen of our sorrow; let us be made to acknowledge these truths, and the Scriptures will become a well-spring of delight to For they, and they alone, shew our Maker to us in the character in which we shall then feel that we want him. We shall no longer ask with the confident lawyer, or with the self-satisfied young man, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke x. 25.) A much more painful question bursts from our stricken and bleeding hearts; and we cry out with the jailor at Philippi, "What must I do to be saved ?" (Acts xvi. 30.) The Bible, and the Bible alone, gives an answer to this question. For it speaks not of God alone,
nor of man alone, but of God and man at one,—of God reconciled to man for the sake and merits of his Son: it speaks of the very thing which in our heaviness we long to hear of. Whatever may be the wounds we are suffering from, it has a balm and a medicine to heal them. As the good Samaritan poured oil and wine into the wounds of the bleeding and fainting Jew, so do the Scriptures apply a like remedy to our wounded hearts, even the blood of the Son of God, which answers to the wine, and the anointing and sustaining influence of the Holy Spirit, which acts the part of the sweet and healing oil. In a word, the Bible sets before us the divine Emmanuel, God with us, who is not ashamed to call us brethren,-who places himself at our head, like a valiant captain, to cheer and lead us on to victory,—and who, having himself endured temptation, knows its danger and its power, and is therefore ready to succour us in the hour of trial, if we will only call to him for help.
This is the great comfort of the Scriptures, even Christ," the power of God and the wisdom of God unto salvation." His glorious coming is called in the Gospel "the consolation of Israel." (Luke ii. 25.) When spiritually laid hold of, and practically applied by each man to his own needs, it is still the consolation of every true Christian.
To us also, if we so lay hold on it, and so apply it, will it become a principle of life. Not of a fleshly and animal life, such as we share with beasts and birds; not of a life frail and perishable, which an accident may snap short at any moment; nor again of a life gross and sensual, which is merely the life of the baser part of us, the body, but the death or numbness of the soul. The life that God's word sows within us, is pure and spiritual and deathless. It is the blessed hope of everlasting life, which we are to embrace and hold fast through our Saviour.
But how can such a life,-this is the last point I shall touch on,-how can a life of this kind begin here? It can begin,—and, what is more, it must begin here, or it will never begin at all,—in our putting on the likeness of God and of his Son, whom to know and to follow after is life eternal. He is the true God, says St John in his Epistle, and eternal life. Would you have eternal life, the hope of it, the foretaste of it in this world? you must draw near to Christ. He has promised that, if we draw near to him, he will draw nigh to us, and at last will come and take up his abode in our hearts, and will light the everlasting lamp of truth and love within us. An eternal life, I need hardly tell you, must be a heavenly life. Lead heavenly lives then; and your lives will be eternal. But what