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Published by glennpease

For we are also His offspring. Acts xvii. 28.

For we are also His offspring. Acts xvii. 28.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 11, 2013
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OUR KIDRED TO GOD. BY ROWLAD WILLIAMS, B.D. For we are also His offspring. Acts xvii. 28. It is generally supposed that the two great motives of religion are hope and fear. The exceeding happiness of heaven, and a keen desire of attaining it, — the more terrible doom of the unrepentant, and our instinctive shrinking from all that it involves, — are propounded as the two great instruments for turning Man from sin, and for restoring him to fellowship with the Spirit of God. But may we not ask, are there not other motives, somewhat higher in their nature, and not less lively in their operation ? Is not love as strong as death ? and does not gratitude, both for God's general bounty in the realm of nature, and for his special loving-kindness in the kingdom of grace, deserve a more prominent place than is generally assigned to it ? What shall I render unto the Lord, says the Psalmist, for all his mercies ? We ought not to be selfish in our religion ; lest, in fact, we be venturing on holy ground without having taken the shoes off our feet. But we are often told that the love of self is a primary principle of our nature : and many of the XXI.] Our Kindred to God. 331 maxims given to direct our conduct, e. g., " Honesty is the best policy," seem to betray a lurking conviction that expediency in this low sense is the test of right. ow certainly we cannot deny that human motives are generally mixed. We may even admire the wisdom and the mercy, which have so arranged the world, that our
duty and our happiness shall in the long run coincide. " Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and all other things shall be added unto you."" So our Heavenly Father deals with us as with children. He makes what is good still farther attractive as being pleasant and expedient. Yet he meant us not to linger in the twilight of imperfect motives, and secondary consider- ations, but to press forward, until by the force of habit we take delight in our duty for its own sake, and rejoice in the very light of that divine countenance which is both the source and the concentration of all moral goodness, purity, and love. Thus men too bribe, as it were, their children or their pupils, by rewards and prizes. But who would have a child obey his parent only from the selfish desire of some particular reward ? Do we not rather endeavour by such means to awaken the moral instinct, to implant the habit of doing right, and look forward anxiously for the day when reflexion may bring a sensitiveness of conscience to the real nature of actions, whether amiable or hateful, right or wrong? Even so we cherish but slender hopes of the student, to whom knowledge is only a trade for the sake of bread ; in whose mind the deep utterance of poet, or saint, or sage, finds no echo ; or in whom the history of great or good men kindles no emulation of 332 Our Kindred to God. [serm. spirit. We did wish the one to obey, and the other to study ; but the obedience was for the sake of moral, (by Avhich I here mean the same as spiritual,) training ; the other was for the sake of that wisdom, which alone can prevent even conscience from being a blind guide, and
which shews us the path of life. Perhaps in this circumstance we may trace, even more legibly than elsewhere, the footsteps of a righteous Governor of the world, that by such training as has been rapidly sketched, a higher principle of action is imperceptibly developed. The fingers, which at first from mere vanity or from blind obedience stretch out alms to the needy, are thus schooled to obey an impulse of purer compassion, which will gradually stir in the heart. The public services of religion, which may at first have been attended from mere fashion, will often, either by the contagious sympathy of prayer, or by some earnest word amidst the foolishness of preaching, implant the notion of a heart-searching Spirit, to whom alone such worship could be rationally addressed', and persuade the formal church-goer that he too has a soul to be saved, as well as an example to give. We see a glorious instance of such training in the history of the Hebrew people. How little there is in the law of Moses which can properly be called spiritual ! Yet

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