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we must come to the conclusion, that it really will profit us nothing if we gain the whole world and lose our own souls--that we have but "a point of time, a moment's space,” to prepare for endless bliss or we never shall stir up ourselves aright “to take hold of God." Until these sentiments permanently occupy a place in our hearts we shall be mere triflers in religion. We may occasionally call upon God's name, but we shall never stir up ourselves to take hold, and keep hold, of God.
Oh, the importance of our taking hold of God! Upon this depend our wisdom and holiness, our usefulness and joy in time, and our glory and bliss in eternity. Yet there are many, even among Christians, who do not stir themselves up to take hold of God. Bad as the Church is, generally speaking, it is in a much better state than it was in Isaiah's day. He said, “ There is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee." We are not in so deplorable a state now. Many now call upon the name of the Lord sincerely and daily, and some even stir themselves to “take hold of God,” do get hold of God, and will not yield their grasp. In answer to their prayers Jehovah blesses them abundantly and makes them a blessing; for out of their hearts flow “rivers of living water," which refresh, and cleanse and fructify many of the famishing, polluted and barren children of men. It is delightful to come in contact with such Christians. They are the glory of Christ, an honour to themselves, a blessing to the Church and the world. May the blessed God greatly and speedily increase their number! But alas! many professing Christians, though they call upon God's name, do not stir up themselves to “take hold of God.” This is evident from the absence of fervour and importunity in their prayers. They pray, but where is the wrestling, pleading, agonizing spirit of prayer which takes hold of God, and will not let him go except he bless? The man that stirs up himself to "take hold of God” cannot and will not be satisfied until he feels his prayers have power with God and prevail. Instead of desisting before he secures the blessing he prays for, he wrestles on till his suit is gained. So it was with Jacob ; so it is with all who stir up themselves to “take hold of God." That many do not stir up themselves to "take hold of God" is evident from their constant complainings. They are ever complaining of the littleness of their light, their faith, their purity, their love, their zeal, their joyconstantly crying, “ My leanness, my leanness!" Why is this? “O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the Spirit of the Lord straitened ? are these his doings ? do not my words do good to them that walk uprightly ?" The fault is not God's. We are straitened in ourselves. Our sins withhold good things from us. There is a fulness of grace and truth in Christ, and out of that fulness we may all receive, and grace upon grace. We are commanded to “be filled with the Spirit." God " is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us?” Why, then, are some Christians so lean in their souls ? Surely because they do not stir up themselves to "take hold of God.” That many do not stir up themselves to “take hold of God,” is evident from the little good they accomplish. They do little to encourage their fellow-Christians to go forward-they accomplish but little spiritual good for their own families—and hardly ever think of attempting the conversion of their ungodly acquaintances and neighbours. They are so weak in grace that they can seldom summon up courage enough to reprove the openly profane, or even to ask a neighbour who
is living in utter forgetfulness of God to accompany them to a place of worship. Surely all such are not stirring up themselves to "take hold of God." We need say no more on this point. We are all too well acquainted with the fact that many who call themselves Christians, and who would be sadly offended if others did not call them so too, are not found stirring up themselves to“ take hold of God.”
We should immediately stir up ourselves to take hold of God to prevent him from departing from us. If God depart from us, darkness, desolation and death will overspread our souls. We shall lose all that we have wrought, again become “children of wrath, even as others," heirs of perdition, and our last state will be worse than the first. Have not some of us too much reason to fear this? Have we not, by our worldly-mindedness, by our negligent performance of religions duties, by our non-enjoyment of religious privileges, by our apathy in God's cause, by our unconcern for the glory of God and the salvation of men, and by grieving the Holy Spirit of God through not attending to his monitions, provoked God to depart from us? Is he not crying to some of us as he did to Jerusalem of old, “ Be thou instructed, o Jerusalem! Jest my sonl depart from thee, lest I make thee a desolate land not inhabited! Oh, there is great need for us to stir up ourselves to “ take hold of God" lest he depart from us. We ought instantly to cry, “Leave us not, O Lord !" and, while we thus pray, we should instantly put away all evil from us that he may continue to abide with us. Some, indeed, have need to stir up themselves to bring God back to their hearts ; for he has already departed. They have forsaken God and he has forsaken them. He has withdrawn the Comforter from their souls; they are now without light, without love, without peace, without hope ; they are 6 going down to the pit." Surely it behoves such to stir up themselves to “ take hold of God," or they will shortly be "cast into outer darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
We should immediately stir up ourselves to take hold of God for the sake of the Church and the world. It is our duty to pray for the peace and prosperity of the Church. We may have peace in our borders, but, oh, we want prosperity in our palaces! We have but little prosperity; we sce few sinners converted, few backsliders reclaimed, few people added to the Lord. Before we can see great prosperity in our Churches we must all of us stir up ourselves to “take hold of God." We must plead with God for this specific object. We must get into the spirit in which Isaiah was when he cried, “For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth." If ever there was a time in the world's history when it was needful for the Church of God to “ look forth as the morning, fair as the noon, clear as the sun and terrible as an army with banners," it is now. Never has there been such a commotion between truth and error, light and darkness, Christ and Belial, since the world stood as now. The trumpet calls to war: “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion! put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem !" Stir up thyself and take hold of God that thou mayest vanquish all the powers of darkness. We live in eventful times. Changes have of late taken place among the nations of the earth with the rapidity of lightning. During the last few years the Papal nations, on the continent of Europe, have been convulsed from their centres to their circumferences. The head of the great apostacy has been driven from his throne; has wandered as an exile, his power broken, his glory departed; and, for a period, the followers of Christ, the friends of humanity, the lovers of civil and religious liberty, were looking forward to the complete and speedy emancipation of the human race from the chains of darkness and misery in which Antichrist has for ages held the miserable devotees of the Papacy. But our ardent anticipations, our high and fondly-cherished hopes, have for the present been deferred, if not blighted. The Pope has been brought back to Rome, forced upon Italy, and is supported and protected on his throne by a nation that has ever been fighting for liberty, but has never attained the desired good. Since his return to the seven hills he has turned his special attention to England, the land of the brave and the free, the noble and the good; and in the excess of his zeal has sought our conversion from light to darkness, from Christ to Antichrist, from God to Satan. He has furnished us with Jesuits, with bishops, with archbishops, and even with a cardinal, to secure our conversion ; but he has failed. Our statesmen, our lawyers, our preachers and our press-men, have all resisted the encroachment. Our gentry, our middle-classes, and even the masses of our mechanics and labourers, have been unequivocal evidence of a determination to resist even unto blood, if need be, the designs of the arch-impostor “who exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped.” Popery has yet to be overthrown. Our public men are arming themselves for the contest. In many of our cities and towns skirmishes have already taken place. We have had specious lectures in favonr of Romanism; and counter-lectures, full of solid arguments, honest indiguation, keen satire and mirthful ridicule. But, alas ! we have witnessed at these public lectures the want of that reliance upon God which alone can secure the victory. At all the Protestant lectures we have attended prayer has been omitted, God has not been acknowledged, his assistance and blessing have not been implored, the people have not been urged to stir up themselves to take hold of God.” Therefore we have reason to fear that Popery will remain unimpaired in vigour till a better state of things obtain among the professed followers of Christ. Until they acknowledge God in all their ways, and stir np themselves to “take hold of God,” Popery will not be destroyed ; for this gigantic system of evil, this mighty rival of Christ, “the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming." From what we have witnessed we fear that the majority of the would-be destroyers of Popery have yet to learn the truth taught us by Zechariah in these words, “ Not by might,” (or an army) “nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain ? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain ; and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it." When the people of God cease to trust in an arm of flesh for deliverance from Popery, when they stir up themselves, one and all, “ to take hold of God" and bring the infinite wisdom, power, and resources of the Godhead to bear upon this mountain of iniquity, then it will speedily become a plain; and the joyous cry will be heard, “ Babylon the great is fallen-is fallen! Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her."
Atheism, Deism and Socialism, we believe, are on the wane amongst us; but we are told by high authority that, “ The transcendental phi
losophy prevalent in Germany has extended its influence to Britain. According to the testimony of the most competent witnesses, the writ. ings of its advocates-Kant, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel- having found a place in many of our public libraries, are eagerly read by great numbers of our youth, among whom are some of the most active minds, and are exerting in some cases a pernicious influence-an influence which is enlarged in extent and augmented in power by lectures delivered in our public institutions, in which the doctrines of that philosophy are either openly or more covertly inculcated.” Pantheism is its prominent feature. It teaches that “God and nature are identical. There exists oue substance only, though under diversified appearances, and that substance is God; that is, God is not properly the producer and sustainer of nature, but he is nature; the universe is not properly his work, but merely at modification of his being--a form under which he exists." This miserable system leaves us without a personal God to love and fear, adore and serve. It destroys-as the Rev. Thomas Allin, from whom we have quoted above, clearly shows, in his preface to the second edition of his invaluable work on " Modern Atheism,” &c.--it destroys all individnality, all moral responsibility, and opens the way for idolatry under every conceivable form. There is need, therefore, for the saints to stir up themselves to “take hold of God," that they may be prepared to withstand this subtle system of error; that they may ever have "the witness in themselves" of the personal existence of the one living and true God, and be prepared, by the full enjoyment of the grace of Christ, of the love of God and of the communion of the Holy Ghost, to speak of God and for God with “a mouth and wisdom which all” the "adversaries" of truth “shall not be able to gainsay nor resist."
On every hand, too, iniquity abounds. Ungodliness in every form is rampant. Men have other gods beside Jehovah. Graven images and imaginary deities are adored and served. God's holy name is blasphenned. His Sabbaths are broken. Disobedience to parents is prevalent. Murders are frequent. Adultery is practised. Theft is common. False witnesses are numerous. Covetousness is well-nigh universal. But how few “sigh and cry for the abominations that are done in the land !" How few can say with the Psalmist, “Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law. Horror hath taken hold of me because of the wicked that forsake thy law !" How few can fully sympathize with Jeremiah when he cried, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people ;" or with Christ who, “when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace, but now they are hid from thy eyes.”
The things which belong to the present and eternal peace of our fellow-men are not yet hid from the eyes of the living. The members of the Church, by vigorous effort, may yet enlighten, purify, and save millions, if they would only "call upon the name of the Lord," and stir up themselves“ to take hold of God." We must, if we would benefit our fellows, cease from man and look to God; we must trust, not in an arm of flesh, but in the living God, who is the savionr of all men. There must be attained by the professors of religion a loftier elevation of character, a more enlightened, sincere, ardent, active piety than what is possessed by the mass of Christians before these evils can be removed; and before our world can be fully evangelized. Christians, it is your imperative duty to stir up yourselves to “take hold of God” for the benefit of the world in which God has placed you. You cannot be agents in healing others until the plague of your own heart is healed. You cannot “ teach transgressors God's ways," and sinners “will not bo converted unto him" by your agency, until you fully realize “the joy of God's salvation." Sinners are perishing; but, blind as they are, hard-hearted as they are, superstitious as some of them are, polluted and miserable as they all are, they need not perish. Christ has died for them, God is not willing they should perish, the Holy Spirit is able to enlighten, soften, renew and save them. Upon you rests the responsibility of leading them to Christ, of beseeching them to be reconciled to God, of bringing upon them the saving influences of the Holy Ghost. “ Ye are the light of the world—ye are the salt of the earth.” “ Take hold of God,” keep hold of God, and you shall save souls from death, and hide multitudes of sins.
Should any sinner read these pages, let that sinner remember that God's strong arm is uplifted to strike him dead and send his soul quick down to “the bottomless pit." Stir up thyself to “take hold of God.” “ Take hold of his strength and make peace with him," before it be too late. By penitence, prayer and faith take hold of Jesus as thy Saviour and thou shalt be saved. “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
THE OPENING HEAVENS.—Until Jupiter there would be an exception the year 1801 it was not known there to the regular increase of distance was any planet between the orbits of from one planet to another, and from Mars and Jupiter. In that year a the sun, The discovery of these small planet was discovered, to which planets in this part of the solar sys. was given the name of Ceres, distant tem reminds us of the sublime infrom the sun nearly two hundred quiry, "Who hath measured the and sixty-three millions of miles. waters in the hollow of his hand and In 1802 a second planet was dis- meted out heaven with a span." covered ; in 1804 a third; in 1807 a (Isa. xl. 12.)
H. W. fourth ; in 1847 a fifth; and since S esostRIS.-It is related of Sesosthen eight others have come within tris that, having taken many of the the reach of the telescope. Thus neighbouring kings prisoners, he there are already known to be thir- compelled them, by turns, to draw teen small planets between the orbits his chariot. One of these royal slaves of Mars and Jupiter. Their names one day fixed his eyes stedfastly on in the order of their distance from the wheels of the chariot as they the sun are Flora, Victoria, Vesta, Iris, went round, which the monarch obMetis, Hebe, Parthenope, Egeria, serving, asked him why he was so Astrea, Juno, Pallas, Ceres and intent on so small an object. He reHygeia. May not these thirteen plied that the falling of the spoke small planets be the fragments of which was a little while ago the one larger heavenly body once run highest, to the lowest place reminded ning its course in that part of the him of the uncertainties of life. heavens where these now make their Sesostris, it is said, duly weighing regular revolutions? Did no planet this remark, would never after be exist between the orbits of Mars and drawn by these royal slaves.