"Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts."--2 Corinthians 1:22
"Here you should once for all mark where and what the true nature of religion is; its work and effect is within; its glory, its life, its perfection, is all within. It is merely and solely the raising a new life, new love and a new birth in the inward spirit of our heart. This was the spiritual nature of religion in its first beginning, and this alone is its whole nature to the end of time. It is nothing else but the power and life and Spirit of God, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, working, creating and reviving life in the fallen soul, and driving all its evil out of it. Religion is no true Divine service, no proper worshipping of God, has no good in it, can remove no evil out of man, raise no Divine life in him, but so far as it serves, worships, conforms, and gives itself up to this operation of the Holy Triune God, as living and dwelling in the soul.
"Keep close to this idea of religion as an inward spiritual life in the soul; observe all its works within you, the death and life that are found there; seek for no good, no comfort, but in the inward awakening of all that is holy and heavenly in your heart; and then so much as you have of this inward religion, so much you have of a real salvation. For salvation is nothing but a victory over nature; so far as you resist and renounce your own vain, selfish and earthly nature, so far as you overcome all your own natural tempers of the old man, so far God enters into you, lives and operates in you, He is in you the Light, the Life, and the Spirit of your soul; and you are in Him that new creature that worships Him in spirit and in truth.
"All Scripture brings us to the conclusion that our religious services are only so many ways of giving up ourselves more and more to the inward working, quickening, sanctifying Spirit of God in us; and all for this end, that a true, real, Christ-like nature be formed in us, by the same Spirit by which it was formed in the holy Virgin Mary."
How much there is of religion in which man has his own thoughts of what it should be. Oh, let us seek to study what God counts true religion. Nothing less than this,- that He Himself, by His Spirit, should live and work in us as the Light and the Life of our souls. As we take these thoughts of God into our hearts, we shall see that a continual depending upon Him, a continual receiving of His Holy Spirit breathing His life into us, and a continual breathing of our heart and its longing after Him, is the life of Christ in us. It is this will enable us continually to worship, to pray, and to work in His holy presence.
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