Devotion

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"Rend your heart, and not your garments." -- Joel 2:13

GARMENT-RENDING and other outward signs of religious emotion, areeasily manifested and are frequently hypocritical; but to feel truerepentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Menwill attend to the most multiplied and minute ceremonialregulations-for such things are pleasing to the flesh-but true religionis too humbling, too heart-searching, too thorough for the tastes ofthe carnal men; they prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, andworldly. Outward observances are temporarily comfortable; eye and earare pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up:but they are ultimately delusive, for in the article of death, and atthe day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial thanceremonies and rituals to lean upon. Apart from vital godliness allreligion is utterly vain; offered without a sincere heart, every formof worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty ofheaven.

HEART-RENDING is divinely wrought and solemnly felt. It is a secretgrief which is personally experienced, not in mere form, but as a deep,soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of eachbeliever. It is not a matter to be merely talked of and believed in,but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the livingGod. It is powerfully humiliating, and completely sin-purging; but thenit is sweetly preparative for those gracious consolations which proudunhumbled spirits are unable to receive; and it is distinctlydiscriminating, for it belongs to the elect of God, and to them alone.

The text commands us to rend our hearts, but they are naturally hard asmarble: how, then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary: adying Saviour's voice rent the rocks once, and it is as powerful now. Oblessed Spirit, let us hear the death-cries of Jesus, and our heartsshall be rent even as men rend their vestures in the day oflamentation.

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