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influence of this one thing needful. One thing, the enjoyment of God, was our first parents' paradise. A thirst after and enjoyment of two things, the knowledge of evil, as well as good, caused all their woe, and made them miserable. And it is the knowledge of the former which keeps all their posterity under the sad circumstances they are fallen into, till they are brought to know the one thing needful. What is this but the saving knowledge of God, our Saviour ? This was the great apostle's continual prayer, “That I may know him.” This, Mary was happy in the enjoyment of, and what our Lord himself commends her for; and calls, " that good part which shall never be taken away.”
This one thing comprehends all wisdom, holiness, and happiness. To know Jesus, is to believe in him; to believe in him, is to love him; and to love him, is to keep his commandments. In every station, in all seasons, and under every circumstance, this one thing, this knowledge of Jesus, is ever needful, ever seasonable. Doth the christian enjoy health? This knowledge joins to health of body, peace and joy of soul. Is he in sickness? To know Jesus is the richest cordial, the most reviving draught to his soul. Is he tempted? What consolation to know, Jesus was tempted in all things as we are, that he might succour the tempted. Doth sin distress ? doth the law condemn? The soul that knows Jesus, can boldly challenge, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" He can confidently declare, “there is no condemnation to them." Does death, the king of terrors, affright him? By the knowledge of Jesus, he is disarmed of his strength and sting, which is the law and sin. So that, O soul, thou mayst take up this triumphant challenge against the last enemy, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory ?" I have all things, and abound, in possessing this one thing; I have Christ my Saviour found; and I pray daily, to be found in him, Phil. iii. 9. MARCH 24.--And Moses said unto the people, Fear not; for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.—Exod. xx. 20.
Pride and self-confidence are deeply rooted in the human heart. False hopes are built on self-righteous pleas. By these, the heart is blinded to the exceeding sinfulness of sin, hardened against the fear and dread of the Lord: hence all such live in rebellion against the truth, as it is in Jesus. Like Paul, we are all, naturally, alive without the law; and, with these Israel. ites of old, are ready to say, “ All that the Lord hath spoken we will do," Exod. xix. 8. Alas! when poor sinners utter such words of ignorance and pride, like the disciples on the mount, "they know not what they say.” But whom the Lord loves, he proves. The Lord is a jealous God: he will suffer no flesh to glory in his presence; nor shall his dear children live witħout his fear, and a holy hatred both of pride and sin. They must, therefore, go out of their tents of vain confi. dence.
When the Lord discovers himself in glory and majesty, as a holy, sin-avenging God; when the law, in its holy, just, and righteous demands, is revealed in the conscience, it makes the stoutest heart tremble: it fills the guilty, self-accused sinner with fear and horror; and then, "sin revives, and he dies," dies to all his former, false, self-righteous hopes. Yea, and he would, if left to his own dreadful apprehensions, fly from God, sink into black despair, and perish everlastingly, with out hope. But the dear Mediator is ever near, and prevents this; he speaks in love,"Fear not.”
This dispensation is not to destroy your soul, but to kill your vain hopes, to prove and try you, to show you what is in you; that you may be dead to the law, be alive to God, by a better hope, through the faith of Jesus your Saviour. So fear the Lord, with a loving fear, as to die to sin. Thunders of wrath, terrible peals of curses, are necessary to be heard in the conscience;
they fulfil God's will. For, by the law is the knowledge of sin, Rom. iii. 20. The bleak, north wind of the law, kills the pride and vermin of nature; while the warm, comforting, south wind of the gospel, enlivens and cherishes the seeds of grace. See the value, and improve the worth of both.
Thus the Spirit humbles proud hearts, revives contrite spirits, endears Christ, who hath endured the curses we deserved, and imbitters sin to believing, penitent souls. “ Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, to bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living,” Job xxxiii. 29, 30.
MARCH 25.-Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me.--2 Pet. i. 14.
Nothing but the life of Jesus, manifest in our flesh, can reconcile us to death. This, and only this, delivers from the fear of death, disarms it of. its sting, and fortifies the mind with the knowledge of complete victory over the ghastly king of terrors, “through him who hath loved us." Constant converse with Jesus makes death familiar. So we learn to die daily; so the spirit. ual, immortal life of the soul triumphs over the sensual, mortal life of the body. The happy spirit, in some highly-favoured seasons, is so far from fearing and trembling at the body's dissolution, that it rejoices, and even longs to be set at liberty from its imprisoned state; it pants with desires after its Beloved, and says, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly;" it ardently wishes
that it may
Clap its glad wings and tower away,
And mingle with eternal day, How sweet to live in such a frame! how desirable! how earnestly to be sought for daily! that, when the frail body is attacked with any sickness, the soul may ask, with great serenity, in the words of John the Baptist to Jesus, " Art thou he?" Is this disorder to put the finishing stroke to all my trials and griefs ? or must I look for another ? When a little child of mine saw a beggar, ragged and deformed, it ran into my arms, and cried, “O papa, save me from that frightful man!" Oh, thought I, in the views of death, may I ever thus, with boldness and familiarity, flee to the arms of my heavenly Father in Christ!
All men know they must die. They confess this. But the thoughts of it are irksome. Believers in Jesus only have a peculiar knowledge of death, so as to dwell on the thought that it will come shortly, with satisfaction, hope, and comfort. Jesus hath showed them this. From him “the righteous hath hope in his death," Prov. xiv. 32. Is it in vain then, the Saviour saith, "Forsake all ; take up thy cross; follow me ?" No: it verily is for the profit and the peace of the soul. For, the more steadfastly we are attached to and eagerly pursue the things of this life, so much the more are we loth to die. We fear the approach, and tremble at the very apprehension of the unwelcome messenger. All this is, because the objects of time and sense cloud our minds, and darken our views of the victorious Jesus, his perfect work, and finished salvation for us. Only while Jesus is embraced in the arms of faith, can the soul say, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation," Luke ii. 29, 30.
MARCH 26.—That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations.Luke xxiv. 47.
This is God's method of saving sinners by Jesus Christ. Those who know the preciousness of him, have any regard to the glory of God, and love for immortal souls, will make this the rule of their preaching; for
this doctrine, where known, and experienced in the heart, makes a true christian. Evangelical repentance flows from a seeing eye, a hearing ear, and an understanding heart; and is an evidence and effect of gospel faith. To see the evil nature and dreadful effects of sin, its punishment in the sufferings of Jesus ; to hear the curses and condemnation of the law against sinners, its dreadful thunders and menaces in the conscience; to understand in the heart, that nothing but the blood of Jesus could atone for the guilty, none but he could fulfil the perfect demands of a holy law for the unrighteous: this humbles the soul, cuts off false hopes, lays it low in self-abasement before Jehovah, causes it to cry out, “I am the man, the sinner I, who am cursed by law, exposed to wrath, and deserve hell. I mourn without hope in myself. I hear of Jesus, the Saviour of sinners; I turn to him for hope and salvation. Sin has destroyed me. Jesus, save, or I perish.”
This repentance Jesus is exalted to give. This makes a proud sinner humble. Remission of sins makes a poor sinner a happy saint. Hath Christ obtained remission of sins by his blood ? hath he commanded this should be preached in his name? is he exalted to give it ? hath he brought the poor sinner, by his Spirit, to his feet to sue for it? and will be refuse to make that soul happy in the sense of it? Never, never let such a thought be indulged by any poor, sensible sinner. We read no such hard lines in his word. We find no such dejecting views from his life and death. The doctrine he prescribed is a lively transcript of all that was in his loving heart.
Be assured, O soul, there shall be a performance of all things, that are promised of the Lord, to him that believeth. That same Jesus, who gives the soul the humbling view of itself, and by repentance, to turn to him, will give it the joyful knowledge of himself, by the remission of sins, through faith in his blood. Repentance and remission of sins are joined together in preaching; they can never be separated in the expe: