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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.
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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 deserye 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 he 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 experience of the heart. So sure as repentance is given to any soul by the Spirit of Jesus, that soul is forgiven by God the Father, through the blood of Jesus, Eph. i. 7.
MARCH 27.- Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.-Acts xxvi. 19.
We are sometimes called to bear testimony before unbelievers of our hope. It is difficult to speak of the manifestation of Christ to the heart, so that he alone may be exalted. Somewhat of self naturally creeps into the relation. It is very pleasing to nature, to be esteemed as one highly favoured, who has made great attainments in christianity. Oh! that single letter, with great sound, I. But it was furthest from the heart of that eminent champion for free-grace salvation, Paul, to give the least encouragement, from his conversion, to any fellow-sinner to talk of obedience to God's call, or faithfulness to his grace, as conditions of salvation. He would be fired with a holy zeal for his Master's glory, were he now on earth, to hear his language abused, and his meaning perverted, by men of self-righteous principles, who oppose the truths of the gospel, deny God's unconditional election, unmerited love, the finished salvation of Jesus, and its being sure to all his seed, through the sovereign application of the Spirit, to make way for their unscriptural notions of terms and conditions of salvation. They arrogantly teach, that obedience to Jesus is the condition of salvation. Will they not also say, that when Jesus called, " Lazarus, come forth,” his rising up was a condition of his being restored to life? How hard for pride and folly to forsake the human heart! · Paul was favoured with an extraordinary vision of the Lord Jesus from heaven, to call him to be his faithful servant. Obedient hearts are caused by effectual calls. But, after Paul had laboured more abundantly than all the rest of the apostles, what was his glorying? “Yet not I, but the grace of God ;" striving (says he) according—to what ? my power? my ability ? No"to his working, which worketh in me mightily," Col. i. 29. Here is a blessed pattern, a profitable lesson of humility for us! Hath Jesus appeared to us in the vision of faith, by the word of truth? hath he called us to believe in his name, and to rejoice in his salvation? What shall we say, but in warmest gratitude of soul adore rich, free, sovereign, distinguishing grace! Do we continue obedient to the heavenly vision? Shall we sacrifice to our own net, and burn incense to our own drag; and say, Because of my obedience, my faithfulness? God forbid ! for this is only grace upon grace. If we have obtained grace to be faithful, the comfort is ours; but all the glory is due to the Giver. “Lord, thou hast wrought all our works in us,” Isa. xxvi. 12.
MARCH 28.—Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.—Hos. vi. 3.
Disciples enjoy sweet fellowship in the truth. Hence they mutually help and encourage each other's faith. Christ blesses them, and manifests himself to them, in this way. So the disciples, after his crucifixion and death, resorted together, and communed with each other; and Jesus, though unknown to them at first, joined their company, expounded the scriptures, and opened their understandings; "and they said one to another, Did not our hearts burn within us, as he talked with us by the way ?” &c., Luke xxiv. 32.
Thus disciples in the Old Testament church exhorted one another in faith. “We shall know, we shall follow on to know the Lord.” So the words may be rendered. Those who know a little of Jesus' love, and are but just brought acquainted with his free grace and salvation, shall hold on their way. Knowledge, light, peace, and love shall increase to their souls, through that Spirit by whom they are regenerated and born again. Though at first they are but " babes in Christ, yet, through the milk of the word, they shall grow and increase with the increase of God.” The going forth of Christ's love towards us is as the morning. At the dawn of day, light is scarcely discernible, it seems opposed by surrounding darkness; yet gradually increases, till the sun gains its meridian. So “the path of the just shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” .
The sun never forsakes the earth, though, at seasons, its light and heat seem withdrawn in comfort and enjoyment. Thus is it with the Sun of righteousness. He shall also “come unto us as the rain,” to refresh, enliven, and make our souls fruitful in knowledge, peace, love, and holiness; yea, as "the latter and former rain." In the land of Israel, they had usually two rains in a year, one just after the seed was sown, the other when the corn was almost ripe, and the harvest at hand. Sometimes, just after the seed of eternal life is sown in the hearts of young converts, they are favoured with joyful, refreshing seasons of love and joy. Others experience the most plentiful showers of heart-reviving love, just as the sickle is to cut them down, that they may be gathered into the heavenly garner. Our Lord best knows what seasons to give, whether the storm of affliction, the rain of prosperity, or the sunshine of joy. Jesus “is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him,” Isa. xxx. 18.
MARCH 29.—The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.—Psalm li. 17.
It is the wisdom and joy of disciples, to see somewhat of Jesus in every page of the lively oracles. Then, the word is searched with pleasure, studied with delight, and made exceedingly profitable to the soul. To this