« PreviousContinue »
of its goodness and righteousness is dissembling with God: it is hiding somewhat in the "earth, in the midst of the tent,” which is abominable to him, and which robs him of his glory. The flesh with its lusts and corruptions, though we may think of them, as Achan did of the Babylonish garment, that they are goodly, yet they are accursed by the law of God. Therefore we are, through the Spirit, "to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts.” Like the wedge of gold, and the shekels of silver, all must be given up; we must retain none of its riches and treasures. How often has our flesh made our hands hang down, our knees faint, and our hearts troubled !
O christian! thou son of the Most High, give glory to the Lord God of Israel, hide nothing in thy earthly, vile nature from thy Lord and Saviour; make confession unto Jesus of all that is in thee, vile, abominable, wretched, and hell-deserving as thou art by nature. Give Jesus all the glory of redemption, justification, and salvation. Expect no good from the flesh, in the pleasures and enjoyments of sense. Seek it all in Jesus, and from his Spirit. As Achan troubled Israel, he must therefore perish in the flames of Achor. So, christian, the flesh that troubles thy spirit, is shortly to fall and die under the sentence for sin. But saith God, I will give the valley of Achor (trouble] for a door of hope, Hos. ii. 15. Though the body shall be sown in dishonour, yet it shall be raised in glory. For, saith Jesus, “I am the resurrection, and the life. He who liveth and believeth in me shall never die,” John xi. 25, 26.
APRIL 13.—Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.—Heb. ii. 1.
The body receives little nourishment, if its food pass hastily through it. To health and strength proper di
gestion is necessary. Divine truths, eagerly heard and soon forgot, neither comfort nor strengthen the soul. When the babe Jesus was lying in the manger, and the shepherds had told the glorious things they had seen and heard concerning him, many wondered. But it was the happiness of the virgin mother, that "she kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart," Luke ii. 19. We can never be comfortable in Jesus, but while the truths concerning him dwell in our minds.
Many complain of bad memories. They can retain but little of the doctrines of grace. True, Jesus saves none for the sake of a strong memory; neither will his loving heart cast off any because of a weak one. Yet it is our daily interest to take the wholesome advice which the Spirit of wisdom dictates. His word is our direction. His gracious cautions prevent evils. He teacheth to the soul's health. It behoves us to give the most earnest heed to the truths of Jesus. They demand all our attention. Pondering them in our minds, dwelling on them in our hearts continually, tend, through grace, to keep us watchful against what would rob us of their comfort, and to strengthen our memories to retain the sweet sense of them. Hence, a holy fear will be excited, lest at any time we should let them slip, or run out of our minds, as water does through a leaky vessel; so as to lose the savour of them from our hearts.
Sudden flashes of comfort, hasty transports of joy, are dubious as to their cause. By the word of truth we are to try them; and by that we shall be able to stand. The gospel of grace inspires with courage. Through the knowledge of Jesus we conquer. That spirit, which excites to diligence and care, will establish in the truth. Studious souls, in the school of Christ, make the most established and lively disciples. The opposition of enemies to the truths of electing love, Jesus' righteousness, the final salvation of his redeemed children, &c., shall do us no harm. This shall be overruled by grace, to the establishing the faith of God's children. The oak is rooted stronger by the blast that shakes it. The more we see of the evil of sin, the pride and unbelief of our corrupt natures, and the subtle devices of Satan, so much more dear and precious shall we esteem the doctrines of free grace, and the finished salvation of Jesus. And we shall prove ourselves his true disciples, “if we hold fast the confidence, and the rejoicing of the hope, firm unto the end,” Heb. iii. 6.
APRIL 14.—He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.—Psalm cvi. 15.
When the sunshine of worldly ease, and a greater portion of the good things of this life than he was wont to enjoy, fell to the lot of that champion of Jesus, of blessed memory, Luther, it excited a holy fear and jealousy in his heart, which made him cry out. “Lord, I will not be put off with these things." "However pleasant and agreeable worldly prosperity may be to the flesh, yet indulging and pampering the body begets and feeds many disorders and humours, destructive to the health of the soul. The body, without exercise, loses its strength and vigour. Afflictions are the exercise of the soul; though dreaded, because grievous to the flesh, yet are they profitable to the spirit; or else, not one of God's dear children should know what a single trouble is; for they are all the allotments of covenant love. In our prayers, we too often imitate James and John, “we know not what we ask.” We ask amiss, and yet are ready to complain, that the Lord doth not answer us according to our desire; though the very thing we asked would have proved as a serpent, to bite and destroy us.
Oh, what patience doth our God and Father exercise towards the froward dispositions of his dear, but untoward children! It would be bad for the best of us, if we were our own providers. Let Peter have his rę.
ow not we the allot?
quest, and Jesus shall not die; then Peter and every soul of man must have perished. It is our mercy, that the Lord sometimes answers prayers with denials; he most blesses us by denying our petitions. Saints long and pray to be entirely delivered from the body of sin; but though the Lord doth not take it away, yet he gives what is better, grace to subdue our corruptions; and withal, subdues pride, and keeps the soul dependent upon himself, which is best of all. Thy will, thy glory should ever set bounds to our petitions. The health and prosperity of the immortal soul is infinitely to be preferred to the happiness of the perishing body. Gay clothing, with empty pockets, and a lean, starving body, is a distressed condition. But, how much more deplorable, how awfully to be dreaded, the state of many professors ! They have got what they eagerly sought, the riches, honours, and pleasures of this world. But alas! their precious souls are lean and starving. Can · the comforts of a perishing world compensate the want of a sense of God's love, the reviving grace of our Lord Jesus, and the comforting fellowship of the Holy Ghost? In all our petitions, we should make the enjoyment of God our chief aim. For he says, “Hearken diligently unto me, eat that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness," Isa. Iv. 2.
APRIL 15.—Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.—Luke xxiv. 45.
Though Jesus had captivated the heart, and drawn the affections of his disciples to himself, before his sufferings and death, yet they had very little knowledge in the mysteries of his kingdom, and the mystery of iniquity, which worked in them. They were but weak in understanding the holy scriptures. Hence arose their diffidence and suspicions concerning him. He left them scattered through fear and unbelief, and he finds them full of unreasonable doubts and troubles. For this he reproves them, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken !" But amidst all their weakness and ignorance, there was a sweet and secret confidence in their hearts. Jesus had apprehended them as prisoners of love, and they were kept by an invisible power, that they might apprehend that for which also they were apprehended of Christ. Though he made the hearts of two of his disciples “burn within them,” yet there was more warmth than light, a transient heat of affections, but not a settled understanding of the scriptures. Thus it is with many of the lambs of the flock now. They have been taught by the Holy Ghost to call Jesus Lord. They feel some flashes of comfort, but they are oftener exercised with doubts, fears, jealousies, and surmises. But, as the Saviour hath loved and called them to himself, he will establish their hearts in faith. He not only warms the affections, but opens the understanding. Many mistake here; not the fire of our passions is to govern us, but our clear understanding the scriptures. By them our faith is strengthened, our judgment established, our love increased, our hearts comforted, our holiness promoted. Thus Jesus honoured the scriptures. So he gave his first resurrection-blessing to his weak disciples.
Jesus died for our sins, and rose again, according to the scriptures, 1 Cor. xv. 3. His whole work on earth was, to fulfil the scriptures. So he honoured them: and herein he has left disciples an example. Prize the word of truth, study it constantly, pray over it daily. By it the Spirit teacheth knowledge. The scriptures are the sword of the Spirit: Satan will fly before them, because they testify of Jesus. Here, then, is an evidence of a true disciple. Jesus hath opened his understanding to understand the scriptures. Hath the Lord thus blessed thee? Then thou seest Jesus to be the sum and substance of the scriptures, therefore wilt esteem them as thy companion, guide, and familiar