« PreviousContinue »
unsanctified reason, and cursed unbelief against faith. Its sensible groanings, and sorrowful complaints, are evidences of the life of the soul, through the faith of Jesus. But is the poor soul always to abide in this weak, low, mourning state? No; that cannot be. Jesus will make his members comfortable as well as safe. The Spirit who begets faith in the heart by the word, strengthens it also by the same truth. Faith comes by hearing the word, and is increased thereby. Therefore is Jesus and eternal life revealed. The apostles wrote, and ministers preach of this, that weak faith may be strengthened, strong faith increased; that knowledge may grow, and assurance be comfortably enjoyed; that believers may continue to believe, and persevere in believing, on the Son of God; who is the author and finisher of our faith," Heb. xii. 2.
May 28.-In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.—Isa. xlv. 24.
To trust in our own righteousness, and glory in our own strength, is natural to us all. But when any poor sinner "knows himself, even as he is known of the Lord,” he thinks otherwise. When he becomes a follower of the Lamb, he learns the language of Canaan, and says,
“I have no confidence in the flesh.” I subscribe with my whole heart to this confession of faith, “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.” That the Lord Jehovah is a God of righteousness, and almighty in strength, who will dare deny? But, by faith, we speak the most comfortable knowledge of covenant grace: I, a poor sinner, who am without strength, and destitute of righteousness in myself, have both strength and righteousness in Jehovah. What I am, a sinner by nature and practice, that Jesus became by imputation. What Jesus is in his nature, and by his life, perfectly righteous, that I am in him. In myself I have no might; but I am strong "in the Lord Jesus, and in the power of his might."
This is the glorious grace, the joyful truth of the everlasting covenant. Such honour have all the saints of Jesus ; his perfect righteousness is their clothing; his almighty strength their protection. Who then shall condemn them? what power can prevail against them? O believer! rejoice in thy privilege. This is our triumph against every accusation, “In Jesus I have righteousness." This is our victory over every enemy, , “In Jesus I have strength." Under the most discouraging views of my nature, as corrupt and sinful; my life and practice, as unrighteous ; the condemnings of the law, though just; the accusations of Satan, though grievous, yet in my glorious covenant Head and representative, I am made the righteousness of God. In the beloved Son of God, I am for ever accepted. Under the most dejecting sense of our own weakness, to withstand corruptions, get the mastery over sinful passions, and prevail against our enemies; though weak to perform any duty, insufficient to exercise any grace, unable to do the will of God, walk in his ways, and please him; yet ever, under all circumstances, the Spirit testifies of Jesus, "He is our strength and righteousness." All fulness is in him; and out of his fulness we receive grace for grace." Though “without Christ we can do nothing; yet, through Christ strengthening us, we can do all things." Here is the mystery of faith. And this is the work of faith, to receive God's word, and glory and rejoice in what that testifies God's Son is made to us. And he saith, “ Abide in me,” John xv. 4. .
MAY 29.-By grace are ye saved.—Eph. ii. 5. · O man of God, let not this “truth forsake thee; bind it about thy neck, write it upon the table of thine heart; it shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones," Prov. iii. 3, 8. In the faith of this thou wilt live in love and gratitude to God, in cheerful obedience to his sovereign will, and in confident hope of eternal glory. While thou wilt be daily dying to every carnal hope, and legal confidence, by the atonement and righteousness of Jesus, his grace will be all thy plea, all thy hope, and all thy glorying. Hereby thou wilt be kept humble, and walk safely. That “the foot of pride prevail not against us,” is a happy part of our glorious salvation, so as to submit to receive it, as entirely of grace, free favour, unconditional election, unmerited love, according to the good pleasure of the will of God the Father," Eph. i. 5. It is sovereign grace, therefore sure and saving, to all the seed of Christ. All in our nature is averse to it. Nothing in us could deserve a right, or procure a title to it. It is freely proclaimed to the wretched and hell-deserving, who have neither power nor inclination, to perform any terms and conditions to obtain an interest in it. But the Lord's hand laid the foundation; his power will raise the superstructure; "he will bring forth the headstone thereof, with shoutings of Grace, grace," Zech. iv. 7.
Salvation is by distinguishing grace. “One shall be taken and another left;" “one of a city and two of a family;" (Jer. iii. 14,) whomsoever the Lord is pleased to separate to himself, as vessels of honour. The effects of saving grace are distinguishing; it works effectually in them that believe: "they are called with a holy call. ing,” possess the faith of God's elect, experience repentance to salvation. They differ from their former selves, and are distinguished also from the world, “that lies in wickedness." Such a change grace wrought in Paul, that he who persecuted Jesus and his members, “preached the faith he once destroyed,” Gal. i. 23. So every subject of grace is changed, in judgment and affection. He no longer thinks grace is to assist him to do something to gain acceptance with God; but he knows, “God hath made us accepted in the Beloved, to the praise of the glory of his grace," Eph. i. 6. Hence his affections are placed upon the God of all grace, as his centre of happiness, and source of felicity. He delights “to run the way of God's commandments.” It is his joy, that Jesus flies upon the wings of love to his relief. He loves to fly on the wings of faith and love to him. He daily prays to be "filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ,” Phil. i. 11..
MAY 30.—Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.--Jer. xv. 10.
It is sweet consolation to new-born souls, to know the state they are come to. Verily, saith Paul, “ unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, and unto the heavenly Jerusalem;" even to all the glorious privileges of Christ's church and kingdom. The utmost stretch of thought comes infinitely short of our highly favoured state. See, also, the blessed company you are come to, "an innumerable company of angels, the general assembly of the church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling," Heb. xii. 22--24. And hath distinguishing grace thus honoured us? Shall the church, our mother, bring us forth? And will not the world take knowledge of us, that we have been with Jesus? That cannot be, for then we should be bastards and not sons. For all are partakers of the world's hatred, so soon as they appear to be the objects of God's love, and live, as his adopted children, by faith.
What a strict harmony is there between the prophets and saints of the Old Testament, and the apostles and disciples of Jesus under the New! What strong confirmation, that both are taught by the same Spirit!
For in this one truth they perfectly agree, “We are not of the world, therefore the world hateth us,” John xv. 19. But marvel not, saith our loving Jesus, it is not you, but I they hate. I am the principal object of hatred; you only for my sake. But poor souls are ready to cry out, “Woe is me!" Why am I always to live thus in strife and contention? Is not my deportment, towards the men of this world, quiet and inoffensive? No; they will not think so. Unless you do as they do, live as they live, follow their vain customs, and partake of their carnal joys. “I have neither borrowed nor lent.” Verily, this plea of excuse is the cause of offence. For this they will curse us, as overrighteous, precise fools. But, stoop to borrow their ways, and lend yourself to their customs and practices, cast in your lot with them, and all will be well; peace and friendship will subsist. But no; we prefer spiritual fellowship with Jesus above all; we dare not forsake him, nor incur our Father's displeasure. We know the friendship of the world is enmity with God.” “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God," James iv. 4.
MAY 31.-In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began.--Tit i. 2.
Christ's sheep are the trophies of his victory, the triumphs of his cross, and the glory of his crown. Though, naturally, captives and slaves to the god of this world; yet when rescued by sovereign grace, they hear the Shepherd's voice, and follow him. But at present they are prisoners of hope. The soul is imprisoned in the noisome walls of the flesh, exposed to many taunts and jeers of the enemy, and liable to many fresh rallies and onsets from the prince of darkness. Often, through our views being darkened, and from opposing lusts of the flesh, we fear, and are in doubt, whether we shall ever arrive at the glorious mansions of liberty and love.