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conscience, as faith grows and increases. For its fruits will be manifest and abound, in seeing sin's filthiness, feeling its burden, hating and resisting it ; striving to maintain a holy fellowship with God the Father, and his Son Jesus, through the Spirit, 1 John i. 7.
AUGUST 24.—The flesh lusteth against the Spirit.
Christian experience fully proves this apostolic truth. Hence, the children of God cannot do the things that they would. Nor have we any authority from God's word to conclude, this lusting ever ceases, in any of the saints, till they get to glory; none are delivered from it while in the flesh. For, as the renewed soul, or spirit, loves to enjoy spiritual and heavenly objects; so the flesh, or unrenewed part, lusts after those objects it is naturally conversant with, and from which it derives its happiness. Here is thy conflict, O christian! Hence the necessity of thy Lord's command, “Watch always." This is the use of the doctrine. .
What woeful effects has fulfilling the lusts or desires of the flesh, produced in eminent saints! Thou standest by faith ; be not high-minded, but fear. The conceptions of lust are the productions of sin, James i. 15. The commission of sin contracts fresh guilt. This is the malady of the soul. Hence the many symptoms attendant on guilt; legal fears, terrors of conscience, accusations from the law, triumphs of Satan, dejection of soul, distance from God, backwardness to duty, cool. ness of affection to Jesus, shyness at, or neglect of, a throne of grace. When poor souls have fallen, and are sensible of it, they feel the hurt they have received. Their hearts know the bitterness of it. Awful effects of fresh contracted guilt ! how much to be deplored ! how carefully to be watched against, and prayed to be kept from! But, whilst there is a fountain opened for sin and uncleanness," whilst Christ's “blood cleanseth from all sin," whilst the glad tidings of the gospel proclaim salvation by grace, for the chief of sinners, there is no ground for black despair to any backsliding chiliren of the God of love. Here is all encouragemento what? To love living at a distance from Jesus, and vie down and wallow in the mire of sin, because grace abounds? No godly soul can do this; for “the Spirit also lusteth against the flesh,” and renews again to repentance. Thus Luther, "The more godly a man is, the more doth he feel this battle between the flesh and the spirit. Hereof come those lamentable complaints in the Psalms and other scriptures. It profiteth us very much to feel, sometimes, the wickedness of our nature and corruption of the flesh, that we may be waked and stirred up to call upon Christ. So a christian is made to see Jesus a wonderful Creator, who out of heaviness can make joy; of terror, comfort; of sin, righteousness; and of death, life. This is our ground and anchor-hold, that Christ is our only and perfect righteousness."
AUGUST 25.–And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him ?-Judg. vi. 31.
When the Lord Jesus appears and manifests himself to the soul, it is so struck with his glory and grace, that it cries out in holy ecstasy, "What have I to do any more with idols ? Hos. xiv. 8. An altar for spiritual worship is presently set up in the heart, and consecrated to Jehovah-Shalom, the Lord of peace. In this chapter we have a sweet view of Gideon's zeal for the true worship of Jehovah. He instantly obeyed the word of Jesus, the Angel of the presence; the Man; the Peace who appeared to him; and at his command he cast down the altar of Baal. He expected opposition from his father's household and from the men of the city, therefore he did it by night. A blessed in.
stance of the obedience of faith joined to sanctified reason. As to the consequence after the work done, he conferred not with flesh and blood;" he was nothing terrified by his adversaries.” They demanded his life. But Joash his father was raised up, like the fire of zeal from the Lord, to argue with them. Will ye, ye men of Israel, ye professed people of Jehovah, will ye plead for Baal ? will ye serve an idol ? Be zealous, o disciple, for thy Lord, fear no consequences. The Lord is on thy side, what hast thou to fear from those who are against thee? be not discouraged, though thou dost find great professors, children of the visible church thy mother, yea, the children of thy Father's grace also, join in pleading, by word or practice, for Baal. This name signifies, he that rules: a master, lord, or husband. This may most justly be applied to sin in general, and every idol lust in particular. For “his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or obedience unto righteousness," Rom. vi. 16. Thou free-man, thou heaven-born son of the Lord, know thy freedom; study thy liberty ; strive, by the Spirit's aid, to live up to thy privilege, above the domineering power of lusts, the galling yoke of sin, in spite of all that professing men or opposing devils plead against it. Thy Saviour has all power in heaven and earth. Plead with him; expect power from him. Thou canst do all things through Christ strengthening thee. Faith surmounts every difficulty, silences carnal reasonings and vain pleadings from every quarter. While Jesus is viewed, sin is abhorred, holiness loved, desired, and shall be increased. “It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing," Gal. iv. 18.
AUGUST 26.-Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty: only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh.--Gal. v. 13.
Peter was grieved because his Lord asked him the third time, "Lovest thou me?" Surely it ought to be grief to loving disciples, to think they yet need this caution. But verily we all do. The most sanctified are yet in the flesh. And the flesh, with its affections and lusts, is ever lusting and striving against the spirit. The holy, happy soul, who is set at liberty from sin, Satan, and the law in his conscience, is hereby liable to be brought again under bondage to the law, and thraldom to sin. Know thy danger; dread thine enemy. Yea, rather fear and love thy best friend. Cry to him, Lord, keep me continually. Thou hast delivered my once captive soul from the power
of the enemy; brought me out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and ordered my goings, and put a new song in my mouth of praise to thee, my Jesus and my God, Psalm xl. 2, 3. Keep, Oh keep me, from the deceitful workings and carnal reasonings of my corrupt sinful self, the flesh!
What liberty are we called to ? Not a perfect freedom from the being of sin; but a perfect deliver. ance from every curse of the law ; from all the wrath of God denounced in the law; from the bondage of being under the law, to do anything to gain God's love, recommend us to his favour, or entitle us to his kingdom. All this liberty we are called into by the faith of Jesus. Oh, what a glorious liberty! freedom from all sin in the conscience; so to live upon Jesus as to consider ourselves in him, as perfectly free from all sin, entirely dead to it, and our conscience so cleansed by his blood, as to be easy and comfortable, as though we were innocent and never had sinned. Oh, this is heavenly liberty to new-born souls! This is daily to be prized, and enjoyed through the Spirit. But how base and ungrateful, ever to use, or rather abuse this liberty, as an occasion to the flesh? But the Lord's free-men are all in danger of this, through the vileness of their natures, the deceitfulness of their hearts, and the subtle devices of Satan; else Paul had not thus ad. dressed the brethren. The doctrines of grace, the love
of Jesus, and living on him by faith, lay the flesh under bondage and restraint. We cannot walk in the liberty of the Spirit, and yet fulfil the lusts of the flesh. Thou free-man of the Lord, "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made thee free,” Gal. v. 1.
AUGUST 27.-I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him.-Isa. lvii. 18.
What a glorious declaration of free grace and absolute promise of mercy is this! not excited by the worthiness of the creature; but proceeding solely from the loving heart of a covenant God. Well might David say, “In thy word do I trust: I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.” The life of the soul is supported by God's word. It is the object of faith, the life of hope, and excites love. Jesus is the essential Word, by whom Jehovah speaks. The scriptures reveal by the Spirit God's purposes, promises, and grace. Behold, be astonished and humbled, O soul, at thy apostasy, backsliding, and rebellion! Behold, admire, adore, and love the infinitely gracious procedure of the Father of all mercies.
Here is the criminal arraigned, iniquity charged upon him, God's displeasure declared, his chastising for it. This reclaims not. The Lord hides his loving face. withdraws the light of his countenance. What is the effect? froward behaviour still, walking on in his own ways contrary to the Lord. Might we not expect the next words to thunder curse and damnation ? Be astonished, 0 heavens! What readest thou? Is it, I have seen his ways and will damn him? Oh, no! But though I hate his ways, yet I love his soul. My superabounding grace shall reign and triumph over all the aboundings of sin. I will heal his soul; I will pardon him. Poor doubting soul, with thy legal frames, go and learn what that meaneth, "I will be gracious to