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And, on the same account, and for the same reason, "alive unto God, through Jesus Christ.”
Now, believer, how dost thou reckon, reason, and conclude of thy spiritual estate? because thou dost not find all sin dead in thee, but feelest the motions of sin stirring and raging for the mastery over thee, dost thou from hence judge of thy state, and conclude thou hast nut the faith of God's elect? Alas, this will distress thy soul, weaken thy confidence of faith, administer life and vigour to thy lusts, and bring death upon thy spiritual life of comfort, love, and holiness. The word of God is the only rule of our faith; by that we are to determine of our state. Though sin be alive in us, yet we are reckon ourselves dead to that; so as to have nothing to do with it. Though thou groanest under“ a body of death,” yet thou art to conclude thyself" alive unto God through Jesus Christ.” Reckon thyself dead to that sin of sins, unbelief. This is the life of all other sins. Be deaf to its reasonings, dead to its pleas. Both dishonour thy Lord, and rob thy soul of its comfort.
Here is the mystery of faith: this is to be held in a pure conscience. There is freedom from sin, and access to God with boldness. Here is the victory of saints. Here is the triumph of truth against all our enemies, to the death of sin and the life of holiness. Hence, through the Spirit of truth, springs our daily comfort, continued growth in grace, in the knowledge of Jesus, and in personal holiness of life and conversation.
SEPT. 1.-For if, when we were enemies, we reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.—Rom.
Hearing, near thirty years ago, a certain preacher
vehemently assert, that souls might be justified by faith in Jesus, and yet afterwards burn in hell; my soul was brought into great darkness, perplexity, and distress. By this very text, glory to my dear Lord, he again restored light, peace, and joy to my soul ; clearly taught, and comfortably established me in the scripture doctrine of the certain perseverance of all God's saints to eternal glory. I record this, to the praise of our dear Lord, and the comfort of his people.
“If, when we were enemies ;"---to whom? our worst foe, Satan? No: but to our best Friend, God, the God of our salvation ; to Jesus, our God and Saviour ; to God the Spirit, our Sanctifier; to the gospel of his grace, and word of our salvation. Oh, what a precious word is this! “reconciled to God." God in Christ was reconciled to us. Oh, what love and grace ever dwelt in his heart to us, enemies, traitors, and rebels against him! this he manifested in reconciling us to himself. How? "By the death of his Son." O my fellow-sinners! at every step, let higher wonder rise in your hearts and mine. The cross of Jesus, what hath it done for us! Jesus dying on the cross, Oh, what hath it effected in us! Here we view, believe, and know God's love to us. This belief slays the enmity of our rebellious hearts, bows our stubborn wills, and attracts our alienated affections. We throw down our arms; embrace our reconciled God; desire for ever to cease all hostility against him. “Much more, being reconciled;" to God's purposes, providence, and grace, his way of salvation by his Son Jesus; submitting to his righteousness for justification, to his sceptre to be governed, to his Spirit to be led, and to his gospel to be saved and ruled. What then? being thus reconciled, may we not be cast off at last, and burn in hell for ever? Yes, if Jesus can die, perish, and be annihilated; but not otherwise. For, how "much more shall we be saved by his life !" By faith we receive the atonement of his death. This is the life of our souls. By his life of intercession for us, we are as safe, and as sure of glory,
as if already seated in the heavenly mansions : unless Christ shed his blood in vain, God reconciles us to himself in vain ; our faith is vain; the work of God's Spirit is vain ; and all the promises of God are in vain, and of no effect. But all this is utterly impossible. God's purpose according to election shall stand, not of works, but of him who calleth, Rom. ix. 11.
SEPT. 2.-He shall glorify me.—John xvi. 14.
The gospel is suited to our indigent state and distressed circumstances. But we are averse to receive it, in the love of it, because of our lofty spirit, and pride of heart. Any system that exalts and glorifies us in our own eyes, and in the sight of others, we are, naturally, very fond of. This notion we do not easily part with. To imagine ourselves possessed of some inherent good dispositions, and amiable tempers, which put us upon more respectable terms in the sight of God, and gain his favour; this we are apt to mistake for the work of the Spirit upon the heart. But, as this notion leads from the faith and hope of the gospel, opposes the glory of Jesus, lays another foundation than him for hope, and tends to plume the creature with pride and vanity; we are taught to detest it, as the spirit of antichrist and delusion. This God severely reproves his church of old for: “Thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown," Ezek. xvi. 15.
But the Spirit, who effects the marriage union between the Lamb and his bride, does nothing upon the heart that it should trust in, to attract the affections from Jesus, or produce incontinency of behaviour to him. “The Spirit shall glorify, not himself as the agent, not yourselves as the subject of his operations, but, he shall glorify me," saith Jesus, in your sight and affections. He shall bear witness to my person and offices, the relation I stand in to you; that justification
is solely by my righteousness, atonement by my one sacrifice, and pardon of sin by my blood; that I am your Priest, ever before the throne, representing your persons, and pleading your cause. So shall you find peace in me, live daily on me, and rejoice only in me.
Thus, while the Spirit exalts and glorifies Christ only, our hearts are comforted in truth, and sanctified in love, to his honour and service. Thus he makes Jesus precious to us; because we see the Father's love, diffusing itself through his pierced heart to ours, by the Holy Ghost given to us. Hence we become alive in our spirits and affections to God, and dead to self-righteous, self-glorying views. We die daily to carnal lusts and corrupt affections, which we know tend to dishonour our dear Lord, are contrary to his will, degrade our souls, and rob us of heart-felt communion with him. The more Jesus is thus glorified, and we abide in him, so much the more are we enabled to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit to his praise and glory. as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,” Rom. viii. 14.
" As many
SEPT. 3.-Who maketh thee to differ from another? -1 Cor. iv. 7.
Few perhaps will reply, in the very words of a haughty Arminian, “I, of myself, made myself to differ; since I could resist God, and divine predetermination, but have not. Why then may I not glory in myself?” Yet such is the proud language of all our hearts by nature. We are fond of vain glory. Awful declaration of our Lord's! “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account of in the day of judgment." Who then can be saved ? I humbly conceive, these idle words imply, proud, self-righteous, self-sufficient words, maliciously spoken in contempt of the sovereign, distinguishing grace of God, free justification by the righteousness of Jesus, and full salvation by his finished
work only. So, "Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord,” Mal. iii. 13. The whole of Matt. xii. seems to prove this sense, and the context confirms it. “By thy words thou shalt be justified;" that is, by the confession of thy mouth, arising from the belief of thy heart, of salvation by grace, through the Son of God, thou shalt be justified. “And by thy words thou shalt be condemned;" that is, as thy words betray the pride and unbelief of thy heart, in not submitting to the sovereignty of God's grace, and free salvation by his beloved Son, thou shalt be condemned. “He that believeth not, is condemned already,” John iii. 18.
Yet, we dare not deny what the Holy Spirit hath done in us. By this we differ from others, and our former selves when in our natural state. 1. We are made to differ in our speech. We dare not speak of ourselves, but as poor sinners, who never have done, nor can do any thing, to make ourselves differ in state or practice. Ž. We are made to differ in judgment. We no longer set our dear Saviour at nought, nor so lightly esteem the love of God, as to think, we can gain an interest in Jesus, and procure a title to God's favour, by our own works. But we firmly believe, God “hath made us accepted in the Beloved, to the praise of the glory of his grace," Eph. i. 6. Hence, 3. Our affections are turned to God, in Christ, by the power of the Spirit; Jesus is our delight, and our glory. The chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. His love, person, offices, and work, so enamour us, and endear him to our hearts, that we continually long to know him more. 4. Our practice, also, is hereby influ. enced to hate and forsake the trifling conversation, vain amusements, and sinful vanities of a wicked world. For, “our fellowship is with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ," 1 John i. 3.