Page images

the graces of his children into exercise. His eyes are ever upon them, his ears open to their prayers, and his almighty power and grace sufficient to deliver them. But, he that believeth, must not make haste." We must tarry the Lord's leisure, and be strong in hope. His time is best. It is his will we should tell him of our trials and temptations. After we have done this, "we have need of patience,” to wait the fulfilment of his promise. This is our duty.

Paul prayed again and again; still the buffetings were continued; his mind was harassed, his soul distressed, the enemy triumphed, the Lord seemed as though he heard not. Prayer and patience must go hand in hand. Murmurings are the offspring of unbelief. Fretfulness arises from pride. To lie humble at the feet of Jesus is our wisdom. Never indulge one hard thought of our Saviour's will to make thee holy, or his power to make thee happy; though sin and Satan, like unwelcome visitors, daily intrude, appear in various shapes, attack from different quarters, and seem in some sort, to gain upon thee in thought, word, or action. When inwardly discomposed by unholy tempers, and outwardly harassed by various temptations, poor souls are too ready to think the war will end in their destruction; that Jesus will never give complete victory. But he most assuredly will. In due time we shall reap, if we faint not. Let it suffice, that the triumphant Head in glory says to each of his militant members on earth, " My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." This was the precious, humbling, joyful lesson Christ taught Paul; and which he will also make all his dear members learn. Importunate praying, humble waiting, coufident believing, comfortable hoping, are of the very life and essence of a christian. And let our besetting temptations and conflicting trials be what they may, it is our blessed privilege to write with the pen of faith, “Who, or what, shall separate us from the love of Christ? Nay, in all things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us,” Rom. viii. 35, 37.

FEB. 28.-Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.Luke xxiii. 43.

Unbelief, how great its power! how strong its influence! It would for ever blind all our eyes, and harden all our hearts against Jesus and his grace; but “he shall divide the spoil with the strong." The prophet's prediction is here clearly fulfilled, the sovereignty of grace fully displayed. Our Lord's doctrine is truly verified in these two thieves: “One shall be taken, the other left,” Matt. xxiv. 40. Pride is the companion of unbelief. This keeps men in obstinacy; they will not see, they will not believe, they will not bow to God's sovereignty. But doth our Lord bring sinners to glory without faith, repentance, and holiness? Doth he leave his people in their sins and rebellions ? No; blessed be his name, Jesus is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour: he gives repentance and remission of sins. So he saves “his people from their sins.” So he makes them happy in his love, by the secret power of the Spirit's inward operations. Who made these two companions in sin, these blasphemers of Jesus, to differ? Grace, sovereign, distinguishing, almighty grace did this wonderful work, “and it is marvellous in our eyes." How rapid its power! how swift its course! In one moment a railer against Jesus is changed to a believer in him; a proud rebel, to an humble suppliant; a selfjustifying sinner, to a Christ-exalting saint; in a moment converted, pardoned, sanctified, and made meet for glory; to-day hell-deserving, to day in paradise. Thus the thief believed with his heart unto righteousness, and made confession with his mouth unto salvation.

What hath grace done! what is it not able to effect !

Sweetest encouragement to the vilest of sinners, to look to Jesus; strongest assurance for the weakest believers, to abide in him. “Lord Jesus, remember me,” proceeds from grace in the heart of his members.

Thou shalt be with me in paradise,” is the gracious answer from the tongue of the head. It was the grace of our Lord Jesus that saved this thief, this highwayman, and translated him from a gallows on earth to a crown in glory. The most amiable character, the most upright person hath nothing else to look to, or trust in, but the cross of Christ alone for salvation. This is all our glorying. By the death of Jesus we are saved. Touched by the cross, we live. The Spirit, which enables the soul to believe on Jesus, conforms it to him, makes it meet for the heavenly inheritance, Col. i. 12.

FEB. 29. LEAP YEAR.—One born out of due time. -1 Cor. xv. 8.

God's children want no other, they can have no better proof of the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession of their Jesus, than what the scriptures afford. They say with their Master, “Thy word is truth,” John xvii. 17. They wish to have no other ideas of God, of Christ, and of themselves, than what the scriptures impress on their minds. They are fully satisfied of their hope of salvation, by Jesus only. This is the reasoning of their faith, "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater," 1 John v. 9. God has borne witness to his Son Jesus, in every type, ceremony, and prophecy of the Old Testament, and by such signs, miracles, and even by his voice from heaven in the New, as are incontestable. And beside all these, the Spirit of God bears the inward testimony of faith that our Jesus is risen. For we find our hearts attracted to him, our affections set on him, and we enjoy sweet fellowship with him. This is of distinguishing grace.

" One shall be taken and another left." This

is "hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes." What shall we say to this? "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Such humble sentiments are in all who have the mind of Christ. So Paul, when he saw himself a miracle of grace, accounted himself an abortion in nature; as mean, as contemptible, as a child born by miscarriage, before its due time and proper growth; "the least of all the apostles.” Yea, as though he wanted words fully to express the opinion he had of himself, not only a sinner, but the chief of sinners; not only the least, but "less than the least of all saints,” Eph. iii. 8. Paul had now done with his notions of fulfilling terms and conditions, to obtain God's favour, and entitle himself to salvation. Oh, now Christ was revealed in him! He saw his glory, full of grace and truth. This stained all his former pride, laid his honour in the dust, and stopped his mouth to selfrighteous confidence and human glorying. Strange pre-requisites Paul possessed, to qualify him for the grace of God! Yet, no one sinner by nature can boast of any better. But the same Lord, who wrought effectually in Peter, was mighty in Paul; and he also converts every redeemed soul to Jesus. Let us not envy others their lofty thoughts of themselves; nor murmur against our Saviour, for keeping us low and humble.

But, if Paul had, if all the children of God have such mean, contemptible thoughts of themselves, are so little and base in their own eyes, will not Satan attack, and aim to distress them? Doubtless he will. For where he cannot delude sinners into a notion that they are righteous, and perfect in themselves, he aims to dig. tress them, for want of perfection. In the day of health, in the time of sickness, and, perhaps most powerfully, in the hour of death, Satan will inject into the mind these fiery darts : "You a child of God, you a member of Jesus, you, who never loved God so perfectly, served him so faithfully, nor obeyed him so sincerely as you ought! In all things you have sinned. His law curses ye may stand

you. His justice is incensed against you. His wrath is ready to fall on you. Your faith is fancy. Your hope delusion. Hell will be your portion." Oh, what can any poor sinner say to all this? what can he do against all this? Say? Glorify his Lord, by confessing, Lord, I am damned, but thou hast died : but for thy salvation, my state is as desperate as devils. What can he do? Honour his Lord, by obeying his word, “Put on the whole armour of God, that in the evil day; and above all, (or rather, upon all other parts of it,) take the shield of faith, whereby ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one,” Eph. vi. 16. Fiery darts! Yes, being dipt in the wrath and terrors of a broken law, they wound, inflame, and bring the fire of hell into the conscience. What is this shield of faith? The belief that Jesus is to us sinners, a Saviour; that his blood has perfectly atoned for our sins; his righteousness has fully justified our persons;

and that there is no condemnation to us. Thus shall these fiery darts of Satan be quenched, and our consciences healed. This, and nothing but this can effect it. Mind this precious word, “Ye shall be able." The ability of our faith is nothing less than the almighty power of Jesus our God. This is engaged for us. By this we shall stand against every assault of Satan. And all shall issue in present peace of conscience, and eternal salvation of soul. This is the glory of a christian, to resist Satan in the faith of what Jesus is to him, and hath done for him. We are sure to overcome him by the blood of the Lamb; but in no other way. Shortly, our God of peace shall for ever bruise Satan under our feet. We shall return and come to Zion with songs, (of free grace,) and everlasting joy shall be on our heads, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away, Isa. Xxxv. 10.

« PreviousContinue »