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Satisfied with earth, he feels no desire for heaven, except as it presents to his mind an exemption from pain axd suffering All men naturally prefer ease to pain.
Hence heaven on this account is preferable to hell. Such is the estimate which wretched fallen man forms of heavenly bliss. Ignorant of himself, and ignorant of God, he is led captive by Satan at his will, till sovereign grace redeem him out of the hand of the enemy.
The first secret which the divine Spirit discloses to the awakened conscience is, our lost and undone state by nature.
This discovery is attended with the deepest selfabasement; with brokenness of heart; with anxious desires after salvation ; & salvation from present sin, as well as from future punishment.
The convinced sinner, made sensible of the guilt and burden of transgression, now longs for heaven, as a state of rest from sin, as well as a state of rest from suffering. But alas! feeling his inability to think a good thought, and overwhelmed with the view of his iniquities, he anxiously inquires, “ how shall man be just with God?” What must I do to be saved?
Another precious secret is revealed to his opening mind by the same Spirit, who so graciously implanted in his heart that fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom.
Jesus, as exhibited in the Gospel to a dying world, is savingly manifested to the humble, trembling, believing sinner, in all his glorious offices of prophet, priest, and king.
How kind is God, how full of mercy and love! When he implants a holy fear, he imparts also a principle of saving faith.
Jesus is now beheld and apprehended as the sin
ner's only atonement, righteousness, and refuge ; as the only way to the Father; and the only advocate with him. He is viewed by the eye of faith, as the chief among ten thousand. He is esteemed precious, above all earthly or heavenly objects.
Angels and men, as his creatures, sink into the shade, whilst the glories of Emmanuel, God with us,
seen to fill heaven and earth with their resplendent brightness.
The next great secret which the Spirit reveals to those who truly fear God, is the fitness of Jesus to all the wants of his people. Being delighted with the perfections of the Saviour, the believer is filled with admiration and gratitude at the view of their suitableness to his own personal necessities.
He now loves to contemplate his gracious Redeemer, both as to what he is in himself; and as to what he is to his people. He knows how to appreciate and to apply, through the teaching of the Spirit, the excellencies of Jesus to his own soul. He comes to him daily for wisdom, righteousness, and strength. He leans wholly upon his supporting arm. He lives upon the promises of his grace, and rejoices in hope of the glory of God. He delights in this way of access by faith to a mercy-seat ; obtains through Jesus the blessings he needs; and thus finds him at all times his all in all. This is happiness. This is the King's high-way to heaven. This is the way in which the flock of Christ have trod in every age. Lord, lead me forth by the footsteps of the flock. Make me a follower of them, who through faith and patience are inheriting the promises.
But this is not all. The sinner is not only made to see his lost estate by nature; the glories of the Redeemer; and the Saviour's fitness to all his necessities: but another gracious secret is unfolded to him. He is enabled to know and to rejoice in his own personal interest in all the blessedness of his purchased inheritance. He can say with the church of old : “This is my beloved, and this is my friend." “ This God is my God." “ God is become my salvation." “I know whom I have believed.”
This sweet assurance begets humility, gratitude, zeal, and obedience. It quickens love, and animates faith. It increases watchfulness and holy circumspection It lays the soul prostrate at the foot of the cross, whilst it elevates the affections to the pure regions where Christ sits at the right hand of God.
This is a precious secret, revealed to them who truly fear God; not always in equal measure, but in such a degree, and at such times, as infinite love and wisdom deem best.
All the children of God should strive after this blessed assurance of faith. It is not the presumption, but the exalted privilege of the obedient believer. Those have low views of Christian privilege, who deem it arrogant to expect the knowledge of the forgiveness of our sins.
All who believe with the heart unto righteousness; all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in since rity; all who walk humbly with their God; may know assuredly that their sins are blotted out; for “he pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy Gospel.
Lord, be thou graciously pleased to give me a holy, filial fear; a humble, loving, obedient spirit; a deadness to the world; and a devotedness of heart to thee; a renunciation of self, and a cordial reception of Christ, in all his saving merits and mercies. Thus, blessed Saviour! let me lie passive in thy hands, waiting thy presence, and desirous only that thy will may be accomplished in me, till it please thee to call me to thy kingdom above, where all darkness and doubt shall for ever flee away!
Amidst all these riches of grace, another secret is unfolded : that “ all things shall work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
Man is naturally anxious about tomorrow. He sees all dark before him, and imagination conjures up a thousand fears.
He suffers more from apprehended, than from real evils. He creates a world of misery to himself, by dire forebodings and anxious glances into future days. Not so, when faith, love, and filial confidence in God, his heavenly Father, fill his breast.
This gracious promise is then fulfiled; "thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee."
Calmly he leaves events with God. He studies to perform the present duty, and leaves the consequences with him who hath said: “seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all other things shall be added unto you.'
Such is the life of faith in the Son of God. It is a life of holiness and happiness. Many indeed are the afflictions of the righteous; afflictions peculiar to themselves, as well as afflictions endured in common with their fellow-men: but many also are their supports and consolations.
These are truly peculiar to themselves; unknown and unfelt by a suffering, unbelieving world. Even here, whilst sojourning through a vale of tears, they partake of the “ hidden manna ;” and draw many a refreshing draught from the fountain of living waters.
But their blessedness ends not here. The glorious secret which gladdens their hearts under all their sorrows, is their future destination. They shall be “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. They shall “ sit down with Christ on his throne," and “reign with him for ever and ever."
What heart can conceive the felicity of the redeemed, when all terrestrial things shall have passed away!
Lord, make me a tree of righteousness; and then I shall experience thy heavenly. beams of love! Should the rough wind of persecution, or needful trials, shake my branches, or even tear away many valued comforts, yet may I under every bereavement repose on thy faithfulness and rejoice in thy love.
As God in Christ is the fountain of all felicity, infinitely happy in himself, and the source of true felicity to his creatures; so their blessedness is founded on his truth, secured by his oath, and sealed by his blood; for “God, being willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us; which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil: whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”
O! what rich secrets are these, which are experimentally and practically made known to all who fear God. Such happy souls, may well join with the enraptured prophet, and say, "0! Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger
and thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is salvation : I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song: he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation."
Blessed Lord! reveal these Gospel secrets of grace
is turned away,