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Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual
blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Eph. i. 3. FROM natural constitution we earnestly expect present gratification. It is by no means sufficient, therefore, to explain to us our duty, or enforce it by future rewards and punishments. There must be pleasures at hand, to outweigh the enticements of sin, and outbid whatever that sorceress can offer. The religion of Jesus is constituted in this manner : it brings the possession of the best happiness here-a rich foretaste in this life of heavenly glory. Salvation cometh of the Lord to the sinner upon believing, just as a most ample estate bequeathed to a beggar in debt; at once it alters his whole condition, pays all he owes, supplies all he wants, gives him rank, figure, and authority, to which before he was a perfect stranger. Such blessedness in the pardon of all my sins, in access to God with confidence, in victory over my spiritual enemies, give me, O my God, to enjoy!
Thou only Sov'reign of my heart,
My refuge, my almighty Friend;
On whom alone my hopes depend !
On these my fainting spirit lives ;
Than all the round of nature gives.
While thou art near in vain they call;
My dearest Lord, outweighs them all.
Here safety dwells and peace divine;
For life, eternal life, is thine 1
Spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy
stakes ; for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. I sa. liv. 2, 3.
How comfortable is it to the religious man to behold an increase of the true worshippers of God! and more especially in that place where, his soul has dwelt among lions, and been“ vexed from day to day with the filthy conversation of the wicked !” To see the banner of CHRIST set up there, and numbers flock unto it, as doves to their windows; to see the kingdom of Satan weaken and contract, and the kingdom of God and his Christ strengthen and enlarge ; to see the hand of the Lord protecting and providing for his people ; going before them like the pillar and cloud, refreshing them by day and by night: this is indeed a feast of fat things. Lord, grant that I may be thankful for what I have already seen, and may behold thy glory thus displayed more and more. And while thou lengthenest our cords, do thou help us to strengthen our stakes, by holding fast the form of sound words, living as persons professing godliness, shewing that we are Christians indeed, by love to each other, and keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace! Thus shall our light shine before men, and the light of thy Gospel break forth on the right hand and on the left, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.
Arise, thou son of Righteousness,
bless the world with heavenly light; Break forth, and shew thy Gospel grace,
Attended with thy Spirit's might.
If a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not
crowned except he strive lawfully (2 Tim. ii. 5); namely, in faith, by which we have the victory. And as the enemies return again and again, and are always crafty and strong, we must continually be in arms. Until now the king
dom of heaven suffereth violence. Matt. xi. 12. With what is all this striving, and against what is this violence to be used ? Let the Christian him who strives lawfully, tell. All hell opens every step he takes. He is determined to have his soul saved ; and to help him to this, all his sins, all his evil companions, are to be fought and vanquished. But to win heaven, he must strive lawfully, that is, strive in faith. If those cannot expect to be crowned who strive, but not lawfully, what must become of those who do not strive at all. O Lord, strengthen me therefore to get the victory, for it greatly exalts thy glory if the power of mine enemies be broken ; and thy grace is able to overcome the greatest power of sin, and will destroy it effectually at last, since thou hast promised that
conquer, while sin is condemned to death, and is actually dying more and more, when nailed to the cross of CHRIST.
Stand up my soul, shake off thy fears,
And gird the Gospel armour on;
Where thy great Captain Saviour's gone.
And waste the fury of his spite,
To fiery deeps and endless night.
'Tis but a strugaling gasp for life;
Shall slay thy sins and end the strife.
It is not of him that willeth, but of God that shem
eth mercy. Rom. xi. 16. Thou hast a little strength. Rev. iii. 8. But go in this thy might,
&c. Surely I will be with thee. Judges vi. 14, 16. A LITTLE strength is also the strength of God through Christ, the second Adam, and consequently stronger than the power of Satan and the first Adam, should it seem ever so strong. Believers in such a state may think themselves weaker than before they had any grace, not being able now to put such a force upon themselves as formerly, because they dare not now be wrought on by pride: for they no longer swim with the stream, and experience no resistance; but swimming against the stream, feel the force of the current of lust. But it is to be remembered, that hypocrisy and proud nature, desirous of being seen, can outdo grace in many outward things, and have a better appearance in the eyes
for real Christians, not being willing to be worked
upon by nature any longer, and yet having but little strength, cannot put such a constraint upon themselves continually, but they may be in this manner tossed to and fro; which the Lord wisely permits for their good, to convince them the
1ore of their own insufficiency and nothingness, hat they may rely on the strength of the Lord. Therefore we must not give over praying and hoping in this case; but as it is only the mercy and power of CHRIST, which preserves and strengthens the poor and feeble, we rather ought to be more earnest in drawing near to him with all our misery, weariness, and nakedness.
Mere mortal power shall fade and die,
And youthful vigour cease;
Shall feel our strength increase.
If after they have escaped the pollutions of the
world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse
with them than the beginning. 2 Peter ii. 20. SOME affirm that experienced Christians meet with no strong temptations, and feel no evil suggestions from within, and of consequence, no strivings against the same; but it is quite the contrary; for beginners strive generally more against the outward pollutions of the world, whilst the experienced turn their force more against their inward and spiritual iniquities. Therefore take heed to your spirit, though your meaning be ever so good, and your assurance ever so great. Be not high-minded, for fear of falling. Beware of all sins; for the least may unawares, and by degrees, draw thee into many others, so as to be at last entangled in such a manner, that without great watchfulness, it will be impossible to be disengaged; therefore be not deceived; flee all occasions of sin. Say not within thyself, It is a light matter, it only concerns outward things, which do not belong to the essence of Christianity; for such outward liberty is a sure evidence of a false inward levity of mind. And by conforming to the world, we give a good handle to the enemy of souls to ruin us; and by sad experience, we shall be convinced in time that our latter end is worse than the beginning.
O for a persevering power
To keep thy just commands;
No more pollute our hands.
In Jesus every hour,
Nor feel the Tempter's power.