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By the grace of God I am what I am. 1 Cor. xv. 10.
BE this my motto, both as to my natural and spiritual life :-how else could I have existed at all ? Had not foreknowledge planned, and wisdom contrived, and power put every atom together, and fixed my scene of action, I had never been here. Nor is this God of grace less to be seen in every motion of my soul towards him ; had not every spring been in him, this table on which I lean had felt as much bias towards him as I. The first check of conscience, the first thrill of fear, the first view of guilt, the first tear of penitence, were all his own; the first drawings of the Spirit, the first sight of Christ, the first dawn of hope, were all his own; every succeeding step in the path of duty, every attainment in grace, every victory over the world and sin, every evidence and token of the safety of my everlasting state, and every sweet interval of communion I have had with him, were still all his own; and the last labour of love, the last act of faith, and conquest over sin, death, and hell, together with an admission into eternal glory, must and shall be all his own likewise. The spring is love; the mean is Christ; the footing firm; "the headstone shall be brought forth with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it;" and grace shall be crowned with everlasting glory.
Whate'er I am, whate'er I hope,
Proceeds from bounty of rich grace ;
And heals my spirit's sickly face.
Grace led me on the heavenly way,
Shall lodge me in eternity.
The love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus
judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they neho live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again.
2 Cor. v. 14, 15. If we have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, it will cause us to love God intensely, and to love and labour for the salvation of men. And as God so loved the world as to give his Son for it, and as Christ so loved the world as to give his life for it, so we, influenced by the very same love, will desire to spend and be spent for the glory of God, and the salvation of immortal souls. And if the love and power of Christ constrain us, we must needs be meditating and relying on him and his death. This will cut off all workings of our own, and make room for Christ to work everything in us, and through us. O Lord, may thy love on the cross fire my frozen heart also; that I may now begin to love and praise thee purely and fervently, and to offer my whole life up to thee as an entire sacrifice of love.
Now, sinners, dry your tears,
Let hopeless sorrows cease;
And take the offer'd peace.
We lay an humble claim
And love and praise thy name!
To an immortal tune;
Celestial grace has done.
Its chief Beloved chose,
From sin's destructive woes !
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy
might ; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither
thou goest. Eccles. ix. 10. The business of life is to glorify God, and to work out our own salvation; all other concerns are subordinate to these ; " the time is short; as the tree falleth, so it lieth ;” and where death strikes down, there God lays out either for mercy or misery; so that I may compare it to the Red Sea; if I go in an Israelite, my landing shall be in glory, and my rejoicing in triumph, to see all mine enemies dead upon the sea shore ; but if I go in an Egyptian; if I be on this side of the cloud, on this side the covenant, and go in hardened among the troops of Pharaoh, justice shall return in its full strength, and an inundation of judgment shall overflow my soul for ever. Or I may compare death to the sleep of the ten virgins, of whom it is said, “ They all slumbered and slept;" we shall all fall into this sleep. Now, if I lie down with the wise, I shall go in with the bridegroom ; but if I sleep with the foolish, without oil in my lamp, without grace in my soul, I have closed the gates of mercy upon me for ever! I see then this life is the time wherein I must go forth to meet the Lord; this is the hour wherein I must do my work; and the day wherein I must be judged, according to my works, is at hand. I know not how soon I may fall into this sleep ; therefore, Lord, grant that I may live every day in thy sight, as I desire to appear the last day in thy presence.
Awake my sluggish soul,
The heav'nly race to run;
For night is drawing on.
Sin is a reproach to any people. Prov. xiv. 34. Be not deceived therefore with false notions of faith. Where there is true faith, no sin has dominion. Sin will be ever stirring, often raging, and sometimes prevailing; but never reigning where true faith is. A believer, through a strong and sudden temptation, may be captivated by sin, but he is no willing captive; he hates sin, and prays and watches against it; and as faith increases,
power over sin increases too, and the image of God waxes brighter in his heart. A man having no feeling of the desperate wickedness of his heart, may imagine he has faith enough ; but being once convinced of that, he soon perceives that it is the hardest thing in the world to believe; it requires the same power by which Christ was raised from the dead. St. Paul most emphatically describes it with six remarkable words, Eph. i, 19, 20. How then can any man think it an easy matter to believe ? O the dreadful blindness and security which all the world runs into! May the Lord open their eyes !
Lord, how secure my conscience was,
And felt no inward dread!
And thought my sins were dead.
But since the precept came
I find how vile I am!
Under the pow'r of sin ;
Nor keep my conscience clean.
For thy kind pow'r to save,
And thus redeem the slave !
At the commandment of the Lord, the children of
Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the Lord they pitched; and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents. And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the Lord, and journeyed not. Num. ix. 18, 19.
Thus the spiritual Israelites; they ought not to undertake anything from their own will, lest confusion and disappointment should encompass every path. The unconverted are full of their own will ; how should they succeed! They are bewildered here, and run into perdition eternally. Sometimes the faithful may, with a good design, when they are engaged in a good work, outrun the will of God, and not wait for his counsel. And yet the Israelites journeyed not, though the cloud tarried many days, and they might imagine they were losing time on their journey. O my God, grant that in all things, even in my best works, I may be guided by thine eye, and wait for thy counsel with a resigned temper. May I speak or be silent, work or rest, when and as thou wilt. Then shall my ways be blest, and thou wilt never leave me nor forsake me. And
I remember that God guides the way of his saints by a merciful dispensation of his providence, and in that dispensation he proportions the burden to the back that is to bear it; and that he 6 tempers even the blast to the shorn lamb."
My God, the steps of pious men
Are ordered by thy will ;
Thy hand supports them still !