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When a merchant sends out his fleet on a trading voyage, he is not sure of the event. His ships may arrive at the desired haven, and return with the wished increase, or they may founder on their passage, and both cargoes and crews be lost. Or, when a person takes a far journey, he has no assurance of safety. He cannot pre-discern what is before him ; nor whether he shall come back to his house in peace, or no. Such is the uncertainty of earthly transactions with regard to our fore-knowledge of them. We cannot tell what a day, what a moment, may bring forth. The issue of things lies hid in the womb of futurity, till Providence and time make manifest the determinations of God, by bringing those determinations to pass.

Not so clouded are the better things which relate to a better life. The feeblest seeker of salvation by the blood of the Lamb, and the meanest hungerer after the kingdom and righteousness of Jesus, may be assured beforehand that the kingdom shall be his. The inseparable blessings of grace and glory are styled “the sure mercies of David” (Acts xiii

. 34), the sacred, i.e., the inviolably certain, and the faithful things of David, i.e., of Christ; or more conformably to the original passage in Isaiah, “ the sure benefits of David,” meaning, the infallible certainty of those benefits, such as pardon, justification, sanctification, final perseverance, and eternal happiness, which are secured to the Church by virtue of that unalterable covenant subsisting between the Father, the Spirit, and Christ, the Antitype of David, in behalf of all who shall be made to believe through grace. This everlasting covenant of peace and salvation, entered into with God the Son by the other Two divine Persons, Paul had in view when he says, God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel (of his decree), confirmed it by an oath : that by two unchangeable things [namely, His decree and oath], wherein it is impossible for God to falsify, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us ” (Heb. vi. 17, 18).

Now, as Abram literally set forward from the land of his nativity, so, in a figurative sense, does every person who is effectually called by grace. By nature we are insensible of our sinful state, and ignorant of our extreme danger; impenitent and unbelieving, and (which argues the utmost blindness and depravation) self-righteous, though unholy. This is a compendious map of the natural man He is a native of Mount Sinai; born under a covenant of works; fondly expecting to be justified by the deeds of the law, though he has broke the law more or less in every particular.

From this legal state of insensibility, impenitence, unbelief, self-righteousness, and bondage to sin, every child of God is

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delivered by the effectual operation of the Holy Ghost. Ignorant no longer of the danger to which we were obnoxious by reason of original and actual sin, we have recourse to Christ alone, as Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Retrieved from absolute unbelief, we feel the necessity of Christ, and throw ourselves upon the grace of God in Him for deliverance from the wrath to come, and rest upon the righteousness of Christ as the sole procuring cause of our acceptance in the Father's sight. And now we pant after inward conformity to the divine image, and outward conformity to the divine law. Whosoever is brought thus far is more than half-way to the kingdom of heaven. He has made, through grace, a good progress on the road to Zion, and shall go on from strength to strength, till he appear before God in glory.

Yet let not the follower of Christ cause the way of truth to be ill-spoken of, or bring an evil report on the good land by needless rigour and by affected severity. Do not sullenly reject the gifts of Providence, under a pretence of superior sanctity ; but use them without abusing them. If you have them not, be not anxious after them. If you have them, enjoy them in the fear and to the glory of God. Gnat-strainers are too often camelswallowers; and the Pharisaical mantle of superstitious austerity is very frequently a cover for a cloven foot. Take heed however, o believer in Christ, of verging to the opposite extreme. Beware of a supine, lukewarm, libertine spirit. Watch unto prayer; guard against negligence. Advance not to the uttermost bounds of your liberty. It is a just remark, which I have somewhere met with, that the best way to be secure from falling into a well is not to venture too near the brink. Swim not with the stream, if the tide roll downward ; neither follow a multitude to do evil. It is the duty of a Christian ‘not to be ashamed of being singularly good, especially in an age like this, when so many are not ashamed of being eminently bad. Better go with a few to heaven than to go with much and polite company to hell. He that fears men, and seeks to please men, at the expense

of Gospel truths or of good morals, is not an honest man, much less a servant of Christ. If you find-as in some instances you probably will—that even things in themselves indifferent, prove a snare, an entanglement, and a hindrance to you, in running the race that is set before you, pluck out those things, be they what they may, and cast them from you, though they be useful as a right hand, or as tender as a right eye.

If the believer's journey should prove a long one—i.e., should he live to be far advanced in years—he must expect to meet with diversity of paths. The face of the country will not always be the same. Even with regard to temporal things, perhaps, he may experience a vicissitude of ups and downs. Sometimes the road will go rough; sometimes smooth. To-day, it may be, he is high on the mount; tomorrow, low in the valley. Now, his way is carpeted with moss; anon, it is planted with the prickling briar and the grieving thorn. But remember, O child of God, that both one and the other is thy Father's ground ; that thou art still in the land of providence, and that the land of providence is also a land of grace to them who are strangers and pilgrims upon earth. So likewise, in a spiritual sense, when faith is in lively exercise, we may be said to travel through a rich, level, open country, where all is easy, lightsome, and pleasant. Soon, perhaps, may faith sicken-sicken it may, but, blessed be God, it cannot die--and hope may flag its wing ; fear may set upon thee, as a strong man armed, and the overshadowing of doubt may for a while eclipse thy comforts. In that case, let the believer still go forward as well as he can. The way will mend and the prospect brighten in God's good time ; and, in the meanwhile, that precious promise will be fulfilled, “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as is thy day, so shall thy strength be” (Deut. xxxiii. 25). If thou canst not go on, sit down; but let it be by the wayside. Wait, but let it be at Jacob's well. Ply the ordinances of God, and the God of ordinances will come to thee and bless thee. When poor Hagar, overwhelmed with distress of mind, and quite exhausted with fatigue of body, threw herself on the ground, unable to walk a step further, an angel was sent to point her to a fountain which she knew not of, and to give her the oil of joy for mourning, and a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Godly sorrow ever was, and ever will be, the peculiar care and the tenderest object of Almighty love.

Travellers need not be told that the weather is not always uniformly the same. At times, the affections of a saint are warm, sublime, and strongly drawn up to God and divine things. Anon, his affections may gravitate, grow numbed, and cold ; and, like an eagle that is pinioned, be scarce able to creep where once they used to fly. Yet, be not cast down. You may, like Samson, be shorn of your locks for a season ; but they will grow again, and your strength shall return as heretofore. Remember that comfortable frames, though extremely desirable, are not the foundation of your safety. Our best and ultimate happiness is grounded on an infinitely firmer basis than anything in us can supply. The immutability of God, the never failing efficacy of Christ's mediatorial work, and the invariable fidelity of the Holy Ghost, are the triple rock on which thy salvation stands : whence that of the Apostle, “ The foundation of the Lord [i.e., the decree or covenant of the Lord] standeth sure; having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His.” And, again,

“Though we believe not (though we may occasionally reel and stagger and faint], yet He [faith's unchangeable Author and immoveable Supporter) abideth faithful, and cannot deny Himself.” Was He to deny His decree, He must deny Himself, for His decree is Himself decreeing. But He cannot do this. He cannot forego His covenant, for His covenant is Himself covenanting. He cannot reverse His promise, for His promise is Himself promising. Consequently, every believer is safe, and can never be ultimately left or forsaken. As surely as effectual grace stirred thee up to undertake the heavenly journey, so surely

shall glory crown thee at the end of thy pilgrimage.

Contentedly, therefore, embrace thy lot, knowing, that the whole disposal thereof is of the Lord. Be the weather fair or foul ; let the calm prevail, or the storm rage; be thy mind cheerful or benighted; be thy path dreary with gloom or radiant with sunshine, commit thyself in patience and well-doing to God, as to a gracious Creator and an all-wise Disposer. A traveller is not the worse for being weather-beaten. It teaches him to “erdure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” Besides, he is, at the worst of times, sure of invisible support; and every difficulty he encounters by the way will be infinitely overbalanced when he gets home to His Father's house, for the utmost " sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

In point, likewise, of affluence and fortune, all the travellers to Canaan are not alike. Some of them are literally “rich and increased in goods," while others have but a small allotment of temporal wealth, barely enough to carry them to their journey's end. The former may be said to be well mounted for the roadthe other goes on foot. But, in spiritual things, the humble footpassenger frequently outstrips the rapid horseman or the stately charioteer, and is seen, not seldom, to make swifter advances in the knowledge of God and the way to heaven; and thus that observation of the Apostle is verified, “Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom ?" Yes, he has; and some, too, who are opulent, for we read that even Cæsar's household, the very court of Nero, was not wholly destitute of saints. But, since much wealth too often proves a snare and an incumbrance to the Christian racer,

let him lighten the weight by dispersing abroad and giving to the poor, whereby he will both soften the pilgrimage of his fellow-travellers and speed his own way the faster.

When persons undertake a journey to a distant, unknown country, it is not unusual to have recourse to a guide. During their passage to Canaan, good people may, by mutual exhortation, reproof, and instruction in righteousness, be occasionally guides



to each other. But the two grand stated guides of the Redeemer's Church are, the Spirit and the Word of God, to which may be added, in humblest subordination to these two, the ministers of God. Generally speaking, these three guides do best together. A minister without the written Word would bid fair to be a false guide, a mere will-o'-the-wisp, a dancing meteor, who would only set you astray; and the Word itself, without the Spirit, is but as a dial without the sun, a dead letter, and a Book that is sealed. Therefore, the way for us not to lose our way is, to receive nothing from man but what bears the stamp of Scripture; to beg of God that He would shine upon the dial, that we may consult it profitably, and know whereabouts we are; i.e., that He would make us understand the Scripture by the saving light of His blessed Spirit, and then to look upon no influence, impulse, suggestion, or direction, as the certain voice of God in the soul, except it harmonize and coincide with that sacred Scripture which Himself inspired. Thus wonderfully and wisely are the means of salvation connected. The Word of God uirects us to the Spirit of God; the Spirit of God makes that Word effectual; and the true ministers of God act in the most absolute subserviency to both.

Nor are the Christian travellers guided only, but guarded likewise; and a guard is requisite, for the highway of holiness is infested with robbers. Though the celestial road is enclosed from the common, and made a distinct way of itself, yet it lies through an enemy's country, and the Canaanite is still in the land. Satan will study to annoy those whom he cannot devour; the world will try various arts, both of menace and allurement; and indwelling depravity, from whose remains we are never wholly delivered in the present life, will on all occasions be ready to revolt from the obedience of faith, and to bring us into subjection to the law of sin. The foes without, though vanquished, are not slain ; and original corruption, that beast within, though wounded, is not dead; nor motionless, though chained.

Happy it is for God's regenerate people that they do not go through the wilderness defenceless and alone. If they did, they might well fear, with David, “I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul.” But they are under the escort of a truly invincible armada. Providence is for them without, and grace within. Though they appear as strangers and pilgrims upon earth, they are no less than kings in disguise—“kings and priests unto God.” Hence, in that grand writ of protection, recorded in the ninetyfirst Psalm, we read, “He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou hurt thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder : the young lion and the dragon shalt

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