Page images
PDF
EPUB

wisdom and humility esteem the whole mystery of godliness, every Bible truth, as precious objects of their faith. Blessed be God, our comfort and salvation consist in believing, not in explaining. The christian, like the prophet, being born of the Spirit, is a “man of strife and contention with the whole earth," Jer. xv. 10. All in nature and carnal reason are in arms against the truths he believes. Because he earnestly contends for them, he will ever find controversy, and perverse disputings from men of corrupt minds, destitute of the truth. His zeal here is always commendable, only let it be in love.

What the Lord hath taught in his word, we receive as the food of our souls. This is our simple answer to the god of this world, and to the wise disputer of this age. We cannot comprehend how God dwelt in flesh, but we are fully assured he did. We have the fullest proof of it in his word ; and his word is truth. And it is the very life of our souls, and the joy of our hearts, to believe our God. Why God dwelt in flesh, and the glorious ends he hath accomplished hereby, we know. Of this also we are perfectly assured. We believe it from the same infallible testimony. To the faith of this, we have the inward witness of the Spirit also. God known in the flesh, beheld in human form, viewed in our nature, is the very essence of our faith; we now partake its blessings, and experience its comforts. Hence springs the assured pardon of all our sins, the acceptance of our persons, the sanctification of our souls, and sure and certain hope of eternal life and glory. All this is by free promise, according to the purpose and decree of the everlasting covenant of grace, to the glory of the ever-blessed Trinity, and to the comfort and salvation of us lost sinners. Thus saints are called into one body, by one Spirit; have one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one atonement,

Occhene God and mather of all the nig one righteousness, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in them all, Eph. iv. 4-6.

APRIL 24.-I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.—1 Cor. ix. 27.

The neglect of this brings on leanness of soul. If this enemy gains ground, it is alarming; if he prevails, it causes mourning; but when he is kept low, and supplies are cut off, his power is weakened, and victory over him is easily gained. Such are the sensitive powers, carnal affections, and sinful inclinations which compose part of our present frame, the body; a body of sin and death. To gratify and fulfil them is very pleasing and delightful to nature and sense. But how awfully subversive of the comforts of faith, the peace of the mind, and the joy of the soul, thy own sad ex. perience, o disciple, hath proved. Nor can it be other. wise. Let us not deceive ourselves. We cannot indulge and pamper the life of the flesh, but to the hurt and injury of the life of the soul. There is an irreconcilable enmity between the flesh and the spirit, the old man and the new. This variance and strife will ever subsist, while we are in the body. It is the Lord's sovereign will, to leave the Canaanites still in the land, and to drive them out by little and little. For “behold, a King shall reign in righteousness," Isa. xxxii. 1. This is our beloved Jesus. Here is the exercise of faith in him, the touchstone of our love, and the proof of our allegiance to him, in striving daily for the mastery, to conflict with and fight against every inordinate affection and corrupt lust of our fallen, sinful nature, and to keep them under, and bring them into subjection to him. It is hard work to fight with an enemy, that is part of one's self; but Jesus' banner hath this motto, “Deny thyself; take up thy cross daily, and follow me.' Though the work is ours, yet thine, O Jesus, is the power.

Faith in Jesus not only accepts his imputed righteousness for justification, but has also a lively dependence on Christ for every supply of his Spirit for further sanctification. It leaves not the soul in a lazy, languid state, but causes it to aspire after greater delight in and

all theise of livinecting the files refore

conformity to God; it eyes God as its centre, enjoyment of him as its happiness, and full conforinity to him as its perfection. To indulge, pamper, and gratify the flesh is contrary hereto; therefore mortification, selfdenial, and subjecting the flesh to the spirit, will be the exercise of living, believing, loving souls. But why all this? not from legal principles; not from slavish fear of hell and damnation; not through dread of being reprobated, and cast away for ever. No: Paul had not so learned nor so taught Christ. Believers act from love to Jesus, being assured of perfect salvation by him. “ Eternal life is the gift of God,” Rom. vi. 23.

APRIL 25.—The Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance.-Psalm xciv. 14.

Therefore, drooping soul, cast not off thy confidence in him. A meteor will expire, when the earthly matter is spent that maintained its blaze for a time. Profession may carry to a high elevation. Persons may appear as fixed stars in the church of Christ ; but time may discover them to be no other than shining meteors, or shooting and falling stars. Yea, angels kept not their first estate. But the Lord's chosen people is his portion. The gates of hell shall not prevail against the church of Christ. All “ those that be planted in the house of the Lord, shall flourish in the courts of our God," Psalm xcii. 13. Here is the consolation of Christ, the comfort of love, the fellowship of the Spirit, “He that believeth in Jesus shall be saved ;' not for days, months, years, but saved with an everlasting salvation. For all such are the objects of the everlasting love of an unchanging God. He will never cast off nor forsake them, even when in the furnace of trials and afflictions. Hear the declarations of love concerning them: “They shall call on my name, and I will hear them. I will say, It is my people.” Hear the claim of faith: “Then shall they say, The Lord is my God,” Zech. xiii. 9.

David knew that friends had cast him off; yea, father and mother might forsake him, his frames and feelings had deserted him, his joys withered; and his comforts seemed all blasted in an hour. But, says he, age and observation have fully confirmed me in this truth, “I never saw the righteous forsaken of his God:” “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down." Why so ? Truly, saith he, “The Lord uphold. eth him with his hand," Psal. xxxvii. 24. Falls may wound the soul, bruise the spirit, cause sinkings of heart, and dejections of mind. Satan may sadly daub and bespatter the poor child of God, and endeavour to persuade him that he is in such a filthy condition, that his Father doth not know him, will not own him. The Lord help us to fear such a state, and watch and pray that we may stand! For the Lord will not cast away his people, whom he did foreknow; nor forsake his chosen inheritance. There is balm in Gilead. Jesus is the skilful Physician. He will heal and restore his beloved members : he knows them; he loves them; they are his property. Oh, how should this endear him to our souls! cause us to cleave to him with full purpose of heart, to hate all sin, and cry continually, Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not,'* Psal. xvii. 5.

APRIL 26.-Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.—Rom. xii. 12.

The gospel brings us from a hopeless into a hopeful state ; but not an independent one. We are never to expect freedom from trials and tribulations in this vale of tears ; they lie in our way, to the end of our hope, the enjoyment of God in glory. Faith takes hold of that which is substantial, and makes the soul triumph in hope. Hope makes the soul joyful, and excites patience. Tribulations cause a throne of grace to be prized, a covenant God in Christ to be sought unto and

delighted in. In the rough waves of difficulties, in the storm of affliction, in the boisterous sea of temptation, hope is an anchor to the soul: when that is cast within the veil, the vessel shall safely ride out every storm. Though tossed, it shall not be driven from its moorings ; it keeps the soul steady and safe.

The grace of patience is ranged between the joy of hope and the constant exercise of prayer; as though it could not exist without either, but is supported and strengthened by both. Jonah sleeps sound in the ship; but prays hard in the whale's belly. Distress and hope raise an importunate cry. A hopeful soul will be much in prayer; and the more in converse and communion with God, the soul will thrive more, in every grace of the Spirit. “Ask, and ye shall receive," is the grand charter of Heaven. Yea more, lest children grow remiss, be sparing in their addresses, and content with any portion, when the exuberance is necessary, saith our munificent Lord, " Ask and receive, that your joy may be full,” John xvi. 24. Sip not at the streams, but drink large draughts at the fountain-head.

Ever remember, christian, the life of sense is contrary to the life of faith. Walking after the flesh, gratify. ing its lusts, and conforming to a sinful world, deadens the life of the soul, indisposes it to prayer, makes hope decline, impatience prevail, and all the graces wither. And canst thou delight to live at a distance from thy Saviour, without a sense of his peace and love? wouldst thou not fear to die in such a frame? “Keep yourselves in the love of God," Jude 21. Look unto Jesus under every circumstance; avoid everything contrary to love ; be diligent in those means, which excite and strengthen the liveliness of faith, the comforts of love, the joy of hope, and the patience of the soul. If you aim at this, you will be “instant in prayer." That is, live in the spirit of prayer all the day ; continually darting up petitions, Lord, keep, strengthen, and sanctify me. "If ye do these things, ye shall never fall,” 2 Pet. i. 10.

« PreviousContinue »