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MAY 24.-The Father himself loveth you.—John xvi. 27.
The history of the life of sorrows, and death of shame, curse, and agony which Jesus sustained for sin ners, were this believed perfectly in the heart, would fill us with the strongest affection, and inflame us with the most fervent love. But, alas! all have reason to complain, for want of stronger faith in and greater love to Christ. O unbelief, what an enemy to love! Our love keeps pace with our faith. As one grows stronger, the other increaseth. But if faith grows weak, love declines. Yet, no one sinner, who believes the record of Jesus' love and salvation, as his only hope and confidence, but love, in some degree, is drawn out to Je. sus; for "faith worketh by love." The soul in its first love, and for a season, perhaps, thinks more of the love of Christ than the love of the Father. It may be he considers, that what the Saviour did and suffered for sinners, was to procure the love of the Father to them, and to appease the fury of his wrath against them. But this is not right. Let no disciple think so, For, saith the Saviour," the Father himself loveth you." Yea, he teacheth us the love of the Father, as the only source and spring of his coming in the flesh, to save us; for "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” John iii. 16.
Hence it is plain, God the Father loves sinners, loves them inexpressibly, with the greatest affection. For he gave-whom? an angel ? an archangel? myriads of the heavenly host? No; but one infinitely more dear to him, his Son, his only begotten, his dearly beloved Son, who lay in his bosom from all eternity, that we might "believe on him, and live in him.” So, the effect proves the cause. It is plain, the love of the Father to his people was prior to the Son's coming into the world to save them, or to their belief on Jesus. For, says he, “no man can come unto me, except the
Father draw him," John vi. 44. And because the Father hath loved us with an everlasting love, therefore, with loving kindness he draws to Jesus. “Behold, " O
ye followers of the Lamb, “what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us," 1 John iii. 1. Trace his love to the fountain-head. The Holy Spirit teacheth, , that "God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in him, and hath predestinated us to the adoption of children by Christ to himself.” To what end ? even “to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved," Eph. i. 6.
MAY 25.I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago, such an one caught up to the third heaven. -2 Cor. xii. 2.
Visions, manifestations, raptures, and ecstasies of soul, though even from God himself, (which there is ever good reason to suspect, unless they sink the soul in humility, and excite such love to Jesus, as is founded in knowledge, and productive of obedience,) are not to be gloried of. St. Paul says, It is not expedient for me to glory. I know the danger, I fear the evil of it, from the pride and treachery of my nature. It tends to exalt one above measure; and to make others think more highly of one than they ought to think. Therefore, on these accounts, glorying of these things is to be avoided. Indeed, the cause of truth may require it, and the glory of God may be promoted by it. Though, on these accounts, it may be expedient to glory; yet, it is not expedient, for the christian's own sake, to do it. So Paul declared. Yet he did glory; for necessity compelled him.
Behold, admire, and imitate, the humility of this great apostle, "I knew a man in Christ," &c. When he speaks of himself, it is as a poor sinner, under the
most humbling, self-abasing views. Then it is I myself, Rom. vii. But here, lest ostentation should appear, he conceals himself, under the character of another man. What a contrast is here, between self-exalting principles, and the grace of the gospel! How widely different this, from the notions which many professors entertain! For, if they can but give a tolerable account of some vision, revelation, or manifestation, which they suppose was from God, they conclude they know their sins are forgiven, and all is well. Perhaps, this may have passed on them fourteen years ago, more or less. But what is their frame and temper now? what their pursuit and practice? If no evidence of faith, hope, love, and obedience; but if, while sunk into carnality, and the love of the world, they are strong in confidence that their sins are forgiven, and bold in hope of the safety of their state; surely such are blinded to the hope of the gospel, through the spirit of this world. Satan transforms himself from à minister of darkness into an angel of light. Luther was wont to caution against the white devil, as well as the black one. By how many ways are we liable to be deluded! How then doth it behove us to be on our guard, searching the scriptures, and praying the Lord to keep us! St. John's advice is ever needful, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world," 1 John iv. 1.
MAY 26. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.-John vi. 56.
This is a great mystery, but a comforting truth in the experience of Christ's members. Our Saviour saith, “It is my meat to do the will of him that sent me." So, it is the believer's privilege, to feed by faith on him that is sent, even the flesh and blood of Jesus ; the man "like unto ourselves in all things. But his flesh is pure and holy, his blood immaculate and untainted, without sin;" therefore healthful for the soul to feed upon, and to be nourished up to eternal life. For consider, “Christ suffered in the flesh" all the fiery wrath and dreadful curses of God's holy law, which we deserved, because transgressors. Christ in his flesh perfectly fulfilled all the demands of God's righteous law, and so wrought out a righteousness for us, who have none of our own. In the body of his flesh, he hath reconciled us, who were aliens and enemies to God; and in the body of his flesh, through death, he presents us unto God, "holy, unblamable, and unreprovable in his sight," Col. i. 22. Surely then, the flesh of Jesus “is meat indeed;" the richest repast, the most delicious banquet, for poor sinners.
Christ's "blood is drink indeed," most precious in its nature, most reviving to thirsty souls. O believer, the blood of this God-man was shed for thy sins; it hath fully atoned divine justice for them; and, "you who were sometime afar off, are now made nigh to God by the blood of Jesus,” Eph. ii. 13. By his blood, peace is made with God, Col. i. 20. “And his blood cleanseth from all sin," 1 John i. 7. Thus are Christ's flesh and blood the life of the soul. Hear the saints' triumphant song in glory, "He hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood," Rev. i. 5. Their victory over Satan, the accuser of their souls, is by the blood of the Lamb. What is now their glory and triumph above, was once the food of their souls while sinners here below. For in every age, believers did all "eat of the same spiritual meat, and drink of the same spiritual drink,” the flesh and blood of Christ, 1 Cor.
This food strengthens man's heart. This drink makes him of a cheerful countenance. “He dwelleth in me,” saith Christ, by a secret mystical union. Saith the psalmist, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all ages.” “And I in him," by sweet manifestation, knowledge, and comfort, by faith. Thus Christ most
x. 3, 4.
beartily invites, Eat, О friends! drink, o beloved ! “Eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart," Eccles. ix. 7.
MAY 27.—These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the Son of God.-1 John v. 13.
Little Benjamin was as dear to his father Jacob as his elder brethren. The child Samuel was as truly a priest to the Lord, as old Eli. So the feeblest lamb in the flock of Christ, though ever so weak in faith and knowledge, yet is equally dear to the Father as the strongest believer, loved with the same everlasting love, alike interested in the salvation of Jesus, and as certainly an heir of eternal life. Many weak children are ready to own this; but they doubt in their minds, and suspect in their hearts, not happily knowing, nor being comfortably assured of their own interest in the salvation of Jesus. There were such in the apostles' days; therefore the Comforter inspires the beloved John to write to them. He condescends to notice their weak: ness of knowledge and comfort, because of the small degree of their faith; but yet, he speaks with the strongest assurance, and the boldest confidence, of the truth of salvation, by Jesus. That is most certain. Eternal life is by Jesus only; and is sure to every member of his. Do you believe in the name of the Son of God, as the only Šaviour of lost sinners? This truth lies at the foundation of the hope of the gospel: when this is believed in the heart, that soul has the earnest of eternal life. By continuing to believe, it gains knowledge and assurance, as the comforts of faith. When the Spirit has bestowed the precious gift of faith, it matters not, as to the safety of the soul, how weak soever it may be, in the experience of comfort and joy; nor how much it may feel the workings of carnal nature,