« PreviousContinue »
often produce the most plentiful harvest. So the Lord teaches his sovereignty, roots the soul in humility, prevents the growth of spiritual pride, reproves for a careless walk, chides for worldly-mindedness, causes great searchings of heart, imbitters sin, excites to holy mourning, calls forth earnest longings, restless seekings, and fervent prayings. “Saw ye him whom my soul loveth ?” will be the restless inquiry of a loving, deserted heart. I cannot live without him: his presence is heaven; his absence, hell. Soul, ever beware of lending thine ear, for one moment, to any base suggestions, contrary to this precious declaration of thy unchanging God of truth and love: “In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer," Isa. liv. 8.
JUNE 21.—God is no respecter of persons : but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.-Acts x. 34, 35.
It is a common, artful device of the adversary to insinuate, “one part of scripture contradicts another." Hereby he aims to distress our minds, and weaken our confidence in the doctrines of grace. The unlearned and unstable in the truths of free-grace salvation "wrest this, as they do other scriptures ;" and bring this declaration of Peter's to subvert the fundamental truths of the gospel, and the only way of salvation he himself taught, namely, by election “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ," 1 Pet. i. 2.
But he now perceived of a truth, that this blessing came equally alike upon gentiles as well as Jews. “God is no respecter of persons." This is a most comfortable truth to the vilest of the human race. There is nothing in the person of one man above another, that can claim respect in the sight of God. All are alike cor. rupt and become abominable. There is, naturally, no fear of God before our eyes. There is none that doeth good, no not one. There is no difference. Jew and gentile, publican and pharisee, outwardly devout and openly profane, are all upon a level in point of justification before God. Enlightened souls see and own this, in deep humility and self-abasement; while proud phari. sees challenge and claim respect from God, because, they think their persons and characters are more amiable in his sight than others.
But, saith Moses, " the Lord your God is a mighty and terrible God, who regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward,” Deut. x. 17. What reward can we give, to procure God's regard, bribe his justice, or avert his wrath? Do we, naturally, fear God and work righteousness ? Lay thine hand upon thine heart. Judge, O sinner, as in the sight of God. Say, Was this thy natural conduct and practice? God knoweth, to hate him and work wickedness is natural to thee, and all men. But yet, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness, be he who or what he may, is accepted with God. For, this is a full proof of being "accepted in the Beloved." The Lord puts his fear in our heart, accord. ing to covenant promise, Jer. xxxii. 40. He renews us in righteousness and true holiness. Hence our practice is agreeable to our state. Prayers and alms come up before the Lord, as a memorial of what he has done on the heart.
naturaand woret, berho promis heart. 40 ilence alms cdone
JUNE 22.-Which is not another (gospel]; but there be [some] that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.-Gal. i. 7.
Trouble us indeed l it is our wisdom, to hear preaching with an attentive mind, a humble heart, and a godly jealousy. The sweet sound of the gospel is joy to the heart, and as marrow and fatness to the soul; for it
proclaims nothing but good news or glad tidings. This is its name: its nature and properties perfectly agree therewith. Hence it is called, The gospel of the grace of God; or good news of his free favour, Acts xx. 24: and, The gospel of salvation; or glad tidings of salvation, by Christ only, Ephes. i. 13. It was the wisdom of Adam to distinguish, and give a proper name to every creature of God. We should imitate him in knowledge, to distinguish the law from the gospel, and to call each by its proper name. For when the law of works and gospel of grace are blended together, it puzzles the mind, and troubles the conscience. We may say of the gospel, as Tertullus said of Felix, “By thee we enjoy great quietness," Acts xxiv. 2. For by it, the mind and conscience of the believer is filled with peace and comfort. From hence spring love to God, and conformity to his will.
But preaching terms and conditions, to be performed by us, in order to entitle to gospel grace, hath a native tendency to distress the mind, weaken faith, damp love, deject hope, and, of consequence, make the believer less zealous of good works. Yet, through blindness and ignorance, some call this gospel; but Paul denies it: be says, “It is not another," he will not mention gospel. It deserves not the name; it is a mere system of man's devising. Oh! but if there be great talk of morality, and specious pretence to holiness, this makes a great show in the flesh, so as to trouble some, and deceive many. But such "pervert the gospel of Christ;" for that proclaims eternal election, everlasting love, an established covenant of grace, rich consolation, by an everlasting righteousness, through faith, and certain salvation to every believer. The gospel, like some stately ship, is richly laden with the most munificent blessings of our Father's patrimony: the last will and testament of our Saviour, freely consigned, under the care of the Spirit, to us sinners. Oh, study the immense value and riches of the gospell be on thy guard, lest any deprive thee of its freeness and fulness. Gos
pel-perverters are conscience-troublers. Listen not to their specious guiles, lest thy mind be perplexed. It is our mercy, though false teachers shall arise, yet it is impossible they should deceive, the elect of God, Matt. xxiv. 24.
JUNE 23.-And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.-Zech. vi. 13.
With what rapture and ecstacy of soul did good old Israel hear of his son Joseph! Not only alive, but also governor of the land of Egypt. “It is enough," said he, as though he could enjoy no more. How then ought our hearts to be filled with joy, and fired with transport, to hear, that our Friend and Brother Jesus, lives for evermore; that “the government is upon his shoulders;" that he is our King and Priest upon his throne; that the counsel of peace is fixed and unalterably established, between the Father and him, on our account! Surely, if we believe this, as verily as Jacob believed the report of his son, we shall also cry out, “It is enough," perfectly sufficient. More joyful news cannot be heard, more comfortable truth be believed, fuller evidence be desired, stronger proofs be given, than are revealed, of the covenant transactions of the adorable Trinity in behalf of sinners.
Here is "the Lord of hosts," and the “Man," who is called the "Branch." And, see we not the third person in the Divine Essence? For the establishing of faith, be it ever remembered, though the Father and the Son only are often mentioned in scripture, yet the Lord, the Spirit, in his office is evidently to be seen, and clearly known. For whatever is covenanted and agreed between God the Father and Son, is manifested, revealed, and enjoyed in the heart, by the Spirit. We had never heard of this blessed peace, had it not been by the Holy Ghost, through the word of truth. Therefore, "the Spirit bears witness, because the Spirit is truth,
1 John v. 6. Ever bear this in thy mind, disciple. As thou hadst not known sin, but by the law, so thou couldst have no knowledge of peace, but by the gospel, through the Spirit. He is the revealer, sealer, and applier of all grace, peace, love, and holiness. “The love of the Father is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost.” “He shall testify of me," saith Jesus; all my members shall be taught of him: “He shall glorify me,” John xvi. 14. Here is a peace established between heaven and earth, between the righteous Lord and sinful man, firm as a rock, durable as the ages of eternity. God the Father is the author of this peace. Jesus obtained it by the blood of his cross. Rebels and traitors against God are made the subjects of it. The Spirit begets faith, and applies the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, to the soul. And though all in nature, sin, Satan, and the world, are at war with us, still this is our glory, Jesus “is our peace," Eph. ii. 14
JUNE 24.-In the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul.-Psalm xciv. 19.
Vain thoughts and carnal reasonings, like impertnent visitors, often intrude upon the christian's mind. In this depraved state, it cannot be otherwise. Though born again of the Spirit, and our minds renewed by grace, still our old friends, our present foes, the world, the flesh, and the devil, will furnish us with various exercises from troublesome thoughts. That they do cause grief, are prayed against, and resisted, are blessed evidences of a regenerate soul; which is also fed, delighted, and comforted with the precious truths of God's gracious word. Is this thy experience? then, praise thy Lord.
There are frequent seasons, when God's dear children are exercised with distressing, gloomy thoughts. Afflictions are painful and grievous to the flesh; then,