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Lord, my God. Oh, happy to live, not so much on comforts as on "the God of all comforts," 2 Cor. i. 3.
August 4.-And Hazael said, But what! is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing ?—2 Kings viii. 13.
Oh, the treachery of the human heart! both scripture and experience prove this melancholy truth, that it is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Who can fathom the depths of its deceits? who can understand the mystery of iniquity which lies concealed in the nature of sinful man? Alas! presumptuous confidence, that our nature is not so totally corrupt and abominable, too, too often deceives and betrays even God's children. This wretch Hazael, who had premeditated rebellion and murder in his heart, yet starts at the prediction of these crimes, which as yet had no real existence. Doubtless, he thought Elisha judged very hard of him. He could almost stare the prophet out of countenance. And, as though he charged him with degrading the dignity of his human nature, he demands, whether he looked on him no better than an unclean beast-a fierce, devouring dog, that he should commit such abominable wickedness ? His very nature shuddered at the very thought. But the history assures us, “lust had conceived, and it brought forth sin," which ended in the murder of his royal master. Hazael fully verified all the prophet's prediction.
Boast not of thyself, O christian! Say not, I am a converted man, a believer in Jesus, not an unclean wretch like this Hazael, therefore I shall not fall into that and the other sin. Be not high-minded, but fear. Thou standest not by thine own strength, but by faith. This grace ever leads out of self, to its object, Christ. Flatter not thyself that thy corrupt nature is in any wise better than any others. Know there is no difference. Deceive not thyself with conceits of perfection
in the flesh, or with the deluded dream, that the root of sin is entirely destroyed in thy nature. Ever remember, “in the flesh dwells no good thing ;" therefore it is, and ever will be prone to evil continually. Happy for thee, that thou art new-born, new-created in the spirit of thy mind. It is thy privilege to live under the influence of grace and love. But still thy fallen nature is ever the same; the old man is still alive; there is the tinder of corruption, which may take fire from the devil's sparks of temptation. What thou art least suspecting, yea, when thou art most confident of standing, thou mayst be in the greatest danger of falling. What thou fearest not to-day, to-morrow may overcome thee. Think not more highly of thyself than thou oughtest to think. “Be sober: watch unto prayer.” “God resisteth the proud; but giveth grace to the humble," 1 Pet. v. 5.
- AUGUST 5.-Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.—Heb. xii. 1.
A lively faith begets a cheerful heart. A joyful hope makes a resigned soul. A humble mind produceth a patient spirit. So we run with pleasure our short race, "Looking unto Jesus.” But alas! shame to us, there is a sin which easily besets us, and which draws a train of burdens and distresses along with it. Why are poor disciples' minds harassed by frequent murmurings and impatience? why are their tempers soured with evil passions? why do they utter hasty, angry, unbecoming speeches ? Verily, unbelief is the cause of all this. Their minds are clouded. They do not see Jesus. They do not consider him as seeing them. They do not look to him for patience. Hence Satan gets an advantage over them. Pride begets impatience of spirit. Then with fretful Jonah they cry out, “I do well to be angry,” Jonah iv. 9.
But pray how do you find your mind after thus doing
angry, with fretful To
well? what is the frame of your soul after thus gratifying the will of the flesh, your proud self-will? What hast thou gained hereby, but dejection of spirit, and sorrow of heart? What hast thou lost? Even the comforting view of Jesus, and the sweet sense of his peace. Thus the feet are entangled in a snare; and, instead of running with patience, we sit down in sorrow. Tossed by stormy winds, in a tempestuous ocean, the poor bark seems driven many degrees back from the haven of rest and peace. So we suffer loss of patience by looking from Jesus to other objects. While our Beloved is viewed, patience possesses the heart, the feet run with delight the way of God's commandments, and we look forward with cheerful hope. Patience sweetens afflictions, and improves exercises and trials. It keeps the heart from envy, the hand from revenge, the tongue from evil-speaking, and overcomes enemies without weapons; for it draws all its strength from Christ's love, the sweetness of his presence, and the hope of his glory. A martyr tormented by infidels, was asked by the way of reproach, what miracle his Christ had done. He replied, “You now behold one: he enables me to bear your reproaches and suffer your tortures with patience. I am not moved. Is not this a miracle worthy your notice ?” Whatever befalls our souls is the wise allotment of our loving Father. We are exhorted to "run with patience,” that we may not lie down in sorrow. The Sun of consolation shall shine bright on our souls, while we press forward “toward the mark for the prize of our calling of God in Jesus Christ,” Phil. iii. 14.
AUGUST 6.—He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.—1 John v. 10.
Many weak lambs of Jesus are sadly perplexed about the nature of faith. The apostle says, “There is one faith.” In opposition to this, some have made a
string of more than a score. From such unscriptural notions, the workings of the enemy, their own corruptions, weakness of their faith, opposed by unbelief, they are often ready to question, nay, sometimes conclude they have not the faith of God's elect." Here is a certain rule to determine by. This, if clearly understood in the light of the Spirit, will satisfy and comfort weak hearts. Mind, the apostle doth not say, He that believeth hath no sin, no doubts, knows his sins forgiven, and has full assurance of his own salvation. No: "but he hath the witness in himself.” That is, an inward tes. timony of what is outwardly revealed in the word: as the Spirit bears witness in the word to the incarnate Son of God, the only true and all-sufficient Saviour of guilty, perishing sinners; so he, who thus believeth on him, hath a divine, satisfying, experimental testimony, brought into his mind and conscience by the Holy Ghost, of the truth he believes, which neither men nor devils can destroy. . Though he finds and feels himself a lost creature, a helpless sinner; so lost, that he can do nothing to save himself; so vile, that his nature is enmity against Jesus and his salvation; yet, he believes the Son of God came to seek and to save such, that there is all salvation in him, and in no other, for them. Thus believing he hath the witness, or testimony, of the love of the ever-blessed Trinity to sinners in his heart: the Father's love in the gift of his Son; the Son's love in saying; and the Spirit's love in testifying to this in the word, and by faith in his heart.
Happy would it be for sensible sinners, if, instead of poring over themselves, they looked more steadily to the work of Jesus; considered more constantly the fulness of his redemption, the freeness of his salvation; and regarded the outward witness of this in the word. Faith in this would bring comfort to the heart, doubts and fears would vanish, the fruits of faith more evi. dently appear, and their minds, in God's own time, be fully satisfied of their interest in Jesus, and forgiveness of their sins, by the witness of the Holy Spirit, through faith. For faith in the Son of God hath the pre-eminence above all other things. If the soul is filled with peace and joy, if with assurance of pardon, if sealed with the Spirit, it is by believing. “And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith," 1 John v. 4.
August 7.-I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.--2 Cor. xi. 3.
By a godly fear in the heart, the Lord keeps his people from totally departing from him. But, there is ever danger from Satan, from men, yea, and from brethren too, of our minds being corrupted and beguiled, so as to suffer the loss of that singleness of eye, and simplicity of heart, towards our dear Saviour, by which the soul is kept happy. If the Lord's prophet had been more jealous over himself, and simply regarded his Master's voice, the fair speech of his brother had not betrayed him to disobedience, and death by the mouth of the lion, 1 Kings xiii. 24. This is written for our example.
Could Satan so beguile Eve, as to make her an instrument of death to herself, to the dear partner of her life, and to all their posterity ? O disciples, “take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother; for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders,” Jer. ix. 4. Why this ? Alas, because "they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth," ver. 3. Satan's subtlety hath robbed them of Christ's simplicity. The abiding, comforting presence, the sweet fellowship of Jesus, are obscured to their mind. Jesus is not simply and constantly lived upon. The lively actings of faith, the constant outgoings of the soul, the continual looking to and daily hanging upon Jesus for salvation, from