Page images

the Bridegroom to his church. His birth is ushered in with “ Peace on earth.” His dying legacy to his children is peace. Nothing but love dwells in his heart. Nought but peace is heard from his lips. This was his affectionate salutation to his beloved, though de

jected disciples, when he first appeared to them after his sufferings and death. His tender heart well knew how troubled their poor minds were. Therefore, over and over, he repeats, “Peace be unto you,” Jobn xx. 21. As it was in the beginning, so it is now. Jesus silences guilty fears and perplexing doubts in disciples' hearts. Woe is mel saith the poor sinner, I am undone, I am unclean; mine eyes have seen the Lord of hosts, in the purity and spirituality of his law, as a just God and a holy, a consuming fire; and who will by no means clear the guilty ; I shall die. Fear not, saith Jesus, to every such trembling, repenting, believing heart, thou shall not die, but live. Neither shalt thou want my peace. Look unto me and be saved. Inwardly listen to my word. Treasure it up in thine heart. Wait in faith, for the sweet and still voice of my Spirit. I create the fruit of the lips, “ Peace, peace to him that is afar off, and to him that is near, and I will heal them.” Such shall not only hear Christ's voice, but feel his power. Their fears shall be taken away, and their sorrows removed. So shall their souls be joyful in him. Thus Jesus is precious to them. He delivers “them, who through fear of death were all their life time subject to bondage," Heb. ii. 15. “Having made peace for us through the blood of his cross," Col. i. 20.

wardly wait I create the angehall not fears shall the

may hair that is the Suche

Their eso ahal

AUGUST 23.—Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.-John iii. 7.

Spiritual doctrines ever appear foolishness to the judgment of carnal reason. Marvel not to find the wisdom of natural men ever crying out, “How can

these things be ?" and explaining away their spiritual meaning by corrupt reasonings. We are not to expect a total freedom from our own carnal objections. The old man is yet alive. The kingdom of his residence, the flesh, is at war against that kingdom into which the soul is spiritually born. Many see clearly the nature of the doctrine of a new birth of the soul; and are convinced of the necessity of it, in order to see the kingdom of God; but how are they straitened, pained, and perplexed to know, whether it be accomplished in them or not! And indeed, many have so unscripturally treated of the new birth, as sadly to puzzle and grievously distress simple hearts. Is it not marvellous to find men gravely telling us, how many steps a dead sinner must take, in order to get into this new birth? The time when, many are uncertain of; “for the king. dom of God cometh not with observation.” The manner how, none can explain; "for the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." But the effects are visible and evident. As sense and motion are the properties of natural life, so, when the soul is born again of the Spirit, there is a sight of Jesus, a hearing of his voice, the affections going out after him, believing him to be the way, the truth, and the life. Hence, John lays down this infallible mark, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God," 1 John v. 1. This is a simple, plain truth. Am I born of God? This must be answered, by inquiring, Do I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed Son of God, to the office of a Saviour, for lost and perishing sinners ? Does this truth enter into my heart and mind? Is it received and believed, as a matter which can only and alone bring relief to my guilty conscience, peace to my troubled mind, and hope to my dejected spirit ? If so, I do believe in Jesus; he is the object of my faith, and the hope of my heart. I am born again; born of God: born to see, to enter into, and enjoy the kingdom of God. The evidence of this we get more and more strongly and clearly settled in our conscience, as faith grows and increases. For its fruits will be manifest and abound, in seeing sin's filthiness, feeling its burden, hating and resisting it ; striving to maintain a holy fellowship with God the Father, and his Son Jesus, through the Spirit, 1 John i. 7.

. AUGUST 24.—The flesh lusteth against the Spirit. Gal. v. 17.

Christian experience fully proves this apostolic truth. Hence, the children of God cannot do the things that they would. Nor have we any authority from God's word to conclude, this lusting ever ceases, in any of the saints, till they get to glory; none are delivered from it while in the flesh. For, as the renewed soul, or spirit, loves to enjoy spiritual and heavenly objects ; so the flesh, or unrenewed part, lusts after those objects it is naturally conversant with, and from which it derives its happiness. Here is thy conflict, O christian! Hence the necessity of thy Lord's command, “Watch always.” This is the use of the doctrine.

What woeful effects has fulfilling the lusts or desires of the flesh, produced in eminent saints! Thou standest by faith ; be not high-minded, but fear. The conceptions of lust are the productions of sin, James i. 15. The commission of sin contracts fresh guilt. This is the malady of the soul. Hence the many symptoms attendant on guilt; legal fears, terrors of conscience, accusations from the law, triumphs of Satan, dejection of soul, distance from God, backwardness to duty, cool. ness of affection to Jesus, shyness at, or neglect of, a throne of grace. When poor souls have fallen, and are sensible of it, they feel the hurt they have received. Their hearts know the bitterness of it. Awful effects of fresh contracted guilt! how much to be deplored ! how carefully to be watched against, and prayed to be kept from! But, whilst there is "a fountain opened for sin and uncleanness," whilst Christ's “blood cleanseth

fictione from God triumphiteureren op symp

from all sin," whilst the glad tidings of the gospel proclaim salvation by grace, for the chief of sinners, there is no ground for black despair to any backsliding children of the God of love. Here is all encouragement30 what? To love living at a distance from Jesus, and vie down and wallow in the mire of sin, because grace abounds ? No godly soul can do this; for “the Spirit also lusteth against the flesh," and renews again to repentance. Thus Luther, "The more godly a man is, the more doth he feel this battle between the flesh and the spirit. Hereof come those lamentable complaints in the Psalms and other scriptures. It profiteth us very much to feel, sometimes, the wickedness of our nature and corruption of the flesh, that we may be waked and stirred up to call upon Christ. So a christian is made to see Jesus a wonderful Creator, who out of heaviness can make joy; of terror, comfort; of sin, righteousness; and of death, life. This is our ground and anchor-hold, that Christ is our only and perfect righteousness."

AUGUST 25.—And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him ?-Judg. vi. 31.

When the Lord Jesus appears and manifests himself to the soul, it is so struck with his glory and grace, that it cries out in holy ecstasy, “ What have I to do any more with idols ?" Hos. xiv. 8. An altar for spiritual worship is presently set up in the heart, and consecrated to Jehovah-Shalom, the Lord of peace. In this chapter we have a sweet view of Gideon's zeal for the true worship of Jehovah. He instantly obeyed the word of Jesus, the Angel of the presence; the Man ; the Peace who appeared to him; and at his command he cast down the altar of Baal. He expected opposition from his father's household and from the men of the city, therefore he did it by night. A blessed in.

stance of this to the com desh and b.100 They demike the

stance of the obedience of faith joined to sanctified reason. As to the consequence after the work done, he “conferred not with flesh and blood;" he was “in nothing terrified by his adversaries.” They demanded * his life. But Joash his father was raised up, like the

fire of zeal from the Lord, to argue with them. Will ye, ye men of Israel, ye professed people of Jehovah, will ye plead for Baal ? will ye serve an idol ? Be zealous, o disciple, for thy Lord, fear no consequences. The Lord is on thy side, what hast thou to fear from those who are against thee? be not discouraged, though thou dost find great professors, children of the visible church thy mother, yea, the children of thy Father's grace also, join in pleading, by word or practice, for Baal. This name signifies, he that rules: a master, lord, or husband. This may most justly be applied to sin in general, and every idol lust in particular. For “his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or obedience unto righteousness," Rom. vi. 16. Thou free-man, thou heaven-born son of the Lord, know thy freedom; study thy liberty ; strive, by the Spirit's aid, to live up to thy privilege, above the domineering power of lusts, the galling yoke of sin, in spite of all that professing men or opposing devils plead against it. Thy Saviour has all power in heaven and earth. Plead with him; expect power from him. Thou canst do all things through Christ strengthening thee. Faith surmounts every difficulty, silences carnal reasonings and vain pleadings from every quarter. While Jesus is viewed, sin is abhorred, holiness loved, desired, and shall be increased. “It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing,” Gal. iv. 18.

AUGUST 26.—Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty: only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh.--Gal. v. 13. · Peter was grieved because his Lord asked him the

« PreviousContinue »