« PreviousContinue »
whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him.” Here is the glory of grace. This is the triumph of faith. Mercy proclaimed, shows the munificence of God. But the dejected heart may still be in suspense. Is it for me? Yes, if thou believest on the Son of God. As he is thy salvation, his Spirit will assure thee of thy interest in his love. Where the truth is received by faith, the comfort shall be enjoyed. Whom God pardons in his heart, he leads to the knowledge and enjoyment of it, and restores lost comforts to the backsliding soul. A sense of pardon is of the essence of gospel grace and comfort; the result of Jesus' atonement; the gift of his Spirit, and the privilege of believers. What God has not promised it is presumption to expect. It is injurious unbelief not to plead, when he bids us, “Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full," John xvi. 24.
AUGUST 28.-Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.—Psalm lxxxiv. 5.
When hearts are united in love, there is a mutual complacency and delight in each other. Presence in creaseth pleasure; absence begets uneasiness; jealousy of displeasing, and fear of offending, mutually subsist in each party. In some sense, this holds good between the beloved soul and the loving Lord. All love is from him. And, as rivers from the sea return back to the great ocean, so the love which comes from God naturally flows back in complacency and affection of soul to him. To know God is to love him; both for what he is in himself, and what he is to us in Christ Jesus. The poor sinner, who knows that he is in himself “ without strength,” rejoiceth in his very soul, to know that the omnipotent Jesus is his strength, that all his might and power to strive against sin, resist Satan, and overcome the world, is from above, is treasured up
in Jesus, and out of his fulness he is strengthened by the power of the Spirit, through faith.
But is the converted beart a mere vacuum, or like an empty vessel? No, truly; Jesus dwells there by faith. It is a fit habitation for the Spirit, and the love of the Father is shed abroad in it. "The ways of them,” even Father, Son, and Spirit, dwell in the heart. Then the way of everlasting love and eternal election is delighted in, the way of free grace and complete salvation by Jesus is gloried in, the way of atonement by his precious blood, the way of justifying and clothing naked sinners by his perfect righteousness, is rejoiced in. The gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, as flowing from Jesus' finished work in making the soul inwardly holy, and outwardly obedient to the Lord, in comforting and rejoicing the heart by the testimony of Jesus, are more and more sought after. And the hopes and views of glory in this sovereign, free, gracious way are longed for and expected. Blessed, 0 man, art thou indeed! Blessed of thy God! Blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus! Blessed, not for days, months, and years, but loved from eternity and blessed to eternity! Thy Lord hath blessed thee, and he will not reverse it. Real godliness consists not merely in a system of notions in the head, but in the indwelling presence of Jehovah in the heart. Is this thy happiness, O sinner? What love hath the great God to vile man! He dwelt in flesh for us. He saith also, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them,” 2 Cor. vi. 16.
AUGUST 29.—The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.-Psalm xxiii. 1.
All comfort is derived to the soul from the knowledge of what Jehovah is to us. This we know by his
word, and enjoy in precious faith. “I am the good Shepherd," saith Jesus, John x. 11. Thou art my Shepherd, says the believing soul. Thus, whatever office Jesus sustains, it is the glory of faith not only to view him as such, but to draw sweet peace and comfort from it to our own heart: that thou art to me. David knew the duty of a shepherd by experience: how watchful to preserve from danger, how careful to guide and feed the sheep committed to his trust. But herein is the peculiar love of our Shepherd; he "gave his life for his sheep." And after such love manifested to them, shall they want either his power to protect them or his grace to supply their need? This is impossible.
But a sheep is a silly, weak creature; it often bleats when it wants nothing ; so do we. Though it knows its shepherd, and hears his voice, still it is naturally prone to wander from rich pastures; to break out of the fold; and, if left to itself, would leap into the very jaws of its enemy. So foolish are we also. Hence arises our distress. For, when we look to what we are in ourselves, and lose sight of the love and care of our dear Shepherd, we cast our eyes around us, call in this distressing thought, and the other distracting care. Hence, we often send forth the bleatings of unbelief, and cry out, “We shall certainly perish, for want of supply and assistance." But where is the Lord our Shepherd ? Alas! we forget his dying love, his covenant engagements, his watchful care. We listen to the enemy, who speaks terror; and our poor hearts are affrighted and tremble. But in opposition to all that sin, Satan, and the law can say or do against us, “The voice of the Lord is a mighty voice. It hath the pre-eminence.” For our Shepherd saith, “I give unto my sheep, -what? grace upon condition that they will continue to be my sheep, hear my voice, and follow me?" Infinitely more; security stronger than the mountains ; comfort more unfathomable than the great deep. “I know my sheep. My father gave them me. I lay down my life for them. Shall the enemy rob me of one of my purchased ones, or my Father of one of the dear objects of his love? No: they shall never want my Spirit to keep, quicken, comfort, and enable them to persevere till they receive the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls." For “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hands,” John X. 28.
AUGUST 30.—Blessed are the poor in spirit : for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.—Matt. v. 3.
In the day of the Spirit's power, the lofty looks of man are humbled, the haughtiness of man is bowed down, and the Lord alone is exalted, Isa. ii. 11. Then a man's own righteousness, wherein he trusted, is seen as filthy rags. His strength he boasted of, is found to be perfect weakness ; his heart, in which he gloried as good, he knows is deceitful, and desperately wicked. Then he becomes, in his own eyes, a poor sinner. He knows his poverty. He feels his wretchedness. Thus, when Jesus alone is exalted in his sight, he becomes little, vile, and mean in his own eyes; then he is poor in spirit, a mere beggar, who must be wholly indebted to free-grace bounty and free-gift mercy. Though he sees his
state to be guilty, wretched, and desperate, yet he is blessed. Why so ? merely because he sees and knows himself to be wretched, poor, miserable, blind, and naked ? Alas, this knowledge, like Job's friends, would prove but as a miserable comforter to his soul. He can no more trust in his known poverty and rags, to entitle him to the kingdom, than in his fancied robes and riches. But such are blessed, or happy, because the grace of the kingdom is in their hearts now, “and theirs is the kingdom of heaven in glory.” Most joyful consideration! They are chosen to it by the love of the Father; they are blessed in Christ with all spiritual blessings. And as an evidence of this, the Holy Spirit bestows on them wisdom and revelation in the know
ledge of Jesus: he enlightens the eyes of their under. standing, to know what is the hope of their calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance, Eph. i. 17, 18. How unspeakably blessed! How immensely rich are the poor in spirit! "Having nothing in themselves, yet possessing all things in Christ."
It is usual, in worldly commerce, where a person's credit is not established, to value himself upon the credit of some rich person; so he gains credit and repute. Thus the poor sinner values himself upon the riches of Christ, for all acceptance in God's sight. Jesus is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. This our daily rejoicing. Here, O soul, is thy precious inventory! Read, and rejoice at thy riches. “ All things are yours." Why? because we are faithful to grace, and have fulfilled terms and con. ditions to gain the favour of God ? No; infinitely higher cause: “Ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's," 1 Cor. iii. 23.
August 31.—Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ.—Rom. vi. 11.
There is a death in sin, which we are all naturally under. There is a death for sin; this our dear Saviour (we can never think of it too much, nor mention it too often) suffered on the tree. And there is a death unto sin, which every believing member of Jesus partakes of, by virtue of union to him. For, when Jesus died for sin on the cross, all his members were mystically considered in him, and dying in him, as their covenant head and representative, unto sin. And, by communion with Jesus, the same Spirit who raised up Christ the Head, dwells in the mortal bodies of his believing members, quickening them to newness of life. From hence, the apostle would have such reckon, infer, or conclude themselves "to be dead indeed unto sin,"