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heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” verse 9. Hence we may infer, that the poison of pride, vain confidence in the flesh, and self-righteous hopes, may lurk under the most exalted pretensions to piety, holiness, and perfection. This matter calls for great care and circumspection.
“As many as are of the works of the law (who in any wise seek to be made righteous by doing) are under the curse,” Gal. iii. 10. Think not this contrary to the holiness of God, to pronounce such to be cursed, as though the Lord did not hate sin, love and approve of true holiness. No: but such deceive their souls, and flatter themselves in their own sight. They dishonour the perfection of God's law, by bringing down its purity and spirituality to a level with their own works and obedience. They reject the righteousness of Jesus, deny the faith of him, look to their own holiness, trust in themselves that they are righteous, confide in the power of the flesh, and so their hearts depart from the Lord. Pride and self-exalting are at the bottom of all this. As they appeal to the law, to the law they must go, and hear its dreadful sentence which sounds nothing but curse, and wrath, and hell against them. Such are the awful effects of men making flesh their confidence, and of their heart's departing from the truth of God and righteousness of Christ. He who truly believes the former, will desire to be found in the latter.
These are precious, evangelical words of Luther, (on Gal. iii. 6.) "So we teach and comfort the afflicted sin. ner Brother, it is not possible for thee to become so righteous as to feel no sin at all. In that thou dost feel and acknowledge it, it is a good token; give thanks to God. Christ healeth them that are broken in heart, and saveth sinners. Follow not the judgment of reason, which telleth thee Christ is angry with sinners; but kill reason, and believe in Christ, and the sin which remaineth in thee is pardoned for Christ's sake, in whom thou believest; whose righteousness is thy righteousness, and thy sin is his sin. Every christian is a high priest.
eth in the believe in Christory with sinners: breason
This is the daily sacrifice of the New Testament, which must be offered up. The evening sacrifice is to kill reason; the morning sacrifice is to glorify God.” “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord,” Jer. xvii. 7.
JAN. 21.--Let us go forth unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.—Heb. xiii. 13. . The profession of the gospel of Christ is easy to nature. There is nothing irksome to the flesh in being called a christian. But to know Jesus in heart, to confess him with the tongue, and to follow him in our life, will ever expose us to reproach and contempt. But if, with Philip, we have really found that blessed “Him, of whom Moses and the prophets wrote," we must, we shall speak of him to others. We shall esteem Jesus as our beloved, and choose him as our richest treasure. Our hearts and affections will be going out after him. Moses' choice will be ours: we shall esteem “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.” But fleshly wisdom is contrary to all this. That ever prompts: “Save thyself; take care of thy good name; fear lest that be cast out as evil; beware of thy character; go not too far, thou wilt sustain damage. In the camp of this world, riches, pleasures, and honours are enjoyed. Study the happy mean. Thou mayest hold with the world, and yet not quit Jesus.” Nay, but thou canst not love and serve two such contrary masters: thou wilt soon grow tired of the one or the other. The inward glory and peace of Jesus will not, cannot be enjoyed, but while the heart and affections are placed on him. The faith of Jesus is contrary to the world, it cannot be reconciled to its vain customs and sinful maxims. Nay, faith is the victory that overcometh the world. The world is an enemy's camp. A despised Nazarene is the christian's glory. To bear his reproach is our highest honour.
The heaven-born soul, though, like a captive, imprisoned in flesh, yet hath free access to Jesus by faith. So it endures present reproaches, seeing Him that is invisible. And do we hope for future sight and eternal fruition of him who endured the cross, and despised the shame for us? Let us take and bear his cross; despised disciples let us be. Look down on the world with contempt. Look up to Christ with joy. Go forth to meet him in love. Ever remember, Jesus went forth cheerfully to meet all his conflicts and agonies for us. It is but a little while ere we shall go forth from the body,“ to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we be ever with the Lord," 1 Thess. iv. 17. Is this really our faith? Is this truly our hope? Oh, let us, more than ever, dwell on it! For it will make reproach for Christ not only sit easy, but excite longings to be with him. "The Lord Jesus Christ be with our spirits,” 2 Tim. iv. 22.
JAN. 22.–For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.–Psalm xxx. 5.
Verily, here is a glorious assemblage of comforting truths, like a reviving cordial of rich compounds, to enliven drooping spirits. Too, too often do God's children judge of their Father's love from corrupt ideas. Through the carnality of their natures, the depravity of their judgment, the weakness of their faith, the un. certainty of their frames and feelings, and the artful insinuations of Satan, their loving Father is considered as an implacable Being, full of wrath and anger against them. But this is contrary to God's revelation of himself in Christ, as a God of love. So also is it injurious, and hurtful to the souls of the faithful. For it damps their love, distresses their spirits, deadens the exercise of their graces, and hinders their increase in holiness, the essence of which is founded in the love of God. Therefore, such views come not from God. But hereby Satan gains an advantage, and triumphs over poor souls, with, “There, there, so would I have it."
What can the soul do? whither can he fly? what course can he take? All legal efforts are vain, creature acts ineffectual, from self and nature no hope can spring. What can he think? Truly, stand amazed that he is out of hell. He cannot sink lower in his views of him. self than what his just deserts are. But never so miserable can he be, in his own sight, but the grace of God in Christ is all-sufficient to afford hope and help. In nature's despair grace triumphs. A sense of momentary anger heightens returning favour. The joy of the morning is improved by a past night of sorrow. God ever rests unchangeable in his love to his people. This is the essence of gospel grace and truth. That we vary and fluctuate in our apprehension of his love, is natural to our very existence, as old and new creatures. “But we have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts,” 2 Pet. i. 19. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” Rev. xix. 10. The favour of God to sinners is in Christ, that is their life; the life and spring of all their graces and comforts. A God in Christ is the christian's highest glory, and greatest triumph. For his love is unchangeably the same to Christ, and to all who are united to him by the Holy Spirit, and one with him by precious faith. “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice," Phil. iv. 4.
JAN. 23.-0 my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.-Psalm xlii. 6.
In times of dejection and distress, the thought of a dear friend, who has comforted us in times past, tends to alleviate the mind. If we are assured of his love to us, we question not his readiness to assist us. So, under the affecting loss of a dear brother, Martha addresses the Saviour, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died,” John xi. 21.
Inexpressible blessedness to live in a holy familiarity with the God of love! How simple are David's words! how freely doth he pour out his complaints, and tell God of his sorrows ! though his soul was bowed down within him, heaviness of mind beset him, the sweet sunshine of joy was overcast by the dark cloud of sorTow, yet faith's piercing eye looks through all. Regardless of his own frames and feelings, he has direct recourse to God.
“O My God!” how sweet, how animating are appropriating views of thee to the soul! Though cast down, though dejected in self, and all within heightens the gloom; yet all above is hopeful and encouraging. Though no confidence about us, yet Jesus is before the throne for us. “I will not, I cannot, I dare not forget this. Rejoice not over me, O mine enemy! I will still remember my God; my thoughts shall be yet towards him; my hope is in him; my expectations from him. Though it is now dark, I will remember past times of light and love. Though now bowed down, yet my God has been the lifter-up of my head. The light of his reconciled face, in Jesus, hath shined upon me. Clouds may intercept my joyful views of this, but not prevent his sight of me, nor turn away his love from me. My case is before him. My soul lies open to his view. The times of refreshing shall come from his presence. He rests in his love.” Such are the reasonings of faith. The experience of departed saints should encourage the confidence of living saints. Cast down, mourning souls, when they enjoy not God's comforts, should meditate on his loving purposes, rich promises, and free grace in Christ; holding fast the word of his truth. Of what singular and blessed use is the memory, to retain divine