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Nov. 19.--This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life.—1 John v. 11, 12.
Sovereign power permits man to fall. Guilt fills the wretched pair with dread, and cuts off all hope in God, all claim upon him. Hence, our first parents "fied from the presence of the Lord, and hid themselves.” Sovereign love interposed, and the poor, guilty, trembling partners in woe, were called before their highly offended, justly provoked Lord. Was it to behold him clothed with vengeance; to hear the sentence of eternal doom to destruction; to see hell opened to receive them? No. Be astonished, 0 heavens! rejoice, ye apostate children of hell-deserving parents! They heard a record of what was transacted in the eternal court, and council of heaven, published on earth. This, instead of wrath, brought mercy ; instead of woe, blessing; instead of eternal death, everlasting life; instead of a hell of misery, a heaven of happiness to their trembling hearts.
Fallen man sought not to meet God, to sue for pardon and entreat grace, but fled his presence. But the Lord follows sinful man, with love in his heart; not to propose terms of accommodation, or conditions of peace, but to proclaim the joyful news of eternal life as the free gift of free favour, unmerited grace, unconditional mercy, in and by the Seed of the woman, Jesus Christ. Glorious record of love! Blessed testimony of life! Joyful tidings of grace! Hast thou heard, known, and believed this record ? “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name." Behold and admire the wisdom as well as the love of thy God. In this rejoice alway. Be humble continually. Life, eternal life, is given us. This life is in God's beloved Son, therefore can never be lost and forfeited. “Our life is bid with Christ in God.” Oh, if Jesus dwells in our hearts by faith, we have God's beloved Son, we have eternal life! The report of this is joyful to our ears. The enjoyment of this enters our hearts, creates present heaven, and fills us with joyful hopes of future glory. We have the strongest confidence, the fullest assurance to animate our souls. Because I live, saith the Head, ye (my members) shall live also, John xiv. 19. God hath given us eternal life. He is faithful. He will not revoke his own precious free gift. Jesus hath overcome every enemy and opposer that might prevent our enjoyment of eternal life. The Holy Spirit hath effected such a union to Jesus as can never be broken. We are joined unto the Lord, and are one spirit, 1 Cor. vi. 17.
Nov. 20.—Hide not thy face from me: put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.Psalm xxvii. 9.
"Love never faileth.” It ever works in believing hearts toward its beloved object. It cannot bear distance from Jesus. The thought is grievous and pain. ful. The dread of it makes the soul plead, fills the mouth with arguments, lest the heart should lose the sweet sense and comforting savour of his love. His presence is heaven; his absence hell. His smiles create joy; his frowns gloom and sorrow. When the heart feels a withdrawing of God and the light of his countenance, it cannot but be restless and uneasy. For we experience christianity to be more than a name, its doctrines more than mere speculations to fill the head or amuse the thoughts: in ordinances, somewhat more is enjoyed than a dull round and formal attendance on them. It is a life of love. It consists in knowing and enjoying the God of truth, faithfulness, and love in his ordinances.
Therefore a loving soul most of all fears the anger of its loving Father. It dreads to be put away in displeasure, though but for a moment. To be left to our
selves, Oh, this calls up cries and tears, and urges us to plead hard with our dear Saviour! “Thou hast been my help.” Past experiences of the love and power of God are remembered, and pleaded for present help and future hope. God's precious promises of faithfulness and truth are beheld as “fitly spoken, like apples of gold in pictures of silver," Prov. xxv. 11. Past love cannot be forgotten. Past mercies are recalled. "Forsake me not.” Why? Because "thou art the God of my salvation." To whom should we go, but to thee, O Jesus? Thou hast the words of eternal life. Forsake not the work of thine own hands; the soul, for whom thou didst toil, suffer, bleed, and die. There is salyation in thee, and in no other. I have found it so. Arise, O Sun of righteousness, scatter the clouds of darkness, the mists of sin, and the fogs of unbelief. Recall my wandering steps. Revive my drooping spirit. “Bring near thy salvation in present peace and love." Such are the pleadings of loving hearts, from that faith which worketh by love. It ever hath God in Christ for its object, his faithfulness and truth its support, his promises its pleas, his glory its aim, and the comforting sense of his love its portion and heaven. “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee,” Psalm lxxiii. 25.
Nov. 21.—Thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins. -Luke i. 76, 77.
The day of gospel truth, like the light of the morn. ing, breaks forth gradually upon benighted souls, and it increaseth to mid-day brightness and glory. "The path of the justified is like the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Thus it is in the experience of enlightened souls. The light of God's word gradually manifests the truth as it is in
Jesus. It discovers condemnation and guilt by the law, and grace and pardon by the gospel. The dispensation of John the Baptist prepares the way in the heart, before the sweet sense of pardon of sins, through faith in Jesus, is enjoyed. The law is a voice only of wrath and terror. It leaves the sinner in the dreadful state it finds him. It pronounces nothing but curses upon him. It shows no remedy; points to no hope. To work wrath in the conscience, and to condemn, is all the law can do.
The voice of the Baptist cries to the soul in a wil. derness state. But it is rather the hoarse cry of austere severity, than the charming, melodious voice of peace and love. It calls to the baptism of repentance, confession of sins, a change of mind concerning former hopes of salvation, and also, a change of life and practice. The poor sinner is hereby “warned to flee from the wrath to come,” is pointed to "the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world.” Most souls seem to be brought under this dispensation. Some continue a long season in it. They are in suspense, between hope and fear, concerning their state. The Spirit of wisdom sees meet it should be so. The name of Jesus is precious to them. His word is their hope; his promises their stay. His kingdom is at hand, in knowledge and comfort. Salvation by Christ is made known to them. But, as yet, they enjoy not the assurance, that their sins are forgiven, through Christ's blood. They are the people of God; though not fully assured of it; having not yet received "the remission of sins,” by the Spirit of adoption. But pardon is sure, by the promise of a faithful God. It is obtained, by Christ's precious blood. It assuredly shall be en
joyed, as the Spirit's gift. Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. The just shall live by faith, Hab. ii. 3, 4. So sure as John Baptist has prepared the way in your heart, “The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple," Mal. iii. 1.
Nov. 22.-Wait on the Lord : be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord—Psalm xxvii. 14.
“Be of good courage !" Alas! how can one be so, when all sense and feeling dishearten the mind and deject the soul? Lively frames in duty, sweet enlargements of heart, heavenly transports of joy, delightful ecstasies of faith, rapturous tastes of love, all, all, like Noah's dove, have taken their flight: and I fear, says the drooping soul, never, never more to return. Truly, like Hezekiah, “I mourn as a dove; mine eyes fail with looking upward : O Lord, I am oppressed, undertake for me," Isa. xxxviii. 14. Still saith the Comforter, by his word, “Be of good courage.” Remember thy calling. It is to live by faith, honour thy Lord, and be obedient to his word. Thou hast the sentence of death in thyself, that thou shouldst not trust in thyself, lest thine heart depart from thy Lord. Not frames and feelings, but God's love and promises in Christ to sinners, are the foundation of hope. These are abun. dantly sufficient to inspire the soul with courage, yea, with good courage, to go on in the ways of the Lord.
Steadfast faith cleaves to Jesus, abides by the truth, perseveres in dutiful obedience. Shall these ever be suspended, for want of lively frames and joyful feelings? How would this prove that we walk by faith, and that our eye is single to Christ's glory? Nay, we should then serve him only by fits and starts of sense and passion, rather than by the uniform, consistent obedience of faith. The Lord's word is our rule of duty. His promises are our support. His grace is sufficient for us. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. If our hearts are weak, that we cannot run with alacrity the way of God's commandments, as we desire, so much more reason bave we to wait on the Lord, for the "times of refreshing from his presence.” For “he giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might be increaseth strength," Isa. xl. 29.