« PreviousContinue »
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 salvation 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 enjoyed, 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 ar
If our hearts are weak, that we cannot run with alacrity the way of God's commandments, as we desire, so much more reason have 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.
“Wait, I say, on the Lord." David repeats the injunction, with a holy fervour, to his own soul, and others. God has promised; expect fulfilment. Here is the exercise of faith, trust in the Lord Christ for what we stand in need of: of hope, expecting to receive all from him ; of patience, waiting continually upon him. Most precious promise! "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, walk and not faint," Isa. xl. 31.
Nov. 23.-Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.- Heb. xi. 1.
Happiness, that inestimable jewel, every man is in search after. But to seek it from objects unseen and invisible to our natural senses, is a downright paradox, and will be ever condemned, as the greatest absurdity, in the judgment of depraved sense and carnal reason. In the knowledge, love, and enjoyment of God, true happiness alone consists. The only living and true God hath revealed himself in Christ. This is the christian's God. He knows no other. It is a blessed truth of God's word. By faith this subsists in his mind, and is the evidence of his new-born soul.
From this faith, “That God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself," Oh, what an extensive prospect hath hope! God in Christ; the promises all in Christ: he that believeth is in Christ. Christ dwelleth in his heart by faith. All the blessings of time, all the glories of eternity are sure, by the yea and amen of God, to such believing souls. Shall any bold emissary from Satan demand, "What right hast thou to the inheritance of this good land ?" Abraham's sons have Abraham's plea. It is mine by promise. By faith I sojourn in it. God's promise is faith's claim. What he has spoken is the ground or substance of hope.
But may not other witnesses declare against the christian? Yea, doubtless, many; from the old man, the flesh, Satan, and the law. But the first is under sentence of death, his witness is not valid. Satan is a liar from the beginning, therefore deserves no credit. The evidence of the law is out of date. It is superseded by the promise. For the law, which was 430 years after the covenant, confirmed by God in Christ, cannot disannul it, to make the promise of none effect, Gal. iii. 17. But, blessed be our Lord! though he suffers us to be attacked by many adversaries, he leaves not himself without evidence in our hearts. Faith is the substance; hope the evidence. Though each of us cannot say, I know I am a child of God; yet the weakest believer hath the evidence of truth-the witness in himself, of the reality and certainty of invisible objects, " things not seen," the eternal covenant of grace and peace, the finished work of Jesus, and the glories of an eternal world. And, amidst opposition from every quarter, here is a full proof of the inward subsistence and evidence of spiritual and invisible objects, in our desires for stronger faith in, and clearer knowledge and enjoy. ment of them. "To every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance,” Matt. xxv. 29.
Nov. 24.—The word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.—1 Thess. ii. 13.
A proclamation of grace from an earthly king has reduced the most desperate and hardened rebels to lay down their arms and promise true allegiance. But, though the word of God is a proclamation of free grace, glad tidings of full pardon; though replete with the most tender expostulations, and the most endearing in. vitations ; yet, so abominable is our perverseness, so daring our obstinacy, that we should remain deaf to every call, and continue bardened in our rebellion against the most high God, till we fall victims to his