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covenant, the institution of sacrifices, &c. were appointed by Jehovah, to show the nature of his house, to typify God's dwelling in the human nature of Jesus, his sacrifice for, and special presence with, the household of faith. David asks, Lord, who shall dwell with thee? Psalm xv. 1. The answer is, Only those whose hearts are furnished with the graces of Jesus, and whose lives evidence it.
It bespeaks a person's proprietorship of, and delight of residence in a house, when he adorns and furnishes it. This Jesus doth by the hearts of all his members. He is our Brother in flesh. He complies with his own command, When thou lettest a servant go free, “thou shalt furnish him liberally," Deut. xv. 14. Out of Christ's fulness his members receive, most liberally, grace for grace. Hence they have the confidence of faith and the rejoicing of hope.
But why doth the apostle put an if bere. Is it to weaken our confidence and damp our joy, as though Jesus was not faithful to us; or that our own efforts could make salvation more secure than his blood and righteousness have? Is it to keep us always in diffidence and uncertainty? Far from it; this would counteract the grace of Jesus, weaken faith and hope in him, and strengthen our pride and vain glory, as though Jesus was the foundation, but our own arm, our own faithfulness was to raise the superstructure, and bring forth the head-stone of salvation, with shoutings, not of Grace, grace to him, but Glory, glory to us. Most detestable thought!
We are assured, that all those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life, shall enter into his glory, Rev. xxi. 27. There are no ifs, no doubt of this. But who are of that happy number? This we can only know by the Spirit given unto us, whereby we cleave unto Jesus in heart and affection as our only hope, renounce both the righteousness and sinfulness of the flesh, and continue to hold fast and persevere in the faith of the gospel, “and walk worthy of the voca
tion wherewith we are called,” Eph. iv. 1. Shall we, dare we say, those are of Christ's house, who have no real confidence, no scriptural hope in him? or those, who having professed to have faith and hope in him, now cast off, reject him, and deny Christ to be the only Saviour? No. But all of his house are exhorted, “Wherefore, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things ye shall never fall," 2 Pet. i. 10.
FEB. 1.–Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.—Isa. viii. 13. · In consequence of a blessed union between Jesus and his believing members, the word discovers the sweet concord and delight that mutually subsists in the heart towards each other. Thus it is declared, “The Lord's portion is his people,” Deut. xxxii. 9. And the church claims Jesus under the same appellation: "The Lord is my portion, saith my soul,” Lam. iii. 24. “Ye shall be to me a holy nation," Exod. xix. 6. "I will dwell in them, and walk in them,” saith our gracious Immanuel. Therefore, such highly favoured souls are called to the most special and peculiar service on earth, ere they attain the perfect enjoyment of Jesus in glory. What more exalted pitch of honour, than for creatures of a day to sanctify the Lord of the heavenly hosts, the Lord of the armies of the whole earth?
Is Jesus the Lord thy God? worship thou him; give him the glory due unto his name. The heart is his temple; there sanctify thy Lord. Separate every idol of self-righteousness, every vain pretension, every boasted plea for mercy, but what is in Jesus, and flows through him. Spurn from thee, as detestable, all things else that would rival Jesus, detract from his glory, or cast a veil over his finished salvation, by his life of obedience and blood of atonement.
“Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice," Phil. iv. 4: but rejoice with trembling; for the Lord our God is a holy God. Fear his frown. Dread his displeasure. Stand in awe of his majesty daily. Righteousness, peace, and joy of the soul are from him: therefore thy heart should be ever towards him, thine eye looking up to him, thine affections placed on him, thy hands working those things which are well-pleasing in his sight, and thy feet running the way of his commandments with delight. But who is sufficient for these things ? From daily experience we are constrained to confess, “When I would do good, evil is present with me." This is humbling, but not discouraging. Thy Master knows thy compound state; the desire to good is from him, the evil from thyself. Inspired Paul is upon a level with the weakest believer, alike naturally prone to evil and destitute of inherent power; but yet, saith he, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me,” Phil. iv. 13. This is the daily exercise of faith, to oppose Christ's righteousness to the feelings of sin, the sanctification of the Spirit to every lust, the strength of Jehovah to the weakness of nature. For this is our joy and triumph, "In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory," Isa. xlv. 25.
FEB. 2.-Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.-1 Pet. ii. 11.
The soul of every disciple of Jesus is most dearly beloved by the holy Trinity. It is a precious jewel in the eyes of the loving Father, the redeeming Son, and the sanctifying Spirit; who all unite to make it happy. But it hath a world of enemies. Yea, it is at present in the closest and nearest relation to one of its
greatest foes, the flesh; the lusts or desires of which, are at continual war against the peace, comfort, and welfare of the soul. Therefore, O christian, thy best Friend sounds an alarm of love, gives thee a dehortation of kindness: "Abstain from fleshly lusts." He knows what great hurt compliance with, and indulgence in, them will do thee; thou wilt surely smart, and be sorely grieved for it. Destroy thee they shall not; but distress thee, like the prevailings of a bitter enemy, they surely will. Consider, beloved christians, we are strangers and pilgrims, sojourning in a strange land, and passing through a foreign country; our clothing is Christ and his righteousness; our food, Christ and his fulness; our staff, Christ and his promises; our rule, Christ's word; our guide, his Spirit; the place whither we are bound, is heaven, a better country, our Father's house, the inheritance of our friends and brethren.
Settle this in your minds. Meditate daily on your calling, your hope, your heaven, where your treasure is. Where should your affections and delight be? Not on earth, this is not your rest, it is polluted; not in the flesh, this is to be denied, its motions abstained from, its lusts and affections crucified daily. Know the flesh as thine enemy, treat it as such, keep it under; in it"dwells no good thing;" its lustings and desires cannot but be evil continually: they will never cease to oppose the Spirit, the life and liberty of the soul; they are ever at war against that peace, consolation, and joy, which are in Christ. Daily victory is joyful triumph. Therefore ever follow this advice, “Put on the whole armour of God," Eph. vi. 11. Feeling foes within, and being at war against them, is a sure evidence of the life of the soul, and of being a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Consider, how the soul and the flesh, the life of the soul and the lusts of the flesh, are here opposed, and set at variance against each other. Therefore “fight the good fight of faith," 1 Tim. vi. 12.
FEB. 3.- Who can understand his errors ? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.—Psalm xix. 12, 13.
As faith gives a holy boldness at the throne of grace, so the regenerate soul is open and ingenuous in confession of sin. When sin is dethroned in the heart, its errors are its burden; the most secret faults bow it in humility before the Lamb. To his precious blood the believer has recourse for cleansing; he finds daily need of it. He cannot understand all his errors. Many secret faults cleave unto him. He is sensible, that even these must be washed away, lest they defile his conscience, and spread a cloud over his mind. It is the - peculiar wisdom of disciples, not only to observe the bud, blossom, and fruit of sin; but also to consider the evil root, the polluted nature from which it springs. Here is the exercise of watchfulness. This calls for their daily prayer, to be kept by the power of God.
Happy souls! who, under a sense of peace, through the blood of Jesus, are daily praying to be kept by the grace of the Spirit. Such truly know themselves, see their danger of falling, will not, dare not palliate the odious nature of sin, nor lessen its hateful deformity. They will not give a softer name to sin than it deserves, lest they depreciate the infinite value of Jesus' precious blood, which was shed to atone its guilt. Far will they be from flattering themselves into a deceitful notion, that they are perfect, and have no sin in them. The Spirit of truth delivers them from such errors; he teaches them, as poor sinners, to look to the Saviour, and beseech him to keep back the headstrong passions, the unruly lusts, and evil concupiscences, which dweli in their sinful natures. Alas! the most exalted saint, the most established believer, if left to himself, how soon might the blackest crimes, the most presumptuous sins, get dominion over him! David had woful experience of this, for a season. He prays from a heart