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And thus we are made meet to be partakers of the heavenly inheritance. Be ever "giving thanks," Col. i. 12.
FEB. 20.—That I may win Christ.-Phil. iii. 8.
No sooner had good king Hezekiah established his throne in righteousness, restored religion in his kingdom, set his whole heart to serve the Lord, and his God prospered him; but an invading Sennacherib enters his territories and encamps against his fenced cities, 2 Chron. xxxii. 1. Scripture and experience daily preach to God's children, “This is not your rest:" you are in a militant state. Though Jesus hath taken possession of your soul, and cast out the strong man armed, think not of folding your arms, and saying, I shall see war no more; for your adversary has many after-wars to wage. He will not only encamp against your fenced cities, and attack your out-works, but also attempt to force your very heart and mind. Beware of these suggestions of our destroying foe: “Come, you are now an excellent christian ; you have a tongue to speak for Jesus; you do not live and act like the rest of the careless, sinful world; you have made great advances in holiness; now you have somewhat whereof to glory in yourself before God.” Jesus, Master, save us in this hour of Satan's attack! When in such a storm, better to cast overboard all the heavy lading of self-confidence, to right the ship. For, "a haughty spirit goeth before a fall," Prov. xvi. 18.
Let us ever remember, Jesus is all our gain, and all our glory. We are still poor sinners. By renouncing all, and cleaving to him, we enjoy all in him. No fruits are produced, no comforts experienced, but by abiding in him. What! possess Jesus, and yet want to win him ? Yes: for there is much more knowledge of, peace from, love to, joy in, and conformity to precious Jesus, to be gained and experienced, than any of us have yet attained. Hearts enamoured with Christ, like avaricious gamesters, never, never think they have enough of him in time, till they have gained the full enjoyment of all his matchless charms in glory. They renounce all for his sake. Wherefore ? on terms and conditions to barter for an interest in Christ? No; this we have already, by free gift of rich grace; therefore, gracious, loving hearts detest such base, undervaluing thoughts of their infinitely precious Saviour. Shall the dross and dung of our doings and performances be put in competition with his most glorious excellency, who is our greatest prize, our noblest portion, our richest treasure? Oh, no! but by pressing on to know Christ, we win and gain more blessed enjoyment of him. This will ever be the language of faith, "Whom have I in heaven but thee," or what is there on earth I desire in comparison of thee? Psalm lxxiii. 25.
FEB. 21.-Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.—Luke xiii. 24.
Thou feeble-minded disciple, weak in faith, thy Saviour speaks not thus to discourage thee from seeking salvation by him only; for he also says, "Every one that seeketh findeth." But rather, he hereby animates and encourages thy soul to strive against every enemy that opposeth thy entering his kingdom by the strait gate, even
by his one atonement, and one righteousness, only. He designs also to show, that men may not only seek, but strive, yea strive as in an agony, "to enter in, but shall not be able.". Why? because they expect to enter the kingdom by some other gate than Jesus. But, says the apostle, “No man is crowned, except he strive lawfully,” 2 Tim. ii. 5. Earnestness, zeal, activity, avail nothing, while Jesus is not the only object; his blood, the only plea for pardon; his righteousness, the only hope for acceptance and justification. But this, in the eyes of selfrighteous professors, makes the gate appear too strait indeed. Hence they seek to enter by ways more pleasing to their pride, and more agreeable to the corrupt lusts of their nature. So that striving is not so much opposed to seeking, as the strait gate, Jesus, is to every other method of salvation by man's devising. There is an awful denunciation against such, Isa. xlv. 9. " Woe be to him that striveth with his Maker." Shall potsherds of the earth dare contend against the sovereignty of God's wisdom, power, and grace? This is the strife of the Pharisee. And,' in opposition to the sloth and licentiousness of the antinomian, says our Lord to all his disciples, Strive, against every enemy, to enter my kingdom by me.
So surely as there is a devil in hell, there will be false teachers on earth. So long as thou art in the body, thou wilt be beset with corrupt lusts, carnal reason, the workings of pride, unbelief, and self-righteousness. Now all these unite, to oppose thy faith, and contend against thy hope; but thy Master, who calleth thee to arms, bids thee to “be of good courage, and strive for the mastery.” In his strength, thou art sure to conquer, and win the prize. Press forward, “striving against sin,” Heb. xii. 4; “striving for the faith of the gospel,” Phil. i. 27; striving" fervently in prayers,” Col. iv. 12; “striving according to his working, who worketh mightily in us.” Thus, we see, salvation cometh, not by free-will power, nor to antinomian sloth; but is sure to all who are quickened by the Spirit, strive in faith, and give all diligence of hope, to enter the kingdom, and be saved, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, Acts xv. 11.
FEB. 22.—Why art thou cast down, O my soul ? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.-Psalm xlii. 11.
We are not to expect the sunshine of joy all through this vale of tears. Comfortable frames and joyful feel. ings, though sweet and delightful, are not always most profitable. Were we ever on the mount of joy we should forget we are strangers and pilgrims on earth, be for building tabernacles of rest in a polluted place, and cry out, with the highly-favoured disciples, It is good for us to be here;" but they knew not what they said, Luke ix. 33. It is the glory of a christian, to live by faith on Jesus, to judge of his love from the word
truth, more than by sense and feeling; yea, under dejection and disquiet of soul, to hope and trust in God, to check and rebuke one's self, for doubts and diffidence is the real exercise of faith. Faith supports the soul, and lifts it above the views of carnal reason, and the suggestions of sense.
The believer is steadily to abide by the word of truth, though in heaviness for a season; being persuaded, that shortly he shall rejoice in, and praise God even for this gloomy dispensation; concluding from the word of God's grace and faithfulness, Jehovah Jesus “is the health of my countenance, and my God." This is the very joy of faith. Such was the sweet experience of David, recorded in the 42d and 43d Psalms, for our instruction.
Disciple, it is well for thee to learn wisdom hereby. Thy frames may vary; the foundation of God's love standeth sure, his promises cannot fail; the word of truth, yea, the oath of Jehovah, are engaged for the strong consolation of all, "who have fled to Jesus for refuge,” Heb. vi. 18. Thou mayest meet with many things, from within and without, to cast down, distress, and disquiet thee; but thou art called to look to Jesus, not to stagger at the promises through unbelief; but like the father of the faithful, "against hope to believe in hope;" not to consider thine own corrupt nature, its lustings to evil, its enmity to grace, so as to give up thy hope. There is ever cause of humility, but no reason for casting away thy confidence in Jesus, in and under the worst frames. Though thou sin kest to hell, in the view of thy deserts, yet, through the righteousness of Jesus, salvation is procured for the helldeserving. Encourage thy soul to hope in him, so shalt thou glorify him. “I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord," Psalm xxxiv. 1, 2.
FEB. 23.—We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 1 John iii. 2.
Why should the Lord, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy, lay an embargo on our fully gratifying our. selves in the use of them? Why are we called to daily mortification and self-denial, as to sensual objects? Verily, it is all in love to our souls, that Jesus and spiritual objects may be more enjoyed; for experience proves the life of sense to be opposite to the life of faith. The more pleasure, comfort, and happiness we enjoy in the things of this life, this tends the more to make us love the world, and loth to leave it; and so our affections to Jesus cool, our desires after his appearing abate in their fervour, and we lose our longings after the unclouded sight of him in glory. Hence St. Paul reproves christians of old: "Are ye not carnal, and walk as men ?" 1 Cor. iii. 3. How justly applicable is this interrogation to us also! Reflect on this soulreviving truth, Yet a little while and Jesus shall appear. So sure as he was once upon earth, in our nature, he will appear again in the same human body, exalted and glorified. And can we know and believe this, as an undoubted truth, live upon it in expectation, without finding a deadness to this present world, and all its enjoyments? Here we feel sin in our flesh,