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you. Your King, though ever on a throne, where majesty and glory shine with the brightest lustre, yet grace and mercy are freely dispensed to needy souls. Hither you are invited to come; yea more, to come boldly. Why? because you are “rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing ?” Nay, but because your King knows you are "poor and miserable, blind and naked creatures in yourselves,” day after day. Nothing to present, to procure his favour, and deserve his acceptance of you. But he loves your persons, has riches for your poverty, eye-salve for your blindness, a garment for your nakedness, a robe for your rags, and mercy for your misery; yea, a heaven of grace for your hell of deserts.
Your Mediator with his blood, your High Priest with his much incense, always intercedes. There can be no period of your life but what is a time of need. Who has obtained all the mercy? who has found all the grace which can be dispensed from his throne? Thou art still a sinner, and wantest both mercy and grace; and as thou findest thy want, thy need, hither thou mayest always repair with boldness, and ever expect a rich supply. For God the Father is the fountain of grace and mercy. Jesus thy Saviour is the treasurer. "All fulness of grace dwells in him.” The Spirit is the dispenser of mercy and grace. Why then, O soul, that backwardness, which too, too often besets thee? What privilege so great? What encouragement so strong?
“Come with boldness," yet consistent with awe and reverence. Boldness of faith is grounded on something without a man, or nothing in him; not on the fervent heart of love, the bleeding heart of repentance, the active life of obedience, the suffering mind of patience; but faith fixes on Jesus, and the believer comes with an empty heart and hand, to be filled with the free gifts of grace. Sweetest encouragement from the Friend of sinners! “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,” most blessed promise! "and I will give you rest,” Matt. xi, 28.
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MARCH 4.—Unto you who believe, he is precious.1 Pet. ii. 7.
We are loved with precious love; redeemed by precious blood ; comforted by precious promises ; justified by precious faith; yea, righteousness, holiness, heaven, we have by union with a precious Jesus. Surely, then, "to them that believe he is precious.” Say, ye sons of poverty, ye daughters of affliction, is not this a time when friends grow cool and desert you? But in such a season to find a Friend who visited you in your distress, was ever saying kind things to you, ever doing all possible good for you; when in prison sought you out and set you at liberty, when sick was your Physician and healed you, when naked clothed you, when in abject poverty made you rich; thus was always pleased when he could make you easy and happy; say, is not this a Friend of ten thousand ? a Friend who sticketh closer than a brother? Is not such an one precious indeed?
All this, yea, infinitely more than all this, hath Jesus done for a poor wretched race of sinners. Therefore he is indeed to them a precious “Friend, who loveth at all times ;" the precious “Brother, who is born for adversity,” Prov. xvii. 17. “He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” Precious in what he hath done yesterday—shed his blood for the guilty-wrought out à righteousness to clothe the naked. To-day he is pleading our cause before the throne, where "he ever lives to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by him,” Heb. vii. 25. He makes love-visits, sends kind tokens, refreshing manifestations, causing poor hearts to rejoice in him, filling them with peace and comfort from him. Oh, he is inestimably precious in what he is doing, and in what he will do! For he will never leave one of his members, till he has brought them all safe through a wicked world, given them victory over all sin, Satan, and death, and lodged them in the arms of his embraces ; "for,” says he, "where I am there shall all my servants be." Oh, who can say how infinitely precious Jesus is to the saints above! This we must die to know. Though now, we know but in part, and see but in part; yet from what we do see and know by faith, we can say, “he is precious indeed.”
However distressing our circumstances, yet he is Immanuel, God with us. Are we sick of sin ? He is our Physician. Is sin our burden? He is our Deliverer. Doth the law accuse and condemn us? He is the Lord our righteousness. Do lust and corruption rebel? He is our sanctification. Do the world, sin, and Satan, threaten our destruction? He is Jesus, our salvation; our all in all.
MARCH 5.--Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling.-2 Tim. i. 9.
Such as are our natural notions of sin and danger, such is our judgment of salvation and deliverance. In our natural state, we see only the fruits of sin in outward actions; but consider not the corrupt, cursed root from whence they spring. Hence, dead sinners think it no great matter to be saved; especially, if they have some specious show of sobriety, morality and religion. Happy souls, who have escaped this dangerous rock of pride and self-deceit! for when the scales of ignorance fall from the eyes, and the veil of unbelief is taken off the heart; when the true light shineth in the mind, and the purity and spirituality of God's holy law is made manifest in the conscience; then the sinner sees his state truly desperate. Sin appears exceedingly sinful; justly deserved hell and wrath are most dreadful. And, most deplorable of all, he finds he must utterly sink into despair and perish, for anything he is able to do to save his soul. "God be merciful to me a sinner!" is the cry of his heart. “In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book; and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity," Isa. xxix. 18. The book of God's
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eternal counsel shall be disclosed, his purpose and decree of salvation shall be made known, by his revealed truth to the heart; the joyful sound of salvation by Jesus shall be heard in the soul, and the poor sinner shall see Christ's finished work as his only hope. Love presided in the counsel. Grace shall reign to salvation. The gospel trumpet sounds reconciliation to ungodly sinners, salvation for lost souls. Their good works produced it not; their sins, however numerous and great, shall not deprive them of it. We are first saved, then called to know it, and glorify God for it.
When called with an effectual call to Jesus, we enjoy hope in God, and comfort from him. Effects prove their cause. A bold assurance, that “I am elected, I know my sins are pardoned,” is not of the essence of gospel faith, or that which applies the comforts of gospel salvation to the soul; but election to salvation is made manifest by “a holy calling." Paul not only confidently asserts he was an apostle; but “truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you,” 2 Cor. xii, 12. And verily, disciple, if thou art saved in God's purpose from eternity, redeemed by Jesus in time, effectual vocation is the consequence; whereby thou art called to enjoy a holy Saviour, by a holy faith ; art a partaker of a holy nature, and wilt show thy faith by thy works, James ii. 18.
MARCH 6.—Striving against sin.-Heb. xii. 4. .
“What poor, low, legal work is this !" say some. "We are happy in Christ without such a strife.” “We are perfect, fully born again, perfectly sanctified, and freed from the being of all sin; therefore our strife is at an end,” say others. Alas! honest, upright christians are ever in danger; on the right hand, of licentiousness; on the left hand, of pride; and also, from a deceitful heart within. O christian, what with the white devil of pride, and the black devil of lust, thou art ever liable to be seduced from the truth. What a
mercy to have a true touchstone to try men and doctrines by! The experience of christians of old, as recorded by the Spirit of truth, affords us quite different sentiments of the influence of gospel grace.
The regenerate soul being restored to the life and love of God, by the faith of Jesus, ever, while it is imprisoned in the body, is surrounded within and without with foes of every kind. These, like mighty combatants, strive and fight against its rest, holiness, and comfort. Here the christian, under the influence of the Spirit, cannot, will not dare be passive, to suffer sin, in its tyrannizing nature, to lord it over him. But he will be active, fighting, striving, wrestling against his bosom inmate, his worst foe, indwelling sin. It reflects a dishonour both upon the Author and the grace of faith, to suppose it leaves the soul in a state of indolence, or melancholy sitting still; or, that it can be satisfied with carnal gratifications, and the sensual delights of a perishing world. No: being alive to God, possessing the faith of Jesus, we shall strive for the mastery, and be temperate in all things. Our very sighs and groans, sense of weariness and heaviness, evi. dence our conflicts and struggles. Our cry to Jesus for strength proves our wisdom, and forebodes our victory. Our patient enduring, submissive waiting, steady persevering, and constant striving, till deliverance, perfect deliverance is granted, show, that “we have the mind of Christ," the life of Christ, the Spirit of Christ; that we are his beloved brethren, and shall soon be for ever with him.
Now the Lord's promise is, “I will drive out your foes by little and little.” In a very, very short time, (O christian, lift up thy head with joy, thy redemption draweth nigh,) the joyful sound of perfect victory shall be proclaimed," and the enemies you this day see, feel, and groan under, strive and fight against, you shall see them no more for ever.” Till that glorious day arrives, hear and obey your dear Lord, “ Abide in me; for without me ye can do nothing," John xv. 4, 5.