« PreviousContinue »
of encouragement to persevere in the paths of truth and holiness. What thanks are due to the loving Spirit for this wholesome advice! How much concerned should we be daily to improve it! Look to yourselves; see your danger, your vileness, your weakness. Look up to Jesus for safety and strength. Blessed be the God we serve! he is not unrighteous to forget our works of faith, patience of hope, and labour of love. We enjoy his reward in our work, though not for our work. No. Let Jesus have all that glory. Still, the more work, the more sufferings for his sake, so much the more reward; of just debt to him, of righteous grace to us. Oh, how apt are we to pine and grieve at the loss of a little shining dust! Should not the loss of light, liberty, love, peace, and joy in Jesus, infinitely more affect us?
Would we avoid sorrowful complaints of loss? Are we solicitous to rejoice in present gain, and in hope of a future full reward ? “Therefore, my brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as ye know your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Cor. xy. 58.
MARCH 20.—Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.-Jer. xv. 16.
That is a sweet petition in the service of the church of England: “Grant, O Lord, that we may not only hear, read, mark, and learn, but inwardly digest the holy scriptures." So soon as the Lord hath fulfilled this prayer upon any poor sinner, then Christ is the hope of his soul, he esteems the scriptures as his daily food, the doctrines of grace are the joy and rejoicing of his heart, and he will love and attend such prophets of the Lord, who have also“ found God's words and have eaten them.”
Glory to our loving Shepherd! he finds his sheep scattered, and starving upon the barren mountains, he leads them to green pastures of gospel grace and love; there they feed, and lie down, beside the still waters of peace and salvation. And this heightens every comfort, and improves every joy, even an inward testimony, “I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts." How happy, when minister or disciple is able, in simplicity and godly sincerity, to make this appeal, “Thou hast called me!" Thou, Jehovah, who rulest over the armies of angels and archangels, and all the heavenly host, thou hast condescended to make known thy name, thy grace, thy salvation to me, even wretched me. I hear thy voice, I know thy voice, I feel desires after thee, my heart thinks of thee with pleasure and delight, I find a hungering and thirsting within me, which nothing but thy blessed self can satisfy ; I am grieved when I offend thee, only happy when thy love and presence are enjoyed, and am concerned that I enjoy them no more. This is heaven below. Feeding upon the word of truth, increases desires after Jesus the object of faith. So the soul also becomes dead to the life of sense, the intrusions of sin, the allurements of the world, and the baits of Satan. Happy those in whom the word of Christ dwells richly, in all wisdom! Happy those, in whose hearts Christ dwells by faith! O soul, bast thou an appetite to feed upon the Bible, and digest it? Is it health and nourishment to thee? Then thou art blessed with the most exquisitely delicate taste. A poor sailor was lately cast away, lost his all, was almost naked. The first-half crown he got, he inquired where to make a purchase of what, think you?
u? Oh, what was dearest to his heart--a bible. Blessed evi dence of a christian ! " Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly," Col. iii. 16.
MARCH 21.-Ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's. 1 Cor. iii. 23.
St. Paul ransacks heaven and earth, time and eternity, to make up the christian's rich catalogue of mercies. But, as though the utmost stretch of thought of men, or angels, might omit some part of the believer's treasure ; and lest any thing should be found wanting, for support and comfort, to any needy soul, he twice repeats, “All things are yours." Believer, wouldst thou know thy title ? wouldst thou inquire, Whence is it the Lord should consign such innumerable blessings, such infinitely rich mercies to us? Whereas one thing we know, we feel daily, we are sinners to this very hour. And will not this prevent the right to possession, and the freedom of enjoyment? No: justice and wisdom conspire to take away this, and every objection. The medium of communication is such, that neither reason, law, nor equity can gainsay.
Dwell on this point; look up to the Spirit of truth, to establish faith, strengthen hope, increase love, and promote joy. "Ye are Christ's, by special gift; his dear purchase, and his precious reward. We have all in him, by rich love, peculiar grace, free gift, and precious promises. Precious faith is the blessed evidence of interest and proprietorship in this blessed inventory. But how came faith? From hearing the word of God. From whom came the word ? By the Spirit of truth, who also gives faith. Why is the Spirit given ? Because Jesus is glorified. Wherefore came Jesus, to seek and save the lost? The Father loved us, and gave his Son for us. Why did the Father love us? It was the good pleasure of his will, according to which he chose us, in Christ Jesus, before the foundation of the world; predestinated us to the adoption of children, and blessed us with all spiritual blessings in him, Eph. i. 3—5. Hence, O believer, how clear thy title ! how certain thy possession!
“ Christ is God's,” God's beloved Son; so art thou in him. Christ's is God's gift for thee, God's gift to thee, and thou art given to him. Thou enjoyest all in him, and receivest all from him. Canst thou ever want food for faith, a source of love, a fountain of holiness, or a spring of consolation ? What have we done, or what could we do, to get an interest in Christ, or procure a right to such heavenly treasures ? Verily, we have done enough to forfeit, but nothing to deserve them. Know this and be humbled ; consider this, and be joy. ful in love: “All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. v. 18. Improve your blessed privileges, by walking worthy of the Lord, Col. i. 10.
MARCH 22.-Thy Maker is thine husband.—Isa. liv. 5.
All marriages are, or ought to be, founded in mutual love between the contracting parties. This is the chief ingredient to produce happiness in the conjugal state. Where this is wanting, true comfort cannot be enjoyed. When a person of noble birth, and great fortune, marries a woman in poor circumstances, and involved in debt, we justly conclude, he chose her out of pure love and affection. And surely, such a one is under the most endearing obligations to love and chastity. She can never call to mind her former indigent state, and her present affluent circumstances, but it must tend to inflame her with the most ardent affection to her hus. band. This is somewhat the case between Christ and his church. Pure love, in the heart of the heavenly Bridegroom, caused him to betroth his church unto himself
, in loving kindness. Though in the most abject state, and despicable condition, yet he secretly loved her from eternity, and openly espouses every member, in time of conversion, one by one. So saith St. Paul, “I have espoused you to one husband, Christ,” 2 Cor. xi. 2.
Canst thou, O believer, call to mind thy natural state of poverty and distress; over head and ears in debt; writs issued from the law, which justice might have executed; liable every moment to be cast into prison,
where thou must have lain everlastingly, with nothing but rags, filthy rags, to hide thy shame, and cover thy nakedness? Canst thou think of this without humility? And dost thou now see the kindness and love of thy Husband? Has he paid all thy debts, cancelled every bond, put in a plea against every accusation, and per: fectly fulfilled the holy law, and satisfied divine justice? Art thou “ blessed with all spiritual blessings" in him? hath he “clothed thee with the garments of salvation,” and adorned thee with “the robe of his righteousness ?” and doth he say of thee, “Thou art all fair, my love; I see no spot in thee?" Cant. iv. 7.
Oh, what purity of affection, what ardency of love, what chastity of behaviour is due to such a Husband! He took thee at first for better, for worse;" his love to thee is ever the same, affectionate and constant, full of complacency and delight, sympathizing with thy troubles, and ever nourishing and cherishing thee. Shortly, the Larnb will, in the most public manner, appear as thy Bridegroom, and celebrate the marriage in a blissful eternity. Then it shall be said, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready."
MARCH 23.-Jesus said, One thing is needful.Luke x. 42.
The disposition and carriage of the sisters, Martha and Mary, much resemble the different desires and actings of the flesh and spirit, of which every christian is composed. The flesh, like Martha, is careful and troubled about many things; it is ever restless and un. easy; always in want; seldom satisfied; never truly happy. But the spirit has chosen the good part, the one thing needful. It is truly wise in its choice, quite satisfied in its object, and really happy in its enjoyment.
Thus it is, while the christian is under the prevailing