« PreviousContinue »
present our distress, and claim, with humble boldness, a supply of all our need.
When there is a death upon all comfortable sense, and joyful feelings, when all things around us wear a gloomy aspect, when conscience within writes bitter things against us, the law works wrath, and its terrors make us afraid ; and an insulting foe, to heighten distress, and increase our sorrows, stands over us, with There, there, so would I have it !"
In such a season, Oh, it is life from the dead, to remember the infinitely transcendent love, victorious toils, and triumphant conquests of Jesus over all things for us! How joyful to read that all the promises centre in him, and that they are infallibly sure and certain to all the seed, yea and amen, to the glory of God the Father! How establishing to hear such gracious words from the mouth of Jehovah, "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgression for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins!” Isa. xliii. 25. How powerfully alluring, how sweetly attracting to the affections, when Love calls, "Put me in remembrance,” plead with me; thou shalt not call in vain, I will hear, I will answer thee! Thus love, thus grace descends to the heart; thus it speaks by the word. Hence desires are kindled in the soul, blown into a flame, and ascend in fervent, earnest prayer and pleading to a faithful, promise-fulfilling God. Surely we can never enough prize God's word, never sufficiently adore the Holy Spirit, for the knowledge of Jesus, by the word. And if the word of the Lord is our hope, we have eternal truth, everlasting love, infinite power, and unchangeable faithfulness engaged for us. What a special privilege is this, to have God's own word for our hope in him and plea before him! “Every word of God is pure; he is a shield unto them who put their trust in him," Prov. xxx. 5.
APRIL 11.--Jesus said unto them, Take heed what ye hear.-Mark iv. 24.
It is our unspeakable mercy, it calls for our daily tribute of praise, and daily study to improve it, that a free use of the lively oracles of truth is permitted us. Others are denied this rich privilege. Happy those, to whom the word of God is the rule of their faith, a light to direct their paths, and a standard whereby they try and prove the doctrines they hear, whether they are of God, or man! The whole truth, as it is in Jesus, is precious to every believer. Faith comes by hearing the word of God." As the ear is the inlet to the soul, we should ever take heed what kind of doctrines we hear. Through the ear, Satan gained access to the heart of Eve, and beguiled her. Paul alludes to this, 2 Cor. xi. 3. "I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent be. guiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." What is this simplicity ? Even this plain, simple truth, that salvation is wholly and solely by Christ, according to the everlasting purpose and love of God the Father, revealed in the word of truth, and applied to the soul by the Holy Spirit. Lost and perishing sinners are the happy subjects of it. They have no hand in procuring, or making it effectual; but they are wholly saved by election of grace, through faith. Whatever doctrines are contrary to either of these points, oppose revealed truths, are subversive of the plan of salvation, tend to rob God of the glory of his grace, and his dear children of their comfort and joy of faith.
Therefore, disciples, take heed what you hear. These doctrines are not merely speculative, or non-essential ; but are the important, fundamental, essential truths of the gospel. To oppose the doctrine of election, is to deny the first cause of salvation, the everlasting love of God the Father; it is to gainsay the prophets, apostles, and even our Lord himself, who spake most plainly of it. This ariseth from human pride, which
ever imagines it can do something to procure God's love. So of the imputed righteousness of Christ, and the saints' perseverance in faith and holiness; if these scripture truths are maligned and opposed, it is from the supposed self-sufficiency and self-righteousness of the creature, to establish its own righteousness and faithfulness. Hence, salvation becomes precarious, justification impossible. This strikes at the root of true holiness, and tends both to presumption and licentiousness. For these truths are revealed in the word, by the Spirit, most clearly, that they should be the food of our faith, subjects of study, the causes of humility, confidence of hope, rejoicing of love, and excite us to holiness. Approve yourselves “ by the word of truth,” 2 Cor. vi. 7.
APRIL 12.-And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him.-Josh. vii. 19.
The Lord our God is a jealous God; jealous of his glory, and his people's good. Sin is contrary to both. God so loves his people, that he will not suffer sin to reign in them. Wilful, allowed sin, however secret, he will chastise for, and bring the soul to confess and repent of. Though sin shall not bring one of God's dear children to hell, yet it may bring a hell into the conscience for a season. Sin may break the peace of mind, but cannot the covenant of peace.
Wilful transgression causes the Lord to hide his face, or frown upon his dear children. This weakens their hands, dejects their hearts, and the enemy gets power against them. This was the case with A chan; therefore the accursed thing must be found out, confessed, and put away. Methinks Achan's case should remind the believer of his carnal, sinful nature. It is from hence spring all his troubles. Indulging its sinful motions brings grief to the soul; encouraging an opinion
of its goodness and righteousness is dissembling with God: it is hiding somewhat in the "earth, in the midst of the tent,” which is abominable to him, and which robs him of his glory. The flesh with its lusts and corruptions, though we may think of them, as Achan did of the Babylonish garment, that they are goodly, yet they are accursed by the law of God. Therefore we are, through the Spirit, "to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts." Like the wedge of gold, and the shekels of silver, all must be given up; we must retain none of its riches and treasures. How often has our flesh made our hands hang down, our knees faint, and our hearts troubled !
O christian! thou son of the Most High, give glory to the Lord God of Israel, hide nothing in thy earthly, vile nature from thy Lord and Saviour; make confession unto Jesus of all that is in thee, vile, abominable, wretched, and hell-deserving as thou art by nature. Give Jesus all the glory of redemption, justification, and salvation. Expect no good from the flesh, in the pleasures and enjoyments of sense. Seek it all in Jesus, and from his Spirit. As Achan troubled Israel, he must therefore perish in the flames of Achor. So, christian, the flesh that troubles thy spirit, is shortly to fall and die under the sentence for sin. But saith God, I will give the valley of Achor (trouble] for a door of hope, Hos. ii. 15. Though the body shall be sown in dishonour, yet it shall be raised in glory. For, saith Jesus, "I am the resurrection, and the life. He who liveth and believeth in me shall never die,” John xi. 25, 26.
APRIL 13.—Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.—Heb. ii. 1.
The body receives little nourishment, if its food pass hastily through it. To health and strength proper digestion is necessary. Divine truths, eagerly heard and soon forgot, neither comfort nor strengthen the soul. When the babe Jesus was lying in the manger, and the shepherds had told the glorious things they had seen and heard concerning him, many wondered. But it was the happiness of the virgin mother, that "she kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart," Luke ii. 19. We can never be comfortable in Jesus, but while the truths concerning him dwell in our minds.
Many complain of bad memories. They can retain but little of the doctrines of grace. True, Jesus saves none for the sake of a strong memory; neither will his loving heart cast off
because of a weak one. Yet it is our daily interest to take the wholesome advice which the Spirit of wisdom dictates. His word is our direction. His gracious cautions prevent evils. He teacheth to the soul's health. It behoves us to give the most earnest heed to the truths of Jesus. They demand all our attention. Pondering them in our minds, dwelling on them in our hearts continually, tend, through grace, to keep us watchful against what would rob us of their comfort, and to strengthen our memories to retain the sweet sense of them. Hence, a holy fear will be excited, lest at any time we should let them slip, or run out of our minds, as water does through a leaky vessel; so as to lose the savour of them from our hearts.
Sudden flashes of comfort, hasty transports of joy, are dubious as to their cause. By the word of truth we are to try them; and by that we shall be able to stand. The gospel of grace inspires with courage. Through the knowledge of Jesus we conquer. That spirit, which excites to diligence and care, will establish in the truth. Studious souls, in the school of Christ, make the most established and lively disciples. The opposition of enemies to the truths of electing love, Jesus' righteousness, the final salvation of his redeemed children, &c., shall do us no harm. This shall be overruled by grace, to the establishing the faith of God's