Page images

are healed by the Shepherd's stripes. Pardon is obtained by the Bishop's sufferings and death. All this is proclaimed by the Shepherd's voice. But oh! what fools! “how slow of heart to believe this!" This keeps many poor sheep from returning to Jesus; and those that have heard his voice, and are returned to him, do not keep so close to him as is their interest and happiness. 'l'he loving Shepherd complains of this, Jer. ii. 31. Have I been a barren wilderness unto you, O ye sheep of my pasture? No, truly; our souls can never be healthy and thriving, but while our Shepherd is in view, and we are feeding on the green pastures of his love, by the still waters of his salvation.

It behoves Christ's sheep to consider daily, how dear they are to him; what a sweet relation he stands in to them; what love and care he has for them: that so he may be more endeared to them; and that his pastoral instructions, cautions, and directions, may influence their walk and conversation. For the adversary is ever working upon our treacherous nature, to make us conceive of Jesus otherwise than a faithful shepherd and loving overseer; that so, as terrified sheep, we may fly from him, and cease to love and follow him. Yea, to this end the father of lies thus preaches, “Though you are returned to your Shepherd, yet, after all, he may cease to love and care for you, and let you perish." This is the doctrine of devils, let who will preach it. For it gives the lie to Jesus, the truth, who says, "I give unto them eternal life; they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand,” John x. 28. “We are not ignorant of Satan's devices," (2 Cor. ii. 11,) nor of the cunning craftiness of those who lie in wait to deceive, Eph. iv. 14.

APRIL 18.-God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ.—1 Cor. i. 9

While we entertain a notion of a God out of Christ, it affords no comfort to the mind to hear of God's faithfulness. Nay, if we were not blind to our state, as sinners, the thought would fill us with dread and horror. For how awful, how terrifying is this declaration from a faithful God! “I will by no means clear the guilty," Exod. xxxiv. 7. But we know, that the Lord our God, he is God, the faithful God, who keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations,” Deut. vii. 9. Oh, this is the life of poor sinful souls! this is the joy of their hearts. For whenever one reads of the covenant, it reminds of Jesus the Surety, the Mediator; of God in Christ, the God of love, our reconciled God and Father. We have no immediate access to the Father, but by his Son Jesus Christ. When called into fellowship, intercourse, familiarity, and sweet converse with Jesus by faith, then we have free access to the Father's throne of grace and his heart of love. We glory in his great and precious promises, and triumph in his declarations of faithfulness and truth.

The faithfulness of God is the foundation of all present grace, the security of future glory. Many weak disci. ples are perplexed with dark and disturbing thoughts in this matter. Their hearts are not carried up to rest in the love of the Father, where all is serene and quiet; but they keep below, in the region of doubts and fears, storms and clouds. Their souls may be exercised, and often distressed; but they are safe, because called to the knowledge of, faith in, and fellowship with their Elder Brother, Jesus. This is by the love of the Father, through the power of the Spirit. And God is faithful to his covenant, to his Son, to his people, to his own word to them, and his work in them. For whom he calls, them he glorifies." Faithful to support them, under all present dejections of mind, and sinking of spirits. Faithful to preserve them in all times of danger, and to give them living comforts in a dying hour.

Now, O believer, thou art called to honour the faithfulness of thy God, by trusting in his word of truth;



glorying in his promises of grace, at all times. at thy worst of times and frames, even when sense, reason, feelings, and appearances are all against thee, then the Lord is for thee, “ The Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from all evil,” 2 Thess. iii. 3; faithful “to confirm you unto the end, that you may be blameless in the day of the Lord Jesus," 1 Cor. i. 8.

APRIL 19.-What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound ?—Rom. vi. 1.

Believer in Jesus, what are thy thoughts? what the answer of thine heart this day, in regard to thy walk and conduct in life, from the important doctrines of grace? Canst thou say, the everlasting love of God the Father, reigning through the righteousness of his Son, unto eternal life, manifested in the gospel, and applied by the Holy Spirit through faith, hath the least tendency to give reins to thy lust, open a door of licentiousness, and encourage thee to continue in sin ? Doth the belief of the guilt of sin being atoned, by the precious blood of Jesus, influence thee to love sin ? Doth the knowledge of Christ's righteousness imputed unto justification of life, tend to make thee delight in unrighteousness, and unholiness of life? By no means; God forbid ! what daring impiety! what horrid blasphemy, to bring such a heinous charge against divine truths! Beware of such a thought. Indulge it not one moment. It comes from the adversary of all truth. It impeaches the wisdom and holiness of the Spirit of truth. For he reveals these soul-saving, Christ-glorify. ing, God-honouring truths; and by his precious gift of faith, sinners receive and embrace them. But to what end ? Hereby they see the display of justice, the triumph of mercy in righteousness; their souls established in the sense of peace and pardon, and most powerfully influenced to the love of personal holiness and obedience. Sooner ascribe midnight darkness and winter's frost to that source of all light and heat, the sun, than once imagine the grace of God leads to sin, or the aboundings of grace to continue in sin. No: this is through the aboundings of lust. “When lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin," James i. 15. But grace, conceived in the heart, brings forth holiness.

"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law,” Rom. iii. 31. How? as a covenant of work to us? No; that it was to our dear Surety. “Christ is the end [the fulfiller] of the law for righteousness, to every one who believeth," chap. x. 4. We establish the law as a rule of duty to us; though not to obtain life, but according to which we ought to walk. So we follow our Lord, and are conformed to him. Oh, may the cheering light of truth be ever accompanied with the warm in. fluences of the Sun of righteousness upon our heart ! “By the grace of God we have had our conversation in the world,” 2 Cor. i. 12. “Sin shall not have dominion over you,

for ye are under grace,” Rom. vi. 14.

APRIL 20.-God hath chosen us in Christ, before the foundation of the world.-Eph. i. 4.

So the apostles wrote and preached, to comfort and establish their brethren in the faith of Christ, the love of God, and the sanctification of the Spirit, unto all true holiness. The election of sinners, by God the Father, in Christ Jesus, from all eternity, is the foundation from which all faith and hope spring. If this truth is rejected, the atonement of Jesus is made precarious, the work of the Spirit uncertain, salvation doubtful, faith void, the promise of none effect; and the hope of eternal life is made to depend on the will and power of weak and vile sinners, instead of the grace and truth of God. But in every age, men of corrupt minds, destitute of the truth, have opposed God's sovereign grace, everlasting love, and eternal purposes.' God hath suffered it, that those who are approved might be made manifest,” 1 Cor. xi. 19. Humble, self-emptied sinners, who are poor in spirit, and lowly in their own eyes, plainly discern, that systems of human pride, schemes of self-confidence, are set up to establish vain hopes, and self-righteous pleas, in opposition to the truths of God; and, if it were possible, to deceive the very elect of God, Matt. xxiv. 24. But his love toward his children is too great to suffer it. And they do well to take heed to the true light of electing grace and love, which shines with such glory in the person of Jesus, to the comfort of their souls through the faith of him.

“Beware of men; call no man Rabbi." Yet saith Paul to his son Timothy, “The things which thou hast heard of me, the same commit thou to faithful men ; who shall be able to teach others also," 2 Tim. ii. 2. So a standing ministry hath been established, which God has sent forth, in every age, boldly to preach the Godglorifying, soul-humbling, faith-establishing, sin-subduing truths of the gospel. Human compositions, agreeable to God's truth, are establishing to the faithful. Thank God, for those sweet and comfortable words of the seventeenth article of the church of England: “The godly consideration of predestination, and our election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the workings of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members; and drawing up their minds to high and heavenly things. It doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation, to be enjoyed through Christ. It doth fervently kindle their love toward God." If thou findest these scripture marks in thyself, give God the glory of electing love; and "hold fast this form of sound words in faith and love," 2 Tim. i. 13.

« PreviousContinue »