Page images

well? what is the frame of your soul after thus gratify. ing the will of the flesh, your proud self-will? What hast thou gained hereby, but dejection of spirit, and sorrow of heart? What hast thou lost? Even the comforting view of Jesus, and the sweet sense of his peace. Thus the feet are entangled in a snare; and, instead of running with patience, we sit down in sorrow. Tossed by stormy winds, in a tempestuous ocean, the poor bark seems driven many degrees back from the haven of rest and peace. So we suffer loss of patience by looking from Jesus to other objects. While our Beloved is viewed, patience possesses the heart, the feet run with delight the way of God's commandments, and we look forward with cheerful hope. Patience sweetens afflictions, and improves exercises and trials. It keeps the heart from envy, the hand from revenge, the tongue from evil-speaking, and overcomes enemies without weapons; for it draws all its strength from Christ's love, the sweetness of his presence, and the hope of his glory. A martyr tormented by infidels, was asked by the way of reproach, what miracle his Christ had done. He replied, “You now behold one: he enables me to bear your reproaches and suffer your tortures with patience. I am not moved. Is not this a miracle worthy your notice ?” Whatever befalls our souls is the wise allotment of our loving Father. We are exhorted to "run with patience,” that we may not lie down in sorrow. The Sun of consolation shall shine bright on our souls, while we press forward " toward the mark for the prize of our calling of God in Jesus Christ,” Phil. iii. 14.

AUGUST 6.—He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.-1 John v. 10.

Many weak lambs of Jesus are sadly perplexed about the nature of faith. The apostle says, “There is one faith.” In opposition to this, some have made a string of more than a score. From such unscriptural notions, the workings of the enemy, their own corruptions, weakness of their faith, opposed by unbelief, they are often ready to question, nay, sometimes conclude they have not the faith of God's elect.” Here is a certain rule to determine by. This, if clearly understood in the light of the Spirit, will satisfy and comfort weak hearts. Mind, the apostle doth not say, He that believeth hath no sin, no doubts, knows his sins forgiven, and has full assurance of his own salvation. No: “but he hath the witness in himself.” That is, an inward tes. timony of what is outwardly revealed in the word: as the Spirit bears witness in the word to the incarnate Son of God, the only true and all-sufficient Saviour of guilty, perishing sinners; so he, who thus believeth on him, hath a divine, satisfying, experimental testimony, brought into his mind and conscience by the Holy Ghost, of the truth he believes, which neither men nor devils can destroy. Though he finds and feels himself a lost creature, a helpless sinner; so lost, that he can do nothing to save himself; so vile, that his nature is enmity against Jesus and his salvation; yet, he believes the Son of God came to seek and to save such, that there is all salvation in him, and in no other, for them. Thus believing he hath the witness, or testimony, of the love of the ever-blessed Trinity to sinners in his heart: the Father's love in the gift of his Son; the Son's love in saying; and the Spirit's love in testifying to this in the word, and by faith in his heart.

Happy would it be for sensible sinners, if, instead of poring over themselves, they looked more steadily to the work of Jesus; considered more constantly the fulness of his redemption, the freeness of his salvation; and regarded the outward witness of this in the word. Faith in this would bring comfort to the heart, doubts and fears would vanish, the fruits of faith more evi. dently appear, and their minds, in God's own time, be fully satisfied of their interest in Jesus, and forgiveness of their sins, by the witness of the Holy Spirit, through


faith. For faith in the Son of God hath the pre-eminence above all other things. If the soul is filled with peace and joy, if with assurance of pardon, if sealed with the Spirit, it is by believing. "And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith," 1 John v. 4.

AUGUST 7.-I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.--2 Cor. xi. 3.

By a godly fear in the heart, the Lord keeps his people from totally departing from him. But, there is ever danger from Satan, from men, yea, and from brethren too, of our minds being corrupted and be. guiled, so as to suffer the loss of that singleness of eye, and simplicity of heart, towards our dear Saviour, by which the soul is kept happy. If the Lord's prophet had been more jealous over himself, and simply regarded his Master's voice, the fair speech of his brother had not betrayed him to disobedience, and death by the mouth of the lion, 1 Kings xiii. 24. This is written for our example.

Could Satan so beguile Eve, as to make her an instrument of death to herself, to the dear partner of her life, and to all their posterity? O disciples, “ take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother;

for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders,” Jer. ix. 4. Why this ? Alas, because they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth,” ver. 3. Satan's subtlety hath robbed them of Christ's simplicity. The abiding, comforting presence, the sweet fellowship of Jesus, are obscured to their mind. Jesus is not simply and constantly lived upon. The lively actings of faith, the constant outgoings of the soul, the continual looking to and daily hanging upon Jesus for salvation, from hour to hour, is not enjoyed in the heart. Corrupted minds grow clouded. Hence they lose sight of our beloved Friend. Sweet simplicity departs. Other objects too often become the subjects of converse and meditation. This is an infectious disorder. It rages among the children of God.

It is easily caught. Simple faith in Jesus is bewildered by perplexing notions. Love to Jesus grows cold by keeping at a distance from him; and, the once humble, simple hearts, get into Doubting Castle. Satan cries, “There, there, so would I have it.” Though Jesus will never forsake them, yet he suffers their own folly to correct them. By their smarting, he teaches them to be wiser. Chaste virgins are jealous over their eyes, their tongues, and hearts, lest they give encouragement to unlawful love. We are equally to be on our guard against the corrupt principles of proud, self-righteous Pharisees, as against the licentious principles of antinomians. Both draw from the simplicity that is in Christ. “The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light,” Matt. vi. 22.

August 8.-Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts : be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh

you à reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.-1 Pet. iii. 15.

When the Lord Jesus is the glory of the soul, it is the soul's glory to sanctify him, and him only. How joyful, to have one's heart detached from every other object and hope, and its whole delight to glorify our Saviour! How delightful to dwell on the wonders of his love, the riches of his grace, the greatness of his sufferings, the fulness of his redemption, the perfection of his righteousness, the prevalence of his intercession, and all issuing in the eternal life of such vile, sinful wretches as we are! Verily under such views, most

cheerfully does the believer sanctify the Lord, Immanuel, in his heart. Hence, how powerfully is his soul animated with holy boldness against the fear of man! yea, inflamed with love to the truth! how ready to give a reason of his hope! Perhaps, through the warmth of his zeal, and the heat of his affections, he does not always act wisely herein ; but does, what is forbidden by his Lord, “cast his pearls before swine." Hence he finds, as they were ignorant of the worth of his jewels, they turn upon him with wrath. The apostle seems to guard against this.

Christian, thou art to be always ready to answer, and give a reason of thy hope. But how? Not in a proud, self-justifying spirit, but with meekness and gentleness to inquirers or opposers, and with fear of offending God, and with reverence for the truth as it is in Jesus. As the christian has freely received, so it is his delight freely to give to others. He hopes the Lord may make him the happy instrument of conviction, conversion, and edification to others. Far is it from the nature of a christian “to eat his morsel alone." While he imitates the meekness of the lamb in his temper,

the boldness of the lion is to accompany his concern for God's glory, and the cause of his truth. When God's truth is the subject, the strongest confidence and the greatest courage are our glory. What is thy hope, O christian ? Is it any other than God's “mystery, Christ in you, the hope of glory ?” Col. i. 27. Dost thou see such infinite charms, such inestimable glory in that despised Jesus, who was hanged upon a tree as an accursed malefactor, that he is the only hope of thy soul, the only glory of thy heart? Oh, blessed, highly favoured art thou! Is it not thy joy to say, "Come, hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what be hath done for my soul ?" Psalm lxvi. 16.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »