Page images

of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.—Gal. ii. 20.

The state of a christian is a seeming paradox. No marvel the things of God are foolishness to natural men, and that they account us fools for Christ. For the truths of God, as well as the life of his children, appear absurd to them. But the life of Jesus is made manifest in our flesh, 2 Cor. iv. 11. Hence he saith, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself," Matt. xvi. 24; deny the pride of his own righteousness, the corrupt lusts of his sinful flesh, and own me as his life, and follow me as his Lord, in the regeneration. This crucifixion of nature is death to every hope but Jesus. This life of faith on him consists in peace, love, holiness, and joy. This springs from love, excites love, and is nourished by love. So we enjoy heaven below. This is heaven above insured to us. Blessed life! happy believer, to feel Christ living in thee, to live on him by faith! Envy you, ye sons of folly and vanity, we do not. Join with you in your carnal delights we cannot; joys infinitely superior are ours. Pity you, indeed, we do. Nor with you, ye sons of the bond. woman, can we live on our works and duties, derive life from terms we fulfil and conditions we perform; as if, for so much work, we earn so much wages. Our God owes us nothing; yet, astonishing grace! he gave his Son freely," that we might live through him," though wretched, guilty, damnable creatures by nature and practice. Yet of this we are bold and confident. This truth bears the divine impress. The Lord hath confirmed it with an oath. Here to admit the least doubt is base and unreasonable. The life of faith springs from truth itself, and is as contrary to doubting as to sensuality; yet, while in the flesh, it will be opposed by both. But is every believer in Jesus assured with Paul, “Christ loved me, and gave himself for me?" No; though this knowledge is essential to the comfort of our souls, yet not to the being of faith in the heart;

nor is it the object of faith ; yet it is the joyful privilege of every believer, and as such, is earnestly to be coveted, and all diligence given to attain it. We are loved with the same love; saved by the same truth; the same faith given us, by the same Spirit which Paul had, and to the same end, to make us holy and happy. And the Comforter who testifies of Jesus in the word, will sooner or later also bear witness to the heart, and fill the soul with the comforts of faith and the joy of assurance. Every faithful soul, abiding in the Lamb, shall rejoice to say, The Spirit itself beareth witness with my spirit, that I am a child of God, Rom. viii. 16.

Oct. 23.—Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man.—Matt. xxvi. 74.

Self-righteous hearts think, it would have been better to have concealed Peter's abominable wicked conduct. No; the Spirit of wisdom hereby stains the glory of all flesh, and exalts the superabounding riches of Christ's grace over all the aboundings of sin. He shows in Peter's denying his loving Saviour, what human nature is, and what shocking depths of sin a believer may fall into, when left to the workings of carnal' nature, and the buffetings of Satan. Dreadful to think of! Most earnestly to be prayed against! Yet, we see Christ's affectionate heart is ever toward his wounded, fallen members. Love is within, and by one look of love, how suddenly, how effectually did he raise and restore Peter! Three denials of Jesus, each attended with higher aggravations, though deserving a look of wrath, and a frown into hell, yet were followed with a look from Jesus which broke Peter's heart into affection, and melted his very soul into love. Amazing grace! Astonishing kindness! Let no disciple think, I am not in danger of falling, after the like example of unbelief; for every one is.

What thinkest thou of thyself?

If any lamb of Jesus' flock is fallen, worried, and torn by the wolf, let him not say, "My loving Shepherd has cast me off for ever, and has no love to nor care for me." What! will the true Shepherd, who gave his life for the sheep, bought every one of them with his own blood, suffer the enemy to rob him of his property, and destroy any of his purchased ones? No, verily this can never be, while Jesus is mighty to save. That can never come to pass till Jesus ceaseth to love; and he can as soon cease to exist; for Jesus is God, and God is love. Oh, how often are our souls wounded! if not in denying Jesus to a fellow-creature, with oaths and curses; yet, too often are we ashamed to confess his dear person, his precious cause, his despised cross. Yea, and when we entertain unloving thoughts of him, from the unbelief of our heart, this tends to a denial of Jesus in his offices and characters; and depreciates his salvation, blood, righteousness, intercession, and faithfulness to his people. Hence we encourage guilty fears, his love is clouded, a sense of it in the heart grows cold, and the influence of it on the life is benumbed. Is not this in effect to say, “I know not the man ?” Such are the workings of nature and unbelief. We have too mean and contracted views of Christ at best, and such as, at times, we are ashamed of, when we are enabled clearly to view Christ in us, our hope of glory, Col. i. 27.

OCT. 24. Remember Lot's wife.-Luke xvii. 32.

It may do us much good, it can do no harm, to call to mind the judgments of our God. Hence, we may learn from others' harm to be more wise and wary.

If we see professors fall away, it teaches us to take heed : it tends to lay us low in humility at the feet of Jesus ; and excites gratitude and love in our hearts, and makes us cry out in astonishment, Why are we not fallen? How are we kept ? "Glory to grace !" O believer, ever remember, thou standest by faith. "Be not highminded, but fear:" fear to look back, with a wishful eye, or a lusting heart, to the sinful vanities of a carnal world. Remember Lot's wife. What of her? She loitered behind her husband. So, soul, if thou dost loiter, and not keep close with Jesus, thy Husband, thou wilt be in danger. "She looked back from behind him." Here was an act of folly, in thinking, as she was behind Lot, her looking back would not be seen; of unbelief, in not steadfastly crediting God's word; and of disobedience, in looking back to Sodom, contrary to his word. O soul, forget not, Jesus sees the looks of thy heart to this perishing world. He sees the unbelief of thy heart, when thou lookest to any thing but him for happiness. He will punish disobedience to his voice, “Follow me.” “She became a pillar of salt,” Gen. xix. 26, a lasting monument of God's judgment. Though we never saw this pillar of salt, yet we may see such every day. How many seem to turn their backs upon the world, and escape to Jesus, but they look back again to it! Looking begets longing. Their feet are again entangled in its snares; their hearts bewitched with its smiles; they are hugged to death in the world's embraces ; and become as a monument of God's judgment upon their conduct. It is supposed, Lot's wife retained her natural shape in this pillar. So, in such professors, there may be all the appearance of the form of religion, while the spirit, life, and power

of it are extinct in their souls. Their hearts are as cold and dead to God, as Lot's wife was, when she became a pillar of salt, to the things of this life. The eye is a great inlet to temptation. Saints have wofully experienced this. David did. He saw; then he longed after enjoyment. O believer, Jesus is thy only object. Here, looking may beget love and longing, without danger of harm; yea, with the greatest certainty of good to thy soul. Thou hast escaped for thy life.

“Look not behind thee." " Press toward the mark of the prize of thy high calling of God in Christ," Phil. iii. 14.

Oct. 25.--How can ye believe, who receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only ?-John v. 44.

“The fear of man bringeth a snare,” Prov. xxix. 25. It is a great enemy to the power of faith in the heart. The esteem of men, to be well spoken of, to have honour and applause from them, is pleasing to the flesh, but hurtful to the spirit. The wisdom and learning of natural men are contrary to the simplicity that is in Christ, incompatible with the cross of Christ, and withstand an open confession of him, who is an honour to us; for, by the faith of Jesus, we are honoured of the Father to be his children, and to enjoy fellowship with him in our spirits. Here is the blessedness of our faith, it standeth not "in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God," 1 Cor. ii. 5. Hence, we are to “call no man Rabbi, for one is our Master, even Jesus." We are to suffer no man to lord it over our faith: nor to pin our faith on any man's sleeve, be he ever so wise and learned. Some are fond of being at the head of a party. Others love to humour them, and become tails and tools to them. And their poor hearts are hereby sadly rent and torn, by disputes and divisions which so much abound. But have we not the plain, simple teaching of our blessed Prophet to look to ? How often do disciples of Jesus give honour to men, in expecting that teaching, and that comfort from them, which cometh from God only! Too often is it the cry, I will hear what such a one saith, what this and the other teacheth, instead of, “I will hear what the Lord God will speak, what he hath taught in his word. I will abide by that only. This honour cometh from God only, to speak peace by Jesus Christ, outwardly in his word, and inwardly by his Spirit. Therefore we are to search the word diligently, wait for the Spirit patiently, treasure up and ponder Christ's sayings in our hearts continually. This is to honour him whom the Father honours to be the Prophet of his church. Believers have an unction

« PreviousContinue »