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Prov. xv. 15. Every believer in Christ hath a continual feast; therefore has always reason to be of a merry heart. When he is not, he lives below his privilege; and forgets his loving Lord's command. Though we daily find enemies to our spiritual joy, yet none can destroy our ground of rejoicing. That is fixed as a rock; permanent as the mountains; and standeth fast for ever and ever. Paul gives us, from experience, this, as the christian motto, " As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." Though with him daily crying out, “O wretched man that I am,” according to the flesh; yet, thou hast the same reason always to thank God, and rejoice in Jesus, as Paul had. Though, in thyself, cause for mourning and humiliation; yet continual matter of joy and rejoicing in the Lord Jesus.
Christian, here is thy wisdom, to understand aright, and act suitably to thy character: "as having nothing in nature; yet possessing all things by grace :” being united to Jesus, in whom all fulness dwells; and “ blessed with all spiritual blessings by God the Father in him." It is therefore our sweet privilege, always to rejoice in Christ. We experience believing views of Jesus, which cause rejoicing in him, in the Lord. Mind that little word in. The exercise of faith is ever to be on thy Lord. All cause of spiritual joy is in Jesus. Our word is, believe and be joyful. If we search the scriptures, which testify of Jesus ; if we dwell much in meditation on his person, offices, blood, righteousness, intercession ; we shall perceive never-failing springs of joy. Day by day, be looking and praying, 0 soul, that, through the Spirit, thou mayst see, and maintain a comfortable knowledge, and settled assurance, of thy own interest in Jesus and salvation by him. Oh, this will cause thee to rejoice indeed, with joy unspeakable and full of glory! So that, even though the face and appearance of outward things put on a gloomy countenance, yet shall we be like the steadfast prophet: “Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls;" what then? does he hang down his head like a bulrush? does joy of heart forsake him? No. Says he,“ yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation,” Habak. iii. 17, 18.
Nov. 3.—What doth it profit, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? James ii. 14.
Many of God's dear children are often in doubt and perplexity, lest their faith should not be the faith of God's elect, to which salvation is sure. This may arise, through the weakness of their understanding in the word of truth ; and because, as yet, faith doth not bring forth its fraits of joy and assurance.
But sooner or later, the Holy Ghost will make this matter clear and satisfactory to their hearts, in believing. But the soundness and orthodoxy of our faith is least of all suspected by us while in a state of nature. For we all think, are very confident, have not the least doubt, but say, "we have faith"-true faith : but this is a weed, which grows wild in nature's field. This is the faith here spoken of, which all the world rest in, who know not the Son of God. All men have not faith, the faith of God's elect. If we say we have faith, what doth it profit? If it brings no glory to God, no good to men, it only deceives the soul. " Can faith save him ?” What disputes and contentions hath this question raised! Some have even set St. James at variance against St. Paul. As though the former contended for salvation by works, against the latter. “Can faith save him ?” a question, equal to an assertion. It cannot. The supply of one word here, puts the matter beyond dispute. Can such a faith save him ? No; it is impos: sible. But dost thou, O christian, think thy faith, though accompanied with good works, can save thee ? Verily, no more than thy repentance, or thy love: these are alike gifts of grace by Jesus Christ; given, not to rival him in the heart; nor to share with him in the glory of salvation; but to honour him, and comfort his mem
We are not saved for faith, but through faith. Yet faith is a precious grace. It endears a precious Saviour to the heart, and “works by love."
But faith doth not procure God's love, obtain his favour, make atonement for sins, work out a righteous. ness to justify, nor merit the power of the Spirit to sanctify. All this is enjoyed in believing, but not procured by faith. Faith, like the Baptist's voice, cries in the soui, “Behold the Lamb of God.” It claims no share in fulfilling terms of peace, or obeying conditions of salvation. By faith, we honour God's word, look to his everlasting love, rely on Jesus, mourn over our sin, abhor ourselves, and repent as in dust and ashes. Peace, love, joy, and all inward fruits, as well as outward fruitfulness in every good word and work, spring from the life and vigour of faith. It concerns us daily to pray, “Lord, increase our faith!” Luke xvii. 5.
Nov. 4.-For she said within herself, If I
I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.—Matt. ix. 21.
The case of this poor woman was quite desperate. Many painful operations she had undergone, in hopes of a cure.
Her money was all spent in procuring remedies. Her disorder grew worse and worse.
All human hope and help failed. Grim death seemed to approach her with great speed. But, strange thought! “If I may but touch the garment” of that man, surrounded by yonder crowd, I shall certainly be healed. Surprising to think of, a cure from a touch! a touch not of his person, but his garment. How can nature and reason account for this? Had she consulted flesh and blood, surely she would have concluded, this sug. gestion is only mere fancy, and will end in delusion. Had she consulted eminent physicians, or learned, carnal doctors in the church, about her thoughts, doubtless they would have pronounced Jesus a deceiver, her an enthusiast, and advised proper remedies to her as a lunatic. But the Holy Spirit had inwardly made Christ known unto her. She saw somewhat of his glory. Her mind was disposed toward him. She believed in her heart his power to heal her. She speaks within herself her thoughts concerning him. She came with trembling feet; touched him with a fearful heart; but departed with triumph.
How secret are the operations of the Spirit in work. ing faith in the hearts of sinners! "No man can come unto me, saith Jesus, except the Father draw him," John vi. 44. A sight of Christ is of special grace. The first thought of help, and hope, in Jesus for sinners, is from the word of truth, and by the power of the Spirit. The soul soon evidences itself to have "the faith of God's elect;" for, under a sight and sense of its desperate state, and ruined condition, it speaks within itself of going to Jesus, and him only, for pardon and salvation. Yet the poor heart is often exercised with an if; if I did but believe in him, if I may but touch him, if I did but feel in myself I was healed of my sin and plague, Oh, how I should rejoice! Well, though the soul is opposed by a crowd of difficulties, yet will it not be satisfied, till it breaks through all carnal opposition, and finds peace in Jesus; till it hears the voice of its Belovėd, speaking pardon and comfort by his word. When, like Isaiah, the soul cries, “ Woe is me! I am undone,” it cannot rest, till with him also, a live coal from the altar of Jesus' love is laid upon his mouth, and his language is changed to, “I am saved by Jesus." For “lo, this hath touched thy lips, and thy sin is purged,” Isa. vi. 7.
Nov. 5.—As he who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.—1 Pet. i. 15.
Legal hearts turn evangelical exhortations into legal commands. So, children of faith are brought back again, from the land of promise, to the house of bondage. Not more absurd, to exhort a dead corpse to exert itself, to perform actions of life, in order to get life; than to suppose a believer destitute of the life of holiness, and excite him to holy actions in order to procure it. Zeal for holiness, without knowledge of its true nature, is unscriptural ignorance. Every believer in Jesus is holy. Being a member of the first Adam, he partakes of the life of sin and the spirit of unholiness. But, being united to Jesus, who is his life, he partakes of the life of holiness, and the spirit of holiness. This is evidenced by the holiness of his life.
Therefore exhortations to excite such to a holy conversation, are as necessary as they are frequent. Art thou a child of God by faith in Christ? What inestimable honour is this! it should be thy daily care, thy constant concern, to walk worthy of this high and honourable vocation. It degrades thy birth, to stoop to gratify base lusts. It demeans thy character, to take up in the least with the slavery of sin and drudgery of Satan. It was good advice a heathen gave a prince, lest he should learn evil from bad company, “ Always remember thou art a king's son.” So ever remember, O christian, thou art a son of the King of kings. Thy Father is holy. Study to be like him.
Study to be like him. Aim to resemble him in thy daily walk. This day thou wilt be exposed to the snares of sin, and temptations to evil; they ever beset thee. Remernber thy calling; it is to holiness of life. Think of the end of it, happiness in glory. It sounds as harsh in one's ears, to hear of a wicked christian, as of a dark sun. But beware of making an idol of thy own holiness. We read Pygmalion had got such a fine image, that he took it for a real person, and fell in love with it. So some are more