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comfort flows, and on whom is our hope, in every conflict with sin and Satan. What then doth this doctrine teach us? That our hearts should ascend up to our Saviour. But how? By faith. " Christ dwells in our hearts by faith,” Eph. iii. 17. And by faith our hearts ascend to, and dwell with him. And this is the reasoning of faith: "If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled we shall be saved by his life,” Rom, v. 10.
FEB. 9.–Keep yourselves in the love of God.Jude 21.
The love of God, like every other attribute and perfection of Jehovah, is everlasting and unchangeable ; even as the essence of God himself. This love is man. ifested to his people in Christ Jesus. He is the object, in whom they are viewed and loved by the Father. As "Jesus is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever;" so is God's love towards them. Time, with all its concurring circumstances, can make no alteration or change, increase or diminution herein. But, as to the sense and enjoyment of this love, the word of truth, and experience of saints, plainly testify of its ebbing and flowing, its fervour and abatement in the soul. Hence the necessity of those tender calls, kind warnings, and loving counsels, addressed to believers in the word of truth; because they are ever to be active, as those who are made alive to God, and have their senses exercised to discern between good and evil. Exhortations excite jealousy, and quicken diligence. The enjoyment of the love of God is our heaven below; to keep ourselves in the happy sense of it, is our highest privilege, our greatest happiness. Keep ourselves in the love of God! Yes. How? Use every means which love commands. Avoid all things which love forbids. Account not this legal. Those
who do, have only the notion of love in the head, but are strangers to the constraints of God's love in the heart.
Wouldst thou ever enjoy love, O christian ? Be much in meditation upon it, think daily, constantly, of that unparalleled instance of it, God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son Jesus, to atone for sin by his precious blood, to justify sinners by his perfect righteousness. Dost thou know this by the gospel? This is love revealed. Dost thou believe this, in thine heart, by the Spirit? This is love felt and enjoyed. All, all flows from the rich, transcendently rich love of God in Christ Jesus. Oh, be concerned daily, to keep thy soul in and under a lively sense of this love! and also keep thyself, by this love, from all worldly lusts, carnal indulgences, and sensual gratifications. These are forbidden fruits. Thy flesh may long for, and covet them; but by the love of God, by his mercies in Christ Jesus, and for thy soul's sake, abstain from them. Know verily, as hurtful food will impair the health of thy body; so these things will as certainly rob thy soul of its peace, damp the warm sense of God's love, and render thee cool, indifferent, and lifeless to the enjoyment of the love of God. Thus saith the God of love, “Consider your ways,”
Hag. i. 5.
FEB. 10.—The path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.Prov. iv. 18.
Since the fall of man, there is no other way of being made just, or righteous, but by the one righteousness of the man Christ Jesus. Just Noah, righteous Lot, meek Moses, faithful Abraham, patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, all were sinners in themselves, but their righteousness is of me," saith Jehovah Jesus, Isa. liv. 17. Hence the Lord calls his people righteous. They are really constituted so in his sight. This truth should ever dwell in our minds. It is the source of all delight in God, and love to him. Hence we are comforted in the way of truth and holiness. For Jesus, who is our righteousness, is also our light to direct our steps, and our path wherein we walk. He is “the Light of the world, the Light of life.” “I am the way,” saith Jesus. St. Paul exhorts, “ As ye have received the Lord Jesus, so walk ye in him," Col. ii. 6.
Our faith in Christ is no new-fangled doctrine, but the same as was from the beginning. Christians are not left to the darkness of nature. They are not led by sudden, transient flashes of light; but by the clear, steady shining of truth upon their minds. Their walk, in the path of truth, is consistent and uniform. Like the dawning light of the morning, the light of truth first breaks in upon the soul, and gradually increaseth brighter and brighter : so we see more clearly, believe more strongly, love more fervently, hope more steadily, obey more delightfully, and long more cheerfully for the perfect day. Though at some seasons, when vapours and mists of nature's corruption arise, and the night of affliction and desertion overtakes the just, upright soul, he may be in fears, lest he should never hold out to see the perfect day. In such seasons, he is too apt to lend his ear to a whisperer, who is ever ready to dishearten him. What with his corrupt heart, Satan's suggestions, and men's false doctrine, he is thrust sore at. He may fear lest he should fall, and perish for ever; but this proves nothing against God's good word and precious promises, though it manifests weakness of faith, and dejection of hope in the christian; but God's power and truth are engaged to support him. If the comforting Spirit had not left another word of proof, in the whole Bible, for the perseverance of the just, this one is sufficient. Wisdom hath spoken it; nor men nor devils shall reverse it. Every justified soul shall enjoy the perfect day of meridian glory, and salvation in Jesus' kingdom. “The righteous shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger,” Job xvii. 9.
FEB. 11.-But Jesus answered her not a word. Matt. xv. 23.
What! not a word from the compassionate Saviour, who is touched with a feeling of our infirmities ? is he deaf to the cries, and dumb to the entreaties of a distressed, sorrowful heart ? No: love in the heart has always an ear open to complaints, a tongue ready to speak comfort, and a kind hand to relieve. But love afflicts, to bring his children to him, and make them call upon him: he forbears to answer, that they may be the more importunate. God's delays prove faith's vigour, make love cling closer, prayer more fervent, and patience shine brighter. So the graces of God's children are drawn forth into lively exercise, and are made manifest that they are wrought by God. Perseyerance obtains the blessing in due time. Jesus honours and applauds the grace of his beloved members with, Oman, O woman, great is thy faith! Christ well knew
what work he had wrought in this poor humble supplicant's heart, whereby she knew Jesus to be Lord and God; therefore he proved her, and tried her, that her faith might shine brighter to his glory, and her soul's comfort. As she possessed the same faith, so she discovers the same resolution as Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him,” Job xiii. 15. And, with Jacob, she would wrestle; and her heart determined, "I will not let thee go except thou bless me," Gen. xxxii. 26. But the silence of Jesus was very disheartening. When he spake, it was quite discouraging. Though she worshipped him, and sighed out, “ Lord, help me;" yet Jesus seems rather to repulse than comfort her. But true faith ever sinks the soul low in humility, while it clings close to the most high God. The soul owns its hateful vileness, and utter unworthiness, and fixes all its plea upon free-grace mercy, all its hopes upon Jesus only. Thus Christ empties whom he delights to fill. He makes us see and confess ourselves to be dogs, fit only to feed under the table; though he loves us as children, and all that he hath is ours, by free gift, precious promise, and rich grace. Thou poor, fearing, doubting soul, who hast long been seeking, waiting, and praying for comfort by a word or look from Jesus, take courage hence. Ever trust in Him who saith, "I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul," Jer. xxxi. 25. For, mark the fate of this believing, importunate, waiting woman. “Be it unto thee, even as thou wilt,' was the answer, replete with all comfort and joy. “The Lord is a God of judgment; blessed are all they who wait for him,” Isa. xxx. 18.
FEB. 12.–And experience worketh hope.-Rom. v. 4. We are ever to consider the gospel as a proclamation of grace
to stout-hearted rebels; a declaration of mercy to the profligate and abandoned; glad tidings of salvation to lost, desperate, hopeless sinners. Though it finds every soul destitute of any one encouraging symptom, yet it brings all hope and every encouragement with it. When the gospel becomes “the power of God to salvation” to any sinner, through believing, it works a mighty change in his state and practice. In the sweet experience, proof, or the trial of it, the soul is comforted. Hope concerning his state is confirmed. Experience worketh hope of one's own interest in and salvation by Jesus. It works not by legal terrors and dreadful horrors, as was the case with Judas; nor by working up the animal passions to a flash of joy, as the stony-ground hearers were affected by the word. But it powerfully enlightens the soul, to see the evil of sin, and the infinite preciousness of the Lord Jesus, so as to loathe and detest the former, and cleave to and trust alone in the latter. Hence, Jesus becomes the tried stone, the sure foundation of the soul. Upon his finished work all hope in time and for eternity is laid. All other foundations are rejected, as sandy; all other hopes, as vain. Faith in God's word, relying on his