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MARCH 1.-That he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.-John xvii. 2.
Deism, or a rejection of God's revealed truth, is natural to us all. Hence some have said, “The religion of nature is the religion of Satan;" for it affects a spirit of pride, and independence of God, and rebellion • against his will. Why does a deist reject the way of salvation by Jesus ? Truly, because it is contrary to his natural notions: he cannot reconcile it to the attributes and perfections of Deity. Upon the very same footing, many professors abhor, with the utmost indignation, the scripture doctrines of God's everlasting love, unconditional election of sinners, and the final perseverance of his saints to eternal life, by Jesus. Now, these deists and those Pharisees proceed upon the very same principles : carnal reason, pride, and self-righteousness. These reign in their hearts, and blind their eyes. But,
It is the believer's mercy to see the truth; his humility, to submit to it; and his duty to contend for it, in love. Thus humbly Jesus ever acted. Thus he prays in submission to the will of his Father. Though he had power over all flesh, yet only to “the many," whom the Father had given him, as his charge, to redeem, sanctify, and save, and as the reward of all his toils and sufferings, was he to give eternal life. For they are the precious jewels, which compose his mediatorial crown. Impossible, that one of them can be lost. Hence he glories of them, “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me,” Isa. viii. 18. They are distin. guished by special grace; they possess the precious "faith of God's elect,” Tit. i 1; it being peculiar to them only. By this they enjoy the sense of the Father's electing love, the knowledge of the Son's redemption, and the comforting witness of the Holy Ghost.
Full of truth, and well worthy the study of every
christian, is the 17th article of the church of England. “Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God; whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind; and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God's purpose, by his Spirit working in due season: they, through grace, obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity." "Hold fast the form of sound words."
MARCH 2.--Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to
ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.—Matt. vii. 12.
It is an observation of the heathens, “If virtue were to appear in human form, men would be enamoured with her beauty.” But this has been proved to be an idle speculation. For, that glorious man Jesus, in whom every virtue centred, who was adorned with every grace, went about doing good, and lived as never man did, yet“ he was despised and rejected of men.” Blindness of mind is a first-born sin. To see form and comeliness in Jesus, is peculiar to enlightened souls. To hear, love, and obey Christ's holy precepts, spring from a renewed heart. Morality and good works are at the tongue's end of every man; the most immoral and profligate are ever ready to applaud, boast of, and trust in, even what they never practise. Those boast most of their good works who have the smallest share.
It is the christian's mercy to be delivered from such awful delusion. For what Jesus teaches in his word,
is written in his heart by the Spirit. Therefore, obedience is delightful from inward principles. Though he is not called to merit the love of God by his moral obedience, yet love sweetly constrains to moral duties. “Love is the fulfilling of the whole law.” As “whatever is not of faith is sin;" so whatever proceeds not from love is contrary to holiness. An immoral christian is as inconsistent a character as a chaste harlot. Heathens might talk of the golden rule, the law may command it, prophets show its nature and necessity, natural men pretend to admire it; but heavenly taught, believing souls, only, love it in the spirit of their minds, and obey it in their life and practice.
Verily, disciple, though Jesus gave no laws, by the fulfilling of which thou shouldest gain a title to eternal life, yet he, who fulfilled all righteousness for thy salvation, calls thee to love and obey his precepts. T'hese are as much enjoined by him, as when he says, "Come unto me, all that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." In obeying this, we find comfort to our souls. In observing the golden rule of morality, we bear a noble testimony to the honour of Jesus, the glory of God, and the good of our fellow-creatures. It behoves us to beware, lest Jesus be wounded in the house of his friends, and the way of truth evil spoken of by our conduct; for, saith he, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you,” John xv. 14.
MARCH 3.-Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need. Heb. iv. 16.
Very few, comparatively, of the subjects of an earthly monarch, are permitted free access to him. An honour this, too great to be common. Kings' courts are for the noble. The poor and destitute, the miserable and distressed have no admission there. But, ye poor, distressed subjects of the King of kings, it is not thus with you. Your King, though ever on a throne, where majesty and glory shine with the brightest lustre, yet grace and mercy are freely dispensed to needy souls. Hither
you are invited to come; yea more, to come boldly. Why? because you are "rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing ?”. Nay, but because your King knows you are “poor and miserable, blind and naked creatures in yourselves," day after day. Nothing to present, to procure his favour, and deserve his acceptance of you. “But he loves your persons, has riches for your poverty, eye-salve for your blindness, a garment for your nakedness, a robe for your rags, and mercy for your misery; yea, a heaven of grace for your hell of deserts.
Your Mediator with his blood, your High Priest with his much incense, always intercedes. There can be no period of your life but what is a time of need. Who has obtained all the mercy? who has found all the grace which can be dispensed from his throne? Thou art still a sinner, and wantest both mercy and grace; and as thou findest thy want, thy need, hither thou mayest always repair with boldness, and ever expect a rich supply. For God the Father is the fountain of grace and mercy. Jesus thy Saviour is the treasurer. "All fulness of grace dwells in him.” The Spirit is the dispenser of mercy and grace. Why then, O soul, that backwardness, which too, too often besets thee? What privilege so great? What encouragement so strong?
"Come with boldness," yet consistent with awe and reverence. Boldness of faith is grounded on something without a man, or nothing in him; not on the fervent heart of love, the bleeding heart of repentance, the active life of obedience, the suffering mind of patience; but faith fixes on Jesus, and the believer comes with an empty heart and hand, to be filled with the free gifts of grace. Sweetest encouragement from the Friend of sinners! Come unto me,
that labour and are heavy laden," most blessed promise! "and I will give you rest," Matt. xi. 28.
MARCH 4.-Unto you who believe, he is precious.1 Pet. ii. 7.
We are loved with precious love; redeemed by precious blood; comforted by precious promises; justified by precious faith; yea, righteousness, holiness, heaven, we have by union with a precious Jesus. Surely, then, "to them that believe he is precious.” Say, ye sons of poverty, ye daughters of affliction, is not this a time when friends grow cool and desert you? But in such a season to find a Friend who visited
your distress, was ever saying kind things to you, ever doing all possible good for you; when in prison sought you out and set you at liberty, when sick was your Physician and healed you, when naked clothed you, when in abject poverty made you rich; thus was always pleased when he could make you easy and happy; say, is not this a Friend of ten thousand ? a Friend who sticketh closer than a brother? Is not such an one precious indeed ?
All this, yea, infinitely more than all this, hath Jesus done for a poor wretched race of sinners. Therefore he is indeed to them a precious "Friend, who loveth at all times;" the precious "Brother, who is born for adversity,” Prov. xvii. 17. “He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” Precious in what he hath done yesterday—shed his blood for the guilty-wrought out a righteousness to clothe the naked. To-day he is pleading our cause before the throne, where "he ever lives to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by him," Heb. vii. 25. He makes love-visits, sends kind tokens, refreshing manifestations, causing poor hearts to rejoice in him, filling them with peace and comfort from him. Oh, he is inestimably precious in what he is doing, and in what he will do! For he will never leave one of his members, till he has brought them all safe through a wicked world, given them victory over all sin, Satan, and death, and lodged them in the arms of his embraces ; "for,” says he, “where I am there