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he who offered it up was a sinner, a humble I tell you, this man went down to his house looked at himself, and said to God, Behold what
dependent on the mercy of an offended God. He justified rather than the other: for every one I am. He never thought of the divine mercy, that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he in connection with himself. He had no feeling that humbleth himself shall be exalted, Luke
that he needed mercy; he thought that he dexviii. 14.
served favour. In the parable of which these words are the con- And after all, to what did the good amount clusion, Jesus Christ told of a Pharisee and a that he had to relate of himself ? Freedom from Publican who went up into the temple to pray. some few gross sins, and the scrupulous observance The Pharisees were the strictest sect of the Jews, of one or two of the minor matters of the law. great professors, and for the most part full of Marvellous folly! that a man who has no more self-righteous pride. The Publicans were the to say for himself than this, should trust in hintax gatherers, who farmed the taxes from the self that he is righteous, and despise others! Roman government; and as their profit depended The publican stood afar off, probably in the on what they could collect over and above the court of the Gentiles, as unworthy of a place sum which they had agreed to pay to the govern- among God's chosen people, and especially as ment, they very generally used every means in unfit to stand near that eminent saint, the pharitheir power, whether just or unjust, to wring see. Thus shrinking from observation, and his money from those who paid the taxes. They heart almost sunk under a feeling of his sinfulwere consequently held in thorough detestation ness, he would not so much as lift up his eyes to by the Jews, and were, for the most part, per- heaven. He felt as David did, when that man sons of very bad character. But the worst are not of God poured out his prayer, saying, “Mine beyond the grace of God. Nay, there is more iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am hope of one who is counted by all, and who also not able to look up; they are more than the counts himself to be sinful, than of a self-con- hairs of my head ; therefore my heart faileth me.' ceited, self-righteous person.
But though he would not lift up his eyes, by Our Lord represents both the Pharisee and grace he was enabled to lift up his soul, and as the Publican as praying. The Pharisee stood he smote on his breast in bitter grief, he prayed by himself, and prayed thus, 'God, I thank thee, from his very heart, 'God be merciful to me, a that I am not as other men are, extortioners, sinner.' unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I The whole scope of scripture, and many exfast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I press statements, teach us, that it is God's method possess. The prayer of the publican was after a of salvation to make the sinner deeply sensible of different fashion. He, “standing afar off, would not his sinfulness, to convince him that he cannot lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote save himself, and to show him that God can save upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me, a him, and is willing to save him, through the sioner.' Mark the judgment of Jesus concerning merits and intercession of Jesus Christ. Now, these two persons; •I tell you, that this man (the not one of these things was found in the Pharisee. publican) went down to his house justified rather He had no deep conviction of his sinfulness; he than the other,' (the pharisee)—words which un- was not at all aware of his inability to save himself; questionably mean that the publican was accepted he had no apprehension of God's pardoning mercy and justified, whilst the pharisee was rejected, and sanctifying grace. In the Publican, on the and his religious services held in abhorrence. contrary, they appear all. He saw the corruption
What are the grounds of this judgment, and of his heart, and the transgressions of his life, to how does it appear to be consistent with the be far beyond any remedy that he could apply, whole tenor of God's revealed will? Observe and it having been taught him that there is forthe temper and conduct of the two men. When giveness with God, he presented himself at a the pharisee went to pray, he stood by himself, throne of grace, earnestly desiring to be a parapart from the other worshippers, to mark the taker of that forgiveness. The condemnation of opinion that he entertained of his own superior the pharisee, therefore, and the justification of sanctity, to attract attention, and to draw the the publican, entirely agree with the bible method admiration of men. His prayer agreed well with of salvation; for Jesus says, his behaviour when presenting himself to offer it. Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; It was nothing but a laudation of himself. There and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. was not in it, one expression, or one hint, that | Our Saviour repeated no one sentiment so tre
quently as this. We find it recorded no fewer than pointed them some laborious penance, or a work ten times in the evangelists. That is no doubt requiring a great effort, the fruit of which was intended to teach us the importance which our Lord to be salvation; and they would know how to set attaches to evangelical humiliation. Such humi- about performing the penance, or accomplishing liation lies at the very entrance into a state of grace. the work. But when it is said, 'believe on the The sinner who, like the publican, stands self- Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.' the condemned, grieving for his sinfulness, and crying sinner is often greatly puzzled how to proceed. for mercy, God receives in at the strait gate that Now though saving faith is the gift of God, some leadeth unto life. To such a one he says, “Son, simple statements can be made of the way in be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And I which faith is attained, and some directions given then, in the exercise of free sovereign grace, he to those who are anxious to possess it. begins to exalt the poor sinner abased by evan- But first, let me ask myself, how far am I gelical humiliation, uniting him to Christ, bestow- really desirous to possess true saving faith? Do ing on him the privileges and dignity of a child I deeply feel that I am sinful, deserving wrath, of God, and at last receiving him to perfect under condemnation? For what is the use of my happiness, and heavenly glory.
inquiring about the way in which I may attain On the other hand, pride, and especially the to the possession of faith in Jesus Christ, unless pride of self-righteousness, is exceedingly offen- I be sensible of my ruined and dangerous state, sive to God; for it is a plain denial of man's and be convinced that I can be saved from that fallen and ruined condition, and of the utility and state, in no other way, but through faith in Jesus necessity of that amazing plan which has been Christ? O my soul, thou hast God's testimony devised for the recovery of sinners. It puts man that thou art lost and undone, a child of wrath, in a position in which he does not desire, and an heir of hell. Do not thine own secret, it may will not accept, the salvation which God offers. be, thy strong convictions, agree with that testiAnd it makes God a liar, for he declares that mony? Be assured, O my soul, that thou art there is none righteous, no not one; and that all the in the most urgent need of salvation. May the imaginations of the thoughts of man's heart are Lord bless to thee thy meditation on this scriponly evil continually. The man who possesses ture, that sets forth the way in which that faith this self-righteous spirit indeed exalts himself: cometh, without which there is no salvation. but ah! what a humbling awaits him! He shall "Faith cometh by hearing. Those unconverted be stripped of his fond conceits, and cast down persons who think at all about the matter, have to hell, a miserable, hopeless wretch, to dwell a kind of impression that faith is some strange, with devils and everlasting burnings.
difficult thing, and that it must require some Lord, make me know myself. Make me laborious work, or some vigorous effort, or some understand thy character as revealed in the subtile investigation, to attain to it. But the scriptures. Then shall I lie low before thee as righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this a sinner; my prayer shall be for mercy, for wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend Christ's sake; thou wilt hear the prayer, and into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from receive me graciously, and love me freely, and above;) or who shall descend into the deep; bless me abundantly
(that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word
of faith which we preach.'-Neither is faith beTHIRTEENTH DAY.-MORNING.
stowed as a reward on those who labour and exer
cise themselves unto righteousness, for before faith “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by there can be no righteousness at all.—Neither is the word of God, Rom. x. 17.
faith obtained by any secret work of the Holy There are persons who, when told to believe on Spirit, apart from the revelation of the divine Christ, do not know where to begin, or what will.—Neither can I attain to the possession of to do. They express a willingness to do some- faith by any work, or effort, of my reasoning thing, or any thing; but then what to do, powers, as I can to the knowledge of a mathethey are utterly at a loss. It is true that their matical truth, or of a piece of machinery. I difficulty originates in their attachment to the cannot work up my mind to the possession of it. works of the law, and in the blindness of their • But faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by mind to the glorious simplicity of the gospel. the word of God.' God makes known his will to They could understand you at once if you ap- the children of men in a variety of ways.
Ву voices, dreams, visions, he has communicated with wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit. While some. The truths thus received, he commanded men listen to the communications made to them to be written down; and these writings compos- by the word of God, the Holy Spirit, having ing the scriptures, he hath, in his providence, pre- communicated spiritual life to the soul originally served, and sent forth among the nations, a faith- dead, enables it, in the exercise of its renewed ful and full record of the way by which man may powers, to apprehend and receive the truths prebe recovered to holiness and happiness. Then sented to it to apprehend, receive, and rely on there is the voice of the living teacher reading Christ, who is the sum and substance of these these scriptures, or drawing his statements of truths. divine truth from their pages. Now, hearing Since, then, salvation cometh through faith, refers to all these. It is a hearing God, whether and faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the speaking to men, as he did of old to the prophets word of God, with what faithfulness, affection, and apostles; or speaking to us by his word, when and fulness, should the word be preached! Lord, we are reading that word, and pondering its con- make all ministers feel that theirs is an importents; or speaking to us the things contained in tant work. Holy Spirit, furnish them, quicken the word, by the mouth of his living servants. them, direct them, bless their preaching.
Faith cometh by this hearing. The sinner With what care, desire, and diligence should simply hears the communication from God—the we read and hear the word! By it cometh that doctrines, precepts, facts, warnings, promises, which is our life. Apart from it, we can have no recorded in the word, and from this hearing fol- salvation. Refusing or neglecting the word of lows faith. To this statement agree all those God, we must soon sink down into eternal ruin. places of scripture where we have an account of With what humility should we receive its men coming into the possession of saving faith. statements! Cavilling and opposition-how It was from hearing the word of God, in the unbecoming in creatures receiving a communicapreaching of Peter, on the day of Pentecost, that tion from the Creator! O my soul, sit thou at faith came unto the three thousand. The faith of the feet of Jesus, and with humble gratitude the Ethiopian eunuch came from hearing the word receive and obey his word. of God, recorded by Isaiah, and explained by And finally, since it is only the Holy Spirit Philip. The faith of Cornelius came from hear- who makes hearing issue in faith, let me coning the word of God, in the preaching of Peter. stantly and earnestly pray for the Spirit to be The faith of Mary came from hearing Christ. with me, in his quickening, illuminating power, The faith of Lydia came from hearing the word whenever I read, or hear the word. of God, in the preaching of Paul. The faith of the men of Antioch came from hearing the word of God, in the preaching of Paul and Barnabas. But some will say, you make faith a very simple
THIRTEENTH DAY.—EVENING. thing indeed, if it comes merely by hearing the word of God. True, it is simple in one sense, so simple
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave corrupt nature cannot be overcome by any merely indifferent to the result of his ministration. But human efforts. The sweetest, or the most solemn, he is to look to a work of the Holy Spirit for or the most awful views of divine truth, do not success, he is to desire that work, he is to pray change the sinner's heart. And what has been for it. Planting and watering with all the dilithe instrument in impressing and converting one, gence and devotedness of one who has received is tried on another, and utterly fails. A text of the command of God to do so, he is ever to bear scripture which has been the seed of spiritual life in mind that the increase must be caused by the to one soul, is presented to another soul, and great power of God. Thus God's command will never touches it at all. And thus the experience keep him to duty, and the feeling that God alone of every warm-hearted, zealous minister, is brought giveth success when and where he pleaseth, will into accordance with the word of God, which produce an entire dependence on God, and secure teaches, that whilst human instruments are em- for him all the glory. ployed, the success is entirely God's work. «Paul And what should the people have in view in planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the going to the house of God? The benefit of the increase. So then neither is he that planteth precious soul. And how may we obtain that? any thing, neither he that watereth; but God Solely through the grace of God, and by the that giveth the increase.'
the increase. So then neither is he that planteth that its simplicity becomes a stumbling-block to many. But in another sense it is not so simple
any thing, neither he that watereth; but God
that giveth the increase,' 1 Cor. iii. 6, 7. For the hearing by which it comes must be the hearing of the word of God. Now, When the amiable Melanchthon was converted, how many do not hear the statements of scrip-gospel truth seemed to him so plain and perture as statements that are made by God, very sel-suasive, that he thought he only needed to predom think distinctly of the Bible as God's word, sent it to the minds of his fellow-men, to secure and never own the truths of the Bible as truths its immediate and cordial reception. But to his invested with God's authority? Such persons surprise and grief, he found his statements of it cannot attain to faith, because, whilst in respect treated with indifference and neglect, and he was of the matter they do hear the word of God, they compelled to confess that old Adam was too strong do not in fact hear it as his word; it is before for young Melanchthon. Perhaps the feeling their mind only as the word of man; regarded as that at first possessed Melancthon, is more or less true, perhaps, but wanting the weight of divine that of every new convert to genuine religion; authority to give a perfect assurance of its truth, and probably it glows warmly in the breast of and to invest it with importance.
every pious young minister. But the experience Besides whilst faith cometh by hearing, and of Melanchthon will be their experience, and they hearing by the word of God, faith is a grace I will arrive at a conclusion similar to his. Man's
work of his Holy Spirit. It matters not what Ministers are nothing but instruments. God be said, or how it be said, or who say it, except appoints them their work, and that work it is the Spirit of God quicken the seed of the word. their duty to perform with all heartiness and Good seed, indeed, there must be; the word of fidelity, and with such desires, and expectations truth must be set forth; but except a divine of success, as the word of God warrants. But power operates on the heart, no fruit follows. Ia that success is to be the work of another—the the use of all means of grace, then, it should ever result of a secret active energy, giving spiritual be distinctly borne in mind, that God alone giveth life and vigour to the soul of man. One man the increase. Whenever I open my Bible, my puts a plant into the ground, another goes and heart should be lifted up to God in earnest prayer waters that plant, but it needs the power of God for his Spirit to quicken and teach me. And to make the plant germinate, spring up, and when I go to hear the word preached, my supyield increase. They who plant and water do plication should be for the preacher, that he may something towards an end, but that end itself stand in God's strength, and feed in God's counthey effect not; another and higher, even God, sel; but my thoughts, and desire, and prayer accomplishes it. So one minister may instruet should pass beyond him. I should have a deep us, and another may refresh our memories by a conviction of the inability of all human, yea, of frequent and affectionate statement of truths all created agency, to give life to the spiritually previously learned. But a divine power is dead, or growth in grace to the living. Thoroughly needed, before the heart on which these truths persuaded that the Spirit of God alone giveth fall, possesses and manifests spiritual life, or life and refreshing to the soul through the word, brings forth the fruits of holiness.
my prayer sbould be for the Spirit to come This doctrine of the Spirit of God alone giving graciously to my soul, and I should have a felt the increase, should have a practical effect on deep dependence on his divine influences. Thus both ministers and people. Ministers should sensible that I need the Holy Spirit, and desiring plant and water—instruct, exhort, plead dili- and expecting him, let me go and hear what God gently, perseveringly, affectionately, but praying the Lord will say to me by his ministering serearnestly for, and wholly depending on the divine vant. — Were it always thus with me, my soul influences for success. Preaching to a congrega- would benefit more than it does from the means tion of sinful men, they are like Ezekiel prophesy- of grace; for I would be honouring God's free ing over the dry bones. Strange, hopeless work, method of salvation, and especially, I would be that of the prophet, in the estimation of carnal giving due honour to the Holy Spirit, who, eren men! As hopeless that of a gospel minister, in by Christians, is too little regarded and honoured. his own estimation, if only he himself is to be May the necessity of divine influences be fully looked to. But as the prophet bidden, behoved recognised, and deeply felt in the church of to obey, though baving no power to effect the Christ. And whilst there are earnest prayers result to which his words pointed, so must every that God would raise up able and faithful minisminister have a regard to his appointed work, ters, like Paul and Apollos, may there be a though knowing that not a single soul has he the genuine and thorough conviction present to the power savingly to benefit. Not that he is to be minds of God's people, that the most able and
faithful ministers are only instruments by whom must be perused frequently and diligently. It God worketh, and that the energy and power by bears absurdity in the very face of it to say, that which the work is done, is the direct and immedi- a man searches the scriptures, who only spends, ate energy of the Holy Spirit on the soul. Lord, in a whole week, an hour or half an hour, or make thy ministering servants willing to be perhaps not so much, on the sabbath day, in readnothing, that all the glory may be thine. And ing the bible. You need your daily bread to spread, in thy church, an anxious longing, and nourish your body; but you also need daily an earnest prayer for the outpouring of the Spirit, nourishment to your soul. Perhaps you have no and along with that let there be an opening of relish for the daily reading of the scriptures—no men's hearts to receive his quickening, renewing, appetite for the spiritual food which they afford. and refreshing influences.
But be persuaded to take a little of that food daily; its tendency is to produce an appetite for more; it will make you hunger and thirst after
righteousness. The word of God is both mediFOURTEENTH DAY.–MORNING. cine and food to the sin-diseased soul. It purges
away corruption, it heals the disease of sin, and • Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye it nourishes and strengthens the renewed nature,
have eternal life: and they are they which the spiritual man. testify of me,'John v. 39.
I believe that there are professing Christians Were the last will and testament of some indi- who make a conscience of daily reading a portion vidual disposing of a large property put into of the scriptures, but who do so merely for the your hands, your conduct regarding it would be purpose of fulfilling what they consider to be a regulated by the interest which you supposed duty, and not with any earnest desire to obtain a yourself to have in such a deed. If you were saving knowledge of divine truth. Conscience merely a public officer to whose keeping it was would reprove them if they neglected their morto be entrusted for preservation, you would pro- ning or evening chapter, but they feel no uneasiLably, without opening it, lay it aside in the ness at learning little or nothing from that chapusual depository. If you were a lawyer appointed ter. They read for the purpose of reading, not to defend or impugn its validity, you would read of being instructed by reading. Now though such it carefully, with a reference to its legal construc- persons read, yea, daily read, they cannot be said tion, and the signatures attached to it. If it was to search the scriptures. They do not seek for any a very ancient deed, and you had a taste for thing in the scriptures; yet this must surely be antiquarian researches, you would examine the implied in searching. forms of expression made use of, and note the And most necessary of all, whenever you read information regarding old places and customs or meditate on the word of God, breathe the which it contained. But if it was a last will and devout earnest prayer that the Holy Spirit may testament in your own favour, you would read it give you an understanding heart and an obedient carefully and with much interest, to ascertain the will, for this essentially pertains to a right searchamount of the property, and the value of the ing of the scriptures. possessions bequeathed to you.
Is it thus that I read my bible? Do I read The scriptures of the Old and New Testaments it very seldom, or read it without searching it ? have been put into your hands. These two If I do, may the Lord pardon my sin, and cause Testaments relate to the same things. They me to cease from it. Whenever I open my bible, record a free gift by God to the children of men, let me have in my mind a desire to be made wiser of Jesus Christ and all his unsearchable riches. and better by it. Let me remember that what They reveal things which you never could have I am going to read is of divine authority—the discovered—things which are essential to your word of God, and not the word of man's wisdom salvation—the offer of blessings surpassing in and that it testifies of Jesus Christ in whom value all else besides. They are put into your alone we have everlasting life. Taking up the hands invested with all the interest of a testament bible with these solemn reverential feelings and bequeathing to you a rich and desirable inherit- thoughts occupying my mind, let me search it for ance. They testify of Jesus Christ, God's great the purpose of becoming wise in the things of gift to the children of men, and of eternal life Christ—of obtaining more knowledge of his perby him. Therefore search the scriptures. son, his works, his doctrine, his precepts.
And reading the scriptures seldom or carelessly Let no one begin to make excuse. Some is not what is meant by searching them. They allege that they have no time to read the bible