« PreviousContinue »
are spiritually discerned, and spiritual discern
TWENTIETH DAY.-EVENING. ment they have none. Then the scriptures testify strongly against all mere professors. An inspired "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, apostle says, “In Christ Jesus neither circum
have we not prophesied in thy name? and in cision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but
thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name a new creature.' · Follow holiness, without
done many wonderful works? And then will which no man shall see the Lord.' And our
I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart Lord himself asks the question, Why call ye me
from me, ye that work iniquity,' Matt. vii. 22,
23. Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?' Doctrinal knowledge and belief, and an outward At all times the Lord knows persons and things Christian profession, are things that pertain to a as they really are. There is—there can be, no believer, but we may see plainly that not every concealment from him. But men ofttimes exone who possesses them—not every one who says ceedingly mistake the character, and misjudge to Jesus Christ, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the the deeds of their fellow-men. And frequently, kingdom of heaven. But saith Jesus
too, men mistake their own character. The “He who doeth the will of my Father which is in eternal condition of every man will correspond heaven' shall enter into heaven. It is not for a with his real character, not with what his fellows moment to be supposed from this, that admission have thought of him, nor with what he has to heaven is bestowed as the reward for doing the thought of himself. And what each one really is will of our Father in heaven. The thing is quite the Lord will make manifest. A day is comingotherwise. For the doing of the will of God by that day—the day of general judgment, when the fallen man is never such a thing as to merit dead having been raised, and those who are then heaven-the obedience is so imperfect, and alive having been changed, all, a mighty multimingled with so much disobedience. But the tude, shall stand before the Lord Jesus Christ, set statement of our Lord is most certainly true, down on a throne of judgment, and attended by because the doing the will of his Father in heaven his holy angels. Yes, reader, thou shalt die, and is positive evidence that a man is a converted thy body shall be hidden in the grave; but the man, and a believer on Jesus Christ. No man voice of the trump of God shall find it out, and doeth the will of our Father in heaven till he be to witness and take part in the awful proceedings converted, and become a true believer. And no of the judgment day it shall be raised again. man who has really been converted by the word Men form an opinion now concerning thee; they and Spirit of God, but does the will of our believe thee to be godly or otherwise; they regard Father in heaven. Hence a converted person thee as possessed of this or of that feature of and one who does the will of God are one and character : and they may be right, or they may the same. The title to heaven is a free gift for be wrong. It is a small matter to be judged of Jesus Christ's sake; and the doing the will of man's judgment, in comparison of the searching God gives evidence that the title so obtained is righteous judgment of God. For in that day actually possessed. Wherefore it is plain, that the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed—all the all who do the will of our Father in heaven, actions of every individual shall be written as shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, and enjoy with sun-beams—the true character shall be it for ever.
exhibited, that, to the glory of divine justice, it O that I may really possess all the things here may be most evident that the eternal condition of mentioned by my Saviour! May I call him being, awarded by Jesus Christ, the Judge, to Lord, knowing his doctrine, making a profession each individual, exactly accords with that indiof discipleship, and out of a renewed heart doing vidual's character. his will. For alas! I am prone to deceive my- Ah! in that day there will be some wonderful self, and to rest satisfied with a part of Chris- revelations, and many strange reversals of the judgtianity, not seeking to possess the perfect and ment formed by men concerning others, and about glorious whole,—doctrine, profession, and practice. themselves. Some who were followed and flat
tered, who bulked largely in the public eye, and by men were admired, and held to be of high repute in the church, will be disowned by Jesus Christ, the righteous Judge; will be declared by him to be only workers of iniquity, and will be commanded to depart from him. Terrible change! to have the favourable but false judgment of fellowcreatures swept utterly away, and the true con- of God. But the righteous Judge is not dazzled. demning judgment of God branded deep into the The imperfection or sin which accompanies the soul, proclaimed in the presence of the universe, preaching of the gospel, or the casting out devils, and “just, deserved,' echoed far and wide from or the doing many wonderful works in Christ's the countless myriads,—even from those who are name, is as distinctly discerned, as the imperfeein the same condemnation. Miserable men! ye tion or sin which accompanies the most common had your day of praise from your fellows, on duties of ordinary life. Preaching, or prophesy- . whom outward appearances imposed. The repu- ing, or doing what men think some great work tation of being what you were not, satisfied you. in religion, does not excuse or make up for And now the character which belongs to you, is the accompanying sin. If justification is to be publicly attached to you for ever. Never more sought from any deeds of law, these deeds must shall ye impose on any. Workers of iniquity the be perfect. Otherwise those who perform them Judge hath declared you to be; and workers of are only workers of iniquity. iniquity you shall remain, and shall be known to Hence the necessity of giving up all depenbe, throughout all eternity.
dence on deeds of law. What service of God But men also form wrong judgments regarding could be greater than those have pled? Nor is themselves. These shall be reversed on that day. there any intimation that they were pled falsely. Men do not always obtain correct views of their But being pled as the ground of justification and own character, and of their spiritual state, even acceptance, they behoved to be tried by the peron a death-bed. On the contrary, they almost fect law of God. And so tried, they came short. always die just as they have lived. What they In each and all of them there was something wanthave thought of themselves during life, they con- ing, or something wrong; and therefore those who tinue to think in going down to the grave. True, performed them were declared to be workers of light breaks on the soul, the moment that she iniquity. enters into the world of spirits. In that moment, My friend, renounce self-righteousness. Look the sentence which is to be publicly pronounced at on the righteousness of Jesus Christ. In all thy the day of judgment, is sealed upon her. But intercourse with God, whether on thy knees at a between the opinion which a man has of himself throne of grace, or when standing before a throne when shutting his eyes in death, and the judg- of judgment, plead the Saviour's merits. Lose ment of Christ concerning him at the day of sight of self in thinking of him. Yea, contemjudgment, there will be, in many instances, a wide plate him, and commune with him till thou come difference. Many will say in that day, “Lord, to bear his likeness, being changed into the same Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in image by the Spirit of the Lord. thy name have cast out devils ? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will Jesus profess unto them, I never knew ye: depart from me ye that work iniquity. These thought TWENTY-FIRST DAY.-MORNING. themselves great ones, highly honoured, and doing great service in the church of Christ on earth. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, But mark; it is to their gifts, their services, their
the evidence of things not seen,' Heb. xi. 1. profession that they refer: it is what they had The Bible speaks much about faith, attaches done that they plead. And mark again how great importance to it, and points out vast effects the unerring Judge characterises what they had that flow from it. We are told that “without done, and the things to which they refer with so faith it is impossible to please God; that whatsomuch confidence and complacency: he calls it ever is not of faith is sin; and that the just by
working iniquity.' So certain it is that all fallen faith shall live;— that being justified by faith, man's obedience to the law is nothing but iniquity. we have peace with God,' and that he who Prophesying or preaching in Christ's name, cast-believeth, or hath faith, shall be saved.' Hence ing out devils in his name, and doing many won- we are naturally led to ask, What is this faith? derful works in his name, if taken as meritorious What is its nature and properties? An inquiry grounds of justification before God, are only ini- regarding a matter of so much importance is quity. For imperfection and sin mingle with highly reasonable. every thing that man does. A great work may One, writing on this subject, says, "That pecuhave sin mingled with it as well as a little work. liar act of the understanding by which we avail The great work dazzles men, and they think that ourselves of information given us by others, in the doer of it is a great man, and deserves well those things which fall not under our own observa
tion, and which do not admit of proof in a way of | The word here rendered evidence means demonreasoning, is called faith or believing. And the stration, the strongest and most convincing proof Spirit of God, by the writer of this epistle, tells that we can have of a matter. Faith, then, us that “faith is the substance of things hoped gives us certainty as strong as demonstration; it for, the evidence of things not seen.'
satisfies the mind as fully; it leaves no doubt or 1. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. hesitation. The things to which it relates are Substance here means subsistence, or something unseen, for faith cometh by hearing; it has for its which serves as a foundation for another thing to objects not those things which come under ou stand on. Now faith is the subsistence or foun. observation, but things which are made known dation on which things hoped for rest. God, in to us by testimony. What demonstration is to his word, testifies certain things to us, and he its objects, faith is to its objects,—those unseen gives us many great and precious promises. The things to which it relates. Holy Spirit enables us rightly and firmly to cre- Things not seen, as distinguished from things dit the divine testimony, thus working faith in hoped for, are such as the creation of the world us; and that faith regards these realities of the by God out of nothing, the whole train of profuture as attainable and desirable. Hence hope vidences by which God prepared the way for the of possessing and enjoying them springs up— incarnation of his Son, the birth, preaching, hope plainly arising out of faith, and resting on miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension of it. The things hoped for are thus connected Jesus Christ, his being head over all things to with faith; they are built up on it, they are pre- the church, and many other like matters too sent to the soul which possesses it. So that numerous to mention. Faith is the evidence of when any one asks me, Wherefore dost thou hope these unseen things. By means of it, the mind for perfect holiness, or for Christ's presence in has certainty concerning them, just as the underheaven, or for glory and immortality? my reply standing attains to certainty by the process of a is, I hope for these things because I have a faith mathematical demonstration. Both in the one which gives me certainty that they are realities, case and in the other, the mind feels that the and that they are attainable and desirable. With thing is so certainly true, that it cannot be otherout faith as a foundation, there can be nothing wise. Mathematical certainty we are wont to hoped for by the Christian; but wherever there call the most certain of all. The belief of things is faith, there will be hope, having reference to not seen, to which a man attains by faith, is just those things of which God testifies, and which as certain. And to mark that it is so, faith is faith credits and receives with assured belief that here called the evidence or demonstration of they are true, attainable, and exceedingly impor- things not seen. tant.
But nothing can be a sufficient foundation for The things hoped for are the blessings of sal- this certainty but the testimony on which our vation promised by God to believers, pardon, faith is founded being a divine testimony. If I peace, sanctification, the resurrection of the body, am sure that God is telling me about things not complete redemption, and eternal glory. These seen, my mind is at rest. There is no room for things all rest on faith—faith in Jesus Christ, by doubt. The certainty which flows from the whom all these blessings are purchased, and divine testimony is equal to any demonstration. through whom they are conveyed—faith in the And inasmuch as faith is here called the evitestimony and promises of God, by which they dence, that is, the demonstration of things not are revealed and secured to the believer. seen, this description marks it out as resting on
Glorious things these which a Christian hopes the testimony of God. It would not be enough for! Precious that faith on which these things that we had human testimony. For there is a hoped for rest! Is that faith mine? Do possibility of the witnesses being deceived, or of I credit God's testimony in his word? Do I their wishing to deceive us. God's testimony regard as realities the pardon of sin, the gift of alone can give certainty equal to demonstration. the Holy Spirit, the communications of divine How very comforting that in matters of such grace, the victory over death in the resurrection, mighty importance as the doings, the character, the eternal perfect holiness and happiness of hea- and the will of God regarding our fallen world, ven? What and how do I believe? And what our faith rests on the word of God, and not on hopes flow from and rest upon my belief? O the word of man! Let us carefully see to it, my soul, ponder well what answer thou canst then, that we have a regard to God in reading give to these questions.
and hearing scripture truth, and that we remem2. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. I ber that all scripture is given by inspiration of God. Then we shall have a faith which will may shun the performance of duties which he make the things of God's word realities, as much could well and creditably perform, and refuse as the things which we see, or touch, or have offices which he is qualified to fill. In that case demonstrated to our understandings,-a faith the public are defrauded, and God has not all the which, realizing things future, desirable, and glory that he might have from the talents which attainable, will furnish a solid foundation for he has bestowed. Wherefore every believer vivid, cheering, Christian hope.
should judge of himself soberly; he should, like a person in his right mind, form a sober, sound,
yet moderate estimate of his own gifts and graces. TWENTY-FIRST DAY.-EVENING.
And the standard by which he is to judge is the According as God hath dealt to every man the believer who has the most enlarged, lively,
measure of faith bestowed on him by God. The
, measure of faith, Rom. xii. 3.
vigorous faith, ranks highest among the disciples BELIEVERS are not all alike. Faith is one of of Christ, because such a faith brings him nearest the measures by which they are estimated. By to Christ, and by means of it communications faith they are united to Jesus Christ. By faith are made most abundantly out of Christ's fulness. they receive out of Christ whatever graces and Nor does this give any occasion for spiritual gifts, of a spiritual nature, they possess. Accord- pride, nor minister any food to it. For the apostle, ing, therefore, as faith is weak or strong, languid as directed by the Spirit, takes care to remind or lively, do the divine life and the divine graces us that every measure of faith is dealt out to us Aourish in the believer. Faith is the hand by by God. Believers are never permitted to forget which believers appropriate what God freely that by the grace of God they are what they offers to them in the gospel; and therefore, if the are.' And verily the greater measure of faith hand be strong, it will be able to appropriate that God deals out to any man, the deeper will more; if weak, it will be able to receive less. be the man's humility and self-abasement before Faith is the channel of communication between God. For it is just a man's feeling convinced Jesus Christ and the soul of the believer; and, that he has nothing in himself, which, through therefore, if the channel be wide and free from the Holy Spirit, leads him to rely on Jesus obstacles, there will come gushing along a full Christ. And the deeper the feeling of his own stream of the water of life, from the ever full unworthiness, the more earnest and decided will fountain—a full portion of spiritual blessings, be his dependence on the merits of Christ. The from Jesus Christ, the repository of all such more thorough his sense of his own emptiness, blessings. But if the channel be narrow and the more he is prepared for being filled with all contracted, or if it be obstructed by any thing, the fulness of Christ. So that a large measure of there will be a less free and abundant communi- faith, and consequently high attainments in Chriscation of blessings through it.—The faith by tianity, and a high place in God's house, are not which believers are united to Christ, then, being only quite consistent with deep Christian humidifferent in different individuals as to its strength lity, but necessarily connected with it. God and weakness, its languor and liveliness, the en- giveth me whatever I possess, and, therefore, larged range of its objects and the comparative when I receive much, my unworthiness of so contractedness of its sphere, Christians are to great blessings is strongly impressed on my mind. estimate themselves according to the measure of The result of all this is to place believers in faith which they possess.
the church, which is Christ's mystical body, as The usefulness of a believer—the degree in the members are in the human body. Each memwhich he can promote the glory of God, and the ber has its own place and office, which have been good of men, depends on his occupying the place appointed it of God, and in which he has put it. for which he is best fitted. But he will not do There it is contented, and does its appointed so, if he thinks of himself more highly than he duty; and in that duty, better than in any other, ought to think. Puffed up with a false opinion it promotes the good of the whole body. God of his own abilities and excellence, he will aim deals out to every believer the measure of faith at occupying a place, and performing duties, for which he possesses, thus fitting him for certain which he is unfit; while the place and duties, for duties which are required of him. And it is when which he is suited, are overlooked and neglected the believer, looking at the measure of his faith, by him.-But there is an error on the opposite cheerfully contents himself with his appropriate extreme. A believer may think of himself less station, and performs its duties, that the body of highly than he ought to think. And thus he | Christ is edified.
Wherefore, O child of God, seek to understand fire, prepared for the devil and his angels? Sinwhat grace hath made thee, that, on the one ner, sinner, canst thou endure these things? hand, thou mayest not affect too high a place, nor Darest thou venture on the dangerous experienvy them above thee; and that, on the other ment of stretching thyself on a death-bed, and hand, thou mayest not keep back from the service looking back on a life devoted to the world, spent of God any thing which he hath made thee, or in sinning; and forward to the dark gulf which given thee.
God dealeth out to thee whatever is yawning to receive thee? Or sensible of thy measure of faith thou possessest_faith through sinfulness and danger, art thou earnestly and which all other spiritual blessings come to thee, anxiously inquiring about a way of salvation? Beand this, when only wrath and wretchedness were hold the word of God meets thine inquiry, with thy merited portion. Deep, then, be thy humi- this plain declaration, · Believe in the Lord Jesus liation; great thy gratitude. And far away from Christ, and thou shalt be saved. thee be wrath, and envy, and contention Seek to • The Lord Jesus Christ. He is the eternal find thy place, and to do thy work in it quietly, Son of God. He assumed human nature. He diligently, faithfully; for thy God hath appointed was made under the law. In the room and stead it to thee for thine own real interests, and the of sinners he perfectly obeyed the law, and he good of all.
suffered the punishment due to their transgressions. In that finished work of his he both purchased pardon for fallen man, and merited heaven
for him. And now he hath ascended up on high, TWENTY-SECOND DAY.—MORNING. leading captivity captive; and he hath received
gifts for men. He hath forgiveness, O sinner, • Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, Acts xvi. 31.
for all thine iniquities, and merit to entitle thee
to heaven. He hath the Holy Spirit without SINNER, we have a word of warning and exhor- measure to deliver thee from the pollution of sin. tation for thee. Thus saith the Lord, “The soul Thou seest thy heart full of corruption, thy life that sinneth, it shall die.' Hast thou not sinned a mass of transgressions, the curse of a holy God ten thousand times? Shalt thou not die, then, as resting upon thee, and his consuming wrath overthe Lord hath said? Thus saith the Lord, “The hanging thy head. But, behold in Jesus Christ wicked shall be turned into hell.' Hast thou not a deliverer from all. To which of thy sins can done wickedness; and thinkest thou that, in the merit of his atonement not reach? What opposition to this word of the Lord, thou shalt stain of corruption is so deeply sunk in thy soul, escape the hell here threatened ? The hour of that the precious blood of Christ cannot take it death is at hand; art thou fully prepared to meet it? out—that the Holy Spirit cannot cleanse it off? The great judgment-day will soon be here; canst Jesus Christ is indeed an all-sufficient Saviour. thou endure the searching scrutiny of Jehovah It matters not how bad thy case be—how long Jesus, the God and Saviour, whose offered kind- thou hast continued in rebellion against God, ness thou hast treated with cold indifference, or wedded to the world, the servant of ungodliness ; contemptuous neglect ? They come, they come; it matters not how short time thou hast on this death, judgment, eternity. The angel's hand is side eternity; it matters not though thou hast uplifted, and concerning thee he is about to swear been a sinner against light and love; Jesus Christ that time shall be no longer. Darest thou die, can, blessed be God for it, save thee from all. In sinner? Darest thou lay down thy body in the him there is mercy enough to reach the vilest of dust, and start forth a disembodied spirit into the vile, and sanctifying grace and power enough the immediate presence of God? This thou must to cleanse and make glorious in holiness the foulassuredly do, ere many days pass by. Thou canst est of the foul. not by any means avoid it. Think of thy body I know that convinced sinners and mourning awakening from the deep slumber of the grave Christians often see, as it were, a great gulf beamidst the convulsions of dissolving worlds. tween the Saviour and themselves. They see Think of opening thine eyes, as thou risest from their own corruption and danger, and they see the dust of death, on him whom thou art now Jesus Christ to be a great and glorious Saviour ; despising and piercing, as he cometh then in all but they can see no connection between him and the pomp, and glory, and power, of the world's them, and they ask, “How are we to be benefited great Judge. Darest thou meet his frown? Canst by what the Son of God hath done? thou endure to depart, loaded with his curse, into Is this thy case? Dost thou say, I perceive the blackness of darkness, and the everlasting that I am a ruined sinner deserving hell, and I