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truly submit to them, till our high thoughts are brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 2 Cor. x. 5.
JAN. 18.-Search me, O God, and know my heart : try me, and know my thoughts : and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. —Psalm cxxxix. 23, 24.
"He that doth the truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God," John iii. 21. This is an infallible touchstone of true conversion, given by the oracle of truth. “He that trusteth to his own heart is a fool,” Prov. xxviii. 26. Sincerity may be attended with diffidence. Sincere, upright souls know they have to do with a heartsearching God: to him they appeal, and desire to be tried and searched by him. What avails it the soul, to obtain a favourable opinion from our vain fellowmortals, if we are conscious all is not right within ? What peace, what comfort, what joy, though men approve, and the soul itself be ever so confident, while conscience testifies, My ways do not please the Lord, my walk is contrary to his will ? True love to Jesus will ever excite godly jealousy in the heart.
While in the flesh, we are ever exposed to deceits from a subtle foe, a deceitful heart, and an ensnaring world; yea, and from false teachers also. Our paths may be intricate, darkness may overtake, and Satan may thrust sore at the soul, that it may fall, or be driven into by-ways of error and wickedness. Here is the wisdom and patience of saints, when they cannot see their way, to cry to their Guide. Jesus is the way, the only way, the way everlasting; in which the saints in all ages walked to glory. Faith in Jesus is inconsistent with every wicked way, though in our present state, there is no entire freedom from sin, which dwelleth in us; consequently no perfection in righteousness performed by us. Yet, the more we abide in Jesus, the closer we cleave to him, the more steadfastly we behold him ; so much the more through the grace of the Holy Spirit, we shall be dead to sin, and alive to holiness. We shall experience the ways of wisdom to be ways of pleasantness, and all her paths to be paths of peace, Prov. iii. 17. This is the end of simple-hearted, sincere souls, in their appeals at a throne of grace, that " with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,” they may be “ changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord,” 2 Cor. iii. 18. Thus the new creature looks and lives out of nature and appeals to the God of all grace, to be searched, tried, and led. Thus our new state and new life in Christ are manifested, that "we walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," Rom. viii. 1.
JAN. 19.—If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.—John viii. 31.
As mutual love subsists between Jesus and his believing members ; so there is a mutual choice of each other. Hence says the church, “I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine," Cant. vi. 3. So there is a mutual inhabitation also; every believer dwells in Christ, and Christ in him. This can only be comfortably experienced by continuing in the truth. For, "whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son," 2 John 9. He has the love of the former and the peace of the latter.
Many profess to be disciples of Jesus in name. But what profit is this? If souls have not been sick of sin, Jesus will be a Physician of no value to them. If they have not seen themselves lost, their state accursed, and their case hopeless and desperate, so that none but Jesus can restore and save them, they will lightly esteem him. However precious he is to others, he will be but little regarded by them. They may profess his word, but not being his disciples indeed, they will not continue long, they will only follow him for a season. Ah, poor souls, how soon are they offended! Little things put them to a stand. Trifles turn them back. Temptations and trials prove what they are. Other objects engage their affections, and they presently fall quite away, and follow the Lamb no more.
Continuance in the truth is the touchstone of faith; thus only is it evidenced. Disciple, remember, “if thou come to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation,” Ecclus. ii. 1. So surely as thou art a disciple indeed and in truth, thou must become a crucified servant of a crucified Lord. As thou hopest for the comforts of faith, so expect the trials of faith, and the exercise of patience. Thou must abide the tribulations of Jesus' word, as well as its consolations. The Master deceives none.
He tells us what we are to expect; every thing grievous to flesh and blood. But blessed be his gracious name, he bids us, "Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, [fiery darts of Satan, hot temptations within, and burning malice of men without,] thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." Why all this safety in the midst of such danger ? Most joyful reason! “For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour,” Isa. xliii. 1-3.
JAN. 20.-Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.Jer. xvii. 5.
It is very remarkable, after the prophet pronounces the curse of confiding in the flesh, and the blessedness of trusting in the Lord, he immediately adds, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” verse 9. Hence we may infer, that the poison of pride, vain confidence in the flesh, and self-righteous hopes, may lurk under the most exalted pretensions to piety, holiness, and perfection. This matter calls for great care and circumspection.
“As many as are of the works of the law (who in any wise seek to be made righteous by doing) are under the curse," Gal. iii. 10. Think not this contrary to the holiness of God, to pronounce such to be cursed, as though the Lord did not hate sin, love and approve of true holiness. No: but such deceive their souls, and flatter themselves in their own sight. They dishonour the perfection of God's law, by bringing down its purity and spirituality to a level with their own works and obedience. They reject the righteousness of Jesus, deny the faith of him, look to their own holiness, trust in themselves that they are righteous, confide in the power of the flesh, and so their hearts depart from the Lord. Pride and self-exalting are at the bottom of all this. As they appeal to the law, to the law they must go, and hear its dreadful sentence which sounds nothing but curse, and wrath, and hell against them. Such are the awful effects of men making flesh their confidence, and of their heart's departing from the truth of God and righteousness of Christ. He who truly believes the former, will desire to be found in the latter.
These are precious, evangelical words of Luther, (on Gal. iii. 6.) So teach and comfort the afflicted sin. ner. Brother, it is not possible for thee to become so righteous as to feel no sin at all. In that thou dost feel and acknowledge it, it is a good token; give thanks to God. Christ healeth them that are broken in heart, and saveth sinners. Follow not the judgment of reason, which telleth thee Christ is angry with sinners; but kill reason, and believe in Christ, and the sin which remaineth in thee is pardoned for Christ's sake, in whom thou believest; whose righteousness is thy righteousness, and thy sin is his sin. Every christian is a high priest.
This is the daily sacrifice of the New Testament, which must be offered up. The evening sacrifice is to kill reason; the morning sacrifice is to glorify God.” “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord," Jer. xvii. 7.
JAN. 21.-Let us go forth unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.—Heb. xiii. 13.
The profession of the gospel of Christ is easy to nature. There is nothing irksome to the flesh in being called a christian. But to know Jesus in heart, to confess him with the tongue, and to follow him in our life, will ever expose us to reproach and contempt. But if
, with Philip, we have really found that blessed “Him, of whom Moses and the prophets wrote," we must, we shall speak of him to others. We shall esteem Jesus as our beloved, and choose him as our richest treasure. Our hearts and affections will be going out after him. Moses' choice will be ours: we shall esteem “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.” But fleshly wisdom is contrary to all this. That ever prompts: “Save thyself; take care of thy good name; fear lest that be cast out as evil; beware of thy character; go not too far, thou wilt sustain damage. In the camp of this world, riches, pleasures, and honours are enjoyed. Study the happy mean. Thou mayest hold with the world, and yet not quit Jesus.” Nay, but thou canst not love and serve two such contrary masters: thou wilt soon grow tired of the one or the other. The inward glory and peace of Jesus will not, cannot be enjoyed, but while the heart and affections are placed on him. The faith of Jesus is contrary to the world, it cannot be reconciled to its vain customs and sinful maxims. Nay, faith is the victory that overcometh the world. The world is an enemy's camp. A despised Nazarene is the chris. tian's glory. To bear his reproach is our highest honour.