« PreviousContinue »
promises in Christ, begets resignation to his will, and patience under his dispensations; being assured, that " all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” Rom. viii. 28.
We first experience God's power, in effectual calling, and then his love, in keeping us close to himself and obedient to his will. So we enjoy peace from him, and our hearts are cheerfully devoted to him. But how oft doth the believing soul find coolness of affection, heaviness of heart, and dejection of mind! Doth not this destroy his hope? No: even this experience, sad as it seems, worketh hope. Hereby pride and self-confidence are slain, sin embittered, the soul humbled at the feet of Jesus, with, "Thou, even thou alone art my hope; I dare not trust in any other; my soul shall make her boast of thee, and thee only."
We have the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves : and the more we live apon and trust in the Lord, so shall we experience hope spring up, love flourish, and holiness abound. Praised be the Lord our God, who is the God of hope, and who fills us with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost," Rom. xv. 13.
FEB. 13.—Having on the breastplate of righteousness. -Eph. vi. 14.
When Saul had armed David with his armour, to go against Goliath, the Philistine giant, his heart smote him, lest he should confide in it, and so be drawn from simply trusting to the power of his God only; therefore he said, "I cannot go with these; I have not proved them. And David put them off him," 1 Sam. xvii. 39. A faithful heart is jealous of the Saviour's glory. Though the believer is made righteous, and loves, and walks in the paths of righteousness, yet he will glory in nothing before God, nor trust in any righteousness to shield him from the face of the enemy, but the perfect, spotless righteousness of his dear Saviour. He puts off all others, by the faith of Christ, as contrary to his judgment and his hope. As he sees the purity and extent of the divine law, that it is quick and powerful, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart; knowing his own righteousness to be defective, and that in many things we all offend; therefore, he could just as soon trust in a honey-comb for a breastplate, as the moth-eaten garment of his own best works.
Why do Satan, sin, and the law so often wound our breasts, and grieve our hearts? Because we are not careful to guard with our breastplate of Jesus' righteousness. It should ever be the joy and rejoicing of our souls, to consider Jesus' work, as man and Me diator. Did he shed his blood ? did he die a cursed death? did he, in his holy life, "put on righteousness as a breastplate ?” Isa. lix. 17. Faith triumphs in his death, as the one atonement for sin. Faith glories in his life, as the one righteousness for justification. So the once guilty soul is cleansed, so the once naked soul is clothed and adorned; and thus is it ever glorious in the sight of God, in this best robe of its elder Brother, Jesus. So also is the once defenceless soul armed against every attack of sin, Satan, the law, and death. This breastplate is more than proof against all. While pride and self-righteousness go hand in hand, and unite in objections against the imputed righteousness of our Immanuel, humble, self-emptied souls glory and triumph that their salvation is according to the laws of strict justice and perfect righteousness. Possessing righteousness in Jesus, we draw nigh to a throne of grace with boldness now, and shall lift up our heads with joy, before a righteous judgment, in the great and tremendous day. For “righteousness delivereth from death,” Prov. x. 2. Though sin hath reigned unto death [in us,] yet grace reigns unto eternal life [for us,] through the righteousness of Jesus Christ our Lord, Rom. v. 21.
FEB. 14.—But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.—Rom. iii. 21.
“Vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt,” Job xi. 12. Proud man would be righteous in himself
, though conceived in iniquity, brought forth in sin, and no goodness in him. This pride accompanies him all his days; yea, it forsakes not new-born souls. Our natural notions ever are, that we are to do something to make ourselves righteous. So the judgment of the flesh ever opposeth the truth of the Spirit. Carnal reason ever runs counter to spiritual faith. But it is the glory of believing hearts, to take their views of righteousness from revealed truth. This, to the ineffable joy and unspeakable comfort of poor sinners, manifests a righteousness for their garment, which they toiled not for, neither did they spin. And what shall we say of it? Truly, Solomon in all his glory, yea, angels in all their brightest perfection, are not arrayed like those who are clothed with the righteousness of the God-man Christ Jesus. Oh, for stronger faith in this, that we may bring forth more of the fruits of righteousness in our lives, to the praise and glory of God!
Poor, weak, doubting believer, why takest thou thought for raiment ? hath not God clothed thee? “O thou of little faith!” thou hopest, thou dost trust in Jesus' blood alone, for the pardon of thy sins, but art distressed in seeing thyself a poor sinner. Thou knowest thou art not righteous in thyself, and often fearest thou shalt never attain righteousness, but perish at last for want of it. Verily thy face is towards Sinai's mount, instead of Calvary's; to Moses, instead of Christ; to thy life of obedience, instead of his life of righteousness; to the law, which requires all, instead of the gospel, which freely gives all. Soldier of Christ, face about to thy Captain.
So sure as thou hast the faith of Jesus in thine heart,
thou hast his righteousness upon thee, let law, Satan, and men say what they will against it. God finds his children naked, he clothes them. Witnesses are ever at hand; evidences are never wanting to prove this truth. The Spirit of truth bears infallible testimony, by the law and the prophets, to this glorious righteousness. Read, be joyful, and give all glory to rich grace, for its free imputation : "l'he righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, is unto all and upon all them that believe," Rom. iii. 22. But no one enjoys the comfort of this, till, with Paul, he can say, "I through the law am dead to the law,” Gal. ii. 19.
FEB. 15.-Our gospel came not to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.-1 Thess. i. 5.
Sin, salvation, death, judgment, eternity, though matters of the highest moment and utmost importance to us all, yet we naturally think of them with little concern, speak of them with great indifference, and treat the consideration of them as Felix did Paul, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee," Acts xxiv. 25. And yet, perhaps, such have long sat under a preached gospel; greatly cry up and applaud the preachers, and are ready to condemn others who do not see and admire their excellency. But, alas! what are the most excellent words of man, without the power of the Spirit? Light as air; ineffectual, to soul-saving purposes, as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
The grand question is, Have I inwardly known and felt the power of the gospel? It has an internal voice: it speaks glad tidings, good news, of life and salvation to the very soul: it is the word of power, to quicken dead souls to life: it is a revelation to the heart, of pardon and peace by Jesus. Thus it brings the clearest evidence, the fullest assurance along with it, that it is God's word of life and salvation. The Holy Ghost bears witness to it, in power and demonstration. Blessed souls! who are divinely assured of the truths of gospel grace and love by Christ, who embrace the gospel as their only hope, flee and cleave to Jesus as their only refuge. But more blessed, yea, most happy those believing souls, who are upon the delectable mountains, and enjoy much assurance of their own personal interest in Jesus, and eternal life through him; and by the Holy Ghost are enabled to say, "I know that Jesus loved me and died for me." Oh, this privilege is most highly to be prized ! it deserves the most earnest pressing after.
This only can deliver the soul from all doubts and fears, inflame it with most ardent love, inspire it with holy boldness, influence it to most cheerful obedience, resign it to afflictive allotments, wing it with holy longings after Christ, and eternal glory, and make it joyfully triumphant over the grim tyrant death; with “Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1 Cor. xv. 57. Does God love his people, in Christ, with an everlasting love? does he will their salvation, and that they should clearly know and be comfortably assured of this ? Most certainly; for he exhorts them to give all“ diligence to the full assurance of hope," Heb. vi. 11.
FEB. 16.—The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.-John i. 14.
When the Lord gave Lamech a son, he called his name Noah, which signifies repose, or consolation: and he said, “This same shall comfort us concerning the work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." Gen v. 29. Noah was