« EelmineJätka »
tures, but the certainty and assurance of free love and unmerited favour. This is the most blessed, steadfast anchor-hold of faith. Its language is not, “What shall I do to be accepted ?" but, “How shall I please my God, who hath made me accepted in the Beloved ?" In this way only God secures all the praise and glory of his own grace to himself. The belief of this expands the heart with love, fires the soul with gratitude, excites to praise, and influences to all true holiness. Hell may terrify with horror, the law work wrath in the conscience, a sight of sin cause us to tremble before God; but grace, the free unmerited favour of God in Christ Jesus, that alone changes rebels to saints, subdues sin, mortifies lusts, triumphs over all the curse and ruin of the fall, and raises its happy subjects to the exalted heights of salvation and glory. Happy those, who know and believe grace reigns through the righteousness of Christ unto eternal life, Rom. v. 21.
JAN. 11. - Jesus said, Ye know not what ye ask.Mark x. 38.
Strangel what! James and John, two disciples of a despised and rejected Master, who had not where to lay his head, yet dreaming of earthly pomp, and worldly grandeur, and petitioning for the highest pitch of worldly glory? Yes, nothing less than the right hand of pre-eminence, and the left hand of power, would suit them. Human nature, how earthly, carnal, and selfish! How low are we fallen! yet how lofty in pride! What are the best of men, when left to their own spirits ? Truly, we know not what to pray for as we ought. Jesus, Master, instruct us what we are called to. Teach us what to pray for. Let thy word, "My kingdom is not of this world,” be ever uppermost in our minds!
Poor Baruch could not be honoured of God, and commissioned to read the roll to the princes of Judah, but he thinks, Now I am somebody; I have got in the way to earthly honour and preferment. But his brother, Jeremiah, is sent to him, with this question and reproof, “Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not,” Jer. xlv. 5. How many distresses were brought upon the children of Israel, by the mixed multitude that went with them! So the swarms of corrupt lusts, earthly affections, and carnal desires, which are found with us, are ever opposing the glory of Jesus, and exciting us to seek that happiness in nature and sense, which can only be found in the spiritual reign of Jesus in the heart.
But so kind and gracious is our dear Saviour that he crosses our wills, and denies our request, when contrary to our spiritual interest. Thus in love he answers our prayers: he withholds what we ask; he gives us what he knows is best for us. If disciples ask what it is unfit for them to receive, or unlawful to beg, shall we complain of God's love, if he denies? Granting is not always the effect of love. If so, Paul had been less loved than Satan. Satan asked but once concerning Job, and his request was granted. Paul besought the Lord thrice, that the messenger of Satan might depart, yet was denied in that. Yea, blessed Jesus thrice prayed his Father, that the cup might pass from him, but that could not be. The Lord delights in the prosperity of his people; therefore withholds no good thing from them. Not our judgment, but his wisdom must determine this. We pray to be in the height of comfort, and on the pinnacle of joy. But love answers by keeping us in the safe vale of humility and selfabasement. Lord, what proud, aspiring creatures are we! enable us to obey thee. “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God," 1 Pet. v. 6.
The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.-Habak. iii. 19.
"The righteous are bold as a lion," Prov. xxviii. 1. The words of wisdom are not like the pithy sayings of the heathen, which merely describe states to which men never arrive, and things which they never enjoy; but they assure us, such and such has been, and still is, the knowledge and experience of God's saints. So chil. dren of wisdom are taught their privileges, and their souls are drawn out in prayer and diligence, that they also may partake of the fulness of the blessings described. From whence do the righteous derive their boldness and courage? See how boldly that young stripling David advances to the mighty giant Goliath; though with but an insignificant weapon in his hand, yet he was assured of success. For the faith of Omnipotence was in his heart, and these soul-encouraging words in his mouth, “I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts," 1 Sam. xvii. 45.
Faith receives all its courage and strength from its author, Jesus. It is armed with Omnipotence; therefore he saith, "All things are possible to him who believeth,” Mark ix. 23. So Paul, “I can do all things." Why? because he was a great apostle? No: prophets and
apostles are all of one mind, even with the weakest believer: "It is Christ who strengthens me.” “The Lord God is my strength.” Are our hearts weak and low, ready to faint and sink? are our graces upon the decline? are our enemies strong, and our troubles increased? To whom should we fly, but to our almighty God and Saviour Jesus? For this very end he makes the feet of his dear members like hinds' feet, swift to run from danger, and to fly to him for safety; and also "to run the way of his commandments with great delight.”
It is the happy privilege of such souls, to walk with composure and comfort, upon the high places of safety and security, above the reach of their implacable foes. Sweet are those seasons, when we mount up with wings as eagles, soar aloft in the exercise of faith, dwell high in the contemplation of love, converse much with Jesus
in glory, though pinioned to the body on earth. How safe are the people of God! how joyful should they be in faith! how confident in hope! how fervent in love! Believers, study your dignity. You are called to the highest honour and the greatest glory. Debase not yourselves by a low, unworthy walk. As ye have received Christ, so walk in him. For they "shall dwell on high,” &c., Isa. xxxiii. 16.
JAN. 13.-I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my çause and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness. -Micah vii. 9.
Though sin be atoned for by the blood of Jesus, and the soul be made holy and happy by believing this, yet, alas! sin dwelleth in us. Hence all our griefs, our sufferings, our wretchedness. God's judgments are sometimes secret, always just, ever in love to his own. Misery would never afflict us, if sin did not infect us. Though a good instrument may be out of tune, yet the hand of a skilful musician can cause it to display its harmony and just proportion of sound. God disciplines by afflictions, for our profit and his glory. The faith, patience, and valour of God's soldiers are best known in times of exercise; then how animating to view the love, and trust to the faithfulness of a covenant God! To see a Father's love to the soul, in the rod of his displeasure against sin, how supporting! I will bear the chastisements of my Father, my sins deserve them; yea, wrath and hell are my deserts. My mouth is stopped; I have nothing to plead; guilt silences me.
But see, hear, and rejoice, O soul. The church beholds a blessed person. Who is that “He" she thinks upon and mentions? "Until he plead my cause.” It is the dear Advocate, Jesus, the ever precious pleader for
poor sinners. How reviving are the sacred pages!
they ever testify of his blessed name, and soul-comforting work.
He never intermits in his plea for the life of the soul. He prevails over all the desert of sin, by his atonement and prayers. Shortly, he will speak destruction to all sin by the word of his power.
In the mean time, he sends his Spirit the Comforter, the third person in the glorious Trinity. “He will bring me forth to the light.” Here see Old Testament faith in New Testament love. It is the Spirit's office, to bring souls out of the dark dungeon of nature's sorrows, to see Jesus the light of life. "I shall behold his righteousness." Then it is a day of comfort after a night of distress. Is the righteousness of Jesus mine? am I righteous by that in the sight of God? Then, truly, it is in righteousness God dealeth with me, and will save me. This faith humbles the soul to the dust, strips it of proud murmurings and self-righteous pleas, and inspires it with boldness at a throne of grace. This is the confident plea of faith; "For thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble. Destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant," Psalm cxliii.
JAN. 14.-Love as brethren.--1 Pet. iii. 8.
Love without reason is a mad passion. Profession without love is but "a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal;” unmeaning noise to others; unprofiting to him that makes it. Love is of God. It is that precious ointment which is poured forth from the Father of love, upon the head of our spiritual Aaron, and runs down to the skirts of his garment, even upon all his brethren, the children of love. Love descends from God, through Jesus, to us, spreads itself among the brethren, and ascends in grateful odours to the God of love.
The prophet asks, "Have we not all one Father ?" Mal. ii. 10. Yes, saith our elder Brother, “I ascend