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Then opened he their understanding, that they might under:
stand the scriptures....Luke xxiv. 45.
THOUGH Jesus had captivated the hearts, and drawn the affections of his disciples to himself, before his sufferings and death; yet they had very little knowledge in the mysteries of his kingdom, and of the mystery of iniquity which worked in them: they were but weak in the understanding of the holy scriptures; herce arose their diffidence and suspicions concerning him. He left them scattered through fear and unbelief, and he finds them full of unreasonable doubts and troubles: for this he reproves them, “O fools, and slow of heart-tó believe all that the prophets have spoken.” But amidst all their weakness and ignorance there was a sweet and secret confidence in their hearts. Jesus had apprehended them as prisoners of love, and they were kept by an invisible power, that they might apprehend that for which also they were apprehended of Christ. Though he made the hearts of two of his disciples "burh within them;" yet there was more warmth than light; a transient heat of affections, but not a settled understanding and judgment in the scriptures. Thus it is with many of the lambs of the flock now. They have been taught to call “ Jesus Lord by the Holy Ghost.” They feel some flashes of comfort, but they are oftener exercised with doubts and fears; jealousies and surmises; but as the Saviour hath loved them, and called them to himself, he will establish their hearts in the faith. He not only warms the affections, but opens the understanding. Many mistake here: not the fire of our passions is. to govern us, but our clear understanding of the scriptures. By them our faith is strengthened, our judgment established, our love increased, our hearts comforted, our holiness promoted. . Thus Jesús honored the scriptures of truth: so he gave his first resurrection-blessing to his weak; but sincere disciples.
“Jesus died for our sins, and rose again according to the scriptures.".... 1 Cor. xv. 3,4. His whole work on earth was to fulfil the scriptures. So he honored them: and herein he has left disciples an example. Prize the word of truth, study it constantly, pray over it daily. By the word of truth the Spirit teacheth knowledge. The scriptures are the sword of the Spirit: Satan will fly before them, because they testify of Jesus. Here, O soul, is an evidence of a true disciple. Jesus hath opened his understanding to understand the scriptures. Hath the Lord thus blessed thee? Then thou seest Jesus to be the sum and substance of the scriptures, therefore thou wilt esteem them as thy companion, thy guide, and thy familiar friend. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope."....Rom. xv. 4.
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ : to him be glory both now and for ever. Amen....2 Pet. iii. 18.
CHRISTIAN, know thy danger. Thou art ever liable to be led away by the error of the wicked one, to decline from the TRUTH, and to fall away from thy stedfastness in the faith of Jesus. Exhortations warn of this; they tend to quicken stronger exercises of faith and love, as a remedy against this; yea, through the influences of the Spirit they cause new-born souls to grow and increase with the increase of God, just as reviving showers of rain and warın influences of the sun, cause the fruits of the earth to grow. . It behoves every follower of the Lamb to consider this; to wrestle with the God of all grace, lest he grow faint in his mind, his hands hang down, and his knees become feeble ; but that he "grow strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus.” Behold the inseparable connection between grace and Jesus, knowledge and growth, No growth in grace but by the knowledge of Jesus. The more thou growest up in thy Head, Christ, the more thou wilt grow out of hope in thyself, out of conceit with thyself, out of the reach of the SELF-RIGHTEOUSLY WICKED.
To know and experience the grace of God in Christ, is the special mercy of poor sinners. To grow in the faith of free-grace truths, and in the knowledge of the love of Jesus, is our richest consolation, qur highest joy. Hast thou experienced a little of this special grace? Hast thou tasted that the Lord is gracious? In this consists thy present blessedness, peace, and joy. But, alas! what is thy knowledge and experience, but like a drop of water to the vast ocean. Art thou hụngering after more grace, thirsting after greater knowledge of Jesus.? Verily, thou shalt be filled...." filled with all the fulness of God." It is the nature of grace, the property of the knowledge of Jesus, to create an insatiable thirst in the soul after deeper experiences of it: hence means of grace will be diligently used, the scriptures, which testify of Jesus, constantly searched, the gospel of grace highly prized, the sincere milk of the word desired, and the influences of the Spirit implored. Why all this? That the soul may grow in the faith and love of Jesus; that the bud of grace may blossom and bear Fipe fruit to the glory of God. The smallest knowledge of Jesus shall be increased till the believing babe in Christ comes “in the unity of the faith, and in the knowledge of the Son of God, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,” until faith is turned into sight, hope swallowed up in fruition, and the love of an unseen Jesus on earth shall ripen unto the fullest enjoyment of him in heaven; and all this to the glory of God the Father, who hath “made us accepted in his beloved Son."....Eph. i. 6.
Ye were as sheep going astray, but are now returned unto 1 the shepherd and bishop of your souls....2 Pet. ii. 25.
SCRIPTURE allusions continually remind us, “that salvation is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God who sheweth mercy: therefore, not unto us, not to our free will, but to thy free grace, O Lord, be all the glory. Like that poor silly creature, a sheep, we naturally stray into all kind of danger, but are unapt to return of ourselves. We never should unless the shepherd sought us. “We have turned every one to his own way,” have lost ourselves in the wilderness of sin, are wounded by the wolf of prey, blinded by pride, self-will, and self-righteousness. We delight in our distance from the good shepherd. We please ourselves in feeding on carnal lusts and sensual vanities, while our poor souls are in a starving, perishing condition. Unparalleled love! the sheep's wounds áre healed by the shepherd's stripes; pardon is obtained by the bishop's sufferings and death. All this is proclaimed by the shepherd's voice. But, “O! what fools! how slow of heart to believe this!" This keeps many poor sheep from returning to Jesus; and those that have heard his voice, and are returned to him, do not keep so close to him as is their interest and happiness. The loving shepherd complains of this....Jer. ii. 31....“ Have I been a barren wilderness unto you, O ye sheep of my pasture?" No, truly: our souls can never be healthy and thriving but while our shepherd is in view, and we are feeding in the green pastures of his love by the still waters of his salvation.
It behoves Christ's sheep to consider daily how dear they are to him;. what sweet relation he stands in to them; what love and care he has for them; that so Jesus may be more endeared to them, and his pastoral instructions, cautions, and directions, may influence their walk and conversation; for the adversary is ever working upon our treacherous nature to make us conceive of Jesus otherwise than a faithful shepherd and loving overseer, that so, as terrified sheep, we may fly from him, and cease to love and follow him. Yea; to this end the father of lies thus preaches: “Though you are returned to your shepherd, yet after all he may cease to care for you, and let you perish.' This is the doctrine of devils, let who will preach it;. for it gives the lie to Jesus, THE TRUTH, who says, “I give unto them eternal life; they shall NEVER PERISH, neither shall Any pluck them out of my hands."....John X. 28. “We are not ignorant of Satan's devices,"...2 Cor. ii. 11....nor “of the cunning craftiness of those who lie in wait to deceive."....Eph. iv. 14.
The Lord my shepherd is,
I shall be well supply'd;
What can I want beside!
If e'er I go astray,
He doth my soul reclaim,
For his most holy name.
God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship
of his Son Jesus Christ.... 1 Cor. i. 9.
While we entertain a notion of a God out of Christ, it affords no confort to the mind to hear of God's faithfulness. Nay, if we were not blind to our state, as sinners, the thought would fill us with dread and horror. For how awful, how terrifying is this declaration from a faithful God: “I will by no means clear the guilty.".. Exod. xxxiv. 7. But “we know that the Lord our God, he is God, the faithful God, who keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.".... Deut. vii. 9. O this is the life of poor sinners' souls! this is the joy of their hearts! For whenever one reads of the COVENANT, it reminds of Jesus the surety, the mediator, of God in Christ, the God of love, our reconciled God and Father. We have no immediate access to the Father but by his Son Jesus Christ. When called into fellowship, intercourse, familiarity, and sweet converse with Jesus by faith, then we have free access to the Father's throne of grace, and his heart of love. We glory in his great and precious promises, and triumph in his declarations of faithfulness and truth.
The faithfulness of God is the foundation of all present grace; the security of future glory. Many weak disciples are perplexed with dark and disturbing thoughts in this matter. Their hearts are not carried up to rest in the love of the Father, where all is serene and quiet; but they rest below, in the regions of doubts and fears, storms and clouds. Their souls may be exercised, and often distressed; but they are safe, because called to the knowledge of faith in and fellowship with their elder brother, Jesus. This is by the love of the Father through the power of the Spirit. And God is faithful to his covenant, to his Son, to his people, to his own word to them, and his work in them. “ For whom he calls, them he glorifies.". Faithful to support them under all present dejections of mind and sinking of spirits : faithful to preserve them in all times of danger, and to give them living comforts in a dying hour.
Now, O believer, thou art called to honor the faithfulness of thy God, by trusting in his word of truth; glorying in his promises of grace at all times.
Yea, at thy worst of times and frames, even < when sense, reason, feelings, and appearances are all against thee, then the Lord is for thee. “ The Lord is faithful, who SHALL stablish you, and keep you from all evil.”....2 Thess. iii. 3. Faithful " to confirm you unto the end, that you may be blameless in the day of the Lord Jesus.”....Cor. 1. 8.
Our God, how firm his promise stands, Then why my soul these sad complaints, E'en when he hides his face!
Since Christ and we are one! His trust's in our Redeemer's hands, Thy God is faithful to his saints, His glory and his grace.
Is faithful to his Son.
Il'hat shall we say then ? shall we continue in sin, that grace
may abound ? ...,Rom. vi, 1,
BELIEVER in Jesus, what are thy thoughts? what the answer of thine heart this day, in regard to thy walk and conduct in life, from the important doctrines of grace? Canst thou say, the everlasting love of God the Father, reigning through the righteousness of Jesus unto eternal life, manifested in the gospel, and applied by the Holy Spirit through faith, have the least tendency to give reins to thy lust, to open a door of licentiousness, and to encourage thee to continue in sin? Doth the belief of the guilt of sin, being atoned by the precious blood of Jesús, influence thee to the love of sin? Doth the knowledge of Christ's righteousness imputed unto justification of life, tend to make thee delight in unrighteousness and unholiness of life? By no means: God forbid! to bring such an heinous charge against divine truths; O what daring impiety! what horrid blasphémy! Beware of such a thought; indulge it not one moment ; it comes from the adversary of all truth; it impeaches the wisdom and holiness of the Spirit of truth; for he reveals these soul-saving, Christ-glorifying, God-honoring truths; and by his gracious gift of faith, sinners receive and embrace them. But to what end? Hereby they see the display of justice; mercy triumphing in righteousness; their souls established in a sense of peace and pardon, and most powerfully influenced to the love of personal holiness and obedience. Sooner ascribe midnight darkness and winter's frost to the source of light and heat of the sun, than once imagine the grace of God leads toʻsin, or the aboundings of grace to continuance in sin. No; this is through the aboundings of lust...." When Lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin."....Janies i. 15. But grace conceived in the heart, brings forth holiness.
* Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: Yea, we establish the w.".... Rom. iii. 31. How? as a covenant of works to us? No; that it was our dear surety.
“ Christ is the end (the fulfiller) of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”.... Rom. x. 4. We establish the law, as a rule of duty to us; though not to obtain life, but according to which we ought to walk. So we follow our Lord, and are conformed to him. O may the cheering light of truth be ever accompanied with the warm influences of the sun of righteousness upon the heart! “ By the grace of God we have had our conversation in the world.”....2 Cor. i. 12.
6. Then shall we best proclaim abroad I cannot love, nor live in sin, • The honors of our Saviour God, Though sin in me doth still abide: "When his salvation reigns within, Though sin's alive, I'm dead to sin, “ And grace subdues the pow'r of sin." My Saviour keeps from lust and pride.