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God hath chosen us in Christ, before the soundation of the world.... Eph. i. 4.
So the apostles wrote and preached, to comfort and establish their brethren in the faith of Christ, in the love of God, and in the sanctification of the Spirit unto all true holiness. The election of sinners, by God the Father in Christ Jesus, from all eternity, is the foundation from which all faith and hope spring. If this truth is rejected, the atonement of Jesus is made precarious, the work of the Spirit uncertain, salvation doubtful, faith void, the promise of none effect, and the hope of eternal life is made to depend on the will and power of weak and vile sinners, instead of the grace and truth of God. But in every age, men of corrupt minds, destitute of the truth, have opposed God's sovereign grace, everlasting love, and eternal purposes. God hath suffered it, “that those who are approved might be made manifest.”.... 1 Cor. xi. 19. Humble, self-emptied sinners, who are poor in spirit, and lowly in their own eyes, plainly discern that systems of human pride, schemes of self-confidence, are set up to establish vain hopes and self-righteous pleas, in opposition to the truths of God: “If it were possible to deceive the very elect of God.” ....Matt. xxiv. 24. But his love towards his children is too great to suffer it. And they do well to take heed to the true light of electing grace and love; which shines with such glory in the person of Jesus, to the comfort of their souls, through the faith of him.
“Beware of men; call no man, Rabbi,” saith our divine teacher. Yet saith Paul to his son Timothy, “The things which thou hast heard of me, the same commit thou to faithful men; who shall be able to teach others also.”....2 Tim. ii. 2. So a standing ministry hath been established, whom God hath sent forth in every age boldly to preach the God-glorifying, soul-humbling, faith-establishing, sinsubduing truths of the gospel. Human compositions, agreeable to God's truth, are precious; as they are made establishing to the
faithful. Thanks to God for those sweet and comfortable words of
the 17th article of the established church. Our pious reformers say, “The godly consideration of predestination, and our election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh and their earthly members, and drawing up their minds to high and heavenly things. It doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation, to be enjoyed through Christ. It doth fervently kindle their love towards God.' Here are blessed scriptural marks of a true christian: if thou findest them in thine own heart, give God the glory of electing love, and “hold fast this form of sound words in faith and love.”.... 2. Tim. i. 13.
If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous....] John ii. 1.
In the glass of God's holy and righteous law we see what an unholy and unrighteous thing sin is; it is hateful in the eyes of a pure God; it has separated between God and the sinner, and tends to his eternal destruction. The gospel in no wise renders sin less odious to God, less heinous in his sight; far from it. Yea, rather it paints sin in the blackest colours, and shews its deepest malignancy, by the gracious method of its atonement. View the holy Lamb suffering for sin on the cross; see the streaming blood, and hear the direful agonies of the Son of God on account of sin; and say, O believer, is sin a little matter, a trifling thing? Learn daily sin's evil by its remedy....sin's poison by its antidote....the hell it deserved by the person who redeems. And ever, O my soul, hold fast this as a sacred truth, though God loves thy person in Christ Jesus, yet he hates thy sins, though reconciled to thy soul through the Son of his love, yet he never can be reconciled to sin, though at peace with thee through the blood of the cross, yet ever at enmity against thy sins. Hence the beloved disciple declares, “These things write I unto you, little children, that ye sin not.” Beware of sin as the worst evil; watch against sin as a deadly foe; strive against it, oppose, resist it in the power of the Spirit, as your worst enemy: as most hateful and displeasing to your best friend. - But if any man sin, (for none are perfectly free from sin in their nature, nor wholly exempt from it in their practice), what then? must he lie down and despair? No; “We have an advocate with the Father:” Jesus Christ pleads the cause of sinners, though he is not an advocate for sin; for he is THE RIGHTEous. Therefore he doth not deny the charge that we are sinners, guilty in ourselves; he extenuates none of our sins, but owns every accusation brought into court against us by a perfect law and strict justice; with every aggravating circumstance which can be urged. Against all that law and justice can charge upon us, he pleads his own undertaking, his work, his life and death, his blood and righteousness. His people have sinned; his blood hath atoned. They have contracted guilt; he hath suffered the punishment. They have deserved the curse of the law; he has borne it for them. They have deserved hell; he has opened the kingdom of heaven. They are unrighteous in themselves; Jesus hath fulfilled the law for them, and clothes them with his perfect righteousness. Therefore he pleads that sin may not be imputed to them; but that pardon of sin and peace of conscience may be bestowed upon them by the word and Spirit; and that they may be sanctified in him, and glorified with him. Thus saith our dear Lord to us, “I will not leave you comfortless.”....John xiv. 18.
The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat....Prov. xiii. 4.
IN the busy scenes of life, in the awful moments of death, the formal professor, as well as the profligate and profane, will desire to escape misery and woe, and enjoy heaven and happiness. But - alas ! how vain and fruitless are such desires . If these may be called good desires, ‘the way to hell is paved with them,' saith an ancient father of the church. But in this, the wisdom of the children of God is manifested. They are diligent in the use of such means, which, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, will be crowned with a blessed end. They cannot rest in desiring, but in possessing; not in wishing, but enjoying. They find and feel their souls want continual supplies of food from Jesus, support from his promises, nourishment from his word and ordinances, and life from his Spirit. And as their desires are quickened, their diligence is drawn out after these things. - - - - Truth and wisdom declare, they shall not barely be kept from starving; just preserved alive, like Pharaoh's lean kine; but shall be fed and nourished. "Yea, like healthy sheep in rich pastures, they shall grow fat. “The soul of the diligent shall be made fat.".... Prov. xiii. 4. Here is encouragement for thy diligence, here is a spur to thy activity, O disciple. Here is the promise of thy Lord. Where is thy faith? Dost thou perceive thy soul decline, instead of growing fat? Do lusts and corruptions gain ground 3 Doth the love of the world get the ascendancy of the love of the Father in thy heart? Is the edge of thy spiritual appetite palled 2 and canst thou not feed nor feast on the rich repast of Jesus' redeeming love as heretofore?, wherefore is this Hast thou not reason to charge thyself with sloth and indolence? Hast thou not been sleeping on thy bed of ease, instead of seeking the food of thy soul? Indulging thy perishing body, when thou mightest have used means for feasting thy immortal spirit? If so, the word of grace, and the testimony of thy conscience, convict thee; this is not right; thou oughtest to take shame to thyself; it is thy duty to humble thyself, and to call upon the Spirit to quicken thee. Though saved in the Lord Jesus with an everlasting salvation, yet thou art called “to give all diligence to make thy calling and eledtion sure.” In this way the Lord will hourish souls in love, and make them fat in the consolations of his grace. Consider, all are busy and active around thee....Satan to tempt, the world to ensnare, and thy corruptions within to betray thee. Remember the eyes of thy dear Lord are ever upon thee to see how thou actest thy part. Yea, more, “according to his riches in glory, to strengthen thee with might by his Spirit in the inner man."...Eph. iii. 16. Vol. I. Q
H'ithout controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, &c.... 1 Tim. iii. 16.
THE truths of the gospel are undoubtedly great mysteries to carnal reason. We have naturally no ideas of their existence; but being plainly revealed by the Spirit of truth, they cease to be hid from our knowledge. They are no longer secret mysteries, as to their matter, but plain and open truths to faith. True, the MANNER of their existence is incomprehensible to reason. So they will ever remain mysteries to us. Therefore the sons of natural pride and human ignorance reject and disbelieve them : but the children of wisdom and humility esteem the whole mystery of godliness, every bible-truth, as precious objects of their faith. Blessed be God, our comfort and salvation consists in believing, not in explaining. The christian, like the prophet, being born of the Spirit, is a “man of strife and contention with the whole earth.”....Jer. xv. 10... All in nature and carnal reason are in arms against the truths he believes. Because he earnestly contends for them, he will ever find controversy and perverse disputings from men of corrupt minds, destitute of the truth. His zeal here is always commendable, only let it be in LovE. What the Lord hath taught in his word, we receive as the food of our souls. This is our simple answer to the God of this world, and to the wise disputer of this age. We cannot comprehend how God dwelt in flesh, but we are fully assured he did. We have the
fullest proof of it in his word; and his word is truth. And it is the
very life of our souls, and the joy of our hearts, to believe our God. Why God dwelt in flesh, and the glorious ends he hath accomplished hereby, we know. Of this also, we are perfectly assured; we believe it from the same infallible testimony. To the faith of this, we have the inward witness of the Spirit also. God, known in the flesh, beheld in human form, viewed in our nature, is the very essence of our faith; we now partake its blessings and experience its comforts. Hence springs the assured pardon of all our sins, the acceptance of our persons, the sanctification of our souls, and sure and certain hope of eternal life and glory. All this is by free promise, according to the purpose and decree of the everlasting covenant of grace, to the glory of the ever-blessed Trinity, and to the comfort and salvation of lost sinners. Thus saints are called into “one body, by one Spirit; have one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one atonement, one righteousness, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in them all.”....Ephes. iv. 4, 5, 6.
Sessr. feels I am a simmer here: By FAITH I view Love's mystery,
I keep under my body; and bring it into subjection....I Cor. ix. 27.
THE neglect of this brings on leanness of soul. If this enemy gains ground, it is alarming; if he prevails, it causes mourning; but when he is kept low, and supplies are cut off, his power is weakened, and victory over him is easily gained. Such are the sensitive powers, carnal affections, and sinful inclinations which compose part of our present frame, the body; a body of sin and death. To gratify and fulfil them is very pleasing and delightful to nature and sense. But how awfully subversive of the comforts of faith, the peace of the mind, and the joy of the soul, thy own sad experience, O disciple, hath proved. Ner can it be otherwise; let us not deceive ourselves; we cannot indulge and pamper the life of the flesh but to the hurt and injury of the life of the soul . There is an irreconcileable enmity between the flesh and the spirit, the old man and the new. The variance and strife will ever subsist while we are in the body. It is the Lord's sovereign will to leave the Canaanites still in the land, and to drive them out by little and little: . For “behold a King shall reign in righteousness.”....Isa. xxxii. 1. This is our beloved Jesus. Here is the exercise of faith in him, the touch-stone of our love, and the proof of our allegiance to him, in striving daily for the mastery, to conflict with and fight against every inordinate affection and corrupt lust of our fallen, sinful nature, and to keep them under, and bring them into subjection to him. It is hard work to fight with an enemy that is part of one's self; but Jesus' banner hath this motto, “Deny thyself, take up thy cross daily, and follow me.” Though the work is ours, yet thine, O Jesus, is the power. *. • Faith in Jesus not only accepts his imputed righteousness for justification, but has also a lively dependence on Christ for every supply of his Spirit for further sanctification. It leaves not the soul in a lazy languid state, but causes it to aspire after greater delight in and conformity to God; it eyes God as its centre; enjoyment of him as its happiness, and full conformity to him as its perfection. To indulge, pamper, and gratify the flesh, is contrary hereto; therefore mortification and self-denial, and subjecting the flesh to the spirit, will be the exercise of living, believing, loving souls. But why all this? not from legal principles: not from slavish fear of hell and damnation; not through dread of being reprobated and cast away for ever; No: Paul had not so learned, nor did Christ teach so. Believers act from love to Jesus, being assured of perfect salvation by him. “Eternal life is the gift of God.”....Rom. vi. 23.
What diff'rent pow'rs of grace and sin Thus will the flesh and spirit strive,
Attend this mortal state And vex and break my peace ;