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My son, give me thine heart....Prov. xxiii. 26.
Many are the competitors for the heart of man. Though our dear father and best friend, lovingly calls for the free-will offering of this precious jewel, yet we are foolishly inclined to give it to our worst enemies. This pleasing world, with all its gay scenes of happiness and joy, attracts our affections, enchants our minds, and bewitches our senses; so that we love it dearly, devote our hearts to it cheerfully, and dread the very thoughts of leaving it greatly.
"Thou shalt have no other gods but me,” saith Jehovah. We own the duty, and decry the wickedness of worshipping an idol ; though all the while we are serving the god of this world: he blinds our eyes, and we see it not. The grace of God, though sovereign in its operations, yet acts not by force and compulsion as upon mere machines, destroying the will, and dragging men to heaven by the hair of the head, as some in contempt please to assert. No; the service of our Lord is perfect freedom. He loves a cheerful giver. Glory to his grace,“he opens the eyes of our understanding, to know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of his glory"....Eph. i. 18. Then we see Jesus as our portion, and treasure, then we willingly and cheerfully devote our hearts to him. Is the miser's gold his god ? does it captivate his heart and affections? why so? Because he sees that in it which suits his disposition, and excites his pleasure. So it is of every other idol suited to nature and sense. " Where the treasure is, there will the heart be also.” Spiritual affections can only be happy from spiritual objects. The heart can only be happy in God, cheerfully given up to him in faith and love. This is the very essence of vital godlineșs.
Our Father invites us to spiritual joys. I know, my children, in your present state, clothed with flesh, you have many lovers which would rival me in your affections, but cheerfully devote your heart to me. Let your eyes, be upon my ways. Consider my love to you.
I gave my beloved son to die for you.. My spirit hath called you to enjoy my love. It is my good pleasure to give you a kingdom: therefore, in love to my glory, and for your comfort, I demand your heart as a free-will offering.' O where is the faithful, grateful soul, but in ecstacy of love will cry out, Give, Lord, the power to do what thou commandest, and command what thou wilt?
My heart dost thou demand, my Lord When Satan tempts and sins allure ! A willing sacrifice to thee?'
From thee, to draw away my heart; O take and keep it ev'ry hour Strong in thy grace, make me endure, From every
But he giveth more grace....James iv. 6.
• It is a súre mark that the true grace of God, by Jesus Christ, is conceived in the heart, when the cry of the soul is for more grace. Thus there is an harmony between the Father's promises and the children's wants. God giveth more gráce: I daily need more, saith the sensible soul. “He that drinketh of the water of life, saith Jesus, shall never thirst again:" he shall never thirst after any other fountain; he shall seek to no other spring but me. There is no grace, favor or good will from God to sinners, but what is by Jesus, through him, in him, and communicated from him. Here is the believer's mercy; he has not a stock of grace stored up in his own heart to live upon, which may be expended, and he is at last lost for want of more. No. · But all the kindness and love of God towards him is treasured up in Jesus. Here is the humility of believers; they come, like Joseph's brethren, to Jesus, who is their elder brother, for every supply; out of his fulness they receive grace upon grace. Jesus is an inexhaustible store-house, therefore his members cannot wants God the Father gare them grace at first in Christ Jesus; he called them by his sovereign grace; he justified them fully by grace; he saves them daily by grace; he sanctifies them freely by grace; he comforts them continually by his grace; and he will glorify them according to the exceeding riches of his grace. Thus all is of grace, freely given to, and richly bestowed upon poor, vile, undeserving sinners. . I know there are these reasonings in every humbled sinner's heart,
What suitable return do I make? or what reward shall I give unto the Lord for all his blessings of grace? O what a poor, unloving, ungrateful wretch am I! how do I requite the Lord my God!' Such is the genuine language of gracious hearts. The aboundings of grace make sinners humble, self hateful, and sin abominable: “ Not rather as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say, Let us do evil that good may come, whose damnation is just." .... Rom. iii. 8. If God giveth “ more grace," then not one of his children that ever had a single spark of the grace of Jesus, shall ever go to hell for want of grace. It is equally as impossible, that a gracious soul should fall from God's love and grace, turn hater of him; and so be a prey to the devil, as it was for Lazarus to quit Abraham's bosom, for the flames of hell. The holy fire of grace being once kindled in the soul, never goes out. The fire of the altar was an emblem of this. It is as true in this respect of gracious souls, as it is of the wicked in another, “their fire never goes out." Why not? because “grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life."...Rom. v. 21.
Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me....Psalm lv. 5..
Such was the mournful complaint of David; yea of Jesus too, the root and offspring of David. “Lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon Abraham the father of the faithful.”....Gen. xv. 12. So the Lord suffers his dearest children to be distressed; yet it is their privilege; and they are again and again exhorted to "rejoice in the Lord alway." ....Phil. iv. 4. Under such frames, let not disciples entertain hard thoughts of the God of love; but ever remember they are heightened by our adversary. Least of all should humble followers of the Lamb judge themselves not to be true converts, because they have not experienced such dreadful terrors of hell and damnation in their conscience, as some talk of.
It is an unscriptural notion; the word of God lays down no such rule, that the soul must be under such deep convictions of horror, must be as it were shook over the very mouth of hell, as a mark of true conversion to Jesus. Innumerable are the instances of persons crying out under dreadful terrors of wrath and damnation, as though hell itself was let loose upon them for a season; but yet after all, being still unclean and filthy, “ like the dog to his vomit, and the sow to her wallowing in the mire,” they have turned back to their old courses.
Thanks to the loving Spirit, he doth convince of sin, not as a tormentor; 'merely to terrify with wrath and hell, but as a COMFORTER, to testify of Jesus and salvation. He opens the eyes of our understanding, to see our lost state and wretched condition, and he gives us to see the hope of our calling, &c."....Eph. i. 18. “And the fruits of the Spirit are love, peace, joy, &c."....Gal. v. 22. He works effectually. He teaches us by the law to despair in nature and self, and revives and comforts with hope and assurance of full and perfect salvation in Jesus. But while the spirit of truth sows the good seed of the kingdom in the heart, Satan sows tares to spring up and choke it. He works upon our unbelief, practises his devilish art upon our carnal reason, and suggests, that God is an implacable enemy; the meek Lamb is a devouring lion; the gospel is à cunningly devised fable, or requires such hard terms, which we can never fulfil; therefore misery, wrath, and hell must be our doom. He is ever an implacable adversary to salvation by Jesus, through sovereign love and distinguishing grace. Such terrors are to be prayed against rather than coveted. David knew whence they came; says he, “ Because of the voice of the enemy and the oppression of the wicked one,"....Verse 3. Praised be our dear Lord for that precious promise, “ When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him," and put him to fight.... Isa. lix. 19.
The Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give
grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.....Psalm lxxxiv. 11.
VULGAR minds have but very contracted ideas of the magnitude of that glorious luminary, the sun. The most knowing of the children of men, form but very inadequate notions of the nature and properties of that grand source of light and heat. We daily see his power and feel his influence. This he incessantly sheds upon the whole creation FREELY. How vain and arrogant would he be deemed, who should pretend he could procure the chearing light and comforting warmth of the sun! Dwells there, in the breast of man, a thought, that he can procure the light of grace; or by his doings entitle himself to the comforts of salvation from Jehovah? Yes: so vain, so arrogant is that vile worm, that weak creature, proud, fallen man. By sin, how stript of all but shame! by pride, he “opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God.”....2 Thess. ii. 4. But grace, like the streaming light of the sun, freely and powerfully sheds its benign, humbling, comforting influence upon the ungodly and unworthy. So the Lord enlightens and renews the soul of man; makes it fruitful to his glory; and with his almighty arm shields and defends the new-born, heavenly replenished soul, from the violent attacks of every foe. Grace as well as glory are God's free gifts.
Children of God, members of Jesus, how safe! salvation, how secure! For it is all of rich grace, free favor, unmerited love, unconditional election; not earned by any doings of ours, but freely given by promise. Glory, not procured by conditions, but freely bestowed through Jesus. See thy portion, believer....read it with joy....dwell on it with triumph. Here is a redundancy of promises; what the Lord is ....what the Lord will give, will give it freely, “ without money and without price," all things, every thing for his own glory, and his children's good. Love overflows all bounds; gives the fullest vent to its gracious disposition. No good thing will the Lord withhold. From whom? See the character of those, upon whom the sun of grace hath shined. Is it thine? They are not in angelic purity, or sinless perfection; but upright, sincere in heart with Jesus, chaste virgins, married to him in faith and love, they see that he is all in all to them “their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." They choose him for their only king to reign in them and rule over them in love; delight in his work and way, grieve for, strive and pray against all that is contrary to him. Of their sins they are ashamed....in their own righteousness they have no confidence. In Jesus their bridegroom they glory. It is truly said of them, “The upright love thee.”....Cant. 1.4
The Father himself loveth you...John xvi. 27.
The history of the life of sorrows, and death of shame, curse and agony, which Jesus sustained for sinners, was it believed perfectly in the heart, would fill the mind with the strongest affection, and inflame the soul with the most fervent love. But alas! all have reason to.complain for' want of greater love to Christ, and stronger faith in him. O unbelief, what an enemy to love! Our love keeps pace with our faith. As the one grows stronger, the other increaseth. But if faith grows weak, love declines. Yet no one poor sinner that believes the record of Jesus' love and salvation, as his only hope and confidence, but love, in some degree, is drawn out to Jesus; for "faith worketh by love." The soul in its first love, and for a season perhaps, sees and knows only the love of Christ, and thinks little about the “ love of the Father.” It may be, he considers, that what the Saviour did and suffered for sinners, was to procure the love of the Father to them, and to appease the fury of his wrath against them. But this is not right. Let no disciple think so. For, saith the Saviour, “The Father himself loveth you.”. Yea he teacheth us the love of the Father, as the only source and spring of his coming in the flesh to save us....for “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, to the end, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”....John iii. 16. . '". · Hence it is plain, God the Father loves sinners....loves them inex. pressibly....with the greatest affection. For he gave, who? an angel?: an archangel? myriads of the heavenly host? No; but one infinitely more dear to him, his Son, his only begotten, his dearly beloved Sony who lay in his bosom from all eternity, that we might "believe on him, and live in him.” So, the effect proves the cause. It is plain the love of the Father to his people, is prior to the Son's coming into the world to save them, or to their belief on Jesus. For, says our Lord, “No man can come unto me, except the Father draw him."...John vi. 44. And because the Father " hath loved us with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness he draws to Jesus.” “ Behold, (O ye followers of the Lamb) what manner of love the Father hath, bestowed upon us.”.... 1 John iii. l, Trace his love to the fountainhead. The holy Spirit of truth teacheth, that “God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath chosen us in him before the founndation of the world, and hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, and hath predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself.” To what end is this? even “ to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the bes. loved."....Eph. i. 6, &c.