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I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, such an
one caught up to the third heaven....2 Cor. xii. 2.
VISIONs, manifestations, raptures and ecstacies of soul, though even from God himself, (which there is every good reason to suspect, unless they sink the soul in humility, and excite such love to Jesus as is founded in knowledge and productive of obedience), are not to be gloried of. St. Paul says, it is not expedient for me to glory. 'I know the danger, I fear the evil of it; from the pride and treachery of my nature. It tends to exalt one above measure ; and to make others think more highly of one than they ought to think. Therefore, on these accounts glorying of these things is to be avoided. Indeed the cause of truth may require it, and the glory of God may be promoted by it. Though on these accounts it may be expedient to glory; yet it is not expedient for the christian's own sake to do it. So Paul declared. Yet he did glory; for necessity compelled him.
Behold, admire, and imitate the humility of this great apostle, “I knew a man in Christ,” &c. When he speaks of himself, it is as a poor sinner, under the most humbling, self-abased views. Then it is I MYSELF....Rom. vii. But here, lest ostentation should appear, he conceals himself under the character of another man.
What a contrast is here between self-exalting principles and the grace of the gospel! How widely different is this from the notions many professors entertain! For if they can but give a tolerable account of some vision, revelation or manifestation, which they suppose was from God, they conclude they know their sins are forgiven, and all is well. Perhaps this might pass on them fourteen years ago, more or less. But what is their frame and temper now? what their pursuit and practice? If no evidence of faith, hope, love and obedience, but if while sunk into carnality and the love of the world, yet strong in confidence that their sins are forgiven, and bold in hope of the safety of their state; surely such are blinded to the hope of the gospel, through the spirit of this world. Satan transforms him, from a minister of darkness, into an angel of light. Luther was wont to caution against the white devil, as well as the black obe. St. John's advice is ever needful, “ Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God: because many, false prophets are gone out into the world.”... 1 John iv. l.
Faith in heart true comfort brings,
Then while by faith I Jesus know,
He that cateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth
in me, and I in him....John vi. 56.
This is a great mystery, but it is a comforting truth in the experience of Christ's members. Our Saviour saith, “ It is my meat to do the will of him that sent me." So it is the believer's privilege to feed by faith on him that is sent, even the flesh and blood of Jesus: the MAN « like unto ourselves in all things." But his flesh is pure and holy, his blood immaculate and untainted, without sin:" there. fore healthful for the soul to feed upon, and to be nourished up to eternal life. 'For consider, soul, Christ suffered in the flesh" all the fiery wrath and dreadful curses of God's pure and holy law, which we deserved, because transgressors.' Christ, in his flesh, perfectly fulfilled all the demands of God's righteous law, and so wrought out a righteousness for us, who have no righteousness of our own. « In the body of his flesh he hath reconciled us who were aliens and enemies to God; and in the body of his flesh, through death, he presents us unto God, holy, unblameable, and unreproveable in his sight.”....Col. i. 21, 22. Surely then the flesh of Jesus is meat in. deed." The richest repast, the most delicious banquet for poor sinners.
Christ's “blood is drink indeed." 'Most precious in its nature ; most reviving to the thirsty soul. O believer! the blood of this God. MAN was shed for thy sins; it hath fully atoned divine justice for them; and “you, who were sometime afar off, are now made nigh to God by the blood of Jesus."....Eph. ii. 13. “By his blood peace is made with God."....Col.i. 20. “ And the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.".... 1 John i. 7. Thus is Christ's Aesh and blood the life of the soul. Hear the triumphant song of the saints in glory. “ Jesus hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”.... Rev. i. 5. Their confession of victory over Satan the accuser of their souls is “by the blood of the Lamb." What is now their glory and triumph above, was once the food of their souls while poor sinners here below. For in every age, believers did all “eat of the same spiritual meat, and drink of the same spiritual drink, the flesh and blood of Christ.”.... Cor. x. S, 4.
This food strengthens man's heart. This drink makes him of a cheerful countenance. “ He dwelleth in me,” saith Christ, by a secret mystical union. So saith the Psalmist, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all ages;" “and I in him," by sweet mani. festation, knowledge and comfort, by faith. Inestimable blessing! glorious privilege, thus to receive, thus to feed upon Christ in the heart by faith! For, saith Christ, “ He that eateth me, shall live by me; he hath eternal life.” Such are Christ's sweet words and heartywelcome to his church; eat, О friends! drinky O beloved! “ Eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart."....Eccl.ix.7.
These things have I written unto you, that believe on the
name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God....1 John v. 13.
LITTLE. Benjamin was 'as dear to his father Jacob as his elder brethren. The child Samuel was as truly a priest to the Lord as old Eli. So the feeblest lamb in the flock of Jesus, though ever so weak in faith and knowledge, yet is equally dear to the Father 'as the strongest believer....loved with the same everlasting love....alike interested in the salvation of Jesus....and as certainly, an heir of eternal life. Many weak children are ready to own this; but they doubt in their minds, and suspect in their hearts, 'not happily knowing, nor being comfortably assured of their own interest in the salvation of Jesus.” There were such in the apostle's days; therefore the comforter inspires the beloved John to write to them. He condescends :. to their weakness of knowledge and comfort, because of the small degree of their faith; but yet he speaks with the strongest assurance and the boldest confidence of the truth of salvation by Jesus. That is most certain. Eternal life is by Jesus only; and is sure to every member of his. Do you believe on the name of the son of God, as the only Saviour of lost sinners! This truth lies at the foundation of the hope of the gospel: when this is believed in the heart, that soul has the earnest of eternal life. By continuing to believe, it gains knowledge and'assurance, as the comforts of faith. When the Spirit has bestowed the precious gift of faith, it matters not, as to the safety of the soul, how weak soever it may be in the experience of comfort and joy; nor how much it may feel the workings of carnal nature, reason, and unbelief against faith. Its sensible groanings and sorrowful complaints are evidences of the life of the soul, through the faith of Jesus. But is the poor soul always to abide in this weak, low, mourning state? No; that cannot be. Jesus will make his members comfortable, as well as safe. The Spirit who begets faith in the heart by the word, strengthens it also by the same truth. Faith comes by, hearing the word, and it is also increased thereby. Therefore is Jesus and eternal life revealed. The apostles wrote of this, and ministers preach of this, that weak faith may be strengthened, strong faith increased....that knowledge and assurance may be comfortably enjoyed....that believers may continue to believe, and persevere in believing on the Son of God; who is the author and finisher of our faith."....Heb. xii. 2.
Jesus, thou author of my faith,
Eternal life is sure to faith,
In the Lord have I righteousness and strength....Isa.xlv. 24,
To trust in our own righteousness, and to glory in our own strength, is natural to us all. But when a poor sinner "knows himself, even as he is known of the Lord,” he thinks otherwise. When he becomes a follower of the Lamb, he learns the language of Canaan, and says, “I hav no confidence in the flesh.". I subscribe with my whole heart to this confession of faith, “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.” That the Lord Jehovah is a God of righteousness, and that he is almighty in strength, who will dare deny? But by faith we speak the most comfortable knowledge of coyenant grace: I, a poor sinner, who am without strength, destitute of righteousness in myself, have both strength and righteousness in Jehovah. · What I am, a sinner by nature and practice, that Jesus became by imputation. What Jesus is in his nature, and by his life, perfectly RIGHTEOUS, that I am in him. In myself I have no might, no strength, but “in the Lord Jesus am I strong, strong in him, and in the power of his might." . This is the glorious grace, the joyful truth of the everlasting covenant. Such honor have all the saints of Jesus: his perfect righteous. ness their cloathing; his almighty strength their protection. Who then shall condemn them? What power can prevail against them? O believer! rejoice in thy privilege. This is thy triumph against every accusation, " In Jesus I have righteousness." This is my victory over every enemy, " In Jesus I have strength.” Under the most discouraging views of my nature, as corrupt and sinful....my life and practice, as unrighteous....the condemnings of the law, though just....the accusations of Satan, though grievous....yet in my glorious covenant head and representative, I am “ made the righ, teousness of God; in the beloved Son of God I am for ever ac.. cepted.” Under the most dejecting sense of our own weakness, to withstand corruptions, to get the mastery over sinful passions, to prevail against our enemies; though weak to perform any duty, insufficient to exercise any grace, unable to do the will of God, to. walk in his ways, and to please him; yet ever, under all circumstances, the Spirit testifies of Jesus," who is our strength and righteousness.” All fulness is in Jesus; and “out of his fulness we receive grace for grace:” Though “ without Christ we can do nothing; yet, through Christ strengthening us, we can do all things." Here is the mystery of faith. "Abide in me," saith the Lamb.
Poor helpless worms in thee possess Let faith and love always combine, Grace, wisdom, pow'r, and righteous. To cause this precious truth to shincal
We sinners poor, and full of need, „Thou art our mighty All, and we Have all things, in our giorlous HEAD, Glory, O Lord, only IN THEE.
By gráce ye are saved.... Eph. ii, 5.
0 Thou man of God, “let not this truth forsake thee; bind it about thy neck, write it upon the table of thine heart; it shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones."....Prov. iii. 3, 8. In the faith of this, thou wilt live in love and gratitude to God, in cheerful obedience to his sovereign will, and in confident hope and earnest expectation of eternal glory. While thou wilt be daily dying to every carnal hope and legal confidence, by the atonement and righteousness of Jesus, his grace will be all thy plea, all thy hope, and all thy glorying. Hereby thou wilt be kept humble, and walk safely. That * the foot of pride prevail not against thee," is a happy part of this Florious salvation, so as to submit to receive it as entirely of grace, free favor, unconditional election, unmerited love, “according to the good pleasure of the will of God the Father."....Eph. i. 5. It is SOVEREIGN GRACE, therefore sure and saving to all the spiritual seed of Jesus., AH in our nature are averse to it. Nothing in us could deserve a right to it, or procure a title in it. It is freely proclaimed to the wretched and hell-deserving, who have neither power nor mclination to perform any terms and conditions to obtain an interest in it.' But the Lord's hånd laid the foundation; his power will raise the superstructure; "He will bring forth the head-stone thereof With shoutings of GRACE, GRACE.".... Zech. iv. 1.
Salvation is by DISTINGUISHING GRACE. " One shall be taken and another left:” “One of a city and two of a family," ....Jer. iii. 14.... #homsoever the Lord is pleased to separate to himself as vessels of honor. The effects of saving grace are distinguishing; it works effectually in them that believe: “They are called with an holy calling"....
possess the faith of God's elect....experience repentance to salvation. They differ from their former selves in hope and cònduct, and are distinguished also from the world, “that lies in Wickedness." Under its sovereign influence such a change was wrought in Paul, that he, “who persecuted Jesus and his members, preached the faith he once destroyed."....Gal. i. 23. So every subject of grace is changed in judginent and affection. He no longer thinks grace is to assist him to do something to gain acceptance with God; but he knows “God haih made us accepted in the beloved, to the praise of the glory of his grace.".... Eph. j. 6. Hence his affections are placed upon the God of all grace, as his center of all happiness and source of all felicity. He delights "to run the way of God's coinmandments.” It is his joy that Jesus flies upon the wings of the wind to his relief. He loves to fly on the wings of faith and love to him. He daily prays "to be filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."....Phil.i.11.