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And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things,
were filled with wrath....Luke iv. 28.
HUMAN nature, how low fallen in misery and wretchedness! y.et how high doth it rise in pride! Though the meek Lamb of God is the preacher of sovereign grace and distinguishing love, yet the wrath of man dares to exalt itself against his doctrine. Fury burst forth like fire, vengeance and resentment break the bounds of the law of God and man, and would have instantly put Jesus to death.
Pride is the first-born of Lucifer: “Ye shall be as gods,” hath tainted our whole nature with the cursed leaven, and will be the last enemy that is destroyed in us. Out of the abundance of pride in the heart, the mouth is opened against God's sovereign grace, discriminating love, and divine dispensations. “Be still, and know that I am God,” is a lesson the proud nature of man is averse to. “ I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I. will shew mercy,"...Exod. xxxiii. 19....though spoke from the mouth of the Lord, yet the hearts of sinners rise in wrath against it: they look with an evil eye upon the good pleasure of the Lord; and dare challenge and call in question his truths, and his dealings with the children of men,
Disciple, this day, a real likeness, a true picture of thy proud: nature is presented to thy view. Behold thyself in thy proud brethren. See thy natural aversion to the sovereignty of God's truths, and thy Saviour's doctrines. All these worshipping Jews, priests as well as people, conceived wrath even in God's house: yea, their teeming hearts were soon filled with it against Jesus, a man who told them the truth. The histories of the Sareptan widow and Naaman the Assyrian, they were well acquainted with, but could not bear the doctrine of them. Good Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart....2 Chron. xxxii. 26....do we not feel the stirrings of it also? O what cause, what daily cause for his practice. Stout words proceed from unhạmbled hearts. When our voices are heard on high against God's sovereign determinations, it is a sad proof that our hearts are not laid low with a sight and sense of being guilty before God. Those who challenge God's purposes, have some plea founded upon their own imaginary goodness. “ Be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”.... 1 Pet. v. 5.
Shall man reply against the Lord,
But, O my soul, if truth so bright
Search me, O God, and know my heart : try me and know
my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting ....Psalm cxxxix. 23, 24.
HE that doth the truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God.”....John iii. 21. This is an infallible touchstone of true conversion, given by the Oracle of truth. " He that trusteth to his own heart is a fool.”.... Prov. xxviii. 26. Sincerity may be attended with diffidence. Sincere upright souls know they have to do with a heart-searching God: to him they appeal, and desire to be searched and tried by him. What avails the soul, to obtain a favorable opinion from our vain fellow-mortals, if we are conscious all is not right within! What peace, what comfort, what joy, though meň approve, and the soul itself be ever so confident, while conscience testifies my ways do not please the Lord, my walk is contrary to his will! True love to Jesus excites godly jealousy in the heart.
While in the flesh, we are ever exposed to deceit from a subtle foe, a deceitful heart, and an ensnaring world, yea and from false teachers also. Intricate paths may presént....darkness may' overtake....and Satan may thrust sore at the soul that it may fall, or be driven into by-ways of error and wickedness. Here is the wisdom and patience of saints when they cannot see their way, to cry to their guide.. Jesus is the way....the only way....the way everlasting; in which the saints in all ages walked to glory. Faith in Jesus iš inconsistent with every wicked way. Though in our present state there is no entire freedom from sin, which dwelleth in us; consequently no perfection in righteousness performed by us: yet the more we abide in Jesus, the closer we cleave to him, the more stedfastly we behold him, so much the more, through the grace of the holy Spirit, we shall be dead to sin, and alive to holiness. We shall experience the ways of wisdom to be “ ways of pleasantness, and all her paths to be paths of peace.”.... Prov. iii. 17. This is the end of simple-hearted, sincere souls, in their appeals at a throne of grace, that “ with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, they may be changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”..., 2 Cor. iii. 18.
His spirit purifies our frame,
And seals our peace with God; Jesus and his salvation came
By water and by blood.
Olet thy grace surround me still,
And like a bulwark prove,
Secur'd by soy’reign love.
If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples in
deed....John viii. 31. ..
As mutual love subsists between Jesus and his believing members, so there is a mutual choice of each other. Hence, saith the church, “ I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine."....Cant. vi. 3. So also there is a mutual inhabitation; every believer dwells in Christ, and Christ in him. This matter is only comfortably experienced by continuing in the truth. For “whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God; he that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”..., 2 John ix.
Many profess to be disciples of Jesus in name. But what profit is this? If souls have not been sick of sin, alas, Jesus will be a physi. cian of no value to them. If souls have not seen themselves lost, their state accursed, and their case hopeless and desperate, so that none but Jesus can restore and save them, they will but lightly esteem our Saviour. However precious Jesus is to others, he will be but little regarded by them. They may profess his word, but not being his disciples indeed, they will not continue long; they will only follow him for a season. Ah, poor souls, how soon are they offended? Little things put them to a stand. Trifles turn them back. Temptations and trials prove what they are. Other objects engage their affections, and they presently fall quite away, and follow the Lamb no more.
Continuance in the truth is the touchstone of faith: thus only is it evidenced. Disciple, remember, “if thou comest to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation,"....Eccles. ii. 1....SO surely as thou art a disciple in deed and in truth, thou must become a crucified servant of a crucified Lord. As thou hopest for the comforts of faith, so expect the trials of faith, and the exercise of patience. Thou must abide the tribulations of Jesu's word, as well as its consolations. The master deceives none. He tells us what we are to expect; every thing grievous to flesh and blood. But blessed be his gracious name and precious love, he hath bid us “ fear not,” and hath given us the most comfortable assurances. “I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters (of affliction) I will be with thee; and through the rivers (deep and overwhelming distress) they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire (fiery darts of Satan, hot temptations within, and burning malice of men without) thou shall not be burnt; (like the burning bush, thou shalt not be consumed) neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” (Thou shalt be fire-proof.) Why all this safety in the midst of such danger? Most joyful reason! “For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.".... Isa. xliii. 1, 2, 3.
Thus saith the Lord, Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth
from the Lord....Jer. xvii. 5. :*. It is very remarkable, after the prophet pronounces the curse of confiding in the flesh, and the blessedness of trusting in the Lord, he immediately adds, “ The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”....Jer. xviii. 9. Hence, we may infer, that the poison of pride, vain confidence in the flesh, and self-righteous hopes, may lurk under the most exalted pretensions to piety, holiness, and perfection. This matter calls for great care and circumspection. : “ As many as are of the works of the law (who in anywise seek to be made righteous by doing) are under the curse."... Gal. iii. 10. Think not this contrary to the holiness of God to pronounce such to be cursed, as though the Lord did not hate sin, and love and approve true holiness. No: but such deceive their own souls, and flatter themselves in their own sight. They dishonor the perfection of God's law, by bringing down its purity and spirituality to a level with their own works and obedience. They reject the righteousness of Jesus, deny the faith of him, look to their own holiness, trust in themselves that they are righteous, confide in the power of the flesh, and so their hearts depart from the Lord. Pride and self-exalting is at the bottom of all this. As they appeal to the law, they must go to the law, and hear its sentence, which sounds nothing but curse, and wrath, and hell.
These are precious evangelical words of Luther: “So we teach and comfort the afflicted sinner. Brother, it is not possible for thee to become so righteous as to feel no sin at all. In that thou dost feel and acknowledge it, it is a good token; give thanks to God. Christ healeth them that are broken in heart, and saveth sinners. Follow not the judgment of reason, which telleth thee, Christ is angry with sinners; but kill reason and believe in Christ, and the sin which remaineth in thee is pardoned for Christ's sake, in whom thou believest, whose righteousness is thy righteousness; and thy sin is his sin. Every christian is an high priest. This is the daily sacrifice of the New Testament, which must be offered up. The evening sacrifice is to kill reason : the morning sacrifice is to glorify God.' On Gal. iii. 6. “ Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is."...Jer. xvii. 7.
I am the man who stood accurst; But, Jefus, Lord, what hast thou done?
My heart departed from the Lord: Turn me, a proud self-righteous foe, Flesh was my arm, pride was my lust: To trust in thee, and thee alone,
My just deserts to be abhorr’d. And all my former hopes forego. M.
Let us go forth unto him without the camp, bearing his
reprouch.... Heb. xii. 13.
The profession of Jesus is easy to nature. There is nothing irksome to the flesh in being called a christian. But to know Jesus in heart, to confess him with the tongue, and to follow him in our life, will ever expose us to reproach and contempt. But if, with Philip, we have really found that blessed him of whom Moses and the prophets wrote, we must, we shall speak of him to others. We shall esteem Jesus our beloved as our richest treasure. Our hearts and affections will be going out after him. Moses' choice will be ours: “ We shall esteem the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.” But fleshly wisdom is contrary to all this. That ever prompts, “Save thyself.... take care of thy good name.... fear, lest that be cast out as evil....beware of thy character....go not too far, thou wilt sustain damage. In the camp of this world, riches; pleasures, and honors are enjoyed. Study the happy mean. Thou mayest hold with the world, and yet not quit Jesus.' Nay, but thou canst not love and serve two such contrary masters: thou wilt soon grow tired of one or the other. The inward glory and peace of Jesus will not, cannot be enjoyed but while the heart and affections are placed on him. The faith of Jesus is contrary to the world, it can not be reconciled to its vain customs and sinful maxims. Nay, faith is the victory that overcometh the world. The world is an enemy's camp. A despised Nazarine is the christian's glory. To bear his reproach is our highest honor.
The heaven-born soul, though like a captive imprisoned in flesh, yet hath free access to Jesus by faith. So it endures present reproaches, seeing him that is invisible. And do we hope for future sight, and eternal fruition of him who endured the cross and despised the shame for us? Let us take and bear his cross; despised disciples let us be. Look down on the world with contempt. Look up to Christ with joy. Go forth to meet him in love, O soul. Remember, ever bear on thy mind, Jesus went forth cheerfully to meet all his conflicts and agonies for us. It is but a little while ere we shall go forth from the body “ to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we be ever with the Lord.”.... 1 Thess. iv. 17.
When I can read my title clear
To mansions in the skies, I bid farewell to ev'ry fear,
And wipe my weeping eyes.
Should earth against my soul engage,
And hellish darts be hurl'd,
And face a frowning world.