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That he should give eternal life lo as many as thou hast
given him....John xvii. 2.
DEISM, or a rejection of God's revealed truth, is natural to us all. Hence some have said, “The religion of nature is the religion of Satan;' for it affects a spirit of pride and independence of God, and rebellion against his will. Why does a Deist reject the way of salvation by Jesus? Truly, because it is contrary to his natural notions: he cannot reconcile it to the attributes and perfections of Deity. Upon the very same footing many professors abhor, with the utmost indignation, the scripture-doctrines of God's everlasting love, unconditional election of sinners, and the final perseverance of his saints to eternal life, by Jesus. Now, both Deists and Pharisées proceed upon the same principles; carnal reason, pride, and self-righteousness, reign in their hearts, and blind their eyes.
But it is the believer's mercy to see the truth: his humility to submit to it; and his duty to contend for it in love. Thus our elder brother Jesus ever acted, and thus he prays in submission to the will of his Father, and our Father. Though he had power over all flesh, yet only to those “ the many, whom the Father had given him, was he to give eternal life.” They were given to him as his charge, to redeem, sanctify, and save: they were given to him as the reward of all his toils and sufferings: they are the precious jewels which
compose his mediatorial crown: not one of them can be lost. This is impossible. Hence he glories of them, “Behold, I, and the children whom the Lord hath given me."...Isa. viii. 18. Hence they are distinguished by special grace; they possess the gift of precious faith, “ called the faith of God's elect,"....Tit. i. 1....it being peculiar to them only. By this they enjoy the sense of the Father's electing love, the knowledge of the Son's redemption, and the comforting witnesss of the Holy Ghost.
One of the most excellent of all human compositions; full of truth and sweetness, and well worthy the constant study of every christian, is the 17th Article of the church of England.... Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ, out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honor: wherefore they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God's purpose, by his Spirit working in due season. They, through grace, obey the calling; they be justified freely; made sons of God by adoption; made like the image of Jesus Christ, they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God's mercy they attain ever lasting felicity.' “Hold fast the form of sound words."....2 Tim. i. 13.
do unto you,
Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should
ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets....Matt. vii. 12.
It is an observation of the Heathens, that if virtue was to appear in human form, men would be enamoured with her beauty.' But, alas! this has been proved to be an idle speculation. For that glorious man Jesus, in whom every virtue centered, who was adorned with every grace; who went about doing good, and lived as never man did, yet "he was despised and rejected of men." Blindness of mind is a first-born sin. To see form and comeliness in Jesus, is peculiar to enlightened souls. To hear, love, and obey the holy precepts Christ. taught, ariseth from a renewed heart. Morality and good works are at the tongue's end of every man. The most immoral and profligate are ever ready to applaud, to boast of, and to trust in, even what they never practise. It is a certain truth, they boast most of their works who have the smallest share of them.
It is the christian's mercy that he is not only delivered from such awful delusion; but what Jesus taught outwardly, in word, is wrote inwardly in his heart by the power of the Spirit. Therefore obedience is delightful from inward principles. Though he is not called to merit the love of God by his moral obedience, yet love is the sweet, constraining principle to moral observances. “Love is the fulfilling of the whole law.” As “whatever is not of faith is sin," so whatever proceeds not from love, is contrary to holiness. An immoral christian is as inconsistent a character as a chaste harlot. Heathens might talk of the golden rule; the law may command it; the prophets may instruct in the nature of it; natural men may pretend to admire it; but heavenly instructed, believing souls only, are enabled to love it in the spirit of their minds, and to obey it in their life and practice.
Verily, disciple, though Jesus gave no laws, by the fulfilling of which thou shouldest obtain a title to eternal life; yet he, who fulfilled all righteousness for thy salvation, calls thee to love and obey his precepts. The moral precepts of Jesus are as much enjoined by him as when he says “ Come unto me all that are heavy laden, and I will refresh you." In obeying this we find comfort to our soul. In observing the golden rule of morality, we bear a noble testimony to the honor of Jesus, to the glory of God, and to the good of our fellow-creatures. It behoves us to beware lest Jesus “is wounded in the house of his friends,” and the way of truth be evil spoken of, by a contrary conduct ; for, saith Jesus, “ Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”....John xv. 14.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we
may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need.... Heb. iv. 16.
VERY few, comparatively, of the subjects of an earthly monarch are permitted free access to majesty. This is too high an honor to be made common. Kings' courts are for the noble and eminent. The poor and destitute, the miserable and distressed have no admission there; but, ye poor, distressed subjects of Jesus, the King of kings, it is not thus with you. Your King, though ever on a throne, where majesty and glory shine with the brightest lustre, yet grace, mercy, and kindness are freely dispensed to needy souls. Hither you are invited to come ; yea, more, to come boldly. Why? Because you are rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing?" Nay, but because your King knows you are poor and miserable, blind and naked creatures in yourselves" day after day. Nothing to present to your King to procure his favor.... nothing to bring, which deserves his acceptance of you. But he loves your persons, and has riches for your poverty, eye-salve for your blindness, a garment for your nakedness, a robe for your rags, and mercy for your misery ; yea, a heaven of grace for your hell of deserts.
Your Mediator with his blood, your High Priest with his much incense, always intercedes. There can be no period of your life but what is a time of need. Who has obtained all the mercy? Who has found all the grace which can be dispensed from this throne? Thou art still a sinner, and wantest mercy and grace; thou hast still need of both; and as thou findest thy want, of mercy, thy need of grace, hither thou mayest always repair with boldness; here thou mayest ever expect a rich supply; for God the Father, is the fountain of grace and mercy; Jesus thy Saviour, is the treasurer ;
“ All fulness of grace dwells in him ;" the Spirit, the comforter, is the dispenser of mercy and grace. Why then, O soul, that backwardness, that shyness, which too, too often hangs upon thee? What privilege so great? what encouragement so strong?
“ Come with boldness,” yet consistent with awe and reverence. Boldness of faith is grounded on something without a man, on nothing in him ; not on the fervent heart of love, the bleeding heart of repentance, the active life of obedience, the suffering mind of patience; but faith fixes on Jesus, and the believer comes with an empty heart and hand to be filled with the free gifts of grace. He may come with boldness of speech to esus as his friend and brother, freely to pour his complaints into his loving heart, and to tell him of all his sorrows. Sweetest encouragement from the friend of sinners ! « Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden,” (most blessed promise!) “ and I will give you rest."....Matt. xi. 28.
Unto you who believe, he is precious....1 Pet. ii. 7.
We are loved with PRECIOUS LOVE; redeemed by PRECIOUS BLOOD; comforted by PRECIOUS PROMISES ; justified by PRECIOUS FAITH: yea, righteousness, holiness, heaven, we have all by union with a PRECIOUS Jesus. Surely then, “to them that believe he is precious."
Say, ye sons and daughters of poverty and affliction, is not this a time when friends grow cool and desert you? But in such a season, did you find one friend who visited you in your distress....was ever saying kind things to you....ever doing all possible good for you.... when in prison, he sought you out, and set you at liberty....when sick he was your physician and healed you....when naked he clothed you.... when in abject poverty he made you rich....thus was always pleased when he could make you easy and happy....say, is not this a friend of ten thousand ? a friend who sticketh closer than a brother? Is not such a one precious indeed?
All this, and infinitely more than all this, hath Jesus done for a poor wretched race of sinners. Therefore he is indeed to them, a precious “Friend, who loveth at all times: the precious brother, who is born for adversity."....Prov. xvii, 17. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” Precious in what he hath done yesterday...: shed his blood for the guilty....Wrought out a righteousness to clothe the naked soul. To-day he is pleading our cause before the throne, where “he ever lives to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by him."....Heb. vii. 25. He is making love-visits, sending kind tokens, refreshing manifestations of his favor, causing poor hearts to rejoice in him, filling them with peace and comfort through him. O he is inestimably precious in what he is doing, and in what he will do; for Jesus will never leave one of his members till he has brought them all safe through a wicked world, given them the victory over sin, Satan, and death, and lodged their precious souls in the arms of his embraces ; " for where I am, there shall all my servants be," saith our loving Saviour. O who can say how infinitely precious Jesus is to the saints above! This we must die to know. Though “now we know but in part, and speak but in part;" yet what we do see and know by faith, we can say, " he is precious indeed."
However distressing our circumstances to sense and feeling, yet his eye
seeth us, his heart of love is towards us, he is Immanuel, God with us. Are we sick of sin? he is our physician. Is sin our burden? he is our mighty deliverer. Doth the law accuse and condemn us? he is THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Do lust and corruption rebel against us? he is our sanctification. Do the world, sin, and Satan, threaten our destruction? he is JESUS, our Saviour, our salvation ; our ALL and in ALL....Col. ïïi. 11.
Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling....
2 Tim. i. 9.
Such as our natural notions of sin and danger are, such is our judgment of salvation and deliverance. In our natural state we see only the fruits of sin in outward actions? but consider not the corrupt, cursed root from whence they spring. Hence poor souls thinks it no great and difficult matter to be saved: especially if they have some specious shew of the external adorning's of sobriety, morality, and religion. Happy souls, who have escaped this dangerous rock of pride and selfdeceit! for when the scales of ignorance fall from the eyes, and the veil of unbelief is taken off the heart; when the true light shineth in the mind, and the purity and spirituality of God's holy law is made manifest in the conscience, then the sinner sees his state truly desperate. Sin appears exceeding sinful; justly deserved hell and wrath are most dreadful; and most deplorable of all, he finds he must utterly sink into despair, and perish, for any thing he is able to do to save his soul. « God be merciful to me a sinner!" is the cry of his heart, “ In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book; and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity,” saith the Lord.... Isa. xxix. 18. The book of God's eternal counsel shall be disclosed; his purpose and decree of salvation shall be made known by his revealed truth to the heart; the joyful sound of salvation by Jesus shall be heard in the soul, and the poor sinner shall see Christ's finished work as his only hope. Love presided in the counsel. Grace shall reign to salvation. The gospel trumpet sounds reconciliation toungodly sinners, salvation for lost souls. Their good works produced it not; their sins, however numerous and great, shall not deprive them of it. We are first saved, then called to know it, and glorify God for it.
When called with an effectual calling to Jesus, by the word and power of the Spirit, we possess and enjoy hope in God, and comfort from him. Effects prove their cause. A bold, confident assurance 'that I am elected, I know my sins are pardoned,' is not of the essence of gospel faith, or that applies the comforts of gospel salvation to the soul; but election to salvation is made manifest by "a holy calling." Paul did not only confidently assert he was an apostle ; but, says he, “truly, the signs of an apostle were wrought among you.”... 2. Cor. xii. 12. And verily, disciple, if thou art saved in purpose and decree from eternity, redeemed by Jesus in time, effectual vocation is the consequence; whereby thou 'art called to the knowledge of a holy Saviour by a holy faith; art a partaker of a holy nature, and wilt “shew thy faith by thy works." Inward purity of heart and outward holiness of life, will ever be the study and joy of thy soul. “Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.”....Heb. xiio 14. VOL. I.