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That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations.... Luke xxiv. 47.
This is God's method of saving sinners by Jesus Christ. Those who know the preciousness of Christ, have a regard to the glory of God, and love for immortal souls, make this the rule of their preaching : for this doctrine, where it is known and experienced in the heart, makes a true christian. Evangelical repentance flows from a seeing eye, a hearing ear, and an understanding heart; and is an evidence and effect of gospel-faith. To see the evil nature and dreadful effects of sin, its punishment in the sufferings of Jesus, to hear the curses and condemnation of the law against sinners, its dreadful thunders and menaces in the conscience; to understand in the heart that nothing but the blood of Jesus could atone for the guilty, none but he could fulfil the perfect demands of a holy law for the unrighteous; this humbles the soul, cuts off false hopes, lays it low in self-abasement before Jehovah, causes it to cry out, “I am the man, the sinner I, who am cursed by law, exposed to wrath, and deserve hell. I mourn without hope in myself; I hear of Jesus, the Saviour of sinners; I turn to him for hope and salvation. Sin has destroyed me. Jesus save, or I perish.” ** This repentance, Jesus is exalted to give. This makes a proud sinner humble. Remission of sins makes a poor sinner a happy saint. Hath Christ obtained remission of sins by his blood? hath he commanded this should be preached in his name? is he exalted to give it? hath he brought the poor sinner, by his Spirit, to his feet to sue for it? and will he refuse to make the soul happy in the sense of it? Never, never, let such a thought be indulged by any poor sensible sinner. We read no such hard lines in his word. We find no such dejecting views from his life and death. The doctrine he prescribed is a lively transcript of all that was in his loving heart. . . Be assured, O soul, there shall be a performance of all things that are promised of the Lord, to him that believeth. The same Jesus who gives the soul the humbling view of itself, and by repentance, to turn to him, will give it the rejoicing knowledge of himself, by the remission of sins, through faith in his blood. Repentance and remission of sins are joined together in preaching: they can never be separated in the heart. So sure as repentance is given to any soul by the Spirit of Jesus, that soul is forgiven, through the blood of Jesus, by God the Father. - *** *
Blest is the man to whom the Lord with deep repentance well agree :
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Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision....Acts xxvi. 19.
-- ONE is sometimes called to bear testimony before unbelievers of the hope that is in one. It is difficult to speak of the manifestation of Christ to the heart, so that the Saviour alone may be exalted and glorified. Somewhat of self naturally creeps into the relation. It is very-pleasing to nature, to be esteemed as one highly favored, and to have made great attainments in christianity. O that single Ketter, with great sound, Il But it was farthest from the heart of Paul, that eminent champion for free-grace salvation, to give the least encouragement from his conversion to any fellow-sinner to talk of obedience to God's call, or faithfulness to his grace, as conditions of salvation. The soul of that man of God would be fired with a holy zeal, for his master's glory, was he now on earth, to hear his language abused, and his meaning perverted, by the pride of men. Men of self-righteous principles oppose the truths of the gospel; deny God's unconditional election, unmerited love, the finished salvation of Jesus, and its being sure to all his seed, through the sovereign application of the Lord the Spirit. To what end? Truly to make way for their unscriptural notions of terms and conditions of salvation. They dare proudly and arrogantly teach, that obedience to Jesus is the condition of salvation. Will they not also say, that when Jesus called, “Lazarus, come forth,” his rising up was a condition of his being restored to life? How hard for pride to forsake the human heart! * . Paul was favored with an extraordinary vision from the Lord Jesus from heaven, to call him to be his faithful servant. Obedient hearts are caused by effectual calls. But after Paul had laboured more abundantly than all the rest of the apostles, what was his glorying? “Yet not I, but the grace of God, striving (says he) according....to what? my power? my ability & No; to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”....Col. i. 29. O here is a blessed pattern, a profitable lesson of humility set before us! Hath Jesus appeared to us in the vision of faith by the word of truth? Hath he effectually called us to believe in his name, and to rejoice in his salvation? What shall we say, but fall upon the bended knees of our hearts, and in warmest gratitude of soul, adore grace, rich, free, sovereign, distinguishing grace! Have we been, and do we still continue obedient to the heavenly vision? What then? shall we sacrifice to our own net, and burn incense to our own drag, and say, Because of my obedience, my faithfulness? God forbid! for this is only grace upon grace. If we have obtained grace to be faithful, the comfort is ours; but all the glory is due to the giver. “Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us.” Why? “for thou hast wrought all our works in us.”....Isa. xxvi. 12.
Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord; his going forth is prepared as the morning ; and he shall come unto us as the rain ; as the latter and former rain unto the earth....Hosea vi. 3. HEARts of disciples enjoy sweet fellowship in the truth. Hence they mutually help and encourage each other's faith. The Saviour loves to have it so. He blesses them, and manifests himself to them in this way. So it was with the disciples after his crucifixion, and death. They resorted together, and communed with each other; and Jesus, though unknown to them at first, joined company with them, expounded the scriptures to them, opened their understandings; and they said one to another, “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked with us by the way?” &c....Luke xxiv. 32. So the true disciples of the Old Testament church exhort one another in faith. “We shall know, we shall follow on to know the Lord.” So the words may be rendered. Those who know a little of Jesus' love, and are but just brought acquainted with his freegrace and salvation, shall hold on their way. Knowledge, light, peace, and love shall increase to their souls, through that Spirit by whom they are regenerated and born again. Though at first they are but “babes in Christ, yet, through the milk of the word, they shall grow and increase, with the increase of God.” The going: forth of the love of Jesus towards us, is as the morning, At the
dawn of day, light is scarce discernible: it seems opposed by sur
rounding darkness, yet it gradually increases till the sun gains its meridian. So “the path of the just shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” - The sun never forsakes the earth, though at seasons its light and heat seem withdrawn in comfort and enjoyment. Thus it is with the sun of righteousness; he shall also “come unto us as the rain,” to refresh, enliven, and make our souls fruitful in knowledge, peace, love, and holincss; yea, as “the latter and former rain.”....In the land of Israel, they had usually two rains in a year, one just after the seed was sown, the other when the corn was almost ripe, and the harvest just at hand. Sometimes, just after the seed of eternal life is sown in the hearts of young converts (O what joyful, refreshing
seasons of love and joy are they favored with!) their “hearts are.
filled with laughter, and their tongues with joy.” Others experience the most plentiful showers of heart-reviving love, just as the sickle is to cut them down, that they may be gathered in to the heavenly garner. Our heavenly husbandman knows best what seasons to give, whether the storm of affliction, the rain of prosperity, or the sunshine of joy. This is our mercy. “Jesus is a God of judgment; blessed are all they that wait for him.”....Isa. xxx. 18.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, OGod, thou will not despise....Psalm li. 17.
It is the wisdom and joy of disciples to see somewhat of Jesus
in every page of the lively oracles. Then the word is searched with pleasure, studied with delight, and is made exceeding profitable to the soul. To this end the sins and backslidings, the humiliations and repentings, the joys and experiences of saints of old are recorded. We see their deserts to be the lowest hell; but grace reigns. Though sin abounded in them, yet grace super-abounded over them. But all is through Jesus; no mercy for sinful man, but through that dear man and blessed Mediator. -
So he glorifies his name, so he makes known his power to be “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever,” in saving his people from their sins. Though sin may blind the eyes to his love, and harden the heart against his fear, and the spirit become stout and rebellious for a season, yet see his amazing love; behold the effects of his almighty grace: a cruel, murdering, adulterous, yet beloved David shall be arraigned, plead guilty, sue for mercy, and hope for pardon. But did a broken spirit and a contrite heart entitle him to this? Did he plead his present griefs and humiliations to atone for his past transgressions? No, alas, if he had no other hope than this, horror and black despair would have been the portion of his backsliding soul. God will not, doth not, cannot bestow pardon of sin, till he makes the soul sensible of, and sorry for sin. Nor will he ever despise, abhor, or reject broken-hearted, contrite souls. For his Spirit effects this in them. Though no plea can be founded for this, yet the soul is sweetly encouraged hereby to hope; because here is an evidence that the Lord hath not given up such to a reprobate mind; still he works in them; they feel the effects. A sense of guilt is dreadful to be borne, distressing to feel; therefore such cry for deliverance: “Restore unto me the joys of thy salvation.”
Our loving Lord breaks the heart for sin, though sin cannot break the covenant of his love; therefore sin shall not reign unto death. O soul, art thou mourning for thy sins? Remember HIM on whom the iniquity of us all was laid. Look to him “who bore our sins in his own body on the tree; by whose stripes we are healed.” A contrite spirit flies from the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season: it cannot rest till former joys are restored; it is also solicitous about his future walk, lest he fall again; therefore cries, “Uphold me with thy free spirit.”....ver, 12. - - -
* I cannot live without thy light, 'O may thy love inspire my tongue; ' '. Cast out and banish’d from thy sight: Salvation shall be all my song : Thine holy joys, my God, restore, And all my powers shall join to bless And guard me that I fall no more. The Lord, my strength and righteous11&SS.
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Are ye not carnal, and walk as men?....I Cor. iii. 3.
THE phrase cARNAL saints, the self-righteous look on as a very opprobrious term, as though contradictory to the character of a real christian. But such persons differ in judgment from an inspired apostle. Paul calls these Corinthian converts, “babes in Christ;” while he says to them, “Ye are yet carnal.” Yea, he appeals to their judgments: “Are ye not so?” Doth not your walk, your words, your strife, your views, give sad evidence of the truth of this my assertion? do you not act and behave too much like men who are strangers to Jesus, and the life and power of vital godliness? But believers are a compound of flesh and spirit. The new-created soul dwells in a sinful body, and is opposed by a carnal nature. There may be true grace within, though much carnality appears without. Weak faith in Jesus may be opposed with strong corruptions and unbelief....a little true knowledge of Jesus in the heart, yet beset with great ignorance and weakness of judgment....the dawning of true hope in Jesus, but interposed with clouds of darkness ...the stirrings of real love to Jesus, but resisted by the love of the world, and the objects of sense....real esteem for a preached gospel, and yet carnal contentions, and debates, may arise about ministers and things of no real profit to the soul. This is true. Yet such weaklings in the faith, such babes in Christ, are as safe, because beloved by the same Father, redeemed by the same precious blood of Jesus, and renewed by the power of the same Spirit, as young men and fathers in Christ; but indeed they are not so happy; they do not glorify God so much; they do not bring forth so much fruit to God, nor so greatly adorn the gospel of Jesus as those who are strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus, and more established in the faith and love of him. ... But let not such discourage their hearts, nor entertain hard thoughts of our loving master Jesus, as though he expected to reap where he has not sown. Let them not burden their weak minds with things that are too strong, nor exercise their tender hearts with matters that are too high; but let them simply consider Jesus; look to the Lamb of God, confess their weakness at his feet, praying to him for strength, studying his word for knowledge; and, “as new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby.” “For those that be planted in the house of the Lord, shall flourish in the courts of our. God.”....Psalm xcii. 13. “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”....Isa. xli., 10.