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Go, tell his disciples and Peter, that he goelh before yoû
into Galilee: there shall ye see him....Murk xvi. 7.
How different is the gospel from the law; one is the voice of condemnation, terror, and wrath; the other speaks nothing but grace, peace, and love. God's children only murmured for water in the wilderness, and even the meek Mose's is in wrath with them, and calls them REBELS. Here, though the poor disciples had acted most base and ungrateful to their loving Saviour; for they added sors row to his distress, when they all forsook hiin and fled, and Peter' above all the rest ; for as though Jesus was the most abandoned wretch, Peter with oaths and curses denied that he even knew him.' What could they expect, but that the first message from their Lord should be full of upbraiding? Was it, Go tell those apostate REBELS: I am risen from the dead, they shall receive their just deserts ; vengeance is mine, I will repay them? No: be astonished, o heavens ! Hear, wonder, and love, O'ye backsliding children: devils are not permitted to terrify, but angels commissioned to comfort them. Tell his disciples, amazing! Disciples still ! How unworthy of the very name! Yet more, lest this message should prove a dagger to poor Peter's heart, lest he should write bitter things against himself, “ I am no disciple; though all the rest forsook and fled from Jesus yet not one of them sinned with so high a hand' as me. I not only forsook him, fed from him, but denied him, denied him with oaths, cursed and swore most bitterly that I did not know him. Ah! woe is me: the Lord told me satan had desired to have me, so it must be.” No, no, Peter, “whom thy Lord loves, he loves to the end ;'. he hates putting away ; his loving heart cannot bear it. Not all that sin or hell can say can turn his heart, his love away. Peter is included in the commission of comfort, by name. Did Peter sin above the rest? Yet grace super-abounds; therefore behold, he is particularized above the rest by name. “He goeth before you to Galilee, there shall ye see him.” O, but for this comfortable message, poor Peter would have dreaded to meet with and see Jesus. O soul, Jesus is gone before to glory, there shalt thou see him. But for the comfortable message our souls have had from him, of his love and salvation, we might dread the sight of Jesus. But who shall set bounds to the love of Jesus? Will any poor trembling disciple say, the Lord hath forsaken me, my Lord hath forgotten me ? True thou mayest de serve it; but thy Lord deals with thee not after that manner; though thou art a sinner, a backsliding sinner, a hell-deserving sinner, the chief of sinners, yet still his name is Jesus the Saviour, his nature is love ; and it is the joy of his heart and the work of his life “to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."....Heb. vii. 25.
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed....John viii. 36.
! in Our most glorious sovereign Lord and King, Jesus, like some mighty conqueror whose subjects have been taken captive by an enemy, delivers them from their captivity, sets them at liberty from the dominion and tyranny of their enemies, and restores them to all the rights and privileges of his kingdom and government. Alas! in what a deplorable state doth our great deliverer find our souls! taken captive by the devil at his pleasure, slaves and vassals to his will and power, under. worse than Egyptian bondage, “tied and bound with the chains of our sins,” bond-slaves to our corrupt lusts and carnal passions.
In this hopeless, helpless, deplorable state, we all continue with out power, yea, without will or desire to be set at liberty. Nay, we are naturally pleased with the drudgery of sin and satan, in love with our bondage, fancying ourselves at liberty, and enjoying the most perfect freedom; but when our mighty deliverer comes, he makes ùs free indeed: he bursts our bonds asunder, and casts away the cords wherewith we were bound. Jesus snatches our souls as a prey from the mighty, and the lawful captives are delivered. He invests us with the freedom of citizens of the New Jerusalem," and gives us the privilege of adoption, to be the sons of God through faith in him. Then are we the Lord's free-men; made free from sin, satan, the law, and death. How great is Jesus' power! how rich his love! how free and sovereign his grace! it came unmerited and unsought by us; it is a freedom unbounded in its nature, and the happy subjects of it shall find it so in a blissful eternity. But here, though free, made free indeed in our spirits, yet we shall find by daily experience enemies and opposers to our uninterrupted enjoyment of it. Sin, though its guilt is washed away in Christ's blood, and its power destroyed in the soul, will yet rage and war in our members. Satan, though like a strong man armed, is overcome and cast out, will often rally his forces and wage war against us. As Luther says, "he who hath Christ for his King and God, let him be assured he hath the devil for his enemy, who will work him much sorrow, and plague him all the days of his life. But let this be our comfort and great glory, that we poor sinners have the Lord of life and death and of all creatures, clothed with our flesh and blood, sitting on the right hand of God, ever living, ever praying for us, who' ever defends and protects us.' The law, though its demands are all fulfilled, and its curse is taken away, though there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus; and death, though disarmed of its strength and sting through the victory of Jesus, yet the sweet sense and comfortable experience of all this is enjoyed by us only while we “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and are not entangled with any yoke of bondage.” ....Gal. v. I. Vol. I. Qa
We wrestle, 8c....Eph. vi. 12.
It is too common for the children of God, when exercised with sharp conflicts of soul, to write bitter things against themselves. But we do well always to remember we are travellers through the territories of an implacable and powerful enemy, whose malicious spirit delights in harassing and distressing us in every part, sout and spirit, as well as flesh. That herein we are not alone; it is the common lot of all the children more or less. Take, my brethren, the prophets and apostles as an example herein. We shall find them at times, under severe trials and sore conflicts of spirit. But know, satan our adversary is a conquered foe; he can go no farther than our own loving Saviour permits him. Our exercises last not one moment longer than our dear Lord sees needful; none of them shall issue in our destruction but in satan's flight, our soul's deliverance, and our God's glory; and, like every thing else that befalls us, "they work together for our good."
Our enemies are spiritual powers, princes, rulers, who for number may be stiled LEGION. Their nearness to us, and easy access to our spirits, in a way of striving and struggling for the mastery in order to cast us down, is justly styled WRESTLING.
Here the com batants are closely joined, and grapple with each other. Our greatest danger is from our feet being tript off the ground; whereby we may be maimed and bruised by a fall. Happy for us, we stand by the power of God through faith. We stand upon this sure foundation, “The Lord knoweth them who are his.” Jesus knows that his people will be exposed to onsets of the enemy, but no power, subtilty, or malice shall prevail. Says our dear preserver, “none shall pluck them out of my hands:" I as man and Mediator, hold them by LOVE, “My Father is greater than I;" he keeps them by his irresistible and almighty power. Yet, alas! it must be owned, that conflicts for the season are grievous. To be attacked by a powerful, invisible foe, whose element where he rules, as well as the time of battle, is always in darkness; therefore most afflicting to the children of light. One blessed end of our trials, is to teach us that we should not trust in ourselves, but cry to the strong for strength. O, what soul-strengthening, heart-reviving, and spirit-refreshing voice speaks from heaven to us! Hear, O soul, it is the voice of the captain of thy salvation. Wast thou ready to think he had left thee to thy own weakness? No: "Fear thou not, for I am with thee. I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."...Isa. xli. 10.
Jesus the Lord'shall guard me safe
From ev'ry ill design,
This feeble soul of mine.
God is my everlasting aid,
And hell shall rage in vain;
And endless praise, Amen.
Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say rejoice....
Phil. iv. 4.
Tue wise man saith, “He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.”....Prov. xv. 15. Every believer in Jesus hath a continual feast; therefore has always reason to be of a merry heart; when he is not, he lives below his privilege, and forgets the command of his loving Lord. Though we daily experience enemies to our spiritual joy, yet none can destroy our ground of rejoicing; that is fixed as a rock, permanent as the mountains, and standeth fast for ever and ever. Paul well knew this by his own experience: “ As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing," he describes the christian's motto. Though with him thou art daily crying out, “ O wretched man that I am," according to the flesh; yet thou hast the same reason always to thank God and rejoice in Christ Jesus as Paul had: though in thyself cause for mourning and humiliation, yet continual matter of joy and rejoicing in the Lord Jesus,
Here is the wisdom of a christian, to understand aright, and to act suitable to his character; “ as having nothing in nature, yet possessing all things by grace." Being united to Jesus, in whom all fulness dwells; and "blessed with all spiritual blessings by God the Father in him," it is therefore our sweet privilege always to rejoice in Christ Jesus. In experience, we find believing views of Jesus càuse rejoicing in him. In the Lord; mind that little word
The exercise of thy faith is ever to be on thy Lord. All cause of spiritual joy is in JESUS: our word is BELIEVE AND BE JOYFULI If we search the scriptures, which testify of Jesus; if we dwell much in meditation on his person, his offices, his blood, his righteousness, his intercession, we shall perceive never failing springs of joy. Day by day be looking and praying, O soul, that through the Spirit thou mayst see and maintain a comfortable knowledge and settled assurance of thiy own interest in Jesus, and salvation by him. O, this will cause thee to rejoice indeed, with joy unspeakable and full of glory. So that even though the face and appearance of outward things put on a gloomy countenance to nature and sense, yet shall we be like the stedfast prophet: “ Though the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls.". What then? Does he hang down his head like a bulrush? Does joy of heart forsake him? No, says he, " yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."....Habak. iii. 17, 18.
Then let our joys abound,
And ev'ry tear be dry;
We're marching thro' Immanuel's
To fairer worlds on high. [ground,
What doth it profit, though a'man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? ....James ii. 14.
MANY of God's dear children are often in doubt and perplexity, lest their faith should not be the faith of God's elect; to which salva's tion is sure. This may arise through the weakness of their understanding in the word of truth; and because, as yet, faith doth not bring forth the fruits of joy and assurance. But sooner or later the Holy Ghost, in believing, will make this matter clear and satisfactory to their hearts. But the soundness and orthodoxy of our faith is least of all suspected by us while in a state of nature; for we all think, are very confident, have not the least doubt, we all say “we have faith,” true faith; but this is a weed which grows wild in nature's field; this is the faith which James here speaks of, which all the world rest in who know not the Son of God. All men have not faith, the faith of God's elect. If we say we have faith, what doth it profit if it brings no glory to God, no good to men; it deceives the soul who has it. « Can faith save him?" O, what disputes and contentions hath this question raised! Some have even set St. James at variance against St. Paul, as though the former contended for salvation by works, against the latter. 6 Can faith save him?” A question equal to an assertion. It cannot. The supply of one word here puts the matter beyond all dispute. Can such a faith sáve him? No; it is impossible. But dost thou, O christian, think thy faith, though accompanied with good works, can save thee? Verily, no more than thy repentance or thy love; these are alike gifts of grace by Jesus Christ; given not to rival the Saviour in the heart, nor to share with him in the glory of salvation, but to honor him and comfort his members. We are not saved FOR faith, but through faith; yet faith is a precious grace of covenant-love; it endear's a precious Saviour to the heart, and "" works by love."
But ever know, faith doth not procure God's love, obtain his favor; make atonement for sins, work out à righteousness to justify, nor merit the power of the Spirit to sanctify; all this is enjoyed in believing, but not procured by faith. Faith, like the Baptist's voice, cries in the soul, “Behold the Lamb of God.” It claims no 'share in fulfilling terms of peace, or obeying conditions of salvation. By faith we honor God's word, look to his everlasting love, rely on Jesús, mourn over sin, abhor ourselves, and repent as in dust and ashes. Peace, love, joy, and all inward fruits, as well as outward obedience; a holy walk, fruitfulness in every good word and work, are produced by the Holy Spirit, from the life and vigour of faith. How doth it concern us daily to pray, “Lord, increase our faith!”.... Luke xvii. 5.