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This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life:
and this life is in his Son: he that hath the Son hath life.... 1 John v. II, 12.
SOVEREIGN power permits man to fall. Guilt fills the wretched pair with dread, and cuts off all hope in God, all claim upon him. Hence our first parents “fled from the presence of the Lord, and hid themselves." Sovereign love interposed, and the poor, guilty, “trembling partners in woe were called before their highly-offended, justly provoked Lord. Was it to behold him clothed with vengeance? To hear the sentence of their eternal doom to destruction? To see hell opened to receive them? No; be astonished, 0 heavens! Rejoice ye apostate children of hell-deserving parents! They were to hear a RECORD of what was transacted in the eternal court and counsel of heaven, published on earth. This, instead of wrath, brought mercy; instead of woe, blessing; instead of eternal death, everlasting life; instead of a hell of misery, a heaven of happiness to their trembling hearts.
Fallen man came not to meet God, to sue for pardon, and entreat grace, but fled his presence. But the Lord follows sinful man with love in his heart; not to propose terms of accommodation or conditions of peace, but to proclaim the joyful news of eternal life as the free gift of free favor, unmerited grace, unconditional mercy, in and by the seed of the woman, Jesus Christ. Glorious RECORD of love! Blessed testimony of life! Joyful tidings of grace! Hast thou heard, known, and believed this RECORD? “ Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me praise his holy name." Behold and admire the wisdom, as well as the love of thy God. In this rejoice always; be humble continually. Life, eternal life, is given us. This life is in God's beloved Son, therefore can never be lost and forfeited. “ Our life is hid with Christ in God." O, if Jesus dwells 'in our hearts by faith, we have God's beloved Son, we have eternal life. The report of this is joyful to our ears. The enjoyment of this enters our hearts, creates our present heaven, and fills us with joyful hopes of future glory. We have the strongest confidence, the fullest assurance to animate our souls, “Because I live, saith the head, ye (my members) shall live also.”....John xiv. 19. God hath GIVEN us eternal life. He is faithful, he will not revoke his own precious free gift.” Jesus hath overcome every enemy and opposer that might prevent our enjoyment of eternal life. The holy Spirit hath effected such an union to Jesus, as can never be broken. “We are joined unto the Lord, and are one spirit.”.... 1 Cor. vi. 17.
up, my soul, to him, Whose death was thy desert;
And humbly view the living stream
Hide not thy face from far me; put not thy servant away
anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation....Psalm xxvii. 9.
“Love never faileth :” it ever worketh in the heart of disciples towards its beloved object. Love cannot bear distance or separation from Jesus; the thought of it is grievous and painful; the dread of it makes the soul plead, fills the mouth with arguments, lest the poor heart should lose the sweet sense and comforting 'savour of the love of God. His presence is its heaven, his absence is its hell ; his smiles create joy, his frowns bring gloom and sorrow on the mind. When the heart feels a sensible withdrawing of God, and the light of his countenance is hid, it cannot but be restless and uneasy. Real believers experience christianity to be more than a name....doctrines more than mere speculations to fill the head and amuse the thoughts....in ordinances, somewhat more is enjoyed than a dull round and formal attendance upon them. Christianity is a life of love: it consists in knowing and enjoying the God of truth, of faithfulness, and of love in his ordinances.
Therefore a loving soul most of all fears the anger of its loving Father; it dreads to be put away in displeasure, though but for a moment. To be left to one's self, O, this calls up one's cries and tears, and urges one to plead hard with one's dear Saviour.
“ Thou hast been my help.” Past experiences of the love and power of its Lord are remembered, and urged as a plea for present help and future hope. God's precious promises of faithfulness and truth, O they are beheld as "fitly spoken, like apples of gold in pictures of silver.".... Prov. xxv. 11. Past love cannot be forgotten; past mercies are recalled. What the Lord is still, in the appropriation of faith, is pleaded. “Forsake me not." Why so? Because “thou art the God of my salvation." To whom should we go but to thee, O Jesus? Thou hast the words of eternal life. Forsake not the work of thine own hands.; the soul for whom thou didst toil and suffer, bleed and die. There is salvation in thee, and in no other. I have found it so. Arise, O thou sun of righteousness, scatter the clouds of darkness, the mists of sin, and the fogs of unbelief; recall my wandering steps ; revive my drooping spirit; “Bring near thy salvation in present peace and love.” Such will be the cries and pleadings of Jesus-loving hearts. Such are the genuine actings of that faith which worketh by love. It ever hath a GoD IN CHRIST for its object, his faithfulness and truth for its support, his promises for its pleas, bis glory for its aim, and the comfortable sense and enjoyment of his love as its portion and heaven. “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth that I desire besides thee.”....Psalm lxxiii. 25.
Thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his
ways: to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins....Luke i. 76, 77.
The day of gospel-truth, like the light of the morning, breaks forth gradually upon the benighted soul, and it increaseth to mid-day brightness and glory. “The path of the justified is like the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Thus it is in the experience of enlightened souls. The light of God's word manifests the truth as it is in Jesus, gradually ; it discovers condemnation and guilt by the law, and grace and pardon by the gospel. The baptist dispensation prepares the way in the heart before the soul enjoys the sweet sense of pardon of sins through the faith in Jesus. The law is a voice only.of wrath and terror to the soul; it leaves the poor sinner in the dreadful state it finds him ; it pronoun ces nothing but curses upon him ; it can shew him no remedy ; it points to no hope; to work wrath in the conscience and to condemn, is all the broken law can do.
The voice of the baptist cries to the soul in a wilderness state ; but it is rather the boarse cry of austere severity than the charming, melodious voice of peace and love ; it calls to baptism of repentance, a confession of sins, a change of mind concerning former hopes of salvation, and also a change of life and practice. The poor sinner is hereby « Warned to flee from the wrath to come"....is pointed to the LAMB OF God, who taketh away the sin of the world.” Most souls seem to be brought under this dispensation ; some continue for a long season in it; they are in suspense between hope and fear concerning their state. The Spirit of wisdom sees meet it should be so. The name of Jesus is precious to them ; his word is their hope ; his promises the stay of their souls. The kingdom of Jesus is at hand in knowledge and comfort. Salvation by Christ is made known to them: but as yet they do not enjoy the assurance of their interest in, and the knowledge that their sins are forgiven through the blood of Christ. They are the people of God, though they are not fully assured of it, not having yet received “the baptism of remission of sins” by the Spirit of adoption; but pardon is the certain privilege of believing souls; it is sure, by the promise of a faithful God; it is obtained by the precious blood of Jesus; it assuredly shall be enjoyed as the gift of the comforting Spirit. “The vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it shall speak, and Rot lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry. “The just shall live by faith."....Habbak. ii. 3, 4. As sure as John the baptist has prepared the way in thy heart, “the Lord whom thou seekest shall suddenly come to his temple.".... Mal. iii. 1.
Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall
strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.... Psalın xxvii. 14:
“Be of good courage!" Alas, how can one be so, when all sense and feeling tend to dishearten the mind and deject the soul! Lively frames in duty, sweet enlargements of heart, heavenly trans: ports of joy, delightful ecstacies of faith, ravishing tastes of love, all, all, like Noah's dove, have taken their flight; and I fear, says the drooping soul, never, never more to return. Truly, like Heze, kiah, "I mourn as a dove, mine eyes fail with looking upward, O Lord I am oppressed, undertake for me.”....Isa. xxxviii. 14. Still, saith the comforter by his word, “Be of good courage.”. Remem: ber thy calling: It is to live by faith, to honor thy Lord, and be obedient to his word. Thou hast the sentence of death in thyself, that thou shouldst not trust in thyself, lest thine heart depart from thy Lord. Not frames and feelings, but God's love and promises in Christ Jesus to sinners, are the foundation of hope. These are abundantly sufficient to inspire the soul with courage, yea with good courage, to go on in the ways of the Lord.
Here is the steadiness of faith; to cleave to Jesus, to abide by the truth, steadily to persevere in the paths of duty in the course of obedience to him. Shall this ever be suspended because we have not lively frames and joyful feelings? How would this prove that we walk by faith, and that our eye is single to Christ's glory? Nay, we shall then serve the Lord only by fits and starts of sense and passion, rather than by the uniform, consistent obedience of faith. The Lord's word is our rule of duty; his promises our support; his grace is sufficient for us; his strength is made perfect in our weakness. If our hearts are weak, that we cannot run with alacrity the way of God's commandments as we desire, so much the more reason have we for our souls to wait on the Lord for the times of refreshing from his presence, He will strengthen our hearts, "for he giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.".... Isa. xl. 29. “Wait I say on the Lord.” David repeats the injunction, with a holy fervor, both to his own soul and to others. God has promised, expect fulfilment. Here is the exercise of Faith, trust in the Lord Christ for what we stand in need of: of HOPE, expecting to receive all from him; of PATIENCE, waiting continually upon him. Most precious promise! "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with .. wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.”.... Isa. xl. 31. “ The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ."..... Thes. iii. 5.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evi. dence of things not seen....Heb. xi. 1.
HAPPINESS, that inestimable jewel, every man is in search after. But to seek it from objects unseen and invisible to our natural senses, is a downright paradox, and will be ever condemned as the greatest absurdity in the judgment of depraved sense and carnal reason. In the knowledge, love, and enjoyment of God, true happiness alone, consists. The only living and true God hath revealed himself in Christ Jesus. This is the christian's God. He knows no other. It is a blessed truth built upon and supported by the word of God., By faith this subsists in his mind, and is clear and evident to his new-born soul.
From this inward believing, “That God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself,” O what an extensive prospect for hope ariseth! God in Christ; the promises all in Christ; he that believeth, is in Christ. Christ dwelleth in his heart by faith: all the blessings of time; all the glories of eternity are sure. They are settled by the yea and amen of God, upon such believing souls. Shall emissary from satan, demand of such a soul, “What right hast thou to the inheritance of this good land? Abraham's sons have Abraham's plea. It is mine by promise; by faith. I sojourn in it. God's promise is faith's claim. What he has spoken is the ground or subsistence of hope. But may not other witnesses stand up and declare against the christian? Yea, doubtless, many; from the old, man, the flesh, satan, and the law. But the first is under sentence of death, his witness is invalid. Satan is a known liar from the beginning, therefore no credit is to be given to him; the evidence of law is out of date; it is superceded by the promise; “for the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after the covenant, which was confirmed by God in Christ, cannot disannul it, that it should make the promise of none effect.”...,Gal. jii. 17. But blessed be our Lord, though he suffers his children to be attacked by many.adver: saries, he doth not leave himself without a witness and an evidence in their hearts. Though each one of them cannot say, I know I am a child of God, yet the weakest believer in Jesus hath the evi. dence of truth; the witness in himself, of the reality and certainty of invisible objects, "things not seen;" of things past in the eternal covenant of grace and peace;: of things in time, the finished work of Jesus; of things to come, the glories of an eternal world; and. amidst opposition from every quarter, here is a proof of the inward subsistence and evidence of spiritual and invisible objects, in their longing for stronger faith in them, and clearer knowledge and enjoyment of them. “To every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance."....Matt. xxv. 29.