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The word of God which effectually worketh also in you that
believe....1 Thess. ii. 13.
A PROCLAMATION of grace from an earthly king has reduced the most desperate and hardened rebels to lay down their arms and promise true allegiance. But though the word of God is a proclamation of free grace, glad tidings of full pardon; though replete with the most tender expostulations and the most endearing invitations, yet so abominable is our perverseness, so daring our obstinacy, that we should remain deaf to every call, and continue hardened in our rebellion against the most high God, till we fall victims to his justly deserved wrath. For unbelief shuts up every avenue of the soul against the light, truth, peace, and love of the word of God. But, O amazing love ! lie in the dust, O my soul! adore the power of our all-conquering Saviour! The gracious Spirit makes gracious words effectual. Hence faith esteems every portion of the gospel as the food, the life, the joy of the soul. By the agency of the Spirit the word becomes powerful to beget faith, and then works effectually in believing hearts.
Those speak unadvisedly who call the word of God a dead letter. Indeed St. Paul saith, “the letter killeth ;" but this can never prove God's word to be dead. That which is dead itself cannot kill. We should distinguish between the letter of the law that killeth all flesh, and the gospel of grace that worketh life and salvation in all who believe. When we read the word of God, we should never consider it distinct from the essential and personal word, JESUS. He is emphatically styled the word of God.... Rev. xix. 13. He who executed all the purposes of the word of truth, works effectually in the hearts of the children of faith. Hence, the once despised and lightly esteemed Nazarene is known, believed in, and loved as most precious; "the chiefest among ten thousand, yea as altogether lovely." God's precious promises in Jesus, once wholly unregarded, are now sweetly prized: they are beheld as sweetly ranged and profusely scattered through every page of the lively oracles. The Spirit's holy gifts and sanctifying graces are pleaded as God's blessed charter of free-grace. All his sovereign edicts and absolute declarations of grace and salvation, instead of being proudly cavilled against, are bowed to with humility. In the word of our King there is power. Sin and satan are dethroned in the heart, and Jesus rules and reigns in the soul. Thus the word of God is quick and powerful; thus it works effectually to salvation.
This is the word of truth and love Sent to the nations from above; Jehovah in his word doth shew What his almighty arm can do. VOL. I.
May but this grace my soul renew, Let sinners gaze and hate me too ; The word that saves me does engage A sure defence from all their rage. Tt
For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain....Phil. i, 21.
O HAPPY, happy soul! who can thus say with Paul, “in life, in death, Christ is my gain!" Verily, if thou believest on the Son of God, thou mayest. Thou also hast the same right and the same reason as he had. Paul was a poor sinner, even as thou art; but Christ was all his gain: so he is to thee and every one who believes in him. Come christian, let us, like the wise trader, state our accounts of loss and gain and see the sum total this day. In selfrighteousness before God, peace with God, love to God, hope in God, power to please God, enjoyment of God, the life of our souls, yea, our souls themselves are all LOST. We are all a lump of sin, bankrupt sinners, insolvent debtors to law and justice, and are exposed to lie for ever in the prison of hell. Awful loss.
What is our GAIN? Inestimable riches! nothing less than precious Christ, and a precious salvation! O, is his dear name enrolled in the book of our hearts? Can we read Jesus there? Then in Christ we have perfect righteousness before God, full acceptance with God, free access to God, love from God, peace with God, hope of enjoy. ing, yea, present fellowship with God; we are his children in Christ Jesus; all that he has is ours; every attribute and perfection of Jehovah are engaged for us; his Spirit is ours, to make us holy and happy here, and to lead us to eternal felicity hereafter. But, saith the poor believing sinner, “I am put to a stand in my reckoning; though Christ is my gain, yet I have not entirely lost my burden, sin. Sin is still alive in me.” Stop not, ( soul, reckon on.. Though we have sin, feel sin raging and rebelling, what then? In Christ we have gained a sacrifice for it, and redemption from it. His precious blood hath taken away all the guilt of sin from us, and all the wrath due to us from the justice of God. - So it stands upon record in the court of heaven, and the Holy Ghost is witness of it on earth; therefore record this in the court of conscience. Faith can shew a discharge from the guilt of sin and the curse of the law, therefore reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin. Dead indeed, how emphatic! yes, as much dead to sin as a corpse buried under ground; and as much alive to God in Christ, as though you had never committed one sin, nor have any sin in you. “For, 0 precious words! the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, hath made us free from the law of sin and death."....Rom. viii. 2. Thus in Christ we gain a perfect victory over sin and the law. But say, will sin destroy our mortal bodies? let it; this is all it can do; it cannot: hurt our immortal souls; for, thanks be to God, in Christ we have a complete victory over death; Christ is our gain in death. We shall lose nothing by death but sin and sorrow: we shall gain....what? Eternal glory. “We shall be with our Jesus."....John xvii. 24.
Behold! he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see
him.... Rev. i. 7,
With what ardor of heart may every believer cry out, blessed be God, every hour brings nearer the solemn advent, the gloricus appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus! “O christians, now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed.”. Come, thou once despised Nazarene, thou once crucified Saviour: he shall come; he will come quickly, and be seen in human form. Shall We not see those wounds and scars in his body, the tokens of his inestimable love to and perfect victory of his cross for us poor
sinners? How joyful in the exercise of faith, the fervor of love, the expectation of hope, is this contemplation! This quells the fears of nature, mortifies its lusts; subdues its corruptions. To this end are we born again of the Spirit, that we should enjoy the visions of faith, see Jesus, live by faith upon him, have fellowship with him in the sufferings of his cross, and long for his appearing in glory. Then shall we share with him in the glories of his kingdom. “He shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe.”
Whence then our dejection of mind, our fear of death, our unwillingness to be absent from the body, that we may be present with the Lord?” Truly, all this ariseth from the mystery of iniquity which worketh in us. But here is our wisdom, to oppose the mysterý of faith to that. Never venture to think of your own dying, without considering the death of Jesus; look not at your own sins, without looking at the blood of Jesus; think not a moment of his appearing as a judge, without remembering him as our precious Saviour; dwell not on the glory and majesty of his eternal power and Godhead, without reflecting on his humble form, his manhood state; conceive not of him as a king and lawgiver, without consi: dering him as a priest to atone for our sins, an advocate to plead our cause, and our forerunner entered into the heavens FOR US; "for so shall we daily prove, that we are more than conquerors over every foe that opposeth the holiness and comfort of our souls, through Jesus who loved us. “ Behold, he cometh!” O joyful day! most desirable sight! then our sorrows, our fears shall for ever cease. Then our eyes shall see our dearest friends; our focs, that we this day find and feel, we shall see no more for ever.
" To them that look for him, shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” “O, lift up your heads with joy, for your redemption draweth nigh.” Christ is the man, th'exalted man, Those soft, those blessed feet of his, Whom we unseen adore :
That once rude iron tore; But when our eyes behold his face, High on a throne of light they stand,
Our hearts shall love him more. And all the saints. adore.
Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory....Psalm lxxiii. 24.
That is a precious caution of our loving Saviour,“ Judge not according to the appearance,"....John vii. 24.
St. Paul reproves saints, “Do ye look on things after the outward appearance?"..... 2 Cor. x. 7. Through this conduct, saints in all ages have puzzled their minds, distressed their souls, and have been tempted to hard thoughts of their God. They have not "judged righteous judgment,” in respect to carnal men and the dispensations of God's providence to them. So we see Job greatly exercised, (Job xxi. 7.) and Asaph in the above Psalm. But after the cloud of carnal reas soning and unbelief passed over their minds, the sun of glory and truth shone again with splendor upon them; then faith puts forth its lively exercises and sweet approbations of Gode "O my God and Saviour, I see thy ways to man are just! Righteous art thou, O Lord, thou art my God, I will love thee: Thou shalt guide ME by thy counsel,” &c. As the Lord is often said to make a covenant with his people when it was only renewing his old covenant of grace and love in Christ Jesus, so faith frequently makes a fresh choice of, claim to, and glory in the Lord Jesus. “My counsel, shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure, saith the Lord.".... Isa. xlvi. 10. Amen, saith the believing heart. By thy word and Spirit guide me continually; I cannot guide myself. Jesus be thou my guide, my companion, and my familiar friend.
Blessed christian! though in Paul's case....Acts xxvii. 20.... When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, when no small tempest is upon thee, and all hope of being saved seems taken away," yet Jesus is at the helm. Thy vessel shall ride out every storm ; he will guide safe to the haven of glory and blessedness. Some persons seem so wholly taken up with prying into the secret purposes and inscrutable depths of God's decrees, that they take no heed to their steps, but, like the philosopher who was so intent in observing the starry heavens, that being careless of his walk he fell into a ditch. Not God's secret purposes, but his revealed truths are the objects of our faith: “ his word is a light to our feet:" by that he counsels and directs us. The gracious Spirit leads and guides his children in the paths of peace and holiness. It is true, the path to glory is unpleasing to the flesh, and therefore is ever opposed by it; but as there is a disposition in regenerate souls to long for glory, so also a love in them to God's word and the way of holiness. In this the 'children of God are manifest. All such, God will most certainly receive to glory. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”.... Rom. viii. 14.
Zealous of good works....Tit. ii. 14.
Call to mind, disciple of Jesus, how in times past thou didst walk according to the course of this world, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and yet the God of this world so blinded thine eyes, and so deceived thine heart (strange infatuation!) that thou didst talk of and trust in even what had no existence, thine own good works. Glory to the rich grace of our Saviour, who delivers us from the natural notions of our corrupt reason, the pride of our free-will, and the vain confidence of our own righteousness! Now all our glorying is in Jesus; for though by nature we are slaves to our lusts, in bondage to iniquity, our minds defiled, our consciences impure, and therefore to every good work reprobate, yet such was the love of Jesus to us, that " he gave himself for us." He hath redeemed us from all iniquity; he hath purified us unto himself as a peculiar people, "zealous of good works." By the knowledge of faith we are persuaded Jesus loves us, delights in us, grants us peculiar familiarity with himself, bestows peculiar blessings on us, and hath made peculiar provisions for us, both in time and eternity. Hence christians are inspired with a peculiar zeal for good works; a zeal according to godliness.. We love our God and only Saviour; therefore we delight to serve and study to glorify him in our souls and bodies. Our sinful lusts and passions are contrary to him; therefore, as assisted, we daily strive and pray to mortify and subdue them. To do good to the souls and bodies of all men, especially to them that are of the household of faith is well-pleasing to the Lord; therefore it is the joy of our hearts to abound in those things. Here true zeal centers, that we do good from a good principle, love to God; from a good motive, Jesus hath commanded it; with a good aim, that the glory of his name, the honor and interest of his cause may be advanced in the worļd by us. Such a zeal stabs the pride of self-seeking and vain glorying; for our best works, our chiefest good, is to glorify our God and Saviour. Godly souls blush therefore, and are grieved to the very heart when a thought arises of doing any good work to procure the favor of God or to secure his love to our souls, or to entitle us to his kingdom. This is to glorify ourselves. But we have not so learned Christ as to oppose God's free-grace truths, dishonor a God of love, degrade the glory of our precious Saviour, for we give all the glory to him, as having done all for us. We see salvation finished by him, and glory secured to US IN HIM; therefore, in love e desire to be wholly devoted to him, and to do those things that may glorify him ONLY “who hath bought us with his blood.”.... 1 Cor. vi. 20. This is truly a zeal according to knowledge.