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Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust, that he will yet deliver us....2 Cor.i. 10.
DIVINE confidence is founded upon God's revealed truth; it arises in the heart in proportion to the discovery which is made of free-grace promises to sinners in Christ Jesus. Faith looks at nothing in nature, or in the creature; it stands not upon any human probability or rational possibility; but, as the queen of graces, faith looks wholly to the king of glory, consults the word of his truth, relies on his promises and oath, and trusts in the power of an omnipotent Lord. Past experience of former deliverances sweetly encourage the soul to trust God for future. So the apostles reasoned upon temporal deliverances from the persecuting powers of earth and hell, which were engaged against them. All hope and help from the right hand and left were cut off. In themselves they had the sentence of death. They were like malefactors in their own apprehension, doomed to certain execution. But God had delivered them in time past! He did deliver them at the present; hence, their trust was excited for future deliverance. Just so they taught and gloried in a salvation equally as extensive, through all the periods of time past, present, and to come; which should certainly issue in everlasting glory.
O believer, here is a mode of reasoning for thy soul. Exercise thy faith on things past, present, and to come. Call to mind how God in time past delivered thy soul from thy great death in trespasses and sins. In how many dangers has he kept thee? From how many snares has he delivered thee? And art thou this present hour a saved sinner, living by faith on the Son of God? O, see thy Lord's past mercies! O, consider thy Lord's present blessings! Thence honor him with the faith of thy heart, the trust of thy soul, that he will yet deliver thee from every enemy. Art thou harassed by temptations? Remember, “thy Lord knoweth how and when to deliver out of them!"....2 Pet. ii. 9. Art thou groaning under a body of sin and death? Crying out, 0, wretched that I am? Consider the everlasting love and almighty power of thy precious deliverer; exult and triumph with, “thanks be to God who giveth the victory through Jesus Christ." Thus daily study, O soul, to live in an habitual view of thy God and Saviour; pray and wrestle for constant applications of Jesus' grace, daily feelings of his love by the Spirit; so shall every lust of thy nature be subdued, satan shall fly from the resistings of faith, victory shall be obtained over the world, holiness will be delightful to thy heart, and heaven desirable and longed for by the soul. Ever remember “it is God who worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure, as the only enlivening confidence to encourage thee to work out thy salvation with fear and trembling."....Phil. ii. 12, 13.
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth....John ; xvii. 17.
With what confidence and joy are we assured of our sanctifi'cation, both from the prayer of Jesus on earth, and his intercession in glory! Man cannot sanctify himself, it is the work of the Lord the Spirit; he effects it by his sovereign power; earth and hell shall not prevent it. O special mercy! Not to be left to act with the generality of professors, who, like Pilate, demand “What is truth?” and then turn away from it as offensive, and hate and oppose it. Yet, if there is but kept up a great cry and vehement zeal for good works and holiness, it is enough; no matter what principles they spring from. Nay, under pretence for these, truth is trampled under foot. But not so Jesus prayed, nor taught; nor are his members thus sanctified. Jesus is essentially the truth. We are sanctified to God no other way than in him, and by the faith of him. “ We are chosen from the beginning through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,”....John viii. 32....saith Jesus; free from the deceitful hopes and vain confidences that are natural to us. Souls sanctified through the truth, are no longer left to deny the 'foundation truths of God's word; his sovereign, everlasting, electing love of sinners in Christ Jesus this essential truth, of their sins being atoned by the precious blood, and their persons justified by the perfect righteousness of Jesus imputed to them; the certain perseverance and sure glorification of every believing member of Christ. Thus our judgments are sanctified in truth, in opposition to the false notions of self-righteousness and sinless perfection. These proceed from self-ignorance, blindness to God's law, and leave its professors under a fatal error; nor are we left to dream of universal redemption which detracts from the glory of God by ascribing salvation to free-will; nor to reject the sovereign agency of the holy Spirit, which reduces the gospel of grace to a covenant of works. Glory to our Lord, not only are we sanctified as to a right judgment in all things, but our affections are also sanctified to love the truth and cleave to it, seeing all our hopes center in it, and deriving all our comforts from it; and it is the delight and joy of our souls to live in conformity to the truth. Jesus hath our hearts. Fellowship with him is our heaven upon earth. What is contrary to that is hateful to us. Sin is become the burden, and holiness most pleasant to the sanctified soul. To fancy thyself perfectly freed from all sin, is a mark, not of a soul sanctified through the truth, but deceived by lies: but daily to feel a holy striving against şin, fervent desires after greater conformity to Jesus, and abiding in the truth of his word, is a full proof of the sanctification of his Spirit unto obedience.”....Pet. i. 2.
By the grace of God, I am what I am.... 1 Cor. xv, 10.,
It would be one great means of preventing complaints and murmurings, if christians' hearts were more in meditation upon what they once were, still are, and what they deserve. Such was the conduct of the once Jesus-persecuting, but afterwards Jesus-exalting Paul. The same grace that reached his heart, has continued to run through the many revolving periods down to this day, and effects the same blessed work on poor sinners now. Thou therefore, O disciple of Jesus, hast the same cause as Paul had, daily to sing
of rich, free, sovereign, distinguishing grace; the eternal love, free favor, and unmerited good-will of God to thy soul in Christ Jesus.
Grace shines with resplendent lustre, in the person of Jesus. Grace operates with sovereign, irresistible power, in the hearts of his members. Hence, it triumphs over all the resisting powers, rebellious motives, carnal workings, and perverse obstinacy of proud nature. Publicans and harlots are often raised and beautified by grace, while self-righteous Pharisees, are left buried in the ruins of nature. Hell-deserving soul! What hast thou to boast of? Wherein canst thou glory? Art thou converted to Jesus? Verily of this thou hast greatest cause of glory and triumph. But ever know the cause. Study daily to give all the glory where it is only due, even to the
free favor of thy God. Wilt thou ever open the mouth of thy obedience, thy fulfilling terms and conditions, by which thou hast obtained the prize? Ever know Jesus hath done all this. Hence grace freely flowed to thee. In the height of thy rebellion, in the depth of thy destruction, the voice of eternal love spoke to thy soul. The power of almighty grace challenged thee, as its blood-bought purchase; seized thee as its lawful captive, and snatched thee as a brand from the fire of destruction. 14- O wondrous love! Should not amazement strike thy heart, and the
fire of love and gratitude ever burn in thy soul? What shall we say : to these things? Truly grace, that dwelt in the heart of God from eternity, has sovereignly reached thy heart in time. Therefore art thou turned to Jesus by repentance; hast remission of sins through faith in his blood. This is given, by the exalted prince of grace and peace, to thine heart. Hast thou a love to holiness, and a hatred to sin ? This is contrary to nature, and is given through the grace of the Spirit. “By the grace of God I am what I am," is the confession of saints in earth. By the grace of God I am where I am, is the triumphant song of saints in heaven. For “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."....Rom. v. 20. 'Tis not by works of righteousness, 'Tis from mere mercy of our God
Which our own hands have done ; That all our hopes begin : But we are saved by sov'reign grace, 'Tis by the water and the blood Abounding thro' God's Son.
Qur souls are wash'd from sin.
Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nô
thing : nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the nel.... Luke v. 5.
WHATEVER one engages in, success gives pleasure, but disappointment causes dejection. The passing over of a black cloud is often followed by the brighter shining of the sun. Naturalists observe, it is always darkest just before the break of day. So here these poor fishermen had toiled through a tedious night of disappointment; not one fish came to net: yet, at Christ's word they let down the net. Behold the event! The greatest success they ever met with succeeded their fruitless toil: their nets were too weak to hold the miraculous draught of fishes they had taken. O, how adorable is Jesus' power and godhead!
The occupation of a fisherman is not unlike that of the christian's vocation. It is his employ to fish in the wide and deep ocean of God's eternal love and grace revealed in his word of truth. . What he taketh here he is to live upon day by day. It is sometimes his lot to toil through a dark night of disappointment, and take nothing which may refresh his spirit and rejoice his soul. Here “patience must have its perfect work.” Not one, nor many nights bad success, makes the fisherman quit his trade and forsake his calling. So the christian should consider he has need of patience, that after he has done the will of God he might receive the fulfilment of the promises. These are blessed encouragements for him ever to fish in the great and wide sea of God's covenant love and faithfulness. In his word are blessings innumerable. Ever remember, “He that believeth shall not make haste:" that is, be in a hurry and confusion, as one in surprise and fear in time of trouble. Though God's mercies are not styled swift, yet they are called “sure mercies,”. Isa. lv. 3. Where the grace of faith is in the front, perseverance shall be in the centre, and glory shall be in the rear. The soul thirsting after comfort, shall in God's time be refreshed with the plentiful showers of heavenly consolation. Some souls have been so filled herewith, even like these disciples' nets that broke with the great draught of fishes, that they have cried out, “Lord, stay thine hand; my brittle vessel can hold no more." Live upon the word of God's truth, and thou shalt be sure to enjoy the comforts of God's faithfulness. Whatever fails, his word is sure; his promises certain; his covenant immutable; his oath irreversible. Consolation, yea "strong consolation from God, awaits every soul who has fled to Jesus for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before him.”....Heb. vi. 18.
Our anchor's cast within the vail
Where Jesus ever reigns;
We walk by faith and live by hope ;,
Assur'd of endless gains. M.
Though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand....Psalm xxxvii. 24.
The absolute declarations and promises of scripture are ever to be considered as having relation to, and dependance upon the covenant of
grace. Hence, whatever is asserted concerning the salvation of lost sinners, is an exhibition or display of the grace of the covenant by Jesus Christ. When men see not the nature of the covenant, ordered in all things and sure, they make the promises of the gospel as it were a mere rope of sand. Not seeing salvation, established upon the sure foundation of God's immutable love and faithfulness, they make it depend on human wisdom, power, and goodness. Poor comfort for sensible souls. Though pride for a time may keep up the vain hopes of the self-righteous and self-delud. ed.... How long? Till they are tried by fire.
The just man's standing is of God's power. His falls are from his own frailty. That he is raised from his falls, is from the sovereign love and covenant faithfulness of his God. But, is not God able to keep us from falling? Doubtless his power is almighty. He can take away all sin and corruption out of us : and not suffer temptation from satan, the world and the flesh, ever to attack us. Yea, he can instantly change us into angelic purity. But this is not his will. The Lord sees it most for his glory that we should be just what we are.... believe his truths....live upon his promises....rely on his power from day to day, or it should be otherwise. All things are in being for the elect's sake. All things “work together for their good,"....Rom. viii. 28. Satan may tempt souls as he did Christ, to cast themselves down to prove the power of God. Carnal hearts may say, "let us do evil, that good may come." Each shew what spirit they are of. Saints express the inward disposition of their souls by other languagem Gracious works proceed from gracious hearts which are influenced by divine truth and everlasting love. Saints' falls are suffered, to humble them for sin, wean them from their pride, self-righteousness, and self-sufficiency ; to deaden them to the love of the world, and to endear Jesus more and more to them; to teach them the usefulness of ordinances; to exercise their graces; to purge out their dross; to enable them to succour others with the assurance of comfort and protection, which they themselves have found from our Saviour. So he displays the wisdom, power and faithfulness of a covenant-God. Thus he makes'souls meet for glory, and causes them to long more for the heavenly inheritance. Saints may fall, and do fall into many things that hurt and bruise them. This is their shame; it causeth sorrow and grief; and excites watchfulness. But fall into hell they cannot, they shall not, because they are upheld by the arm of omnipotence; and Jesus declares, “I give unto them eternal life.”....John X. 28.