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The Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake
his inheritance....Psalm xciv. 14.
THEREFORE, drooping soul, cast not off thy confidence in him. A meteor will expire when the earthly matter is spent that maintained the blaze for a time. Profession may carry to an high elevation. Persons may appear as fixed stars in the church of Christ, but time may discover them to be no other than shining meteors, or shooting and falling stars. Yea, angels kept not their first estate. But the Lord's chosen people is his portion. The gates of hell shall not prevail against the church of Christ. “ All those that be planted in the house of the Lord, shall flourish in the courts of our God.".... Psalm xcii. 13. Here is the consolation of Christ, the comfort of love, the fellowship of the Spirit, “He that believeth in Jesus shall be saved;” not for days, months, years, but saved with an everlasting salvation. For all such are the objects of the everlasting love of an unchangeable God. He never casts off nor forsakes them. Even when in the furnace of trials and afflictions, hear the declarations of love concerning them: “ They SHALL call on my name, and I will hear them. I will say, it is my people.” Hear the claim of faith: “ Then shall they say, The Lord is my God.".... Zech, xiii. 9.
David knew that friends had cast him off: yea, father and mother might forsake him; his frames and feelings had forsaken him, his joys had withered, and his comforts seemed all blasted in an hour. But says he, age and observation have fully confirmied me in this truth, “ I never saw the righteous forsaken of his God:” “ 'Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down." ; Why so? Truly, saith he, “ The Lord upholdeth him with his hand."..... Psalm xxxvii. 24. Falls may wound the soul, bruise the spirit, cause sinkings of heart, and dejections of mind. Satan may sadly daub and bespatter the poor child of God, and endeavour to persuade him that he is in such a filthy condition, that his Father doth not know him, will not own him. The Lord help us to fear such a state, and to watch and pray that we may stand! Yet the Lord will not cast away his people whom he did foreknow, nor forsake his chosen inheritance. There is balm in Gilead. Jesus is the skilful physician; he will heal and restore his beloved members; he knows them, he loves them, they are his property. O how should this endear Jesus to our souls! Cause us to cleave unto him with full purpose of heart; embitter sin, and cause us to cry continually, “ Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.”....Psalm xvii. 5.
(arise ? Praise to the goodness of the Lord, Whence then should doubts and fears Who rules his people by his word, Why trickling sorrows drown our eyes? And there, as strong as his decrees, Slowly, alas, our mind receives He sets his kindest promises.
The comforts that our Saviour gives.
Rejoicing in hope'; patient in tribulation ; continuing in
stant in prayer.... Rom. xii, 12.
The gospel brings us from a hopeless into a hopeful state; but not into an independent one. We are never to expect freedom from trials and tribulations in this vale of tears; they lie in our way to the end of our hope, the enjoyment of God in glory. Faith takes hold of something that is material, and maketh the soul triumph in hope. Hope makes the soul joyful, and excites to patience. Tribulations cause a throne of grace to be prized, a covenant God in Christ to be sought unto and delighted in. In the rough waves cf difficulties, in the storm of affliction, in the boisterous sea of temptation, hope is an anchor to the soul; when that is cast within the veil the vessel shall safely ride out every storm; though tossed, it shall not be driven from its moorings; it keeps the soul safe and steady.
The grace of patience is ranged between the joy of hope and the constant exercise of prayer, as though it could not exist without either, but is supported and strengthened by both. Jonah sleeps sound in the ship, but prays hard in the whale's belly. Distress and hope raise an importunate cry. A hopeful soul will be much in prayer; and the more in converse and communion with God, the soul will more thrive in every grace of the Spirit. “ Ask, and ye shall receive," is the grand charter of heaven. Yea more, lest children.grow remiss, be sparing in their addresses, and content themselves with any portion, when the exuberance is necessary, saith our munificent Lord, “Ask and receive, that your joy may be full.”....John xv. 11. Sip not at the streams; but drink large draughts at the fountain-head.
Ever remember, christian ; the life of sense is contrary to the life of faith. Walking after the flesh, gratifying its lusts, conforming, to a sinful world, deadens the life of the soul, indisposes it to prayer, makes hope decline, impatience prevail, and all the graces wither. And canst thou delight to live at a distance from thy Saviour? What! without a sense of his peace and love? Wouldst thou not fear to die in such a frame? “ Keep yourselves in the love of God," is an evangelical exhortation....Jude, ver. 21...looking unto Jesus under every circumstance....avoid every thing contrary to love....study to be diligent in those means which tend to excite and strengthen the liveliness of faith, the comforts of love, the joy of hope, and the patience of the soul. “ If ye do these things, ye shall never fall.”...,2 Pet. i. 10.
Saints, at your Father's heav'nly word, Just in the last distressing hour,
Then had the churches rest and were edified, and walking
in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied....Acts ix. 31.
The form of godliness without the power, is sufficient to make men saints, good church-men, honest souls in the eyes of the carnal world. But when, by the power of the Spirit our hearts possess the faith of Jesus, it cannot be hid, but the life of Jesus also will be manifested in our walk and conversation. Then persecution awaits us, the world hates us, their former esteem for and good opinion of us, is changed into hatred and opposition. The word of the Lord must be fulfilled, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”....2 Tim. jii. 12. This is the lot of every disciple, it is a touch-stone of faith; but this is over-ruled by our master's wisdom, for his glory and our spiritual advantage. These have proved the most thriving seasons to the church of God, most prosperous to the souls of disciples; then the love of this world has been most purged from the heart, and the closest fellowship with Jesus enjoyed: without adversity our graces wither.
But is the rage and fury of opposers abated? Have we a little more rest and quiet from those, who, at our first conversion to Jesus, vexed and oppressed us? Here a godly jealousy is needful, close examination necessary Is Jesus still dear to us? Do we keep close to him as the beloved of our souls? Are the promises of God still precious? and do we stand steady against the smiles of the world, preferring Jesus to all? See, mark the blessed connection between edification of the truth, walking in the fear of the Lord, and enjoying the comforts of the Holy Ghost. So the church of old prospered when rest was given them. These things are inseparable. True saving knowledge of Jesus in the heart, ever discovers itself by a holy, loving, filial fear of the Lord in the life. The more we are edified in the faith, this fear increaseth: faith and fear are founded in love, and will be accompanied with the comfort of the Holy Ghost.
But though the churches had rest from persecution, still the members were in the body; Satan was active; afflictions and temptations ceased noţ. In this, nor they nor we shall ever be exempt in this vale of tears: to endure them, we are taught, is part of our blessedness.... James i. 12. By them we learn many useful lessons of faith, patience, humility, and resignation to the will of God, and are made the more to partake of his holiness; so the Holy Ghost sanctifies them to our profit, and enables us to glorify the Lord our God, being cheerful and confident in Jesus' promise: “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation.”.... Rev. iii. 10.
But thou hast not called upon me, () Jacob: but thou hast
been weary of me, O Israel....Isa. xliii. 22.
“God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.”.... Rom. xi. 2. Zealous professors may become shameful apostates. God's own children may awfully backslide from him, and sadly decline in their love to him and service of him. Such a conduct is most base to the best of beings, most ungrateful to the most loving Lord and Saviour, most wounding to sensible, gracious hearts: but such wandering sheep shall hear the faithful shepherd's voice, and shall return with weeping and supplications. Slighted mercies, forfeited privileges, neglected means of grace, indifference to the cause of Jesus, and growing weary of the Saviour's ways and service, bear sad witness against the soul.
A little self-examination will discover that such an one hath found other lovers; with them he is delighted, and after them he hath gone. If the life of sense prevails against the life of faith, the lusts of the flesh are preferred to spiritual delights; carnal, worldly company is more relished than the communion of the saints; fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness is more attended to, than fellowship with Jesus: if the private duties of the closet, the public ordinances of God's house are fursaken: if to all this there is an indifference and unconcern of soul, can the solemn charge of our Lord be heard, "Thou hast been weary of me,” without pleading guilty? Be astonished, 0 heavens, at this! Weary in serving the Lord may be the christian's experience through infirmity; but to be weary of the Lord himself, the Lord of every perfection, the God of all mercies, the Father of all consolation, the only Saviour of our souls, our only hope in time, our all in eternity; to be weary of, to grow shy to sucha. being, O what shall one say! truly, love is patient and prayer powerful; but for the love of the Father, and the intercession of Jesus, such a soul might, ere this, have reaped his deserts in torments, and been weary of his punishment in hell. But O, after such base conduct, hear the declaration of LOVE...“I, even I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions, for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.”....Verse 25. Therefore there is hope, grace reigns, grace abounds, mercy is free, proclamation is made. “Return, (such a temper must be changed, or death cannot be hopeful, nor eternity desirable), return to the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity."....Hosea xiv. 1.
Where should my foolish passions rove? Let me be fasten’d to thy cross,
Rather than loose thy sight.
Make haste my days to reach the goal As I have found in thee!
And bring my heart to rest Wretch that I am, to wander thus On the dear centre of my soul, In chace of false delights!
My God, my Saviour's breast.
Then I saw and considered it well: I looked upon it, and
received instruction....Prov, xxiv. 32.
OBSERVATION is the life of understanding. Experience is the joy of faith. Learning good from others' harms is true wisdom. Can we look around us among the circle of our professing acquaintance, and not see the awful effects of slothfulness in the ways of God? What supine indolence to the cause of Jesus, and careless indifference as to the health and prosperity of the soul, do we behold! A very affecting description of this the Spirit of wisdom here presents to our view: “ I went by the field of the slothful, (the once seem ingly growing and shining professor) and lo, it was all grown over with thorns, (the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, has choked the word....Matt. xiii. 22.) and nettles has covered the face thereof;" (the rank weeds of corrupt lusts, sensual gratifications, carnal pleasures and delights overspread the life and conduct); - the stone wall of the vineyard is broken down;" (the soul lying open and unfenced against the incursion of the beasts of prey, Satan, the men of this world, carnal company; senseless of its danger, and slothful to all means of deliverance, the poor soul composes itself with) " yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep.” Is not this a striking, though awful likeness? Do we not almost daily behold its original? How melancholy the sight! how alarming the conduct! how dreadful the sentence! “So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth (with speed); and thy want as an armed man," (being without power thou canst not withstand it). See this, O soul! remember thy calling is to diligence. “Consider it well," (what sad effects spiritual sloth produce !) “Look upon it, .(as a frame and temper of soul to be constantly dreaded, and earnestly prayed against); receive instruction:” “For whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning.” To what end? To shew what has happened to others, “are ensamples to us, and for our admonition; upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.” ....1 Cor. x. 11, 12. The apostle speaks of “ things that accompany salvation.”.... Heb. vi. 9. " Diligence in the ways of God is one of these things ; without this we cannot enjoy the full assurance of hope, that we are “ followers of them who, through faith and patience, do now inherit the promises."
[eyes, I love the volumes of thy word; Thy threat'nings ake my slumb'ring What light and joy these leaves afford And warn me where my danger lies:,
To souls benighted and distrest! But 'tis thy blessed gospel, Lord, Thy precepts guide my doubtful way, That makes my guilty conscience clean, Thy fear forbids my feet to stray, Converts my soul, subdaes my sin,.'.
Thy promise leads my heart to rest. And gives a free but large reward.,