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The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are ': the children of God....Rom. viii. 16.
THESE words dropt not from the pen of a saint in a state of sinless perfection; nor is this invaluable privilege, this heavenly blessing, peculiar to the experience of Paul the apostle, but to Paul, less than the least of all saints, and chief of all sinners," as he confesseth himself to be. It hath been enjoyed by poor sinners, through faith in Jesus, in all ages; it is the common privilege of all christians. We may well cry out in astonishment with Solomon, “ But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? Behold heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee.”....2 Chron. vi. 18. Amazing condescension! “ Lord what is man, sinful, helldeserving man, that thou shouldest thus visit him” with thy comforting presence! Delightful to think of. There is a sweet relation subsists between the high and lofty one and wretched miserable sinners. In Jesus they both unite. The fulness of the godhead, and the misery and curse of the manhood state of his people meet in him. From the head Jesus, the Spirit proceeds, and like the oil on Aaron's head descends to all the members. To their spirits he bears witness, agreeable to the word of truth, of their covenantrelation as children, adopted sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ. Let no believing soul be distressed or deluded by the deceiving of others, so as to expect a vision, manifestation, or revelation that may be seen, heard, or felt by the outward senses. No; the Spirit bears witness to our spirits, not to our senses! even as the law bears witness to the conscience that we are sinners, and works wrath there; so the blessed Spirit bears an inward witness to the mind, that we are the righteous children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus; that “he died for our sins and rose again for our justification;" that in him we are chosen, beloved, accepted, justified, pardoned, and shall be glorified with him. Thus saith Jesus, “He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.".. John xvi. 14.
See, O believer, the riches of covenant-grace! Admire and adore the wonderful love of the trinity! Hast thou received the witness of the Spirit of Jesus in the word through faith? Happy, highly favored art thou among men. Art thou waiting and longing for the promise of the Father? the joyful testimony and assurance of the Spirit to thy heart that thou art his child? It is sure; not because of any good thing naturally found in thee, but because Jesus intercedes before the throne. Therefore thou mayest pray in the assurance of faith, having this promise to all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, “ Your heavenly Father will give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him."....Luke xi. 13.
And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant. with them: for I am the Lord their God....Lev. xxvi. 44.
Can any child of God read his Father's awful threatenings in this chapter, and think light of sin? Can he count it a small thing to walk contrary to God's revealed mind and will? Indeed one would think it impossible; nor can we hardly believe any one who has known the true grace of God could read this verse and ever dare open his mouth and shoot his arrows of bitter words against the doctrines of everlasting, electing love, sovereign grace, and the certain şalvation of every redeemed soul. But alas! when the mouth of proud man is not held in by the bridle of humility, what awful, what horrid speeches will he dare to utter, even against the plain and express declarations of Jehovah himself! The rank weeds of natural notions are offensive to gracious souls. Pride, unbelief, and corrupt reason, mutually strengthen each other in carnal hearts, in enmity and opposition to free-grace truths. But what is a bone of contention to such, is wholesome comfortable food to self-emptied and humble souls, through the faith of Jesus.
To every self-abased soul, who has no hope but in the word of the Lord, no confidence but in the covenant-love of Jesus our Mediator, the Lord our God speaks thus comfortably; “ Though in the land," yea as thou often fearest, in the hand and under the power of thine enemy, O hear and rejoice! thy Lord saith, “ I will not cast away, abhor, utterly destroy.” Though thou hast broken the covenant, yet God will not. It is firm as the mountains; unshaken as the rocks. God will visit for sin, chastise for provocations, correct for backsliding. All this is covenant-love; but to cast away his children he will not: to abhor them he cannot; to destroy and punish them in hell is contrary to his truth, his justice, his promise, his oath, his covenant, established in love, and ratified by the blood of Jesus, his Son, our Saviour. What tongue saith, Is it so? Come then, let us sin with an high hand! Poor soul, thy speech bewrayeth thee. The sound of grace has only reached thine ear; but where it is known and felt in the heart, it speaks otherwise. God's free, loving, absolute declarations attract to love and obedience. The grace of God that brings salvation, teaches to deny all ungodliness, &c.... Tit. ii. 11, 12. ..
The promise of my Father's love.
Shall stand for ever good:
And seal'd the grace with blood.
To this dear cov'nant of thy word
I set my worthless name ;
And make my humble claim.
They shall put you out of the synagogues....John xvi. 2. .
So it must be in all ages. The scriptures cannot be broken. But what are the crimes of the ministers of Jesus, to deserve such usage? Is it for a life of intemperance and lewdness, of sin and folly, in frequenting play-houses, card-tables, routs, assemblies, horseracing? &c. No; friends of the Lamb have done with all such vain paltry matter. Their hearts feed upon infinitely higher delights, and their time is too precious to be devoted to sacrifice upon the altars of heathenish vanities. For these things they might gain no censure, but keep their places in the synagogues, and their characters in the world as good, honest, orthodox preachers, and stand free from the charge of mopish, dreaming enthusiasts; chief priests themselves being judges.
But they stand arraigned of crimes of the highest nature, even of . inverting the very order of things; “ turning the world upside down;" " preaching one Jesus who was hanged upon a tree,”.... Acts x. 39.... as the sinner's only hope and salvation. That hence glory is given to : God in the highest s peace on earth, and good-will to men is proclaimed ..... that the whole of salvation is of God's free grace and unmerited love. From this charge faithful ministers of Christ will not desire to be acquitted. Love to their precious master, to his blessed truth,, to his dear people, inspires them with boldness. It is, the highest honor, the greatest glory Jesus puts upon them, when they are called to suffer for this. “ Yea, saith our Lord, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think he doth God service." Zeal for God is a pretence for persecution. But what is our Lord's reason? “ These things will they do unto you, because they have not. KNOWN THE FATHER NOR ME.” But he observed that on hearing these things, sorrow filled his disciples hearts. Sympathizing Lord! he instantly gives them a promise....of what? Power to call fire from heaven to destroy their adversaries? No; quite the reverse; of a. blessed, inward comforter, THE DOVE. He was to teach them to act with meekness, and in patience to possess their souls. See the Spirit's influence in the conduct of Peter and John, and their courage. and constancy in the cause of their dear master.... Acts iv. Their very enemies, who commanded them not to preach in the name of Jesus, saw their boldness with wonder, and were silenced with their reasoning. Admire and imitate, O ye suffering servants of a once, suffering Lord. “How forcible are right words !"....Job vi. 25. How prevailing is a meek spirit! Peter and John said, “ Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye!" “ And the apostles departed from the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.".... Acts v. 41.
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole
world and lose his own soul ? Or what shall a mun give in erchange for his soul ? ....Mark viii. 36, 37.
Hast thou heard the voice of thy beloved? art thou a willing disciple of a despised master? But does the flesh shrink from, murs mur and reason against taking up the cross daily, “and suffering the loss of all things ?” Listen, O soul, to the reasonings of WISDOM, Though the followers of the Lamb are counted fools and madmen, yet their dear master here teaches them such reasoning and argument, drawn from the nature and fitness of things, as will in a dying hour, and at the judgment-day, silence the tongue of every adversary. Ever use thy master's weapon. Reason daily, O, christian, upon, thy spiritual gain, by the knowledge of Jesus. Study to look with contempt upon thy trifling worldly loss. What is all the wisdom of this world but folly? the righteousness of the whole world, but filthy rags? the hopes of a fallen world, but miserable delusion? the pleasures of a gay world, but vanity.? the riches of the world, but deceitfulness? the honors of the world, but an empty sound? All these, though possessed and enjoyed, cannot profit the soul.
Nay, rather like Job's friends, they often only prove miserable comforters, distress the mind, but can never bring comfort to the soul. Though often set by the enemy before our eyes in the most conspicuous view and advantageous light, as satan tempted our Lord; yet, is there any comparison between an eternal gain and a temporal. loss? Verily, one moment's communion with Jesus by faith, infinitely transcends a whole life of threescore years and ten, spent in all the glory and happiness this whole world can yield. O, this one. word, "thou fool, this hour thy soul is required of thee,” is a deathstroke to all worldly enjoyments.
What then can be placed in competition with an “exceeding and an eternal weight of glory?" How great is the worth of the soul! it is immortal. How rich the love of God! it is everlasting. How transcendent the love of Jesus! it passeth knowledge. How amazing the grace of the Holy Ghost! it proceeds from both. It is through his power any poor sinner is able to say, • What things were gain to me, those I count loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless; and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus: my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count ; them dung, that I may win Christ and be found in him," &C....Phil. iii. 7, 8, 9.
When I survey the wond'rous cross
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our:
Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world....Gal. vi. 14. Satan is very busy to hinder the christian's glorying in Jesus
As an adversary to the truth, he objects, by the men of the world, and it is frequently suggested to the believer's mind, “ Jesus is ever uppermost in your heart and tongue; you ascribe no glory to God the Father, and to the holy Spirit.” But this is vain and ignorant; for in our crucified Jesus we behold the great love of the Father. Our glorying in the cross of Christ alone, is by the grace and teaching of the Holy Spirit, whose office it is to testify of Jesus ONLY, and of salvation by none other; so saith our Lord, “ He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you."...John xvi. 14.
God forbid that any man upon earth, all the devils in hell, all the lusts in our nature, or unbelief of our hearts, should corrupt our minds from the simplicity of Christ, or prevent our glorying in our ever dear, ever lovely Jesus of Nazareth; for he hung on the accursed tree, with all our guilt, and sin, and shame, in hismaked, exposed body. Was he ashamed to own our vile characters, or love our sinful persons? No: shall we be ashamed to own and confess his innocent person, his glorious name, his gracious words, his accursed death, his perfect salvation? Surely then the very stones in the street would cry out against us. And Jesus says, “ whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."....Mark viii. 38. To expect salvation from no other, and all salvation from this man JESUS, this fellow, this malefactor, as the Jews accounted him, as suffering, dying on the cross, a gibbet, a gallows; this is the very essence of the gospel, the glory of God's grace, the wonder of angels, and the envy of devils; this is the only hope of a poor humble sinner, and the triumph of faith.
Who can fully describe the blessedness of Jesus-glorifying souls ! Aš they find and feel new life from his cross, they experience a crucifixion and death to all legal hopes and vain confidence, which a self-righteous world glory in. From the cross of Jesus they view the world with all its pomps and pleasures, riches and honors, glory and happiness, as accursed, sentenced and devoted to destruction. Therefore, as crucified persons by the faith of Jesus, we die daily to the world. “ Christ is our life.”...,Col. iii. 4.
Our faith adores thy bleeding love, Let the vain world pronounce it shame, And trusts for life in one that dy'd; And Aing their scandals on the cause ! We hope for heavenly crowns above, We come to boast our Saviour's name. From a Redeemer crucified.
And make our triumphs in his cross.