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66 The ways

Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee : in whose heart are the ways of them....Psalm lxxxiv. 5.

Whún hearts are united in love there is a mutual complacency and delight in each other. Presence increaseth pleasure, absence begets uneasiness, jealousy of displeasing and fear of offending mutually subsist in each party. In some sense this holds good between the beloved soul and the loving Lord. All 'love is from him; and as rivers from the sea return back to the great ocean, so the love which comes from God naturally flows back in complacency and affection of soul to him. To know God is to love him; both for what he is in himself, and what he is to us in Christ Jesus. The poor sinner who knows that he is in himself “ without strength,” rejoiceth at his very soul to know that the omnipotent Jesus is his strength; that all his might and power to strive against sin, to resist satan, to overcome the world, is from above; it is treasured up in Jesus, and out of his fulness he is strengthened by the power of the Spirit through faith.

But is the converted heart a mere vacuum, like an empty vessel? No, truly; Jesus dwells there by faith. , It is a fit habitation for the Spirit, and the love of the Father is shed abroad in it. of them,” even. Father, Son, and Spirit dwell in the heart. Then the way of everlasting love and eternal election is delighted in; the way of free grace and complete salvation by Jesus is gloried in; the way of atonement by his precious blood, the way of justification and clothing of poor sinners by his perfect righteousness are wholly trusted to and rejoiced in. The gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, as flowing from Jesus' finished work, in making the soul inwardly holy, and outwardly obedient to the Lord; in comforting and rejoicing the heart by the testimony of Jesus, are more and more sought after; and the hopes and views of glory in this sovereign, free, gracious way, are longed for and expected. Blessed, Oman, art thou indeed! Blessed of thy God! Blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus! Blessed, not for days, months, and years; but loved from eternity, and blessed to eternity! Thy Lord hath blessed thee and he will not reverse it. Real godliness consists not merely in a system of notions in the head, but in the in-dwelling presence of Jehovah in the heart. Is this thy happiness, O sinner? What love hath the great God to vile man! He dwelt in flesh FOR US. He saith also, I will dwell in them, and walk in them."....2 Cor. vi. 16. How well thy blessed truths agree! Should all the forms that men devise, How wise and holy thy commands ! Assault my faith with treach'rous art, Thy promises how firm they be ! I'd call them vanity and lies, How firm our hope and comfort stands! And bind the gospel to my heart. VOL. I.

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The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want....Psa.m xxiii. i.

All comfort is derived to the soul from the knowledge of what Jehovah is to us. This we know by the word of truth, and enjoy in the sweet exercise of faith. “ I am the good shepherd," saith Jesus....John X. 11. Thou art my shepherd; says the believing soul. Thus, whatever office or character Jesús sustains, it is the glory of faith not only to view the Lord as “such, but to draw sweet peace and comfort from it to one's own heart: that thou art to IMES David knew the duty of a shepherd by experience. How watchful to preserve from danger, and how careful to guide and feed the sheep committed to his trust! But herein is the peculiar love of the shepherd of our souls; he “ gave his life for his sheep." And after such love manifested to them, shall they want either his power to protect, or his grace to supply their need? No, that is impossible.3

But a sheep is a silly weak creature; it often bleats and makes a noise when it wants nothing; so do we. Though it knows its shep, herd, and hears his voice, still it is naturally prone to wander from rich and green pastures, to break out of the fold, and, if left to itself, would leap into the very jaws of its enemy: so foolish are we alsó. Hence arises our distress; for when we look to what we are in ourselves, and lose sight of the love and care of our dear 'shepherd, we cast our eyes around us, and call in this distressing thought and the other distracting care. Hence we often send forth the bleatings of unbelief, and cry out, “ We shall certainly perish for want of supply and assistance.” But where is the Lord our shepherd? Alas! we forget his dying love, his covenant engagements, his watchful care; we listen not enough to the sweet voice of our shepherd, but to the enemy, who speaks terror; and our poor hearts are affrighted and tremble. But in opposition to all that sin, satan; and the law can say or do against us, “The voice of the Lord is a mighty voices the voice of the Lord hath the pre-eminence.” And Jesus qur shep herd saith, “I give unto my sheep....what? Grace, upon condition that they will continue to be my sheep, hear my voice, and follow me?" Infinitely more: security stronger than the mountains; .com fort more unfathomable than the great deep. “I know my sheep;"? my Father gave them unto me: I lay down my life for them. Shal! the enemy rob me of one of my purchased ones, or my dear Father of one of the objects of his love? No: they shall never want my Spirit to keep, to quicken, to comfort, and enable them to persevere till they receive the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall NEVER perish, neither shall ANY pluck them out of my hand."....John X. 28.

Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of

heaven...,Matt. y. 3. - In the day of the Spirit's power" the lofty looks of man are humbled, the haughtiness of man is bowed down, and the Lord

adone is exalted in that day."...Isa. ii. 11. Then, a man's own righteousness, wherein he trusted, is seen as filthy rags. His strength he boasted of, is found to be perfect weakness; his heart, in which he gloried as good, is found to be deceitful and desperately wicked. Then he becomes in his own eyes a POOR SINNER. He knows his poverty; he feels his wretchedness. Thus, when Jesus alone is exalted in his sight, he becomes little, vile, and mean in his own eyes; then he is poor in spirit, a mere' BEGGAR, who must be wholly indebted to free-grace bounty and free-gift mercy, Though he sees his state to be guilty, wretched, and desperate, yet he is blessed: Why so? Merely because he sees and knows himself to be wretched, poor, miserable, blind, and naked? Alas! this knowledge, like Job's friends, would prove but as a miserable comforter. to his soul. He can no more trust in his known poverty and rags to entitle him to the kingdom, than in his fancied robes and riches. But such are blessed or happy, because the grace of the kingdom is in their hearts now, and theirs is the kingdom of heaven in glory." Most joyful consideration! They are chosen to it by the love of the father, they are blessed in Christ Jesus with all spiritual blessings; and, as an evidence of this, the Holy Spirit bestows on them “ wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus; he enlightens the eyes of their understanding; then they know what is the hope of their calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints."....Eph. i. 17, 18. How unspeakably bles sed! How immensely rich are the ppor in spirit! " Having nothing in themselves, yet possessing all things in Christ Jesus.”

It is usual, in worldly commerce, where a person's credit is not established, to yaluę himself upon the credit of some rich person; so he gains credit and repute. Thus the poor sinner values himself upon the riches of Jesus Christ for all.esteem and acceptance in the sight of God, and herein we have confidence for all things. Who is our wisdom? Jesus. Who is our righteousness? Jesus. Who is our sanctification? Jesus. Who is our redemption? Jesus. He is our glory, our crown, our hope, and our daily rejoicing. Here, O soul, is thy precious inventory! Read' it, and rejoice at thy riches. “ All things are yours :" ministers, the world, life, death, things present, things to come, are all yours. Why? because you are faithful to grace, and have fulfilled terms and conditions to gain or secure the favor of God? No: infinitely higher cause; “ Ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's."....1 Cor. iii. 23.

Likewise reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin; but alive unto God through Jesus Christ.... Rom. vi. 11.

THERE is a death in sin which we are all naturally under. There is a death For sin; this our dear Saviour (we can never think of it too much, nor mention it too often) suffered for on the tree. And there is a death unto sin, which every believing member of Jesus partakes of, by virtue of union to him. For when Jesus died: for sin on the cross, all his members were mystically considered in him, and dying in him, as their covenant head and representative, unto sin. And, by communion with Jesus, the same Spirit which raised up Jesus the head, dwells in the mortal bodies of his believing members, quickening them to newness of life. From hence the apostle would have such reckon, infer, or conclude themselves “to be dead indeed unto sin.” And on the same account, and for the same reason, “ alive unto God, through Jesus Christ.”

Now, believer, how dost thou reckon, reason, and conclude of thy spiritual estate? because thou dost not find all sin dead in thee, but feelest the motions of sin stirring and raging for the mastery over thee, dost thou from hence judge of thy state, and conclude thou hast not the faith of God's elect? Alas! this will distress thy soul, weaken thy confidence of faith, administer life and vigour to thy sins and lusts, and bring death upon thy spiritual life of comfort, love, and holiness. The word of God is the only rule of our faith; by that we are to determine of our state. Though sin be alive in thee, yet thou art to reckon thyself dead to that, so as to have nothing to do with it. Though thou groanest under “a body of death," yet thou art to conclude thyself “ alive unto God through Jesus Christ." Reckon thyself dead to that sin of sins, UNBELIEF. This is the life of all other sins. Be deaf to its reasonings, dead to its pleas. Both dishonor thy Lord, and rob thy soul of its comfort.

Here is the mystery of faith. This is to be held in a pure conscience. There is a freedom from sin; of access to God with boldness, Here is the victory of saints. Here is the triumph of truth against all our enemies, to the death of sin and the life of holiness. Hence, through the Spirit of truth springs our daily comfort, continued growth in grace, in the knowledge of Jesus, and in personal holiness of life and conversation.

Do we not know that solemn word, So from the grave did Christ arise,
That we are bury'd with the Lord, And lives to God above the skies.
Baptiz'd into his death, and then

No more let sin and satan reign
Put off the body of our sin?

Over our mortal flesh again;
Our souls receive diviner breath, The various lusts we serv'd before,
Rais'd from corruption guilt and death; Shall have dominion now no more.

7

For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God

by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life... Rom. v. 10., ***Near twenty years ago, upon hearing a certain preacher vehemently assert, “that souls might be justified by faith in Jesus, and yet afterwards burn in hell," my soul was brought into great dark: ness, perplexity, and distress. Glory to my dear Lord, by this very text he again restored light, peace, and joy to my soul, and clearly taught and comfortably established me in the scriptural doctrine of the certain perseverance of all God's saints to eternal glory. I record this to the praise of our dear Lord, and to the comfort of his people.

If when we were enemies :”....to whom? Our worst foe, satan? No: but to our best friend, God: the God of our salvation ; to Jesus our God and Saviour;' to God the Spirit our sanctifier ; to the gospel of his grace, and word of our salvation. O, what a precious word is this ! reconciled to God."God in Christ was reconciled to us. O, what love and grace ever dwelt in his heart to us enemies, traitors, and rebels against him! this he manifested in reconciling us to himself. How? “By the death of his Son." O, my fellow sinners! at every step let higher wonder rise in your hearts and mine. The cross of Jesus, what hath it done for us! Jesus dying on the cross ! 0, what hath it effected in US ! Here we view, believe, and know the love God hath to'us. This belief slays the enmity of our rebellious hearts ; bows our stubborn wills, and attracts our alienated affections. We throw down our arms, embrace our reconciled God, desire for ever to cease all hostility against him. “ Much more being reconciled” to God's purposes, providence, and grace ; his way of salvation by his Soni Jesus, submitting to his righteousness for justification, to his sceptre to be governed, to his Spirit to be led, and to his gospel to be saved and ruled. What then? Being thus reconciled, may we not be cast off at last, and burn in hell for ever? Yes, if Jesus' can die, perish, and be annihilated; but not otherwise. For, “how much more shall we be saved by his life !". By faith we receive the atonement of his death. This is the life of our souls. By his life of intercession for us, we are as safe and" as sure of glory, 'as though we were already seated in the heavenly mansions : unless Christ shed his blood in vain, God reconciles us to himself in vain; our faith is vain; the work of God's Spirit is in vain; and all the promises of God are in vain, and of no effect. But all this is utterly impossible. God's purpose according to election shall stand, not of works, but of him who calleth....Rom ix. 11.

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