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And the children struggled together within her: and she
said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the Lord....Gen. xxv. 22.
Very uncommon and extraordinary was the case of Rebekah: inward commotion and strong contention, between the fruit of her body, alarmed her greatly: each threatening death to the other, and herself also. Happy her conduct. In this distress she seeks satisfaction from the Lord. A noble instance of faith and familiarity with the God of Israel. This also was written for our learning: a very just and striking emblem is this of the christian. As verily as Jacob and Esau were in the womb of Rebekah, so is the christain the subject of two contending parties, the old and new man, flesh and Spirit. The life of each is opposite to the other; each is striving for the mastery over the other. Here is the daily conflict of disciples.
To good and evil equal bent;
Sinful in nature, yet a saint. How does the poor groaning, burdened sinner act? Like himself, a believer on Jesus. With Rebekah, he goes to his COUNSELLOR, be enquires of the Lord Jesus. Is he like Paul in conflict of soul crying out,“O wretched man that I am?" Yea, like Rebekah, is he sometimes weary of his life, because of the daughters of Heth, the numerous progeny of corrupt lusts of the flesh! Here is an evidence of his spiritual life: this is a full proof of the strugglings of a sanctified soul. Though the poor heart may cry out, I a saint, I a member of the Holy Jesus, I a child of God! O, surely it cannot be." If so, why am I thus?"
Know, O soul, that it pleased the Father that all fulness of grace should dwell in Jesus. He suffered thy fall into this state that he might raise thee by Jesus; and he is.pleased: to leave thy sinful nature vile and corrupt as he found it, until it shall be “ sown a vile body.” Thou art like Rebekah groaning and waiting to be delivered. Suffice it, that thou live by faith in Jesus; " wait in hope for the adoption, namely, the redemption of our body." ....Rom. viii. 23. Know thou art called in love, daily to “put off the old man with his deeds....to mortify the flesh with its affections and lusts.". But yet always to reckon thyself after Christ, in thy new state, possessed of perfect righteousness and true holiness. Ever accepted IN HIM, God's beloved Son; thy beloved head, surety, and Saviour: IN HIM ever acceptable to thy God. Thus the Lord thy God ever delights in thee, and rejoiceth over thee; sees no spot of sin, but adorned with perfect beauty. Such are the glorious views of faith, in opposition to all sense and feeling. So, shortly shalt thou be presented to the Father by Jesus, perfectly holy and without blemish, “not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing."....Eph. v. 27.
We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were
dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens....2 Cor. v. 1.
It is the grand device of that arch-deceiver, satan, to represent the religion of Jesus as tending to melancholy, gloom, and sadness; but daily experience proves the reverse; for under a sense of a crazy, disordered body, from views of its approaching dissolution, with thoughts of its being shortly committed to the silent grave, who can put on an air of composure, joy, and delight; except the christian ? Who such cause for continual felicity, as he who knows his lease is well nigh expired of his present house, that shortly it is to be pulled down ; but yet, through the kindness and love of his heavenly Father, a free grant of his eternal inheritance is given him, “ of a house not made with hands?” What comfort must it yield to him to know the nature of the purchase, the certainty of its being obtained the price fully paid, the deeds signed and sealed, the conveyance legally made, his trustee, Jesus, actually being in possession; yea and “the earnest of his inheritance in his heart, by the Holy Ghost given funto him :" O, the inexpressible joy of this knowledge! All this we assuredly know by faith. Come, my brother mortal, is thy house like mine, ruined, crazy, and just ready to fall? O, let us daily be looking by faith, from Pisgah's top to the promised inheritance. Let us daily consider our approaching dissolution, that our hearts may more and more love and live with our dear Saviour, who has told us, I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again to receive you to myself: where I am, there shall you be also.”....John xiv. 2, 3.
Vain and trifling is all this perishing world has to offer, compared with the glory which shall shortly be revealed in us; yea, not to be set in competition with the grace that is now upon us. And what can deprive such an heir of his inheritance ? Shall sin? No ; that is fully atoned by the blood of Jesus.' Shall the world? No; he hath victory over that, by the faith of Jesus. Shall satan ? No; the “God of peace will bruise satan under his feet shortly."....Rom. xvi. 20. Shall the corruptions of his nature and the workings of unbelief? These may distress and make him groan; may deject with doubts; but shall not disinherit. For unbelief also is included in that precious promise, “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are under grace."....Rom. vi. 14. And all such are“ kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation."
There is a house not made with hands, Shortly this prison of my clay
Must be dissolv'd and fall;
Thy heav'nly Father's call.
They who feared the Lord, spake often one to another; the Lord hearkened and heard it....Mal. iii. 16.
The tongue, though but a little member, yet is capable of being employed to the best services, or to the worst purposes. We are assured he is a perfect man who offends not in word. He is a man after God's own heart who prays daily, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my Redeemer.”....Psalm xix. 14. “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge amongst you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.”....James iii. 13. Thus perfection, real godliness, and true wisdom are ascribed to our words and conversation. “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”....Matt. xii. 37. Most weighty considerations! Let us take heed that we offend not with our tongue. But most encouraging assurance, our God hearkens to his dear children when we converse together about his kingdom and glory, and our peace, edification, and holiness. Yea more: O, condescending love! “A book of remembrance was written before him of them who feared the Lord, and THOUGHT upon his name.” Is such kind notice taken of our converse? Then what emulation ought to fire us, that our tongues may edify and provoke each other to love and good works! What shame to christians, that they too often meet and talk, and their poor hearts are neither edified, warm. ed, or comforted! Why is this? Truly the end of their conversation, “ Jesus the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever," was not considered. He is always most worthy to be uppermost in our hearts and tongues. This, like a live coal from the altar, is the only fire to make cold hearts glow with love, and warm hearts burn with affection. The best news of the day, the fittest subject for conversation, is the rich, free, sovereign grace of our God, the love of Christ, the glad tidings of the gospel, the joyful news of salvation finished by Jesus. This we are going fully to enjoy. What then should we talk of by the way but this? O disciple, dost thou find a dull frame and a sad heart? therefore, sayest, I am unfit to converse of these things? This is really like staying from the fire, because cold, or abstaining from food, because hungry, Consider the conduct of the disciples. “ Jesus drew near to them, and asks, what manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?” ...Luke xxiv. 17. Though they had lost sight of Jesus, though their hearts were sad about it, yet they refrained not talking and communing about him. And he soon made their hearts burn within them. “Let your conversation be as becometh the gospel of Christa" ....Phil. i. 27.
I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her....Hosea ii. 14. *
CARNAL ease begets spiritual sloth. Outward prosperity often, brings leanness of soul. Worldly joys, vain pleasures, and sensual gratifications, are contrary to the spiritual delights, holy comforts, *and godly conversation of the soul. Of this observation we have awful evidence. Woeful experience proves it. It is seldom seen that the church of Christ in general, or individual members thrive and prosper in soul, when all without is easy, prosperous, and joyful to the flesh. Like “ Jeshurun, we wax fat and kick, forsake God, and lightly esteem the rock of our salvation.”.... Deut. xxxii. 15. '
But the head of his church, ever jealous for his own glory, ever watchful in love over his own members, will not suffer them to perish with a surfeit from worldly kindness. They shall rather bleed by the loving stroke of his hand, than fall a sacrifice to the world and the flesh. Earthly plants droop and wither by too great heat from the sun: so spiritual plants hang ther heads and decline under the warm sunshine of prosperity. “But,” saith the Lord, who delights in the spiritual prosperity of his people, “I will allare them to myself; i will persuade of the evil of forsaking me, the fountain of living waters, and hewing out to themselves broken cisterns that will hold no water.” The world, with all its gaudy show and glittering vanities, I will persuade them from. I will allure to myself the fountain of real happiness, the source of solid comfort, the centre of all felicity. The Saviour, who was led into the wilderness to be tempted for the soul, will lead the soul into the wilderness to wean it from its carnal delights. In a solitary, desolate wilderness, there is nothing grows to please the flesh, but all is irksome and disagreeable to nature. Here nó path to direct from danger and invite to safety is found. Here wild beasts of prey roam. Here the welcome footsteps of the traveller cannot be traced. Here nought but dreary dread and constart fears haunt the mind. 'Just so is a wilderness-state of soul; O, what fears and sorrows pursue it! How perplexed about the way, from danger to safety! How gloomy, sad, and dejected is the heart! O, in such a state how ready the soul to hear! O, how doth God there' teach the soul the profitable lesson of consideration! Former follies are reflected on with shame, pasto conduct is mourned over, worldly objects rejected with contempt, the soul brought again to thirst after God; Jesus and salvation becomes its cry again. 0, that it were with me as in months past! This is right. The Saviour loves to hear his members thus bemoaning themselves. . Then is their ear open, and their heart attentive to his voice; and he will speak, not what she deserves, wrath; but comfortably unto her heart; “ Fear not, I am thy God, and thy great salvation.". Vol. I.
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and
every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord....Jer. xxxi. 34.
The outward teaching of the word is to be prized. Diligent attendance on gospel-preaching is by no means to be neglected. Faithful ministers of Jesus are to be esteemed highly in love for their works' sake. Christian conversation is to be valued: none of these are here spoken against by our Lord. No; his appointing teachers, the Spirit's owning and blessing the word by them to the instruction and conversion of souls, plainly prove the contrary. But Jesus, the substance, being come, teaching by types and shadows should be no more. Men shall not teach one another by pretended revelations: but the ministration of the Spirit should take place of the ministration of the letter. Such should be the effusion of the Spirit after the ascension of Jesus; that he should enlighten with his power and teach with his energy all the children of God. Every believer in Jesus has this unction of the Holy Spirit, which teacheth him all things....1 John ii. 20. Hence the babe in Christ, as well as the father, is taught by the same divine Lord to know Jesus as the only and alone Saviour, the virtue of his precious blood, the perfection of his atonement, the glory of his righteousness, and the completeness of his salvation; taught to believe in his blessed name, and love his adorable person. O believer, is this absolute declaration, they shall all know me,” thy mercy? Jehovah speaks with the voice of omnipotence. The Lord effects by the power of his sovereignty, THEY SHALL all know me: are ALL men thus taught of God? Do ALL men know the Lord? We cannot say so. We dare not think so. The contrary is too evident. This teaching, this knowledge, is not general and universal, but special and peculiar to God's people only, Therefore his grace proved effectual to thy calling, thy teaching. How vain, how fruitless would all other teachers have proved! but the work is his, the comfort thine. Ever reflect on the pride of thy nature, the obstinacy of thy will, the blindness of thy understanding, the desperate wickedness and unbelief of thy heart, and bow to his sovereignty. Give the Spirit all the glory, for what thou knowest of Jesus as thy hope and salvation. Now there is an essential difference between BELIEVING and KNOWING. All men believe there is a God. But to know God is peculiar to regenerate souls. And this is the comforting criterion, to know him as our own sin-forgiving God: for he adds, “ I will forgive their iniquity; I will remember their sin no more." We bless the prophet of the Lord Hosanna to thy glorious name, That comes with truth and grace:
Who callid us by thy grace; Jesus, thy Spirit and thy word Thy mercies lay a sov'reign claim Doth teach us in thy ways.
To our immortal praise.