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And Mary halh chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her....Luke x. 42.
What the Lord said of Aaron's rod, is true of the hearts of all his elect: “The man's rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom."... Numb. xvii. 5. To see a dead withered stick, cut off from the root, bring forth blossoms, is a miracle in nature. So when the soul of a once dead sinner shoots forth the blossoms of affection to, and chooses Jesus as its portion and happiness, and brings forth fruits of holiness; this is a miracle of grace.
'The love of Jesus to his people was not only conceived in his heart from eternity, but was manifested in his life and death in time. So when our hearts are made acquainted with the love of Jesus, it cannot be hid. When Jesus is chosen as our treasure, our affections cleave to him, we follow him; our delight is to hear his voice, to sit at his feet, and attend upon the gracious words which drop from his lips. Blessed be his name, he indulges his people now with spiritual, real communion with him; though we enjoy not his bodily presence. This is our heaven upon earth. But it differs from the heaven of glory in this; because here are many things that interrupt our constant enjoyment of Jesus....satan envies it....the flesh lusteth against it....the world, with its profits and pleasures, tends to allure us from it. And indeed the poor heart is oft times ready to fear it shall lose Jesus' grace and salvation. Though, like MARY, the soul hath chosen the good part in time, yet it sometimes doubts of the enjoyment of its portion in a blissful eternity. But that is impossible; because Jesus is God, and it is impossible for God to lie. But had not Martha also a part in this one thing needful? Doubtless. But still she was ever careful, and too much cumbered about other things. This our Lord reproves. The same grace which was effectual in Mary's heart, influences the heart of every disciple to the same choice; therefore what Jesus said to her in the days of the flesh, is wrote by his Spirit for our consolation and establishment in faith and love. Mary displayed the greatness of her soul in being satisfied with no object short of Jesus, and the humility of her heart in sitting at his feet. Poor doubting, fearing believer, thy choice of Jesus is the effect of God's choosing thee in Jesus; therefore thy good part, thy happy choice, shall never be taken from thee; but thou shall soon hear the voice of thy beloved, saying, “Come up hither." “Where I am there shall my servants be. If any man serve me, him will my Father honor.”....John xii. 26.
Thus saith the wisdom of the Lord, The soul that seeks me shall obtain
Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son
Jesus Christ.....1 John i. 3.
The prophet asks, “cannot two walk together, except they be agreed ?".... Amos iii. 3. No. There can be no sweet conimunion, no comfortable fellowship between God and man, except they be agreed. See then, O soul, this fellowship is enjoyed by faith: for by faith we are brought into agreement with God. Consider, how the glorious THREE Concur to make our souls thus happy. It pleased God the Father, that all fulness should dwell in his Son. He determined to display all his grace and glory in the MAN Jesus, for the sinner's salvation....Hence he saith to us, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, HEAR YEHIM.” But we are averse to agree with God and to hear Jesus. We had rather have fellow.ship with the unfruitful works of darkness, and that the devil should rule over us; than that Jesus should have the whole glory of saving us by his grace. But the dear Spirit loves us with equally the same love as the Father and the Son doth. He takes the scales of ignorance from our eyes, and the veil of unbelief from our hearts; then we fall in love with Jesus' precious person. He convinces us of our sin and misery. O, then we gladly hear and joyfully receive Jesus to be our Saviour. Then we come to the exact point where the Father meets' us and embraces us, even in his Son Jesus. He saith to us, O my blessed sons! All I have is yours. We say to him, O our loving Father! All we are is thine. And just as children of one family have sweet communion, loving intercourse, and agreeable fellowship with each other, and with their common parents; so have we with our heavenly Father, and our dear brother, Jesus, in our spirits. He speaks to us; we hear and obey. We pray to him ; he hears and
We have fellowship in the Father's everlasting love; in the Son's everlasting righteousness, atonement, salvation, and intercession, through the Spirit's everlasting consolation. O, what astonishing grace! (, what wonder of love is this! Sinners of a mortal race enjoy close fellowship and intimate communion with the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity. This is our highest felicity below. Here we admire, adore, and love. Angels behold with wonder and joy our conversion to it. But this fills with envy and fires with rage, the infernal spirits. They hate THE TRUTH, and oppose our knowledge and enjoyment of it. Though satan is not acquainted with our sweet fellowship, yet he sees we are not delighted to have fellowship with him in unfruitful works of darkness. Hence he is our adversary. And all the world, who are under his influence, he stirs up with implacable enmity against us. But what of all this ! Faith is our victory. And as this fellowship is begun in faith ; so the holy Spirit will maintain it in the soul by faith below, till we come to the fullest enjoyment of God and the Lamb above.
That we might have strong consolation, who have fled for. refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before us.... Heb. vi. 18.
Man is equally fallen from God with the devil. There is only this difference between them; sovereign grace provides hope for men, and not for devils. Jesus is the only hope for lost sinners.' To him the heirs of promise flee. In him they find a refuge from every danger. Like the man-slayer under the law, who was in danger of death on every side, and no way of safety but in the city of refuge, which God appointed for him. Here his life was safe. The law of God was his protection. No one durst take vengeance on him. Such was God's provision for him. Infinitely superior are the settlements of grace. The salvation of the soul, with eternal life and glory are for ever secured to us by God's immutable counsel, his inviolable promises.... Yea more, God has pledged himself; he hath confirmed all by his oath. O, the cursed nature of unbelief! It makes the God of truth a liar: it would prove the God of faithfulness perjured. O, the devilish nature of pride! It would share in the glory of salvation; it disowns our damned state; and therefore denies the sovereignty of grace. Pride rises into wrath at distinguishing grace, that God should bestow his favor upon whom he pleaseth, , which he owes to no one. For who hath deserved his grace ? Glory to the rich grace of our God, a present refuge, a present hope are freely set before us; and strong consolation enjoyed by us now.
Are the eyes of our understanding enlightened to see Jesus, the hope of our calling? the insufficiency of every other hope? Have we fled from every refuge of lies to Jesus, and laid hold on him by faith as our only hope? This is by the grace of the holy Spirit. He is our comforter. He administers strong consolation to our souls from Jesus. The immutability of God's counsel; and the confirmation of his oath” center in JESUS. See thy distinguishing grace, O believer, and rejoice. Not only safe, but happy; not only secure, but joyful. This is grace upon grace. Not only glory in reversion, but grace in possession. You see your calling, brethren; and the riches of your inheritance with all saints. These are your strong holds, ye prisoners of hope. Though imprisoned in a body of sin and death; exposed to unbelieving doubts and fears; liable to sore trials and conflicts with your adversary, satan; yet ever consider this; nothing but consolation, strong consolation awaits you in Christ Jesus. He is your constant refuge, your only hope: “ Abide in me," saith the Lamb. He would have us be simple of heart; so shall we be joyful in Spirit. For verily, if we look to any other object but Jesus, we shall smart for it. We can draw comfort from no other. In Jesus we can triumph with joy; and challenge with confidence “who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect.".... Rom. viii. 33. . . . .
Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.... Matt.xxvi. 56.
On reading this, who can refrain from crying out, “Lord, what is man!" What danger am I in! Lord, keep me! What awful effects have a fit of fear and a frame of unbelief produced? Here was the beloved disciple John, who lay in the bosom of Jesus'; the courageous PETER, who was to die with him; the ambitious JAMES, who requested to sit at his right hand in his kingdom; with every one of the other disciples, forsaking and flying from innocence in distress. The shepherd was seized, and the affrighted sheep were instantly scattered. Provoking ingratitude! Dost thou think, O my soul, thou wouldst have acted one whit better? Verily, if so thou art vain. Now if Jesus had chosen them, and continued to love them, on condition of their faithful conduct towards him, this single instance was sufficient to turn his love to hatred, his election of them into reprobation, and casting them off for ever.
What then becomes of terms and conditions of salvation?' The , notion eclipses God's glory; feeds pride; shackles the faith of sin
If our dear Saviour was to judge of and determine the state of his disciples from their outward conduct as we too, too oft do by ourselves, might he not reason thus concerning them? “What treachery and deceit have I met with from these wretches! While in my greatest agonies, they were destitute of the least sympathizing spirit: they indulged sleep, instead of granting one friendly request, to watch with me one hour: though thrice awaked by me, yet they shewed no regard for me. At supper they all promised to go to prison and death with me. Here is one rash fellow hath cut off an ear; and now, upon the very first sight of danger, as though they had all combined together, they are all fled from me; and soon, the most daring of them all will with horrid oaths and curses deny that he knows me.” Might we not expect to hear our Lord's sentence, “Cut them asunder, and divide them their portion with hypocrites?" It must be so, if salvation résted upon terms and conditions. But no; grace reigns; not for days' and years, but to eternal life. Astonishing as their ingratitude, highly provoking as their conduct was to Jesus, yet more astonishing his love, and higher his mercy surmounts than all their offences. Hence, amazing to read, the very first message Christ sends is full of love and fraught with affection. “Love covers a multitude of sins." Not one word of upbraiding; but, “Go and tell my brethren,” &c. Surely,' O Jesu, never was love like thine! What! brethren still? Yes; the bond of union, the dear relation ever subsists; nor sin, nor death, nor hell, shall ever destroy it. But, О christian, under a sense of base ingratitude to, and forsaking of Jesus, what wounds so deep as love? What humiliation, what repentings does love kindle in the heart? “Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation.”....2 Cor. vii. 10.
Charity shull cover the multitude of sins....1 Pet. iv. 8.
Many sinners have and do awfully deceive their poor souls by a sad perversion of these words. For they suppose that being charitable to the poor will cover the multitude of their sins from the sight of a holy, sin-avenging God. O fatal mistake! Hence they are encouraged in their sinful practices, from such a vain, unscriptural notion. It is thy mercy, believer, to be delivered from such delusion, by the truth as it is in Jesus. For to atone for sin was his blessed work. He hath done it effectually by shedding his precious blood. And every believer in Jesus is the only blessed man, whose sins are covered by his all-perfect righteousness. Here is the true source and spring of charity, or rather Love, love to God and man. “We love God, because he first loved us.".... 1 John iv. 19. And through the faith of this we obey his commandment, “ Love one another."
Of this charity, or love, the most excellent things are spoken.... 1 Cor. xii. It is in the heart of every believer. Love influences to put the best constructions upon the behaviour of others: to hide their faults with a veil of charity; to cast a mantle of kindness over their failings. Like the painter, who drew the picture of Alexander with his finger on the scar in his face: so love has a kind finger to hide the scars and, blemishes, and to cover the sins of others. Love sees no faults. See it exemplified in that most illustrious exemplar of charity, Jesus. In his deep and distressing agonies and conflicts in the garden, when one would have thought his dear disciples could not be so regardless of his sufferings, so deaf to his request, as not to watch with him one hour. But, instead of this, they indulged themselves with sleep. Here love covered this fault.
“The Spirit is willing." Love speaks what is right. Love finds an excuse for what is wrong, “The flesh is weak.” And when the same most blessed pattern of love hung expiring in the greatest agonies on the cross, yet amidst all the taunts and jeers of his enemies and murderers, love vented itself with his expiring breath, “Father, forgive them;" adding this as a veil or covering, "for they know not what they do." Thus hath Jesus left us an example. He hath given us a new commandment, “Love one another." May the spirit of love keep alive this heavenly temper, and blow up every spark into a fervent flame, that all men may know his disciples by this badge of charity or Love, and be forced to confess, “See how these christians love one another."
Love suffers long with patient eye,
Nor is provok'd in haste ; She lets the present inj'ry die,
And long forgets the past.
Malice and rage, those fires of hell,
She quenches with her tongue : Hopes and believes, and thiuks no ill,
Tho' she endures the wrong.