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Amidst all these riches of grace, another secret is unfolded : that “ all things shall work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Man is naturally anxious about tomorrow. He sees all dark before him, and imagination conjures up a thousand fears. He suffers more from apprehended, than from real evils. He creates a world of misery to himself, by dire forebodings and anxious glances into future days. Not so, when faith, love, and filial confidence in God, his heavenly Father, fill his breast.
This gracious promise is then fulfiled ; " thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee."
Calmly he leaves events with God. He studies to perform the present duty, and leaves the consequences with him who hath said : 6 seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all other things shall be added unto you."
Such is the life of faith in the Son of God. It is a life of holiness and happiness. Many indeed are the afflictions of the righteous ; afflictions peculiar to themselves, as well as afflictions endured in common with their fellow-men: but many also are their supports and consolations.
These are truly peculiar to themselves ; unknown and unfelt by a suffering, unbelieving world. Even here, whilst sojourning through a vale of tears, they partake of the “ hidden manna ;” and draw many a refreshing draught from the fountain of living waters.
But their blessedness ends not here. The glorious secret which gladdens their hearts under all their sorrows, is their future destination. They shall be “ heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. They shall “ sit down with Christ on his throne," and “ reign with him for ever and ever.”
• What heart can conceive the felicity of the redeemed, when all terrestrial things shall have passed away!
Lord, make me a tree of righteousness; and then I shall experience thy heavenly. beams of love ! Should the rough wind of persecution, or needful trials, shake my branches, or even tear away many valued comforts, yet may I under every bereavement repose on thy faithfulness and rejoice in thy love.
As GOD IN CHRIST is the fountain of all felicity, infinitely happy in himself, and the source of true felicity to his creatures; so their blessedness is founded on his truth, secured by his oath, and sealed by his blood; for “ God, being willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath ; that by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us; which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil: whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."
O! what rich secrets are these, which are experimentally and practically made known to all who fear God. Such happy souls, may well join with the enraptured prophet, and say, "O! Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.
“Behold, God is my salvation : I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song: he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.”
Blessed Lord! reveal these Gospel secrets of grace
and glory to my heart in all their fulness and sweetness. Warm, yea, inflame my soul with the pure celestial fire of love. Illuminate my mind and transform me daily more and more into thy image, till awaking up after thy likeness, I shall be eternally satisfied with it.
Blessed Jesus, look upon me,
Lord, I feel a sinful nature
Come, thou great Eternal Spirit,
Put thy holy fear within mo,
XL. AGREEMENT NECESSARY TO COMMUNION.
The question of Amos is of practical importance: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed ?"
There can be no real communion, or pleasing intercourse without a similarity of views and disposition.
What can be more opposite than the carnal and the spiritual mind? A spiritually-minded man delights in heavenly things. He views the world through the sacred medium of divine revelation; and beholds it as the abode of sin; as a place of trial; as the valley of the shadow of death. Whilst therefore he blesses his heavenly Father for every undeserved mercy, and receives with gratitude the bounties of his providence ; he longs for that glorious rest from sin and sorrow which remaineth to the people of God. His treasure and heart are in heaven, where joy and happiness fill every ransomed soul in the beatific presence of God and the Lamb. Being born from above, he loves his heavenly Father; being united to Christ by faith, he derives all his strength from him; being under the immediate guidance of the Holy Spirit, he is led into all truth, and made a new creature in Christ Jesus.
As he loves God, so he loves all the children of God. He delights in the company, and sedulously cultivates the friendship, of genuine Christians. He can say with David: “I am a companion of them that fear thee.” “My delight is in the excellent of the earth, and in such as excel in virtue.”
With expanded views and enlarged heart, he can love all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, though all may not agree with him on minor points of difference.
All who follow Christ in simplicity of spirit, and adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour, by the purity of their hearts and the holiness of their lives, are hailed by him as brethren, travelling to the heavenly Zion.
The unconverted man is the opposite of all this.
He cannot endure to hear religion discoursed upon in his presence. By a frown, a sarcasm, or a significant silence, he soon manifests his displeasure. The people of God are offensive to him. Should some unhappy characters, by their inconsistency or misconduct, dishonour the holy religion of Jesus ; he ceases not to hold them up as patterns of the whole fraternity of professing Christians; thus putting the seal of hypocrisy upon all without exception. His manner evidences the exquisitely malignant pleasure which he finds, in having so plausible an opportunity of traducing that Gospel, whose pure and self-denying principles his soul abhors.
To him the world is every thing. All his thoughts are exercised, either upon the best mode of acquiring wealth, or the most delightful way of spending it.
Is he a man of fortune? Much of his time is occupied in ornamenting his grounds, or in the chase. The pleasures of the field, the intricate mazes of political events, the passing news of the day, or the still more uncertain nature of the weather, form his most edifying topics of discourse, except he have a taste for literature, and then men and books are occasionally canvassed and reviewed.
Is he a man of business ? His conversation is filled with subjects connected with his calling; mixed up with all those little incidents of life which compose each passing day. And well would it be, if language awfully pernicious never stained his lips ! But in these worldly circles of business and of pleasure, the value of the soul, the dying love of Jesus, the work of grace upon the heart, all the rich and varied subjects of redemption, are never heard, unless it be to bear the lash of ridicule or the laugh of scorn. How then can two such opposite characters walk cordially together? It is impossible.--Hence arises the danger of real Christians associating with the people of the world.
Courtesy and kindness are Christian duties to be exercised towards all; but friendship with the