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his law is immutably holy, though man has rebelled against it, and lost all power to obey it: it remains an unchangeable truth, that life cannot come by a law which condemns the very thought of sin, and lays the whole human race under merited condemnation.
On this account, the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ, might be given to them that believe. This divine truth strikes at the root of those errors which would make the Gospel, a mitigated law; or mix man's works and the Saviour's merits in the great act of justification ; or, denying the necessity of an atonement, make man's repentance and obedience sufficient to ensure the approbation of heaven. The law is given to us, not for the purpose of obtaining eternal life by our obedience to its requirements, since, “by the deed of the law shall no flesh living be justified :" but as a rule of life, by which we are to walk under the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel is revealed for the all-gracious purpose of redeeming us from all iniquity: and purifying our hearts from sin, through faith in the atonement of Jusus the Son of God. Here spring all our hopes of forgiveness; all our peace of conscience; all our joy in the Holy Ghost. From this source of mercy we derive all our power to love and serve God in the filial spirit of adoption.
Thus it is evident, that where infinite justice finds its satisfaction, there and there only can my guilty soul find its salvation.
The Lamb of God, bleeding upon the cross, as the divinely appointed sacrifice for the sins of a fallen world, is the sinner's only refuge from the storm of eternal vengeance.
To this blessed atonement I would look; and from it, I would draw all my hopes of pardon, peace, and purity.
O! for more faith and love. Lord, without thee I can do nothing. I feel my helplessness, and my inward depravity. Lead me to the rock which is higher than I. Wash me in the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. Sprinkle clean water upon me and I shall be clean. Put thy Spirit within
Cause the south wind to blow, that my soul may be filled with precious fruits ; that the spices may flow out, that
my beloved may come and eat his pleasant fruits, and abide with me for ever!
O! what a happy life is a life of faith in the Son of God. To have the humble, yet Scriptural, assurance that my sins are forgiven; to know from the word of truth, and to be persuaded that all things shall work together for my good; is the divine alchymy which turns all to gold.
Sickness, adversity, persecution, the buffettings of Satan, are all over-ruled for good, when the soul is accepted and pardoned through faith in the blood of Jesus.
Nothing can separate such a soul from the love of God, whilst abiding in Christ by faith.
How safe, how happy, how rich is the true believer in Jesus. He is safe, under the protecting wing of the Almighty ; happy in the enjoyment of the divine favour; rich with all the treasures of grace and glory. He is Christ's, and Christ is God's.
And yet, how is such a state despised by the world! Those who live in the enjoyment of it are deemed enthusiasts, or perhaps insane. Numbers who would be thought religious, treat such a state of feeling with coldness, or receive it with caution. They seem to dread every thing that is fervent, or transporting in religion; as if the affections had no share with the understanding in the great transctions between Christ and the soul. 0! that I could feel my heart more alive to God;
more active in his service. A lukewarm spirit is hateful to a God of love. I am convinced that faith is the gift of God, not only because I read it in my Bible, but because I feel my utter inability, by any natural power of my own, to produce it in myself. I am taught to pray for this blessing in the name of Jesus.
But true prayer is equally the gift of God.
Thus I perceive that I am indebted to sovereign grace alone for the whole work of salvation from first to last ; from the first incipient desire after God, to the full fruition of him in glory.
Then what must I do? Must I sit still and do nothing? Ah, no! This would indeed be enthusiasm. Satan and my own indolent heart would have me act in this manner. But such reasoning would condemn, and not excuse me in the day of judgment.
God has given me an understanding, which though darkened through the fall, is still capable, under the advantages of Christian instruction, of knowing that the Creator ought to be loved and feared, and served above all other beings.
He has given me a conscience, which, though awfully defiled, yet under such instruction, is capable of making me feel, that I do not love, and fear, and serve this almighty Creator above all other things; and therefore, that I am a guilty creature, and deserving of his eternal wrath.
God has cast my lot in a land where Jesus is preached, where sinners are invited to come unto him for all those blessings which they have lost through the fall, and of which they stand in need. My responsibility is therefore increased by this offered mercy.
What then must I do? Surely it is my duty, as a rational and responsible creature, to listen to the call of my heavenly Father. It is my duty to come to the cross of Christ, just as I am, blind, ignorant, helpless, guilty, and polluted, that I may obtain through the riches of his grace, light, and strength, and righteousness, and sanctification.
If I do not come, the fault is altogether my own; it is because I will not. The guilt lies in the bad state of my heart. If I do come, it is through the secret, yet powerful operation of divine grace, seeing God is the first mover of the heart to himself. Infinite wisdom knows how to reconcile these seeming differences; and what the believer knows not now, he shall know hereafter.
Hence it is evident, that all the specious pleas and excuses which sinners make for not coming to Jesus, will ere long be found to originate in their love of sin, and in the corrupt state of their will. Hell will be filled with self-reproaches, and with eternal self-condemnations.
Let not Satan then, O! my soul, and a perverse, rebellious will, keep thee from the Saviour. Press to him through the crowd. Be not afraid of meeting with a repulse.
His heart is full of tenderness and love.
Bartimeus could not heal his blindness; nor the leper his leprosy ; nor the poor woman her issue of blood. They all felt their respective maladies. They believed that Jesus could restore them. They applied to him, and were healed. Go and do thou likewise.
Cry thou also to the Saviour ; touch the hem of his garment; and he, who is all power, and grace, and love, will impart this saving faith, and enable thee to draw virtue from him ; saying, “I will, be thou clean." “ Only believe. All things are possible to him that believeth."
Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief. Lord, increase
faith. Enable me to come to thee now
in humble confidence and love, that I may receive out of thy fulness, grace for grace. Lord, shine upon thy work. Make me a monument of thy mercy, that I may live to thy glory, and sing thy everlasting praise.
Oppress'd with grief, o'erwhelm'd with fear,
My sins assume an awful form;
In that sweet garden, thou didst bear
0! fill my heart with fervent love;
LXI. ON HOPE.
And may not
St. Paul, when writing to the Corinthians, declared : “Some of you have not the knowledge of God : I speak this to your shame.” the same reproof be directed to multitudes of professing Christians of our day ? The ignorance of many is lamentably great.
Light is in the dwellings of the righteous, and the spiritual Goshen is illuminated by the beams of heavenly truth: but what an awful extent of territory still remains enveloped in Egyptian darkness, under the tyranny of Satan and in bondage to sin !