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of God, but believers in Jesus. There are many idols in the world, suited to the pride and lusts of our corrupt nature. These we are cautioned against. But, in reading this very exhortation, the idol of free-will is ready to present itself: as though disciples, by their own power, were to keep themselves. This notion opposes the Spirit and power of Jesus, and springs from that grand idol, pride. Pride introduces the idol of selfrighteousness. This blinds the eye to the glory of the righteousness of Christ, freely imputed by God, through faith. Thus this trinity of idols, free-will, pride, and self-righteousness, are in unity with each other. By the simple faith of Jesus, we are daily to guard our hearts against all their specious pretensions.
So, also, -every outward object suited to our corrupt nature, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life; these naturally call for the attention of our minds, tend to attract the affections of our hearts, and promise us pleasure, happiness, and joy. But if these are sought unto, coveted, and enjoyed, they also become idols; they rival Jesus, they rob our hearts of the consolation of the Saviour's love, and him of the glory due to his name, which it is ever the indispensable duty of all his beloved disciples, to give unto him only. Shall we then say of our own righteousness, or our sins, Ye are our glory? Shall we at all hope in the one? shall we ever seek happiness from the other? Verily, if so, our hearts are not right with God; our souls are not sincere and upright with. Jesus. Can we at any time halt between two opinions in our conduct, Jesus and self, God and the world? Oh, where then is our faith in Jesus, our love to God? Has not God manifested love enough to us, in the gift of his beloved Son? Has not Jesus done enough, suffered enough, to attract every affection, and to engage our whole hearts in love to himself? Has not the Holy Spirit so clearly and fully revealed the love of the Father, and the salvation of the Son, as to make us happy? We must confess this. Surely then conscious shame, holy blushing, godly sorrow, should fill our hearts, if we act not as chaste virgins to our heavenly Bridegroom. While we cry in the fervency of prayer to the Divine Spirit for power, we shall, in the fervour of love, and in the resolution of faith, say, wich Ephraim, Get ye hence: "what have I to do any more with idols?" Hos. xiv. 8.
Jan. 4.—I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.—Psalm lxxi. 16.
Wise travellers provide things needful for their journey, and guard against such as lie in wait, by the way, to rob them. Our gracious God calls not his dear children to forsake their native country, to travel to the heavenly city, without furnishing them with a rich supply of all things necessary for their comfort, and also strength to protect them from the power of every enemy. No soldier of his goeth a warfare at his own charge. Christ being both their righteousness and strength, they can want nothing—neither riches nor power. Hence, they go on from day to day, glorying in him, as their richest treasure, and trusting in him, as their almighty strength; and this is their constant song in the house of their pilgrimage, and all through their journey: "Surely, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength," Isa. xlv. 24. Jesus's righteousness inspires the soul with boldness before God. Jesus's strength obtains victory over every enemy. This is the triumph of faith. So believers walk safely and comfortably. Children of grace are not called to be idle speculatists in doctrines; but to a life of activity, to holy walking with Jesus, constant hearing of his love, cheerful obedience to his will, diligent search of the scriptures, steadfast resistance of Satan, striving daily against sin, and praying always with all prayer and supplication.
Well may one ask, "But who is sufficient for these things?" As to natural power and inherent strength, we must all sit down in despair. But faith leads, from self, to Jesus. I can do all things, through Christ strengthening me; so will I go on against my enemies; thus I shall be enabled to walk in the path of every duty. But after I have done all, still my Saviour bids me confess the truth, that I am an unprofitable servant. But is not this discouraging to the soul? No; for it works not to obtain righteousness. It is already clothed with that, and, in the views of faith, rejoices in it; abjures all other, and will make mention of Jesus's righteousness, and his only, for acceptance with God, perfect justification before him, from every condemnation of the law, and accusation of Satan. True, doubts and fears may arise, distressing thoughts deject; but happily are we conducted, joyful shall be our experience, while the righteousness of Christ is beheld by faith, as our only hope, our only joy, our only crown of rejoicing. For, we are made the righteousness of God in Christ, 2 Cor. v. 21.
Jan. 5.—For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.—> Isa. liv. 10.
The absolute promises of our gracious Lord are the foundation of faith, the encouragement of hope, the excitement of love, the source of comfort, and the spring of true holiness. Why then are not the children of faith always joyful in hope, ever comfortable in love, and constantly happy in the way of holiness? Truly, because an enemy hath sown the tares of unbelief in our nature. This evil root of bitterness continually springs up and troubles us. It bears the most base, dishonourable fruits, respecting our God; and is most hurtful and poisonous to our souls. Little reason have we to dung and water, so as to strengthen this degenerate plant, with the corrupt notions of those who deny God's covenant love and faithfulness; and dare teach, "that one may be a child of God to-day, and a child of the devil to-morrow; that souls redeemed by the blood of Jesus, may, after all, burn in hell." Shocking! it is our daily duty, our greatest wisdom, ever to be on our guard against and avoid all such doctrines. They are contrary to the precious declarations of our loving Lord; and tend to weaken our faith in and hope of perfect salvation by Jesus. But a false show of humility works very deceitfully upon men. Hence we are prone to look into ourselves, to find some inherent worth, some personal goodness, as the cause why the Lord should deal thus bountifully with us.
Alas! pride is at the bottom of this. Hereby our eyes are diverted from the alone object of faith, Jesus, and turned to self. Then, no marvel unbelief prevails, and we lose sight of God's free grace, rich love, and inestimably precious promises. Soul, know thyself. Though an object of mercy, a subject of grace, and an heir of promise; yet not one single drop of mercy, or of grace, nor one word of promise, is made to thy person, but only as thou standest in, and art related to, thy precious Saviour, according to covenant love. Therefore, God's covenant of peace shall not, cannot fail. Sooner shall the hills and mountains be removed; yea, heaven and earth shall pass away, but thy Lord's love and kindness shall never depart from thee. The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. Here, to doubt is to dishonour the God of truth. Here, stedfastly to believe is to glorify the God of love. •• "He sent redemption unto his people; he hath commanded his covenant for ever," Psalm cxi. 9.
Jan. 6.—"Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.— Eph. v. 15, 16.
Light and life are communicated from Jesus to his members, not merely to fill their heads with gospel truths, as matters of speculation, or to make them fluent talkers about religion; but chiefly to affect their hearts, renew their minds, and cause them to be close, consistent walkers with Jesus. Without this we only seem to be religious; and deceive our hearts, while our religion is vain; for we cannot stand approved in the sight of God, before men, nor to our own consciences. "The wise man's eyes are in his head;" he looks around him, and sees the evil of sin, the vanity of this present world; that its gay pleasures, alluring pastimes, bewitching diversions, are the gilded bait of the god of this world, whereby he insnares unwary fools, to kill their precious time, and to blind and destroy their immortal souls. The wise man looks above him, directs his eye of faith to his Saviour as his example; to have his Spirit for his guide, to be kept by his power, to have his steps directed by his grace, that his word may be the rule of his life, and that his walk and conversation may please his Lord, and adorn his gospel. Without this constant circumspection, we betray the greatest folly, and make sad work for future grief and repentance. Lord, keep us from this!
to be, worse than idly, lavished away upon vanity. It is the wisdom of the wise, to improve time to the noblest and best of purposes, in acquiring more knowledge of spiritual and eternal things. It is the foolishness of folly, for God's wise virgins, at any time, so to debase themselves, as to sacrifice their precious moments upon heathenish altars, devoted to vain delights and sinful pleasures. We dare not, we cannot comply with these things, consistently with faith in Jesus, love to God, and a good conscience in the Holy Ghost.
The days are evil. Iniquity abounds. The love of many waxeth cold. Heresies prevail. The way of holiness is awfully neglected. But the Lord's arm is not shortened, that he cannot save. He can keep us close to himself, in the most perilous times. Constant watchfulness, and earnest prayer, are our daily duty.
It is too precious a jewel