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Christian Reader, Silver of human eloquence and gold of acquired literature, have I none; but such as I have I give to thee, plain truth in plain style, in the name of Jesus Christ. He is our one Master. It has been my earnest prayer, that, to his glory, mine eye might be single. One grand point has been my chief aim, namely, to exalt the Lord Jesus, the perfection of his atonement and righteousness, and the glory of his salvation. This I have found the blessed support and joyful triumph of my own soul, while exercised with great disorder and weakness of body, in this work. If the Lord and giver of all grace is pleased to bless this feeble attempt, to the spiritual profit of any of his dear children, to him only all the glory is due.
As love covereth a multitude of faults, and the prayer of faith availeth much, may these, reader, be excited in behalf of the following sheets, and toward him, who desires to esteem it his highest honour and greatest glory on earth, to confess and serve the Lord Christ, though less than the least of all his servants, and thine also for his sake.
CHILDREN OF GOD.
Jan. 1.—Thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.—Isa. lxii. 2.
This is predicted of the church of God; which, according to covenant transactions of the glorious Trinity, stands in the nearest and dearest relation to Jesus, her Head. She is here spoken of as a single person, "thou": she is called Christ's body, Col. i. 24, and "the bride, the Lamb's wife," Rev. xxi. 9, of whom, saith God the Father, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love," Jer. xxxi. 3. Yea, saith the Son of God to his Father, of all his beloved members, "Thou hast loved them, as thou hast loved me—and thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world," John xvii. 23, 24. O most comforting truths of God's word! how ancient is the love of God to his church! That God should love us miserable sinners at all, is amazing; but that he should love us with the very same, everlasting, unchangeable love, wherewith he loves his own beloved Son, this surpasseth all knowledge! This love is the source of all blessings in time; this love secures all happiness in eternity.
The Son of God has manifested his infinite love to his church, by conflicting with and overcoming all the powers of earth and hell for her sake. He most dearly purchased her, in a way of strict justice, with his most precious blood. But he finds every one of his ransomed ones branded with this old name of infamy, a sinner; it being near six thousand years since first entailed. By nature we are all old in sin, and dead in sin; but being predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, and to be conformed to his image, to the praise of the glory of God's grace, therefore we shall be called by a new name.
This the Lord, the Spirit, effecteth. Being born of the Spirit, and baptized with the Holy Ghost into the faith of Jesus, the Lord calls us by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. This is it, (verse 12,) "The holy people, the redeemed of the Lord—thou shalt be called, sought out." O the blessedness of being sought out! how precious is he who sought us out! He sought us in the ruins of the fall. He found us in a most miserable condition; but he calls us by a new name, which signifies new creatures in our living Head, who is the new Man. This he makes us. Then we experience the blessedness of a new state in, and of a new life from, Jesus. He is a new and living way to us. By faith we walk with God, live upon Jesus, feel sweet fellowship with him, enjoy comforting communion from him, and have joyful access to the Father through him. Thus the Lord writes a new name upon his members, "which no man knoweth, saving he who receiveth it," Bev. ii. 17.
Thus, as Luther testifies, "a Christian is a new creature in a new world." He is a subject of a new king, whose name is Love; and of a new kingdom, wherein dwelleth righteousness. He is possessed of new hopes, new pleasures, new desires, and new joys. Yes, and he finds new fears, new sorrows, new conflicts, yea, and new enemies too. Though that old serpent the devil, who deceiveth the whole world, is cast out of us, he still wageth war against us. What then? every trial we meet with, every temptation we are beset with, shall only glorify the riches of God's love to us, and the power of the grace of Jesus in us; shall teach us the use of our spiritual weapons, deaden our affections to earth, quicken our longings for glory, endear Jesus more to our hearts, so as with ardency to cry out, Oh that I may be found in him! How glorious the privileges! how animating the prospect of all such new-named souls! they are interested in all new-covenant blessings. New wine of gospel peace and love is put into such new bottles. A new song, "Salvation to the Lamb that was slain," inspires their tongue. Such are lovingly called, by the word of their Father, and powerfully enabled, by the Spirit of his grace, to serve and glorify him, "not in the oldness of the letter," but in newness of the spirit, in "righteousness and true holiness before him all the days of their life." Happy new-year to such new-named souls! every revolving year on earth brings them nearer their Father's house, their Saviour's kingdom in glory. Thus, "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new," 2 Cor. v. 17.
Jan. 2.—Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.—John i. 29.
Nothing can make poor sinners truly happy, but that which taketh away the cause of all misery, sin. This is effected. The Lamb of God hath taken away all sin, by his sacrifice for us. When, by the eye of faith, we behold this Lamb, then all sin is taken away out of our conscience. When a soul thinks, "Sin has condemned me before God; the law accuses me daily; it works wrath in my conscience continually; and I am often ready to cry out, O wretched that I am! who shall deliver me?" then thanks be to God for a precious Redeemer. The Lamb, which God provided, hath done it for ever. All our iniquities were laid upon him. "He bare in his own body on the tree," the sin, the whole of sin, every sin of all that shall believe in him, to the end of the world. By the sacrifice of himself he put all away, out of the sight of God, as one puts away an offensive thing. He bore it away into a land of forgetfulness, as a thing that is hurtful. So then, saith God the Father, to all his children in Christ, Your sins and your iniquities I will remember no more, Jer. xxxi. 34.
But one is often ready to say, How can this be true? For I daily see I am a sinner; the remembrance of sin is before me, in my thoughts: though, for a season, time may efface sin from my memory, yet it recurs afresh upon my conscience. It may, it will do so, O soul; and nothing can effectually take it away but this, "Behold the Lamb of God." He taketh sin away now, this present moment, every moment: at what time soever thou beholdest Jesus by the eye of faith, all the sin which troubles thee thou wilt see laid on him, and he taketh it away from thee. Oh how sweet to have no more conscience of sin!
Continually to behold this Lamb of God, is life to our souls and death to our sins. Sin cannot terrify with its guilt, sin cannot prevail in its power, while , the heart is looking to this Lamb of God, for he says, "Look unto me, and be saved." Astonishing mystery! but this is God's truth. Thus to behold, is to be happy. Thus to look, is to be holy. May this, O my soul, be thy daily employ below, till thou beholdest the Lamb in the midst of the throne above. Thanks to the gracious Father, for the gift of this precious Lamb. Thanks to this holy Lamb, for bearing and taking away sin. And thanks to the loving Spirit, for showing this Lamb to poor sinners, and to me. "God forbid I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ," Gal. vi. 14.
Jan. 3.—Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Amen.—1 John v. 21.
Idolatry is founded in ignorance of Jesus, the true God, and eternal life. None are spiritual worshippers