« AnteriorContinuar »
ther Comforter, who shall teach you all things—He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you."
2. A just view of the constitution of grace in a cru. cified Saviour is the best means of composing the believing soul under all the vicissitudes of Providence." In a weak and foolish scheme, every thing is precarious, and the consequences must be bad. It is not so here. The scheme is infinitely wise. Its wisdom lies in the relation Christ holds to the whole scheme. Every thing is fixed; every occurence is provided for, and every gircumstance shall terminate happily. “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, who are the called according to his purpose.” Rom. viii. 28. It is often difficult to persuade the believer of the truth of this, especially with respect to himself. Like the patriarch, in trying and gloomy cir. cumstances, he is ready to say, “ All these things are against me.” In human schemes, one thing often coun. teracts another, and the design fails or is retarded. In God's, “ All things work together," not in opposition to each other, but by co-operation, each in its place, to accomplish the end. It is true the aspect of things is often otherwise, and when the believer judges from it he cannot fail to be disquieted. This, however, is not walking by faith, but by sense; of which he ought constantly to beware. When under the influence of faith, no visible state of things will perplex him, because he then keeps close by the word of God. This tells him, all things shall work-They shall work together and They shall work for good. But whence proceeds this universal co-operation for good to believers? It is from the Lord's broken body. God will have his people saved by the death of his own Son; and in him his love,
wisdom, righteousness and power, meet and co-operate for that end.
Here then, discouraged believer, is sure ground for your faith and hope, and an ample source of encouragement under all your trials. If Jesus had not died, every operation of God's hand would have hastened your certain and final ruin. All things would have wrought together for evil to you, as objects hated by God. This is the case of the wicked, with whom God is angry every day. “ Jesus is head over ALL things to the church.” And your God hath given “ him power over ALL flesh that he should give eternal life to as many as he hath given him.” Whatever trials you may have to encounter; whatever injuries you may receive; whatever darkness may obscure your way; whatever losses and disappointments you may sustain; and whatever severe afflictions of body or mind you may be called to bear; let it be a fixed article of your faith, that all these are necessary; and necessary to your interest. Rely on Jesus, who is intrusted with the execution of the whole scheme, and commit your way to him, wait patiently, and he will make it prosperous. Let me only remind you, that Jesus died for the purpose of being made unto you, “ wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” This is all you need, and every operation of his hand shall effectually promote it.
3. The doctrine of this text discovers to us by what means the disquieted souls of believers may be relieved. Their inward peace and tranquillity are often disturbed, by the prevalence of corruption, and the sins into which they fall. Many causes concur to beget indifference in the exercises of religion. Lust then begins to assume an ascendency in the affections, duties are neglected, temptations are complied with, and guilt is accumulated.
They cease to be active in improving the blood of Christ for the mortification of lust, and for obtaining a renewed sense of pardon. This enhances guilt and greatly aggravates sin. In such a case God lays sin upon their consciences, discovers himself as the avenger of it, and contends with them. This is, in some sense “receiving the Spirit of bondage again to fear.” The Spirit arouses them, charges guilt upon them, and wounds their consciences. This mars their peace, interrupts their joy, and fills them with fear and dread. The design of God in this is to lead them to a renewed application to the blood of Jesus, from which at first they received peace, but which for a time, through the prevalence of unbe. lief and carnality, they had not improved. On renewing their application to it, they recover from the advan tages sin had gained over them, they obtain purification, reviving of grace, and renewed intimations of their peace and reconciliation with God. Believe it, every gospel hearer, saint or sinner, in the Lord's broken body alone, do a sin-avenging God and heaven.provoking sinners meet in friendship. Here believers, who have offended their God, and who feel the smart of his rod, may again meet him in love and peace. So soon as God meets his people here, he ceases to contend, his anger is turned away; and he proceeds to bless them with the light of his countenance, to wash them from their sins, to heal their souls, and to fill them with joy. Beware, then, of mistaking the true source of your peace: it is the blood of Jesus. Be assiduous in improv. ing it. And although you must observe such means as The word of God prescribes, for obtaining it, do not rest in these, nor expect peace from them. Be directed by them to the Redeemer's blood, and consider them as no cause of your peace, but merely your complying with
the will of God, in regard to the manner of obtaining it. Be not discouraged, though you are exceedingly guilty, though you have particularly sinned against this blood; you are equally welcome to it for pardon and healing, as though you had not so sinned. This is an excellence in this blood which you ought never to overlook, as it af. fords the highest encouragement to apply unto it.
4.We may with much freedom and boldness approach the throne of God, to claim his favour, and to present. our service. In doing this, our claim must rest upon some solid ground, something highly pleasing to God, and on the footing of which he is willing to admit us to friendly intercourse with himself. This can be nothing in ourselves. We are most unworthy. Enmity against God reigns in our hearts; aversion to his service prevails in our wills; and disobedience to his laws marks every part of our conduct. Nothing, then, that we can do can be acceptable to him; much less can it establish any claim to his favour. " Wherewith shall we come before the Lord?” is a question to which we can fur. nish no reply, because we are before him in our sins. But we are allowed to say, “ In the Lord have we righteousness.” On this ground we may rest our claim to the divine favour, because it is such as God will sustain. But we must be interested in it, so as to be able to urge it as our own. Without this our plea will be fruitless. An interest in this righteousness entitles us to the divine favour, and to every saving blssing; and on this ground are we to urge our claim. When Christ finished his righteousness, he purchased for his people an interest in the favour of God, and a title to all saving blessings; and when they become clothed with his righteousness, they obtain a right to claim the favciurs procured by it. When we approach God in this way, we know we are
proceeding on that ground which will meet his approbation, and which will ensure our success. We are often discouraged through a sense of unworthiness, vileness and guilt, and are ready to doubt whether we shall be accepted of God, Fear, anxiety, and dejection, depress. our spirits, and we are ready to exclude ourselves from the divine favour. But these are legal workings of the heart, through the power of unbelief. They insinuate that some worth in us is necessary to warrant this freedom, and that while this is awanting, every approach unto God must be uncomfortable and hopeless: or otherwise it implies that our sin and unworthiness' render Christ's righteousness insufficient to warrant such freedom. But though sin prevail, though grace fanguish, though the life of religion decline, the righteousness of Christ is still the same; cur interest in it, if we are believers, the same, God's regard to it the same, and his willingness to answer our requests, the same. Let us not, then, on any account, be discouraged from approaching God's throne with freedom, and assurance of success. The righteousness of Jesus, is the surę ground of our claim; on this let our faith rest, and embolden us in prayer. Let us never forget that, though our title is valid, it is founded in grace. Let this also encourage us: for if grace gave the title, it will also give what is contained in it. Let our unworthiness deeply impress our minds, and humble us in the presence of Jehovah; let it lead us to self-denial in all that we do; but let it never induce us to desert the throne of grace, nor approach it under the influence of unbelieving doubts and fears, that our prayers shall not be heard. Seeing, then, that “ We have a great high Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with true hearts, in full assur