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continue after he has admitted these things to be true? Can the voice of love and mercy from Calvary fail to hush the tremblings awakened by the thunders of Sinai?'
Nor is even the consciousness of believing essential to his enjoying this peace. This peace flows directly into the soul from the truths believed, and may therefore be experienced in all its tranquilizing sweetness before the sinner has time to make his belief the subject of distinct contemplation. If, indeed, he is conscious of believing, his peace will be thereby confirmed; for this will justify him in appropriating to himself the promise, He that believeth shall be saved;' and still more will it be confirmed, when he is privileged to mark the fruits of faith in his heart and life; for these will assure him that his faith is indeed that which stands connected with the gospel promises. But irrespective of, and antecedently to, any such processes of self-reflection and self-examination, he may, and ought, to enjoy peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. The source of his peace is not in his conscious faith, or in his conscious holiness, but in the gladdening truths which he believes. And as these truths produce their proper effects on the mind, irrespective of any reflex consciousness of its own operations, so he has only believingly to contemplate them, in order to experience the immediate influence of their consolatory import.
'Blessed,' says the psalmist, 'is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered, and unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity!' 'Blessed!' No wonder! To know and feel that the Almighty God is pacified towards him, and that the infinite attributes of power, and wisdom, and justice, are set for his defence, instead of being arrayed for his destruction-what consolation can bear comparison with this? The assurance of God's friendship is no transient emotion which familiarity may render less gladdening! The light of a heavenly Father's smile sheds a steady and abiding satisfaction on the heart; and the man who is blessed with it carries a treasure in his bosom, which may well make the path of obedience sweet, and cause him to drink either his wine or his water with a merry heart! Do I possess this holy peace? If I do, let me be thankful for the blessing, and strive, by constantly looking to the Lord my righteousness,' to retain and increase it. If I do not-but why should I not possess it? Is not the Redeemer's righteousness freely tendered for my justification? And will not God be more honoured by accepting me on the ground of that perfect righteousness, than by exacting at my own hands the
punishment of my sins? Surely that which satisfies God, may well satisfy me! Surely that which is sufficient to turn away God's anger, and light up his countenance with a smile of reconciliation, ought to impart peace to my conscience, and restore confidence in my heart!
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us,' Rom. v. 5.
THE hope here spoken of, as appears from verse 2nd, is 'hope of the glory of God. Of this hope the apostle asserts that it 'maketh not ashamed'— an expression which, though negative in its form, must be held, in conformity with the usage of scripture language, to involve the opposite affirmation, and consequently to mean, that the believer's hope, so far from being a cause of shame to him, is a ground of joy and exultation. Some indeed consider the apostle's meaning to be merely this, that the hope of the Christian will not put him to shame by being eventually disappointed. But this interpretation, though it conveys an important truth, and indicates the superiority of the believer's hope to the fallacious hope of the sinner, seems neither to fall in with the drift of the context, nor to come up to the height of the Christian's privilege. Throughout the passage, the apostle is discoursing, not of the future, but of the present, effects of the graces enumerated by him-faith, patience, experience, and hope. And instead of designing a contrast between the blessed fruition which shall crown the Christian's expectations, and the disappointment in which the hope of the sinner shall issue, his object is to show, that the universal tendency of hope to fill the heart with joy and the mouth with exultation, is experienced by the believer, no less than by those whose hope is directed to other and inferior objects. In short, his assertion that hope maketh not ashamed,' is but a reiteration, in another form, of what he more unambiguously teaches in the second verse, when he declares it to be one of our Christian privileges, that we 'rejoice in hope of the glory of God.'
So much is it the property of hope to exhilarate its possessor, that moral writers have often, and most justly, cited the pleasure connected with it as a striking proof of the Divine benevolence to man. To Hope belongs the happy power of lighting up the present with radiance borrowed from the future. It is the wealth of the indi
tinctness in his views, or some feebleness in his desires, or some wavering or weakness in his faith, if he does not feel himself warranted, from the very first, to 'rejoice in hope of the glory of God.'
Hope, however, in common with peace, joy, and the other graces which spring up in the believer's heart the moment he embraces the gos
gent, the health of the sick, the freedom of the captive. It is our flatterer and comforter in youth; it is our flatterer and comforter in years which need still more to be flattered and comforted. Nor indeed can misery well be the inmate of any bosom which is warmed by its glow! No man can be truly wretched till he has come to the end of his hopes! But if even earth-born hopes, however unsubstantial and pre-pel, is capable of increase and confirmation. carious, are fitted, by the law of our nature, to cheer the heart and gild the path of life, how sweet! how enlivening! must be the hope which anticipates and antedates the future inheritance of the saints. What an alleviation amid the sorrows of life, to be able to realize eventual admission to a world where all tears shall be wiped away! What a solace under the burden of conscious sin, to be able to behold in the distance the kingdom which is as 'sinless' as it is 'unsuffering!' Such a hope as this stretches along the whole path of existence, and may well maintain the soul in calm and unbroken serenity, whatever be our outward lot. It brightens the scenes around us, by bringing down upon them the reflected radiance of the fairer scenes beyond! It cheers a gloomy present, by drawing on the expected delights of a glorious future! It makes us forget the ruggedness of the ground we walk upon, by taking off the eye from our light afflictions, which are but for a moment,' and fixing them on 'the exceed ing and eternal weight of glory! Nor can this hope ever be dashed by any doubt of the capacity of its object to fulfil our expectations. Celestial blessedness is not one of those things which hope, prone as it is to high-colour its objects, can gild with over-brilliant hues! The glories of heaven are ineffable and inconceivable! Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him! He who is privileged to cherish this lively hope, must possess in it 'an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast' to retain him firm and serene amidst all the tempests and troubles of life!
This blessed hope, being based on the promise of God, and produced by faith in the mediation of Christ, may and ought to be cherished by the believer the moment he embraces the gospel. As soon as faith relies on the truth of the Divine promise, hope ought to wait for the enjoyment of it. The believer's title to heaven rests not on any thing in himself, but solely on the finished work of his Saviour; and never, therefore, can he acquire a better title than that with which he is invested on his first reception into the family of And in truth, there must be some indis
Though his title to heaven be complete from the first, his perception of it may become clearer. Whatever tends to convince him of the reality of his union with Christ, and his consequent interest in all the blessings of Christ's purchase, must equally tend to give new force and vividness to his hope of glory: and as he grows, therefore, in experience of the fruits of faith, he cannot but gather fresh and ever-increasing evidence of his title to the celestial inheritance. In an especial manner is 'the love of God which is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost,' a confirmation of this hope. The knowledge that a living friend has remembered me in his will, may warrant me to indulge the hope of eventually receiving the legacy: but how much must it tend to strengthen this hope, if I am daily receiving fresh proofs of my friend's continued love to me! Such love I cannot but interpret into an assurance that my friend will not revoke the deed he has made in my favour. And can the believer draw a less cheering inference from his experience of the love of God? Nay, the man who has the love of God shed abroad in his heart, has more than an evidence of his acceptance: he has the seal of that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of the future inheritance he has the meetness for heaven, no less than the title to it: and it is impossible that he should not abound in the hope which maketh not ashamed! Let it be remembered, however, that the 'good hope through grace' is not produced, but only confirmed, by this and the other fruits of faith. Its sole foundation, from first to last, is the mediation and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ, and none but Christ, is the beginning' of the believer's confidence the anchor of the believer's hope! Nor is the fresh glow of expectation which warms his heart as he grows in conscious meetness for the final glory, a new feeling, but simply a reinforcement of that blessed hope which gladdened his downcast spirit when he first discovered the Bible to be
And in that charter read with sparkling eyes,
SIXTEENTH DAY.-EVENING. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost,'
Rom. xv. 13.
appeals to the imagination and the feelings, that
A LIVELY hope of the future inheritance is not more fitted to gladden, than to sanctify the soul. Accompanied, as it necessarily is, with both an ardent desire, and a supreme esteem, for its object, it cannot but act as a spur to pious exertion, and lead its possessor to purify himself even as Christ its source, and heaven its object, are pure. was a Jewish maxim, that the spirit of prophecy rests only upon men of a hopeful temper; and certain it is, that the hope of such a glorious inheritance as Christ has purchased at the cost of his most precious blood, is eminently conducive, if not to the exercise of spiritual gifts, at least to the growth of spiritual graces. The things which we hope for, no less than the things which we believe, exert an assimilating influence on the mind. And it seems scarcely possible, that a man shall be habitually bethinking him of the rest by his consciousness. But so long as Faith keeps which remains above, and antedating his admis- her seat, and is attended by her handmaids, Peace sion to its holy society, and treading in imagina- and Joy, Hope must also be present. If there is tion its pavement of glory, without thereby not sunshine, there will at least be light; if there acquiring an enhancement of heavenly-minded- is not full assurance, there will at least be a ness, and deriving a fresh incentive to holy obe- 'good hope through grace!' dience. The radiance which was reflected from the face of Moses when he returned from converse
with God on the mount that might be touched, may well have its counterpart in the soul of him whom hope leads daily to converse with the spirits of just men made perfect on the mount of the heavenly Zion!
The influence of hope, as a means of comfort and sanctification, of course depends on the force and vivacity of the sentiment; and the believer, therefore, in proportion as he values his holiness and comfort, must be desirous to abound in hope -to have not merely a trembling hope,' but the assurance of hope the full assurance of hope. For such a hope, accordingly, he is encouraged to pray to him who reveals himself under the endearing name of the God of Hope'—the hopegiving and hope-sustaining God; and that his prayers and efforts may take a right direction, he is informed that the way to abound in hope is to abound in faith-that the nether-spring of an unfading hope, is a heart filled with all joy and peace in believing.'
There may be occasional gleams of hope, where there is no steady faith either in Christ or in that eternal life of which he is the author. There is so much of the dazzling and the beautiful about the object of Christian hope-so much that
times become so feeble as scarce to be discernible
Dost thou, then, desire to abound in hope?
dying love. Realize the sufficiency of his vicari-
'For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, Rom. xiv. 17.
IN religion men are strangely prone to attach undue importance to external rites and modes of administration. Though nothing is more clearly taught in scripture than the spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom-though the prophets speak
ness is not a product of the soil of nature. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. And in vain does any one expect to exemplify it, until he has become reconciled to God by faith in the righteousness of Christ, and thereby acquired that grateful con
the well-spring of cheerful and unreserved obedience!
of it as a kingdom diverse from all others, and Christ himself expressly declares, that instead of being a secular kingdom which cometh with observation, it is a spiritual dominion which 'worketh its silent and unseen way through the world of souls;' yet multitudes in every age fol-fidence in his heavenly Father's love, which is low the ancient Jews in conceiving of it as an external polity rather than a reign of holy principles, and in inferring their interest in its blessings from their observance of certain prescribed forms and ceremonies, rather than from the amelioration of their moral sentiments. Uniformity of outward administration is more prized and sought after, than uniformity of inward experience; and the zeal which ought to be directed towards the conversion of souls, is suffered to expend itself in unbrotherly disputes about forms of government and modes of worship. Not that outward institutions are without their use or obligation. On the contrary, they are, within certain limits, essential to the existence and profession of religion - the 'meat and drink' by which religion is sustained. But to identify them with religion, or account them the chief part of it, is to identify the meat and drink' which supports life, with life itself. The reign which Christ came to establish, and lives to advance, is a reign by his Spirit over the unseen movements of the soul. And apart from this, all forms of government, all modes of worship, all systems of discipline, all outward ordinances are but a mock-Christianity!-the show without the substance!—the casket without the jewel! The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.'
The righteousness' characteristic of Christ's kingdom, is internal righteousness, or conformity to the will of God, in contradistinction to mere external and ritual observance. Human legislators must be content with outward obedience, since neither their cognizance nor their control reaches farther; but the prerogative of God is seen in commanding the heart and swaying the will. It is the submission of the inner man, that He claims as his due! And no one can be said to have the kingdom of God within him-whatever be the conformity of his outer doings-who does not obey the will of God from the heart; who does not take the whole will of God for his rule, and take it too in its largest extent and spirituality; who does not cherish a principle of aversion to all sin ful desires as well as unholy deeds, and labour to have every thought and imagination, as well a every word and action, brought into cap>the law of Christ! Such a righteous
'Peace,' as a characteristic of Christ's kingdom, stands opposed to the strife and debate which exclusive attention to things external is apt to engender. Like 'righteousness,' it is the inmate only of a heart which has been purged of its enmity to God and man, by faith in the redeeming love of a reconciled Father; and as righteousness consists in conformity to God, so it displays itself in brotherly sentiments towards men. This 'peace' is the very opposite of that party-spirit which so widely prevails among Christians, to the scandal of the church, and the extinction of charity. It has no sympathy with that narrow bigotry which excludes from the pale of Christ's kingdom all who decline to conform to a particular form of outward profession, or with that love of disputation and controversial triumph which turns zeal for the truth into an apple of discord. It loves to dwell on the points cn which Christians agree more than on those on which they differ. It makes allowances for the weakness of brethren ; refuses to impute bad motives; and hails with delight the evidences of real religion, whatever be the sect or party in which they appear. And as it considers Christian unity to consist in oneness of spirit rather than in outward uniformity, and schism to be a breach of brotherly love rather than a departure from established order; so it directs its chief efforts towards the cure of the misunderstandings and heart-burnings that separate Christians, and strives, as its grand object, to bring all under the practical influence of Christ's new commandment. What a beautiful spirit! How suitable in the subjects of a kingdom of which the peaceable and peace-making Jesus is the Head! Would God it were universally cherished and displayed!
'Joy in the Holy Ghost' is the holy delight which springs from a persuasion of the indwelling and sanctifying operations of the divine Spirit. The Holy Ghost is the grand privilege of the kingdom-the great promise of the Father-the blessed legacy bequeathed by Christ to his church; and the possession of such a gift cannot but prove a source of joy unspeakable to all who have reason, whether from faith in the divine promise, or from observation of the effects produced on the soul, to conclude that it is theirs. The Spirit
is the 'unction' whereby believers are made kings | a Mediator that we can draw near to His throne; and priests unto God, and taught to understand and without a persuasion of His being at peace and relish the truth as it is in Jesus with us, it is impossible to feel that child-like confidence which is essential to acceptable prayer. The assurance, however, that He is pacified, emboldens us to go and spread out our wants before Him-while the additional assurance that he is the willing bestower of peace and happiness, encourages us to expect a favourable audience and answer.
The Spirit is the 'seal' of God upon their souls, whereby their Father bears them witness that they are his, and assures them of their interest in his love and favour. The Spirit is the earnest of the future inheritance,' being given them as a pledge, that they shall obtain, in due season, all the eternal benefits which Christ has purchased. The Spirit is the 'first-fruits' of the future glory-and an assurance therefore to all who enjoy his communications, of the full harvest of unending blessedness which is reserved in heaven.' In fact, in this one privilege of the Spirit, all the blessings of the kingdom are included-all that is necessary to render believers safe and happy-all that is necessary to assure them of the love of God and of eventual felicity with him. And how should it fail to fill them with joy-abiding, exquisite joy? What better proof can we have of the favour of God-what higher dignity can we enjoy—what greater assurance of eternal glory, than that God has given us his Holy Spirit? To know that we have the Spirit, is to taste the grapes of Canaan in the wilderness —to have heaven begun on earth! Compared with the calm and holy satisfaction which this persuasion imparts a satisfaction which gladdens without agitating the soul
'Like a summer wave, whose motion
compared with the tranquil and abiding light of this holy joy, the turbulent pleasures of the world are but as the crackling of thorns—a sudden, and soon-extinguished blaze!
'Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen,' Heb. xiii. 20, 21.
'The God of peace.' God the Father is entitled to this appellation, both because he is fully pacified by the atonement of Christ, and because he is the author and giver of peace. In approaching Him in prayer for spiritual blessings, it is necessary to recognise the relation in which he stands to us as a reconciled God, for it is only through
"That brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus.' The Father showed himself to be the God of peace, by awarding to our surety the honours of a glorious resurrection. No sooner had the Saviour completed his vicarious work by submitting to the agony of an accursed death, and the shame of an unhonoured burial, than an angel was despatched from the court of heaven to unbar the gates of the tomb, and, by setting the mighty captive free, to proclaim to the universe the Divine acceptance of his work. Christ was thus raised again for our justification. And we have, therefore, the blessed privilege of knowing that the God whom we approach has solemnly and publicly declared his full satisfaction with the work which forms our plea, to His favour and help.
"That great Shepherd of the sheep. In the case of Christ, the honours of a resurrection were but preparatory to the higher honour of investiture with all power as the Shepherd and King of his Church. So fully satisfied and well pleased was the Father with what Christ had done on earth for His glory and man's salvation, that He not only brought him again from the dead, but endowed him with power and authority, as 'the great Shepherd,' to give eternal life to the sheep, to carry them in his arms, to gather them to his fold, and so to guide, feed, defend, and preserve them, that none of them should ever perish, or be plucked out of his hand. The willingness of God to bless us, was thus attested by his delegating the power of saving us to one whose interest in our welfare and desire to help us admit of no suspicion. And cold and unconfiding indeed, must be our hearts, if, after such a display of the good-will of Heaven, we
doubt of our Father's readiness to hear our prayers!
'Through the blood of the everlasting covenant.' This expression seems designed to qualify not any one of the preceding clauses separately, but the whole of them collectively, and to indicate the ground on which the Father has become reconciled to us, and raised our Shepherd to the right hand of power. The blood of the covenant'