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believes, and with whom God is ever well-pleased. | the surrender of a 'right eye, or a right hand,' we There also is the testimony of Jesus himself, on shall nevertheless feel our duty to please him, and which the sinner rests as his warrant to come to shall wish, not to bring it down to the level of our God; namely, that he is able to save them to the corruption, but to raise our souls to the purity of uttermost that come unto God by him, and that the heavenly precept, 'to stand perfect and comhim that cometh he will in no wise cast out.' Hav-plete in all the will of God.' 'Lord, increase our ing thus come he receives farther the testimony of Jesus, how he ought to walk and to please God, and how he may find grace from God to work in him, both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Farther still, from the same testimony of Jesus, he is able to apprehend by his faith, as the substance of things hoped for, the glorious nature of this recompense of reward, laid up in store for them that love him; and so to 'press forward to the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.'
faith;' may it 'grow exceedingly;' may we 'look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen;' may we never cast away our confidence which hath great recompense of reward, neither may we rest satisfied with the thought of having obtained this precious faith through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; but may we 'give all diligence to add to our faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly-kindness and charity; that we may be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.'
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them,' Isa. viii. 20.
HE that cometh unto God must believe that he is; and he that would please God must welcome his own instructions as to the best way of pleasing him. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God;' and without such a faith as receives and rests upon that word, it is indeed impossible to please God. To that word faith must look, as the sole and supreme rule of the truths to be believed, and of the duties to be rendered. To the law and to the testimony.'
Thus does faith, looking to the power, and grace, and promises of the Redeemer, animate every soul of man with the testimony, that he may, indeed, please God, and find him a most gracious rewarder. This faith alone presents to sinful man sufficient encouragements to think of pleasing God, and in the very nature of these encouragements, the most suitable motives to please him more and more as a happy service. Looking by faith to what God is in himself, and what he hath done for us; to the infinite glories of his nature, and to the transcendant love of the Redeemer, we receive the most exalted views of our obligation to please him, and experience the most transforming influence of things not seen. Looking by faith to the things hoped for, to the reward of the inheritance, we reach the gates of the celestial city, and view by the same faith the paradise of God, and the multitude of the redeemed, and the glories of the eternal state; and are constrained to exclaim, Behold! what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God.' Faith By these terms is the divine word very generthus worketh by the power of the world to come, ally and very suitably denominated; "a testimony' and by the love of the Lord whom you serve. from God himself, pledging his own veracity in Living by this faith, we are constrained to count the declaration of those truths which we are conall things but loss, for the excellency of the know-cerned to believe; and a law' from God on high, ledge of Christ Jesus our Lord;' to live henceforth pronouncing by his own authority those precepts not unto ourselves, but unto him who died for us which we are called to obey. Nor was this and rose again.' We thus learn not to calculate merely a voice of words spoken, to be passed how little may please him, but to consider how from one human being to another, and preserved much we may do to serve him. The law of our God as they best could for their guidance; a word and the love of our Lord will then be in our heart, which might have been changed, forgotten, or and our heart's desire and prayer will be to know lost; but 'a scripture,'-words written or recorded, all that he hath showed to us to be good, and to to remain indelible and unaltered; always at hand do all that he hath declared to be his will. How-to be consulted, and to be re-called again and ever high that will may be above our strength, however contrary to our natural inclinations, however opposed to our earthly interests, requiring
again to remembrance. 'Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;' and not only spake, but wrote as they were com
uttered with the lips, to be professed as a creed;
manded, that we might believe. "The Lord said | the conversion of the soul to God, the soul even to Moses, Write thou these words, for after these of the most simple-minded among men. It is not words I have made a covenant with thee and to be regarded as a mere matter of knowledge, with Israel;' and to Habakkuk, 'Write the vision, to be thoroughly learned in all its parts, as a and make it plain upon tables, that he may run system of doctrine, or a record of events, or a colthat readeth it.' 'Whatsoever things were writ-lection of sayings, to dwell in the memory, to be ten aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.' It is most clearly, therefore, at once our privilege and our duty to know the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation, and thoroughly furnished unto all good works;' to look to them at all times, and in all circumstances, with stedfast faith, as a light shining in this dark world, to cheer our hearts; as a lamp put into our hands, to guide our steps.' It is complete as a directory, containing all that is essential for us to know concerning God, and all that is necessary for bringing us to God. Nothing is to be added to it, and nothing is to be diminished from it. It is infallible as a standard of truth and duty, and to its decision, without any appeal, must be submitted, without reserve, all our opinions, reasonings, desires, and actions: 'to the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, there is no light in them;' no morning dawn, but only leaving us in the darkness of night, or leading us into deeper darkness and distress, farther away from God and out of the paths of peace. It is authoritative as a law, and alone capable of influencing the hearts of men amidst the storms of passion and the conflicts of temptation. Its sovereign word, 'thus saith the Lord,' with its solemn sanction of eternal weal or woe to all who receive or reject that word; this voice of the Father of our spirits and the Judge of the universe, speaking from heaven, penetrates to the heart and conscience like a two-edged sword, quick and powerful,' cutting short all delay, and compelling instant obedience. It is clear as a rule, and such as no humble believer, who sincerely desires to follow its counsel, and earnestly prays for the promised guidance, can fail to understand in its great and leading points of faith and practice; 'good and upright is the Lord, therefore will he teach sinners in the way.' 'The meek will he guide in judgment; and the meek will he teach his way.' The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant.'
Let us especially keep in mind the claims of the most high God to our implicit acquiescence and obedience, in all that he hath addressed to us in his word; and our duty, as his rational and accountable creatures, to go to its pages in a teachable and humble spirit, and to make it the rule and standard of all our principles, affections, and actions. Let us desire to say at all times, with the Psalmist, My heart standeth in awe of thy word;' and let us dread the thought of in any measure neglecting its great salvation, making light of its gracious invitations, and above all, making a mock of any of its words of grace and truth. How heinous the guilt of those, and how heavy the judgments denounced against those, who deliberately pervert the right ways of the "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting Lord- who call evil good, and good evil; who the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, mak- put darkness for light, and light for darkness.' ing wise the simple.' Let us here mark particu-Because they have cast away the law of the larly what it is that constitutes its perfection and excellence, viz. its suitableness and efficacy for accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it,
Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel; therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched
à sai 'n his name, receive, I à、rom us mouth, and lay up his - More to be desired are than much fine gold; sweeter Com bacy and the honey comb.'
gas them and smitten them.' | state. They may be known to us hereafter, and they may now be known to principalities and powers in heavenly places; but they are utterly beyond the reach of our present apprehension; it is high as heaven, what canst thou know; deeper than hell, what canst thou understand?" There are other deep things,' or at least 'secret things,' which, though possible, it would not be suitable or proper for us to know; such as the purposes of God in the works of his providence, in the case of nations and individuals, or in our own future progress and condition in this life, or in the peculiar manner of our existence in the world to come; things which it would be incompatible with the ends in view to make known, or which it would be injurious to our own peace to know. It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power.' 'I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.'
ay measure our views of its xoxx dand preciousness, let us see that we hood thereto according to its words, and con our hearts to receive its converting influence, norting promises, and holy precepts. Let us hold fast by its 'sure testimony' as the anchor of our souls, that we may neither be weary in well doing, nor moved away from the hope of the gospel. Let us be careful to draw daily from its pages, as from an inexhaustible fountain, fresh supplies of the living water which it contains; and to repair duly to all its appointed ordinances of grace, as wells of salvation' to our souls. Let us prize the written record, 'the scripture of truth' as a heavenly mine of unsearchable riches; as the last of our possessions with which we should ever consent to part; as the best gift that we can ever have the power to bestow; as the precious legacy of the Lord, who died for us; as the special conveyance, by his death, of our title to an incorruptible inheritance. So may we be enabled to enter fully into the sentiment of the devout Psalmist, and to say with unceasing and increasing thankfulness, the law of thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver.' Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage for ever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart."
"The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law,' Deut. xxix. 29. THERE are many deep things of God which no created being can fathom; such as his own essential nature and manner of existence, and mode of acting upon his creatures; and, even to the highest of the angelic hosts, it may be said, 'Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?' 'He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it.' There are many 'deep things of God;' at least, connected with his perfections, and providence, and purposes, which, however known by higher orders of beings, we have the proper faculties and means of knowot possibly know in our present
All such deep things, or secret things,' belong to God; many of them of necessity, as what he alone can know, and all of them as his province, as alone entitled to judge what should be revealed or retained, and so as proving his very preeminence and independence. It is the glory of God to conceal a thing,' and thus his creatures should have reason to adore his sovereignty and sufficiency in himself: 'how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out.' hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor? They belong to God as essential to his government of the world, and as training us to due humility of mind in his presence, and submission of our will to his authority, to receive the truth which he is pleased to make known, though we see only a part of it; and to trust in the righteousness of his dealings, though we see not all the reasons on which they rest;
and to yield obedience to all his precepts, though we know not all the uses which they serve. They belong to him of right, as his property, to impart to his creatures what portion of knowledge he pleases, and to give them the prospect of more as he may judge best for their happiness. And such, it may be presumed, will be one great source of happiness in the eternal world to all spiritual beings, to be always receiving more and more knowledge of himself, and of his excellencies, and of his glorious works; and yet to feel that the fountain of such blessings is inexhaustible, and that infinitely more yet remains to be learned and enjoyed, receiving eternally out of his fulness fresh light to behold his glory, and farther reasons to rejoice in his love.
To attempt to reach those secret things which
what is essential to our peace, and indicative of
God hath withheld, is at once a presumptuous many a single verse, contains the substance of impeachment of his goodness in so withholding them, and a rebellious endeavour to attain to them against his will. Such daring inquiries might well provoke the divine judgments, and do ordinarily bring their own punishment in their train; overwhelming often the proud reason which rushes into the depths of God's infinity, or at least swelling the heart with a foolish conceit of superior knowledge, and always involving those who are guilty of them in the most pernicious and perverse disputings, to the subversion often of their own faith, and to the hindrance of all godly edifying. But vain man will be wise, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind;' and there is no small hazard of falling into this snare of the tempter, inasmuch as 'the secret things' which belong to God, and the things revealed' for our use, do in fact border so closely upon each other, that it is very easy to pass from the plain path of the one into the deep abyss of the other. The great truths of salvation are made known simply as facts, without any account of the reasons for their existence, or the manner of their operation. The simplest of these facts, or rather of the ideas which they express, such as the being of a God, is a profound mystery; and every thing connected with the will or worship of an incomprehensible being, must lead into the depths of mysteriousness. To clear up their darkness, we are tempted to penetrate a little farther; and so are plunged into a deeper obscurity, and by all our labours to remove the difficulties in which we are involved, only 'darkening counsel by words without knowledge.' Thus some are fond to be wise above what is written,
wishing to impose along with it their own explan-Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot
bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me,' John
ation; while others are too wise to receive what is written, because they want along with it a sufficient explanation. But the silence is as instructive as the language of scripture. Its truths must be apprehended by humble faith; 'YE believe in God,' said the blessed Redeemer and they disdain to be comprehended or modelled to his diciples, 'believe also in me;' and it is by our proud reason. They only are truly wise, manifest to all who believe God in his word, that who keep close to that which is written, and it is the will of God and the work of God, that who say of all attempts to go beyond it, in the 'we believe on him whom he hath sent;' this is humble language of the Psalmist, such know- his commandment, 'that we should believe on ledge is too wonderful for me: it is high, I cannot the name of his Son Jesus Christ.' 'God so attain unto it.' But the things revealed com- loved the world, that he gave his only begotten prise all that is necessary for us to know; and Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not nothing is kept back that could be profitable perish, but have everlasting life.' 'Him hath Both the way of salvation, and the God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and rule of life, are most clearly made known, and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and most carefully repeated for our instruction and forgiveness of sins.' This was the work which encouragement. Many a single chapter, nay, was given him to do, viz., the work of man's
redemption; and which he finished on the cross, both by his propitiatory suffering, and by his perfect righteousness. But how is this redemption applied to our souls? and how are we made partakers of the benefits which Christ thus purchased? By the power of his own Spirit in our hearts, 'working faith in us, and so uniting us to Christ.' This faith is the connecting bond or point of contact, if we may so speak, between the Saviour and our souls. 'Him hath God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood;' and being justified by this faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We are thus found in him, not having our own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.' But Christ, as a Saviour, saves his people from their sins; not merely from the debt of sin, but from the death of sin; not merely making them partakers of his salvation, but making them meet for the enjoyment of that salvation; and this he does by the power of the same Spirit, and by means of the same instrument; 'sanctified by faith, that is in me,' 'purifying their hearts by faith.' God hath chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.'
as our root and stem, a sufficient stimulus for its own support, and a supply of nourishment for the production of fruit. He is full of grace and
truth;' and 'of his fulness we must all receive, and grace for grace,' grace after grace. In this way only can we live in the Spirit, and grow in grace, and bear the fruits of righteousness, viz., by the lively and habitual exercise of faith towards the Saviour, as the source of all heavenly blessings to our souls. Faith not only maintains the soul's reliance on the merits of the Redeemer's death on the cross, but carries its views within the vail, to behold what he is still doing on his throne in the heavens. It thus beholds him ever living to make intercession, ever able to save to the uttermost; continually carrying forward his gracious plans, and communicating his heavenly blessings. It thus brings near to the soul all those sanctifying truths and constraining motives, which produce the spiritual fruit of holy affections and grateful obedience. In proportion to the strength and increase of this faith, does the believer abound in such fruits of righteousness to the glory of the heavenly husbandman. Through faith, as the spiritual organ, does the great Sanctifier show to the soul things invisible, and convey to the soul influences from above, thus at once invigorating its graces, and increasing its fruitfulness. Thus, in Christ Jesus 'nothing availeth but faith which worketh by love; and, in the sight of God, no obedience is pleasing but what is thus 'a work of faith, and a labour of love shown to his name.'
Not only, then, must we be found in him, but also abide in him, and by the same faith which brings us into this justified state, must we both be preserved therein, while we live here on earth, and prepared for eternal life in heaven. Never must our faith lose sight, or lose hold, of him who is our soul's life; and our connection with But however we may apprehend or explain him must be as close and constant, as that of the the process, such, our Lord declares, is the effect branch with its root. As the branch of the vine of the union and intercourse with him, which concan bear no fruit, except by its close connection stitutes a genuine disciple: 'He that abideth in and continued communication with the root, and me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much the regular supply of nourishment through the fruit.' Without him we can do nothing;' but, stem on which it grows; so neither can our souls with 'Christ strengthening us, we can do all preserve a saving interest in Christ's merits, things.' 'So must Christ dwell in our hearts by or experience the sanctifying influence of his faith,' and so must we live the life which we grace, unless by the exercise of an abiding and now live in the flesh, by the faith of the Son of living faith in him, as the sacred source or God.' So must we connect our expectation of root of all heavenly blessings and spiritual life any blessing from God with the thought of Christ, to fallen man. An abiding and living faith as its Author to our souls; and offer every serit must be, in order to bear any fruit, for his vice to God only through Christ, as our Advoheavenly Father's use. A dead branch, though cate with the Father. So must we continue to apparently adhering to the stem of the vine, yet, look to him, not only for the gift of eternal life, having no living principle in itself, nor channel of which we are so unworthy; but also for the of communication with the root, must remain preparation to enjoy a heavenly life, for which altogether unfruitful, as well as altogether unseemly; and is doomed to be taken away, and cast into the fire. Thus must our faith, not as a mere outward profession, but as an inward principle, continue to draw from Christ, and through Christ,
we are so unfit. So must we look to him, not only for the first principle of spiritual life, but also for the daily support of the life of God in our souls. So must we consider our true life, in all its functions, as hidden with Christ in