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THE BIBLE OUR STRONGHOLD.
As the Lord's vineyard (Isa. v.) was walled in, and hedged round, so also is the believer enclosed by the blessed contents of the word of God, from falling into those sins which so easily beset him. Various indeed are the contents of the Scriptures; but they all tend to one and the same end, the defence the bappiness—the peace of bim, who by the power of precious faith, can read, and claim the Bible as his “heritage.”
In one instance the believer's security arises from a knowledge of the dangers by which he is surrounded, and by the warnings so repeatedly given when he turns to the right hand, and when he turns to the left. And the more we know of ourselves, and make the word of God our study and meditation, the more must we be impressed with the truth of its divine origin, for we shall see the simple statement, that the Lord knows the heart, and what is in man, fully illustrated in the wonderful and wise adaptation of the bible to our state, and in the completeness of its provisions for those multiform attacks to which we are exposed through the evil workings of our own miserable nature—the temptations of the worldthe subtlety of the devil.
Then again the bible abounds with exhortations to holiness-how does it press a trading with the talents
committed to our care, so that to faith we may add virtue, and to virtue knowledge. 1 Peter i.
We are furnished with this key to the conduct of the Israelites, the sad history we read of their ingratitude and rebellion, was written for our admonition. 1 Cor. x.
God himself gives us the character of his own word, and how richly was the Psalmist blessed with a knowledge of its inestimable value-what an experience had he of its power in casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ ;he had gained understanding, through God's precepts, and therefore he hated every false way; the word hid within his heart kept him from sinning. Oh wonderful testimony to the efficacy of the scriptures !--who is it that gives it? One of Adam's fallen race-a man of like passions with ourselves our temptations may be or may not be identical with his-our trials may be greater or less in measure and degree:--but we possess the same inestimable treasure as he did, nay more, we behold the fulfilment of those promises, which he could only behold afar off, but which by faith he was persuaded of and embraced. H xi. And we have the assurance of God, the faithful God, that we shall not be tempted above what we are able, but that a way of escape shall be made; so that we shall be able to bear it.
But it is not in nature's power to draw even from the scriptures resolutions as to leading a holy lifeour heart is full of all ancleanness, God's word is the light which we hate and avoid, we must be taught of God before we can have any love for him or for his book, or before we can truly exclaim-How sweet it is to my taste ! yea sweeter than honey to my mouth. Psalm cxix. 102, 103.
Another form of defence, is the knowledge which the bible gives us of our true position. “ What have we that we have not received ?” Oh what a strong-hold is this single text against a host of enemies ! how can spiritual pride possibly creep in, while we are so safely kept? bow can presumption gain an entrance, or envy and strife, or that busy intruding spirit which is ever tempting us to measure ourselves by ourselves, and to estimate our own attainments more highly than those of others ?
The obverse side of spiritual pride is despair and distrust-if we be not buoyed up with false feelings of our own strength and power, we sink under the sense of our absolute weakness. Under such a state of mind it would be well for us to ask if we have fled to our stronghold ? No man can keep alive his own soul, we are kept by the power of God through faith, (1 Peter i. 5.) our security depends upon truth, and the truth is that believers are the workmanship of God, (Eph. ii. 10.) he it is who works in as to will and to do. Whatever be our trouble or our difficulty, at once let us fly for refuge-God is the author of faith, and of wisdom, and of every good and perfect gift-Whatever be our need, we may have it all supplied out of the fulness that is in Cbrist Jesus; in every point we may be enriched by him. 1 Cor. i. We are apt to entertain notions of ourselves, and of our gracious Father, which are altogether baseless.
Our distress of mind, and our low views, arise first from the sincere wish probably of pleasing God; and then in finding how deficient and covered with in
firmity are the best things we have to offer—the perfectness of God's character, and the consideration of the responsibility which hangs over us, and our own corruptions, are a burden which we find far too heavy for us to bear. But where in such a view (which cannot but tend to distress) do we place Christ, the Saviour, the Lamb that taketh away our sin, and whose voice now addresses us in his living word, " Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy Jaden, and I will give you rest!” Comfort is offered, relief is proffered, support is vouchsafed, mercy is held out, but to which of these blessings does our experience testify? And why is it so ? for these blessings are not hidden, they are not far off-they are not in heaven that it should be said, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring them unto us.
Neither are they beyond the sea, that it should be said, Who shall go over the sea and bring them unto us, that we may hear them and possess them-but they are nigh us, even in our mouth. Deut. xxx. 11. What then hinders us from the enjoyment of them? We see the good of God's chosen, Ps. cvi,—why are we prevented from rejoicing in their gladness? Is it not for want of faith to lay hold of the promises ? We may be sure that God will be as good as his word, he cannot deny himself--the heavens and earth shall pass away, but God's word is for ever and shall not be abolished. Ask, and it shall be given. Ask, and doubt not. So shall light burst out of obscurity, and mourning and heaviness shall be turned into gladness and thanksgiving. The weakness of man shall be forgotten, for the support of the everlasting arms beneath us, shall be felt. Our corruptions while they hamble and grieve us, shall not prevail to bear us down, for Christ shall stand before us in the full glory of his perfections, covering us with the robe of his righteousness. And we shall be enabled to find, that he is made of God unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption ; and possessed of a faith which worketh by love, while we sball not be blind to the unworthiness of our best endeavours to glorify God, we shall see them presented to God by Jesus, washed in his blood; for he ever liveth to make intercession for as.
The religion of Christ is the only source of support and comfort under the trying vicissitudes of life ; but it is not for this reason, that we would have all men to be Christians. Oh what important and awful truths are there to which so many are blind! If we be without Christ, we have no life in us—we are on the eve of being overwhelmed by the waters of the deluge, we are dying of the bite of the fiery serpent, we are on the very edge of the bottomless pit.
But believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved. We must cast away all proud reasoning, and submit to become fools that we may be wise. 1 Cor. iii. 18. Jesus is lifted up, we must look in faith to bim, he died to save us from the wrath to come-his warning voice now hails us, it may arrest our progress, it may cut short our plans, but it will save us from destruction, and lead us from this fading world, to a city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
May God send down upon us a continual increase of his Holy Spirit, that our eyes may be opened to see the wondrous things which the Bible contains, and may the same eternal Spirit cause us to appropriate to ourselves its precious pages, so that we may go on
our way humbly, yet rejoicing ; praising and glorifying God.