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"fkeep under my body; and bring it intv subject ion... A Cor. ix. 27.
. --- The neglect of this brings on leanness of soul. If this enemy gains ground, it is alarming; if He prevails, it causes mourning; but when he is kept low, and supplies are cut off, his power is weakened, and victory over him is easily gained. Such are the sensitive powers, carnal affections, and sinful inclinations which compose part of our present frame, the body; a body of sin and death. To gratify and fulfil them is very pleasing and delightful to- nature and sense. But how awfully subversive of the comforts of faith, the peace of the mind, and the joy of the soul, thy own sad experience,
0 disciple, hath proved. Nor can it be otherwise; let us not deceive burselves; we cannot indulge and pamper the life of the flesh but to the hurt and injury of the life of the soul There is an irreconcileable enmity between the flesh and the spirit, the old man and the new. The variance and strife will ever subsist while we are in the body. It is the Lord's sovereign will to leave the Canaanites still in the land, and to drive them out by little and little. For "behold a King shall reign in righteousness."....Isa. xxxii. 1. This is our beloved Jesus. Here is the exercise of faith in him, the touch-stone of our love, and the proof of our allegiance to him, in striving daily for the mastery, to conflict with and fight against every inordinate affection and corrupt lust of our fallen, sinful nature, and to keep them under, and bring them into subjection to him. It is hard work to fight with an enemy that is part of one's self; but Jesus' banner hath this motto, "Deny thyself, take up thy cross daily, and follow me." Though the work is ours, yet thine, O Jesus, is the power.
Faith in Jesus not only accepts his imputed righteousness for justification, but has also a lively dependence on Christ for every supply of his Spirit for further sanctification. It leaves not the soul in a lazy languid state', but causes it to aspire after greater delight in and conformity to God; it eyes God as its centre; enjoyment of him as its happiness, and full conformity to him as its perfection. To indulge, pamper, and gratify the flesh, is contrary hereto; therefore mortification and self-denial, and subjecting the flesh to the spirit, will be the exercise of living, believing, loving souls. But why all this? not from legal principles: not from slavish fear of hell and damnation; not through dread of being reprobated and cast away for ever; No:. Paul had not so learned, nor did Christ teach so. Believers act from love to Jesus, being assured of perfect salvation by him. "Eternal life is the gift of God."....Rom. vi. 23.
What diff'rent pow'rs of grace and sin Thus will the flesh and spirit strive, Attend this mortal state! And vex and break my peace;
1 bate the thoughts that work within, I long to live a glorious life,. And do the works I hste. When sin shall ever cease*
The Lord will not cast of his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance....Psalm xciv. 14.
Therefore, drooping soul, cast not off thy confidence in him. A meteor will expire when the earthly matter is spent that maintained the blaze for a time. Profession may carry to an high elevation. Persons may appear as fixed stars in the church of Christ, but time may discover them to be no other than shining meteors, or shooting and falling stars. Yea, angels kept not their first estate. But the Lord's chosen people is his portion. The gates of hell shall not prevail against the church of Christ. "All those that be planted in the house of the Lord, shall flourish in the courts of our God.".... Psalm xcii. 13. Here is the consolation of Christ, the comfort of love, the fellowship of the Spirit, "He that believeth in Jesus shall be saved;" not for days, months, years, biit saved with an everlasting salvation. For all such are the objects of the everlasting love of an unchangeable God. He never casts off nor forsakes them. Even when in the furnace of trials and afflictions, hear the declarations of love concerning them: "They Shall call on my name, and I will hear them. I will say, it is my people." Hear the claim of faith: "Then shall they say, The Lord is My God."....Zech. xiii. 9. David knew that friends had cast him off: yea, father and mother might forsake him; his frames and feelings had forsaken him, his joys had withered, and his comforts seemed all blasted in an hour. But says he, age and observation have fully confirmed me in this truth, "I never saw the righteous forsaken of his God:" "Though he fall, he' shall not be utterly cast down." Why so? Truly, saith he, "The Lord upholdeth him with his hand."....Psalm xxxvii. 24. Falls may wound the soul, bruise the spirit, cause sinkings of heart, and dejections of mind. Satan may sadly daub arid bespatter the poor child of God, and endeavour to persuade him that he is in such a filthy condition, that his Father doth not know him, will not own him. The Lord help us to fear such a state, and to watch and pray that we may stand! Yet the Lord will not cast away his people whom he did foreknow, nor forsake his chosen inheritance. There is balm in Gilead. Jesus is the skilful physician; he will heal and restore his beloved members; he knows them, he loves them, they are his property. O how should this endear Jesus to our souls! cause us to cleave unto him with full purpose of heart; embitter sin, and cause us to cry continually, "Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. "....Psalm xvii. 5.
Praise to the goodness of the Lord, Whence then should doubts and fears
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer....Rom. xii. 12.
The gospel brings us from a hopeless into a hopeful state; but not into an independent one. We are never to expect freedom from trials and tribulations in this vale of tears; they lie in our way to the end of our hope, the enjoyment of God in glory. Faith takes hold of something that is material, and maketh the soul triumph in hope. Hope makes the soul joyful, and excites to patience. Tribulations cause a throne of grace to be prized, a covenant God in Christ to be sought unto and delighted in. In the rough waves rf difficulties, in the storm of affliction, in the boisterous sea of temptation, hope is an anchor to the soul; when that is cast within the veil the vessel shall safely ride out every storm; though tossed, it shall not be driven from its moorings; it keeps the soul safe and steady.
The grace of patience is ranged between the joy of hope and the constant exercise of prayer, as though it could not exist without either, but is supported and strengthened by both. Jonah sleeps sound in the ship, but prays hard in the whale's belly. Distress and hope raise an importunate cry. A hopeful soul will be much in prayer; and the more in converse and communion with God, the soul will more thrive in every grace of the Spirit. "Ask, and ye shall receive," is the grand charter of heaven. Yea more, lest children grow remiss, be sparing in their addresses, and content themselves with any portion, when the exuberance is necessary, saith our munificent Lord, "Ask and receive, that your joy may be full."....John xv. 11. Sip not at the streams; but drink large draughts at the fountain-head. . Ever remember, christian; the life of sense is contrary to the life of faith. Walking after the flesh, gratifying its lusts, conforming to a sinful world, deadens the life of the soul, indisposes it to prayer, makes hope decline, impatience prevail, and all the graces wither. And canst thou delight to live at a distance from thy Saviour? What 1 without a sense of his peace and love? Wouldst thou not fear to die in such a frame? " Keep yourselves in the love of God," is an evangelical exhortation....Jude, ver. 21....looking unto Jesus under every circumstance....avoid every thing contrary to love....study to be diligent in those means which tend to excite and strengthen the liveliness of faith, the comforts of love, the joy of hope, and the patience of the soul. '.' If ye do these things, ye shall never fall."....2 Pet. i. 10.
Saints, at your Father's heav'nly word, Just in the last distressing hour, Give up your comforts lo the Lord; The Lord displays deliv'ring pow'r; He shall restore what you resign, The mount of trials is the place
Or grant you blessings more divine. Where we shall see surprising grace.
TJien had the churches rest and were edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy . Ghost, were multiplied*...Acts ix. 31.
The form of godliness without the power, is sufficient to make men saints, good church-men, honest souls in the eyes of the carnal world. But when, by the power of the Spirit our hearts possess the faith of Jesus, it cannot be hid, but the life of Jesus also will be manifested in our walk and conversation. Then persecution awaits us, the world hates us, their former esteem for and good opinion of us",' is> changed into hatred and opposition. The word of the Lord must be fulfilled, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."....2 Tim. iii. 12. This is the lot of every disciple, it is a touch-stone of faith; but this is over-ruled by our master's wisdom, for his glory and our spiritual advantage. These have proved the most thriving seasons to the church of God, most prosperous to the souls of disciples; then the love of this world has been most purged from the heart, and the closest fellowship with Jesus enjoyed i without adversity our graces wither.
But is the rage and fury of opposers abated? Have we a little more rest and quiet from those, who, at our first conversion to Jesus, vexed ami oppressed us? Here a godly jealousy is needful, close examination necessary. Is Jesus still dear to us? Do we keep close to him as the beloved of our souls? Are the promises of God still precious? and do we stand steady against the smiles of the world, preferring Jesus to all? See, mark the blessed connection between edification of the truth, walking in the fear of the Lord, and enjoying the comforts of the Holy Ghost. So the church of old prospered when rest was given them. These things are inseparable. True saving knowledge of Jesus in the heart, ever discovers itself by a holy, loving,'filial fear of the Lord in the life. The more we are edified in the faith, this fear increaseth: faith and fear are founded in love, and will be accompanied with the comfort of the Holy Ghost.
But though the churches had rest from persecution, still the mem« bers were in the body; Satan was active; afflictions and temptations ceased not. In this, nor they nor we shall ever be exempt in this vale of tears: to endure them, we are taught, is part of.our blessedness.... James i. 12. By them we learn many useful lessons of faith, patience, humility, and resignation to the will of God, and are made the more to partake of his holiness; so the Holy Ghost sanctifies them to our profit, and enables us to glorify the Lord our God, being cheerful and confident irt Jesus' promise': "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation.".*..* Rev. iii. 10.
Sat thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob: but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel. ...Isa. xliii. 22.
"god hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.".... •Rom. xi. 2. Zealous professors may become shameful apostates. God's own children may awfully backslide from him, and sadly decline in their love to him and service of him. Buch a conduct is most base to the best of beings, most ungrateful to the most loving Lord and Saviour, most wounding to sensible, gracious hearts: but such wantiering sheep shall hear the faithful shepherd's voice, and shall return with weeping and supplications. Slighted mercies, forfeited privileges, neglected means of grace, indifference to the cause of Jesus, and growing weary of the Saviour's ways and service, bear .sad witness against the soul.
A little self-examination will discover that such an one hath found' other lovers; with them he is dejighted, and after them he hath gone. If the life of sense prevails against the life of faith, the lusts of the flesh are preferred to spiritual delights; carnal, worldly company is more relished than the communion of the saints; fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness is more attended to, than fellowship •with Jesus: if the private duties of the closet, the public ordinances of God's house are forsaken: if to all this there is an indifference and unconcern of soul, can the solemn charge of our Lord be heard, "Thou hast been weary of me," without pleading guilty? Be astonished, O heavens, at this! Weary In serving the Lord may be the christian's experience through infirmity; but to be weary of the Lord himself, the Lord of every perfection, the God of all mercies, the Father of all consolation, the only Saviour of our souls, our only hope in time, our all in eternity; to be weai'y of, to grow shy to such a being, O what shall one say! truly, love is patient and prayer powerful; but for the love of the Father, and the intercession of Jesus, such a soul might, ere this, have reaped his deserts in torments, and been weary of his punishment in hell. But O, after such base conduct, hear the declaration of Love...."I, even I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions, for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."....verse 25. Therefore there is hope, grace reigns, grace abounds, mercy is free, proclamation is made. "Return, (such a temper must be changed, or death cannot be hopeful, nor eternity desirable), return to the Lord Thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity."....Hosea xiv. 1.
Where should my foolish passions rove? Let me be fasten'd to thy cross,
As 1 have tasted in thy love, . Make haste my days to reach the goal
As I have found in thee! And bring ^j heart to rest
Wretch that I am, to wander thus On the dear centre of my soul,