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Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not.... Jer. xlv. 5.
The glorious company of the apostles, the goodly fellowship of the prophets, the noble army of martyrs, every member of the church of Christ in every age, were called to deny and mortify self. In this there is no difference: all are equally clothed with the same corrupt nature, are men of like passions, and are therefore in danger of selfseeking, and of having their affections attracted from Jesus, to the alluring objects of this present evil world. The scripture has recorded a very short chapter of the prophet Baruch's conduct. On reading this we may truly look within, around us, and then look up and cry, "Lord, what is man?" and with astonishment may add, "that thou art mindful of him."
Yea, what is every Baruch (i. e. blessed man) who bends the knee to Jesus, and is renewed in the spirit of his mind? Alas! he is still of the earth, earthly, prone to cleave to the dust, ready to seek great things for himself, from the objects of time and sense. One would have thought, just at a time when the prophet had been reading the , dreadful roll, full of mourning, lamentation and woe, which were shortly to come upon the kingdom, this would have entirely curbed every carnal desire after selfish views and earthly glory. But no; the lusts of the flesh can only be mortified by the power of the Spirit. Jeremiah is sent with a loving warning and tender prohibition to Baruch: 'Is this a time for self-seeking, instead of thy master's glory? What! aspire after worldly honor and dignity in a time of threatened ruin: be wise; know thy station; act in character.'
Here, O Christian, see the picture of thy own corrupt nature. Know thyself; consider, thou also art in the body: remember, "in thy flesh dwelleth no good thing." Though under threatened ruin and destruction, yet it will lust after such things which are agreeable to its carnal state. Never say with Hazael, "Am I a dog that I should act thus and thus?" Beware of the deceitful reasonings of the flesh. It has ever plausible pleas to urge for its gratifications. Selfseeking is one of the lusts of the flesh. All views that arise from self, centre in self, and tend to please self, are contrary to fellowship in Jesus. If self is indulged, it will prove like a pampered steed, to run away with thy spirit from thy beloved. Therefore he asketh, "Seekest thou great things for thyself?" he forbids; "Seek them not." What will it profit thee if thou couldst gain the whole world and lose sweet peace with God, comfortable communion with Jesus, and the joyful fellowship of the Holy Ghost?" "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon....Matt. vi. 24.
J.jet not your hearts be troubled; ye believe i?iGod, believe also in me...John xiv. 1.
Jesus comforted the heart of a sorrowful widow by restoring her dead son to life again. Could he not also, by the power of his Spirit, consolate the hearts of his dear disciples, without preaching outward rules and directions to them? Plainly he will be heard as our prophet. Those disciples only, who obey the word of his doctrine, shall enjoy the consolations of his love. So it seemeth good to our Lord to teach; so it is necessary for us to believe. Troubles are the common lot of God's dearest children: "Many are the afflictions of the righteous." ....Psalm xxxiv. 19. They feel and groan under heart troubles, which strangers know not of; inward disquietudes, which carnal men are utterly free from, are oft amazed to hear of; and are ready t» hug themselves, and thank God they are not troubled about.
Ah, this inward insensibility is a bad sign! But disciples' troubles are Jesus' concerns. He has a remedy against them: he will give comfort under them. Believing in an absolute God will not do this. Nay, the glory of his majesty, the greatness of his power, the perfection of his justice, &c. appear in dread array against us. We dare hoi think of God out of Christ, knowing ourselves to be poor sinners. Therefore, says Jesus, "Believe also in me." Believe my humanity: that I became Man for your sakes, died for your salvation, and am risen again in your nature to pray for you. Remember the covenant that is established between the Father and me on your account. When thoughts arise in your mind, and your poor hearts are troubled •With finding you are still but "unprofitable servants," you see much cause for sorrow, mourn and complain that there are many thing* amiss in you; that you do not believe so perfectly, love so comfortably, obey so cheerfully as you wish; yet ever remember, I am your Mediator before the throne; you stand not in the Father's love for your works'sake; buttheFatheriseverwell pleased with me. He loves you, and is well pleased with you for my sake. Do not distress your poor hearts* Sorrow not as without hope; but believe in me and be comforted. You have no sin, but my blood dearly atoned for; you want IK) perfection, but what my righteousness supplies; you stand in need of no holiness and conformity to me, but what the blessed Spirit bestows. Thus believe on me as your living head, thus daily look orl yourselves as my dear members, thus live on me and honor me as your Lord, and glorify me as your only Saviour. This is to obey Christ's command. Thus is the troubled heart comforted. This is our sweetest privilege; We should be concerned to make this our daily employ on earth. Shortly all our troubles and sorrows shall end, for "we shall meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we be ever with the Lord: wherefore comfort one another with these words.".... 1 These. iv. 17, 18. ...,
That by two immutable things, in which itivss impossible
for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who
have fled for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before
• -us....Heb. y\. 18.
• It is;.the glory of the gospel that it reveals glad tidings to hopeless, helpless sinners. It finds nothing in us to entitle us to the favor of God: but it brings all hope and consolation to the soul, founded upon the most absolute promises, and the strongest assurance of an immutable God. As verily as it is impossible for the Got! of truth to lie or forswear himself, so is it impossible for any of the heirs of promise to perith. Such is the blessed hope before us. Happy souls, who have fled to Jesus for refuge, and have laid hold of this hope!Henceforward nothing but consolation, strong consolation, ariseth to such poor sinners from the word of truth. This hope can never fail them; whateverwithin or without fluctuates or changes, this never can.
This hope is ever to be held fast, even though appearances wear a gloomy aspect, sense of comfort declines, feelings of joy seem dead, and all hope from ourselves forsakes us. But, Father, thy mercies never die; thy counsel shall stand; thy oath cannot fail. Hope in these is an anchor to the soul. Whatever storms or tempests are without, or when the swelling waves of corruption lift up their voice within, yet the God of hope is mightier than all, and the christian hope riseth above all; therefore is it sure and steady. It "is cast out of sight within the veil. By this blessed hope of the gospel, poor, sin-condemned, soul-distressed sinners, are kept steady to Jesus, and find a comfortable and secure refuge. And that precious Spirit, who shews them their danger, and guides them to safety,, causeth the joy of hope to spring up in their souls. They enjoy hope in themselves concerning their own state towards God through our Lord Jesus Christ, even a good hope through grace: and they are made to abound in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost. O this is a comforting, operative grace! it leads the soul to expect all that God has promised, even all the blessings of the everlasting covenant of grace, which flow to us from the life and death of Jesus; all are secured by the immutable counsel and solemn oath of an unchangeable God, both for time and eternity. And as a fruit and evidence that it is a holy, godly hope, it influences the soul in obedience to all the Lord's commands. "Every man that has this hope in him, purifies himself even as God is pure.".... 1 John iii. 3.
Thus Jesus is the only and alone object through whom God reveals the hope of salvation. His work is finished. It is our happiness-to believe this, and to rejoice in the hope it affords us, Christ is therefore ever to be looked to, and daily trusted in. And the more thou art exercised in this way, so much the more inward hope and joyful consolation will be experienced in the soul. "My hope is in ihee."....Psalm xxxix. 7.
And they said one to another, Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the zvay, and zvhile he opened to us the scriptures f ....Luke xxiv. 32.
When the fire of divine love burns in the heart, disciples cannot refrain speaking of it to each other. But how transient are the frames of God's dearest children! Too apt are the strongest believers to live upon sense and feeling, instead of faith and promises. The former may, and often doth fail in enjoyment, but the latter is founded upon the firm immutable foundation of the God of truth, therefore is sure and infallible.
These disciples were just before in dejection and despondency. The time was come for resurrection-conifort, but their Lord not appearing as they expected, they were sad. Jesus was with them, but they knew him not. He upbraids; "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken!" Then he expounds the scriptures concerning himself. Presently the fire kindles in their hearts. But it seems that it was soon past: yea, gone before they spoke of it. "did not our hearts burn?" how sweet Was it! what ravishing moments Were those! Doubtless they could have wished them to have continued always. So they should if the master saw good. If Jesus knew it was best, every disciple should enjoy hearts ever warm, ever glowing with the heavenly flame of divine Ibve. It verily is sweet to sense. Those who have been "baptized with the Holy Ghost, and fire" of divine love, will speak of it to the glory of Jesus, and long for more lasting enjoyment of it. This best wine is reserved for the last. Disciple, soon shalt thou drink thy fill, without danger of being intoxicated. But thou must wait the promise, as these disciples did. Thou must go to the same place where they now are, before thy thirsty soul is perfectly satisfied. May it be our present concern, that we give Jesus no cause to upbraid us for folly and unbelief, in not abiding by the prophets, promises, and his testimony! We are to live upon the truth of the word, and not upon fire and feeling within. But yet, disciples should ever be on their guard against such who deny the experienced comforts and joys of the Holy Ghost. Be not put off with dry notions, which are like the pale light of the waning moon; but administer not the animating warmth of the meridian sun. For, saith Jesus. "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life."....John vi. 63.
If sweet be our frame, Or if it remain,
We thank his dear name: And we are in pain,
If bitter we pray, We cheerfully bear, [it there.
And Jesus so loves us, he takes it away. And bless ota kind Saviour who suffers.
ijind then a lata, that when Iwould do good, evil is present V. with me....Rom. vii. 21.
The heathens in their sacrifices were wont to cry out, 'Keep at a distance, O ye profane:' but they withheld not their offerings, lest the unhallowed should be the more polluted, or their sacrifices be defiled by them. For the godly consolation, edification, and establishment of sanctified souls, it seemed meet for the spirit of wisdom that the apostle Paul should leave his experience in this epistle to pie Romans. Here he confesses himself a poor sinner, yet a holy and happy believer in Jesus. Hereby to many precious souls Jesus hath been made more infinitely precious, while sin has been viewed as more exceeding sinful, and themselves made to sink lower in humility at the feet of sovereign grace. Let those who dare advert to this blessed testimony for contrary purposes, remember the judge is at the door. Shortly they must account, if they turn the food of Cod's word to the poison of their own souls.
Fools make a mockof sin, while godly souls groan under the burden of in-dwelling corruption. The former's conduct is an awful proof of their state. The sorrows of the latter is a certain evidence of the spiritual life and sanctification of their souls, being born again of the Spirit; to do good is the delight of their hearts. Being living members of Jesus by faith, they love conformity to their head; being sons of God by adoption, it is their joy to love, obey, and please their heavenly Father in all things. Perfection in holiness they aspire after; entire freedom from sin they comfortably hope for: but the God of truth will not suffer his own elect to be deceived, and to think themselves what they are not, nor ever will be in the flesh, perfectly freed from sin; for the old man, with his affections and lusts, is ever near, ever present with them. "In their flesh dwells no good thing," nor ever will; they are not to expect any good from it; it lusts only to evil continually; their best thoughts are often interrupted and diverted, their most holy desires are often damped and discouraged, their best actions are seldom, if-ever, free from the bold intrusion of unwelcome guests from the world, flesh, and the Devil. 'I would be wholly devoted to the Lord, saith the gracious soul; all my powers and faculties, time and talents, all that I possess and enjoy, would I wholly (as assisted) freely and willingly dedicate in love to Jesus.' Scarce the pleasing thought is conceived, but the evil of pride injects. What a rare name will this acquire me! how shall I be admired, and shine as somebody in the christian world! O this sinks the christian with shame, and causes him to hide his head with holy blushing. But let not this discourage thee. Paul abated nothing of his zeal for God's glory and doing good, because of this. Follow his steps. "Trust in the Lord and do good. "....Psalm xxxvii. 3.
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