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The Father himself bvetkyou....Johnxvi. 27.
The history of the life of sorrows, and death of shame, curse and agony, which Jesus sustained for sinners, was it believed perfectly in the heart, would fill the mind with the strongest affection, and inflame the soul with the most fervent love. But alas! all have reason to complain for want of greater love to Christ, and stronger faith in him. O unbelief, what an enemy to love! Our love keeps pace with our faith. As the one grows stronger, the other increaseth. But if faith grows weak, love declines. Yet no one poor sinner that believes the record of Jesus' love and salvation, as his only hope and confidence, but love, in some degree, is drawn out to Jesus; for " faith worketh by love." The soul in its first love, and for a season perhaps, sees and knows only the love of Christ, and thinks little about the "love of the Father." It may be, he considers, that what the Saviour did and suffered for sinners, was to procure the love of the Father to them, and to appease the fury of his wrath against them. But this is not right. Let no disciple think so. For, saith the Saviour, "The Father himself loveth you." Yea he teacheth us the love of the Father, as the only source and spring of his coming in the flesh to save us....for " God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, to the end, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."....John iii. 16.
Hence it is plain, God the Father loves sinners....loves them inexpressibly....with the greatest affection. For he gave, who? an angel? an archangel? myriads of the heavenly host? No; but one infinitely more dear to him, his Son, his only begotten, his dearly beloved Son, who lay in his bosom from all eternity, that we might "believe on him, and live in him." So, the effect proves the cause. It is plain the love of the Father to his people, is prior to the Son's coming into the world to save them, or to their belief on Jesus. For, says our Lord, "No man can come unto me, except the Father draw him."...John vi. 44. And because the Father " hath loved us with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness he draws to Jesus." "Behold, (O ye followers of the Lamb) what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.".... 1 John iii. 1. Trace his love to the fountainhead. The holy Spirit of truth teacheth, that" God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath chosen us in him before the founndation of the world, and hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, and hath predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself." To what end is this? even " to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved."....Eph. i. 6, Sec.
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/ knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, such an one caught up to the third heaven....2 Cor. xii. 2.
Visions, manifestations, raptures and ecstacies of soul, though even from God himself, (which there is every good reason to suspect, unless they sink the soul in humility, and excite such love to Jesu9 as is founded in knowledge and productive of obedience), are not to be gloried of. St. Paul says, it is not expedient for Me to glory. I know the danger, I fear the evil of it; from the pride and treachery of miy nature. It tends to exalt one above measure; and to make others think more highly of one than they ought to think. Therefore, on these accounts glorying of these things is to be avoided. Indeed the cause of truth may require it, and the glory of God may be promoted by it. Though on these accounts it may be expedient to glory; yet it is not expedient for the christian's own sake to do it. So Paul declared. Yet he did glory; for necessity compelled him. 'Behold, admire, and imitate the humility of this great apostle, "I knew a man in Christ," &c. When he speaks of himself, it is as a poor sinner, under the most humbling, self-abased views. Then it is I Myself....Rom. vii. But here, lest ostentation should appear, he conceals himself under the character of another man. What a contrast is here between self-exalting principles and the grace of the gospel! How widely different is this from the notions many professors entertain! For if they can but give a tolerable account of some vision, revelation or manifestation, which they suppose was from God, they conclude they know their sins are forgiven, and all is well. Perhaps this might pass on them fourteen years ago, more or less. But what is their frame and temper now? what their pursuit and practice? If no evidence of faith, hope, love and obedience, but if while sunk into carnality and the love of the world, yet strong in confidence that their sins are forgiven, and bold in hope of the safety of their state; surely such are blinded to the hope of the gospel, through the spirit of this world. Satan transforms him, from a minister of darkness, into an angel of light. Luther was wont to caution against the. white devil, as well as the black one. St. John's advice is ever needful, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.".... 1 John iv. 1.
Faith in heart true comfort bring?, Then while by faith I Jesus know,
But gives to Christ his glory due. Not self, bat Christ,.I'H speak and sing.
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He that eateth my flesh, and drinkelh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him....John vi. 56.
This is a great mystery, but it is a comforting truth in the experience of Christ's members. Our Saviour saith, " It is my meat to do the will of him that sent me." So it is the believer's privilege to feed by faith on him that is sent, even the flesh and blood of Jesus: the Man "like unto ourselves in all things." But his flesh is pure and holy, his blood immaculate and untainted, without sin:" therefore healthful for the soul to feed upon, and to be nourished up to eternal life. For consider, soul, "Christ suffered in the flesh" all the fiery wrath and dreadful curses of God's pure and holy law, which we deserved, because transgressors. Christ, in his flesh, perfectly fulfilled all the demands of God's righteous law, and so wrought out a righteousness for us, who have no righteousness of our own. "In the body of his flesh he hath reconciled us who were aliens and enemies to God; and in the body of his flesh, through death, he presents us unto God, holy, unblameable, and unreproveable in his sight."•...Col. i. 21, 22. Surely then the flesh of Jesus " is meat indeed." The richest repast, the most delicious banquet for poor sinners.
Christ's "blood is drink indeed." Most precious in its nature; most reviving to the thirsty soul. O believer! the blood of this G OdMan was shed for thy sins; it hath fully atoned divine justice for them; and "you, who were sometime afar off, are now made nigh to God by the blood of Jesus."....Eph. ii. 13. "By his blood peace is made with God."....Col.i. 20. "And the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.".... 1 John i. 7. Thus is Christ's flesh and blood the life of the soul. Hear the triumphant song of the saints in glory. "Jesus hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his pwn blood."....Rev. i. 5. Their confession of victory over Satan the accuser of their souls is "by the blood of the Lamb." What is now their glory and triumph above, was once the food of their souls while poor sinners here below. For in every age, believers did all "eat of the same spiritual meat, and drink of the same spiritual drink, the flesh and blood of Christ.".... 1 Cor. x. 3, 4.
This food strengthens man's heart. This drink makes him of a cheerful countenance. "He dwelleth in me," saith Christ, by a secret mystical union. So saith the Psalmist, »' Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all ages;" "and I in him," by sweet manifestation, knowledge and comfort, by faith. Inestimable bjessing! glorious privilege, thus to receive, thus to feed upon Christ in the heart by faith! For, saith Christ, "He that eateth me, shall live by me; he hath eternal life." Such are Christ's sweet words and heartywelcome to his church; eat, O friends! drink, O beloved! "Eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart."....Eccl.ix.7.
Theic things have I written unto you, that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God....1 John v. 13. ...
Little Benjamin was as (tear to his father Jacob as his elder brethren. The child Samuel was as truly a priest to the Lord as old Eli. So the feeblest lamb in the flock of Jesus, though ever so weak in faith and knowledge, yet is equally dear to the Father as the strongest believer....loved with the same everlasting love....alike interested in the salvation of Jesus....and as certainly an heir of eternal life. Many weak children are ready to own this; but they doubt in their minds, and suspect in their hearts, not happily knowing, nor being comfortably assured of their own interest in the salvation of Jesus. There were such in the apostle's days; therefore the comforter inspires the beloved John to write to them. He condescends to their weakness of knowledge and comfort, because of the small degree of their faith; but yet he speaks with the strongest assurance and the boldest confidence of the truth of salvation by Jesus. That is most certain. Eternal life is by Jesus only; and is sure to every member of his. Do you believe on the name of the son of God, as the only Saviour of lost sinners? This truth lies at the foundation of the hope of the gospel: when this is believed in the heart, that soul has the earnest of eternal life. By continuing to believe, it gains knowledge and assurance, as the comforts of faith. When the Spirit has bestowed the precious gift of faith, it matters not, as to the safety of the soul, how weak soever it may be in the experience of comfort and joy; nor how much it may feel the workings of carnal nature, reason, and unbelief against faith. Its sensible groanings and sorrowful complaints are evidences of the life of the soul, through the faith of Jesus. But is the poor soul always to abide in this weak, low, mourning state? No; that cannot be. Jesus will make his members comfortable, as well as safe. The Spirit who begets faith in the heart by the word, strengthens it also by the same truth. Faith comes by hearing the word, and it is also increased thereby. Therefore is Jesus and eternal life revealed. The apostles wrote of this, and ministers preach of this, that weak faith may be strengthened, strong faith increased....that knowledge and assurance may be comfortably enjoyed....that believers may continue to believe, and persevere Hi believing on the Son of God; who is "the author and finisher of our faith."....Heb. xii. 2.
Jesus, thou author of my faith, Eternal life is sure to faith,
Thou author of eternal life, O may I know 'tis sure to Me,
Assure me that I do believe* That I may love thee more and more,
O put an end to doubtful strife. Whilst faith and hope grow strong iji
In the Lord have I righteousness and strength....Isa. xlv. 24.
: To trust in our own righteousness, and to glory in our own strength, is natural to us all. But when a poor sinner "knows himself, even as he is known of the Lord," he thinks otherwise. When he becomes a follower of the Lamb, he learns the language of Canaan, and says, "I have no confidence in the flesh." I subscribe with my whole heart to this confession of faith, "In the Lord have I righteousness and strength." That the Lord Jehovah is a God of righteousness, and that he is almighty in strength, who will dare deny? But by faith we speak the most comfortable knowledge of covenant grace: I, a poor sinner, who am without strength, destitute of righteousness in myself, have both strength and righteousness in Jehovah. What I am, a sinner by nature and practice, that Jesus became by imputation. What Jesus is in his nature, and by his life, perfectly Righteous, that I am in him. In myself I have no might, no strength, but "in the Lord Jesus am I strong, strong in him, and in the power of his might."
'This is the glorious grace, the joyful truth of the everlasting covenant. Such honor have all the saints of Jesus: his perfect righteousness their cloathing; his almighty strength their protection. Who then shall condemn them? What power can prevail against them? 0 believer !• rejoice in thy privilege. This is thy triumph against every accusation, "In Jesus I have righteousness." This is my vie* tory over every enemy, "In Jesus I have strength." Under the most discouraging views of my nature, as corrupt and sinful....my life and practice, as unrighteous....the condemnings of the law, though just....the accusations of Satan, though grievous....yet in my glorious covenant head and representative, I am "made the righteousness of God; in the beloved Son of God I am for ever accepted." Under the most dejecting sense of our own weakness, to withstand corruptions, to get the mastery over sinful passions, to prevail against our enemies; though weak to perform any duty, insufficient to exercise any grace, unable to do the will of God, to walk in his ways, and to please him; yet ever, under all circumstances, the Spirit testifies of Jesus, "who is our strength and righteousness." All fulness is in Jesus; and "out of his fulness we receive grace for grace:" Though "without Christ we can do nothing; yet, through Christ strengthening us, we can do all things." Here is the mystery of faith. "Abide in me," saith the Lamb.
Poor helpless worms in thee possess Let faith and love always combine, Grace, wisdom, pow'r, and righteous- To cause this precious truth to shine,
ness j We sinners poor, and full of need.
Thou art our mighty All, and we Have all things, in ourgiorlous Heab. Glory, Q Lord, only In Thee. M.