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If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples i?ideed...John viii. 31.
As mutual love subsists between Jesus and his believing members, so there is a mutual choice of each other. Hence, saith the church, " I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine."....Cant. vi. 3. So also there is a mutual inhabitation; every believer dwells in Christ, and Christ in him. This matter is only comfortably experienced by continuing in the truth. For "whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God; he that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son."....2 John ix.
Many profess to be disciples of Jesus in name. But what profit is this? If souls have not been sick of sin, alas, Jesus will be a physician of no value to them. If souls have not seen themselves lost, their state accursed, and their case hopeless and desperate, so that none but Jesus can restore and save them, they will but lightly esteem our Saviour. However precious Jesus is to others, he will be but little regarded by them. They may profess his word, but not being his disciples indeed, they will not continue long; they will only follow him for a season. Ah, poor souls, how soon are they offended? Little things put them to a stand. Trifles turn them back. Temptations and trials prove what they are. Other objects engage their affections, and they presently fall quite away, and follow the Lamb no more.
Continuance in the truth is the touchstone of faith: thus only is it evidenced. Disciple, remember, "if thou comest to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation,"....Eccles. ii. l....so surely as thou art a disciple in deed and in truth, thou must become a crucified servant of a crucified Lord. As thou hopest for the comforts of faith, so expect the trials of faith, and the exercise of patience. Thou must abide the tribulations of Jesu's word, as well as its consolations. The master deceives none. He tells us what we are to expect; every thing grievous to flesh and blood. But blessed be his gracious name and precious love, he hath bid us "fear not," and hath given us the most comfortable assurances. "I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters (of affliction) I will be with thee; and through the rivers (deep and overwhelming distress) they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire (fiery darts of Satan, hot temptations within, and burning malice of men without) thou shall not be burnt; (like the burning bush, thou shalt not be consumed) neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." (Thou shalt be fire-proof.) Why" all this safety in the midst of such danger? Most joyful reason! "For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour."....Isa. xliii. 1, 2, 3.
Thus saith the Lord, Cursed be the man that trusfeth in man, and makethjlesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord....Jer. xvii. 5.
It is very remarkable, after the prophet pronounces the curse of confiding in the flesh, and the blessedness of trusting in the Lord, he immediately adds, "The heart is deceitful abQve all things, and desperately wicked."....Jer. xviii. 9. Hence we may infer, that the poison of pride, vain confidence in the flesh, and self-righteous hopes, may lurk under the most exalted pretensions to piety, holiness, and perfection. This matter calls for great care and circumspection. • "As many as are of the works of the law (who in anywise seek to be made righteous by doing) are under the curse."... Gal. iii. 10. Think not this contrary to the holiness of God to pronounce such to be cursed, as though the Lord did not hate sin, and love and approve true holiness. No: but such deceive their own souls, and flatter themselves in their own sight. They dishonor the perfection of God's law, by bringing down its purity and spirituality to a level with their own works and obedience. They reject the righteousness of Jesus, deny the faith of him, look to their own holiness, trust in themselves that they are righteous, confide in the power of the flesh, and so their hearts depart from the Lord. Pride and self-exalting is at the bottom- of all this. As they appeal to the law, they must go to the law, and hear its sentence, which sounds nothing but curse, and wrath, and hell.
These are precious evangelical words of Luther: 'So we teach and comfort the afflicted sinner. Brother, it is not possible for thee to become so righteous as to feel no sin at all. In that thou dost feel and acknowledge it, it is a good token; give thanks to God. Christ healeth them that are broken in heart, and saveth sinners. Follow not the judgment of reason, which telleth thee, Christ is angry with sinners; but kill reason and believe in Christ, and the sin which remaineth in thee is pardoned for Christ's sake, in whom thou believest, whose righteousness is thy righteousness; and thy sin is his sin. Every christian is an high priest. This is the daily sacrifice of the New Testament, which must be offered up. The evening sacrifice is to kill reason: the morning sacrifice is to glorify God.' On Gal. iii. 6. "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is."....Jer. xvii. 7.
I am the man who stood accurst; But, Jefus, Lord, what hast thou done!
My heart departed from the Lord: Turn me, a proud self-righteous foe, Flesh was my arm, pride was my lust: To trust in thee, and thee alone,
My just deserts to be abhorr'd. And all my former hopes forego. M.
Let us go forth unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach....Heb. xiii. 13.
The profession of Jesus is easy to nature. There is nothing irksome to the flesh in being called a christian^ But to know Jesus in heart, to confess him with the tongue, and to follow him in our life, will ever expose us to reproach and contempt. But if, with Philip, we have really found that blessed Him of whom Moses and the prophets wrote, we must, we shall speak of him to others. We shall esteem Jesus our beloved as our richest treasure. Our hearts and affections will be going out after him. Moses' choice will be ours: "We shall esteem the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt." But fleshly wisdom is contrary to all this. That ever prompts, 'Save thyself....take care of thy good name.... fear, lest that be cast out as evil....beware of thy character....go not too far, thou wilt sustain damage. In the camp of this world, riches, pleasures, and honors are enjoyed. Study the happy mean. Thou mayest hold with the world, and yet not quit Jesus.' Nay, but thou canst not love and serve two such contrary masters: thou wilt soon grow tired of one or the other. The inward glory and peace of Jesus will not, cannot be enjoyed but while the heart and affections are placed on him. The faith of Jesus is contrary to the world, it cannot be reconciled to its vain customs and sinful maxims. Nay, faith is the victory that overcometh the world. The world is an enemy's camp. A despised Nazarine is the christian's glory. To bear his reproach is our highest honor.
The heaven-born soul, though like a captive imprisoned in flesh, yet hath free access to Jesus by faith. So it endures present reproaches, seeing him that is invisible. And do we hope for future sight, and eternal fruition of him who endured the cross and despised the shame for us? Let us take and bear his cross; despised disciples let us be. Look down on the world with contempt. Look up to Christ with joy. Go forth to meet him in love, O soul. Remember, ever bear on thy mind, Jesus went forth cheerfully to meet all his conflicts and agonies for us. It is but a little while ere we shall go> . forth from the body "to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we be ever with the Lord.".... 1 Thess. iv. 17.
When I can read my title clear Should earth against my foul engage,
To mansions in the skies, And hellish darts be hurl'd,
I bid farewell to tv'ry fear, Then can I smile at Satan's rage,
And wipe my weeping eyes. And face a frowning world.
For his anger endureth but a moment: in his favor'is life. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comcth in the morning...Psalm xxx. 5.
Verily here is a glorious assemblage of comforting truths like a reviving cordial of rich compounds to enliven drooping spirits. Too, too often do God's children judge of their Father's love, from corrupt ideas. Through the carnality of their natures, the depravity of their judgment, the weakness of their faith, the uncertainty of their frames and feelings, and the artful insinuations of Satan, their loving Father is considered as an implacable being, full of wrath and anger against them. But this is contrary to God's revelation of himself in Christ Jesus as a God of love. So also is it injurious and hurtful to the souls of the faithful; for it damps their love, distresses their spirits, deadens the exercise of their graces, and hinders their increase in holiness; the essence of which is founded in the love of God. Therefore such views come not from God. But thus Satan gains an advantage, and triumphs over poor souls, with, 'There, there, so would I have it.' ,
What can the soul do? whither can he fly? what course can he take? All legal efforts are vain....creature acts ineffectual....from self and nature no hope can spring. What can he think? Truly stand amazed that he is out of hell. He cannot sink lower in his views of himself, than what his just deserts are. But never so miserable can he be in his own sight, but the grace of God in Christ Jesus is allsufficient to afford hope and help. In nature's despair, grace triumphs. A sense of momentary anger heightens returning favor. The joy of the morning is improved by a past night of sorrow. God ever rests unchangeable in his love to his people. This is the essence of gospel grace and truth. That we vary and fluctuate in our apprehension of his love, is natural to pur very existence, as old and new creatures. "But we have a more sure word of prophesy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts.".... 2 Pet. i. 19. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophesy.".... Rev. xix. 10.
How will the pow'rs of darkness boast My heart shall feel thy love, and raise If but one praying soul be lost! My cheerful voice to songs of praise.
But I have trusted in thy grace, Thy anger but a moment stays;
And shall again behold thy face. Thy love is life and length of days:
Whate'er my fears or foes suggest, Tho' grief and tears the night employ. Thou art my hope, my joy, my rest; Thou, Morning-Star, restor'ft my joy.
O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore wiU I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonitcs, from the hill Mizar....Psalm xlii. 6.
In times of dejection and distress, the thoughts of a dear friend, who has comforted us in times past, tend to alleviate the mind. If we are assured of his love to us, we question not his readiness to assist us. So under the affecting loss of a dear brother, Martha addresses the Saviour, "Lord, if thou hadst been nere, my brother had not died."....John xi. 21.
Inexpressible blessedness, to live in a holy familiarity with the God of love! How simple are David's words! how freely doth he pour out his complaints, and tell God of his sorrows! though his soul was bowed down within him, heaviness of mind beset him, the sweet sunshine of joy was overcast by the dark cloud of sorrow, yet faith's piercing eye looks through all. Regardless of his own frames and feelings, he has direct recourse to God.
O my God, how sweet, how animating are appropriating views to the soul! Though cast down, though dejected in self, and all within heightens the gloom, yet all above is hopeful and encouraging. Though no confidence about us, yet Jesus is before the throne for us. 'I will not, I cannot, I dare not forget this. Rejoice not over me, O mine enemy; I will still remember my God; my thoughts shall be yet towards him; my hope is in him; my expectations from him. Though it is now dark, I will remember past times of light and love. Though now bowed down, yet my God has been the lifter-up of my head. The light of his reconciled face in Jesus hath shined upon me. Clouds may intercept my joyful views of this, but not prevent his sight of me, nor turn away his love from me. My case is before him. My soul lies open to his view. The times of refreshing shall come from his presence. He rests in his love. Such are the reasonings of faith. Departed saints' experience should encourage living saints' confidence. Cast down, mourning souls, when they enjoy not God's comforts, should meditate on his loving purposes, rich promises, and free grace in Christ Jesus; holding.fast by the word of his truth, "God is faithful, by whom ye were called into the fellowship of his son Jesus Christ our Lord.".... 1 Cor. i. 9. . . .'•
Amidst temptations 6harp and long The gospel bears my spirit up;
My soul to this dear refuge flies: A faithful and unchanging God
Hope is my anchor iirm and strong. Lays the foundation for my hope
While tempestsblowandhillowsrise. In oaths, and promises, and blood.