"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16
LET your life be a clear reflection of the glory of the Redeemer. The saints of God are the only witnesses to this glory-the only reflectors the Lord has in this dark and Christ-denying world. Holiness, springing from the fount of the Spirit's indwelling grace, cherished and matured by close views of the cross, and imparting a character of sanctity of beauty to every act of your life, will be the highest testimony you can bear to the Redeemer's glory. That glory is entrusted to your hands. It is committed to your guardianship. Seeing, then, that it is so, "what manner of people ought you to be, in all holy conversation and godliness!" How exact in principles, and upright in conduct-how watchful over temper, and how vigilant where most assailed-how broad awake to the wiles of the devil, and how sleepless against the encroachments of sin-how strict in all transactions with the world, and how tender, charitable, meek, and forgiving, in all our conduct with the saints! Alas! we are at best but dim reflectors of this great glory of our Lord. We are unworthy and unfaithful depositories of so rich a treasure! How much of clinging infirmity, on unmortified sin, of carelessness of spirit, of unsanctified temper, of tampering with temptation, of a lack of strict integrity of uprightness, dims our light, neutralizes our testimony for God, and weakens, if not entirely destroys, our moral influence! We are not more eminently useful, because we are not more eminently holy. We bring so little glory to Christ, because we seek so much our own. We reflect so faint and flickering a beam, because our posture is so seldom that of the apocalyptic angel. "standing in the sun." We realize so imperfectly our oneness with, and standing in, Christ; and this will ever foster a feeble, fruitless, and drooping profession of Christianity. "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can you, except you abide in me." Oh, to know more of this abiding in Christ! See how Jesus invites His saints to it. Are they fallen? He bids them take hold of His strength. Are they burdened? He bids them cast that burden on His arm. Are they wearied? He bids them recline on Him for rest. Does the world persecute them-do the "daughters of Jerusalem" smite them-does the watchman treat them unkindly? He bids them take refuge within the hallowed sanctuary of His own pierced and loving heart. Do they need grace? He bids them sink their empty vessel beneath the depths of His ocean fullness, and draw freely "more grace." Whatever corruptions distress them, whatever temptations assail them, whatever adversity grieves them, whatever cloud darkens them, whatever necessity presses upon them, as a watchful Shepherd, as a tender Brother, as a faithful Friend, as a great High Priest, He bids His saints draw near, and repose in His love. Oh, He has a capacious bosom; there is room, there is a chamber in that heart for you, my Christian reader. Do not think your lot is desolate, lonely, and friendless. Do not think that all have forsaken you, and that in sadness and in solitude you are treading your way through an intricate desert. There is One that loves you, that thinks of you, that has His eye upon you, and is at this moment guiding, upholding, and caring for you; that one is-Jesus! Oh that you could but look into His heart, and see how He loves you; oh that you could but hear Him say so gently, so earnestly, "Abide in my love." Cheer up! you are in Christ's heart, and Christ is in your heart. You are not alone; your God and your Father is with you. Your Shepherd guides you; the Comforter spreads around you His wings, and heaven is bright before you. Soon you will be there. The pilgrim will repose his weary limbs; the voyager will be moored in his harbor of rest; the warrior will put off his armor, and shout his song of triumph. Then look up! Christ is your, God is your, heaven is your. If God is for you, who can be against you? And if you find disappointment in created good, it will but endear Jesus; if you know more of the inward plague, it will but drive you to the atoning blood; if you have storms and tempests, they will but shorten the voyage, and waft you the quicker to glory.
"My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from him." Psalm 62:5
THIS trust implies a ceasing from self, and from all confidence in the arm of flesh, and from all reliance in unbelieving, carnal plans and schemes to obtain deliverance from the pressure of present trial, and supplies for present need. It involves a constant, prayerful, and believing leaning on the Lord; a quiet, patient waiting for the Lord; a peaceful, childlike, passive resting in the Lord; and a holy, filial walking with the Lord. Recollect, a leaning upon Christ-a waiting for Christ-a resting in Christ-and a walking with Christ. Only do this, in all your trials and temptations, needs and sorrows. Only trust Him to lead you by a right way to bring you to heaven. Only trust Him to appear in His own good time to deliver you from a present cross, to remove a present burden, to supply a present need, and to conduct you into the green pastures and beside the sweet flowing waters of His truth and love. So delightsome to Him will be this calm submissive trust-so honoring of His faithfulness and so glorifying to His name this full implicit confidence-He will honor and bless you by granting the desires of your heart, and bestowing from the plenitude of His resources every blessing that you ask and need.
Above all other trusts, trust to Jesus your priceless soul. Relax your grasp upon everything else but Jesus. Let go your religious duties and doings, your sacraments and prayers, your works and righteousness and Babel-built hopes of heaven-and only trust, and trust only, in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved. No poor penitent sinner did He ever reject-none was He ever known to cast away. And if you come and trust in His righteousness alone to justify you, and to give you acceptance with God, and a title to eternal glory, you will be the first that ever perished at His feet-if you perish there! Hear the Father and your God say-"As your day, so shall your strength be." "As your day." Each new burden shall bring its support; each new difficulty, its guidance; each new sorrow, its soothing; and each new day, its strength. Be it your only care to deny all ungodliness, and to walk worthy of your high vocation; to separate yourself more widely and distinctly from the world, its practices and its spirit; more closely to resemble Christ in His gentle, charitable, forgiving temper; and yielding yourself more entirely to the disposal of the Lord, to do as seems Him good. And when called to meet death-to hear the summons that bids you rise-then, when all other things are receding from your view, and all other voices are dying upon your ear, Jesus will approach, and amid the gloom and steadiness of the shadowy valley you shall see His person, and hear Him say-"Do not be afraid-only trust me!"
"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." Jude 24, 25
WHAT is the great evil of which the true saints of God most stand in jeopardy, and which their timid, fearful hearts most dread? Is it not secret and outward backsliding from God after conversion? Surely it is, as the experience of every honest, upright, God-fearing man will testify. It is his consolation, then, to know that Jesus is "able to keep him from falling." This is the most overwhelming evil that stares the believer in the face. Some, but imperfectly taught in the word, are dreading awful apostasy from the faith here, and final condemnation from the presence of God hereafter-believing that though Christ has made full satisfaction for their sins to Divine justice, has cancelled the mighty debt, has imputed to them His righteousness, has blotted out their iniquities, has called, renewed, sanctified, and taken full possession of them by His Spirit, and has ascended up on high, to plead their cause with the Father-that yet, after all this stupendous exercise of power, and this matchless display of free grace, they may be left to utter apostasy from God, and be finally and eternally lost. If there is one doctrine more awful in it nature, distressing in its consequences, and directly opposed to the glory of God and the honor of Christ, than another, methinks it is this. Others, again, more clearly taught my the Spirit, are heard to say, "I believe in the stability of the covenant, in the unchangeableness of God's love, and in the faithfulness of my heavenly Father; but I fear lest some day under some sharp temptation-some burst of indwelling sin, when the enemy shall come in as a flood-I shall fall, to the wounding of my peace, to the shame of my brethren, and to the dishonoring of Christ." Dear believer, truly you would fall, were He to leave you to your own keeping for one moment; but Jesus is able to keep you from falling. Read the promises, believe them, rest upon them. A simple glance will present to the believer's eye a threefold cord, by which he is kept from falling. In the first place, God the Father keeps him-"kept by the power of God;" the power that created and upholds the world keeps the believer. The eternal purpose, love, and grace of the Father keeps him: this is the first cord. Again, God the Son keeps him: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." The covenant engagements, the perfect obedience, the atoning death of Immanuel, keep the believer: this is the second cord. Yet again, God the Holy Spirit keeps him: "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him" (marg. shall put him to flight). The tender love, the covenant faithfulness, and the omnipotent power of the Eternal Spirit keep the believer: this is the third cord. And "a threefold cord is not quickly broken." But with these promises of the triune God to keep His people from falling, He has wisely and graciously connected the diligent, prayerful use of all the means which He has appointed for this end.
"But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Jude 20, 21
THE believer is nowhere in the Bible spoken of or addressed as a lifeless machine, a mere automaton; but as one "alive unto God,"-as "created in Christ Jesus,"-as a "partaker of the Divine nature." As such he is commanded to "work out his own salvation with fear and trembling,"-to "give diligence to make his calling and election sure,"-to "watch and pray, lest he enter into temptation." Thus does God throw a measure of the responsibility of his own standing upon the believer himself, that he might not be slothful, unwatchful, and prayerless, but be ever sensible to his solemn obligations to "deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world," remembering that he is "not his own, but is bought with a price."
If the power of God is the efficient cause of the eternal security of the believer, yet, as auxiliaries which God has appointed, and by which He instrumentally works, the believer is to use diligently all holy means of keeping himself from falling; as a temple of the Holy Spirit, as the subject of the divine life, as a pardoned, justified man, he is called to labor perseveringly, to pray ceaselessly, and to watch vigilantly. He is not to run willfully into temptation, to expose himself needlessly to the power of the enemy, to surround himself with unholy and hostile influences, and then take refuge in the truth, that the Lord will keep him from falling. God forbid! This were most awfully to abuse the "doctrine that is after godliness," to "hold the truth in unrighteousness," and to make "Christ the minister of sin." Dear reader, watch and pray against this!
Let the cheering prospect of that glory unto which you are kept stimulate you to all diligent perseverance in holy duty, and constrain you to all patient endurance of suffering. In all your conflicts with indwelling sin, under the pressure of all outward trial, let this precious truth comfort you-that your heavenly Father has "begotten you again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation;" that soon-oh, how soon!-all that now loads the heart with care, and wrings it with sorrow-all that dims the eye with tears, and renders the day anxious and the night sleepless, will be as though it had never been. Emerging from the entanglement, the dreariness, the solitude, the loneliness and the temptations of the wilderness, you shall enter upon your everlasting rest, your unfading inheritance, where there is no sorrow, no declension, no sin; where there is no sunset, no twilight, no evening shades, no midnight darkness, but all is one perfect, cloudless, eternal day; for Jesus is the joy, the light, and the glory thereof.
"He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Revelation 22:11, 12
IT would seem to be the cherished delusion of many, that a kind of moral transformation transpires in death; that because death itself is a change of relation, around which gather new sensations, new feelings, new thoughts, new solemnities, new prospects, that therefore the soul passes through a kind of spiritual preparedness to meet its approaching destiny. But such is not the case. The character which time has for years been shaping, it yields to the demands of eternity in the precise mold in which it was formed. Death hands over the soul to the scrutiny and the decisions of the judgment exactly as life relinquished it. The "king of terrors" has received no commission and possesses no power to effect a moral change in the transit of the spirit to the God who gave it. Its office is to unlock the cell, and conduct the prisoner into court. It can furnish no plea, it can suggest no argument, it can correct no error, it can whisper no hope, to the pale and trembling being on his way to the bar. The turnkey must present the criminal to the Judge, precisely as the officer delivered him to the turnkey-with all the marks and evidences of criminality and guilt clinging to him as at the moment of arrest. The supposition of the multitudes seems to be, just what we have stated, that when the strange and mysterious but unmistakable signs of death are stealing upon them-when the summons to appear before the Judge admits of not a doubt, allows of no delay, that then what has been held as truth, and now, in the mighty illumination of an unveiling eternity, is found to be error, may be with ease abandoned; and that however negligent they who have lived all their lifetime without God may have been of religion, while the last day appeared distant-and however careless they who had made a Christian profession may have been of the ground of their confidence, and the reason of their hope, under an indefinite expectation of appearing in the presence of God-yet now that the footfall of death is heart approaching, and the invisible world becomes visible through the opening chinks of the earthly house of their tabernacle, they will be enabled to summon all the remainder of strength, and with the utmost strenuousness turn their undivided attention to the business of saving the soul. But is it really so? Is not the whole course of experience against a supposition so false as this? Do not men die mostly as they have lived? The infidel dies in infidelity, the profligate dies in profligacy, and atheist dies in atheism, the careless die in indifference, and the formalist dies in formality. There are exceptions to this, undoubtedly, but the exceptions confirm rather than disprove the general fact, that men die as they lived. In view, then, of this solemn statement, deeply affecting it must be to the Christian professor-if it be thus that our death will derive much of its character and complexion from the present tenor of our life-that in proportion to the lack of spirituality and the undue influence which the world has had upon the mind-to the habitual distance of the walk with God, and the gradual separation from us of those holy, sanctifying influences which go to form the matured, influential, and useful Christian-will be the lack of that bright evidence, and full assured hope in death, which will give to the departing soul an "abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom,"-then, of what great moment is it that every individual professing godliness should know the exact state of his soul before God!
"And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for you. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God." 1 Kings 14:7-8
WE have here an illustration of one of the greatest principles in the divine life-one of the most wonderful, precious, and influential-the principle of faith: "The just shall live by faith." It is in this way the Lord prepares His people for what He has prepared for them in the future of their history. That history is to them wisely and graciously concealed. The path of the future is to them all unknown, a veil of impenetrable mystery enshrouding it from view. In all this we trace the love of our heavenly Father. There may be, for anything that we know, a long season of abstinence before us; many a weary stage is yet untraveled, many a new path is yet untrodden, many a battle is yet unfought, and many a temptation and trial are yet unmet. But faith, living upon the nourishment received, in the strength and sustaining power of some view of God which the Spirit has presented, of some especial grace which Christ has meted out, of some higher attainment in truth and experience and holiness, of some profounder lesson learned, of some especial mercy experienced, of some bright realizing view of glory caught, the believer may travel many a long a toilsome stage of his journey to the "rest that remains for the people of God.' Ah! how often has the Lord by His present dealings anticipated the future events of your life! For what circumstances of danger, of trial, and of want has Jesus provided! He well knew-for He had appointed every step and every incident of your journey-the deep and dark waters through which you were to wade, the sands you were to cross, the mountains you were to climb, and the valleys into which you were to descend. That cup of sorrow was not mixed, nor that fiery dart winged, nor that heavy cross sent, before all the necessities it would create, and all the supplies it would demand, had been thought of and provided for by Him who knew the end from the beginning. And when the voice of love gently awoke you as from the stupor of your grief, you marveled at the table spread, and wondered at the supply sent; and you could not define the reason why so much love took possession of your heart, and so much grace flowed into your soul, why so much nerve clothed your spirit, and so much hope and joy bathed you in their heavenly sunlight, and shed their radiance upon your onward way-little thinking that this was the Lord's mode of providing nourishment for the journey. And when the period and event of your life, thus anticipated, arrived, then the recollection of God's preparatory dealings rushed upon your memory, and in an instant you saw how for the "forty days and the forty nights" solitary travel, your God and Savior had been graciously and amply providing. But all this mystery the life of faith, by which the justified live, fully explains.
"For I am with you, says the Lord, to save you: though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet will I not make a full end of you: but I will correct you in measure, and will not leave you altogether unpunished." Jeremiah 30:11
THE Lord's love appears in appointing the rebuke, and in tempering the chastisement. That rebuke might have been heavier, that chastisement might have been severer. The deep and dark waters might have engulfed the soul. Thus, perhaps, your prayer has been answered, "O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing." And then has followed the pleasant psalm of grateful acknowledgment and praise: "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide; neither will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities." Oh, could we always analyze the cup, how astonished should we be to find that in the bitterest draught that ever touched our lips the principal ingredient was love! That love saw the discipline needful, and love selected the chastisement sent, and love appointed the instrument by which it should come, and love arranged the circumstances by which it should take place, and love fixed the time when it should transpire, and love heard the sigh, and saw the tear, and marked the anguish, and never for one moment withdrew its beaming eye from the sufferer. Alas! how much is this truth overlooked by the disciplined believer! Think, suffering child of God, of the many consoling, alleviating, and soothing circumstances connected with your chastisement. How much worse your position might be, how much more aggravated the nature of your sorrow, and how much heavier the stroke of the rod. Think of the disproportion of the chastisement to the sin, for "know that God exacts of you less than your iniquity deserves." Think of the many divine supports, the precious promises, the tenderness of God, the gentleness of Christ, the sympathy and affection dwelling in the hearts of the saints-and all this will demonstrate to you that the chastisement of the saints is the chastening of love.
"Giving thanks unto the Father, which has made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." Colossians 1:12
BEAUTIFUL is the order of the Holy Spirit here. Observe to whom this grateful acknowledgment is made-"unto the Father." Then the sweet truth stands revealed-luminous in its own celestial light-that heaven is a Father's gift. And oh, how sweet, to trace all our mercies to a Father's love, to a Parent's heart-to look to Jesus, whose righteousness gives us a title-to look to the Holy Spirit, whose sanctifying grace gives us a fitness, as the precious gifts of a Father's love; then to rise through these up to the Father Himself, and trace the gift of heaven-the consummation of the inner life-to the heart of the First Person of the glorious Trinity. Who, after reading this passage, will any longer rest entirely and exclusively in Jesus-precious as He is? Who will not, through Jesus as the Mediator, rise to the Father, and trace up all the blessings of redemption, and all His hope of glory, to the part which the Father took in the great and wondrous work? Oh, how unutterable blessed is it to see the Father engaged, equally with the Son and the Spirit, in preparing for us, and in preparing us for, "the inheritance of the saints in light!" "Giving thanks unto the Father." Upon what grounds, beloved? Oh! it was the Father who provided the Savior, His beloved Son. It is from the Father that the Spirit emanates who renews and sanctifies. It is the Father who has prepared the inheritance, and who, by His upholding power, will at last bring us safely there. All thanks, then, all adoration and praise unto the Father, "who has made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light."
Let me affectionately ask you, my reader, in what does your fitness for heaven consist? Put not the question from you-transfer it not to another; let it come home to your own conscience: for in a little while your destiny will be fixed-eternally, irrevocably fixed; and one half-second of hell's torment will fill your soul with remorse, terror, and unavailing regret, that in the land of hope and in the day of grace your turned your back upon both, refused the mercy of God in Christ, rejected His dear Son, and died in your sins. In what does your fitness for heaven, then, consist? If it is only the fitness of a mere profession-if it is but the fitness of a mere notional reception of truth-if it is the fitness merely of an external waiting upon the sanctuary, the public means of grace-it is a fitness not for heaven, but for banishment from heaven! Are you born again of the Spirit of God? Have you fled to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation? Have you the "earnest," the pledge of heaven, in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God-in the life of God in your soul? Have you the first sheaf of the harvest bound up in your bosom? Have you been sealed by God's Spirit as an heir of glory?
To God's saints I would say-cultivate an habitual, a growing fitness for heaven. Do not be satisfied with past attainments, with your present measure of grace and standard of holiness; but, beloved, since heaven is a holy place, cultivate holiness-an habitual growing fitness for "the inheritance of the saints in light." Be advancing, be progressing, be pressing onwards; "putting on the whole armor of God," "laying aside the weight that so easily besets you," the garment that trails upon the earth, pressing onward and heavenward, until you reach the confines of bliss, and enter within the portals of glory.
"In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." Titus 1:2
LOOK upon all the Lord's covenant dealings with you as but preparatory to your approaching emancipation from all sin, suffering, and sorrow. Welcome your trials-they are sent by your Father. Welcome the stroke of His rod-it is a Parent smiting. Welcome whatever detaches you from earth, and wings your spirit heavenward. Welcome the furnace that consumes the dross and the tin, and brings out the precious gold and silver, to reflect in your soul, even now, the dawnings of future glory. Oh! be submissive, meek, and quiet, under God's chastening and afflicting hand, and receive all His dispensations as only tending to fit you more perfectly for "the inheritance of the saints in light." Let his "hope of eternal life" cheer and comfort the bereaved of the Lord, from whose hearts have fled the loved and sanctified ones of earth, to the eternal heaven. Oh! how full of consolation is this prospect! Where have the departed fled, who sleep in Jesus? They have but exchanged the region of darkness and shadow for the regions of light and glory. They have gone from the scene of impurity, defilement, and sin, to the place of perfect holiness, complete sanctification, and eternal love. Then dry your tears-then press the consolations of the gospel to your sorrowing heart, and look up with that eye of faith that pierces the penetrates the dark clouds that intervene between them and you, and behold them now "partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." And oh! yourselves anticipate the blessed moment when the Savior shall send, not an enemy, but a friend-for such is death to the Christian-to open the cage that imprisons your spirit, and let you escape to the abodes of eternal glory. Oh! anticipate and, by anticipating, be preparing, day by day, for its realization; anticipate the happy moment which releases you from "the body of sin and death," and ushers you into the full enjoyment of "eternal life." Such is heaven, and such is the consummation of the inner life. As that life descended from God so to God it shall ultimately and finally return. It shall never, never die. Not a spark shall be quenched, nor shall a pulse cease to beat-not a thought that it has conceived, nor a desire it has cherished, nor a prayer it has breathed, nor a work it has accomplished, nor a victory it has won, shall die; all, all shall survive in ever-growing, ever-enduring glory.
The babe in grace shall be there! The young man, strong in overcoming the wicked one, shall be there! The father, matured in experience, and laden with the golden fruits of age, shall be there! All, all shall reach heaven at last-the end and the consummation of the life of God in their souls. Oh, to have this heaven in our hearts now! Heaven is love-the place of love-the perfection of love. And what is God's love in our hearts but the foretaste of heaven-the foretaste of heaven-the first gatherings of the vintage-the pledge and earnest of all that is to come?
"Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your father; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." 1 Peter 1:18, 19
WHAT a powerful motive does this truth supply to a daily and unreserved consecration of ourselves to the Lord! If, under the old economy, the utensil or the garment touched with blood was sacred and solemn, how much more the soul washed in the heart's blood of Christ! When the king of Israel, in the heat of battle, and in the agony of thirst, cried for water, and some of his attendants procured it for him at the hazard of their lives, the God-fearing and magnanimous monarch refused to taste it, because it was the price of blood! but "poured it out before the Lord." Christian soldier! it was not at the risk of His life, but more-it was by the sacrifice of His life that your Lord and Savior procured your redemption, and brought the waters of salvation, all living and sparkling from the throne of God, to your lips. You are the price of blood! "bought with a price." Will you not, then, glorify God in our soul, body, and substance, which are His? will you not pour it all out before the Lord-presenting it as a living sacrifice upon the altar flowing with the life-blood of God's own Son?
If there be a vital, and therefore a deathless, principle in the atoning blood of Jesus, then it will avail to the salvation of the chief of sinners to the latest period of time. Ages have rolled by since it was shed, and millions have gone to heaven in virtue of its merits, and yet it still avails! Listen, lowly penitent, to these glad tidings. Approach the blood of Jesus, simply believing in its divine appointment and sovereign efficacy, and the pardon it conveys and the peace it gives will be yours. Behold the sacred stream, as vital, as efficacious, and as free as when, eighteen hundred years ago, all nature was convulsed at the sight of this blood starting from the pierced heart of its Incarnate Creator, and when the expiring malefactor bathed in it as was saved! No, more; if the virtue of the Savior's blood before it was shed extended back to the time of Adam and of Abel, for He was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," surely since that it has actually been offered, it will continue its virtue through all the revolutions of time to the remotest age of the world, and to the last sinner who may believe. If Jesus is a "Priest forever," the virtue of His sacrifice must abide forever, for He cannot officiate as a priest without a sacrifice. And as His gospel is to be preached to all nations, even to the end of the world, so the saving efficacy of His blood, upon which the gospel depends for its power and its success, must be as lasting as time.
"Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." Isaiah 50:10
HOW prone is the believer to attach an undue importance to the mere article of comfort! to give place to the feeling that when comfort vanishes, all other good vanishes with it-thus, in fact, making the real standing of the soul to depend upon an ever-fluctuating emotion. But let it be remembered that the comfort of grace may be suspended, and yet the existence of grace may remain; that the glory of faith may be beclouded, and yet the principle of faith continue. Contemplate, as affording an illustrious example of this, our adorable Lord upon the cross. Was there ever sorrow like His sorrow? Was there ever desertion like His desertion? Every spring of consolation was dried up. Every beam of light was beclouded. All sensible joy was withdrawn. His human soul was now passing through its strange, its total eclipse. And still His faith hung upon God. Hear Him exclaim, "My God! my God!" My strong One! my strong One! His soul was in the storm-and oh, what a storm was that!-but it was securely anchored upon His Father. There was in His case the absence of all consolation, the suspension of every stream of comfort; and yet in this, the darkest cloud that ever enshrouded the soul, and the deepest sorrow that ever broke the heart, He stayed His soul upon God.
And why should the believer, the follower of Christ, when sensible comfort is withdrawn, "cast away his confidence, which has great recompense of reward"? Of what use is the anchor but to keep the vessel in the tempest? What folly were it in the mariner to weigh his anchor, or to slip his cable, when the clouds gather blackness and the waves swell high! Then it is he most needs them both. It is true he has cast his anchor into the deep, and the depth hides it from his view; but though he cannot discern it through the foaming waves, still he knows that it is firmly fastened, and will keep his storm-tossed vessel from stranding upon a lee shore. And why should the believer, when "trouble is near," and sensible comfort is withdrawn, resign his heart a prey to unbelieving fears, and cherish in his bosom the dark suspicion of God? Were not this to part with the anchor of his hope at the very moment that he the most needed it? I may not be able to pierce the clouds and look within the veil with an eye beaming with an undimmed and assured joy, but I know that the Forerunner is there; that the Priest is upon His throne; that Jesus is alive, and is at the right hand of God-then all is safe: faith demands, hope expects, and love desires no more.
"And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." 1 John 2:1
WE are used to read in the Bible of one Intercessor, and of one advocacy. But the believer has two courts with which prayer has to do. In the court below, where prayer is offered, the Spirit is his Intercessor. In the court above, where prayer is presented, Jesus is his Intercessor. Then, what an honored, what a privileged man, is the praying man! On earth-the lower court-he has a Counselor instructing him for what he should pray, and how he should order his suit. In heaven-the higher court-he has an Advocate presenting to God each petition as it ascends, separating from it all that is ignorant, sinful, and weak, and pleading for its gracious acceptance, and asking for its full bestowment. Here, then, is our vast encouragement in prayer. The inditings of the Spirit-the Intercessor of earth-are always in agreement with the mind of God. In prayer we need just such a Divine counselor. Is it temporal blessing that we crave? We need to be taught how to graduate our request to our necessity, and how to shape our necessity to our heavenly calling. Supplication for temporal good is, we think, limited. And this is the limit, "Having food and clothing, let us be therewith content." What child of God is warranted in asking worldly wealth, or distinction, or rank? And what child of God, in a healthy state of soul, would ask them? "But," says the apostle, "my God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Should God, in His providence, send either of these temporal things undesired, unasked, and unexpected, receive it as from Him, and use it as to Him. But with regard to spiritual blessings, our grant is illimitable, our requests may be boundless. "Ask what you will," is the broad, unrestricted warrant. When we ask to be perfected in the love of God, we ask for that which is in accordance with the will of God-for "God is love." When we ask for an increase of faith, we ask for that which is in accordance with the will of God; for "without faith it is impossible to please him." When we ask for more divine conformity, we ask for that which is in harmony with God's will; for He has said, "Be you holy, for I am holy." And when we ask for comfort, we plead for that which it is in His heart to give-for He is the "God of all comfort." Oh, to possess a Divine counselor, dwelling in our hearts, who will never indite a wrong prayer, nor suggest a weak argument, nor mislead us in any one particular, in the solemn, the important, the holy engagement of prayer; who is acquainted with the purpose of God; who knows the mind of God; who understands the will of God; who reads the heart of God; yes, who is God Himself. What encouragement is this to more real prayer! Are you moved to pray? While you muse, does the fire burn? Is your heart stirred up to ask of God some especial blessing for yourself, or for others? Are you afflicted? Oh, then, rise and pray-the Spirit prompts you-the Savior invites you-your heavenly Father waits to answer you.
With such an Intercessor in the court on earth-so divine, so loving, and so sympathizing-and with such an Intercessor in the court in heaven-so powerful, so eloquent, and so successful, "let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
"But the end of all things is at hand: be you therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." 1 Peter 4:7
WATCH unto prayer, with all diligence and perseverance. Expect an answer to your prayer, a promise to your request, a compliance with your suit. Be as much assured that God will answer, as that you have asked, or that He has promised. Ask in faith; only believe; watch daily at the posts and at the gates of the return; look for it at any moment, and through any providence; expect it not in your own way, but in the Lord's; do not be astonished if He should answer your prayer in the very opposite way to that you had anticipated, and it may be dictated. With this view, watch every providence, even the smallest. You know not when the answer my come-at what hour, or in what way. Therefore watch. The Lord may answer in a great and strong wind, in an earthquake, in a fire, or in a still small voice; therefore watch every providence, to know which will be the voice of God to you. Do not pray as if you asked for or expected a refusal. God delights in your holy fervency, your humble boldness, and your persevering importunity. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." Pray submissively, expect hopefully, watch vigilantly, and wait patiently.
Behold then the throne of grace! Was ever resting-place so sacred and so sweet? Could God himself invest it with richer, with greater attraction? There are dispensed all the blessings of sovereign grace-pardon, justification, adoption, sanctification, and all that connects the present state of the believer with eternal glory. There is dispensed grace itself-grace to guide, to support, to comfort, and to help in time of need. There sits the God of grace, proclaiming Himself "the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keep mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin." There is extended the scepter of grace, bidding welcome the sons of daughters of want, the weary and the heavy laden, the guilty, the broken in heart, the poor, the friendless, the bereaved. There stands Jesus the High Priest and Mediator, full of grace and truth, waving to and fro His golden censer, from which pours forth the fragrant incense of His atoning merits, wreathing in one offering, as it ascends, the name, the needs, and the prayer of the lowly worshiper. And there, too, is the Spirit of grace, breathing in the soul, discovering the want, inditing the petition, and making intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Behold, then, the throne of grace, and draw near! You are welcome. Come with your cross, come with your infirmity, come with your guilt, come with your want, come with your wounded spirit, come with your broken heart, come and welcome to the throne of grace! Come without price, come without worthiness, come without preparation, come without fitness, come with your hard heart, come and welcome to the throne of grace! God, your Father, bids you welcome. Jesus, your Advocate, bids you welcome. The Spirit, the Author of prayer, bids you welcome. All the happy and the blessed who cluster around it, bid you welcome. The spirits of just men made perfect in glory, bid you welcome. The ministering spirits, "sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation," bid you welcome. All the holy below, and all the glorified above, all, all bid you, poor trembling soul, welcome, thrice welcome, to the throne of grace!
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, as I ought to speak." Ephesians 6:18, 19
THE two blessings which Paul craved through the prayers of his flock were, utterance and boldness. He knew that He who made man's mouth could only open his lips to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ. Great as were his natural endowments, rich and varied as were his intellectual acquirements, he felt their inadequacy when working alone. We should never fail to distinguish between the natural eloquence of man and the holy utterance which the Spirit gives. Paul had splendid gifts and commanding powers of elocution. But what were they? He needed more-he asked for more. Dear reader, if the ministry of reconciliation comes to your soul with any power or sweetness, remember whose it is. Give not to man but to God the glory. Be very jealous for the honor of the Spirit in the ministry of the word. It is "spirit and life" to you only as He gives utterance to him that speaks. It is mournful to observe to what extent the idolatry of human talent and eloquence is carried, and how little glory is given to the Holy Spirit in the gospel ministry.
But there was yet another ministerial qualification which Paul sought. He desired to be unshackled from the fear of man. "That I may open my mouth boldly." Had we heard him utter this request, we might have been constrained to reply, "Do you desire boldness? You are the most courageous and intrepid of the apostles. You fear no man!" Ah! we forget that when God stirs up the heart of a believer deeply to feel his need, and earnestly to desire any particular grace of the Spirit, that grace will be the distinguishing trait of his Christian character. The very possession and exercise of a grace strengthens the desire for its increase. The more we have of Christ, the more we desire of Christ. The heart is never satiated. Do we see a man earnest and importunate in prayer for faith? faith will be his distinguishing grace. See we another wrestling with God for deep views of the evil of sin? that man will be marked for his humble walk with God. Is it love that He desires? His will be a loving spirit. Be sure of this-the more you know of the value and the sweetness of any single grace of the Spirit, the more ardently will your heart be led out after an increase of that grace. The reason why our desires for grace are so faint, may be traced to the small measure of grace that we already possess. The very feebleness of the desire proves the deficiency of the supply. As all holy desire springs from grace, so the deeper the grace, the more fervent will be the desire. The Lord rouse us from our slothful seeking of Him upon our beds.
"Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found your works perfect before God." Revelation 3:2
AN incipient state of declension does not involve any alteration in the essential character of divine grace, but is a secret decay of the health, vigor, and exercise of that grace in the soul. As in the animal frame, the heart loses nothing of its natural function, when, through disease, it sends but a faint and languid pulsation through the system; so in the spiritual constitution of the believer, divine grace may be sickly, feeble, and inoperative, and yet retain its character and its properties. The pulse may beat faintly, but still it beats; the seed may not be fruitful, but it "lives and abides forever;" the divine nature may be languid, but it can never assimilate or coalesce with any other, and must always retain its divinity untainted and unchanged. And yet, without changing its nature, divine grace may decline to an alarming extent in its power and exercise. It may be sickly, drooping, and ready to die; it may become so enfeebled through its decay, as to present an ineffectual resistance to the inroads of strong corruption; so low that the enemy may ride roughshod over it at his will; so inoperative and yielding, that sloth, worldliness, pride, carnality, and their kindred vices, may obtain an easy and unresisted conquest. This decay of grace may be advancing, too, without any marked decline in the spiritual perception of the judgment, as to the beauty and fitness of spiritual truth. The loss of spiritual enjoyment, not of a spiritual perception, of the loveliness and harmony of the truth shall be the symptom that betrays the true condition of the soul. The judgment shall lose none of its light, but the heart much of its fervor; the truths of revelation, especially the doctrines of grace, shall occupy the same prominent position as to their value and beauty, and yet the influence of these truths may be scarcely felt. The Word of God shall be assented to; but as the instrument of sanctification, of abasement, of nourishment, the believer may be an almost utter stranger to it; yes, he must necessarily be so, while this process of secret declension is going forward in his soul.
This incipient state of declension may not involve any lowering of the standard of holiness, and yet there shall be no ascending of the heart, no reaching forth of the mind, towards a practical conformity to that standard. The judgment shall acknowledge the divine law, as embodied in the life of Christ, to be the rule of the believer's walk; and yet to so low and feeble a state may vital godliness have declined in the soul, there shall be no panting after conformity to Christ, no breathing after holiness, no "resistance unto blood, striving against sin." Oh, it is an alarming condition for a Christian man, when the heart contradicts the judgment, and the life belies the profession!-when there is more knowledge of the truth than experience of its power-more light in the understanding than grace in the affections-more pretension in the profession than holiness and spirituality in the walk! And yet to this sad and melancholy state it is possible for a Christian professor to be reduced. How should it lead the man of empty notions, of mere creed, of lofty pretension, of cold and lifeless orthodoxy, to pause, search his heart, examine his conscience, and ascertain the true state of his soul before God!
"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Psalm 64:18
THE true spiritual mortification of indwelling sin, and the entire forsaking of the known cause, whatever it is found to be, of the heart's declension, constitute the true elements of a believer's restoration to the joys of God's salvation. There cannot possibly be any true, spiritual, and abiding revival of grace, while secret sin remains undiscovered and unmortified in the heart. True and spiritual mortification of sin is not a surface-work: it consists not merely in pruning the dead tendrils that hang here and there upon the branch; it is not the lopping off of outward sins, and an external observance of spiritual duties; it includes essentially far more than this: it is a laying the axe at the root of sin in the believer; it aims at nothing less than the complete subjection of the principle of sin; and until this is effectually done, there can be no true return of the heart to God. Christian reader, what is the cause of your soul's secret declension? What is it that at this moment feeds upon the precious plant of grace, destroying its vigor, its beauty, and its fruitfulness? Is it an inordinate attachment to the creature? mortify it;-the love of self? mortify it;-the love of the world? mortify it;-some sinful habit secretly indulged? mortify it. It must be mortified, root as well as branch, if you would experience a thorough return to God. Dear though it be, as a right hand, or as a right eye, if yet it comes between your soul and God, if it crucifies Christ in you, if it weakens faith, enfeebles grace, destroys the spirituality of the soul, rendering it barren and unfruitful, rest not short of its utter mortification. Nor must this great work be undertaken in your own strength. It is preeminently the result of God the Holy Spirit working in and blessing the self-efforts of the believer: "If you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live." Here is a recognition of the believer's own exertions, in connection with the power of the Holy Spirit: "If you" (believers, you saints of God) "through the Spirit do mortify the deeds." It is the work of the believer himself, but the power is of the Spirit of God. Take, then, your discovered sin to the Spirit: that Spirit bringing the cross of Jesus, with a killing, crucifying power, into your soul, giving you such a view of a Savior suffering for sin, as it may be you never had before, will in a moment lay your enemy slain at your feet. Oh yield not to despair, distressed soul! Are you longing for a gracious revival of God's work within you?-are you mourning in secret over your heart-declension?-have you searched and discovered the hidden cause of your decay?-and is your real desire for its mortification? Then look up, and hear the consolatory words of your Lord: "I am the Lord that heals you." The Lord is your healer; His love can restore you; His blood can heal you; His grace can subdue your sin.
"Take with you words, and turn to the Lord; say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously:" and the Lord will answer, "I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely; for mine anger is turned away from him."
"To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus." Romans 3:26
IN Jesus shines the awful glory of Divine Justice. Justice is but another term for holiness. It is holiness in strict and awful exercise; and yet it is a distinct perfection of Jehovah, in the revelation of acknowledgment of which He will be glorified. The basis of the Atonement is righteousness, or justice. So the apostle argues, "Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins." Anterior to the apostasy of man, the only revelation of God's justice was the threatening annexed to the law: "In the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die." Subsequent to the fall, the appointment of a sanguinary ritual-the institution of expiatory sacrifices, not only recognized the existence, but illustrated the nature, of this awful attribute. There are those who madly dream of acceptance with a holy God, at the expense of this perfection of His nature. In vain do they acknowledge Him in some of His perfections if they deny Him in others, tramping them with indifference beneath their feet. Such was Cain in the offering which he presented to the Lord; there was an acknowledgment of His dominion and goodness, but no distinct recognition of His holiness, no solemn apprehension of His Justice, no conviction of guilt, no confession of sin. The claims of God's moral government were entirely set aside, and, by consequence, the necessity of a Mediator totally denied. Not so Abel; his offering honored God in that in which He most delights to be honored, in His spotless purity, His inflexible justice, and His infinite grace in the appointment of a Savior for the pardon of iniquity, transgression, and sin. Therefore it is recorded, and we do well deeply to ponder it, the "he offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain."
But this was a prefigurement only of God's justice-the mere type and shadow. The great Antitype and embodiment are seen in Jesus offering Himself up a whole burned-offering to God amid the fearful blaze which was beheld ascending from the summit of Mount Calvary. Then did this perfection appear in its most fearful form-Jesus bearing sin-Jesus enduring the curse of the law-Jesus sustaining the wrath of His father-Jesus surrendering His holy soul a sacrifice for man's transgression. Oh, never, never did Divine justice so imperatively assert its claims, and so loudly demand its rights-never did it so strictly exact its penalty, and so fearfully grapple with its victim, as now; and never before or since had such a sacrifice been bound to its altar; never did Jehovah appear so just, as at the moment the fire descended and consumed His only-begotten and well-beloved Son.
"Lord, behold, he whom you loves is sick."
THIS is the truth, dear invalid reader, upon which the Lord would pillow and sustain your soul-that you are the sick one whom He loves. Doubtless the enemy, ever on the watch to distress the saints of God, eager to avail himself of every circumstance in their history favorable to the accomplishment of His malignant designs, has taken advantage of your illness to suggest hard and distrustful thoughts of the Lord's love to you. "Does He love you? Can He love you, and afflict you thus? What! this hectic fever, these night-sweats, these faintings and swoonings, these insufferable tortures, this long wasting, this low insidious disease-and yet loved by God! Impossible!" Such has been the false reasoning of Satan, and such the echo of unbelief. But Lazarus was loved of Jesus, and so are you! That darkened room, that curtained bed, contains one for whom the Son of God came down to earth-to live, to labor, and to die! That room is often radiant with His presence, and that bed is often made with His hands. Jesus is never absent from that spot! The affectionate husband, the tender wife, the fond parent, the devoted sister, the faithful nurse, are not in more constant attendance at that solemn post of observation than is Jesus. They must be absent; He never is, for one moment, away from that couch. Sleep must overcome them; but He who guards that suffering patient "neither slumbers nor sleeps." Long-continued watching must exhaust the prostrate them; but He, the Divine watcher, "faints not, neither is weary." Yes, Jesus loves you, nor loves you the less, no, but loves you the more, now that you are prostrate upon that bed of languishing, a weak one hanging upon Him. Again I repeat, this is the only truth that will now soothe and sustain your soul. Not the thought of our love to Jesus, but of Jesus' love to you, is the truth upon which your agitated mind is to rest. In the multitude of your thoughts within you, this is the comfort that will delight your soul-"Jesus loves me." Your love to Christ affords you now no plea, no encouragement, no hope. You can extract no sweetness from the thought of your affection to the Savior. It has been so feeble and fluctuating a feeling, an emotion so irregular and fickle in its expression, the spark so often obscured, and to appearance lost, that the recollection and the review of it now only tends to depress and perplex you. But oh, the thought of the Lord's love! to fix the mind upon His eternal, unpurchased, and deathless affection to you-to be enabled to resolve this painful illness, this protracted suffering this "pining sickness," into love-divine, tender, unwearied, inextinguishable love-will renew the inward man, while the outward is decaying day by day, and will strengthen the soul in its heavenly soarings, while its tenement of dust is crumbling and falling from around it. All is love in the heart of God towards you. This sickness may indeed be a correction-and correction always supposes sin-but it is a loving correction, and designed to "increase your greatness." Not one thought dwells in the mind of God, nor one feeling throbs in His heart, but is love. And your sickness is sent to testify that God is love, and that you, afflicted though you are, are one of its favored objects. The depression of sickness may throw a shade of obscurity over this truth, but the very obscuration may result in your good, and unfold God's love, by bringing you to a more simple reliance of faith. Oh, trace your present sickness, dear invalid reader, to His love who "Himself took our infirmities, and carried our sickness." If He could have accomplished the important end for which it is sent by exempting you from its infliction, you then had not known one sleepless hour, nor a solitary day; not a drop of sweat had moistened your brow, nor one moment's fever had flushed your cheek. He, your loving Savior, your tender Friend, the redeeming God, had borne it all for you Himself, even as He bore its tremendous curse-your curse and sin in His own body on the tree. Yield your depressed heart to the soothing, healing influence of this precious truth, and it will light up the pallid hue of sickness with a radiance and a glow-the reflection of the soul's health-heavenly and divine. "Lord, behold, he whom You loves is sick."
"The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary." Isaiah 50:4
THE Lord Jesus gives His people the tongue of the learned, the they may sometimes speak a word in season to His weary ones. Have you not a word for Christ? May you not go to that tried believer in sickness, in poverty, in adversity, or in prison, and tell of the balm that has often healed your spirit, and of the cordial that has often cheered your heart? "A word spoken in due season, how good is it!" A text quoted, a sentiment repeated, an observation made, a hint dropped, a kind caution suggested, a gentle rebuke given, a tender admonition left-oh! the blessing that has flowed from it! It was a word spoken in season! Say not with Moses, "I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue;" or with Jeremiah, "Ah! Lord God! behold, I cannot speak; for I am a child." Hear the answer of the Lord: "Who has made man's mouth? have not I, the Lord? Now therefore go: I will be with your mouth, and teach you what you shall say." And oh! how frequently and effectually does the Lord speak to His weary ones, even through the weary. All, perhaps, was conflict within, and darkness without; but one word falling from the lips of a man of God has been the voice of God to the soul. And what an honor conferred, thus to be the channel conveying consolation from the loving heart of the Father to the disconsolate heart of the child! to go and smooth a ruffled pillow, lift the pressure from off a burdened spirit, and light up the gloomy chamber of sorrow, of sickness, and of death, as with the first dawnings of the coming glory! Go, Christian reader, and ask the Lord so to clothe your tongue with holy, heavenly eloquence, that you may know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. Ah! it is impossible to speak of the preciousness of Christ to another, and not, while we speak, feel Him precious to our own souls. It is impossible to lead another to the cross, and not find ourselves overshadowed by its glory. It is impossible to establish another in the being, character, and truth of God, and not feel our own minds fortified and confirmed. It is impossible to quote the promises and unfold the consolations of the gospel to another, and not be sensible of a tranquillizing and soothing influence stealing softly over our own hearts. It is impossible to break the alabaster box, and not fill the house with the odor of the ointment.
In contending for the faith, remember that the Lord Jesus can give you the tongue of the learned. Listen to His promises-"I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist." Thus the most unlearned and the most weak may be so deeply taught, and be so skillfully armed in Christ's school, as to be able valiantly to defend and successfully to preach the truth, putting to "silence the ignorance of foolish men."
"O Lord, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, and the son of your handmaid: you have loosed my bonds." Psalm 116:16
IT is a circumstance worthy of remark, and important in the instruction which it conveys, that, among all the examples of deep humility, self-abasement, consciousness and confession of sin, recorded of the saints in the word, not one appears to a afford an instance of a denial or undervaluing of the Spirit's work in the heart. Keen as appears to have been the sense of unworthiness felt by Jacob, David, Job, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, and others-deep as was their conviction, and humiliating as were their confessions of sin's exceeding sinfulness, not one expression seems to betray a denial of the work of the Holy Spirit in their souls: they felt and mourned, they wept and confessed, as men called of God, pardoned, justified, adopted; not as men who had never tasted that the Lord was gracious, and who therefore were utter strangers to the operation of the Spirit upon their hearts: they acknowledged their sinfulness and their backslidings as converted men, always ready and forward to crown the Spirit in His work. But what can grieve the tender loving heart of the Spirit more deeply than a denial of His work in the soul? And yet there is a perpetual tendency to this, in the unbelieving doubts, legal fears, and gloomy forebodings which those saints yield to, who, at every discovery of the sin that dwells in them resign themselves to the painful conviction, that they have been given over of God to believe a lie! To such we would earnestly say, Grieve not thus the Holy Spirit of God. Deep self-abasement, the consciousness of utter worthlessness, need not necessarily involve a denial of the indwelling grace in the heart; yes, this blessed state is perfectly consistent with the most elevated hope of eternal life. He that can confess himself the "chief of sinners" and "the least of saints," is most likely to acknowledge, "I know in whom I have believed,"-"He has loved me, and given Himself for me." What! is it all fabulous that you have believed? is it all a delusion that you have experienced? have you been grasping at a shadow, believing a lie, and fighting as one that beats the air? are you willing to yield your hope, and cast away your confidence? What! have you never known the plague of your own heart, the sweetness of godly sorrow at the foot of the cross? have you never felt your heart beat one throb of love to Jesus? has His dear name never broken in sweet cadence on your ear? are you willing to admit that all the grief you have felt, all the joy you have experienced, and all the blessed anticipations you have known, were but as a "cunningly devised fable," a device of the wicked one, a moral hallucination of the mind? Oh, grieve not thus the Holy Spirit of God! deny not, undervalue not, His blessed work within you! What if you have been led into deeper discoveries of your fallen nature, your unworthiness, vileness, insufficiency, declensions, and backsliding from God, we ask, Whose work is this? whose, but that same blessed, loving Spirit whom thus you are wounding, quenching, grieving, denying? How many whose eye may trace this page are in