* but

now in heaviness through manifold temptations ; this is their happiness, that God is with them if this is their security, that they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. As the sheep of Christ, they are lodged in his fold, they are safe under his protection, and shall never perish.s

In myself, I have no spiritual strength. Of myself, I can do nothing. I cannot stand upright a single moment, I am not able to move a single step towards heaven. By nature I am full of guilt and misery, far from God, from happiness, from heaven. How precious is the Gospel of the grace of God. There I behold Jesus, in the character of the good Samaritan, hastening to my relief; pouring into my heart the wine and balm of the covenant of grace, and saying to my soul : “Be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee. I am thy salvation. I have paid the debt, I will give thee greater riches than the world can bestow, or Satan offer, as a lure to bind thee to their service."||

0! Spirit of all grace, enable me to open the arms of faith to embrace this loving Saviour. Give me a heart of love to cleave to this compassionate Redeemer. Make me decided in my attachment, firm to my choice, and unshaken in my allegiance to my Almighty Sovereign.

My soul, upon the Saviour build,

Then wilt thou bear the rudest shock;
The powers of hell no more can harm,

Than dashing waves the solid rock.

How feeble, Lord, my best desires,

How weak my frail, inconstant heart;
If left of thee, the strongest saint,

From thee that moment would depart.

O ! let me, with untiring zeal,

In my dear Saviour's footsteps go ;

* 1 Pet. i. 6. 1 Pet, i. 5.

+ Psa. xxxiv. 17-19.; xlvi. 1. ; Ixii. 8. S John X. 28. || Matt. ix. 2.; Psa. xxxv. 3.

Take up his cross, and firmly leave,

All fading glories here below.

Jesus can make my burden light ;

To his dear bosom I would flee.
O! bless'd retreat! remov'd from fear;

There, would I tranquil live to thee.
Perfect, O Lord, my peace in thee,

Thou Rock of Ages—God of might;
In every storm my haven be,

My Refuge in death's dreary night.


" The kingdom of God is not meat and drink ; but righteousness,

and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”-Rom. xiv. 17.

If we are faithful, we shall be tried. Every true Christian must carry his cross; he must endure tribulation for Christ's sake.* Let all them who would follow the Saviour, “ sit down, and count the cost." We must prepare for the conflict with Satan and the world. Our blessed Lord has told us what we must expect if we are his faithful followers: “If the world hate

you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you : if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.”'t Shall

we, then, shrink from the cross ? Shall we be ashamed to confess Christ crucified ?

Alas! we * Matt. xvi. 24., Mark viii. 34. ; John xvi. 33. † John xv. 18—21.

should both shrink and be ashamed, if left to ourselves. Nothing but the Spirit of Christ can make us dauntless in our Master's cause.

How encouraging are the words of St. Peter : “ If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you : on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.......... Wherefore, let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator."*

Faith without root will wither away. “They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.”+

Mere animal excitement cannot withstand the storm and tempest. It has been quaintly remarked that many will follow religion while she walks in silken slippers; who will forsake her, when she is compelled to walk in iron shoes. When the venerable Cranmer was spreading his hospitable table at Lambeth Palace, he was surrounded by admiring guests: but when enclosed between the dreary walls of a Papal dungeon, few cared to visit him there. Thus it was with Cranmer's Lord and ours. In the hour of his extremity, the disciples forsook him, and fled ! |

Head knowledge, and zeal for ceremonies, can figure away in the sunshine ; but they cannot endure the faggot or the rack. Nay, they shrink beneath the lash of ridicule, and the pointed finger of scorn.

Grace alone can render us triumphant over every enemy, and strengthen us in the hour of death and danger. Let us, then, seek for the religion of the heart; that internal principle which will raise us above the agitations of the world, and prepare us for the enjoyment of Christ in glory. - Be thou faithful unto death,” said the glorified Redeemer, “ and I will give thee a crown of life.”'S * Pet. iv. 14, 19.

+ Luke viii. 13. * Matt. xxvi. 56. & Rev. ii. 10.


The visible Church abounds with thousands of religious professors, but with comparatively few possessors of real godliness. It is much easier to observe an outward form than to crucify a beloved lust. The Church of Rome, though loaded with ceremonials, is proverbially corrupt. God requireth truth in the inward parts. *

He looketh at the heart, and will be worshipped in spirit and in truth.t No ordinance can, of itself, confer a benefit apart from the grace of God, and the state of heart of the worshippper. To suppose otherwise, is to return from Protestantism to Popery. The graces of repentance and faith are declared in Scripture to be essential to the right and saving reception of the Gospel. The impenitent and unbelieving cannot partake of the salvation which God hath provided. Would it not, therefore, be dangerous to urge men to approach the Lord's Table, without a due preparation of heart; or, to lead them to suppose that they are privileged to come, because they were regenerated in baptism, and consequently are to be regarded as saints, though they give not the least evidence of spiritual regeneration ?

True religion is seated in the heart. A man may have very clear notions of the doctrines of grace, but if the grace of those doctrines do not influence his heart, and shine forth in a holy life, all his knowledge will profit him nothing. A person may speak well and fluently upon religion, and yet be quite dead to the power of that Gospel, on which he speaks so well. Something more is requisite to form the true Christian than head-knowledge and religious conversation. And yet, how many, alas ! content themselves with these attainments, and fancy themselves to be something, when in God's estimation they are no better than sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal.Il * Psa. li. 6.

+ John iv. 23. # Acts ii. 38., iii. 19.; Rom. iv. 3, 5., Heb. xi. 6. § Rom. ii. 5., 1 Cor. vi. 9., Gal. v. 21.; Luke xii. 46.; Eph. v. 6., Heb. iii. 19., Rev. xxi. 8.

|| 1 Cor. xii. 1., &c.

Being vainly puffed up, they assume the character of teachers, before they know themselves, or the very first elements of Christianity, even their own ignorance, helplessness, and corruption.

Blessed Saviour, deliver me, I humbly beseech thee, from spiritual pride and self-confidence. Lead me by the footsteps of thy chosen flock, which has ever followed Thee the Chief Shepherd, through the valley of humiliation, where alone are to be found the still waters of comfort, and the rich pastures of thy promised grace.

It is plainly revealed in Scripture, that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.* Two things are required, which God alone, by his Holy Spirit, can bestow, and which, through the merits of Christ, he is willing to impart to all who sincerely seek for them, through faith in his beloved Son.

The first is :-The divine illumination of the understanding

The second is :-A relish for, and delight in, spiritual things.

Without the first, an awful darkness respecting the things of God, would envelope the mind. And, without the second, no pleasure could be found in them, even if the eyes of the understanding were enlightened to perceive their value. The visible Church contains within itself, many painful instances of those, to whom it may be said: “Thou which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself ?” + Others there are who resemble the stationary guide-post. They only point out the road. How blessed are they who with Paul can say: "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”| And with Moses : “We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good."'$

Through a spiritual discernment we perceive the excellencies of the gospel; and by a spiritual taste * 1 Cor. ii. 14.

+ Rom. ii. 21. 1 Cor. xi. 1. § Numb. x. 29.

« VorigeDoorgaan »