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But Jesus answered not a word....Matt. xv. 23.
What! not a word from the compassionate Saviour, who is touched with a feeling of our infirmities? is he deaf to the cries, and dumb to the intreaties of a distressed, sorrowful heart? No; love in the heart has always an open ear to complaints, a ready tongue to speak comfort, and a kind hand to relieve. But love afflicts, to bring his children to him, and to make them call upon him: he forbears to answer, that they may be the more importunate. God's delays prove faith's vigor, make love cling closer, prayer more fervent, and patience shine brighter. So the graces of God's children are drawn forth into lively exercise, and are made manifest that they are wrought by God. Perseverance obtains the blessing in due time. Jesus honors and applauds the grace of his beloved members with, “O man, O woman, great is thy faith!'
Christ knew what work he had wrought in this poor humble supplicant's heart, whereby she knew Jesus to be Lord and God; therefore he proved her and tried her, that her faith might shine bright to his glory and her soul's comfort. As she possessed the same faith, so she discovers the same resolution of Job, “ Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." And, with Jacob, she would wrestle; and her heart determined, “ I will not let thee go except thou bless me.”....Gen. xxxii. 26. But the silence of Jesus was very disheartening. When he speaks, it is quite discouraging, Though she worshipped him and sighed out, “Lord, help me;" yet Jesus seems rather to repulse than comfort her. But true faith ever sinks the soul low in humility, while it clings close to the most high God. The soul owns its hateful vileness and utter unworthiness, and fixes all its plea upon free-grace mercy; all its hopes upon Jesus only. Thus Christ empties whom he delights to fill. He makes us to see and confess ourselves to be dogs, fit only to feed under the table, though he loves us as children, and all that he hath is ours, by free gift, precious promise, and rich grace. Othou poor, fearing, doubting soul, who hast long been seeking, waiting, and praying for comfort, in a word or look from Jesus, take courage hence, Ever trust in him who saith, “I have satiated the weary soul, and I. have replenished every sorrowful soul.”....Jer. xxxi. 25.,
My spirit looks to God alone ;
Trast him, ye saints, in all your ways,
And experience worketh hope.... Rom. v. 4.
We are ever to consider the gospel as a proclamation of grace to rebels; a declaration of mercy to the profligate and abandoned; glad tidings of salvation to lost, desperate, hopeless sinners. It finds the soul destitute of any one encouraging symptom: it brings all hope and encouragement with it. When the gospel becomes the "power of God to salvation” to any sinner, it works a mighty change in his state and practice. In the sweet experience, proof, or the trial of this, the soul is comforted. Hope concerning his state is confirmed. Experience worketh hope of one's own interest in Jesus, and salvation by him. It works not by legal terrors and dreadful horrors, as was Judas; nor by working up the animal passions to a flash of joy, just as the stony ground hearers were affected by the word. But it powerfully enlightens the soul to see the evil of sin, and the infinite preciousness of the Lord Jesus, so as to loath and detest the former, and cleave to and trust alone in the latter.
Hence Jesus becomes the tried stone, the sure foundation of the soul. Upon the finished work of Jesus, all hope, in time and for eternity, is laid. All other foundations are rejected as sandy; all other hopes as vain. Faith in God's word, relying on his promises in Christ, begets resignation to his will, and patience under his dispensations, being assured, that “all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.".... Rom. viii. 28.
We first experience his power in effectual calling, and then his love in keeping us close to himself, and obedient to his will. So we enjoy peace from him, and our hearts are cheerfully devoted to him. But how oft doth the believing soul find coolness of affection, heaviness of heart, and dejection of mind? Doth not this destroy his hope? No: even this experience, sad as it seems, worketh hope: hereby pride and self-confidence are slain, sin embittered; the soul humbled at the feet of Jesus, with “ Thou, even thou alone art my hope, I dare not trust in any other; my soul shall make her boast of thee, and thee only.'
We have the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves: and the more we live upon, and trust in the Lord, so shall we experience hope spring up, love flourish, and holiness abound. Praised be the Lord our God, who is “ the God of hope, and who fills us with joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.”.... Rom. xv. 13. Long did my Lord in patience wait, Let patience prove thy tried word, Till I return'd to him.
And thereby hope confirm. M.
Having on the breast-plate of righteousness.... Eph. vi. 14.
When Saul had armed David, with his armour, to go against Goliah, the Philistine giant, his heart smote him, lest he should confide in it, and so be drawn from simply trusting to the power of God only; therefore he said, “ I cannot go with these; I have not proved them; and David put them off him.”.... 1 Sam. xvii. 39. A faithful heart is jealous of the Saviour's glory. Though the believer is made righteous, and loves and walks in the paths of righteousness, yet he will glory in nothing before God, nor trust in any righteousness to shield him from the face of the enemy, but the perfect, spotless righteousness of his dear, and precious Saviour. He puts off all others, by the faith of Christ, as contrary to his hope. As he sees the purity and extent of the divine law, that it is quick and powerful, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, knowing his own righteousness to be defective, and that in many things we all offend; therefore he could just as soon trust an honey-comb for a breast-plate, as the moth-eaten garment of his own best works.
Why doth Satan, sin, and the law, 'so often wound our breasts, and grieve our hearts ? It is because we are not careful to guard with our breast-plate of Jesus' righteousness. It should ever be the joy and rejoicing of our souls to consider the work of Jesus as man and mediator. Did he shed his blood ? did he die a cursed death? did he in his holy life “ put on righteousness as a breast-plate?”.... Isa. lix. 15. Faith triumphs in his death, as the one atonement for sin. Faith glories in his life, as the one righteousness. So the once guilty soul is cleansed, so the once naked soul is clothed and adorned; and thus it is ever glorious in the sight of God in this best robe of its elder brother, Jesus. So also is the once defenceless soul armed against every attack of sin, Satan, the law, and death. This breast-plate is more than proof against all. While pride and selfrighteousness go hand in hand, and unite in objections against the imputed righteousness of our Immanuel, humble, self-emptied souls, glory and triumph that their salvation is according to the laws of strict justice and perfect righteousness. Possessing righteousness in Jesus, we draw nigh to a throne of grace with boldness now, and shall lift up our heads with joy before a righteous throne of judgment in the great and tremendous day. “ For righteousness delivereth from death.”....Prov. X. 2, « Though sin hath reigned unto death, (In us) yet grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life (FOR US) by Jesus Christ our Lord.”....Rom. v. 21.
Jesu, thy blood and righteousness Then, while I am thy soldier here,
But now the righteousness of God without the law, is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.... Rom. iii. 21.
“ Vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass' colt.”....Job xi. 12. Proud man would be righteous, though conceived in iniquity, brought forth in sin, and no goodness in him. This pride accompanies him all his days; yea it forsakes not newborn souls. Our natural notions are ever, that doing something will make us righteous. So the judgment of the flesh ever opposeth the truth of the Spirit. Carnal reason ever runs counter to spiritual faith. But it is the glory of believing hearts to take their views of righte ousness from revealed truth. This, to the ineffable joy and unspeakable comfort of poor sinners, manifests a righteousness for their garment, which they tofled' not for, neither did they spin. And what shall we say of it? Truly, Solomon, in all his glory, yea, angels in all their brightest perfection, are not arrayed like those, who are clothed with the righteousness of the God-man, Christ Jesus. O for stronger faith in this !
Poor, weak, doubting believer! why takest thou thought for raiment? hath not God clothed you? “() thou of little faith!" thoá hopest, thou trustest in Jesus' blood alone for the pardon of thy sins, but art distressed in seeing thyself a poor sinner. Thou knowest thou art not righteous in thyself, and often fearest thou shalt never attain righteousness, and perish at last for want of it. Verily, thy face is turned towards Mount Sinai, instead of Mount Calvary; to Moses, instead of Jesus; to thy life of obedience, instead of his life of righteousness; to the law (which requires all) instead of the gospel, which freely gives all.
So sure as thou hast the faith of Jesus in thine heart, thou hast the righteousness of Jesus on thy back, let law, men, and Satan say what they will. God finds his children naked, he clothes them. Witnesses are ever at hand. Evidences are never wanting to prove this truth. The Spirit of truth bears infallible testimony, by the law and the prophets, to the glory of this righteousness. Read, be joyful, and give all glory to free grace for its free imputation : « The righteousness of God, which is by faith in Jesus Christ, is únto all, and upon al} them that believe, for there is no difference.”....Ver. 22. But who enjoy the comfort of this? Verily no soul, till he is broughi to say, with Paul, “I through the law am dead to the law.”....Gal. ii. 19.
In vain we ask God's righteous law Jesus, how glorious is thy grace!
When in thy name we trust, Since to convince, and to condemn, Our faith receives a righteousness Is all the law can do.
That makes the sinner just.
Our gospel came not to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Ghost, und in much assurance.... i Thess. i. 5.
Sin, salvation, death, judgment, eternity, though matters of the highest moment and utmost importance to us, yet we naturally think of them with little concern, speak of them with great indifference, and treat the consideration of them as Felix did Paul, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season I will send for thee." ....Acts xxiv. 25, And yet perhaps such have long sat under a preached gospel ; hugely cry up and applaud the preacher, and are ready to condemn others who do not see and admire the excellency of the man.
But, alas! what are the most excellent words of man without the power of the Spirit? Light as air, ineffectual to soulsaving purposes, as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
The grand question is, Have I inwardly known and felt the power of the gospel? Our gospel came into you not in word only, but in power. It has an internal voice: it speaks glad tidings, good news of life and salvation to the very soul: it is the word of power to quicken dead souls to life: it is a revelation to the heart of pardon and peace by Jesus. Thus it brings the clearest evidence, the fullest assurance along with it, that it is God's word of life and salvation. The Holy Ghost bears witness to it, in power and demonstration. Blessed souls! who are divinely assured of the truths of gospel-grace and love by Jesus; who embrace the gospel as their only hope, and fee and cleave to Jesus as their only refuge. But more blessed, yea most happy those believing souls who are upon the delectable mountains, and enjoy much assurance of their own personal interest in Jesus, and eternal life through him; and by the Holy Ghost are enabled to say, 'I know that Jesus loved me and died for me.' O, this privilege is most highly to be prized. It is worth pressing after.
This only can deliver the soul from all doubts and fears, inflame it with the most ardent love, inspire it with the most holy boldness, influence it to the most cheerful obedience, resign it to afflictive allotments, wing it with holy longings after Jesus and eternal glory; and make it joyfully triumphant over the grim tyrant death; with “ Thanks be to God, who giveth me the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”.... I Cor. xv. 57.
My Saviour God, my sov'reign Prince, His word is truth, his pow'r is great, Reigns far above the skies;
From hence my comforts spring : But brings his graces down to sense, Assurance by the Holy Ghost And helps my faith to rise.
A beav'n on earth doth bring. M,