« PreviousContinue »
Let no man beguile you of your reward....Col. ïi. 18.
There is a present reward of grace enjoyed in the hearts of the faithful, which consists in pardon of sin, peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost. These are the rewards of Jesus' toils and sufferings for us. Since an artful and subtle serpent hath gained access to the human heart, we can never be warned too much to beware of men. Satan deceived man at the beginning by means of part of himself. He still beguiles men by man. Though the adversary cannot pluck one of Christ's sheep out of his hands, nor rob the loving Saviour of one of the precious jewels of his mediatorial crown, still we are to consider him as a restless, implacable foe, who will strive by all means to perplex and distress our souls. Has Jehovah Jesus appeared to us in the vision of faith? Hath he spoke to our trembling hearts in his word and by his Spirit, as he did to the father of the faithful? “Fear not, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”....Gen. xv. l. Like the racers in the Olympic games, we must expect false judges, corrupted umpires, who will judge against us; determine the prize contrary to our faith and hope in free-grace promises and sovereign determinations. . They will judge against the truth and glory of our prize, as though we were not complete in Christ Jesus; as though we were not wise by his wisdom; righteous by his righteousness; holy by his holiness; perfectly redeemed from all sin, curse and wrath, by his complete redemption; but that somewhat is to be found and trusted to in nature and self, to' entitle us to God's grace, and secure to us a crown of glory. Blessed admonition! “Let no man beguile you,” judge against you, ye-free born, heaven-born souls, concerning the perfect freeness, and infinite fulness of your prize, your reward, Jesus. For by this they would weaken your faith, disturb your peace, and oppose your confort. So they would beguile you to run uncertainly; 'as though your hopes were suspended on your own faithfulness to grace, your fulfilling terms and conditions, whereby to secure the prize. Ever reject such selfish, mercenary, base, compounding notions with detestation; as contrary to covenant love and gospel grace; dishonoring to our precious Saviour, and grieving to the holy, sovereign Spirit, who bears witness, that "there is a remnant according to the election of grace;" that the prize is adjudged to them “ by grace, not of works; otherwise grace is no more grace: but if it be of works, then it is no more of grace; otherwise work no more work."....Rom. xi. 5, 6.
Firm as the earth thy gospel stands,
My Lord, my hope, my trust; If I am found in Jesus' hands,
My soul can ne'er be lost.
His honor is engag'd to save
The meanest of his shecp;
His hands securely keep,
Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel
the Saviour....Isa. xlv, 15.
Mourning under a sense of sin, and complaining of inbred corruptions, 'are consistent with faith in Jesus, and rejoicing in his salvation. Sorrowing under the painful sense of an absent God, ha's been the experience of saints in all ages; few, if any, have been exempt from it. And this is an evidence that they have felt his comforting presence, enjoyed the smiles of his love, and rejoiced in the light of his countenance. So the life and love of the soul is manifested. A christian is known by his sorrows, as well as joys. He sorrows after a godly sort.
But why should a God of love hide himself from his dear children? We may say, he is a sovereign, and answer in the words of Elihu.... Job xxxiii. 13...." He giveth not account of any of his matters.” But it is most sweet to say with David, “ Continually let the Lord be magnified, who hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servants.".... Psalm xxxv. 27. Therefore when God hides himself from the souls of his believing children, it is in love, wisdom, and faithfulness to them: it is to advance his own glory, and to further the prosperity of their souls. But he never leaves himself without a witness in their hearts, for we see the church addresses him though he hideth himself....sweetly applies to him as Jesus the only Saviour, and utters 'her complaint before him, “ Thou hidest thyself,” and I am troubled. So the withdrawing of the comforting warmth of the sun, makes vegetable nature droop and languish, and it mourns in silent sadness. But the root is still alive, and it will, when the sun returns, bring forth its fruit in due season. Backward springs, often produce the most plentiful harvest. So the Lord teaches his sovereignty, roots the soul in humility, prevents the growth of spiritual pride, reproves a careless walk, chides for worldly-mindedness, causes great searchings of heart, embitters sin, excites to holy mourning, calls forth earnest longings, restless seekings, and fervent prayings. Saw
ye him whom my soul loveth?” will be the restless enquiry of a loving, deserted heart. I cannot live without him: his presence is heaven; his absence is hell. Soul, ever beware of lending thine ear for a moment to any base suggestion, contrary to this sweet declaration of an unchanging God of truth and love: “In a LITTLE wrath I hid my face from thee for a MOMENT, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord, The Redeemer.”....Isa. liv, 8.
How boundless is our Father's grace, What tho' I mourn an hiding God, • In height and depth and length:
His faithfulness I trust, He made his son our righteousness, His word, his love, can never fail ; •His Spirit is our strength.”
The Lord I serve....is just. M.
God is no respecter of persons : But in every nation he that fëureth God and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him....Acts x. 34, 35.
It is a common, artful device of the adversary to insinuate, kone part of scripture opposes and contradicts another.” Hereby lle aims to distress the minds, weaken the confidence of disciples, and to render the doctrines of grace of no esteem. The unlearned and unstable in the truths of free grace salvation, “wrest this, as they do also other texts of scripture, to their own destruction." It was farthest from St. Peter to make this declaration, to subvert the fundamental truths of the gospel, and the one only way of salvation taught by himself; namely, by “ election, according to the fore-knowledge of God the Father, through the sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”....1 Pet. i. 2. • But he now perceived of a truth that this blessing came equally alike upon Gentiles as well as Jews. “ God is no respecter of persons." This is a most comfortable truth to the vilest of the human
There is nothing that claims respect in the person of one man above another in the sight of God. “All are alike corrupt and become abominable. There is naturally no fear of God before our eyes. There is none that doth good; no not one.” There is no difference. Jew and Gentile, publican and pharisee, outwardly devout, and openly prophane, are all upon a level in point of justification before God. Enlightened souls see and own this in deep humility, and self-abasement: while proud pharisees challenge and claim respect from God, because they think their persons and cha"racters are more amiable in his sight than others.
But saith Moses, “ The Lord your God is a mighty and terrible God, who regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.".... Deut. x. 17. What reward can poor sinners give to procure God's regard, bribe his justice, or avert his wrath? Do they naturally fear God and work righteousness in order to this? Lay thine hand upon thine heart, O soul; judge as in the sight of God. Say, was this thy natural conduct and practice towards him? God knoweth, to hate him and 'work wickedness is the natural state and practice of thee and of all
But yet he that feareth God and worketh righteousness, be he who or what he will, is accepted with God. For this is a full proof of being " accepted in the beloved Jesus." The Lord puts his fear in one's heart according to covenant promise...Jer. xxxii. 40. He renews us in righteousness and true holiness. Hence our practice is agreeable to our state. Prayers and alms come up before the Lord as a memorial of what he has done on the heart. And the same Lord over all, is zich in mercy to all that - call upon him. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.".... Rom. X, 12, 13,
Which is not another (gospel), but there be some that trouble
уои and would pervert the gospel of Christ.... Gal. i. 7.
TROUBLE us indeed! it is our wisdom to hear preaching with an attentive mind, an humble heart, and a godly jealousy over what is spoken. The sweet sound of the gospel is joy to the heart, and as marrow and fatness to the soul; for it proclaims nothing but good news or glad tidings. This is its name: its nature and properties perfectly agree therewith. Hence it is called.... Acts xx. 24.... The gospel of the grace of God; or good news of his free favor. And Ephes. i. 13....“ The gospel of salvation; or glad tidings of salvation by Christ only." It was the wisdom of Adam to distinguish and give a proper name to every creature of God. Every christian should imitate him in knowledge, to distinguish the law from the gospel, and to call each by its proper name.
For when the law of works and gose pel of grace are blended together, it puzzles the mind and disturbs the conscience. We may say of the gospel, as Tertullus said of Cæsary
By thee we enjoy great quietness."....Acts xxiv. 2. For by it the mind and conscience of the believer is filled with peace and comfort. From hence springs his love to God, and holy conformity to his will.
But preaching terms and conditions to be performed by us, in order to entitle to gospel grace, hath a native tendency to distress the mind, weaken faith, damp love, deject hope, and of consequence make the believer less zealous of good works. Yet, through blindness and ignorance, some call this gospel; but Paul denies it: he says, “ It is not another," he won't mention gospel. It deserves not the name; it is a mere system of man's devising. O but if there is great talk of the interest of morality, and a specious pretence to holiness, this makes a great shew in the Aesh, so as to trouble some, and deceive many. But such “pervert the gospel of Christ; the everlasting gospel." For that proclaims eternal election, everlasting love, an established covenant of grace; brings everlasting consolations to the soul, by an everlasting righteousness through faith: and sure and certain salvation to every believer. THE GOSPEL, like some stately ship, is richly laden with the most munificent blessings of the patrimony of our Father; the last will and testament of our precious Saviour, freely consigned under the testimony of the Spirit, to us poor, lost, perishing sinners. O believer! study the immense value and riches of the gospel: be on thy guard, lest any deprive thy mind of its freeness and fulness. Gospel-perverters are conscience-troublers. Listen not to their specious guiles, lest thy mind be perplexed. Glory to our God, here is our mercy; though false teachers shall arise, though they may trouble, yet "it is impossible, saith our Saviour, that they should deceive the elect of God."....Matt. xxiv. 24.
And the counsel of peace shall be between them both....
Zech. vi. 13,
With what rapture and ecstacy of soul the good old patriarch Israel heard of his son Joseph ? Not only alive, but also governor of the land of Egypt. “IT IS ENOUGH,” said he. As though he could enjoy no more, How then ought the hearts of poor sinners to be filled with joy, and fired with transport to hear that their friend and brother, Jesus, lives for evermore; that “the government is upon his shoulders;" that he is their King and their Priest upon his throne: that the counsel of peace is established, fixed and unalterably established, between the Father and him on their account! Surely, if we believe this, as verily as Jacob believed the report concerning his son, we shall also cry out with him, IT IS ENOUGH, perfectly sufficient. More joyful news cannot be heard. More comfortable ruth cannot be believed. Fuller evidence cannot be desiredo Stronger proofs cannot be given than is revealed of the covenanttransactions of the adorable trinity, in behalf of sinners of mankind.
Here is the LORD OF HOSTS, and the MAN, the blessed: man, who is called the BRANCH. And see we not the third person in the divine essence? For the establishing of faith, be it ever remembered, though the Father and the Son only are often mentioned in scripture; yet the Lord the Spirit in his office is evidently to be seen and clearly to be known. For whatever is covenanted and agreed between God the Father and Son, is manifested and revealed and enjoyed in the heart by the holy Spirit. We had never heard of this blessed peace, had it not been by the Holy Ghost through the word of truth. Therefore it is “the Spirit that bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.”.... 1 John v. 6. Ever bear this in thy mind, disciple. As thou hadst not known sin, but by the Law: so thou couldst not have any knowledge of peace and pardon, but by the gospel through the Spirit. He is the revealer, sealer and applier of all grace, peace, love and holiness. “ The love of the Father is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto us.” “He shall testify of me," saith Jesus : all my members shall be taught of him: “He shall glorify me.”....John xvi. 14. Here is a peace established between heaven and earth: between the righteous Lord and sinful man, firm as a rock, durable as the ages of eternity.
God the Father is the author of this peace. Jesus hath obtained this peace by the blood of his cross. Rebels and traitors against God, are made the subjects of this peace. The Spirit begets faith in the heart. He applies the peace of God which passeth all understanding to the soul through the faith of Jesus. And though all in nature, sin, satan, and the world are at war with us; still this is our glory, « Jesus is our peace."....Eph. ii. 14.