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As sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign
through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord....Rom. v. 21.
Sin, like some mighty conqueror, hath obtained a victory and reigns over the whole human race. All men are naturally under, and well pleased with its reign and government; but sovereign, almighty grace dethrones this usurping monarch in the hearts of the elect; triumphs over its spoils and conquests, delivers their captive souls from its dominion, and reverseth the sentence of death they were under: and all this is effected in a just and righteous way. For though salvation is all of grace to poor sinners, yet eternal life is a just debt due to the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ: he hath a right to challenge it from the hands of justice; and he doth so by promise, “ Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am."....John xvii. 24.
To think of doing something to procure the favor of God and entitle ourselves to eternal life; this we are prompted to from the pride of our natures and unbelief of our hearts. But such notions ever oppose the gospel of grace, resist the Spirit of truth, degrade the glory of Jesus, depreciate the perfection of his finished work, and make the God of truth a liar. But thou, O believer, art not saved without a perfect righteousness, in perfect obedience to the law of God; and through faith in Jesus thou hast a just challenge, an humble claim, founded upon his righteousness, to eternal life! O, the rich triumphs of abounding love! how glorious is the victory of sovereign grace! Soul, thou must sink into nothing at its discovery, yet rise into a glorious subject, from the knowledge and experience of it. Grace reigns over all the aboundings of sin; here is our hope, through the righteousness of Christ, over all our unrighteousness; here is our justification in God's sight unto eternal life; here is our triumph over the wages of sin and death. O sinner! destitute of righteousness in thyself, GRACE demands the daily study and those of thy heart; GRACE demands the whole devotion of thy life. Give all the glory where only it is justly due; to the Father, for everlasting love; to the Son, for everlasting righteousness; and to the Spirit, for everlasting consolation and good hope through grace. The more thou art enabled to live upon the divine truth and faithfulness of the covenant, as revealed in the word, and shining with full lustre in the person of Jesus, thou wilt become dead to every hope but him; out of conceit with all righteousness but his, and thou wilt be singing in triumph with the church, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; MY soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.”.... Isa. Ixi. 10.
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you....
1 Pet. v. 7.
We are now called to confess Jesus in a day of mildness; the fury and rage of persecution is restrained; bonds and imprisonments do not await us; yet we must not think to be exempt from trials and difficulties of various kinds. The adversary is not dead; nature's Justs and corruptions are alive, and daily fight against us. The love of Jesus is ever accompanied with the world's hatred. Disciples of Jesus are not mere stoics; they feel the exercise of these things more or less. Sometimes it may be their lot, like the disciples, to be in the midst of a sea of troubles; tossed with the wave of difficulties, the wind of providence seems contrary to them; and to the eye of nature and sense, Jesus seems asleep to their sorrows; as though he intermits in his kind love to them, and tender care over them. Here is the trial of faith; but this grace never consults nature and appearances; it looks through all, to the everlasting love and almighty power of Jesus, knowing he can save from the uttermost depth of distress, to the uttermost height of comfort.
So triumphs the church under all her tribulations; “I will look unto the Lord: I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. Rejoice not against me, o minc enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.”....Micah vii. 7, 8. Sweet confession of faith under very discouraging views. But while the Lord cares for us, what can harm us? And while we cast our every care on him, we obey his will, honor his word, and gather from that heavenly plant the blessed fruit of heart-ease. How composed did the three children of faith stand before the wrathful monarch! How easy their minds under the dreadful threatening of a fiery furnace! How calm their reply! “O king, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter!" the Lord careth for us; we cast all our care upon him. Ever judge of Jesus? care for sinners by his love to them. Ever remember while we were enemies, his blood atoned for our sins. Can we believe his love to us, and doubt of his care for us? O how unreasonable is unbelief! But if we had no corruptions to conflict with, no troubles to exercise us, no burdens to bow us down, no cares to beset us, no fears to attend us, great part of God's word would be useless. As we are not to expect total freedom from these things, the exhortations of the word are suited to our state, and direct to a loving friend, whom we are to believe and honor by obeying his kind invitations : under every distress Jesus saith, “Come unto me."....Matt. xi. 28.
At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye
in me, and I in you....John xiv. 20.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven.” “God hath made every thing beautiful in his time."....Eccles. ii. 1, 11. In the beginning of time God created all things by Jesus Christ. In the fulness of time the Son of God was made flesh, dwelt among us for a time, and at the end of it finished salvation for lost sinners. The man Jesus ever lives in glory, and therefore his members must be made spiritually alive upon earth; to him they must all be gathered. There is a day of grace appointed them: a' time, a set time to favor them....Psalm cx. 3. A day of power, wherein they are made willing to come to Jesus, and choose him for their only Saviour, and trust in him as their only hope and their all. Various are the spiritual statufes of God's children. Different are their degrees of light, faith, knowledge, and love. As in the creation of nature, in the first day's work light was produced, perhaps small and glimmering; but that glorious luminary the sun, was not until the fourth day: so is it in the new creation of souls. Our Lord's first disciples had light enough to see him as the true Messiah, to come to him, and follow him; yet it is amazing to read how dark and confused their minds were about many things which concerned his person, sufferings, and kingdom; it is just the same now. Many are his sincere disciples, but are very weak in faith; know very little of this great mystery, that Christ and his father are one, that Christ is in the Father, that they are in Christ and that Christ is in them. Hence they are often sadly perplexed and harassed in their minds with doubts and fears. Still they cleave to Jesus; they love to hear of his precious name and glorious salvation; their hearts can be satisfied with nothing else. Hence it is plain the light hath shined, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon them; but they must follow on to know the Lord. There shall be a day of Pentecost, a day of meridian light, wherein they shall know *even as they are known....assuredly know that there is a mutual in-dwelling of “Christ in them, and they in Christ, and the Spirit will bear witness to their spirits, that they are the children of God.”.... Rom. viii. 16. Most sweetly says Mr. Rutherford, "I am sure my well beloved is God. And when I say Christ is God, and my Christ is God, I have said all things; I can say no more.
I would I could build as much on this, My CHRIST IS God, as it would bear; I might lay all the world on it.'....I will have nothing to do with an absolute God,' says Luther.
And the work of righteousness shall be peace ; and the effect
of righteousness, quietness, and assurance for ever.... Isa. xxxii. 17.
The light of this day assures us the sun is risen upon the earth That is not a more evident truth in nature, than this is in reason ; that righteousness, once lost, can never be regained by all that sing ful man can do. Consequently no peace can subsist between a holy, righteous God, and guilty, unrighteous man. “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” But who are the wicked ? Even all those who through unbelief reject the truth as it is in Jesus. It is the essence of wickedness to oppose a righteous God; to reject the righteousness of Jesus, and to go about to establish one's own inherent righteousness, so as not to submit to the righteousness of God Jesus. Hence the conscience is defiled with guilt, the heart impure, and the life is unholy. Yet pride blinds men's eyes, and self-righteousness deludes their hearts with a false peace. For as there is but one atonement by which guilty sinners are pardoned, so there is but ONE righteousness, even the perfect righteousness of Jesus, by which alone unrighteous sinners are made righteous in the sight of God : he accepts no other; his law is honored by no other; the scriptures reveal no other; faith receives no other; the Spirit bears witness to no other; sinners have no other in which they can stand before God, enjoy peace with God. But possessing the righteousness of Jesus þy faith, their minds enjoy a peace which passeth all understanding,
There are many things from a sinful nature, satan, and the law, which tend to disquiet their minds daily. But this is the blessed effect of Jesus' righteousness; it brings quietness to the conscience. This comforting thought, I am righteous : my Father hath put on me the best robe, which Jesus my elder brother wrought out for me. This quiets my
and satisfied ; I can seek no better righteousness; I dare trust in no other. And this righteousness is presented with the clearest evidence, the strongest confidence, the fullest assurance, The triumphs of Jesus' resurrection proclaim its acceptance with God. The Spirit testifies of it in the word, arid gives assurance of salvation by it in the hearts of the faithful. Hence the holy boldness and happy rejoicing of faith before a righteous God. David's address to Jesus is, “My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness, and thy salvation all the day. I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only."....Psalm 1xxi. 15, 16. . As there is but one faith, so saints in all ages had but one object to look to for righteousness, even Jesus. Therefore holy Paul prays, “that I may be found in him, not having mine own righteousness.".. Phil. iii. 9.
mind; I am easy
All things are laroful unto me, but all things are not expedient....I Cor. vi. 12.
The constraints of love and jealousy of fear sweetly unite in the believing heart. Where the faith of Jesus prevails, love constrains. It holds and keeps us in our station and duty, as soldiers are kept together under a banner or ensign displayed. What cheerfulness and activity of soul do we experience, when we can say with the church in the Canticles, (ii. 4.) “Jesus' banner over me was love !" Then how sweetly do we judge and determine our conduct by the law of Christ, which is LOVE! This excites a godly fear lest we should allow ourselves a latitude in things in themselves indifferent, to the wounding and hurt of our souls or our fellow-soldiers. Though all things of an indifferent nature, which are innocent in themselves, are lawful to us; yet the cause and interest of our dear Saviour, and the good and edifying of his beloved members, should be ever near our hearts, and make us consider the expediency of them.
How' narrow is the path of duty! yet it is pleasant to the faithful soul.' For i Jesus hath strewed it with the fragrant fruits of peace; Jovė, and comfort. Peace from God, and with our brethren ; love to God and one another. While we walk according to this rule, we bring glory to God who hath called us by Jesus Christ to glory, and will also assuredly glorify us together with himself. What circumspection becomes disciples in their daily walk, that they give none offence, neither to the Jew nor to the Gentile, nor to the church of God! The eyes, not only of God, angels, and devils, are upon us, but the eyes of men also, our brethren, and our opposers. Did the Rechabites wholly abstain from wine, because Jonadab commanded “Ye'shall drink no wine ?" Did the Lord honor their obedience in this indifferent thing with his approbation ?....Jer. xxxv. How much more will Jesus honor his disciples, who, with an eye to' his glory, and his members' good, abstain from things that are not expedient! Thou free-man of the Lord, with a holy resolution assert thy dignity. I will not be brought under the power of any thing contrary to the love of Jesus. Happy is he who seeketh not to please himself, but to profit others. How then can those answer to the Lord Christ, to their own souls, and to their brethren, who can indulge themselves at card-tables, play-houses, &c. and say, “These are indifferent things ; I see no harm in them !" Is this “following after the things which make for peace, and wherewith one may edify another?".... Rom. xiv. 19. “Happy is he that condemneth not him." self in that thing which he alloweth.”....Ver. 22.
h more, his members of the