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The heaven-born soul, though, like a captive, imprisoned in flesh, yet hath free access to Jesus by faith. So it endures present reproaches, seeing Him that is invisible. And do we hope for future sight and eternal fruition of him who endured the cross, and despised the shame for us? Let us take and bear his cross; despised disciples let us be. Look down on the world with contempt. Look up to Christ with joy. Go forth to meet him in love. Ever remember, Jesus went forth cheerfully to meet all his conflicts and agonies for us. It is but a little while ere we shall go forth from the body, "to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we be ever with the Lord," 1 Thess. iv. 17. Is this really our faith? Is this truly our hope? Oh, let us, more than ever, dwell on it! For it will make reproach for Christ not only sit easy, but excite longings to be with him. "The Lord Jesus Christ be with our spirits," 2 Tim. iv. 22.
JAN. 22.-For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.-Psalm xxx. 5.
Verily, here is a glorious assemblage of comforting truths, like a reviving cordial of rich compounds, to enliven drooping spirits. Too, too often do God's children judge of their Father's love from corrupt ideas. Through the carnality of their natures, the depravity of their judgment, the weakness of their faith, the uncertainty of their frames and feelings, and the artful insinuations of Satan, their loving Father is considered as an implacable Being, full of wrath and anger against them. But this is contrary to God's revelation of himself in Christ, as a God of love. So also is it injurious, and hurtful to the souls of the faithful. For it damps their love, distresses their spirits, deadens the exercise of their graces, and hinders their increase in holiness, the essence of which is founded in the love of God.
Therefore, such views come not from God. But hereby Satan gains an advantage, and triumphs over poor souls, with, "There, there, so would I have it."
What can the soul do? whither can he fly? what course can he take? All legal efforts are vain, creature acts ineffectual, from self and nature no hope can spring. What can he think? Truly, stand amazed that he is out of hell. He cannot sink lower in his views of himself than what his just deserts are. But never so miserable can he be, in his own sight, but the grace of God in Christ is all-sufficient to afford hope and help. In nature's despair grace triumphs. A sense of momentary anger heightens returning favour. The joy of the morning is improved by a past night of sorrow. God ever rests unchangeable in his love to his people. This is the essence of gospel grace and truth. That we vary and fluctuate in our apprehension of his love, is natural to our very existence, as old and new creatures. "But we have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts," 2 Pet. i. 19. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy," Rev. xix. 10. The favour of God to sinners is in Christ, that is their life; the life and spring of all their graces and comforts. A God in Christ is the christian's highest glory, and greatest triumph. For his love is unchangeably the same to Christ, and to all who are united to him by the Holy Spirit, and one with him by precious faith. "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice," Phil. iv. 4.
JAN. 23.-O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.-Psalm xlii. 6.
In times of dejection and distress, the thought of a
dear friend, who has comforted us in times past, tends to alleviate the mind. If we are assured of his love to us, we question not his readiness to assist us. So, under the affecting loss of a dear brother, Martha addresses the Saviour, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died," John xi. 21.
Inexpressible blessedness to live in a holy familiarity with the God of love! How simple are David's words! how freely doth he pour out his complaints, and tell God of his sorrows! though his soul was bowed down within him, heaviness of mind beset him, the sweet sunshine of joy was overcast by the dark cloud of sorrow, yet faith's piercing eye looks through all. Regardless of his own frames and feelings, he has direct recourse to God.
"O MY God!" how sweet, how animating are appropriating views of thee to the soul! Though cast down, though dejected in self, and all within heightens the gloom; yet all above is hopeful and encouraging. Though no confidence about us, yet Jesus is before the throne for us. "I will not, I cannot, I dare not forget this. Rejoice not over me, O mine enemy! I will still remember my God; my thoughts shall be yet towards him; my hope is in him; my expectations from him. Though it is now dark, I will remember past times of light and love. Though now bowed down, yet my God has been the lifter-up of my head. The light of his reconciled face, in Jesus, hath shined upon me. Clouds may intercept my joyful views of this, but not prevent his sight of me, nor turn away his love from me. My case is before him. My soul lies open to his view. The times of refreshing shall come from his presence. He rests in his love." Such are the reasonings of faith. The experience of departed saints should encourage the confidence of living saints. Cast down, mourning souls, when they enjoy not God's comforts, should meditate on his loving purposes, rich promises, and free grace in Christ; holding fast the word of his truth. Of what singular and blessed use is the memory, to retain divine
truths, and bring back a fresh and lively sense of God's past dealings with us! "Remember this, and show yourselves men." "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord," 1 Cor. i. 9.
JAN. 24.-Sanctify them through thy truth.-John
Thus prayed our great High Priest on earth. What he asked in his humiliation, is founded upon the word and will of his Father, and he hath power to effect in his exaltation. Hence we have the fullest assurance of the perfect sanctification of all his members. Hence the desires and breathings of souls after holiness are encouraged, and the prayers of the faithful gather the strongest confidence of success.
While our Beloved expresses his affectionate concern for his people's salvation, we see his equal regard for the honour and glory of his Father's word. Love for holiness and love of the truth are inseparable. As the gospel prevails in the heart, holiness is increased. It is first life, then liveliness in the soul. It is the ministration of the Spirit in the sanctification of the Spirit. Whatever workings we find of the Spirit in the heart, all are by the word of truth. The life of believers is from Christ, who is The Truth; therefore increasing light, refreshing comforts, stronger affections shall abound, and all by that same law of grace and truth whereby the soul was at first converted to the faith of Jesus. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul, making wise the simple, rejoicing the heart, enlightening the eyes," Psalm xix. 7, 8.
There is a peculiar glory in the order of salvation. "God hath chosen us from the beginning (before the foundation of the world) to salvation." But how is this made manifest? Only "through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth," 2 Thess. ii. 13.
Thus faith and holiness flow from electing love. So every word of God's truth is prized, and the fulfilment of every promise is expected. We love the truth of the word, because it discovers God's most ancient love to us in Christ: it reveals Christ's righteousness to us for our justification; revives our hearts with the knowledge of pardon by his blood, and the certainty of full sanctification, and perfect glory, through his intercession. So Jesus prayed, so we believe, so we poor sinners are saved. Saved, unspeakable mercy! from the power of sin and the prevalence of pride. Happy the heart, where the love of holiness prevails, agreeably to the word of truth. Dreadful delusion! when the truth is held in unrighteousness; or zeal for holiness is contended for, while the truths of electing love, Christ's righteousness, his members' certain salvation, are opposed and denied. Glory to the Father for his everlasting love; to Jesus, for his justifying righteousness and atoning blood; and to the Spirit, for his sanctifying influences. This will ever be ascribed by truly sanctified hearts. "What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder," Matt. xix. 6.
JAN. 25.-Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.-Luke xiv. 33.
There must be the heart of a disciple, before there can be the conduct of a disciple. Hence says Christ, "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again," John iii. 7. The blessed effects of this spiritual birth will be evident in choosing Christ as our Lord, and becoming his disciples. Earthly objects will be forsaken; heavenly ones prized. Jesus being esteemed our treasure and our hope, our hearts will be with him, our affections set on him; and it will be our chief delight to hear his voice, and follow him in the regeneration. Coming to Christ, is turning our backs