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Sweet is the joy by those possess'd,
Jesus to them his peace imparts,
Thus, holy Lord, may I be blest,
XXVI. ON FOLLOWING THE LORD FULLY.
True humility is a sweet and blessed grace. It is the product of Almighty power. How calm is the humble soul? Whilst storms and tempests rage with unrelenting fury amongst the proud and haughty of mankind; a serene and lovely sky smiles over those who are clothed with humility. mote this desirable state of heart, it is very
useful to study those characters, on which infinite truth has stamped a worth which revolving ages cannot diminish or impair. Such are Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Job, David, Daniel, and many others who shine like stars in the book of God.
We cannot but be struck whilst taking this survey, with the blessed testimony which God gave to Caleb. Num. xiv. 24. He is there said to be a man
“of another spirit," from the unbelieving Israelites around him; and to have“ followed the Lord fully, at a time when the most awful defection took place amongst the professed people of God.
To follow the Lord fully, is indeed a great work; and yet, nothing less than this will bring us to hea.
The work is the Lord's. “ By grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves : it is the gift of God."
The unbelief of the Israelites was their sin, for which they suffered, not being permitted to enter into the promised land.
The faith of Caleb was the gift of God; and his privilege of being favoured with a fruitful possession in the land of Canaan in consequence of it, was of grace and not of debt.
This strictly applies to me in a spiritual sense.
O! for more, self-condemnation and self-abasement, when I see and feel the awful unbelief which dwells in my evil heart. And yet, if I have any reason to hope that the Lord has given me another spirit from the carnal world around me, or from what I once had : and if this new spirit evidences itself by an obedience to his holy command, and a delight in his will, to him be all the undivided praise !
To follow the Lord fully, I must have a lively faith in the promises of God made to me in Jesus Christ: I must experience the love of God shed abroad in my heart through the Holy Ghost given unto me; I'must have a good hope through grace, a hope full of immortality : I must feel the sweet drawings of the Spirit, uniting me closer to Jesus in heart and affection: I must renounce all self-dependence and all creature dependence : I must renounce both my sins and my own supposed righteousness : I must quit the flattering vanities of the world, and labour to subdue the lusts of the flesh: I must be
willing to bear the cross, to deny myself and to do any thing for Christ : I must submit to the righteousness of God; yea, esteem it so inestimably precious, as to count all things else in comparison of it, but dung and dross; I must have my will swallowed up in the holy, sovereign will of God: I must lie passive in his hand, whilst actively engaged in his service, being ever desirous with child-like simplicity to do and suffer at all times, and in all places the will of my heavenly Father. If this be to follow the Lord fully, then, O! my soul, lie prostrate at his feet in shame and confusion of face.
God will not accept of a divided heart. To follow him fully, I must follow him only. The language of the church is: “ Other lords besides thee have had dominion over me; but by thee only, will I make mention of thy name." “ Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth I desire besides thee." “ The Lord is my portion, saith my soul.” O ! that this may be the language of my heart. I can never know true peace, till Jesus reign the unrivalled Sovereign of my affections. Blessed Saviour ! be thou my only Saviour. Let me not trust in any thing but thee. Let me love nothing but thee, or for thy sake. May I love thee supremely, and love all thy people, because they belong to thee.
To follow the Lord fully, I must follow him at all times; not only when the sun shines, but when the tempest lowers. This often puts faith and love to the severest trial, when the line of duty runs through rugged paths and hostile foes. Yet, if I draw back in the day of trouble, I cannot follow the Lord fully. I must not choose my path, but “run with patience the race which is set before me." I must still keep in the narrow way, however few there be who walk in it, or however unfashionable this path may be, amongst the rich and learned of the earth ; ever remembering that the promise of eternal life is made to those only, who are found in the King's high-way of holiness. If through fear of man, or love of ease, I deviate into bye paths and crooked ways, to avoid the difficulties of the road, I shall assuredly find them multiply upon me, without one sustaining promise ; for thus saith the Lord, “if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."
To follow the Lord fully, I must confess him with courage and constancy before an unbelieving world. A cowardly believer dishonours his heavenly king, and betrays the cause of truth. I say, a cowardly believer ; for such was Peter when left to himself. Caleb was 6 valiant for the truth.” He believed in God, and dared to confess his faith and allegiance in the face of the whole congregation, when they bade stone him with stones," like another Stephen. Thus he experienced the blessedness of this divinedeclaration : 66 Them that honour me, I will honour."
But through the deceitfulness of sin I am in danger of falling into two extremes: vain glory, and the fear of man. Our beloved Redeemer however has given me an exact direction how to avoid both these evils. 66 Take heed that
ye alms before men to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” “ Let your light so shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father which is in heaven." By observing the first precept, I shall avoid vain glory, which is the evil forbidden. By observing the second, I shall maintain a holy courage in exhibiting the power of godliness to the glory of God, which is the duty injoined.
To follow the Lord fully, I must cleave to him in seasons of general defection. Here Caleb proved that he was a man of another spirit from those around him, by cleaving steadfastly to God. Thus
do not your
did the apostles, when on many forsaking Jesus, he said to them: 6 And will
?” Peter replied, “ Lord, to whom shall we go ? ' thou hast the words of eternal life.”
This entire surrender of the heart to God, is the work of the Spirit; for “a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.” Nothing short of this will bring us to glory. Nothing short of this can give true assurance, peace, and joy. never taste the real comforts of religion, till I follow the Lord fully. It is the want of this undivided state of heart, which causes so much unsteadiness in the walk, and so much uncomfortableness in the experience of many professors; who, separating what God hath joined together, maintain with warmth the high doctrines of grace, whilst they esteem of small importance the social and relative duties of the Gospel. Such persons seem to forget, that, "to be really holy, is to be relatively holy;" and that no truth can do us any personal good, but as it influences and purifies our heart and life.
What can we think of those professors, who, whilst they appear saints abroad, are fiends at home? Can it be a matter of surprise, that they should feel no real satisfaction either in religion or in the world? They profess so much religion, as to render them the ob jects of the world's derision ; and yet, they possess too little of its power, to enable them to taste the sweets of genuine piety. Hence they grow morose in their temper, and uncharitable in their spirit. They are quick-sighted in discovering the mote in a brother's eye ; whilst utter strangers to the beam in their own. They are spots and blemishes in the visible church, and verify the declaration of the prophet : “there is no peace saith my God to the wicked."
But how great is the happiness of the true follower