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we begin to walk in his ways that the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart, that they are more to be desired than gold, yea than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. The more we purify our heart to receive it, the more of this joy is bestowed upon us, but if we will not open our heart for it, it will not be given to us; if we keep our heart shut against it, it will not enter; this joy will no more enter into an unrepenting, unregenerate soul than heaven will mix with hell. We shall not come out of prison until we have paid the uttermost farthing. But the condition of payment is easy. Repentance is the coin in which we must pay our debt, and when we have thus paid it, then we shall walk at liberty for we shall keep his statutes. We shall run the way of his commandments when He hath set our heart at liberty. Then we shall begin to learn to rejoice in the Lord. O then we shall improve our general knowledge of God's word into a particular application of it to our own case, saying not only I know that the Lord Jesus will have mercy upon all penitent sinners, and will, when they depart from the body receive them into Paradise with Him, but, I know that the Lord Jesus will have mercy upon me, and will, when I depart from the body receive me into Paradise with Him.
Now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honour, praise, and glory, might, majesty, dominion, and thanksgiving, for ever and ever. Amen.
THE FRIENDSHIP OF CHRIST.
JOHN xv. 14.
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
If in this life we had no communion with Christ we were of all men most miserable. The vast distance, the great gulph which sin had caused between the sinner and the offended Creator required a Mediator to bring us to God: but we read of no Mediator to bring us to Christ; for our relationship with Him is immediate. He is willing to converse with those who are but willing to converse with Him. He opens himself to our wants; He gives us a free invitation to come to Him; He denies access to none who will not deny it to themselves. In this covenant of friendship which He makes with us He will never fail as long as we will but fulfil the conditions on our part. Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command
. Thus the Son of God himself, the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person proffers his friendship to sinful man. Do but examine the qualities constituting friendship between one person and another, and tell me in which of them Christ is deficient; in which of the offices of friendship does He fall short towards the soul that depends upon Him?
Is it the part of a friend to overlook and forgive faults and trespasses? How many faults and trespasses of ours has He not forgiven, and does He not forgive! His love and patience is almost unconquerable. How long did we not obstinately continue dead in trespasses and sins! How we stopped our ears and hardened our hearts against his voice calling us to leave our sins and turn to Him! How long his Spirit strove with us! How long we resisted Him! How slow we were in turning to Him! How cold, doubtful, reluctant and hypocritical was our obedience, and how frequent were our relapses into sin, and into worldly carnal thoughts! If we tried one another's patience as much as we try the patience of Christ, how soon would our patience fail! Woe to us if Christ were as rigid with us as we are with one another! But his compassion and long-suffering are infinite, therefore he takes no advantage of us but waiteth to be gracious. His patience with regard to us was exemplified in his demeanour to his disciples when he was upon earth. On all occasions he was ready to excuse their infirmities, and in the last scene of his life when he was full of agony at the approach of death, when he stood most in need of comfort from his disciples, when he desired nothing more of them but to watch with Him for a short time, and when notwithstanding they slept as if indifferent to his sufferings; instead of bitterly reproaching them he finds an excuse for them, saying the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak; and when Peter had denied him, he sends a special message to him, informing him of his resurrection, in token of reconciliation, and as applying the comfort of his resurrection to himself. He is still the same Lord with regard to us, long-suffering, ready to forgive; the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
It is also the part of a friend not only to forgive our failings and infirmities, but to point out to us distinctly the perfection of our duty. Christ is not wanting in this office of a friend. Whosoever will but seek his guidance will hear a voice saying unto them this is the way walk
in it. If there be first a willing mind, he will allot the proper employment to every hour in the day. None that ever went to him for work have need to complain of standing all the day, or any part of the day, idle. It is also the part of a friend to cheer and com
No friend is like unto Christ for this. The only way to have cheer and comfort is to be thoroughly rid of sinful thought. Sin is the only source of sadness and heaviness: and Christ, if we ask it of him, will expel this mortal enemy from our breasts, and cleanse and cheer “ the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit.”
It is also the part of a friend to give us counsel and advice. He is the mighty Counsellor. His counsel is sure, and the only price that he sets upon
it is that we follow it. Now his counsel to us is to repent and turn from sin to holiness, to strike at the root, not to be content with lopping off Some of the branches of sin, but to be holy as He is holy and to purify ourselves as He is pure.
Nor does He give us this advice only, but He lays down for us a plain, intelligible course of proceeding, certain ordinances, for the sanctification of those who diligently walk in them ; namely prayer, searching the Scriptures, meditation, the sacraments, charity to the poor, and kindness to all. Nor does He stop here, but continually gives his own superadded and sanctifying help to all who thus walk in these ordinances which He hath appointed.
If it be therefore the part of a friend to give assistance when it is required, Christ never did and never will fail to give his assistance to those that ask it. For as sure as all the branches of the vine are sustained by nourishment from the root, or as sure as all the members of the body are governed by the wisdom of the head, so sure will all the members of Christ be strengthened by Him who is understanding to the ignorant and eyes to the blind. In Christ are hid all treasures of wisdom. These treasures He imparts freely to all that ask it of Him, and He never will leave them bewildered and forsaken.