« PreviousContinue »
God! the Divine Three all engaged in covenant; the blood of Jesus, and the oath and promise of the Lord; the doctrine of justification before God,
only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings *;" the offices of Christ as Priest, King, and Prophet: And to these consolations add, that Almighty power, wisdom, and goodness are also engaged to direct every one of your concerns, to make all things work together for your good, and never to leave nor forsake you; for, he who began a good work in you, authorizes you to be confident of this very thing, that he will perform it to the day of Jesus Christ.”-Surely, Brethren, when these things are put together and kept in view, here is a solid ground, amidst all the dejections which you feel, for your "encouraging yourself in the Lord your God.” You are evidently called on to follow that divine admonition : “ In returning and in rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” That triumphant declaration of the Apostle is also yours. Take it up in faith. “ If God be for us, who shall be against us?” Here you have the true resting place of the soul, amidst the storms of life; and the sweet and certain hope, beyond the grave, of an unclouded, endless enjoyment of your God.
The people of God may not always understand one another's terms, yet, they agree in this, that they are altogether fixed on God as their only peace and happiness. If then you would abundantly “
en* See Art. X. of the Church of England; and Galat. ii. 16. and iii. 11.
courage yourself in your God;" if you would experience in your consciences a solid and lasting refuge against guilt, and care, and fear; and if you would be favoured with deliverance from your spiritual enemies, to serve the living God," without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of your life,” study the covenant of grace'; pray over it, as it is described in Scripture; meditate day and night upon it, and upon the character of the God whose covenant it is; that your hearts may be comforted and stablished in every good word and work. Seek, for instance, to realize that precious passage of St. Paul * ; “ We are bound to give thanks alway to God, for you, Brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the spirit, and belief of the truth : Whereunto he called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Truly, if you be called to suffer deeply both in outward affairs, and also in concerns of the soul, you will find such strong consolation, as that which I have suggested, to be your only resource and support. Though your outward man should perish, your inward man will be renewed day by day t. Only, 'I beseech you, regard' not any unbelieving suggestions of your minds, as if all this comfort would lead you to carelessness of living. Trust in God, and cleave stedfastly unto him; and he will not permit any iniquity to have the dominion over you. For surely as you believe, so it will be done unto you. And when you are brought to believe that * 2 Thess. ii. 13. 14.
+ 2 Cor. iv. 16.
God's covenant of grace can make and keep you holy to the end, through faith, you will find it will
“ Commit thy way unto the Lord : trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass *.” It is this committing of our way unto the Lord, this trusting in him for every good thing,--for peace of conscience and sanctification here, and for eternal life hereafter, that distinguishes a true and lively faith from a dead and speculative one. Happy then is the lot of all the real children of God! Abundant relief is provided for them, from all the troubles of this life ; and, in a little time, everlasting rest.
I add here one short, but decisive mark of distinction, by which you may know whether you do love God. · I take it from that expression of David in his account of the covenant; “ for this is all my salvation and all my desire." Do you feel habitually, that you do not cherish a wish or hope, for any thing temporal or spiritual, but what is included in the covenant of God, and in the offices of Jesus, as Prophet, Priest, and King ? Certainly this is the breathing of every godly soul.
every godly soul. : Oh! give me according to that covenant. In every event let me be found under this covenant. “It is all my salva
' tion and all my desire.”—'I am contented in this life, and shall be happy in the next.' Blessed soul ! thou art, this day, invited, and may the Lord effectually work it in thee, be thy trials what they may, to encourage thyself in the Lord thy God.”
But, a very few words, in conclusion, to the wicked. And under that description, I mean not only drunkards, sabbath-breakers, swearers, openly
* Psalm xxxvii. 5.
profane and debauched libertines,--such persons are notoriously vicious, and of their state before God there can be no question ;-. but I mean every man in this house, whose conscience should tell him, if it spoke with power as it ought to do, that the God of David, that is, God in covenant, is not all his salvation, is not all his desire. Let all who place their happiness in money, and are not rich towards God; who are cold to heavenly things, and given up in heart to the world; who have never felt themselves vile sinners, and who hope to be saved by what they call their sincerity, and not by the covenant of grace in Jesus altogether-Oh! let them repent. The free salvation of a gracious God is not yours while you continue thus. . You feel not your need of it. It is not your desire. Your desires are all of another kind. When trouble comes, you cannot encourage yourselves, as David does, with a God who has made a covenant with you. And what will you do when death and judgment come? To-day then, while it is called to-day, return speedily to God, in the Gospel way
of repentance and faith, so often recommended to you. Lay hold upon his covenant promises, in Christ Jesus, that you may
you may find him “ a very present help in time of trouble."
st. PAUL'S EXPERIENCE IN THE SCHOOL
Philip. iii. 12.
Not as though I had already attained, either were already
perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus,
It is always an advantage, in affairs of moment and difficulty, to have an example before us which we may safely follow. Christians have therefore an unspeakable advantage in the perfect example of the Son of God. But the examples of eminent saints, in Scripture, are, also, not without their use. And in all the New Testament there is none that can be so useful as that of St. Paul. Besides other reasons which make it so, we know more of him than we do of all the other apostles, eminent in godliness as they all doubtless were.
He explains to us his inward life and experience in religion, in various parts of his writings, and particularly in the chapter of the Text.
He shows how he might have trusted and gloried in his own righteousness, as much or more than any man, if it had been proper and safe so to do. You will find him in this chapter enumerating his advantages; and, among the rest,'this, which in our times men are very apt to boast of; that he was, “touch