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labour ; and it is a taking Christ and His salvation as our own, which is very comfortable and delightful ; and the soul is carried forth in this by love to Him and its own happiness, which is an affection that maketh our hard works easy and pleasant; yet it is made difficult to us by reason of the opposition that it meets with froin our own inward corruptions, and from Satan's temptations. Many works that are easy in their own nature, prove difficult for us to perform in our circumstances. To forgive our enemies, and love them as ourselves, is but a motion of the mind, easy to be performed in its own nature; and yet many that are convinced of their duty, find it a hard matter to bring their hearts to the performance of it. It is but a motion of the mind to cast our care upon God for worldly things, and rich men may think they can do it easily; but poor men that have great families find it a hard matter. That easy duty which Moses exhorted the Israelites to at the Red Sea, was not easily performed, (Exod. xiv. 13.) Naaman thought his cure too slight, (2 Kings v. 12.) The majority reckon believing on Christ too simple, and too little to obtain eternal sal. vation ; and the keeping of the whole law is not deemed sufficient, (Matth. xix. 17-20 ;) and then, they conclude, it can be attained at the very last hour. Many sound believers have found, by experience, that it hath been a very hard matter to bring their hearts to the duty of believing. It is so difficult a work, that we cannot perform it without the mighty working of the Spirit of God in our hearts, who only can make it to be absolutely easy to us, and doth make it easy, or suffer it to be difficult, according as He is pleased to communicate His grace, in various degrees, unto our souls. Though we cannot possibly perform this great work in a right manner until the Spirit of God work faith in our hearts by His mighty power, yet it is necessary that we should endeavour it, and that before we can find the Spirit of God working faith effectually in us, or giving strength to believe. We can perform no holy duty acceptably, except the Spirit of God work it in us; and yet we are not hereby excused from working ourselves ; but we are the rather stirred up to the greater diligence, (Phil. ii. 12.) The way by which the Spirit of God works faith in the elect, is by stir. ring them up to endeavour to believe; and this is a way suitable to the means that the Spirit useth,--that is, the exhortations, commands, and invitations of the Gospel ; which would be of no force, if we were not to obey them until we find faith already wrought in us. Neither can we possibly find, that the Spirit of God doth effectually work faith, or give strength to believe, until we act it; for all inward graces, as well as all other inward habits, are discerned by their acts. We do not see any such thing as love to God or man in our hearts before we act it. We know not our spiritual strength until we have learned, by experience, from the use and exercise of it. Nei. ther can we know or assure ourselves absolutely, that the Spirit of God will give us strength to believe, before we act faith ; for such a knowlege and assurance, if be right, is saving faith itself in part; and whosoever trusteth on Christ assuredly for strength to believe, by His Spirit, doth, in effect, trust on Him for his own salvation, which is inseparably joined with the grace of saving faith. Though the Spirit worketh other duties in us by faith, yet He worketh faith in us imme diately by hearing, knowing, and understanding the Word, (Rom. x. 17.) In the Word, He maketh no absolute promise or declaration that He will work faith in this or that unbelieving heart, or that He will give strength to any one
in particular to believe, or begin the work of believing on Christi for faith itself is the first grace whereby we have a particular interest in any saving promise. It is a thing bidden in the secret council and purpose of God concerning us, whether He will give us His Spirit and saving faith, until our election be discovered by our believing actually. Therefore, as soon as we know the duty of believing, we are to apply ourselves imme. diately to the vigorous performance of the duty; and, in 60 doing, we shall find that the Spirit of Christ hath strengthened us to believe, though we know not certainly that He will do it beforehand. The Spirit cometh undiscernibly upon the elect to work faith within them, like the wind, (John iii. 8.) We must, therefore, begin all the work before we know that the Spirit doth or will work in us savingly; and we shall be willing to set to the work if we be Christ's people, (Psal.cx. 3.) It is enough, that God discovereth to us beforehand, in the Gospel, what faith is, and the ground we have to believe on Christ for our own salvation; and that God requireth this duty of us, and will help us in the performance of it, if we apply ourselves heartily thereunto, (John i. 6; 1 Chron. xxii. 16.) Therefore, whoso receiveth this Gospel discovery as the Word of God, in hearty love, is taught by the Spirit, and will certainly come to Christ by believing, (Jolin vi. 45.) Every one that receiveth it not, despiseth God, maketh Him a liar, and deserveth to perish for his unbelief. God giveth us sufficient ground in Scripture to come to Christ with confident faith at the very first; trusting, assuredly, that Christ and His salvation shall be given to us, without any failing and delay, however vile and sinful our condition hath been hitherto. The Scriptur e speaketh to the vilest sinners in such a manner, as if it were framed on purpose to beget assurance of salvation in them immediately, (Ezek. xxxiii. 11; Hos. ii. 23; John iji. 14-16 ; vii. 37-39 ; Acts ii. 39; iii. 26; Rom. x. 11, 12; Jer. iii. 4.) You are to be fully persuaded of the truth of the general free promise in your own particular case, that if you believe on Christ sincerely, you shall have everlasting life, as well as any other in the world, without performing any condition of works to procure an interest in Him; for the promise is universal, (Rom. ix. 33,) without any exception ; and if God exclude you not, you must not exclude yourselves ; but rather conclude peremptorily, that how vile, wicked, and unworthy soever you be, yet, if you come, you shall be accepted, as well as any other in the world. You are to believe that great article of the Creed, the remission of sins, in your own case, when you are principally concerned; or else it will little profit you to believe it in the case of others. You are to believe assuredly, that it is the will of God you should believe in Christ, and have eternal life by Him, as well as any other; that your believing is a duty very acceptable to God; and that He will help you, as well as any other, in this work, because He calleth and commandeth you, by the Gospel, to believe on Him. Though you may, at present, find your heart never so wicked and reprobate, as many of God's choicest servants have found, yet the door of mercy is open for you ; and God will certainly save you for ever if you put your trust in His grace through Christ. Conquer and expel unbelieving thoughts by trusting confidently on Christ, and persuading yourselves by faith, that His righteousness, Spirit, glory, and
all His spiritual benefits, are yours ; and that He dwelleth in you, and you in Him. Particularly,
, you must believe steadfastly, that all your sins are blotted out; that you are reconciled to God, and have access into His favour by the blood of Christ; and that He is your God and Father, and altogether love to you, and your all-sufficient everlasting portion and happiness through Him. After many of the steps herein mentioned have been effected entirely of sovereignty, grace, and mercy,-Unition, Union, Regeneration, Faith, Repentance, Hope, Love, Reconciliation, Acceptance, Pardon, Justification, Conversion, Adoption, Sanctification, Conservation, Glorification,-after all these but the last three have been passed, the active and passive Christian life is only beginning, unless, like the labourers, we enter the vineyard at the last bour ; or, like the dying thief, the whole take place in the very extremity. As we urge believing before twentyone, or eighteen, or even twelve years of age, there is, in many cases, a long time to keep, or endeavour to keep, the heart, tongue, handsand feet. All our time we ought to walk as Leighton represents,-As living men can have no pleasure among the dead, neither can these elected ones amongst the ungodly; they walk in the world as warily as a man or a woman, neatly apparalled, would do ainongst a multitude that are all sullied and bemired. Think of the clergy who were going in to be introduced to royalty in Dalkeith Palace, 1842, or the representative of royalty at Holyrood, coming into contact with a batch of dusty, mealy millers; or a lady in white, like the driven snow, being mingled with a parcel of rude chimney-sweeps,--they could never appear. As much is the person determined to get to heaven, difficulted daily, mingling among an ungodly world ; and were it not, that there is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel's veins, in which they can wash, every evening, by faith; and were it not, that there is a Sabbath, -alas ! no longer outwardly peaceful in once covenanted Scotland,-in which they get a breathing time to get the fresh air from the hills, and vales, and streams of ordi. nances, which they prize more than their necessary food; when the Spirit, like the north aud south wind, blows upon these divine ordinanees, that the spices thereof may flow out, they would never, in comfort and safety, reach the heavenly Zion, (Song iv. 16 ; v. 1.) The life of faith upon an obedient and crucified Saviour, must now be practised. But we have attempted, however feebly, to lead them to the beginning of their confidence, which they must hold fast, and daily press forward, that they may, by grace, gain the immortal prize. Had we all the power that man ever possessed, we would urge them more than any mere man ever did, or could. But there must be a form--a method daily observed; there must be order; there must be power as well as form, (2 Tim. iii. 5.) Three times daily they must pray,--at nine morning, twelve doon, and three afternoon,-fixed by the Saviour on the cross, and still look to Him and remember Him. But this must be left to themselves. Lo! we have told them; and those will attend to it who wish to ensure heaven.
An act of Faith,-Most great, glorious, and ever-blessed Jehovah, I desire heartily, firmly, and sincerely to believe thy Word, in its plain, obvious, and real meaning, from beginning to end, neither adding, diminishing, nor wresting it. I believe all it contains, because thou hast revealed it I desire especially to believe the record thou hast given of thy Son, (1 John v. 11.) I receive Him as my righteousness and strength, my all, (1 Cor. i. 30 ;) and glory in nothing, and none else but Him. Lord, increase, strengthen, and confirm my faith, and save me from unbelief, and every evil thought, word, and work, solely for Christ's sake. Amen.
An act of Repentance or Penitence,--Holy Father, I regret, and lament, and grieve, and mourn, that I ever broke thy holy, just, and good law; and that I ever offended my gracious and merciful Father, and real and sole friend ; and that I ever acted ungenerously, unkindly, and ungratefully, toward my generous Redeemer, my sympathizing Saviour, my all-prevalent Mediator, and my directing, comforting Sanctifier. I am fully and firmly resolved, in the name, strength, and grace of, Christ, as He, by the power of His Spirit, shall be pleased to work in me, from henceforward to walk evenly, circumspectly, cautiously, and considerately. I shall go softly all my days, in the bitterness of my soul, with a broken and contrite heart, con. fessing, loathing, sorrowing, and mourning like a dove, for my sins; wearing sackcloth upon my flesh; eating no pleasant food, but feeding on bread, water, and bitter herbs; eating continually the bread of affliction ; lying low in the dust before thee; always bearing about in my body the dying of the Lord Jesus; mortifying my members; crucifying the old man ; and keeping my eye firmly fixed on the example of my risen Lord, and on that blessed and glorious place wbere He triumphantly and eternally reigns.
NOTES ON THE APOCALYPSE.
WHEN God created Adam and Eve, they were enabled, in the very act of creation, to speak the Hebrew language as perfeetly as man has ever been able to speak any language since that original epoch to the present time. They spoke it in the same way, intuitively, that any well-educated children, after all the instruction in the family, the schools, and colleges, and the most polished society, can speak and understand their mother tongue. Adam gave the natural names to every creature on earth, without any prompting, (Gen. ii. 19, 20.)