Изображения страниц

providences; he calleth him, but he heareth not his voice. Christ offers himself to him as the bread from heaven, but he tastes not how good the Lord is. God would manifest himself to him, but the eyes of his understanding are so darkened, that he cannot discover him. He is, in fact, as the apostle Paul expresses it, « alienated from the life of God through the ignorance which is in him. He may, however, at times have some serious thoughts and affections; he may occasionally feel some good desires, and make some faint efforts to turn to God; but his heart being yet attached to this world, his spiritual senses not being yet exercised, he is not able to behold the Sun of Righteousness, for he is not yet born of God. Whatever peculiar circumstances may attend such a change as is implied in being born again, there is every reason to believe that none can have truly experienced it, and yet remain entirely ignorant that such a change has been effected. The sinner, in fact, is no sooner born of God, than he feels the presence of God, and becomes capable of discerning spiritual objects. God no longer calls to him in vain; he hears, he knows the voice of God, he draws near to God, he tastes the good word of God, and the joys of the world to come. In short, his spiritual senses are all in action; the veil is taken off from his eyes ; the things of the Spirit of God are no longer foolishness to him; he receives them, he comprehends them; he feels the peace which passeth all understanding; the love of God is shed abroad in his heart; and living in love, and knowing that God is love, he knows also that he is born of God, and that he dwelleth in God, and God in him. Having suggested these few hints respecting the doctrine of regeneration, I shall now proceed to say a word or two,

which may, by the blessing of God, be of use to you
towards repelling those fiery darts with which Satan fre-
quently attacks believers, bringing them under doubts
and fears respecting their interest in Christ, and the
reality of their regeneration. The great deceiver
(who, like a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom
he may devour,) may possibly take advantage of the
weakness of your body, and thereby bring you under
many distressing fears. But, my dear friend, the God
of truth has declared, that he cannot hurt you; for
in that Christ himself hath suffered, being tempted, he
is able to succour them that are tempted.' Keep this
text constantly in your view; I know of none more
strengthening or comforting; it has often been blessed
to me in like circumstances. Our dear Redeemer, in
his sufferings, seemed to be cast off by his Father,
when, in bitter agony, he cried out, “My God, my
God, why hast thou forsaken me ?' And yet, even then,
he obtained a glorious victory over the powers of
darkness. The Israel of God, his spiritual children,
through him, likewise, are more than conquerors, al-
though they may sometimes be tempted to think that
God has cast them off, and suffer most severely by
particular conflicts. God, however, is in these circum-
stances often most near to them, and thus exercises
the strength of their love towards him, and tries their
faith and patience. A lively faith in the divine pro-
mises will convince us, not only that the God of Peace
shall bruise Satan under our feet shortly, but that it is
also the Father's good pleasure to give us the king-
dom. When, therefore, my dear friend, you feel the
force of temptation, and you are assaulted with doubts,
fears, and terrors, (than which nothing can be more
burdensome to a real Christian,) do not fail to exercise
faith on the Son of God; consider his triumphs on the


cross; and remember, that all he did, and all he suffered, were for you. Lay hold on him as your only and all-sufficient Saviour, then shall he be to you, as Isaiah expresses it, chap. xxxii. v. 2. As an hidingplace from the wind, and a covert from the tempest ; as rivers of water in a dry place; as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.' When Christians are distressed with convictions of sin, as David was, or fatigued with the troubles of this world, as Elijah, they find that in Christ, in his undertaking, his promises, and his consolations, which revives them, and keeps them from fainting; they who are weary and heavy laden, do indeed find rest in Christ. All the precious privileges of the new covenant are purchased by his blood, and communicated by his Spirit. How sweet are the promises to a believing soul! How delightful the knowledge of pardon, the assurance of God's love, the joys of the Holy Ghost, the hopes of eternal life, and the present earnests and foretastes of it, to those who have their spiritual senses exercised. If the pleasures of sin are hateful to us, divine consolations will be sweet to our taste, sweeter than honey and the honey-comb. Now if Satan attempt to destroy your comfort, by suggesting that you must do so and so, and be this and be that, repel his temptation, by calling to your remembrance, that Christ has paid the whole debt, even to the uttermost farthing; and that in him you have a fulness of pardon, peace, wisdom, strength, righteousness, and salvation, all treasured up for

you. O blessed free grace of God! O blessed be his name, for Jesus Christ ! What a gift! and for whom? for sinners! for me and for you, my dear dear friend, to whom I am now writing. What says the everlasting God ? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. Can God lie? Can we have a bet

ter foundation to build upon than his promise and oath? O then, may we ever cast all our burden upon the Lord, seeing we are thus encouraged, and invited to do so, and lean on the beloved of our souls, and upon the promises of God in him. This will bear us up under all troubles, and fortify us against all temptations, for the Lord Jesus is our strength and our Redeemer.

You complain of weakness, see then in whom you have strength, strength sufficient for you in every time of need; for, saith the Scripture, ' As thy day is, so shall thy strength be. God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.' My dear friend, lay up these gracious words of promise in your heart as your richest treasure, and confide in them as your surest support, counting nothing so certain as what God has said. While his children can live upon this fixed dependance on the Saviour's grace, all things shall work together for their good. The abiding sense of our own weakness will keep us dependant upon Jesus, and anxious to receive out of his fulness, so that the more we feel of our utter helplessness, the stronger


because we shall live more upon him ; which illustrates that seeming paradox of the apostle's, · When I am weak, then I am strong;' when I am most sensible of my own weakness, then am I strong in the Lord ; his strength is then perfected in me. cording to the express testimony of the Scriptures, it is faith that brings peace and resignation to the soul; Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.' And again, " Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee. The conscience being first awakened to see its own defilement, and

we shall


afterwards pacified by an application of the blood of sprinkling, attains a sweet composure; and resting on the faithfulness of the Redeemer, and the all-sufficiency of his undertaking, is confident that all things shall work together for good to those who love God, and are the called according to his purpose. This consideration makes it the desire of the Christian's heart, that the will of God may be done in him, and by him ; and therefore, under the most distressing circumstances and sharpest sufferings of body or mind, he can say, ' not my will, but thine be done.' Moreover, the soul thus brought out of its natural darkness into the marvellous light of the Gospel, sees an amiableness and an excellency in Christ Jesus, of which before it knew nothing. Once the man could look upon the blessed Redeemer as having no form nor comeliness that he should desire him; but now he sees him to be altogether lovely, the chief among ten thousands, full of grace and truth. Having now obtained the precious faith of God's elect, Jesus is become precious to his soul ; for saith the Apostle Peter, · Unto you which believe, he is precious.' Time was when this poor perishing world, and its riches, honours, or pleasures, engrossed his affections; but the bent of his heart being now changed, he seeks only the unsearchable riches of Christ, the honour which cometh from God, and those pleasures which are at his right hand for evermore.

Time was when his own will was his rule, and the commandments, ordinances, and people of God, were irksome to him and unwelcome; but now, being born from above, and passed from death to life, it is the desire of his heart to be guided by the word and Spirit of God; he counts his commandments no longer grievous, but a light and easy yoke ; he says of the ordinances, ' It is good for me to be here ;' and his delight is in the saints,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »