« PoprzedniaDalej »
divine mercy, to pray with greater boldness for more faith, more hope, more love, knowing, that to him that hath shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly? Am I content to be nothing, that Christ may be all in all? Are my thoughts continually running after God as my only resting-place in this ever-agitated world? Have I, in all sincerity, given my heart to God, and made a full surrender of myself to him? Have I submitted myself, through grace, to the righteousness of God, and received salvation as the gift of sovereign love, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus?
O! thou eternal God, who knowest the hearts of all the children of men, thou knowest that I desire to love thee. In mercy fulfil the desires of my heart, desires of thy own creating, for if I love thee, it is because thou hast first loved me. Pardon what is amiss,―restore what is defective; sanctify me wholly in body, soul, and spirit, and when the summons is given to call me hence, receive me to thyself, as an everlasting trophy of redeeming love.
V. THE PROMISES OF GOD.
"All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God."-2 Cor. i. 20.
WHEN I read the Scriptures, almost every page presents to my heart most precious promises, adapted to console and strengthen the mind under every trouble. But an important question arises: To whom do these promises belong? Has every one, who calls himself a Christian, a right to the comfort of them? Have I a right to appropriate them to myself? Lord enable me to deal faithfully with my own soul, lest I be deceived in one of the greatest of all concerns,-for what can be compared with ETERNAL SALVATION?
The Scriptures expressly declare, that all the promises of God, ALL, none excepted, in Christ are yea, and in him Amen. As in Jesus are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, so, in him, all the promises of God meet and unite as their proper centre. To be interested in these promises, I must be interested in the merits of Christ. But here another question naturally arises, a question of vast importance to the peace and comfort of my soul. How can I tell, when I am interested in the merits of my Redeemer, and so have a scriptural right to the enjoyment of the privileges and promises of the Gospel?
The Bible gives me clear information on this point also. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."-From hence I learn, that if I am without the Spirit of Christ, I am in a state of condemnation, and consequently can have no claim to the consolatory promises of the Gospel. As many and no more, as are led by the Spirit of God to the foot of the Cross, are the sons of God. And those only who have the Spirit of Christ, and therefore are in Christ, are heirs of glory.
But, if any man be in Christ, he is a New Creature; born from above; renewed in the spirit of his mind; made a temple of the Holy Ghost. This is the character of the redeemed as pourtrayed in the word of God; they are washed from their sins in the blood of Christ; justified by his righteousness, sanctified by his Spirit; a mansion of glory is prepared for them; they are the beloved of the Father, and to them belong all the promises of grace and mercy clustering on the Tree of Life.
Now, O my soul, as in the presence of the Judge of quick and dead, before whose tribunal thou must shortly appear, bring all thy inmost thoughts to the touchstone of his word. See how far thy inward state approaches towards this exalted standard; whether thou bearest the infallible marks which designate
his chosen people. Alas! how many deceive themselves by false marks, and by an unscriptural standard, calling evil, good,―and good, evil; putting darkness, for light; and light, for darkness. Lord make me sincere and faithful to thee. The heart, I well know, by painful experience, is deceitful above all things. Pride, that old leaven of my fallen nature, is ever ready to interrupt these searchings of heart, by whispering, "all is well;" and making a merit of those actions, which, if brought to the test of truth, would overwhelm me with confusion.
Blessed Saviour! I desire to be thine; to follow thee with a single eye, and in simplicity of spirit; to be delivered from the bondage of corruption, from the power of sin, from unholy imaginations. Cause me to abound in every grace, that thou mayest be glorified; that I may be fitted to hold sweet converse with thee in solitude, apart from the noise and follies of the world. In the days of thy flesh, thou didst set thy disciples a bright example of holding communion with God. In thy word I read how thou wentest into a solitary place, and there prayed,* how thou didst withdraw into the wilderness, and prayed,† how thou continuedst all night in prayer, apart from thy disciples, on the lonely mountain. May I love retirement with Thee; then I shall be able to sayI am not alone, for thou art with me. O manifest thyself to me at such seasons as thou dost not unto the world. Enable me to pluck the grapes of Eshcol, the sweet fruits of the promised land, the precious earnests of those richer fruits which grow in the paradise above. May I feel thy love, though I cannot find words to express its sweetness; yea, may I feel it flowing into my soul in daily increasing streams, till all sin is borne away, by the force of this resistless torrent.S
How glorious are thy promises, they are yea and Amen; they are like thyself, immutable. When
Mark i. 35
+ Luke v. 16.
Matt. xiv. 23.
the enemy comes in like a flood, and suggests thou art not the Lord's; oh! do thou in mercy lift up a standard against him. Let thy Spirit bring to my troubled mind some peace-restoring promise, to confirm my faith, to confound my foes, to strengthen my heart by his heavenly consolations. In sorrow, in sickness, and in death may I trust in thy faithfulness, repose on thy promises, and triumph through thy grace. Under every trial, like David, may I encourage myself in the Lord my God, and like him, be enabled to say "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me." Thus, upheld by thy powerful arm, I shall pass over Jordan in peace; reach that happy shore, where angels will welcome my entrance into bliss; and where I shall enjoy the blessed fulfilment of thy promise: "Where I am, there shall servant be."*
The promises of God have a transforming efficacy through the power of the Holy Ghost; for "unto "writes St. Peter," are given exceeding great and precious promises, that by them we should be partakers of the divine nature." How wonderful!worms of the earth, sinful dust and ashes, to be made partakers of the divine nature! Well may angels desire to look into these things. Man, fallen man, who lost the image of God, can now, through the Gospel of Christ, through the promises of his grace, be restored to the divine likeness. The Apostle might well call them exceeding great and precious promises, -precious, beyond all price; exceeding great, beyond all calculation.
Like St. Peter, his "beloved brother Paul," extolled the promises of God, not only as yea and Amen in Christ Jesus, but as purifying the hearts of believers through faith:-" What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God: as God hath said: I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God,
John xii. 26.
and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
The promises of God, when rightly embraced, never fail to quicken the speed of believers in their heavenly course. They then can run with patience the race that is set before them, looking into Jesus, while animated by the promises of his love. They are no longer slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises; treading in the footsteps of the flock, till they reach the heavenly fold. O who can grasp this one thought" inherit the promises;" yes, all the promises of life and salvation, of grace and glory, which are made to man, from Adam in Paradise, to the closing of the canon of Scripture by St. John? Every thing that is sublime, glorious, blissful, and holy is contained in the promises of God in Christ. To inherit the promises, is to inherit all things;* all that Christ has promised out of his fulness; and all that his people are capable of enjoying, when perfected in glory. Why, then, do we grovel like worms of the earth, when we should be mounting with wings as eagles-yea, soaring, as on seraph's wings, towards the realms of light?
"My soul cleaveth unto the dust, quicken me, O Lord, according to thy word." Put thy fear into my heart that I may not depart from thee. Thy ancient people, through unbelief, died in the wilderness; therefore, writes St. Paul to the Hebrew Christians, "Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." May this warning of thy
* Rev. xxi. 7.