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power and influence of God the Holy Ghost, that is so abundantly manifested and shed abroad in the soul, that makes strangers and pilgrims to abstain from fleshly lusts, that war against the soul.
“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” “Which war against the soul.” The souls of strangers and pilgrims do not long together enjoy uninterrupted peace. The Lord Jesus Christ is their peace, having reconciled them unto God by the blood of His cross at the time when they were aliens and strangers from the commonwealth of Israel, and the covenants of promise. He dwells in them, walks and reigns in them, declaring Himself to be their God and they to be His people, but not with undisputed right and authority. Fleshly lusts and carnal desires dispute His divine right to overthrow their dominion, and wages a heavy warfare to recover it, and to bring the soul back to its former course, as in time past, "wherein it walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, and to the spirit that worketh
in the children of disobedience." Sometimes the warfare is very fierce and desperate, threatening to completely overthrow
the spiritual dominion of Christ; but, blessed be God and the word of His grace, which declares that "sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace," and "grace reigns through righteousness in every soul that believeth." Therefore, grace in its various moods of operation is the spiritual weapon with which the soul fights in the warfare with fleshly lusts, and made more than conqueror through Him that loved him, and gave him this weapon; which the apostle saith is not a carnal one: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds ;) casting down imaginations, and every ħigh thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Cor. x. 3–6). Blessed weapon this; the only weapon that is at all calculated to keep in subjection carnal affections and fleshly lusts. It is sufficient for every emergency. It not only subdues the corruptions of the carnal heart, but it also repels the fiery darts of temptation, and lifts up the cross when the enemy cometh in like a flood. The Lord Jesus Christ replied to the apostle Paul's request in a great emergency: "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” The grace (which is nothing more or less than the free unmerited favour) of God does everything in the salvation of a soul. It arranged the conditions of the eternal covenant; it gave us the Lord Jesus Christ; it gave us the Holy Spirit; it gave us the word of God; it is God's eternal love; it is God's eternal mercy; it is God's goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and truthfulness. It is our strength in weakness, help in trouble, our weapon in warfare, our shield in danger, our all in everything appertaining to a poor lost soul's salvation, because every provision made for time and eternity is the effect and fruit of the eternal grace of our triune Jehovah.
Many of the dearly-beloved strangers and pilgrims have, by sowing to the flesh, had of the flesh to reap the bitter fruits of corruption. The attempt to make provision to fulfil the lusts of the flesh have caused
many soul-travails in deep and bitter sorrow, when the combination of circumstances have worked in the opposite direction, and thereby ensnaring and taking them in their own net. Fleshly lusts are at enmity with the soul, waging terrible war against its best interests, often invading the sacred habitation of the Spirit of Christ, and thereby grieving the Holy Spirit of promise, which must end in rebuke and severe chastisement. The Lord very blessedly and mercifully watches over the best and most vital interest of the souls of His dearly-beloved strangers and pilgrims, upsetting and overthrowing the designs formed of carrying into the fullest extent of effect carnal, sinful, fleshly lusts which war against the soul. Prestwich.
LUKE xü. 32.
For, once having loved you, He'll love to the end.
W. S. ROBINSON.
The Triamphs of Grace over Death and the Grave;
OR, WHISPERS FROM THE DYING PILLOWS OF GOD'S SERVANTS. “ Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.” –PSALM xxxvii. 37.
A “WISE SON,” WHO MADE A “GLAD FATHER.”
(Concluded from page 376.) In the year of Jubilee under the law, when all in the bonds of servitude were released, though there was much rejoicing in Israel, there was also great solemnity, as an ordinance of God it must necessarily be so. In like manner with the solemn prescript of death! this day of deliverance to the captive soul of a believer: there are the same mingled feelings of " fear and great joy.” For, as with the bringing up out of captivity is associated the forgiveness of sin (Isa. lxxxv. 1, 2), so with our final release from the “bondage of corruption,” there is the full manifestation of the pardoning love and mercy of God. But, in the experiencing of these things, the rejoicings of heart is with tremblings of the flesh; and thus faith and feelings alternate in every child of God.
My son Josiah was the subject of these diverse conflicting sensibilities. Thus at one time he said, “the more I suffer in body the happier I am in my mind.” Whereas on another occasion he said, "he was not half so happy in himself as when he was first taken ill, for that he could neither feel, think, nor pray.” The fact is the mind partook of the weakness of the body, and thus, though he was stedfast in faith, he was variable in his feelings. But these mutable conditions of a believer, though they mark his state, they do not militate against his standing. What he is in himself is of man,
what he is in Christ, is of God; and these variations of exercise do but show the workings of the flesh and Spirit in their constant strivings for the mastery within.
Now the wicked have no such changes : the righteous suffer many: 'they mount up to heaven, to go down again to the depths. Nevertheless it is with the righteous as so blessedly stated in that verse of a hymn which was specially precious to Josiah (and therefore sung at his burial),
“In every state secure,
Kept as Jehovah's eye;
And well when called to die.” "Well when called to die," what a delightful thought! but“ Called to die!" What a solemn summons ! “And the Lord said unto Moses, behold, the days approach that thou must die.” What a mercy to know " are in His hand” and that
“ Till He bids we cannot die.” But when the “time to die” arrives, none can avert God's appointment or period. And yet how we pray against it, and try to prevent it. This also is vanity: for the wii. of the Lord must be done. Thus not all that we could do to strengthen and support our now mere skeleton of a son, seemed to be of any avail : for the Spirit of the Lord having “blown" upon
this family “flower,” he withered and faded away. But, as the glory of man in his strength gave place to thewreck of human nature through weakness, the decaying of the "outward " man seemed to be the Lord's special
time for the renewing of the "inward." But not as wrought, so also are the works of God realized; the double blessing is not invariably enjoyed. Thus it was with our declining Josiah at this time, as one of the good books we read to him declared, “You may not always have the comfort of the Lord's
you always have the benefit of it.” Nevertheless so faithful was He who had some long time promised that “He would not plead against him with His great power," that He put strength enough in my son to make him both cheerful at the prospect that was before him, and to bow in reverence at the affliction from God that was upon him. Thus, though he had said when in health that it was the pain and suffering in sickness and death that he most dreaded,” yet now that he was on the very borders thereof, all this fear was taken away, and not the “last enemy" did he so much dread, as the lamented absence and felt loss of his Beloved. Hence being favoured with a God-fearing person in our kind medical attendant, it was unto him that Josiah said, "I have no fear of dying, but I want to feel Jesus more precious to my soul.” This was cause for thankfulness indeed, and I do hope real gratitude of heart was felt by us all at this unspeakable mercy of our God.
Nor did the “ God of all comfort” stop here : for He made His abundant consolations to abound also, in the Bethel which through His presence and blessing the bedroom of death became. Thus, though the sickchamber was now assuming a solemnity that only the prospect of death can impart, still no horrors, no terrors were there. The enemy" and the
avenger were stilled in their disturbing power, and all was quietness, patience, and peace. He seemed to be sailing into the harbour of rest, under the banner of eternal love. It was indeed with Josiah as one other of his favourite hymns so truthfully and touchingly describes,
“As when a child, secure from harms,
Hangs on its mother's breast;
Receiving food and rest :-
The travelling parent speeds,
Lies still and yet proceeds.” It was just in this quietude, and conscious safety, that Josiah now seemed to lie, and ripen for immortal glory. And it was upon hearing the gentle sound of the opening the “gates of death,” that we were led to talk much upon the solemn subject, as it is scripturally set before us. And thus was it presented to the mind at the time, which we now write for the perusal and consideration of the reader.
There are two ways of dying the "common death of all.” First as the righteous, second as the wicked. And these diverse deaths are in accordance with correspondent lives. Now we may lay it down as a positive fact that every man and woman in the world is living in, and unto, some person and thing—either in sin and error, and thus unto the devil, or in righteousness and the holiness of truth unto God. For as the Scripture saith," no man liveth unto himself :" and, as a man lives, so will he die ; for no man dieth unto himself.” To God or to Satan, then, it must be, both in life and in death, and “in the place where the tree falleth there it shall lie." What a solemn thought! The important question therefore is not so much when shall we die, as how and to whom; and this we may know in the conscience, by our honest answer to the question, Unto what and to
whom are we living? I am not now speaking of God's sovereignty, as in the case of the dying thief, but the evidences (or their absence) of man's "common salvation. To "know Him” is life eternal; to know Him not, is everlasting death. “Died Abner as a fool dieth ?" Yes, without wisdom, for the “fool” in Scripture is the “natural man,” who receiveth not, neither knoweth, the things of God. And the verdict of God pronounced upon such is, “Ye shall all of you die like men,” that is, like sinful men ! because as natural men they have lived in sin, and therefore (as our Lord also saith) “Ye shall die in your sins." This is death, and destruction in death, the destruction of both hope and expectation, the "sudden destruction" of the wicked without the “ remedy" of the righteous; the portion of the ungodly who having served divers lusts and pleasures all their sinful lives, are now " killed with death," and that, by the slaying power of God's wrath and judgment. Not so the righteous; for having " suffered” by the will of God, in the flesh, through sin, and being made free therefrom, have become servants to God, "they have their fruit unto holiness, and the end, everlasting life." "Precious," then, in the sight of the Lord
, “is the death of His saints ;” because in them He sees the travail of His soul, which travail He endured on their behalf when the “ sorrows of death” compassed Him about, and the "pains of hell" gat hold upon him. And this « trouble " and "6 sorrow He found, that His people might go free. Oh, what a blessed secret is here! In the new and living way cast up by God which He hath consecrated to His Church by the blood and sacrifice of Christ, the saints of the Most High walk in sweet reconciliation with the Father through the death of His Son, who, by and in His death, suffered and swallowed up our death ; so that in this pathway of righteousness there is no death,” that is, in its penalty and bitter poignancy to the redeemed children of God. Believers, then, who “in death are not divided ” (from Christ) are the “ blessed dead,” who die in the Lord;" and this is called a “falling asleep,” and, as in sleep there is unconsciousness of what is going on, so departing saints are said not to “see death,” nor to “ taste of death ;" that “ sight' " and that "taste," to the fulness of every death, having being endured by Christ, when, in “agony" and "bloody sweat,” “He died for our sins."
But“ there is no peace, saith the Lord, to the wicked.” The evil ways of the ungodly weary every one of them in life; and the sins of the wicked will not suffer them to sleep in death. Therefore, in full and wakeful consciousness of the awful " hell” that follows “ death," they are slain in the slaughter of this last and fatal "war."
But “the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy;" what for, my Lord ? " to deliver their souls from death." Oh, how precious. Having abolished death and brought life and immortality to light, the glorious Christ Himself is the Gospel of salvation to their ransomed souls. Then well may the apostle Paul preach the good news thereof thus, "For if by one man's offence death reigned by one, much more they that receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ,” and I confess there is no one truth that more consoles my mind in the prospect of death that this reigning in life by one Jesus Christ: triumphing over Satan's power, by the power
of Christ! death being swallowed up in the victory of Christ ! the "sting of death” being taken away by the sufferings of Christ! the "strength of sin” destroyed through the obedience of Christ ! the grave being overcome by the victorious resurrection of Christ, and heaven opened