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Nov. 28.—Zealous of good works.—Tit. ii. 14.
Call to mind, disciple of Jesus, how in times past thou didst walk according to the course of this world, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and yet, the god of this world so blinded thine eyes, and so deceived thine heart, (strange infatuation !) that thou didst talk of, and trust in, even what had no existence, thine own good works. Glory to the rich grace of our Saviour, who delivers us from the natural notions of our corrupt reason, pride of our free-will, and vain confidence in our own righteousness! Now, all our glorying is in Jesus. For though, by nature, we are slaves to our lusts, in bondage to iniquity, our minds defiled, our consciences impure, and therefore to every good work reprobate; yet, such was the love of Jesus to us, that “he gave himself for us." He hath redeemed us from all iniquity. He hath purified us to himself, as a peculiar people," zealous of good works." By faith we are persuaded Jesus loves us, delights in us, grants us peculiar familiarity with himself, bestows peculiar blessings on us, and hath made peculiar provision for us, both in time and eternity. Hence, we are inspired with a peculiar zeal for good works; a zeal according to godliness. We love God our Saviour, therefore we delight to serve, and study to glorify him, in our souls and bodies. Our sinful lusts and passions are contrary to him; therefore, by grace, we daily strive and pray to mortify them. To do good to the souls and bodies of all men, especially those that are of the household of faith, is well-pleasing to our Lord; therefore, it is the joy of our hearts to abound in these things. Here true zeal centres: that we do good from a good principle, love to God; from a good motive, Jesus commands it; with a good aim, that his glory, the honour and interest of his cause, may be advanced in the world by us. This zeal stabs the pride of self-seeking and vain-glorying. For our best works, our chief good, is to glorify our God and Saviour. Godly souls blush, and are grieved to the very heart, when a thought arises, of doing any good work to procure God's favour, secure his love, or entitle us to his kingdom. This is to glorify ourselves. But we have not so learned Christ, as to oppose God's free-grace truths, dishonour the God of love, degrade the glory of our precious Saviour; for we give all the glory to him, as having done all for us. We see salvation finished by him, and glory secured to us in him; therefore, in love, we desire to be wholly devoted to him, and to do those things that may glo. rify him only, who hath bought us with his blood, 1 Cor. vi. 20.
Nov. 29.—Giving thanks to the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.-Col. i. 12. Too many
of God's dear children seem to abound more in complaining of what they find and feel in themselves, than in praising God for what he hath done for and in them. Why is this? they do not live enough in their own kingdom, consider their privileges, nor dwell upon the rich love of God their Fa. ther to them, the free grace of Jesus for them, and the work of the Comforter in them. But, from a sense of their corruptions, the devices of Satan, legality that is in them, they cannot think themselves made meet for God's kingdom; therefore, they do not praise God for it. Say, ye children of the Most High, is this right? What! because you find sin abound in you, will you not give praise, that grace doth much more abound to you, and in you also ? Consider, God the Father hath made us meet. Whom? Us, vile sinners. How? by taking away the being of all sin in us? No; no more than by taking out of the body. If we never have meetness for glory till all sin is perfectly destroyed in us, we shall never begin the work of praise till we get to glory. But praise is a present work, for what God
hath already done in us. 1. God hath delivered us from the power of darkness. The prince of darkness no more blinds our eyes to the evil of sin, the curse of the law, the glory of God, the face of Jesus, and the preciousness of his salvation. 2. For God hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." We are out of the kingdom of nature, sin, pride, and unbelief. We live under the spiritual reign of Jesus. 3. Therefore, we possess the graces of this kingdom: faith in and love to the King of saints, and “to all the saints," who confess the Son of God, and salvation by him only. Is sin our burden? Christ our life of holiness? Is holiness the desire of our souls ? we have light, life, faith, love, holiness; then God hath made us meet for his glory. Nay, we do enjoy him now. We have fellowship with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are now to give him thanks. We shall never have any other meetness for heaven on earth; though greater degrees of comfort may be experienced. O my soul, art thou no longer in the darkness of sin ; Satan's slave; under the curse of the law; blinded by pride to the charms of Jesus; tied and bound by the chains of unbelief; an enemy to God's grace, his truth, and his people?' “O Lord, my God, I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things," &c., Isa. xxv. 1.
Nov. 30.—I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. - Psalm xxvii. 13.
In times of sore distress and affliction, whether in soul or body, saints are taught many sweet lessons. Chastenings from the Lord are all in love. By them our God teaches the soul to profit. "No chastening for the present is joyous, but grievous.” In the dark night of suffering, christians sigh out many a doleful strain. Sometimes, according to all appearances, from nature, sense, feeling, and the judgment of reason, they are ready to cry out, “ All things are against me. Hence their courage sinks; their hopes and their hearts fail them; and they are ready to faint. But they have an invisible Friend always near them. He supports them by his power under all their trials and conflicts, supplies with comforting cordials, revives their spirits with the consolations of his word; and when he brings them out of their troubles, then how sweetly do they sing of him! How many a joyful psalm, what a rich treasury of experience, are we favoured with from the pen of David, dipt in the ink of affliction ! how sweetly does he indite to the glory of his God, and the comfort of his Father's children in after-ages! He believed, therefore he spake. Unless, he had believed, he had fainted.
Oh, what a soul-supporting grace is faith! it will support when all things else fail. Why so ? because it looks to the word, and trusts in an almighty, faithful, covenant-keeping God. Faith consults not flesh and blood, but the word of grace and truth. By faith we endure every fight of affliction, every onset of the enemy, seeing Him who is invisible. As faith is the support of the soul, God's word is the warrant of faith, and Jesus the object, author, strength, and finisher of faith. “Thy faith shall not fail," saith Jesus to Peter, "I have prayed for thee." It failed not as an abiding principle in the heart unto salvation, though it did in the confession of his lips. While the precious Head is praying above, the dear members shall be kept believing below. Though, through the enemy's power, the corruptions and rebellions of the flesh, poor souls may speak unadvisedly with their lips, as David did, (Psalm oxvi. 10, 11,).“I was greatly afflicted, I said in my haste, all men are liars;" but in their right mind they give all glory to God, confess his goodness, and take sbame to themselves for such base declarations; and, from their own experience, give sweet advice to their brethren. I had fainted, unless I had believed. Therefore do thou "wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord,” Psalm xxvii. 14.
DEC: 1.-Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.—Song i. 2.
Such is the familiar, loving language of chaste virgins espoused to Jesus. Love in the heart begets desires after tokens of affection from the object beloved. “Saw ye him whom my soul loveth ?” asks the inquiring heart. “If ye bave taken away him," says sorrowful Mary. "That I may know him," says affectionate Paul. "Let him kiss me," saith the church: as though all the world knew who is meant by their Beloved. Every heart that is blessed with the discovery of Jesus, will be excited with such desires after him. Here is a very short and abrupt request, “Let him kiss me.” That will make me quite happy. My heart is simple. I have but one object in view. Oh, if Jesus will but favour me with a love-token, all my fears vanish, my scruples are at an end, my doubts are all silenced, peace, happiness, and joy shall possess my mind! So the love-allured heart reasons and prays. But delays excite impatience and promote jealousies, which issue in mourning surmises. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick." I fear Jesus doth not love me, or surely he would hear, and not delay to afford me sweet evidences and pledges of love. But so Christ proves the soul's faith and steadfastness to him. So he draws out its importunity after him. Whom having not seen, we love; and though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, 1 Pet. i. 8.
Where revealed love is received in the heart, sensible tokens will be longed after and shall be enjoyed. Nor