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Let us, as many as be perfect, be thus minded....Phil.
PAUL says, his preaching Christ, warning and teaching every man of his ruined state, in all wisdom, was to this great and gloriouş end, to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.... Col. i. 28. How often have our minds been distressed and dejected (I speak for one) seeing our imperfection, in all we are and in all we do? Instead of this we are called again and again to rejoice in the Lord Jesus ALWAY."....Phil. iv. 4. This we shall do if our consciences be made perfect by the blessed work of Christ received by faith, as was observed in the last meditation. O, rest not short of perfect satisfaction in this matter. The work of Christ, has perfectly satisfied God's justice and truth, and made honorable his holy law, why should it not perfectly satisfy your conscience and make it perfect? Now we are exhorted to be like minded.... In what respect! You will see in the foregoing verses. 1st. Rejoice in the Lord: this is the happy privilege of every believer: yet how sadly neglected! It is a command by which the Lord is as much honored as by obeying any, one of the ten commandments: consider this : be concerned to. practice it. 2d. Beware of those who have confidence in the flesh.'. Paul calls them dogs and evil workers; as though they were ever. barking and cavilling against the perfection which is in Christ Jesus, and opposing somewhat of their own to it. 3d. Worship God in the spirit : in the life and spirit of the gospel of grace and peace.. 4th. Count all things loss for Christ, by whom you gain all things. Renounce your own righteousness for the righteousness of Christ received by faith. Desire to be found in Christ living, dying, and at the judgment day. 5th. Win Christ and wear him by faith from day to day, that you may be made conformable to his death, in dying to sin, self and the world. 6th. Follow after Christ : knowing that all your perfection is in him, that you may apprehend him, catch faster hold of him, cleave more stedfastly to him, abide more comfortably in him, that you may enjoy more sweet fellowship with him, for which Christ apprehended you when you was posting to hell. O, never forget his love in this: take faster hold of him. 7th. “ Press toward the mark, for the prize of your high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Your calling is clear: the prize is before you, a crown of righteousness: the Lord, the righteous judge holds it out for you, and will surely give it you. Looking to him by faith ; “Forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forth unto the things which are before :" Christ and glory. Tho' perfect now, we still press on, We live by faith on God's dear Son, Perfection's prize to gain,
'Till all our foes are slain. M.
We also joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by
whom we have now received the atonement.... Rom. v. 11.
HAVING obtained the king's free pardon for a poor man cast for transportation, I carried it to the gaol to him : seeing the poor fettered creature fall down upon his knees to return thanks, caused a burst of tears from mine eyes of heart-felt joy. I thought, this is just what thou, O my precious Saviour, hast done for me : thou hast obtained a free and full pardon of all my sins, set my soul at liberty, and filled it with peace and joy, by the one atonement of thy precious blood. The poor convict had not read his pardon : he had not seen the king's name to it. I only made the report to him that I had got it: he believed me; hence he was happy, joyful and thankful. Thus he received his pardon. Now here is a simple and plain idea of faith....Of what? Receiving the atonement of Christ and of joy in God. You are a poor sinner : the Spirit of God comes and convinces you of sin : you are arraigned, tried, brought in guilty, cast and condemned in the court of conscience : you are concluded under sin and shut up in unbelief: here you wait in sorrow and distress for the sentence of the law to be executed upon you: you find you can do nothing that can obtain pardon and liberty for your poor soul : but, the gospel brings the glad tidings of the atonement of Christ to your ears, and that by it a full and free pardon is obtained for sinners. Now, what reception does it meet with in your heart? Say you, I believe it from the very ground of my heart, but I fear it is not for me. It is free for all who will receive it by faith. You believe it, therefore you have received it : you ought to joy in God for it. Examine into the grounds of your fears and doubts. Is the atonement of Christ sufficient to satisfy divine justice and obtain pardon and peace? This you cannot doubt. Is it not free for all sorts of sinners ? Of this you can have no fear: “For this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save SINNERS,”....1 Tim. i. 15....who are nothing but cursed sinners, and have nothing but cursed sin in them. Do you doubt that you are too great a sinner? This cannot be. Paul says, of sinners, I AM CHIEF. Yet he received the atonement and was saved by it. Learn hence, Ist. That all joy in God springs from the ONE atonement of Christ for sin, and that ONLY, exclusive of every thing else. 2d. Every one who believes in Christ has NOW received this atonement. And therefore, 3d. Ought constantly to joy in God the Father's everlasting love. No joy in God, to him no love, 'Till faith is given from above, We ever can possess ;
In Christ our righteousness. M.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has
made us free, and be not entangled with the yoke of bondage....Gal. v. 1.
HERE is somewhat enjoyed, danger of being deprived of it, and the necessity of standing fast in it. Let us consider these three points, looking unto Jesus. 1st. What is enjoyed ? LIBERTY. One of the most precious blessings in life. But this of all liberties, the most precious ; for, Christ hath made us free in our consciences, Ist. From the guilt and power of sin. 2d. From all condemnation of the law. And, Sd. To have access to God as righteous persons. He hath washed away the guilt of our sins by his blood, and subdued the power of them by his Spirit ; “ He hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us."....Gal. iii. 13. So that “there is now no condemnation to us, being in Christ Jesus.” .... Rom. viii. 1. He presents us before his Father in his perfect righteousness. We are accepted in the beloved, by God, as perfectly righteous, " to the praise of the glory of his grace."... Ephes. i. 6. Thus Christ hath freed us from the law, sin, death and hell : he has brought us into this blessed liberty by his Spirit. We enjoy this precious freedom in our consciences by faith. O brethren, let us glory in our inestimable privilege : let us ever rejoice in Christ Jesus and give him the glory of our hearts, lips and lives for it. But, 2d. See your danger of being entangled again with the yoke of bondage. We who now enjoy the precious liberty of Christ, were once entangled with the law; a most dreadful yoke it was. We felt wrath working in our consciences, and dread and terror hung over our guilty heads from day to day. O, how did we then pant? and cry for Christ to set our souls at liberty. We were tied and bound with the chain of our sins, fettered by the law, shut up in unbelief. My soul deeply felt this distress. O beware of bondage again. There is danger on the right hand and on the left. The pleasures of sin and the pride of our hearts, seeking either in whole or in part justification by the law of works, are both equally contrary to our freedom in Christ. O let us therefore, 3d. Stand fast in the liberty of Christ. Ist. Against-all temptations to sin : oppose your happiness in Christ to all the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season. 2d. Stand fast in your freedom in Christ, against all the corrupt notions of self-righteous men who are under the law, seeking to be justified in whole or in part by their own works. 3d. Against all the accusations of satan: we overcome him by the blood of the Lamb. 4th. Against all the legal workings of your flesh; for we are the Lord's freemen: we are no more under bondage. Stand fast, my soul, in Christ thy Lord, Embolden'd by God's precious word,
To legal preachers give not way, Maintain thy freedom ev'ry day. M.
And he requested for himself that he might die.... 1 King's
“ ELIAS was a man subject to like passions as we are.".... James y. 17. This request proves it. It arose from fear and discontent. Both were occasioned by the threats of a weak, but wicked woman. Jezebel threatened his life. O how soon and by what weak means are the fine frames of God's children spoiled and discomposed! What, Elijah ! that great prophet of the Lord, who bad wrought so many notable miracles in the name of the Lord, who had been so miraculously fed by ravens, according to the command of the Lord....he, who had courage to say, “ As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself to incensed Ahab to-day”....what, he! who had zeal to face four hundred and fifty of Baal's priests, and to command them all to be slain, what, does he request to die because of the threatenings of a woman? What shall we say to this ? Verily, human nature is the same in all, whether prophets, patriarchs, or apostles : all men are not the same at all times : the flesh is part of themselves : it Justs against the Spirit: this is manifest in all, none excepted. What is man when left of God? What are the best of men when left to themselves? And yet the same apostle James says, Take, my brethren, the prophets who have spoken, in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.”....James v. 10, But where shall we find a perfect character ? Paul might well say, “We have this treasure (all the gifts and graces of God's Spirit) in earthen vessels.” Why? That the excellency of the power might be of God, and not of us....2 Cor. iv. 7. But if earthen vessels were not sometimes left to themselves they would forget this. Elijah, like Paul, was in danger of being exalted above measure for his eminent gifts, graces and miraculous works : he is left to be buffeted, that he might know his own sinfulness and impotence. Learn a lesson hence to-night : prophets, apostles, ministers of Christ, are men of like passions, frail sinners like yourselves. Paul forbears glorying ; " Lest,” says he, “any man should think of me above what he sees me to be.”....2 Cor. xii. 6. If we so judge of ministers, we shall be in great danger of harm therebyIst. We shall over-rate them, look to them, instead of through them to God: we shall rest on their teaching instead of God's. Then, 2d. If we do but see those infirmities in them which are common to men, O then, who could have thought it! we shall under-rate them and be prejudiced against them, so as not to be profited by them. Cease ye from man; look unto the Lord.
Behold he prayeth....Acts ix. 11.
In many trades it is customary to shew samples or patterns : by these men judge of the goodness or quality of the whole. Paul sets himself forth as a sample, or pattern of the free, distinguishing, sovereign, unmerited grace of God, that we should judge of its nature by its efficacy upon him : “ I obtained mercy, for this cause, that in me first (a first rate sinner) Jesus Christ might shew forth all long suffering, for a PATTERN to them who should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting."....1 Tim. i. 16. Thou hast seen this pattern of free grace. What dost thou think of it? The whole is alike with the pattern: it cometh alike upon all elect sinners : it finds no more pre-requisites, fitness, qualifications, or conditions in any than it did in Paul. Whenever it takes place upon any, it produceth the same effects as it did in him. Grace and mercy from Jesus, makes Saul pray to Jesus : there is the emphasis : this is the main point : “ Behold, he prayeth.” To whom? Doubtles, he had prayed much and often, while an unconverted pharisee ; but it was to an unknown God. He knew there was a God: he knew it was his duty to pray to him ; but he knew him not. But now, Jesus speaks to him: God manifests himself to him in Christ: therefore, behold, take special notice of this, “ Behold he prayeth,” to Jesus ; to God in Christ. He no longer durst come to God in his own name, to expect access to God and acceptance with him on account of his own sincerity, works of righteousness, &c. but in the name, blood and righteousnes of the Son of God
So he prayed, so he evidenced his conversion to Jesus ; hence the true Spirit of prayer manifested itself in him ; his prayers were agreeable to, and sprung from his knowledge of himself as a poor sinner and faith in the Son of God as the only Saviour. This is the prayer which God delights in, takes special notice of, and refers to as an evidence of true conversion. Hence know, prayerless souls are Christless. Prayer, without the knowledge of Christ, faith in him, hope of eternal life by him, and acceptance through him, is only lip service and formal duty : but, the spirit of prayer arises in the heart, from a discovery of a God in Christ; the knowledge of him, by believing his word of grace and truth, and expecting his mercy and salvation, according to his great and precious promises given in Christ. Dost thou pray thus ? Then it may be truly said of thee, behold thou art converted; thy prayers evidence it: the God who heareth prayer hath manifested himself to thee as he does not unto the world.
We cannot pray when we are dead, Of Jesus and his saving aid ;
But mercy he doth grant.