« PreviousContinue »
Giving all diligence to add to your faith, 8c....2 Pet. i.5.
"HERE is the christian's work : all diligence is required in it. O believer, be assured (the Lord impress it upon your heart and mine) there is no being a lively, comfortable disciple, without it. Beware you do not add to your faith licentious notions and Antinomian sloth, instead of christian virtues, holy tempers, and heavenly , affections, which adorn our profession and glorify our Saviour. Ever
remember, you are called to honor Christ by your life on earth, as well as to be saved by, and enjoy him in heaven. By faith we receive Christ, rest upon him, and look to him alone for justification unto eternal life. But a lively faith will not leave us barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. If there is not an habitual disposition of soul, to add to our faith virtue, know. ledge, patience, godliness, &c. we should examine and see to it, lest instead of Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith, we have only a notion which floats in our heads. If so, this will only make us idle talkers, but not diligent workers and holy walkers. That we are poor sinners, justified and saved by Christ only, is a truth which is ever to be held fast in the conscience. We can add nothing to Christ's work. To attempt to do any thing towards our own justification before God, is the basest act of unbelief. But faith is the queen of graces ; she lives upon the King of saints ; she will have a noble retinue to attend her. Let us never desire to get beyond this blessed rule of ADDITION : let us never suBSTRACT from it: let us give all diligence to MULTIPLY more and more. Are we got into the RULE OF THREE ? Do we know the love of the Three One God? The everlasting love of God the Father: the redeeming love of God the Son : the sanctifying love of God the Holy Ghost? Still we must never leave the rule of addition : add to your faith ; but go on to all diligence in PRACTICE. Christ hath taught it : faith enjoins it: love constrains to it: Christ's honor and glory demand it. But beware of getting into FRACTION, as though any thing you do gives you a title to glory. But see hence, the glory and spirituality of the gospel, and the reason why the belief of it is called, “our most holy faith.”....Jude, 20. We are called by the faith of Christ to glorify God, by adding an obedient life to our most holy faith : this is our way in Christ; walk in it, and ye shall find rest for your souls from Christ....Jer. vi. 16.
Add to my faith! the sluggard smiles: Dear Lord, stir up to diligence,
“I want no more than Christ :" To walk in all thy ways: But him you want, for sin beguiles, O, arm my soul with vigilance, His truth you do resist.
Which thou hast sav'd by grace. M.
He that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see far
off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.... 2 Pet. i. 9.
It is hard to say whether Peter here draws the character of a mere formal professor, or of one who has really tasted that the Lord is gracious, and has awfully backslidden : be it which it may, it holds forth a solemn lesson of instruction to our souls. We may hence lay this down as a sacred truth, that whatever profession a man makes of faith in Christ, justification by him, hope of salvation through him ; yet if he is destitute of the graces of the Spirit and the fruits of righteousness in his life, he is blind to the glorious end of the gospel of peace, and is a stranger to the purifying grace and pardoning love of Christ to his soul. Think of this. Pardoning love, purifying grace, and sanctifying influences are inseparable. Where there is the root of grace, there will be the fruits of righteousness : this is as natural as for any cause to produce its effects. But may not these words be accommodated to some whom we have good reason to hope are the children of God, but are sadly backslidden from him? Do we not see awful instances around us? 1st. He who lackéth these things, as virtue, knowledge, temperance, godliness, &c. (not totally, for there may be a partial lack of them) has sadly departed from the stedfastness of faith and that degree of liveliness he once had, has left his first love, and has lost the sweet savour of Christ from his heart : hence there is a lack, in not abounding in these things. There may be true faith and yet somewhat lacking in it....1 Thess. iii. 10. But such a soul is in sorrow, concern and distress about it: so the life of grace manifests that it is not quite extinct. 2d. He is blind. Not totally so, for he may see, but not far off: he only sees himself and his own misery and unprofitableness : this causes him to weep and bewail himself. But he cannot see, he does not enjoy the love of Christ, and the sweet peace of God: his sight is dimmed and his comforts marred. 3d. He hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins : he has lost the sense of pardon in the blood of Christ : though he remembers there is such a thing, yet he has lost the comfort of it; it is to him, as though it had never been. Satan has obtained the advantage. So false prophets seek “ to cause my people to forget my name, saith the Lord." ....Jer. xxiii. 27. That is, the pardon and comfort of his name. Is not this an awful state? O how much to be deplored ! how greatly to be deprecated!
Ten thousand snares our souls surround with watchful care we should abound, To blind and to deceive,
Lest we God's Spirit grieve..
So an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly,
into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ ....2 Pet. i. 11.
Our last meditation was gloom and sadness : here the sun of comfort arises and sheds splendor, glory and joy upon us. O that we may this night enter by faith into the joy of our Lord. Come, christian, it seems you and I must tarry a little longer on earth, absent from our Lord. How shall we employ ourselves ? In studying the word of his grace ; in being diligent in the use of means ; in exercising ourselves unto godliness. What then? O blessed assurance! So an entranee shall be ministered unto us ABUNDANTLY. When ? Both in life and in death. 1st. In life. We shall find a free and open door into the kingdom of Christ's grace, love and peace, even now : we shall have joy in the Holy Ghost and the peace of God which passeth all understanding in our hearts. Thus with the full sail of assurance and the rapid tide of heavenly consolation, we shall sweetly and swiftly sail the voyage of life. All is enjoyed in being diligent in the ways of Christ. Diligence ! Working! Labouring! &c. Why, say some, all this is the very dregs of legality. Ay, so it would, if we had not the faith of Christ in our hearts, love to Christ in our souls, and the glory of Christ, who has fully justified and eternally saved us, in our view. Soul, thus press on : mind not the satanic grin nor licentious sneer of carnal professors, nor of legal gospellers. Legal to live and labor in the kingdom of love ? O fools ! say, did you ever expect to enter your Lord's kingdom any other way than by Christ, who is the poor? Do you expect to enjoy the comforts of his love and the assurance of his favor in a walk and way contrary to his word and will ? Are we not to walk in Christ, abounding in the work of faith, the patience of hope, and the labour of love ? Diligence of soul to enjoy his presence and to be conformed to his image is our delight below. To have every holy temper and heavenly disposition from Christ, puts the soul into a right frame to enjoy him : this is to have a constant and an abundant entrance ministered to us, into the kingdom of Christ. So living and abiding in his kingdom of grace and love, our souls grow dead to the kingdom of this world. We rejoice to think, 2d. Of an entrance into Christ's kingdom being abundantly administered to us at death. Fellowship with Christ, and diligence in his ways, makes us think of death with pleasure and familiarizes it to our minds with joy. By faith we see heaven open to admit us, God our Father with open arms to embrace us, Christ to welcome us, and the Spirit to enable us to sing victory in death.
Death is yours....1 Cor. iii. 22.
“O DEATH, how bitter is the remembrance of thee to a man who is at rest in his possessions ; unto the man who hath nothing to vex him; and who hath prosperity in all things !". O death, how sweet is the remembrance of thee to a man who is alive to God, dead to the world : who longs to be absent from the body and present with the Lord ; to see the glory of Jesus, and to reign eternally with him! Christian, here is a precious legacy left thee by the Lord : a covenant-gift from the God of thy salvation : “Death is yours.” He is your conquered enemy: your faithful friend. Ist. Your conquered enemy : you need not fear him : he has neither strength nor sting. Christ, the victorious captain of your salvation, has disarmed him of both : he can neither destroy nor wound your soul : yea, “ he hath abolished death.”....2 Tim. i. 10. There is no substance in him ; he is changed into a shadow. It is not the enemy death which seizes a believer, but the shadow, or emblem of it, SLEEP. Weary soul, tired out with the burden of sin, lusts, corruptions, afflictions, accusations, temptations, &c. Is sleep an enemy to you? Do you dread sleep? Are you afraid of rest? What! fear to fall asleep in Jesus, to awake in his presence, to be satisfied with perfect likeness to him and eternally enjoy him ? O fools, and slow of heart to believe the victory of Christ over death! And thou too, O my soul, take the rebuke to thyself, and be ashamed of thy folly. But I am not afraid of death, but of dying! Why afraid of sleeping ? 0! for the insupportable pains of the body in that hour. Who told you they are insupportable ? How many have sweetly sung, VICTORY IN DEATH? O, says one, is this dying? O, it is sweet, it is pleasant : 66 Though I pass through the valley of the shadow of death, thou shalt be with me." That is the claim of faith, upon the warrant of the Lord ; “When thou passest through the waters I WILL be with thee.”.... Isa. xliii. 2. The presence of the Saviour will beguile all thy pains and fill thy soul with comfort. For, 2d. Death is thy faithful friend. Hast thou not found sleep so to thy weary body? Just so, and no more, is death to thy weary soul : it will at once deliver thee from all thy burdens and sorrows, and introduce thee into joys unspeakable and full of glory. Death, is that, and no more to the soul, than what God calls it in his word, and faith makes it to the heart. If you do really and truly believe that death is swallowed up in the victory of Christ : if. you firmly believe his precious blood has atoned for sin, and his righteous life has fulfilled the law, you may undauntedly sing, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?".
If thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it....
Exod. xx. 25. - This chapter abounds with legal terror. Here the glorious Jehovah is giving the law with thunderings and lightnings, and the noise of a trumpet....the mountain smoking....poor sinners trembling and fleeing, saying, “Let not God speak with us, lest we die.” Most awfully tremendous ! Well might Paul call it, “the ministration of death and condemnation.”.... 2 Cor. iii. 7, 9. But blessed, blessed be God, it contains precious gospel-grace to law-condemned sinners. Hear: rejoice and say, let God speak and we live ; for here is an altar commanded : God is accessible to us : “An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me.” Here is gospel-grace. That beloved Son typified, who was made like unto us, and appeared in OUT EARTHLY nature. Thou shalt offer thy burnt-offerings and thy peace-offerings upon it : “ Our God is a consuming fire.”....Heb. xii. 29. Yet, “ we have an altar."....Heb. xiii. 10. Christ is both our altar, our burnt-sacrifice, our peace-offering, and our priest : in him, God is ever accessible to us, and we ever acceptable to him. We lay hold of the horns of this altar : this is our refuge from a fiery law and inexorable justice: “ There, says God; I will come unto thee and bless thee. Blessed be our God and Father, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ.”....Eph. i. 3. “If thou wilt make me an altar of stone, it shall not be hewn." See again, the dear Mediator shadowed forth : “ That stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands.”....Dan. ii. 45. O how sweet to see our beloved in every line of revelation! Well might he say, .« Search the scriptures : they testify of me."....John v. 39. “ If thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.” What can this mean? To forbid thy pride and arrogance. Though thou art a lawcondemned sinner, yet pride and vanity work in thee. We are prone to think by our works, our art, our device, we are to add something of our own to this altar, to render our souls acceptable to God: but this is to pollute the altar, Christ Jesus. This, the foolish, bewitched Galatians did. So some are said to crucify the Lord afresh. O beware of this spiritual pollution of the blessed altar, Christ. Know, we are perfectly and everlastingly accepted in him, without any work of our own. Believe this : obey God: glorify him. Does the law convince of sin and cut us off from all hope in ourselves ? This blessed altar is of itself all-sufficient to fill us with all hope, joy and peace ; for this typifies that new and living way which Christ hath consecrated for us, through the vail of his flesh, to draw nigh unto God....Heb. x. 20.