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I was älivé ruïtsioùt the l'aže once: but when the commandmiént came; sin revived, and I died.... Rom. vii. 9.
Wợuld you read the best experience of a true believer in Christ that ever was wrote? Here it is in this chapter. Try your own. Judge of others' by this. Commend me to holy, humble Paul's experience. If we are taught by the same Spirit, ours will answer to his, as face does to face in a glass, in the following particulars. Ist. A sense of sin will be revived in the conscience, which human palliatives or lulling opiates can keep in a swoon any longer. You will so see, feel and be sensible of its dread and terror, that you will confess yourself to be totally destroyed by it, and your case to be quite desperate under it. 2d. This is effected by the law : “For by the law is the knowledge of sin."....Rom. iii. 20.
" When the commandment came,” that is, when the purity and spirituality of the holy and perfect law of God comes into your heart and conscience, then you see that it requires truth and perfection of obediênce in the inward parts as well as in the outward walk. You see you have it not: you find it as much impossible for you, a sinner, to fulfil God's holy law, as it is for you to create a world. Then, 3d. You die: you become as a dead man. Seeing the exceeding sinfulness of sin in you and the dreadful curse of the law hanging over you, all hopes of life forsake you. Sin and the law live within you; they pierce your soul to the quick. The law adds strength to sin. You can no longer flatter yourself that your state is good, that you cán do any thing to bring yourself upon good terms with God: you have now done with all works of righteousness to that end: you can have no more hope from your obedience to the law, than from your transgressions against it: you see yourself sin in all that you are and in all that you do. But, 4th. The hand of the comforter is in all this. His loving design is to bring you to live by the faith of the Son of God. Instead of looking to and living by your own righteousness, you are to live wholly and solely upon his life and by his righteousness. But while alive without the law, and striving to fulfil the law, you overlook Christ, slight his righteousness, think your own better to trust to than his. Now the Spirit keeps alive sin and the law in you for this very purpose, to make you wretched in self and happy in Christ. All experiences that do not effect this, are not worth a straw. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth. ... Rom. xi 4. When dead in sin, I was alive, Think, O my soul, with grateful joy, And strong in legal confidence; When legal terrors thee beset, But Christ me lov'd and would not leave Christ sav'd thee from the fiery law, My soul, under such false pretence. And brought to thee salvation sweet.
Be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee....Heb. xiii. 5.
PREACH content to a covetous, carnal man, and you will just have the same success as if you bid the surging billows be calm or the boisterous winds be still. He possesses nothing which can give true content to his mind. Has he riches? They are a curse to him: for he himself is under the curse of the law. O believer was not this, in a certain sense, your case also, you stand in no need of this exhortation, “Be content.” You are the subject of a carnal nature : this is under the curse of the law : for this is ever dissatisfied, craving for more, murmuring against the dispensations of the L.ord. Know and consider this : be humble : be watchful. Consider, 1st. What good things of this life you have. Be they little or much, do you deserve them? Have you a right to challenge more from God, the giver of them? Here set your foot, and let conscience answer nature's cravings. 2d. Consider what spiritual things you have. Ist. You have the everlasting, unchangeable love of a covenant God and Father fixed on you. 2d. The life, death, and intercession of God the Son, for your righteousness, atonement, and salvation. 3d. As a consequence of this, and that you may know and be sure of this, the Spirit has bestowed his graces upon you. Hence you have faith in Christ, hope towards God, love to him, delight in him, a heart to cry to him, a will to please him, a desire to walk holily before him. And, 4th. To encourage and enable to this, you have all his precious promises in Christ : these are the staff of your faith, the support of your hope, and the joy of your soul. What want you more? Paul sums up all in one word : THINGS are yours.”.... 1.Cor. iii. 22. Is not this enough to make you content ? No, say you, I find myself such a vile sinner, I am afraid I shall forfeit all these things : so you would before the next setting sun, if you stood in yourself, but you are in Christ; thereforç, here is a covenant promise from a faithful God for you, I will never leave thee nor forsake thçe.” This is a most precious word for you: fasten upon it: draw comfort, derive content from it. Some who spoil texts and mar comforts, cry, O this regards things of this life only. Well, surely if God loves his people's bodies, he will never forsake their souls: and to silence all the cavils of unbelief, the words run, no, I will not leave thee, no, no, I will not forsake thee. Here are five negatives. “Be not faithless but believing."....
John xx. 27.
With such a promise in my heart, Content is to be found in God,
In nothing else beside :
These all died in faith.... Heb. xi. 13.
An officer in the navy, who held me exceedingly in derision on account of religion, fell dangerously ill. To my great surprize he sent for me. I found him in distress of soul: spoke freely to him of our lost estate, of Christ's love and salvation, and prayed with him. He wept sore, clapping his hands to his breast, he cried out, "O my God, have I got a soul?” As though he had never known it before. Turning to the place where I kneeled, he said, “Where have I lived that I never heard these things before? O, I shall never forget what I have heard this night!" I visited him to his last moments, and trust he died in the faith, and hope to see him in glory. “ Heaven is a house full of the miracles of Christ's free-grace,” says
There is the once idolatrous Manasseh; the murdering, adulterous David: the persecuting Saul; the Christ-denying Peter, &c. O my God, shall wretched I be there? Yes, if I die in the faith of Christ: 'my vileness, sinfulness, and unworthiness, do but as it were qualify me for Christ and his free grace. Christ by his free grace qualifies me for heaven. See the nature of this faith, ist. It looks to precious promises : though seen afar off, yet it brings assurance of their existence into the mind, and the soul embraces them. O christian, when you complain of your faith, you forget the great and precious promises which are the ground and support of it. 2d. It not only eyes Christ in the promises, but it receives Christ, “ In whom are all the promises, yea, and amen to the glory of God.”.... 2 Cor. i. 20. O when Christ dwells in the heart by faith! What then? 3d. We confess ourselves strangers and pilgrims in the earth: we see we have got a heavenly inheritance : we are only passing through this world to it. This world is not our home: we are not of the world : our hearts are above the world : our souls cry to be at home with our Father, God; our elder brother, Christ'; and our brethren in glory. For, 4th. With Abrahain we see the day of Christ. He saw the first coming of Christ long before his advent : we see by faith his second coming to take us to himself in glory; hence we rejoice. 5th. O the comfort of living, O the joy of dying in this faith: it realizes heaven and glory to the soul: Hope is its 'constant attendant : by faith and hope in the promises, Love springs up in the heart to the promiser. Thus the sinner is fit for the enjoyment of God. Die when he may, he dies in faith....dies in the Lord, and shall live eternally with the Lurda “ By grace ye are saved through faith."....Ephes. ii. 5. 'Tis sweet to live by faith in Christ, Soon we must die, then we shall prove In peace with God above :
The precious joy of faith, False hopes and sin we do resist, How safe in everlasting love, For faith does work by love.
Ev'n at our latest breath. M.
The times of refreshing shall come from the presence of
the Lord....Acts iji. 19.
Who shall these times come to? Every sinner who rępents ang turns to Christ for salvation. From whence shall they come? From the presence of the Lord : here then it is manifest whether you have repented and turned to the Lord. If so, st. Your soul will delight in God's presence. 2d. You will earnestly long for, and highly prize these refreshing seasons. 3d. You will say, with David, “ Thou art my God, my times are in thy hands: I will bļeșs the Lord at all times : his praise shall be continually in my mouth.”.... Psalm xxxi. 15. xxxiv. l. Hence, 4th. You will turn from your sins, your self-righteous hopes, carnal pleasures and worldly vanities, to seek all your happiness in the enjoyment of the presence of the Lord. And, 5th. You will wait in the patience of faith for the com, ing of refreshing seasons, believing they shall come. Is it now a night of gloom and sadness? Are we tried and afflicted, bowed down and dejected? Is the sun of comfort set ? Does the moon withhold its shining, and the stars their light? Yet times of refreshing shall come. Believe this: hang on this word: bless the Lord for it. That dear COMFORTER, who brought us to Christ, will refresh our souls with a sense of the love of Christ, the peace of God, and the joys of the heavenly world: he will refresh us with his witness to our hearts that we are the children of God and heirs of glory. He does keep up in our minds a constant sense of this precious truth, that Christ is both an able and a willing Saviour to us : that he calls our weary, labouring souls to him, and promises to ease and refresh us. This is refreshing to our hearts. Is sin burden? Do we want rest? Are our souls troubled for want of peace ? Are our spirits distressed for want of refreshment? Christ says, come unto me : but the most precious times of refreshment shall come: yet a little while, and we shall behold, and be in the eternal enjoyment of the presence of the Lord. O, a lively view of this by faith is most refreshing indeed! Then we long to be absent from the body and present with the Lord: we are sick of the world: sick of ourselves : we triumph over sin and satan, smile at death and welcome its approach. And now, Lord, what wait I for? “My hope is in thee.".... Psalm xxxix. 7. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ who gave himself for us.... Tit. ii. 13, 14. Tho'sin and sorrow bow me down, Therefore I'll wait and look and pray, And my dear Lord delays:
And not from him depart; He will refresh my spirit soon,
His presence makes my happy day, With tokens of his grace.
And fills with joy my heart.
in the words of faith, and of good docțrine....1 Tim. iv. 6.
MANY a soul is saying, alas ! I hear, and hear again, and do not see that I am profited. I get little or no comfort from what I hear. Consider, 1st. What you hear. Is it the words of faith and of good doctrine? There is more danger in words than we are aware of. Words convey corrupt ideas to the mind, and nourish vain hopes and false confidences in the heart : they subvert the gospel and pervert the soul. Many words of this sort have obtained amongst us ; şuch as the merit of works....perhaps you start at that : you would not hear preachers who use the phrase ; but these amount to just the same thing, THE TERMS OF THE GOSPEL.... THE CONDITIONS OF
These are not the words of faith nor of good doctrine, not the words which the Holy Ghost teaches : they are the words of man's proud wisdom : they were hatched in the church of Rome, and are contended for by the greatest enemies to our Lord's divinity, his atonement of sin and justifying righteousness. One of this stamp in our day, says, “he longs to pull down that idol, Christ, from his throne.” It is well if he dont plunge into hell in the attempt. The notion of terms and conditions of salvation swells sinners with pride, nourishes them up in self-complacency and selfrighteousness; they tend to obscure the glory of the finished work, of Christ, the freeness of gospel grace, and the need of the agency, of the holy Spirit.
Therefore, 2d. Avoid such preachers who contend for these phrases: seek and attend those, who follow the example of an old, a very old preacher. He had true wisdom: therefore he says, preacher sought to find out acceptable words, written words, and that which was upright, even words of truth.".... Eccles. xii. 10. 3d. Consider what it is to be nourished up in faith and good words: it is to have a sound judgment of the truth, a peaceful conscience through the truth, warm affections to the truth, the heart in love with the truth, the life influenced by the truth, and the hope of salvation and glory founded solely upon the truļh. What is truth? Jesus says, I AM THE TRUTH....John xiv. 6. The truths of the gose, pel nourish the soul and cause it to “ grow, up into Christ in all, things, who is the head."....Ephes, iv. 15. Prize the words of faith ; diligently attend good doctrine ; but evermore remember, all nourishment of soul comes from Christ the head. To him look 3: upon him live; study him to please in all things. “Of his fulness, have we all received."....John i. 16.
Christ's words are full of truth and. Speak, Lord, unto my heart with pow'r
And nourish up the soul, [grace, Make me grow up in thee: In love and peace and holiness, 0, may I feed on thee each hour, 'And all our lusts controul.
'Till I thy glory see.