« السابقةمتابعة »
testimony of an inspired Apostle deserve no credit on this subject? Of mine own self I can do nothing."
If any shall think as Paul once thought, that other things besides Christ are gain, we wish them that view of themselves and of Christ which will produce the same change in their minds which it did in his.
3. No subject can afford such abundant consolation to the contemplative believer, as the atoning sufferings of Christ. By these was Christ made perfect; by these he became the author of eternal salvation to his people; by these the pleasure of the Lord shall abundantly prosper in his hand; from these life springs to lifeless sinners; and by these is secured the destruction of all enemies. To this source may the believer trace all his enjoyments; his pardon, reconciliation, and peace; his life, sanctification, and victories; his honourable relation to God, interest in his favour, and communion with him; and to it must he attribute his free access to the throne of grace, the acceptance of his services, and the answer of his prayers. It is true, all these favours are conveyed from God through the person of the Mediator, the great High Priest over the house of God; yet it is wholly owing to his having been made perfect through his sufferings, that he is such a medium of conveyance. Though he was God's own Son, infinitely beloved, his equal, he could never have prevailed with his Father to confer one single favour on sinners, without satisfaction made to divine justice by blood. Without this he had no ground on which to plead, no argument but what would have infringed the divine honour, and would rather have obstructed than facilitated his success. Now he has room to urge his plea, and, from his atoring blood, can adduce such arguments as must
ever ensure success. In contemplating this blood, then, you must see every thing in your favour, and nothing against your interest. Never allow yourselves to forget, that your Redeemer was made perfect, made a fit Saviour for bringing you to glory, by that blood. How do they, who deny the atoning virtue of this blood, rob God of his glory, Christ of his honour, and sinners of the means of salvation? They take away our hopes, destroy all the offices of Christ, and make void the grace of God. Jesus appears in the presence of God for you; but his appearance is to no purpose without atoning blood. It is the merit of that blood that intercedes and renders his appearance advantageous to you. Such as deny its atoning virtue, leave him no ground to plead upon; they wrest that from his hand which he is carrying into the holy place, and at once shut his mouth, that he cannot say, "Father, I will that my people be with me where I am." But, blessed be God, Jesus has entered into the holy of holies with his own blood, and appears in the presence of his Father for his people, and prevails. Be it therefore your employment, believers, to seek ease and peace to your souls from this source. If any thing else yield you ease or peace, you are in no small danger. You cannot too highly appreciate this blood, nor be too much employed in improving it, to your relief under all difficulties. Reconciliation by this blood is the foundation of all things in religion, and all that men profess in religion, if not built on this foundation, is vain. Beware then of missing this foundation, in any part of your religious exercise; on this build your faith and hope, your dutics, your peace and consolation, as if you expect ever to sing the song of the redeemed, you must lay the
foundation of it in this blood, as all genuine believers do. "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father," &c.
4. ALL the attempts of enemies against the people of God are fruitless and vain. They designed the ruin of Christ but failed in the attempt, and procured their own: They design the same thing against his people, and all their attemps shall prove equally abortive. Satan is already disabled, having had his head bruised: Sin is condemned: Death is vanquished and deprived of its sting: The grave has lost its power; and the Redeemer keeps the keys of hell and death. When the heathen rage, and the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and his anointed; they only imagine a vain thing. All these enemies shall be made the Redeemer's footstool, according to the design of his exaltation, and the promise of his Father, "Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Psalm cx. 1. While these enemies can assault his people, oppose his interest, or in any respect obstruct the consummation of his kingdom, they are not made his footstool. They were not made his footstool when he triumphed over them upon his cross, only a sure foundation was laid for accomplishing it. It will take place when all the sons of grace shall be brought to glory. Now Jesus reigns; and he must reign, until all his enemies, and the enemies of his church shall be destroyed. However numerous these enemies are, however powerful, unwearied, and incessant in their attempts against his people, he writes abortion on all their schemes. Sin attempts to overpower and destroy the work of grace in the soul; satan tries
to seduce believers from the ways of God into the practice of sin; his ministers corrupt the truth, under the mask of the ministers of Christ, to deceive, if possible, the elect; and wicked persecutors would deprive them of every temporal enjoyment, exclude them from the means of salvation, and hurry them into the regions of eternal darkness. But he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. The Captain of salvation shall bring all such enemies to a shameful and miserable end; and all his redeemed sons to victory, glory and triumph. Let us turn to any of the now glorified sons of grace, and we will find, that the enemies who rose up against them have perished, and left their work undone. This is a certain earnest of the fate of all such as shall tread in the same path. When they shall have employed all their policy, exerted all their power, and given vent to all their rage; their destruction and misery shall be completed; and the felicity and glory of the sons of God consummated. But these enemies do not consider that, while they leave no means untried to harass and destroy the people of God, they are honouring them and doing them good, by conforming them to their Captain. "All things shall work together for good to them that love God." This is no small encouragement to believers. What these enemies, like Joseph's brethren, do from malevolence against his people, God intends for good, and will give it efficacy for that end. "Be patient," then, "and stablish your hearts," ye persecuted and oppressed heirs of glory, under all your sufferings; "for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." The Captain of your salvation will appear to your joy and your enemies shall be ashamed. Keep your station near your Leader, under his banner
prove faithful in his service, and by his direction and aid contend valiantly with your enemies; and assure yourselves that, "neither tribulation, nor distress, nor persecution, nor any evil, shall separate you from his love; but that, in all these things, you shall be more than conquerors.
5. BELIEVERS ought to encourage themselves to great diligence and activity in working out their salvation with fear and trembling, from the work which the Captain of their salvation carries on. To take occasion from his work to become remiss would indicate too much of Antinomian indolence. The highest encouragement to prosecute any difficult work is to have such assistance, and such means, as will infallibly ensure success; and nothing can be more discouraging than to put one on any great work which he can neIf believers might warrantably indulge themselves in negligence, the commandments and promises of God would be rendered useless. To what purpose would it be to command obedience, in any instance, if it might warrantably be neglected? Why should any promise be made, of direction, ability, pardon, peace, &c. but to be believed and improved, and to encourage the believer to perseverance in the ways of God? of God? Nothing is more frequently inculcated than vigour and activity; nor is this done in vain, for the improvement and consolation of the believer depend much upon it. The promises of assisting grace. ought to be improved to the advancement of faith, love and holiness; to the mortification of sin, and success in the spiritual warfare. With this diligence are the promises of peace, joy, and communion with God connected. "If a man love me," said Christ," he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and