Daily Devotions for June.
I am determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2. 2. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, etc. Psalms 111. 10. The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peacable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. James 3. 17. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. 1 Corinthians 8. 1.
Christ cricified, and he alone, is the power and wisdom of God, him all Christians, and especially divines, should make particular practice to study well. Were our faith built on human wisdom, then surely carnal philosophers would be the greatest believers; whereas they are sometimes the worst infidels, or at best the most silly and faithless people in times of distress. And besides, their being puffed up is another evidence that they have not the true wisdom; for the wisdom from above is only with the lowly babes, who pray for it earnestly, Proverbs 11. 2; Matthew 11. 25. What would all knowledge avail us, then, without the knowledge of Christ? One spark of pure love yields more power than all the stores of human learning. May the lord Jesus shed his love abroad in my heart! Him I have determined only to know; his love at the cross I account my greatest wisdom and glory.
They that would grow divinely wise
Must with his fear begin;
Our fairest proof of knowledge lies
In hating ev'ry sin.
I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. Genesis 32. 26. Forsake me not, O Lord; O my God, be not far from me. Psalm 38. 21.
Divine Answer: Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. Genesis 28. 15. I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Exodus. 33. 12. I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13. 5.
God will have me to be faithful:- and should not he be so himself? Am I to trust in his word? then, surely, he will not forsake me, but be as good as his word. Heaven and earth must pass away, but his word will not; he is ever faithful. If I do not believe this, I think blasphemously of God, and can have no help or comfort from his word: But if I truly believe him to be faithful, I believe enough. This is what he only desires; and if I really do, my faith will not be moved even in the hottest trials; the word will hold me up, though I receive it even in weakness. But my faith must be attended by continual prayer.
Begin, my tongue, some heavenly theme,
And speak some boundless thing;
The mighty works, or mightier name,
Of our eternal King.
Tell of his wondrous faithfulness,
And sound his power abroad:
Sing the sweet promise of his grace,
And the performing God.
Proclaim the salvation from the Lord
For wretched dying men;
His hand has writ the sacred word
With an immortal pen.
Engraved as in eternal brass,
The mighty promise shines
Nor can the powers of darkness rase
Those everlasting lines.
I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. Matthew 12. 36. See also Ephesians 4. 29; and 5. 4.
Here all corrupt communications, jesting, foolish talking, or whatever is not convenient and good to the use of edifying, is plainly forbidden. But who truly believes the report and the truth of these awful words? Surely the world does not believe them at all; this is quite plain, from the very common and shocking practice of judging, lying, swearing, jesting, and talking all manner of filthiness: yea, even religious people very often do not believe and consider them enough. How many heedless, slanderous, idle,and unprofitable words are sometimes spoken by these! Be therefore careful, O my reader, to weigh every word, and to make light of none; for such will increase thine account. Whenever ye are going to speak, let the question be first, Is it needful to speak? does it tend to the glory of God? will it profit me or others? O Lord, grant that never an idle word may drop from my lips! Whenever I am to converse with others, give me grace first to converse with thee by secret prayer. In all companies let thy presence be before mine eyes, always looking upon thee as the chief Person in the place, and receiving direction when and what I am to speak. May thy good Spirit always teach me, and sanctify all my thoughts and words!
And must I give a strict account
O ev'ry idle word?
Then set a watch upon my lips,
And guard my tongue, O Lord.
Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. 1 Corinthians 7. 20.
Most of the employments of life are in their own nature lawful; and all those that are so may be made a substantial part of our duty to God, if we engage them only so far, and for such ends, as are suitable to beings that are to live above the world. This is the only measure of our application to any worldly business; it must have no more of our hands, our hearts, or our time, than is consistent with a hearty, daily, careful preparation of ourselves for another life. For since all true Christians have renounced the world to prepare themselves, by daily devotions and universal holiness, for an eternal state of quite another nature, they must look upon worldly employments as upon worldly wants and bodily infirmities; things not to be desired, only to be endured and suffered, till death and the resurrection have carried us to an eternal state of real happiness. A person's being called into the kingdom of grace is not to make void the duties that arise from his perculiar calling or situation in life, but to enforce the practice of them in such a way as may be most to the glory of God. He therefore that does not consider the things of this life as of little moment, or even nothing, in comparison of the things that are eternal, cannot be said either to feel or believe the greatest truths of Christianity.
Lord, save me from my calling's snare,
From fraud, and from the love of gain;
My hands be filled with worldly care,
But all my heart with thee remain.
And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down; and the haughtiness of men shall be made low; and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. Isaiah 2. 17.
"Pride was not made for man," says the son of Sirach: and "the proud in heart are an abomination to the Lord;" and yet what is more common than pride and self-righteousness among the fallen children of Adam? So deeply are they ingrafted in our our corrupt natures, that nothing short of Almighty grace can root them up. It is the great design and effect of the blessed gospel, wherever it is applied to the heart by the Spirit of God, to mortify this cursed temper. In that day, the haughtiness of man, his self-will, which he set up in opposition to the will of God, shall be brought down; and his self-righteousness, by which he thought to recommend himself to the favour of God, shall be made low; and Christ and his righteousness alone shall be exalted.
Hath this precious promise ever been fulfilled in thy experience, O my soul? Is the will of God thy rule? Is the righteousness of Christ thy hope? and is the language of thy heart and life, "Let God in all things be exalted in me and by me, through Christ Jesus?" Without this, O my soul, thy profession is vain, thy faith is also vain, and thou art yet in thy sins.
Lord, lay my legal spirit low,
And ev'ry lofty look subdue;
Bid all my heart to Jesus bow,
Exalt, and love, and trust him too.
I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. 1 Chronicles 29. 17. He is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. Proverbs 2. 7.
The Lord looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16. 7.
As God searches the heart and tries the reins, he cannot be deceived by outward form; we ought not, therefore, to deceive ourselves in this particular. It is no real proof of conversion to God, if we only reform the grosser sins of our former lives, much less if we only abstain from such things as by nature we are not so much inclined to indulge; but if our hearts are so renewed by the grace of the Holy Spirit as to be firmly and habitually opposed to our most beloved lusts, we have a good evidence of a real conversion; for these inward capital enemies the Lord and all his upright followers attack most before all the rest. If we would give over that which is dearest to us, we must first know and believe that Christ is both able and willing to help us, and has lovingly engaged his word that none shall seek his face in vain. Let us keep this thought in our minds, and it will both stir up faith, and encourage diligence in seeking after salvation.
Mistaken souls that dream of heaven,
And make them empty boast
Of inward joys and sins forgiv'n,
While they are slaves to lust!
Vain are our fancies, airy flights,
If faith be cold and dead;
None but a living power unites
To Christ, the living head.
'Tis faith that changes all the heart,
'Tis faith that works by love;
That bids all sinful joys depart,
And lifts the thoughts above.
Faith must obey the Father's will,
As well as trust his grace;
A pard'ning God is jealous still
For his own holiness.
I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths; and shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. Hosea 2. 6,7.
As it is only with thee, O my dear Saviour, that I can be happy, I would never leave thee any more; and that I may not slip from thee unawares, even under good pretences, I desire to have my way hedged up, and be encompassed everywhere with thorns. Let me quickly discover and crucify every thing which would give the least disturbance to the enjoyment of thy love, that I may always closely walk with thee alone, and never take a step out of thy way, for fear of running myself into the thorns, and bringing unnecessary sufferings upon me; though I do not mean to avoid the cross of Christ in other respects, but would willingly submit to any sufferings which are never without good fruit. Glory be to thee, O my blessed Saviour, that thou hast not given me up yet, and suffered me to run into destruction in my own ways! Oh be pleased to restrain me evermore; and whenever I am in danger of sliding into the broad way, let me find no rest till I am brought back, though it be through the briars of affliction.
I know thy judgments, Lord, are right,
The sharpest sufferings I endure
Nor let my feet incline to tread
Flow from thy faithful care.
Before I knew thy chast'ning rod,
My feet were apt to stray;
But now I learn to keep thy word,
Nor wander from thy way.
And he said, Art thou my very son, Esau? And he said, I am. Genesis 27. 24.
There are certainly some circumstances in this affair which may help a little to excuse Jacob and his mother, but cannot justify them. The case may be thus stated: It cannot be denied, on the one hand, but that both Jacob and his mother were justly to be praised for having a due esteem of the father's solemn blessing, and for their endeavouring to attain it; since this could not proceed from no other motive but a full persuasion of the truth of God's promises and covenant with Abraham. And thus, from the consideration of the goodness of the end, and from Jacob's title to the blessing as accompanying the birthright, as also from the fore-appointment of God, together with Isaac's approbation of the thing done, may be drawn some arguments to lessen the crime. But on the other hand, it must be confessed that the means use to attain there ends were highly criminal. Rebecca was wrong in her advice to her son, and he was wrong in following it; for though God, before he was born, designed him to inherit the blessing, yet he ought to have waited until the Divine Wisdom opened the way, and not have anticipated God, and procured the blessing by an irregular act of his own. Beside, both of them, presumed to limit the power of God, by thinking that fraud was needful to accomplish God's purpose.
For God's good promise let me wait,
Though fear would oft my faith forbid
No venture on a pious fraud,
As Jacob and Rebecca did.
The Lord can clear the darkest skies,
Can give us day for night;
Make drops of sacred sorrow rise
To rivers of delight.
Let those who sow in sadness wait
Till the fair harvest come;
They shall confess their sheaves are great,
And shout the blessings home.
Lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3. 13.
Doth sin present itself? Turn away from it with loathing and prayer. Give it not a look, lest it ensnare thee. If thou committest sin, and diest without repentance, thy soul is lost, and thy redemption ceased for ever; or if thou committest sin, and dost repent, yet expect chidings of God's face, and breaking of bones, as David felt to his cost. Oh! what bitter pangs, what painful throes, what shadows of death, what terrors of hell, may seize upon thee before thou canst make thy peace, or settle thine assurance! Wilt thou give way to sin because it is delightful, or because it is pardonable? Who loves poison because it is sweet; or drinks poison because he may have an antidote, seeing it will work to his trouble if it work not out his life? I have a precious soul; shall I lose it for lust? I have a gracious God: shall I venture him for sin? No, Lord, give me grace to resist sin, give me victory over it. Let me always reject that, for the indulgence of which I am sure to lose my peace, and endanger the loss of my immortal soul.
A tender conscience give me, Lord,
And put thy fear within;
That I may tremble at thy word,
And 'scape the snares of sin.
This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life. 1 John 5. 6, 10-12.
Jesus came with water and blood; not with water alone, to sanctify us, but also with his blood, to make atonement for our sins. We should therefore, first of all, penitently seek and obtain remission of sins in his blood, then we may hope to obtain the water of life, the Holy Ghost for our inward purification and sanctification. And his Holy Spirit will bear witness within us, that the gospel is truth, and that God will fulfil his word, by giving us everlasting life, as he hath promised. We have three witnesses of it in heaven, and three on earth. And if we believe in Christ, we have this true testimony in oursleves; and may therefore assuredly know, that having the Son of God, we may have life, eternal life; for he is, according to verse 20, "eternal life;" and consequently, being in him, we are already entered into everlasting life.
Let all our tongues be one,
To praise our God on high,
Who from his bosom sent his Son
To fetch us strangers nigh.
My Saviour's pierced side
Pour'd out a double flood;
By water we are purified,
And pardon'd by the blood.
It cost him cries and tears
To bring us near to God;
Great was our debt, and he appears
To make the payment good.
And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. John 3. 13.
No mere man whatsoever has entered, or can enter, into the secrets of God's heart in heaven, relating to the great mysteries of salvation, so as immediately and perfectly to understand them, and make them known to others; but the privilege is perculiar to the Messiah, who is spoken of under the character of "the Son of man." Psalm 80.17, and Daniel 7. 13, and always had an existence in heaven as the Son of God, and who came from thence into an incarnate state, that he might reveal God's counsels to men. As many are perplexed about the Divinity of Christ, the following may help them to conceive of that matter more properly: As the Divine and human natures of Christ were united in the person of Christ, some things are attributed to one nature which properly belonged to the other. Thus when it is said,
1 Corinthians 2. 8, the Lord of glory was crucified; and, Acts 20. 28, he is called God, who purchased the church with his own blood; the meaning is not that he, as the Lord of glory, was crucified; or, as God, shed his blood - as if the divine nature could be crucified and bleed; but that the person, who was the Lord of glory in one nature, was crucified in the other, etc. So, when it is said, "The Son of man is in heaven;" the meaning is not, that he, as the Son of man, was there also whilst he was on earth; but that he, who was here in his human nature, was there in his Divine.
My Saviour, whilst he dwelt on earth,,
As God in heaven had his abode;
So let me, by an heavenly birth,
Live in the world, yet dwell with God.
I will perform my good word toward you. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then ye shall pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you and ye shall seek me, and find me; I will turn away your captivity. Jeremiah 29. 10-14. For the word of the Lord is right. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. Psalm 33. 4, 9.
Were it so light a matter to rely on the faithfulness of God in times of distress, what need to give us so many and various promises? If our faith be right, we must also endure, and wait his time with patience, which is certainly not an easy task; since the promise of the Lord not only tarries very often, but sometimes his providence goes contrary to his word, and makes his word seem to fall to the ground; yet then we must remember that these are the very ways and methods of God, which have ever been in the deep, and acted contrary to our expectation. This the corruption of our natures requires; and the wisdom of God ever chooses, first to help us inwardly, by exercising faith, and patience, and so prepares us for a right use of his outward favours. Thus we receive a double blessing at once from his hands.
Who shall pretend to teach him skill,
Or guide the counsels of his will?
His wisdom, like a sea divine,
Flows deep and high beyond our line.
Behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. Hosea 2. 14. Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages. Canticles 7. 11.
O Lord, this world is nothing to me but a wilderness, a place of tribulation, where, being tossed to and fro, I enjoy no rest; but when I lift up my heart, and look for peace in thee I am supported and comforted. Grant that I may thus be strengthened for the time to come, whenever I am at a loss what course to take. Let me always firmly believe thee to be a present help in trouble, who art able and willing to bear me up under all outward distresses, till I shall safely arrive at the rest of the people of God.
Lord, what a wretched land is this,
That yields us no supply;
No cheering fruits, no wholesome trees,
Nor streams of living joy!
Bur prickling thorns through all the ground
And mortal poisons grow;
And all the rivers that are found
With dang'rous waters flow.
Yet the dear path to thine abode
Lies through this horrid land;
Lord, we would keep thy heav'nly read,
And run at thy command.
Our souls would tread the desert through
With indiverted feet;
And faith and flaming zeal subdue
The terrors that we meet.
When ye pray, say, Our Father, etc. Luke 9. 2. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss. James 4. 3. The Lord of hosts is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working. Isaiah 28. 20.
Many say the Lord's prayer who do not pray it; they "Our Father;" but if he be their Father, where is his honour? They say "Which art in heaven;" but did they believe it, how durst they sin as they do upon earth? They say, "Hallowed be thy name;" yet take God's name in vain. They say "Thy kingdom come;" yet oppose the coming of his kingdom. They say, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven;" yet they will not stand on their words, for this is the will of God, their sanctification; but they want none of that. They say, "Give us this day our daily bread;" yet mind not feeding their souls with "the bread (Christ Jesus) which came down from heaven." They say, "Forgive us as we forgive others;" but, alas! if God should take them at their word, how undone were they whose hearts burn with malice and revenge! They say, "Lead us not into temptation;" yet run into it, and tempt Satan himself to tempt them. They say, "Deliver us from evil;" and yet deliver themselves to evil, and give up themselves to "fulfil the lust of the flesh," etc. Yea, it hath been observed, that they sin most against this prayer, who stickle most for the saying of it. Reader, how often hast thou been guilty of such vain petitions and repetitions! Wonder not, if thou prayest in such a manner as this, that thou receivest nothing. Labour to get a deep sense of the majesty of God, and his mercy, upon thy mind, that thy prayers may be fervent and earnest; and God will bless thee.
Assist and teach me how to pray,
Incline my nature to obey;
What thou abhorrest let me flee
And only love what pleases thee.
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and forever. Hebrews 13. 8. Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righeousness, and sanctification; that, as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 1. 30, 31. To finish the utransgression, to make reconciliation for iniquity and to bring in everlasting righteousness. Daniel 9. 24. In the Lord have I righteousness and strength. Isaiah 45. 24.
In ourselves we find nothing but misery; in Christ all that is good; nay, he is himself our All; he works and gives what is necessary to salvation, therefore, we cannot, we need not, bring anything to him of our own; but since he is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and our All, we may and must rely on his name, and draw everything from him by the continual prayer of faith. And when by living faith in Christ he becomes our All, the law, sin, Satan, and even our own judgments, have lost their power and right of condemnation over us.
Jehovah speaks, let Israel hear,
Let all the earth rejoice and fear,
While God's eternal Son proclaims
His sovereing honours and his names.
I am the last, and I the first,
The Saviour God, and God the just;
There's none beside pretends to show
Such justice and salvation too.
In me alone shall men confess
Lies all their strength and righteousness;
But such as dare despise my name,
I'll clothe them with eternal shame.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 1 John 4. 11.
I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you: that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5. 44, 45.
Hypocrites may counterfeit the children of God in many things, but they cannot love their enemies from their hearts; and yet by this we must try and know ourselves, whether we are really the children of God or not. The world very easily; but falsely, suppose themselves to be God's children; but sincere Christians find it often very hard to beieve it, without a Divine sense and assurance of it; it costs them many a sore conflict; for if Satan disputeth the Sonship of Christ, much less will he spare any of us. But since a true love to the children of God, and to our enemies, is sure evidence of our state of grace, we have our title clear to it, though we should walk in darkness, and be destitute of all pleasant sensations.
Now by the bowels of my God,
His sharp distress, his sore complaints;
By his last groans, his dying blood,
I charge my soul to love the saints.
Clamour and wrath and war begone;
Envy and spite for ever cease;
Let bitter words no more be known
Among the saints, the sons of peace.
Tender and kind be all our thoughts,
Through all our lives let mercy run;
So God forgives out num'rous faults,
For the dear sake of Christ his Son.
And he said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. 1 Kings 18. 43.
Six times Elijah's servant looked toward the sea before he could see anything: the seveneth time he saw a cloud, but no bigger than his hand: yet that cloud, within a few hours, covered the heaven with darkness, and the earth with rain. Just so may be the case with many a one, when he is praying to his God, as Caleb's daughter did unto her father. Judges 1.15. Thou hast hitherto made me the owner of a dry, a barren heart; but give me now some springs of water, some feeling, at least, some sorrow for my sins. Well, though at six times bending of thy knees God doth not grant it, and though at the seventh there appears but one small drop swimming in thine eyes, yet be not discomforted; that drop may prove a shower, the beginning of that thaw may at last dissolve the whole heart to water; and as there is a full joy for the thorough conversion of a sinner, there may be a suitable measure of joy for one tear, for one desire of a tear, of any one sinner that repenteth.
If six or sixty prayers are past,
Pray on and never faint;
A blessing surely comes at last,
To cheer a drooping saint.
Ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land. But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell. Numbers 33. 52, 55. See this fulfilled, Judges 1. 27. Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean, etc., and the Canaanites would dwell in that land; so that they (the Israelites) could no longer stand before their enemies. Chap. 2. 14.
The very same is to be observed in the holy and spiritual battles of the Lord. He that fights only against outward sins, but very little, if at all acquainted with the dangerous enemies in his heart, or the deep corruption of original sin; and so, the tempter may easily gain an advantage over him. Experienced Christians guard more against the inward assaults of wickedness; they are at peace with no sin, but keep up a constant war with all their most subtle and darling lusts. However, though the Canaanites, our inbred foes, must be conquered, they will dwell in the land, and cannot be wholly thrust out of the bosom, which makes the Christian warfare continue till death. Yet give me grace, O Lord, never to spare my sinful lusts and tempers, but to look to destroy them without delay, as soon as they begin to move or stir that I may not be destroyed by them.
O Prince of Peace, forgive my guilt,
Though more than I can tell;
And from the pow'r of sin release,
And from the hosts of hell.
Furnish me, Lord, with heavenly arms,
From grace's magazine;
And I'll proclaim eternal war
With every darling sin.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Genesis 1. 1, 2. We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus (Note) unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2. 10.
Therefore, before we can really grow in holiness, we must be born again. How is it possible for a man to grow in sanctification without a real change being first wrought in his heart? It is the Spirit's way first to strip us of our own righteousness and strength, to show us our nakedness and nothingness, to fill us with godly sorrow for sin, and then lead us to Jesus for pardon, sanctification, and justification. Christ being the Vine, we must first be planted by him, and draw nourishment and strength from him by faith. Then it is fulfilled, "they shall feed and lie down" on his pasture, "and none shall make them afraid," Zepheniah 3. 13. Then we shall be able to bring forth good fruits, and to obtain victories; for it is God himself that thus makes us perfect in every good work and prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies.
Mighty Redeemer, set me free,
From my old state of sin;
Oh make my soul alive to thee,
Create new powers within.
In the Lord have I righteousness and strength. Isaiah 45. 24; 2 Corinthians 2. 14; 5. 19.
Justification through faith in Christ, at first, is a very dark doctrine, hard to be understood; but afterwards we find by experience, that it would be impossible to be saved in any other way, and that nothing can be surer than this, though all mankind should turn away from it. And when we are made to see that our best performances are unclean in the sight of God, and could not be accepted without the covering of Christ's righteousness, then we are brought to submit entirely to Christ, and at last to look upon ourselves wholly justified through him, which alone produceth rest, strength, and a gentle spirit, the true image of Christ.
In vain do we hope to procure this rest by any reasonings or strong resolutions of our own; for if we are sometimes able to master our affections by our own strength, this is yet a building of our own, and keeps us from earnest wrestling in prayer. We have now a form of godliness without its power, and are still deceiving our own souls; for nothing can be pleasing in the sight of God, and profit us in the last day, but what he works himself. Away, therefore, with all these doings of our own. Let us acknowledge the weakness and nothingness of our strength, and apply in our poor, blind, naked, lost, and miserable condition, to the blood and righteousness of Christ; then we shall also find power and dominion over sin. Isaiah 33. 24.
Sinners should hear the sound,
Their thankful tongues shall own
Our righteousness and strength is found
In thee, the Lord, alone.
In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. Psalm 86. 7. -- God's Answer: Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. Isaiah 58. 9. The Lord is rich unto all who call upon him; and it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved -- (this , to the comfort of the weak, is several times repeated in Scripture) Joel 2. 32; Acts 2. 21; Romans 10. 12, 13. -- The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. Psalm 34. 17. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him. Psalm 145. 18. The prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5. 16.
The Twenty First of June.
O glorious promise! how can God deny me anything now that I pray for? He has passed his word for it; his Son has purchased it; the Holy Spirit inspires the prayer; the word holds it forth; and the prayer of faith lays hold of it, and actually receives it.Prayer is the mouth of faith. If thou wilt have much, "open thy mouth wide, and it shall be filled." Who, then, should not be stirred up to pray much? Oh, what foolishness is this, that we have nothing, but may obtain all from God, and yet are so loath to pray much, and pray right!
God knows the pain his servants feel,
He hears his children cry;
And their best wishes fulfil,
His grace is ever nigh.
Swear not at all. Matthew 5. 34.
Swear not by the creatures: that in effect is swearing by the their maker. Neither swear by the Maker, unless called to it by authority forthe putting an end to strife: swear not falsely, that is, calling the God of truth to witness a lie: Swearnot needlessly or rashly, as Saul did. 1 Samuel 14. 39. Such oaths or vows are ensnaring; better broken than kept; but best not made at all. Swear not idle, common oaths, such as O Christ! O God! faith and troth! by my soul, as i live! God bless me!. If we must give account of every idle word, much more for every idle oath, and most of all for horrible cursing and blasphemy that profane God's name, and is the very language of hell. He that is guilty of perjury, not only is destroying his own soul, but is seeking to ruin his neighbour, by perverting justice and robbing the innocent of his right. Yes, sometimes God takes a false-swearer and self-curser at his word, and strikes him dead on the spot. Lord, help the guilty to repent of their sin, and help all to watch and pray against it.
From false and rash and idle oaths
Defend my tongue, O Lord;
Let salt of grace hang on my lips,
To season every word.
Dealy beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written. Vengeance is mine, I will repay; saith the Lord. Romans 12. 10.
The Twenty Third of June.
Judge ye, then, my brethren, would it be wise to snatch the rod out of the all-powerful hand of God, to take it into our own, even were it in our power to do it. We are taught by the holy prphet not to avenge ourselves, it being daring presumption to usurp God's province, and to step into his throne. He that chastiseth the nations, shall he not correct? Might may overcome right for a time, to try God's children: but whether that is done with close hand, so as not to be discovered; or with a high hand, so as not to be controlled; God will, in his due time, show himself, and assert his right of vengeance against all that would take it from him. It is, therefore, our wisdom to call to mind our blessed Lord's silence, when he suffered, and copy after it, committing ourselves to him that judgeth righteously.
Grace dwells with justice on the throne,
And men that love thy word
Have in thy sanctuary known
The counsels of the Lord.
When God, in his own sovereign ways,
Come down to save th' opprest,
The wrath of man shall work his praise,
And he'l refrain the rest.
If any man be in Christ, he is new creature. 2 Corinthains 5. 17.
Let no man be discouraged from coming to Christ, because he finds not in himself that godly sorrow for sin, that ability to repent, that disposition of heart, which he desires to have: we must first be in Christ before we are new creatures. This is a common fault among us; we fain would have something before we come; we think God's pardons are not free, but we must bring something in our hand; whereas the proclamation runs thus: "Buy without money:" that is, come without any excellency at all, because we are commanded to "come, and take the water of life freely." Therefore do not say, I have a fretful disposition, and a hard heart, and cannot mourn for sin as I should, therefore, I will stay till that be done. It is all one as if you should say, I must go to the physician, but will have my wounds well, and my disease healed first. The end of going to Christ is, that this very hardness of heart may be taken away; that this very deadness of thy spirit may be removed; that thou mayest hate sin, for he is thy Physician. Look not for sanctification, nor for genuine fruits of righteousness, till thy soul is united unto Chrsit by a living faith; for it is a faith that purifies the heart, and works (that is, produces good works) by love. Thou must first be in Christ, grafted into Christ by faith, before thou canst be a new creature.
Lord, graft me in thyself, the Vine,
And feed me from thy root;
So shall I in thine image shine
And bear much heavenly fruit.
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 1 Corinthians 6. 12.
The Twenty Fifth of June.
Many that are well affected to religion, and receive instructions of piety with pleasure and satisfaction, often wonder how it comes to pass that they make no greater progress in that religion which they so much admire. Now, the reason of it is, because religion lives only in their head, while something else has possession of their heart; and therefore they continue from year to year mere admirers and praisers of piety, without coming up to the reality and perfection of its precepts. If it be asked why religion does not get possesssion of their hearts, the reason is, not because they live in gross sins or debaucheries, for their regard to religion preserves them from such disorders; but because their hearts are constantly employed, perverted, and kept in a bad state, by the wrong use of such things as are lawful to be used; for our souls may receive very great hurt merely by the abuse of innocent and lawful things. What is more innocent than rest and retirement? and yet what is more dangerous than sloth and idleness? What is more lawful than eating and drinking? and yet what more destructive of virtue than sensuality and inndulgence? How lawful and praiseworthy is the care of the family? and yet what so prejudicial as an anxious, worldly temper? Reader, follow the apostle, and beware of lawful things; keep thy heart free from the power of them.
O Lord, direct me in the use
Of things that lawful are;
For lawful things may have abuse,
And prove a fatal snare.
There are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 1 Corinthians 12. 6.
Some believers are remarkable for the strength in their faith in trials; others for livliness and activity in duty; others for wisdom, conduct and prudence, in temporals and spirituals; others for their zeal in defence of the truth; others for knowledge in the mysteries of truth; others for meekness and patience; others for outward usefulness; and some for an inward and spiritual life of communion with God. But all these are various gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit; dividing severally to every man as he will, and are given to profit withal, according to his place in the church or in the world. My fellow Christians, let us hence learn a lesson of forbearance to our brethren. It is not right to judge another by thine own pattern. Art thou a warm and active Christian? Condemn not him whose endowments may be more placid and contemplative than thine. He who now creeps as a snail in humble silence, may, by one of Divine power, be raised higher than thou art. The same may be said of other differences among the followers of jesus; let us then no longer envey on another, or indulge a rash and censorious spirit; but rather covet earnestly the best gifts of meekness and love, and, by the help of Divine grace, faithfully improve the talent committed to our trust, that each of us may receive that heart-reviving word, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
There is a voice of sov'reign grace
Sounds from the sacred word;
Ho! ye despairing sinners, come,
And trust upon the Lord.
My soul obeys th' Almighty call,
And runs to this relief;
I would believe thy promise, Lord,
Oh help my unbelief.
Stretch out thine arm, victorious King,
My reigning sins subdue;
Drive the old dragon from his seat,
And form my soul anew.
A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On thy kind arms I fall;
Be thou my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus and my all.
Every good and every perfect gift is from above. James 1. 17.
Reader, it is a point of greatest importance for thee to know that every evil thing is of thyself, and every good thing of God; without faith we cannot be saved: but, saith St. Paul, Ephesians 2. 8., "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." We are called upon to repent; but in Acts 5. 31, we read that Christ is exalted at the Father's right hand, to be a "Prince and Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel." We must be born again; but regeneration is wholly of God's will: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1. 13. Saving knowledge is likewise the gift of God: "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 13. 1. Effectual calling is also of God's grace, 2 Timothy 1. 9. Justification is of God's grace; we are justified freely. Adoption is also an act of grace; he vouchsafes that high privilege, not in common to all, but only to so many as he pleaseth. Perseverance in duty is also God's gift; for we "are kept by the power of God unto salvation." Eternal life is also a gift; for "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ." A right knowledge of these things, reader, will keep thee humble and dependant upon God; and not only dispose thee to give him the glory of his grace, but to seek him diligently for it.
The Twenty Seventh of June.
Whate'er I have, or may possess,
It flows from God above;
Come from his bounty and grace,
And undeserved love.
We would see Jesus. Search the Scripture; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me. John 12. 21; 5. 39.
It is remarkable that the wise men, travelling to find Christ, followed only the star; and, as long as they had that in view, were assured that they were in the right way, and we may believe had great pleasure in their journey; but when they entered Jerusalem (whereas the star led them not thither, but to Bethlehem), and there would be instructed where Christ was born, they were not only ignorant of the place where, but also lost sight of the star that should guide them thither. Whereby we are taught this useful lesson, that when we are going to learn Christ, and seek Christ, who is above, to beware we lose not the star of God's word, which is the only mark that shows us where Christ is, and which way we may come to him: to which may be added, that if with David we make the word of God "a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our paths," we shall not be led aside by every false fire that presents itself before us; but, by keeping close to the word of God, we shall be brought to a knowledge of Christ here, and the full enjoyment of him hereafter. Reader, this little book is only designed to lead thee to "search the Scriptures," which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ.
Eternal life God's word imparts,
Whereon each fainting spirit lives;
Here sweeter comforts cheer our hearts
Than all the round of nature gives.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. Let not filthiness be once named among you, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient. Ephesians 4. 29, 30; 5. 4.
Idle words are hurtful words; they grieve the Holy Spirit, destroy what power has been obtained by prayer, and cause nothing but levity and distraction of mind. Let this be a caution against talking too much; for if it does not tend to the glory of God, it is nothing but corrupt communication. May all Christians take heed to refrain their tongues, and never speak unadvisedly; but always consider first whether their words can be profitable to others, and acceptable to God in heaven. O Lord, teach me by thy wisdom to keep my mouth as it were with a bridle, and to weigh all my words like gold. Let my heart and lips be moved and governed by the Holy Spirit, that both my silence and talking may be according to thy will and direction. Grant that I may always chiefly converse with thee in prayer and thanksgiving for the good of my own soul and others; and whenever I am to open my lips in due time, let my words be seasoned and blessed as to administer grace to the hearers.
The Twenty Ninth of June.
So let our lips and lives express
The holy gospel we profess;
So let our words and virtues shine,
To prove the doctrine all Divine.
And he dreamed, and behold a ladder is set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. Genesis 28. 12.
This ladder the Lord Jesus applies to himself, John 1. 51.; and it may be considered as representing the Divine Providence which governs all things. The several steps of the ladder are the motions and actions of Providence; the angels going up and down show that they are the great ministers of Providence, never idle, but always employed in the preservation of the just; their ascending means that their going up to recieve the Divine orders and commands; and their descending, their coming down to earth to put them into execution. So that, in this representation, God signified Jacob, now full of care and uneasy apprehensions, that the man who was under the custody and protection of Divine Providence wanted not company in a wilderness, wanted no security in the midst of dangers, wanted not direction in the most difficult of undertakings; since there were so many ministering spirits holding correspondence between earth and heaven, and daily and hourly sent forth from God's presence "to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation."
Thou, Jesus, my safe ladder art;
To lift me to the skies;
And on it when I find I'm got,
My heart begins to rise.