Imatges de pÓgina

dant encouragement bath he given us in his holy word? " If any man do his will,” saith our Lord, “ he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God.” And again, " When the Holy Spirit is come, he shall guide you into all truth.” So likewise, the prophet Hosca, " Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord, that his goiog forth is prepared as the morning :" As if he had said, The sun of righteousness shall rise higher, and shine brighter upon you, till he shine in his noon-day or meridian brightness. If then we walk with God, these gracious words must be fulfilled: For as God is light, and in him there is no darkness, it must needs follow, that while we walk with him, we shall be blest with his presence, shall walk in the light of his countenance, and his will shall be revealed to us in a clearer, and a clearer manner, not only as it respects our duty, but as it respects the accomplishment of his own designs, in the complete sanctifi. cation of our souls. He who in this instance walks with God, is continually looking unto him, that his will may be fully accomplished ; so that he may comprehend as the Apostle says, “ The length, and breadth, and depth, and height; and may know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. Hence then, we shall be made acquainted with the height and depth of that şalvation, which we are called to enjoy. And this being viewed in all its parts and branches, in the light of the Spirit of God, will appear divinely beautiful, or truly excellent; and our souls will hunger and thirst after the enjoyment of so great a good, after that which appears infinitely desirable, it being the greatest good that we are capable of enjoying in the present world, as it is every way calculated to make us holy and happy at the same time.

That it is the will of God we should walk in the light, will not admit of a doubt; and the more we consider his word, the more clearly it will appear.

“Arise," saith the Prophet," and shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” So likewise the Apostle, “We beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the saine image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."

Let then the light of God shine upon the mind, and we shall see the boundless mercy, the astonishing love, the una speakable goodness of God, as well as the exceeding riches of his grace, so fully revealed in his word, that we shall no longer entertain a shadow of doubt, but he will save us to the uttermost, stamp his own lovely image upon our souls, and make us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, How is it possible to doubt of this, if the Lord hath pleasure in the prosperity of those who fear bim? If, as he hath said, he “ will be a Father unto us," where is there a truly affec, tionate father, but would gladly make his children (were it in his power) the happiest creatures in the world? And will not our heavenly Father, who hath all power in his hand, discover thus inuch love towards his children? No doubt he will; and if so, we shall certainly experience such a measure of his grace, as shall “cleanse us from all filthiness of flesh and spirit.” How can we doubt of this, when we are told, that * It is God who worketh in us, both to will and to do, of his own good pleasure." Let then the word of God have free course, in enlightening our minds; and let the power of God be fully manifested in us, and grace shall reign through righteousness, and we shall be sanctified through, out, body, soul, and spirit.

Being thus made acquainted with the will of God, the next thing is, so to walk with him as to do it. And here it may be necessary to consider two things: First, The will of God, as ịt respects the performance of our duty, in paying a sacred regard to the holy precepts of his word; and, Secondly, As it respects our embracing the promises, which yet remain to be accomplished in us.

With respect to the former. He who walks with God, under a deep sense of his own weakness, continually looks to him for daily supplies of spiritual strength: And in as much as our Lord himself has taught him to pray,--" Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven;" we cannot doubt but that he who taught us thus to pray, certainly intended to grant what we pray for: And if so, then, as the will of God must be done in heaven, by those holy and happy spirits who inbabit there, with all possible chearfulness, so he who walks with God, expects his prayer shall be answered, and he also shall be so far assisted, that his duty shall be bis delight. We greatly dishonour God, and bring an evil report upon

relia gion, when we represent him as a hard master, and his ser, Vice so' extremely difficult. The truth is, if we walk with God, we shall have his presence with us : So the Prophet saith, “ The Lord is with you, while you are with him." And if so, then we shall be fitted for every good word and work, and we shall gird up the loins of our minds, and chearfully follow wherever the Lord leads the way. No part of our duty can be unpleasant, much less impracticable, while the Lord is our strength, which he will surely be, while we look unto him, as he hath taug'it us in his holy word. How strangely do those people dishonour God, who represent him as setting his dearest children not only an exceeding diffi

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cult, but an impossible task to perform, and by this means would have us believe, that we are under the necessity of sinning all the days of our life? But is not this utterly inconsistent with infinite Wisdom and boundless Goodness? Surely it is; as well as contrary to every part of the sacred Scriptures. There we are told, “ As thy day is, so sball thy strength be.” And again, “ Fear not, Abraham, for I am God all-sufficient; walk before me, and be thou perfect.' This being the case, we shall be so strengthened ihat our duty shall not be our burthen, but our delight.

Our duty being thus made easy, as to the preceptive part of the word of God, the next thing is our embracing his promises. Here one would suppose that we should meet with no difficulty, because these hold forth to us blessings of inesa timable value, whose nature needs only to be known in order to be infinitely desired. The promises of God, as they stand in the Bible, may be viewed with unspeakable delight, and the blessings contained in them may be exceedingly desired, and earnestly followed after i But the grand difficulty is, Our laying hold of these promises, so as that they may be fulfilled in us.

In this respect we may say," The help that is done upon earth, the Lord doth it himself:" And there. fore he who would embrace the promises, must pray with the Apostles, “Lord increase our faith ;" in as much as we know that God conveys the riches of his grace to our minds, in proportion to our faith.

It is said of the ancient saints and servants of the Lord, that, “By faith they obtained promises ;" and we must obtain them in the very same way. The blessings contained in any particular promise appear truly desirable, and as we see them to be so, we earnestly long, and heartily pray for them; the power of God is communicated, and we are enabled to lay hold upon or to embrace the promise, and the blessings contained therein are our own. This will hold equally goods, whether the promise, respects our justification, or our sanctification. There is no difference, as throughout every stage of the Christian life, the word of the

According to thy faith so be it done unto thee." If then the Lord hath said, “Then will. I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean," it must follow, that he who can by faith embrace this promise shall have the salvation which it contains, fully imparted, and he shall be made clean.

As we are called to do, so on many occasions we shall be called to suffer the will of God And he who walks with God shall find, that respecting this also, his strength shall

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be proportioned to his day. It is said, that, “Man is borli to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” And again it is said, that, “ Many are the troubles of the righteous." As then he who walks with God will undoubtedly meet with affictions of various kinds, so he will see the hand of an infinitely kind and gracious God in them, that he intends them all to work together for his good, and that therefore he designs to support bim under, and to bring him safely through them. Many are the promises which the Lord hath made, in order to comfort and encourage us in the hour of triat'; from every one of which it appears, that he would not that we should faint in the day of adversity, that we should sink in the deep waters of affliction, or that we should be overcome by our spiritual enemies. But rather, that in all these things we should conquer; yea, be more than conquerors, thro' him who hath so loved us, as to promise that he will never leave us, nor forsake us." “Our help standeth' in the name of the Lord,” saith the Psalmist, "who'made heaven and earth," It would be strange indeed, if he who walks with this all-powerful God, should be cast down or confounded. Surely this cannot be; our enemies shall find, that the God whom we serve is abundantly able to uphold, Defend, and save us. It is true, no temptation or affliction, considered in itself, can be joyous, but grierous: And it is equally true, that in our present state we must feel, yea most sensibly feel, many of those trials which the 'Lord máy permit us to pass thro'. Therefore, when we pray, that the will of God may be done by us, as it is done in heaven," we must remember, that suffering is not included in this petition ; for angels and glorified spirits have nothing to suffer. It is not to be supposed, that in the general we should suffer with that degree of cheerfulness, or that we should rejoice in afflictions, as we do in obeying the holy, precepts of the Gospel. There are trials that have a natural tendency to distress us exceedingly; and under them we ought to feel as men, as well as Christians. The loss of a dear friend, and much more the loss of a kind and affectionare husband, or of a beloved wife; may, and ought deeply to affect our minds. But still, he who walks with God, doe's not sorrow on such occasions, like those without hope; But as he well knows, that the hand of his God is in these painful dispensations of his providence, so he patiently endutes them,' looking unto Jesus for wisdom and grace, that he may be taught how to imprové, and be strengthened to endure; so shall he glorify God, tho'be is called to pass

thro the fire.


A Mictions are not to be made light of, nor temptations trified with. But sensible of our own weakness, and well knowing how little flesh and blood can bear, we ought fervently to pray, “Lead us not

• Lead us not into temptation." And should our gracious God see good to try us, then the calmest submission, the most entire resignation to his will is our duty, and divine grace shall work this in us. · There is, no doubt, what the Apostle calls, “ Glorying in tribulation.” But we cannot suppose that he means that a Christian must needs glory in whatsoever trial may bring him into tribulation. But rather, that he has chietly, if not altogether, that persecution or those particular trials in view which we may suffer for righteousness sake. As when the Apostle says, “If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify. God on this behalf.”. His meaning must be, if what we suffer on a religious ac, count, then are we honoured by our Lord and Master, to bear his cross; and therefore may rejoice with the two Apostles, that we are accounted worthy to suffer reproach for his sake.

And yet even here, a proper distinction should be made, or some tender minds may be wounded. We are not called to rejoice in this sort of trials, let them come from what quarter they will; supposing a man's foes should be those of his own household : The husband persecutes the wife, or the wife the husband: the parents the children, or the children the parents. It is impossible that such trials should be matter of glorying, to one who walks with God; but on the contrary, they ought to occasion real sorrow. Yet in and through all, we shall be supported, and all these things shall work together for our present and eternal good.

To walk with God, implies, That we live in the enjoyment of communion with him; or as the Psalmist expresses it, " That we walk in the light of his countenance." To walk with God necessarily supposes that he is present with us, that we are walking in company with him. Hence then, we are sensible of his favour, have clear views of his love towards us; and the happy fruit of this is, abiding peace and solid joy in our minds. The intercourse is open between God and our souls, and we receive fresh supplies of grace from him. He shines upon our minds, and we clearly see the way in which he calls us to walk. We see increasing beauty in religion, and are made more fully acquainted with the great: ness, and the inestimable value of spiritual and eternal things. We feel the quickning, strengthening, sanctifying power of


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