Imatges de pÓgina

forth with shoutings of grace, grace unto it. 87

It shall be acknowledged that grace began, grace carried on, and grace completed the work of salvation, that to the God of all grace the glory may be ascribed for evermore. What encourageinent may we sinners derive from the consideration of the Lord our God being pleased to take to Himself the title of the God of all grace. It may encourage us to put our trust in Him at all times, to pour out our hearts before Him, to make Him our refuge; and we may be assured in consequence of it, that He will withhold no good thing from us, but will give us grace and glory, when we seek these blessings from Him, to the praise of His holy name. This title is given by the apostle to the Lord God, particularly in reference to the state of the children of God in this world; which is described as a state of suffering. This is to be noticed, in the

Second place: After that ye have suffered awhile. The life of man in this world may be termed a life of suffering, when we consider the evils to which we are all of us continually exposed, the diseases to which we are liable, the pains of body and mind to which we are subject. But the child of God is peculiarly a sufferer in this world, in consequence of having renounced the dominion of his spiritual enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil, which are therefore opposed to him.

Our Saviour, on this account, warned

His disciples, In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.88 The world that lieth in wickedness89 is opposed to the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. They think it strange that he runs not with them to the same excess of riot, as that in which they indulge themselves, and therefore speak evil of him.90 But the more sober part of the world is opposed to the true Christian, as well as the licentious and profane. They are offended because he cannot with them serve both God and mammon, the two opposite masters, whose service they vainly endeavour to reconcile. The self-righteous formalist and the licentious sensualist unite together in opposition to the humble believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. This our Saviour taught His disciples to expect, when He said to them, If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it

If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. And He further declared to them, If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you ; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also ; but all these things will they do unto you for My name's sake, because they know not Him that sent Me.88 To this persecution the first Christians were eminently exposed. The history of the Acts of the Apostles of Christ shows the sufferings which they endured, wherever they carried the message of pardon and peace with God; and those which their followers, who received the truths of the gospel of Christ, met with from both Jews and Gentiles. Notwithstanding, this blessed gospel, in due time, triumphed over all the opposition which it encountered ; and became, as to its outward profession, the religion of the Roman empire.

hated you.

88 John xvi. 33; xv. 18–21. 89 1John v.19.

90 1 Peter iv. 4.

The true Christian suffers in this world, however, not only from the persecution of the open enemies of the gospel of Christ, but from its false professors; who, while they profess to know God, in works deny Him.91 He also suffers from his indwelling foe, the corruption of his own nature, the flesh, with its affections and lusts, 92 which he is commanded to mortify and crucify. These war against his soul, and cause him to exclaim, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death.93 He suffers likewise from the fiery darts, the evil suggestions, and the deceitful temptations and devices of the devil. And as long as he is in the body, he is continually liable to be assaulted in one way or other by these enemies of his peace.

He must not expect to be freed from them while he is here on earth. He is a sufferer in some respect or other all the days of his life. He may expect suffering to follow him, as surely as in the ocean wave follows wave, till he reaches the shore, or the haven of eternal rest. But the text shows us,

91 Titus i. 16.

92 Galatians v. 24.

93 Romans vii. 24.

Thirdly, The object proposed by the dealings of God in His providence towards His people, by permitting them to suffer affliction; and that is, that He may make them perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle them. This relates to the character which they are to sustain in this world as the followers of Christ. And it is by means of the sufferings which they endure that this end is accomplished. The word rendered make perfect, is said to relate to the setting of a disjointed limb, or a broken bone; and is used in describing the occupation of the disciples of Christ in mending their nets.94 It may thus be applied to the healing of the broken hearted, and the binding up of their wounds. When the sinner is humbled before God, under a conviction of sin wrought in the conscience by the Spirit of God, he prays earnestly for pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace to be vouchsafed to his soul, that he may enjoy a sense of the Divine favour, being reconciled to God and at peace with Him. These blessings the God of all grace is ever ready to bestow upon His waiting people, that they may experience the joys of His salvation,

94 Matthew iv. 21.

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and consolations which are not to be derived from any other source; and may thus partake of union and communion with Him. To be made perfect then is to be restored to the enjoyment of spiritual health, in communion and fellowship with the Father and the Son, through the influence of the Holy Ghost. Let us seek for this happiness, that we may go on our way rejoicing in His holy name. His word declares, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee.95 This is Christian perfection, to have the conscience at peace with God, through a reliance on the peace-speaking blood of Jesus Christ. Those who are thus at peace with God, walk humbly with Him and circumspectly before Him. They draw near to Him with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having their hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and their bodies washed with pure water 196 being washed and sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.97 Let us seek to enjoy this perfection of peace and happiness, to the glory of God and the salvation of our souls.

The next thing mentioned as an end to be answered is, being established, --stablish you. This is generally used in reference to the faith of the gospel. Our apostle so applies it, when

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95 Isaiah xxvi. 3.

96 Heb. x. 22.

97 1 Cor. vi. 11.

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