« AnteriorContinua »
rise in his mind to so great horror, that he does not know which way to turn himself; for, thinks he, how shall I obtain grace of God, whom in my thoughts I blaspheme, and unto whom I am unable to address a prayer of faith'; and what is not of faith is sin, (Rom. 14: 23,) and he that asketh doubting, receiveth nothing. James 1:6, 7. Here the combat rages, here the soul is oppressed with the slavery and bondage of Pharaoh or the devil; Christ now is willing to release the soul and bring it into the land of promise, but before this can be accomplished, our nature has to be afflicted by the rod of Moses with many sufferings in the land of Egypt, till at length our innate and sinful propensities be exterminated by the hand of the destroying angel, and our souls be preserved by the blood of the Lamb, which produces reconciliation. Then the soul takes her departure and enters with gladness upon the happy journey towards the land of promise. But in a short time she reaches the wilderness, and soon after arrives at the Red Sea of redemption, in which she shall be released from her primitive bondage; through this sea she must now pass, but is not yet able to discover any possible way, because the mysteries of God are not yet revealed. And now there occur new proofs, new temptations, new anguish and new trials, in order to test our weak faith; for Satan menaces the soul with utter destruction, and
this causes her to cry the more earnestly unto God and long for his assistance, who at last opens unto her the way of faith through the atoning blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in which the soul finds a heretofore incredible deliverance from all the temptations by which she had been held in bondage; nor can she refrain from blessing and praising God, for she sees now that the yoke of her burden, the staff of her shoulder and the rod of her oppressor are broken; she joys according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. Isaiah 9. Yea, at this time she can by no means believe that she shall soon find bitter water, new temptations and a want of consolation; all which, notwithstanding, will have to be encountered; nay, a spiritual warfare will have to be maintained against the world, the flesh and the devil, which must all be subdued by faith; and an entrance thus made into the land of promise; Jericho must be destroyed and the Canaanites slain; the inhabitants of the land, who are proscribed by the Lord, must be rooted out, extirpated and made tributary; that is, all our carnal lust and sinful impurity must be utterly destroyed and brought in subjection to the spirit, that at length Jerusalem, the city of peace, may be built up within us, the sanctuary and temple be consecrated by the peaceable Solomon, Christ Jesus, and thus we
that we may
become the temple of the Holy Ghost, wherein God may move and dwell. 2 Cor. 6.
These are the means by which God strips, divests and humiliates us,
stand before him comfortless, void of counsel and destitute of help, and in this humility of spirit may exclaim with Saul and say, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? or with those on the day of Pentecost, What shall we do, that we may be saved ? Acts 2.
Acts 2. All the destitute and poor in spirit, who have despaired of their own strength and former services, who have sought counsel from the Lord alone, and become desirous of living according to his will, have attained the kingdom of heaven. Wherefore Christ
ye that labor and, are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Matt. 11:28, 29. .
A person thus poor in spirit, discovers salvation in no other name but the name of Jesus; for which reason he approaches him with all his burden, desiring grace, not only to become happy, but grace to bear his yoke, and follow him wherever he goeth. For he looks now unto Christ, and desires medicine of him, in order to be cured of his sickness, like the woman who had the issue of blood. Matthew 9. Mark 5. Hence he will soon
hear, Thy faith hath made thee whole; be it unto thee as thou wilt. Reader, I wish thee to mark, that herein thou canst perceive, that real humility of spirit constitutes the entrance to the gospel; for what poverty did not Christ undergo for our example! and what humiliations and temptations did he not sustain in the wilderness, after the baptism of repentance, before he entered upon his ministry! For though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 2. Cor. 9. Yea, by reason of the poverty and temptations which he suffered, he is become compassionate towards our weakness, and a faithful high priest to make reconciliation for the sins of the people, Heb. 2: 17. Chap. 4: '15. Therefore Christ commenced his sermon on the mount in these words, “ Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven;" for he was well aware that the Jews were rich in themselves; because they considered themselves the children of Abraham, and placed their reliance in the law, seeking to attain that righteousness by the works of the law, which is attained by faith alone. Rom. 9. Hence he signified to them, that it is only upon the poor in spirit that he bestows his kingdom; that he is come to seek those only who feel in themselves that they are lost, to heal none but the sick, (Matt. 9: 12. Luke 5: 31, 32.)
to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison door to them that are bound; as is plainly shown us in the gospel. Luke 4:18, 19. Isaiah 61:1.
Now, Christ has exhibited in his sermon eight different blessings to serve as a mirror, in which we professing christians may see whether we have become partakers of the same, and having' passed by saving grace through these grades of blessings, are born peaceable children of God. For these blessings must succeed one another and be wrought up in us anto a true life of faith in God, through Christ Jesus, that we may, in truth, be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Christ says,
first: 1. Blessed are the poor in spirit ; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Verse 3.
O glorious promise! But can so poor a creature believe this? Nay, almost any thing better than this; for he considers himself entirely too poor and unworthy; he smites his breast much more and prays, God be merciful unto me a sinner, (Luke 18: 13,) or says with the lost son, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants. Luke 15. From this humility of spirit, and lowliness of heart, proceeds the second blessing: