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THE ILLLUSTRATING MIRROR.
This chapter comprises first, an elucidation or exposition of the
eight different blessings, as far as the 20th verse, wherein is clearly set forth the manner in which a man is led by grace from a state of humility, step by step, till he becomes a child of God, the light of the world, and the salt of the earth. 2. Six fundamental articles of proof. 3. A serious address to the reader's conscience.' 4. A fundamental representation of Christ, and warning to awakened and converted sinners, as also an exhortation to steadfastness, for the consolation of their troubled souls. 5. An illustration of the manner in which Christ fulfilled the law for us.
I. The Lord Jesus says, Matthew 5: " Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
This is the state of mind with which a person must be made acquainted, before he is meet for the kingdom of God, or fit for the gospel of Christ ; for the kingdom of God must be manifested in us through grace; and before it is manifested in us and received by us, the kingdom of Satan must be destroyed, the
strong man must be divested of his armor and deprived of his spoil; we must be stripped of all our self-imagined and false righteousness, which, out of self-love and self-complacency, we lay claim to by reason of our own good works; our self-will, self-love and self-sufficiency must be done away; all the weapons of self-efficacy must be destroyed; for as long as we retain these things in possession, we are not poor in spirit; we are yet rich in ourselves, and unconscious that we are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, (Rev. 3:17); and in this wretched condition we rest satisfied; for self-love, like a subtle and luciferian serpent, has so blinded us, that we do not perceive the clear light of the gospel reflected from the brightness of Christ; and therefore Jesus calls upon and counsels us to purchase of him gold tried in the fire. For all which we do not receive from him, is but earth and dross, nay, a futile and damnable vanity, for which a man should have a just abhorrence; nay, he should abandon his selfish principles, forsake his imaginary riches, and cast away his false righteousness, which is but a filthy and unclean rag, (Isaiah 60:6,) and go to Christ, his faithful counsellor, and obtain from him the gold of precious faith, refined in the fire of grace, and, by virtue of the same faith, put on the pure and white robe of righteousness, applying to his heart the eye-salve of the Holy Spirit, that
he may have a light constantly shining on his path, whereby he may be enabled to walk and watch, and keep his garments, lest he walk naked.
For as much as it is evident, that man is by nature sinful, impure, blind and ignorant in spiritual things, and estranged from the life that cometh from God, Christ hath appeared as the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world (John 1); which light is continually striving, in order to convince men and open their eyes to a sense of their miserable condition, that they may be made partakers of eternal felicity. But if a man persists in shutting the door of his heart, and hardens himself in sins, loving them more than his own soul, or him who created heaven and earth and all that is therein; if he walks according to the will of the flesh and the light of reason; if he will not receive the love of the truth, that he may be saved : then God at length sends him strong delusions, that he shall believe a lie; that all may be damned who believe not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thess. 2:11, 12.
But when, on the contrary, a man opens his heart to the reception of this saving grace, and permits the light of Christ to shine in upon his soul; then the land of darkness and gloom will be illuminated, according to the saying of the prophet: “ The people that
walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Thou hast multiplied the nation and not increased the joy; they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil
. For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. Is. 9.
Now, my dear friend, awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light, (Eph. 5: 14); and when he illuminates the dark recesses of thy heart, and discovers unto thee the perverseness of thy way while sitting in the shadow of death, and begins to guide thy feet in the path of peace, (Luke 17:9, then wilt thou shudder at thyself and perceive, through the medium of this light, the enormity of thy guilt; yea, thou wilt be convinced that thy evil passions raged like a tempestuous sea, and that out of thy heart proceeded evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness, and the like evil things, which have defiled thee. Mark 7:21, 22. Here, my reader, thou art led to a discovery of the sinful nature of thy former life; which circumstance does not excite thy joy, but produces a far greater sorrow and anguish of heart before the Lord; for thou
seest with open eyes, that thy sins have separated thee and thy God; that in consequence of this separation, thou hast nothing to look for but death and eternal destruction, unless thou findest an atonement in the mediation of the Lord Jesus, which thy soul longeth for with anxious prayers and tears, if haply thou mightest incline him to pity, that he may speedily impart the gift of his grace. If thou dost not obtain thy request immediately, thou wilt perhaps get discouraged and think that God does not hear thy prayer ; but remember that God setteth thee, first, under the law, as a schoolmaster, who chastises thee, displays in vivid colors the terrors of damnation, and keeps thee shut out from the faith which should afterwards be revealed; for the law is our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we may be justified through faith. Gal. 3:
At the same time Satan approaches, and smiting and wounding us with his deadly and poisonous darts, endeavors to rob us of all our faith, and make us doubt, or entirely to deprive us of the grace of a compassionate Jesus, whereby we may remain a prey in his hellish grasp. And the better to effectuate this, he overwhelms such a troubled person with a flood of evil and impure thoughts, yea, oftentimes with abominable blasphemies; and this at the time of his best services, as prayer, reading and meditation; which thing gives