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thus seek thy acceptance with God, thou wilt never find it. Behold the way : accepted in the Beloved.” If God accept thee, it must be, it can be, only in Christ. It must be only for what Christ has done for thee, and suffered for thee; and this is what thou must humbly and firmly fix thy hope upon, if thou wouldest come to God, and be at peace. Go to thy God in prayer, and plead, 'Lord, I am guilty, but Jesus died for sin : Lord, I am unworthy, but Jesus has wrought all righteousness : set my sin to his account, and set his righteousness to my account: for Jesus' sake be merciful to me a sinner ;' thus seek thine acceptance, and thou shalt have it. For this is God's own appointed way. Look not to what thou hast done, or mayest hope to do; look to what Christ has done, and be that all thy confidence. Think not of what God sees in thyself, but think of what He sees in Christ; and be that all thy hope. God grant to every awakened heart among us here grace to lay hold on the simple hope thus set before us.
It is the only way of peace; and, never will an enlightened conscience find repose, never a man, who knows himself, find confidence with God, till he first receives this truth, and meekly claims acceptance, only“ in the Beloved."
Again, let me urge the Christian man, who has learned to look for his acceptance with God only in Christ, to watch with jealous care over his own heart, lest by any means he should be drawn away from the simplicity of gospel hope.
O how ready are our hearts to forget what we
have learned : how prone to go back, from an unmixed entire reliance on Jesus, to something of dependence on ourselves : how often the believer is tempted, especially when he marks the faults and deficiencies in his own spiritual state, to think his standing in the sight of God, and his title to the divine favour, to be measured by his own character. No, my brethren ; our standing in God's sight, for acceptance, is alone in Christ. God accepts you, as to your justification, never for what He sees in you, but only for what He sees in Christ.
It is not even what his own grace has wrought in you that is the ground of your acceptance for justification.
You are cepted in the Beloved.”
It is a great mistake to confound your justification and sanctification together. They are two things quite distinct. You have your justification in Christ. God regards you as just and righteous, not because you are so in yourselves, but because Christ is so, and He looks on you in Christ.
Your sanctification is another matter. That is God's work in you. By his Holy Spirit He cleanses your thoughts, directs your wills, purifies your hearts, conforms you to Christ, and meetens you for heaven. But this is not that in which you are justified: this is not that which causes God to look on you, and acquit you of all sin, and accept you as righteous. It never could be so: otherwise you would not be “ accepted in the Beloved ;” you would be accepted in yourselves.
It is from overlooking this that the Christian man too often loses his peace, and therefore his stability. He examines himself, and he finds sin wofully cleaving to him, even though he cannot but see that he has good proof of that work of the Holy Ghost, which marks him for a child of God, yet when he also sees how far he falls short of the holiness which he desires to maintain, then does he begin to say within himself, · How can it be that God should look with favour upon me? How can I be acceptable to Him ? While thus imperfect, thus prone to evil, and too often falling into sin, how can it be that God regards me with love and satisfaction?'
And so the mind is clouded : guilt increases on the conscience : the peace of the soul is broken : then follows weakness, and instability, and perhaps some sad fall: and all from losing sight of Jesus, and from looking at what we are in ourselves for justification, instead of looking only at Christ.
Then, Christian brethren, let this be your lesson of instruction. I beseech you keep the words of our text always in view, write them on the tables of your hearts ; recollect, at all times, your position before God is that of oneness with Christ. Weak, and worthless, and sinful as you are, God sees not this; He looks on Christ; Christ is always, and perfectly acceptable to Him, and in Him you are accepted.
God grant you to retain fast hold upon this truth. Then will you have a principle to sustain you, animate you, and make you ready to
live obediently before Him. O yes, it is not only your peace, but your holiness too, that is bound up in a consciousness of this blessed fact, that you are “accepted in the Beloved.”
EPHESIANS II. 4-6.
GOD, WHO IS RICH IN MERCY, FOR HIS GREAT LOVE WHERE
WITH HE LOVED US, EVEN WHEN WE WERE DEAD IN SINS, HATH QUICKENED US TOGETHER WITH CHRIST; (BY GRACE YE ARE SAVED,) AND HATH RAISED US UP TOGETHER, AND MADE US SIT TOGETHER IN HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST
“ He ascended into heaven"-such is one of the main articles of our Christian faith. We solemnly avow our belief in it every time that we repeat our creed. And a blessed fact it is in the esteem of every true believer, the fact of Jesus our Lord's ascension into glory, and his exaltation at the right hand of God. May the Redeemer Himself, from his throne above, pour out his Spirit upon us, even as He hath promised, and teach us to understand the things concerning Himself, and cause us to know our interest in them.
I have chosen a text for our present meditation in which we shall find much that bears, and that very strikingly, on the subject of our adorable Lord's ascension.
What is the Apostle shewing? He is shewing the great things which God has wrought for his