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willing to bear the cross, to deny myself and to do any thing for Christ: I must submit to the righteousness of God; yea, esteem it so inestimably precious, as to count all things else in comparison of it, but dung and dross; I must have my will swallowed up in the holy, sovereign will of God: I must lie passive in his hand, whilst actively engaged in his service, being ever desirous with child-like simplicity to do and suffer at all times, and in all places the will of my heavenly Father. If this be to follow the Lord fully, then, O! my soul, lie prostrate at his feet in shame and confusion of face.
God will not accept of a divided heart. To follow him fully, I must follow him only. The language of the church is : 66 Other lords besides thee have had dominion over me; but by thee only, will I make mention of thy name.” “ Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth I desire besides thee." “ The Lord is my portion, saith my soul.” O ! that this may be the language of my heart
. I can never know true peace, till Jesus reign the unrivalled Sovereign of my affections. Blessed Saviour! be thou my only Saviour. Let me not trust in any thing but thee. Let me love nothing but thee, or for thy sake. May I love thee supremely, and love all thy people, because they belong to thee.
To follow the Lord fully, I must follow him at all times; not only when the sun shines, but when the tempest lowers. This often puts faith and love to the severest trial, when the line of duty runs through rugged paths and hostile foes. Yet, if I draw back in the day of trouble, I cannot follow the Lord fully.
I must not choose my path, but“ run with patience ! the race which is set before me." I must still keep
in the narrow way, however few there be who walk in it, or however unfashionable this path may be, amongst the rich and learned of the earth; ever re
membering that the promise of eternal life is made to those only, who are found in the King's high-way of holiness. If through fear of man, or love of ease, I deviate into bye paths and crooked ways, to avoid the difficulties of the road, I shall assuredly find them multiply upon me, without one sustaining promise ; for thus saith the Lord, “ if any man draw : back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”
To follow the Lord fully, I must confess him with courage and constancy before an unbelieving world. A cowardly believer dishonours his heavenly king, and betrays the cause of truth. I say, a cowardly believer; for such was Peter when left to himself. Caleb 66 valiant for the truth." He believed in God, and dared to confess his faith and allegiance in the face of the whole congregation, when “ they bade stone him with stones," like another Stephen. Thus he experienced the blessedness of this divinedeclaration : 66 Them that honour me, I will honour."
But through the deceitfulness of sin I am in danger of falling into two extremes: vain glory, and the fear of man. Our beloved Redeemer however has given me an exact direction how to avoid both these evils. “ Take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” “Let your light so shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father which is in heaven.” By observing the first precept, I shall avoid vain glory, which is the evil forbidden. By observing the second, I shall maintain a holy courage in exhibiting the power of godliness to the glory of God, which is the duty injoined.
To follow the Lord fully, I must cleave to him in seasons of general defection. Here Caleb proved that he was a man of another spirit from those around him, by cleaving steadfastly to God. Thus
did the apostles, when on many forsaking Jesus, he said to them : And will
go away?" Peter replied, “ Lord, to whom shall we go? 'thou hast the words of eternal life.”
This entire surrender of the heart to God, is the work of the Spirit; for “a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.” Nothing short of this will bring us to glory. Nothing short of this can give true assurance, peace, and joy. never taste the real comforts of religion, till I follow the Lord fully. It is the want of this undivided state of heart, which causes so much unsteadiness in the walk, and so much uncomfortableness in the experience of many professors; who, separating what God hath joined together, maintain with warmth the high doctrines of grace, whilst they esteem of small importance the social and relative duties of the Gospel. Such persons seem to forget, that, “ to be really holy, is to be relatively holy;" and that no truth can do us any personal good, but as it influences and purifies our heart and life. What can we think of those professors, who, whilst they appear saints abroad, are fiends at home? Can it be a matter of surprise, that they should feel no real satisfaction either in religion or in the world ? They profess so much religion, as to render them the ob jects of the world's derision; and yet, they possess too little of its power, to enable them to taste the sweets of genuine piety. Hence they grow morose in their temper, and uncharitable in their spirit. They are quick-sighted in discovering the mote in a brother's eye ; whilst utter strangers to the beam in their own. They are spots and blemishes in the visible church, and verify the declaration of the prophet : “ there is no peace saith my God to the wicked."
But how great is the happiness of the true follower of Jesus. His sins are blotted out. His soul is beautified with salvation. He has no double aims. All his intentions are simple and single. His one desire is to promote the glory of his God and Saviour. His heart is the abode of peace. His house the dwelling-place of joy and gladness. He has his conflicts, and he has his comforts. He has his sorrow, and he has his support. God is his Father. Angels minister to him, and all things work together for his good. He may be hated of men, but he is beloved of God. He may have to pass through deep waters, but underneath are the everlasting arms. He may often groan being burdened, but in heaven all his tears shall be wiped away. He shall there follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. He shall there experience the eternal blessedness of that glo rious promise : “ He that overcometh, shall inherit all things : I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”
O! blest Redeemer, fill my soul
With love and grace divine; Subdue the pow'r of ev'ry sin,
And make me wholly thine.
In thee, O! Christ, may I be found
From ev'ry blemish free ; Though vile and worthless in myself,
Yet all complete in thee.
0! send thy Holy Spirit, Lord,
In larger portions down,
And seal me for thine own.
May holiness my life adorn,
May all my soul be love ;
And plac'd on things above.
Thus will a holy evidence,
Confirm that I am thine:
Shall prove the work divine.
XXVIL. ON THE TWO GREAT INSTRUMENTS IN THE
CONVERSION OF SINNERS.
The written word of God is one of the sacred instruments in the hands of the eternal Spirit for the regeneration of sinners.
“The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul.”
The preaching of the Gospel is another instituted mean for awakening dead souls, and leading them to Jesus Christ, through the accompanying power of the Holy Ghost; for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
All men, without exception, are by nature dead in trespasses and sins. Multitudes however are quickened to a life of faith and holiness.
But how are they quickened ? how are they born again? As God is pleased to work by means, what instruments does he employ in this great work of bringing dead souls to spiritual life and vigour? Our blessed Lord himself hath told us, when he said : “ The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” This voice is heard, when the Gospel is preached. And wonderful is the effect produced by it. That our Lord meant dead souls is evident from his mentioning another hour, when all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and come forth to judgment. Those preachers of the Gospel must therefore be very defective