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above strength, insomuch that he despaired even of life." Jonathan was upon the very brink of despair, when at this so critical a juncture the word BLOOD was put before him. It struck him in a moment with a sort of new and wonderful light; and, whilst pondering upon it, it stood forth in the following all-beauteous connexion, "The BLOOD of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin." Oh! how wonderful was the effect upon poor burdened Jonathan. His load rolled off as if by magic. The moment before he was pressed down to the grave, desponding and despairing; and now he stood erect, with new life, and light, and liberty, gazing with adoring wonder upon that all-precious Christ, the efficacy of whose blood had just been proved in its sin-cleansing, peace-speaking properties; and thousands of times since that day has Jonathan, under new burdens, fresh fears, and numberless dreads, resorted to, and found, the like precious effects, from the same sweet source.
"His dearest flesh he makes my food,
And bids me drink his richest blood;
SELF has been a word very little, if any, less perplexing than SIN. In fact, they seem most closely allied. As with the former, so with this. Jonathan did not dream of its being half so troublesome. He thought to have dispatched SELF once and for all just the same as SIN; instead of which it has sprung up again and again and again, and that, too, in so many shapes and forms, that Jonathan is often at a loss to know what to make of it. This SELF seems to haunt him like a spectre. It is the rudest, most intrusive, and prying thing it is possible to conceive of. It is never satisfied. Never is it weary, but is always as active, and pert, and conceited as possible. Not only so, but the air it assumes, and the society with which it mingles, is almost beyond belief. It can be religious or profane-merry or sad. Well has it been described
"Awake-nay, while we sleep,
"'Tis hurtful when perceived;
When not perceived, 'tis worse;
And works by fraud or force.
It mingles with the prayer;
"This moment, whilst I write,
I feel its power within ;
My heart is drawn to seek applause,
FAITH. This is another short, but yet a difficult word, and one which Jonathan has blundered a great deal over. He has been repeatedly confounding this word FAITH with another, but a very different, word. Again and again has he substituted SENSE for FAITH. Now, though these words are so often connected, or one put in the place of the other, yet they are totally distinct. SENSE has to do with sight and feeling; FAITH with that which we can neither see nor feel. Jonathan was quite of a
different opinion once. He thought at one time he knew well the meaning of FAITH; he now sees that it was SENSE he had been studying and substituting. SENSE has to do with the light, FAITH with the dark. SENSE must have everything in hand, FAITH in store. SENSE lives upon to-day; FAITH on to-morrow. SENSE must triumph; FAITH would trust. SENSE gives credence to that only which it can grasp, reason upon, or comprehend; FAITH, on the contrary, rejects reason, and its element is mystery.
HOPE. This is a very dear word, and quite akin to FAITH. It is suber yet seasonable. Jonathan has always found this word to supply a kind of niche. It comes to hand when most wanted. There is a spurious word that is used by many as a substitute; but the one of which Jonathan speaks is preceded by the adjective "good"—a good HOPE. And indeed it is good. Jonathan found it very much so when first his gracious Master placed the word before him; and how many times he has found it good since then, and under what variety of circumstances, that Master only knows. It was under the most dismal and desponding feelings that he first heard of HOPE, and with it came such a ray of light, such an amount of relief, such a something that he cannot describe; but it seemed to come like a little voice, and as it whispered, "Fear not, but look, and wait, and watch," it took such a weight off the heart; Jonathan's load was so much lighter, that he could not help thinking that better and brighter days would come. And so it turned out. HOPE never
deceived. It did not "make ashamed." And Jonathan must add the same testimony to its every subsequent operation. When all things have worn the most gloomy and discouraging aspect, if the storm has raged, the billows roared, and all bespoke destruction; if HOPE has but sprung up in yonder dark horizon, though at first "not bigger than a man's hand," yet it said-and that most truthfully-" It is well." Nor has it ever, even in a single instance, spoken falsely.
Joy. Another sweet word, but one of very rare occurrence. Jonathan has found an immensity of pleasure in pondering over this word, but experience has taught him to treat it more prospectively. It is one held more in reserve than formerly; and Jonathan is somewhat more satisfied that it should be so, and for this reason. If brought to think much and to feel much about Joy, it was always followed by the very opposite, TRIAL; just as the hymn says
"We should expect some danger nigh,
Jonathan confesses his coward heart, in its fear of trouble, has much to do with his acknowledgment that these reverses, together with the belief that the joy has more to do with a future than a present state, makes him contented to pass on to the study of the next word in his spelling-book
PEACE. It reads very nicely in the following clause; "Thou wilt keep him in perfect PEACE whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee." Now Jonathan has really found this true. And there is a something about this PEACE so calm, so quiet, so tender, and gentle, that it seems to suit Jonathan well. He loves to dwell upon it. He strives to view it in all its points and bearings; and whenever or whereever he meets with it, it is so soothing and so sweet. There is another sentence in which it reads equally well, and with much refreshing;
"PEACE I leave with you, my PEACE I give unto you. Not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of PEACE," is also another place in which it appears. Notwithstanding we have so kind and good a Master, there is a constant proneness amongst us poor wayward scholars, to "fall out by the way." Hence the Master has had the above passages fixed on the wall, that we may have it perpetually before us; and when he sees one and another getting into a quarrelsome spirit, he tells them to go and read, and study PEACE afresh.
The next word is GRACE; and oh Jonathan so often thinks, "What a mercy that there is such a word and such a subject as GRACE." And for this reason, he has so unceasingly to draw from this great and gracious storehouse-GRACE, FREE GRACE. It is, too, such a mercy for Jonathan, that it is all for nothing for really he is in such a penniless plight, that if it required the thousandth part of a mite, that poor old paup r Jonathan has not in his possession. You might ransack his stores from top to bottom, but not so much as a grain of sand in either size or value would you find. Well, then, may Jonathan, of all men be fond of FREE GRACE. He has a very cold and thankless heart, and he feels it too very, very much; but still there are moments, when a little softness mingles with his feelings a sweet warmth and glow are infused about his breast-and tear after tear bursts from his languid eye, and trickles down his wrinkled cheek, as he listens to the gladsome notes, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price." "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come; and let him that heareth say, Come; and let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." The fulness and the freeness of GRACE just suits poor bankrupt Jonathan.
LOVE. And here is another precious word, in the contemplation of which old Jonathan is absolutely lost. He meets with it again and again, but never more preciously nor powerfully than in that dear portion, "I have LOVED thee with an EVERLASTING LOVE, and therefore with LOVINGKINDNESS have I drawn thee." Jonathan is struck with admiration whilst he muses upon the love of Jehovah to his one chosen and elect Church, whom he loved for no other reason than because he would love her; but when he comes to define that LOVE, and to see that according to sovereign grace and discriminating mercy, it was set from all eternity, and thousands of years ere yet he had a being, upon poor vile, sinful, and polluted Jonathan, he stands wondering and adoring, and exclaims:
"Oh for such LOVE let rocks and hills,
And all harmonious human tongues,
This word LOVE is also inscribed upon the walls of the school-room. It occurs thus, "Little children, LOVE one another;" and again, "A new commandment give I unto you, that ye LOVE one another.' These two passages, with the one before quoted, form companion-mottoes; and the Master has adopted this course in order to fix their contents upon the hearts and minds of the pupils. And there are times when so sweet a spirit of harmony prevails among the scholars, that upon a signal being given, they with one heart and one voice burst forth in a song of praise
which warms old Jonathan's soul in the preciousness of the bliss of which it testifies :
"Now begin the heav'nly theme,
Triumph in redeeming love.
Beaming in our Saviour's face;
Praise and bless redeeming love.
Banish all your guilty fears;
Welcome to his sacred rest;
When we to his glory come,
THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE.
BRETHREN, beloved in the everlasting love union, and holy covenant relationship in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the holy sworn Ones, "that cannot lie." Blessed with the highest blessings in Christ Jesus before the world began, and blessed for ever in him, where neither curse, wrath, nor death, can ever invade. The Lord hath sworn by himself, and by his holiness, saying, "Surely blessing, I will bless thee;" sworn by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie. Thus the Father, of his own eternal love and good-will, blessed us in Christ before the world began; insomuch as the curse, brought in by sin, could not revoke the blessing. For the Son of God was manifested to remove sin and the curse, and destroy the works of the devil. He, Jesus, came to bless the people, and open unto us the Father's good-will. And when he sat down on mount Olives, he fully opened his commission. He opened his mouth and poured out the blessings, to the characters to whom they were before appointed, saying, blessed, blessed, blessed, are such and such people. For Jesus is the blessing of the Lord which maketh rich and addeth no sorrow therewith. We were by nature as children of Adam, a cursed people, "children of wrath even as others," though not in the eternal mind appointed unto wrath. Jesus took the cup of trembling into his hand, and drank every dreg of wrath, that laid in the law against us, removed the curse, by being made a curse for us, was charged with all our crimes (as the husband is charged with the debts of the wife), died for us, and as a proof that our sins were removed, and the debt cancelled, he rose again from the dead. The jailer could not hold him long when the
debt was paid, "he could not be holden with the cords of death." Then sin, death, and the curse, are for ever done away, in the Saviour's death and blood, "sunk in the depths of the sea," and when they are sought for they shall not be found; when they shall be enquired after they shall not be. Thus the Church is blessed indeed, and Jesus, God with us in the flesh, has said it with his own mouth. And when the Holy Ghost, the heavenly Comforter, reveal these blessed things in us with faith and love and joy, we are experimentally blessed indeed. For the holy Comforter reveals and brings the blessing so sweet, full, and powerful into the soul, that there is no room for the curse. He pours the blessing upon us, and into us so profusely, that we have not room to hold it; "our cup runneth over." But there is none lost; from whence the rivers come, they all return again. God is a fountain, full of blessings still; a sea of love, infinite and unexplored; and though sometimes we have many days of darkness, and the clouds of dark dispensations and gloomy forebodings hang around us, and over our heads, and through fear we may think there are tempests coming up, that will burst upon our heads, and consume us: but poor Zion is mistaken; for there is neither thunder nor lightning in the cloud: it is all rain—rain, to refresh and fertilize, not to drown us. "If the clouds be full of water, they empty themselves upon the earth." "It is water for the thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground." "I will pour my blessing upon you, saith the Lord." Therefore there is neither curse, wrath, nor destroying tempest in the cloud.
Hear a word from the holy sworn Ones again. Thus saith the Lord, "As I have sworn that the waters of Noah shall no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I will not be wrath with thee, nor rebuke thee;" viz., Zion has no rebukes in wrath; all are in love; and all the curses that may come from every quarter, to make thee quake, fear, and tremble, thy God shall turn the curse into a blessing. Hear! hear! these are the words from the mouth of truth-" Blessed shall he be that blesseth thee, and cursed shall he be that curseth thee."
Whoever thou art-be thy faith ever so weak, poor feeble soul-if thou hast felt one blessed thought in thine heart to love and bless those whom God hath blessed,* thou art most certainly blessed of God thyself, and the Lord shall increase thy joy more and more; for whom the Lord blesseth, they shall be blessed, and none can reverse it. And thou wilt be so much blessed one day before thou goest out of the world, that thou wilt say, through the witnessing power and comfort of the Holy Ghost, with all the powers of thy soul, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name."
Brethren, there is neither preaching, praying, reading, singing, or conversation, to any spiritual profit, without the Holy Ghost. I have been a preacher of God's word now more than twenty years, and I can talk in a pulpit, and arrange a sermon so that it may look pretty clever; but if the Holy Spirit of life and light is withdrawn, I feel death and darkness; and I am persuaded, if the Holy Ghost is not immediately breathing in both preacher and hearers, there is no real enjoyment, be the preacher ever so eloquent in his sermon. The preaching may be clear as a frosty morning, but it will be just as cold. The doctrines of grace may be preached high and clear, but if the grace of the doctrines be lacking, it is only like the
This is coming down very low for an evidence of spiritual life and childship; but an evidence and a blessed one-it most certainly is.-ED.