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very pleasant, the fountain-head must be delightful. It will be admitted by every true believer, that the great redeeming work is the most interesting of all subjects, where God the Son appeared incarnate, under the heavy load of the church's transgressions, and exposed to the fierce heat of the Father's ire; sweating, bleeding, groaning, gasping, dying, and altogether presenting such a prodigy of condescension, tenderness, and love, as can never be equalled.
To the Lord's servants these are delightful themes; neither must the work of the blessed Spirit be disregarded; for who would expect to obtain the treasures locked up in a certain cabinet, without the key ?
Any simple Christian knows, that the Holy Ghost is God, and that, as a person distinct from the Father and the Son, he is to be loved and worshipped. But upon his work in the soul of an elect vessel, I observe that, as a dead man can perform none of the functions of animal life, so no natural man can perform a single spiritual act; bec all natural men are dead in trespasses and sins. (Ephes. ii. 1.) Without the sovereign operations of the blessed Spirit, not a child of Adam can take one step into heaven, any more than a dead man can walk. Except a man be born again, from above, of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. The
new birth” is altogether supernatural. The work of conviction, quickening, conversion, regeneration, and perseverance, is wholly of free, sovereign grace, by the power of the Holy Ghost alone. I have observed that many of the Lord's people have natural convictions from their childhood; by these, the Lord restrains them, and in due time shows them that Ephraim's goodness is as the morning cloud and the early dew. Some of the family have much deeper convictions than others have; but all of them are, sooner or later, convinced of sin. The Spirit always wounds a man before he heals him. He brings either the letter or the spirit of the law, or both, into the conscience; thereby enforcing its authority, its convincing and condemning power, and gradually making known its spirituality. The wakened sinner now feels sin to be a heavy burden, and learns its exceeding sinfulness. At first he is for promising, working, believing, repenting, &c., in his own skill and might; but at length, his legal toiling ceases, because he can do no more, and get no farther; his feet stick fast in the miry clay, and he finds he can neither work, believe, nor repent. His will is seen to be enmity to God, his works unclean and dead, and his natural faith inferior to the faith of devils. His wisdom is froin beneath-earthly, sensual, and devilish; his
righteousness, filthy rags; his holiness, corruption; he can obtain neither money, nor money's worth. He sees, feels, and owns before God and man that he is for ever lost and undone, unless he be saved by free, unmerited grace, and by divine power alone. The true gospel market-cry, alone, suits him now, “Without money and without price, come buy! come buy!” The work of quickening is done by the Holy Ghost, perhaps in an instant of time. From that moment, there is a new nature in the image of Christ; there is every fruit of the Spirit, in the bud of spiritual existence-faith, hope, love, &c.; but then grace implanted is so delectably small, that a man had need of a microscope to see it. It is but a very little spark, yet we might challenge the world or Satan to come and put the extinguisher upon it. This living principle is very weak, but the soul has a vital union to Jesus, in whom there is a comprehensive fulness of all-sufficient grace. The quickened soul sees, feels, and hears, as he never did before. * He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, the attention of the soul begins to settle upon Christ, who is at first seen at a distance, as the Star of Judah, that presages to the lonely pilgrim the approach of a brighter morning; but his feeble vision is obscured by the mists of ig. norance and unbelief, that this bright appearance is seen only now and then. From the first discovery of this sweet Morning Star, hope rises. The Spirit of God (as by a soul whisper) says, “Who can tell ?" The soul, still doubting, says, That cannot be for me:" again the sweet whisper is heard, “ Who can tell ?” The hard heart softens, and the water stands in the poor man's eyes. He feels a desire to read the written word, and now and then goes up a prayer,
· Lord I am a poor blind man, open thou mine eyes; I am a most miserable sinner, have mercy upon me.
As the man reads over an awful threatening or a dreadful curse, the
enemy, " that belongs to thee;" conscience falls in with it, and the soul trembles. He sees and feels the necessity of being born again, and prays for it; as Mr. Hart says,
“ We pray to be new-born,
Yet know not what we mean;
Something that's undiscovered yet." By the inward teaching of the Spirit, the way of salvation is a little opened unto this man, perhaps by means of those blessed words, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life," He meditates on Christ, and his meditation is sweet! The name of Jesus is savour to his heart, and music to his soul;
There,” says he hungers for living bread, thirsts for living water, and cries unto God, “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” Before a throne of grace he pleads, as a poor starving beggar, who has got the palsy in his head, hands, and feet, and withal an impediment in his speech. Pharisees may boast of their fine ready-made forms; this man thinks there is more melody in the croaking of a raven than there is beauty in his prayers; and that, according to his deservings, he is more fit to burn in hell, than to stand pleading before a mercy-seat. Sometimes he is so surrounded with darkness, he cannot see an inch before him; then “ the shining light," appears again. Now he seems farther from hope than ever; again his hope rises, he can hardly tell how. Now his desires are burning hot for heaven; then he is cold, or lukewarm, and almost without feeling. Now he thinks he is out of the reach of God's mercy; then a gleam of sunshine softens and melts him. Now he fears he has committed the unpardonable sin; then he hopes he has not. Sometimes the promises are sweet; and sometimes he can derive no sweetness from them. The time of deliverance is always preceded by a time of great perplexity, as in a morning it is often darkest before sunrise. The captive exile sits in his solitary cell, immersed in darkness, despondency, sin, and woe, when suddenly his prison doors grate or their hinges; he lifts up his head, and, by faith, sees the great Redeemer, the glory of whose countenance quite overcomes him, and his comeliness turns to corruption. He falls at Christ's feet as dead. When he comes to himself, he hears the voice of Jesus, saying, “ Fear not, I am the first and the last; I am he that liveth and was dead, and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen, and have the keys of hell and of death." · Lord I am a great sinner,” says the man. • My blood cleanses from all sin,” says Jesus. “But I am so polluted,” says the sinner. “ Be not faithless, but believing," replies the condescending Saviour. Now the Holy Spirit applies the blood of sprinkling to the sinner's conscience, casts the glorious robe of Jesus around liim, stamps his image on the soul, and works his salvation in the heart. The man has now the answer of a good conscience towards God; there is no guilt upon it, his sins are pardoned and his soul is freed from all burdens, fears, and bondage. The way of life is thrown open; the Captain goes forth; the bands of sin, Satan, and the law, are undone! ~ Who hath loosed the 'bands of the wild ass ?". Abounding grace, eternal mercy, covenant love, and the living influence of the Spirit, make the soul like a well-watered garden ! the man's cup runs over with blessings;
the light of Christ shines into his heart and upon his path; he is surrounded with mercies of all kinds; the Father smiles upon his regenerated son; the Holy Ghost charms him with his sweet fellowship, and Christ looks upon him a look of ineffable love, and says, “ Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee.” He enjoys pardon and peace with God; he is manifestatively justified, sanctified, and saved, in Christ. A sweet savour, and a heavenly melody, fill his breast; he can keep silence no longer; his heart and his harp, like those of David of old, are now in tune, and of a solemn sound. The redeemed sinner, melting into tears of love, joy, and gratitude, calls upon the whole creation, and especially upon every thing that has breath, to assist him in adoring the God of his salvation : “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless and praise his holy name. () sonder of love," says he; “O amazing miracle of matchless grace, that ever thou shouldst look upon, that ever thou shouldst save, such a wretch as I am. This man shuns the way of sin and error, and for a time the enemy seems to lie as still as a stone, and the pardoned sinner finds it easy to believe, to repent, and to cleave to God with full purpose of heart, and feels that he is a great debtor to grace. The love of Christ constrains him ; his bodily and mental powers are by the Spirit consecrated to the service of God; he lies all day at the gospel breast; the yoke of Christ sits easy on his neck; his burden is no burden at all. His simple rule is love; so that he cannot walk much amiss. Halleluia, Amen! O sacred season! May those who have experienced it look back to it with pleasure; and may those who really desire it look forward to it, with hunible, but confident expectation. Now, when I passed by thee, and Jooked upon thee, behold thy time was the time of love," &c.
(To be continued.)
MAN'S SIN HIS OWN GUILTY ACT AND DEED, AND HIS HEART BEING INCLINED THEREUNTO, SCRIPTURALLY CONSIDERED.
“ Incline not my heart to any evil thing, w practise wicked works with men that work iniquity.”—Psalm cxli. 4.
The words before us constitute a part of the Psalmist's supplication to the God of his salvation, in which we have his petition that the Lord would not incline his heart to evil; and the reason why he made such a request, namely, that he might not practise wicked works with men that work iniquity. What a solemn appeal to God! The curious and inquiring mind may ask, Do you then believe the Lord inclines a sinner's heart to sin ? I answer, Yes, in a certain sense he does, or else the prayer appears but a solemn mockery of words, without any suitable meaning. But if we seriously read the Psalm throughout, we shall find the whole of it to be a composed and deliberate breathing of the soul in prayer to God; and we are assured that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God; and that therein holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Tim. iii. 16; 2 Pet. i. 21.)
But as the declaration I have made is of such solemn importance, and as our reasonable powers by the utmost stretch of human wisdom faint, and are but foolishness, beneath the magnitude of the righteous interpretation of so awful and momentous a truth; may the Holy Spirit, to the declarative glory of God, so direct and influence my heart and mind, by comparing scripture with scripture, as on the one hand to make use of wh he enables me to think and write to quiet some distressed and doubtful heart among his own people; and on the other, if possible, to stop the mouths of gainsayers, who will not admit the truth in question before us, unless God be the author of their sin.
Does the heart of the true believer tremble within him in exercise of thought upon the momentous subject? So has mine, till I felt my spirit sink within me. Nor are we without scripture proof to the same effect in the history of Jacob and Esau.
What I have in view is the blessing of Isaac upon his son Jacob; and perhaps it may not be unprofitable to enlarge a little upon so solemn a subject. It appears that Rebekah, the mother of Esau and Jacob, overheard the charge given to Esau, by Isaac his father, to go out and hunt for venison, and make
savoury meat such as he loved, that he might bless him before the Lord, before his death. Rebekah, in the conception of Esau and Jacob, felt the struggle of the two children even in her womb, before they were born; and the effect upon her feeling was so amazing, that she could not rest until she went to inquire of the Lord, who assured her, that two nations were in her womb, and that two manner of people should be separated from her bowels; that the one people should be stronger than the other people, and the elder should serve the younger. (Gen. xxv. 23.) This, I have no doubt, sufficiently and effectually influenced the heart of Rebekah, to have a special and decided affection for Jacob, in preference to Esau whom Isaac loved; and to keep a pretty steady watch over the blessing, which, by birthright, according to God's command, be