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who are washed and sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God, this day of visitation will be a day of joy to us; but not otherwise. Those who do not abstain from fleshly lusts, whose conversation is not honest, whose conduct is not good and upright before men, will not be able to abide that day of visitation. And all who have not really come to Christ for pardon and salvation, will be found in this awful state. The tree must be made good before the fruit can be truly good. We must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, in order to the salvation of our souls. Until faith in Christ take possession of the heart, all attempts to keep the law of God will be futile and vain. Until a new principle be received from above, all human efforts to withstand the world, the flesh, and the devil, will be unavailing; the weakness of man cannot but fall, without Divine aid, under the power of his subtil and mighty adversaries. Resistance is hopeless, unless the strength of Christ be made perfect in our weakness. But His grace is sufficient for those who wait upon Him to bestow it. Divine aid is promised to the humble believer in Christ, but cannot be obtained otherwise than by faith in Him. For it is to those alone who have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, who is the propitiation for our sins, that grace to help in time of need is promised.
Let it be our concern then to ascertain that we are really numbered among those who believe and obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And if we profess that His merits are the ground of our hope toward God, let us remember what manner of persons we ought to be in all holy conversation and godliness, as the saints of God in whom He will be glorified in the day of visitation. Let us look up to God as our Father, and to heaven as our home. Let us walk humbly with our God, in communion and fellowship with Him. Let us live in submission to His authority, as our King, doing His will in all things from the heart. Let us live as strangers and pilgrims on the earth, looking for that city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God. Let us seek to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength; and to love His people; saying, with the Psalmist, I am a companion of all them that fear Thee, and of such as love Thy testimonies. Let us love His word and His ordinances. And while we name the name of Christ, let us depart from all iniquity. Thus let us live to the glory of God while here below, that in the day of visitation, we may be owned by the Judge of all the earth as His people, and may enter into the joy of our Lord.
FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.
THE FIRST FRUITS UNTO GOD.
James i. 18.
OF HIS OWN WILL BEGAT HE US, WITH THE WORD OF TRUTH, THAT WE SHOULD BE A KIND OF FIRST FRUITS OF HIS CREATURES.
THE Epistle for this day commences with the observation, that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above; or that every blessing we enjoy is bestowed by God. This appears to be stated for the purpose of correcting an erroneous idea which was entertained by some persons, that sin could not be avoided, because, as they pretended, temptations to sin were from God, as well as every thing else. This idea the apostle thinks it needful to refute. He asserts that no man has a right to say that he is tempted of God to sin, for God cannot be tempted with evil, He cannot
possibly tempt any man to commit sin; it is contrary to His nature, which abhors sin. Temptation to sin proceeds rather from the corrupt propensity of the depraved heart of man, which seeks gratification in what God has forbidden. Sinful deeds ensue; and sin brings death in its train. The awful consequences of sin are sufficient to show, that temptation to it does not in any way come from God. On the contrary, nothing but what is good, nothing but what is perfect, is from above. Every thing of this kind which we enjoy, cometh down from the Father of lights. The name here given to God shows His opposition to all sin, which is known by the name of the works of darkness. He is so infinitely holy, so transcendently excellent and good, that with Him is no variableness, not the slightest variation from perfect rectitude, not even a shadow of turning aside from it in the least degree; so that no iniquity whatever can be ascribed to Him. A God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is He.34 The apostle having given this description of the Divine Being, and vindicated His character from the misapprehensions that had been formed respecting it, applies the subject in the text and following verses, in order to show what manner of persons the children of God ought to be.
33 Romans xiii. 12.
34 Deuteronomy xxxii. 4.
First, He mentions their peculiar obligations to the Father of lights. Of His own will begat He us. This was the source of their blessedness. It was to be ascribed alone to the good pleasure of His goodness, that they were numbered among the children of God, or adopted into His family. It did not proceed from any merit of their own.
Secondly, He states what was the mean or instrument of their regeneration or spiritual birth. It was with the word of truth that they were begotten of God.
Thirdly, He shows the object proposed by God in admitting mankind into the relationship of children to Himself, which was, that we should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures; the characteristics of which are described in the remainder of the Epistle for this day.
May the consideration of this subject, by the blessing of the Holy Spirit, lead each of us to self-examination and prayer; that we may use the means with a view to the attainment of the end, and may be indeed fruitful in every good work, to the glory of God.
First, The source of regenerating grace is here resolved into the will of God our heavenly Father, the Father of lights. Of His own will begat He us. In the epistle to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul speaks on this subject in the same manner: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all