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The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent
take it by force....Matt. xi. 12. .: We say, hunger will break through stone walls. Desperate circumstances make men violent. Thus it is with a convinced sinner. He sees himself in the city of destruction. And Moses has set his house on fire about his ears, as Mr. Bunyan says. in his Pilgrim's Progress. . Now, he cannot think of God, sin, death, judgment, heaven and hell, with an air of indifference. No; he is awake. He sees the importance of them. His soul is alive. He feels the weight of them. He finds sin has destroyed him. The law terrifies him. Death stares him in the face. Judgment alarms him. He trembles to see hell moved from beneath to receive him. Now his fancied good works, his morality, &c. stand him in no stead. He hungers after righteousness. His apprehensions of wrath * make him violent. His hunger is keen. He besieges the kingdom of God with eager prayer. He forces his way through every opposition. He breaks through every wall of obstruction with, o give me Christ, or I perish. Give me his blood to pardon me, his righteousness to justify. me, or I am damned for ever. This is fleeing for refuge. This is like one escaping for his life from dreadful flames and devouring fire. This is being violent. Such take the kingdom of God by force. Though by grace we are brought into the kingdom of God, and enjoy pardon of sin and peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: yet the Lord forbid that we should so lose our conviction of divine truths as to have done with holy force and violence. Soldiers of Christ, to arms. What! think of laying down your arms and folding your hands to sleep on an enemy's ground when all around are up in arms against you? Come, come, there is enough yet before you to alarm you and to call up your violence. Sin is within you. Satan is plotting against you. The world would ensnare you. - Death and judgment approach you. “ The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burnt up." O, dream not over dry doctrines and empty speculations, so as to be proof against the force of these solemn events, and to lose your holy violence. For seeing that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation, and godliness looking for the coming of the day of the Lord....2 Pet. iii. 11, 12. Let us ask the important question, Vain is all our best devotion, (Brethren be nor too secure)
If on false foundations built: What it is to be a christian;
True religion's more than notions How we may our hearts assure? Something must be known and felt.
Who remembered us in our loro estate, for his mercy en dureth for ever....Psalm cxxxvi. 23.
O My soul, never, never forget these two things, thy Lord's MEMORY and his mercy. The one was towards thee from eternity: the other endures for ever. What hast thou to do in this little spot of time but to love, serve and delight in thy ever mindful, evet merciful Lord? Ist. Consider thy low estate. Never lose sight of it, never forget it, lest thou grow vain in thy imaginations and unmindful of thy Lord's love. At hell's dark door we lay; lower we could not be, unless shut up in the bottomless pit. Most awful state! O, tremble at the thought! dead in sin. A child of wrath by nature: under the curse of the law, and the power of the devil. Blind to our danger, insensible of our destruction, not a desire to escape damnation: nay, we sported ourselves with our own deceivings; yet, 2d. he remembered us: who? Jehovah, Father, Son and Spirit. The Father loved us from eternity before we fell. He remembered and pitied us when fallen. The Son stood up for us in eternity, and engaged to redeem us from our low estate. The Spirit, with equal love, seeing we could never rise nor come out of the korrible pit into which we were fallen, undertook to quicken our dead souls, to come to Jesus for all the blessings of salvation. O what love and remembrance is here! Study it, O my soul, all thy days. A whole eternity will be swallowed up in wonder, love and praise. 3d. Mercy is the effect of this loving remembrance. Why does God delight in mercy? Because God is love. Never look at your mercies but remember they all flow from God's love. Consider that precious word “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love, wherewith he loved us” (mind, great love is the cause of rich mercy. See when it abounded to us and the effects of it) “ even when we were dead in sins hath quickened us together with Christ; by grace ye are saved.".... Eph. ii. 4, 5. Therefore, 4th. “his mercy endureth for ever.” Some talk of the mercy of God without scriptural views of his love. Hence they make mercy to endure but for a few days or years to poor sinners; then it comes to an end, and the once objects of mercy become the subjects of God's curse and damnation. So they give the lie to the Spirit of truth But his mercy endureth for ever, because the love of Father, Son and Spirit changes not. . 5th. Study to improve thy Lord's memory of thee, and his mercy to thee. Did he remember thy person in love in thy low estate, and will he remember thy sins NO MORE?.... Heb. viji. 12. Then in thy lowest state of dejection remember him. Look to him, and call upon him, that thou mayest walk worthy of the Lord...Col. i. 10.
We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is rorita
ten, I believed, therefore have I spoken: we also believe and therefore speak....2 Cor. iv. 13.
We should greatly admire these phrases, according as it is tritten....according to the scriptures. If our faith is not founded upon and agreeable to these, it is only a fanciful delusion. “The same spirit of faith.” With whom? Paul ever has his eye upon Christ. He refers to Psalm cxvi; where Christ speaks by the mouth of David. But what need had Christ of faith? Never forget that he was PERFECT MAN, like unto us: as such all the graces of the Spirit dwelt in him. Faith in his Father's promises. Hope in his love. Delight in his law. ZEAL for his glory. Holy fear and reverence of his name. You see the whole chain of graces in that word, “who in the days of his flesh, when he offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto him who was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared,”.... Heb. v.7. Here is faith in the ability of God, hope in him, prayer to him, fear of him, &c. This is joyful to consider, there is not a grace in us but what was in Christ our head and flows to us from him. “The Spirit of faith.” It is a spiritual gift. It is a lively grace. It is not a dead notion in the head, but it brings the enjoyment of God into the heart. If we share in the graces of Christ on earth, we shall surely enjoy his kingdom in glory. See the genuine effects of faith. We believe and therefore speak. . Faith in the heart opens the lips. We shall speak, Ist. To God the Father, as to our FATHER, with the holy boldness and loving confidence of children. We shall delight to draw near him, to tell him of our sorrows, our enemies, our sins, &c. yea, of all that is in our hearts. For like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.... Psalm ciii. 13. 2d. For the glory of God, we shall speak of his everlasting, electing love, the freeness of his sovereign grace, and the riches of his abundant mercy in giving his Son to be our Saviour. 3d. We shall speak of his Son's redemption of us from all sin : the glory of his righteousness in justifying us from all condemnation ; and everlastingly saving us from sin to holiness, from hell to heaven. Lastly, we shall speak to the glory of the Spirit, of quickening our dead souls and making us happy in the Father's love and the Son's salvation. Such is the spirit of faith. Lord help our unbelief. Lord increase our faith., When we pray, or when we sing, With a fix'd habitual faith Or read, or speak, or hear,
Jesus Christ to keep in view, Or do any holy thing,
Trusting wholly in his deatka Be this our constant care : ,
In all we ask or do.
Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favorable . no more? ....Psalm lxxvii. 7.
Paul speaks of some who had cast off their first faith. What was the consequence? Having damnation.... 1 Tim. v. 12. If the power and liveliness of faith abate in the heart a sense of condemnation is in the conscience. Hence, poor sensible sinners call in question the Lord's love and grace towards them. They are prone to think they have quite tired out his patience, and that nothing but wrath and misery await them. What shall we say to such? The Saviour himself speaks to them. Isit in wrath? Does he say, because you have forsaken me I will cast you off forever; die and be damned for your folly; I will shew you no more favor? O, no. True they have deserved this. They have reason to fear and expect this, was it not for the love of his heart and the grace of his word. Therefore they may joyfully sing
The love divine, which made us thine,
Shall keep us thine for ever.
Has known his sins forgiv'n, He is no fickle friend,
And seal'd an heir of heav'n.. But loves him to the end.
He is the ovenant with us in ant people, that he
I will make an everlasting covenant with them, and will not
turn arvay from them to do them good....Jer. xxxii. 40. • A MINISTER lately preaching on the tremendous golemnity of the last day, at the close of his sermon thus addressed his hearers : “ Most awful as my subject has been; most solemn things you have heard; yet I have one thing more to add which is as awful. 'Tis this. 'Ere to-morrow's sun, perhaps you will forget all you have heard of this solemn subject.” Awful conclusion! Is not this too much our case respecting the covenant love and faithfulness of our God? Else why those unreasonable doubts, groundless suspicions, heart-rending jealousies, and soul-dejecting fears which possess us? Else whence that slowness of heart to approach the Lord, to cast our care upon him, put our trust in him, glory of him, live upon him, and rejoice in him? The Lord will ever be mindful of his covenant.... Psam cxi. 5. But shame to us we do not remember as we ought, that we are the Lord's covenant people, that he has made an everlasting covenant with us in Christ our head and representative, He is the Mediator of this covenant. The moment we believe on Jesus we have that one heart which is towards him, and we choose him as our one way. This the Lord promises in the former verse. Then we enter upon the everlasting covenant. This is said to be made with us, for the grace of it is applied, the blessings bestowed, . and the promises of it made good to us. But here is a future prospect. The Lord gives one special promise which includes every mercy, comfort and blessing our souls can wish for. I WILL NOT TURN AWAY FROM THEM, TO DO THEM GOOD. Lord make us strong in faith, that we may give glory to thee for this exceeding great and precious promise. Consider, Ist. This and every other promise is · in Christ Jesus. All the promises are in him....2 Cor. i. 20. 2d. It is absolute and unconditional in regard to us: for Christ our head." has fulfilled all the terms and conditions of the covenant for us. Hence every blessing comes freely by him and through him to us.. Our every plea for every promise and grace is for Christ's sake. ... Most precious and most prevailing plea! A perfect atonement and perfect righteousness faith has to present and plead to divine justice. Therefore let us come with boldness to a throne of grace. 3d. Will God'never turn away from us to do us good? O, how should this endear him to our souls? How watchful, how careful ought we to be, not to turn away from him to do evil? Lastly, we may bid defiance to sin, the world, satan, death and hell. For if the Lord will do us good what shall harm us? If God be for us who shall be against us? If every good is thus promised, heaven the chief of all good is secure to us.