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as his sufferings were wholly on our account, so all our sufferings are by his appointment, and all designed by him to promote our best, that is, our spiritual and eternal welfare?
It is thus by looking to Jesus, that the believer is enlightened and strengthened, and
in sanctification, according to that passage of St. Paul, “ We all with open face,” or unvailed face, “beholding “as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into “the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit “ of the Lord *.” The word of God is a glass in which the goodness and beauty of the Lord Jesus are manifested to the eye of faith by the light of the Holy Spirit. In this wonderful glass the whole object is not seen at once, but every view we take strengthens the sight to discover something not perceived before: and the prospect is not only affecting, but transforming; by beholding we are gradually formed into the resemblance of him whom we see, admire, and love.
All those whom Jesus thus teaches to bear his yoke, find his promise fulfilled; they obtain,
III. Rest to their souls. Those who are truly awakened want nothing to make them happy, but to be assured they have an interest in the Redeemer's love. Now this satisfaction is peculiar to those who take his yoke upon them, and are daily learning of him, and copying after him.
For, 1. This affords the best and most unshaken evidence that he has begun a good work of grace in our hearts: I say "the best, because the most unshaken. Many are greatly perplexed to know if they are truly converted; and are kept the longer in suspense, because they overlook the ordinary Scriptural method of confirmation. They expect to know it by some extraordinary sensation, suddenly impressed upon their minds. But, besides that there have been many
2 Cor. ii. 18.
instances in which this expected evidence has been counterfeited, and a groundless confidence has been placed in a delusion or vain imagination (to the hurt of many, if not to their overthrow), even when they are from the gracious Spirit of God, they are, for the most part, transient; and when a different frame takes place, the believer is often tempted to question the reality of what went before. I think therefore the testimony of an enlightened conscience, judging by the word of God, and deciding in our favour, that by his grace we have been enabled to take up the yoke of Christ, is in some respects a more satisfactory evidence, that we are his, and that he is ours, than if an angel was sent from heaven to tell us, that our names are written in the book of life.
2. The promise of the peculiar manifestation of his love *, is made and restrained to those who walk in the path of obedience. If the discoveries the Lord is pleased sometimes to make of himself to the soul, are not the proper and direct evidences of a state of grace, they are, however, exceedingly desirable. Whoever has tasted the sweets of that water of life cannot but long for repeated draughts. When he lifts up the light of his countenance upon the soul, then is love, joy, and peace within, however dark and distressing things may be without. But this desirable presence can only be expected while we wear his yoke, and walk in his steps. If we turn aside into forbidden ways, if wo
* John, xiv, 21.
decline or dishonour the profession of his truth, we grieve the Holy Spirit, on whose communications our comforts are suspended; we give the enemies of our souls encouragement to assault us, and are in danger of falling from one wickedness to another, without the power of withstanding either the greatest or the smallest temptation, till the Lord is pleased to turn again to our assistance. In such a situation there can be no rest. But he that walketh uprightly, walketh
surely *,” and findeth rest.
And true rest is no otherwise to be obtained. Those of
you who refuse the yoke of Christ, well know in yourselves that you are far from rest. rience agrees with this declaration in the prophet: “ There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked t." In what respect will you dare to pretend that you have the advantage of those who bear the yoke of Christ?
We allow the profession of the Gospel is subject to inconveniences; but surely not so many as you meet with who are ashamed, or afraid, or averse, to maingain it. If those who are of
household are not your foes on this account, yet we can see how it fares with those who live without the fear of God. How many, and how sharp, are your trials from disobedient children, unfaithful servants, false friendships, ungoverned passions, and unsatisfied desires! Nor do you save any thing in point of character, not even with those by whom you are most desirous to be esteemed. They cannot indeed reproach you with being a believer ; but may they not, do they not, reproach and
* Pro, X. 9.
+ Isa. lvii. 21.
despise you for being a drunkard, or a liar, or a' miser, or an extortioner? And is this more honourable than to suffer shame for the cause of Christ?
Do the precepts of Christ seem hard? Certainly not so hard as that miserable bondage you are under to Satan, the god of this world, who works in you, and rules over you, at his will. He will not allow you to listen to the united remonstrancés of conscience, health, interest, and reputation. But you are hurried on in his drudgery, constrained, like a mill-horse, to toil in the same tedious round of folly and sin; though you are aware of the consequences and wages before-band. How absurd is it for you to boast of your freedom, while you are compelled to rush into present misery, and to dare your eternal ruin, with your eyes open!
And how greatly are you to be pitied under the many unavoidable afflictions of life, to which you are equally liable with the servants of Christ! When your idols are torn from you, when sickness seizes you, or death stares you in the face, then how do you fret and pine! how many are your fears and alarms ! Then
you are your own tormentors. The review of the past affords you only shame and regret. If you look forward to the future, you are filled with foreboding fears and distressing apprehensions ; you are weary of living, and afraid to die.
Why then will you continue thus, when Jesus says, " Come unto me, that you may have rest?”
have rest?" () may he incline your hearts this day to hear his voice! Have you been hardened in your evil ways, by a suspicion that your case is desperate, that it is now too late, and that he whom you have so often rejected will refuse you mercy? Beware of such a thought : “ There is
forgiveness with him *.”
“ Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.” He is gracious to pardon, and mighty to save; only acknowledge your offences, and throw down the arms of your
rebellion. He is mighty to save, and no less willing than able. As yet there is hope ; but who can tell how long his patience may bear with you? Take notice of that awful denunciation,
“ He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall sud“ denly be destroyed, and that without remedy t.” If you seek him to-day, with all your hearts, you shall find him. But who can answer for to-morrow? Tomorrow, or to-night, your souls may be required of you; or, if your lives are spared, you may be given up to judicial and incurable hardness of heart. If his Spirit should cease from striving with you, you are lost
THE SERVICE OF CHRIST EASY AND PLEASANT
TO HIS PEOPLE.
MATTH. xi. 30.
For my yoke is
burden is light.
THIS verse alone, if seriously attended to, might convince multitudes, that though they bear the name of Christians, and are found among the Lord's worshipping
* Ps. CXXX.
+ Prov. xxix. 1.