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found what is more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. o it is indeed heaven upon earth. To preserve it, to improve it, is become the one study of the happy believer. The panting of his soul is after more of this love. The prayer of his faith is, 0 thou eternal Spirit, help me so to walk with my most loving Father, as that I may maintain peace with him in my conscience, and a growing love to him in my heart, until thou bring me to the enjoyment of everlasting peace and love.
The prayer of a righteous man prevaileth much, being offered with energy. By the love of the Spirit. it is answered. He not only preserves, but also increases his own graces. He leads the believer to fresh discoveries of the Father's love, and puts him into possession of the exceeding rich treasures of it. He helps him to draw very strong arguments for the comfort of his heart from the perfect FREENESS of divine love. Thus he reasons
Although I am beset with temptations, and assaulted with corruptions, and in a world of troubles, yet I need not fear but God will bring me safe through all; for I know he loves me. It is plain he does, I could never have loved him, unless he had first freely loved me. My love is only the reflection of his. I had been convinced of sin, but it was not from myself: the conviction was of God. I have been convinced of righteousness, and I put my whole trust in the righteousness of Jesus. He is the only ground of my hope. I now rest my soul upon the sure foundation, which he hath laid. And this faith is not of myself. It is the gift of God. I ascribe it to his sovereign grace, that I have been enabled to look upon the Father as reconciled to me, pardoning me through the blood-shedding of his Son, accounting me righteous through the obedience of his Son, and in him accepting, loving, and blessing me. How could I experience these things but by the power of the Holy Ghost ? And for what did I deserve to experience them? The reason must be found in the
riches of his own free grace. Did the Father foresee any thing good in me, for which he chose me in bis Son ? Was it for any worthiness of mine, that the Son vouchsafed to take flesh, and to live and to die for me? Was it for any foreseen works, faithfulness, or diligence in means, that the Holy Ghost called me to know, to believe, and to enjoy the Father's love through the Son's salvation ? O, no.Away with such thoughts. I dare claim nothing for mine own, but sin and shame. Not unto me, Lord, not unto me, but unto thee be all the glory. It was the good pleasure of thine own will, which chose me before the foundation of the world, and accepted me in the beloved ; and now I know that thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. I experience the happy fruit and effect of them. I am brought to believe in thee, and to love my God and Father, which I am satisfied I could never have done, if thy free love had not first purposed to save me, and now carried thy purposes into execution. To the praise of the glory of thy distinguishing grace, I am in possession of the things which accompany salvation. To give me more grace,
that I may daily make a better use of them, and may return thee better praise for thy free gifts of
It is free, and it is also COVENANT love. This is another of its divine properties : God commendeth his love towards the heirs of promise by giving them full security for its unchangeableness. And this view the Holy Spirit opens to them for the support of their faith in times of trial. When they are walking in darkness and have no light, troubled on every side, without are fightings, within are fears, when in great heaviness through failings in duty, through risings of corruption, or through manifold temptations, then he discovers to them the treasures of covenant love, and enables them to draw rich consolation from that heavenly storehouse. An heir of promise under his teaching is often supported in this way: It is true, I am in trouble, but not forsaken. What if every thing I have and am
in myself makes against me, yet God is on my side, a covenant God: for I believe the eternal Three entered into covenant before all worlds, and with manifold wis. dom ordered all things relating to the heirs of promise. For their sakes, and to end all strife in their consciences about the certainty of their salvation, it pleased the blessed Trinity to enter into covenant, and to confirm their covenant by oath, thus giving them two immutable things to trust in, in which it is impossible for God to lie. O how strengthening to faith is this view of the unchangeableness of covenant love! If it be but a man's covenant, being properly signed and sealed, no one disannulleth or addeth thereto. And who shall disannul
add to the covenant of the Trinity? The creature cannot. God will not. His purpose of bringing many sons to glory is unalterably fixed in his own mind, and in order to make it a sure ground for their faith, he confirmed his immutable covenant by his immutable oath. On this security I rest my soul. A covenant God has enabled me to trust in his covenant engagements. Hence I see every thing relating to my salvation absolutely certain in the counsel and covenant of God; and I look upon my faith to be one of the effects of my being in the covenant. And faith as a covenant gift is an immutable gift. What a blessing is it, that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance! It has been given me on the behalf of Christ to believe. And is not this from covenant love? What else could bring me to trust in covenant faithfulness? Therefore by believing I have immutable things to depend upon for the certainty of my salvation. Upon them would I stay my soul, as well I may, and fix my heart upon them. O that I could bring more glory to my
covenant God by trusting him with unshaken confidence ! His love to me demands it at my hands. His love contrived the plan of salvation. Love provided every thing needful to carry it into execution. The evidence, which he has given of this, was from the overflowings of love. His word of promise, ratified by covenant, confirmed
by oath, the oath of the holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, made to satisfy the heirs of promise of the immutability of the divine will concerning them- what miracles of love are these! And all to assure them, that the heart of Jehovah is invariably towards them for good ! Yes, Lord, this is the great love wherewith thou lovest me. And this is the evidence of thy love. Thou hast brought me to believe it, and put some honour upon it. I desire to trust to thy covenant engage. ments without wavering. Establish, strengthen, settle my faith. Increase it from day to day, that I may grow in the knowledge and experience of that love which passeth knowledge. For
It is a free, a covenant, and also an EVERLASTING love. This is another of its most glorious properties. His love knows neither beginning nor end. It is without variableness or shadow of turning. The heart of God is always one and the same towards his chosen people : for he loveth them freely. The motives to it were all in, and from his own breast. The covenant was distinguishing love, secured to the heirs of promise by the most solemn engagements. And this crowns alla His love is of the same date with the covenant-not only before all worlds, but also from eternity. Therefore it is frequently called in scripture an everlasting covenant, and covenant love is said to be according to the eternal purpose, which he had purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: whereby before the foundations of the world were laid, he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Here is a never failing source of comfort to a believing heart. Meditate, o my soul, upon it. Consider what God hath done for thee, and give him the glory of his precious love. Has. he not called thee by his Spirit, working in thee in due season? Hast thou not obeyed the call ? Dost thou not depend upon the finished work of God thy Saviour 2
Art thou not justified freely by faith in him? Art thou not seeking daily to mortify the works of the flesh and thy earthly members, and that thy mind may be drawn up to high and heavenly things ? Certainly these are good proofs of the purposes of the Father's love towards thee: because these are the happy effects of his purposes now taking place in my soul. O how great should this consideration establish and confirm thy faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed by Christ, and thereby kindle thy love towards God. He has indeed drawn thee by the sweet attraction of his Spirit unto himself, and he has explained to thee the motive for his so do ing—“ Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, “ therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee." His love discovered to thee in time is the fruit of his love before time: for the one is the effect of the other. If love had not been always in his heart towards thee, thy heart could never have been drawn in love to him. But he has drawn it. And thou art seeking to have it drawn more closely to him. Is it not thy daily wish; O for more love to my gracious Father-whať a love has he shewn to me -what a free, covenant, everlasting love! And yet, alas ! what poor returns do I make him? Holy Spirit of love, raise and exalt my affections, and let the consideration of the wonderful love of heavenly Father to me increase mine to him, and let mine abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all sensible experience.
The Holy Spirit who is the great teacher and manifester of the Father's love, has revealed these properties of it in scripture for the establishment of the faith of the children of God. He would have them to believe assuredly, that God is their Father, not in name only, but indeed and in truth; that he has the bowels of the tenderest parent, and that he freely, fully, everlastingly loves them in his dear Son. As he loves him, so he loves them. He embraces the head and the members with the same affection. And because they can hardly believe this in times of trial and trouble, the Holy Spi