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furnace purer and brighter. And what if thou art in the fire a great while, thou wilt see more of his tender mercies in keeping thee there, and wilt thereby learn to live in a more simple dependence upon him. Cast not away therefore thy confidence in the written word. The promises in it stand faster than the strong mountains. If all the powers in earth and hell should join, they cannot defeat one single tittle of them. When the world and all the works therein shall be burnt up, and the place of them shall be no more found, then the promises shall stand fast as the throne of God, and shall receive their full and perfect accomplishment through the ages of eternity.
These are some of Satan's temptations against the young men in Christ, who are strong, because the word of God abideth in them. His
design is to weaken their reliance upon its promises. Till he can do this, he despairs of success: and therefore he tries every method, which his wicked cunning and rage can invent. His busy active spirit is night and day plotting against the word of God. See a lively picture of his utter hatred to it in the parable of the sower. While the good seed is sowing, the devil is indefatigable in picking it up. He exercises all his wiles to keep it out of the hearer's hearts, and he prevails with the greater part to reject it; among those who seemingly receive it, he cheats three out of four, so that the word does not take root, nor bear fruit to perfection. Since Satan is thus successful, is it not absolutely necessary, reader, that thou shouldest be well acquainted with his devices? And the word abiding in thee, the ingrafted word, will both make thee acquainted with them, and also strong to resist them: because then thou wilt be taught by Christ's wisdom and strengthened by his almighty power. As thou growest in the sense of thy want of him, and livest in a closer dependence upon him, thou wilt understand more of his word, and experience more of his power. By which means the enemy's continual attacks, driving thee to Christ for the fulfilling of his promises, will make thee
continually safe. Let the roaring lion rage, what hast thou to fear ? Let him go about seeking whom he may devour, the Lord is thy shield and thy defence : in him is thy trust. Thou hast his promise, that he will preserve thee from all evil, and will make all things, even Satan's spite and rage against thee, work together for thy good. How dear and precious then should the word of God be to thee! If thou art weak, because it is the means of thy growing, -and being nourished up; and if thou art strong, because by its abiding in thee, thou wilt be established. May it be thy study and thy delight, and may every reading of it bring thee to a better acquaintance with, and a greater dependence upon the adorable Jesus. And if thou desirest thus to profit from the scriptures, I would advise thee, reader, to observe two things, which will be much for Christ's glory, and for thy edification.
First, in thy frequent and careful perusal of the Bible (and mind, thou canst not read it too much). take particular notice of the promises, which are most suited to thy age, state, and condition in life; because these God has graciously made for thy use, and about these the
enemy will be most busy with thee. Treasure them up then in thy memory, and have them ready against the time of need, looking up,
Secondly, to Christ for the fulfilling of them. All the promises are made in him, and made good by him : thou art therefore in an humble dependence upon his faithfulness and power to expect whatever thou wantest, and he has promised. Trust him, and he will not fail thee. Stagger not at any of his promises through the seeming impossibility of their being made good; but depend upon his almighty power, and thou wilt find him a faithful promise-keeping God, whose word standeth fast for ever and ever.
Thus thou shalt not only be safe but shalt also overcome the wicked one, which the apostle John makes the last part of their character, who are strong in the Lord. They overcome him by the strength of their
faith. They hold fast their confidence in the Lord's promised strength, and he fights for them. That mighty arm which bruised the serpent's head, brings them victory, as it is written of that noble army mentioned Rev. xii. 11. « They overcame the accuser of “ the brethren by the blood of the Lamb, and by the “ word of their testimony.” Through faith in his blood they were pardoned and justified freely, and they knew that in him they had righteeusness and strength, therefore they were at peace with God, and the accuser of the brethren could not lay any thing to their charge. Thus they were delivered from his power, and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son; and they testified this by adhering to the word of truth. They believed that whatever Christ had therein promised, he would fulfil to them, and they bore their testimony to their being safe in depending upon his word in the most trying circumstances. They would not give it up what ever they lost for trusting to it: nay, they stuck.stedfastly to its truth, although it cost them their lives før maintaining their testimony; for it is said of them, “they loved not their lives unto the death," that is, they loved the truth more than life, they were not afraid publicly to own, that their trust and confidence was in the blood of the Lamb, and they believed they should be infinite and everlasting gainers by holding fast the word of their testimony unto death. And the Lord was with them, and mightily strengthened them, so that they joyfully sealed their testimony with their blood, although they died in flames, and in the most exquisite torments. Thus they overcame Satan. A most noble company of those conquerors are now standing round the throne of the Lamb, enjoying his exceeding great and precious promises : he has crowned them with glory -he has clothed them with robes washed and made white in his own blood-he has wiped away all tears from their eyes, and taken all cause of sorrow from their hearts he has put palms into their hands to shew that they are eternal conquerors, and that they shall stand
confirmed in bliss for ever and ever. May thou and I, reader, ere long, join them; and until that happy time come, may our faith be daily more established in the blood and righteousness of the Lamb of God, that we may be growing in our love to him, and in our dependence upon him, until he admit us to see him as he is.
Through much exercise and fighting these young men, strong and mighty in the scriptures, grow up to be fathers in Christ; whose character is thus drawn by the apostle John, 1 Epis. ii. '14. " I have written “ unto you fathers, because ye have known him that is “ from the beginning," namely Jesus Christ, whose stile and title it is to be from the beginning, as he himself speaks in Prov. viii. 22, 23. “ The Lord possessed “ me in the beginning of his way, before his works of “ old. I was set up from everlasting, from the begin
ning, or ever the earth was.” He was a person in the Godhead, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, but was set up in his office-character from everlasting to the beginning of the ways and works of God. Upon account of what he was to do and suffer in man's nature according to the grace of the covenant of the ever blessed Trinity, he was the Creator, and is the Preserver of the universe ; for by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, and by him all things subsist; and he is the beginning, the first cause of all things in nature, and also in grace, the head of the body the church. In the same manner our Lord speaks of himself, Rev. i. 1.“ I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the 6 ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and " which is to come, the Almighty.” He is in and from the beginning, being the first cause of all the divine works in creation, in providence, and in redemption, the Author and the Finisher, the First and the Last in all, which shews the great propriety of describing him here by this name. The apostle is treating of the highest state of a believer, and he says it consists in knowing, that Jesus Christ is all and in all. Whatever good
there is in his kingdom of nature, from him it had its beginning, and by him it is preserved: whatever good there is in his kingdom of grace, he is the author of it, by his power it is continued, and when brought to perfection he is the finisher. He is the beginning, he is the ending of all the counsels, and of all the works of God. In this light these fathers had learned to consider the Lord Jesus: they knew that he was to do all for them, and in them, and by them; they not only knew it speculatively, but had also experimental knowledge of it. “ Ye have known him that is from the be
ginning," have known him, and tried him, and found him to be what his name signifies. And this is the right knowledge of Christ—not such as the devil has; he could say, I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God-not such as too many nominal Christians have, who profess that they know God, but in works they deny him_not such as many professors attain, for whom it had been better not to have known the way of righteousness than after they had known it to turn from it. These fathers knew Christ by the inward teaching of his Word and Spirit, whereby he made himself known to them, as he does not to others. For he fulfilled to them the great promise of the new covenant-“I will give them a heart to know me, that I
am the Lord, and they shall be my people, and I will “ be their God,” Jer. xxiv. 7. The covenant is well ordered in all things and sure, particularly with respect to the quickening of the soul from a death in trespasses and sins, and to the renewing of its faculties, that they may be capable of knowing God, and to the enlightening them, that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ may shrine unto them, even unto the heart, enlivening it with holy and heavenly affection to the person, to the offices, and to the glories of the blessed Immanuel. Whereby the believer, thus taught of God to know him aright, can now trust him, hope in him, and love him; which graces are strengthened from the consideration of God's standing related to him as his coves