« 이전계속 »
of the facts themselves for which I contend. Sure I am, that in a multitude of instances, while my body (in that part of it which is made up of bones, and flesh, and blood) takes rest in sleep, there is another part of me, a thinking faculty, which doth not sleep, and which is not unfrequently most busily engaged, in thoughts, and words, and actions. And, indeed, at times so engaged in evil, as I should blush to communicate to the nearest and dearest earthly friend I have. It becomes an important question, with such as insist upon inherent holiness, to answer, from whence doth such things arise? I stay not to determine the point as to my responsibility for them. Let that part of the subject be set aside. But it should seem to be a selfevident truth, that if evil was not within, such circumstances of evil could not be produced. They are the words of my Lord which saith," Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies.”
Precious Lord Jesus, how can I, with such views of indwelling corruption, take confidence from any supposed inherent holiness? Should I not tremble at the very thought of thine inspection, if my acceptance before thee depended upon the least atom of worth in me? If thy word, which holy scripture declares to be "quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow; if this be a discerner of thoughts and intents of the heart, how naked and open must be every thing to thy knowledge, with whom we have to do? Heb. iv. 12, 13. And should my Lord, as an almighty spiritual anatomist, cut down to the back bone of my frame, and throw open at one view the whole inward structure: shouldest thou, great God, make bear the privy chamber of my heart, the depth of which, and the workings of which, I myself cannot explore; but where all my "secret sins
are in the light of thy countenance"-Lord! how should I stand before thee, in the discoveries thou wouldst make," whose eyes are as a flame of fire? And can
I, can any man, in the consciousness of such things, be led to advocate the cause of inherent holiness? The question rings through all the chambers of the conscience, and the walls of the heart reverberate the solemn sound, and echoes to the inquiry, "How shall any man be just before God? How can he be clean that is born of a woman." Job xxv. 4.
When I look back to the days of old; when I consider the years of many generations; when I read the groans and self-reproaches of the greatest servants of the Most High God, not in the days of their unregeneracy, but many of them years after a saving work of grace had been wrought in their hearts, I ask myself the question, did these men indeed feel what they have said; and, under such impressions, could any one have made them believe the doctrine of inherent holiness, and progressive sanctification? Nay, hath God the Holy Ghost, in the history of those faithful followers of the Lord, given a single instance in all the bible of such an one? Hath the Holy Ghost testified to Noah of such an improvement in his heart, in those different views given of him before and after the flood? Gen. vi. 8-21. Was Lot in a state of progressive sanctification, whose "righteous soul was vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked," when in Sodom, but who afterwards fell into such an offence at Zoar? Gen. xix. with 2 Peter ii. 7, 8. Was Abraham advancing in self-holiness, whose faith was so illustrious at Moriah, and towards the close of life took unto him concubines? Gen. xxii. with xxv. 6. Do the lives of Moses, Aaron, David, Jeremiah, Peter and Paul, furnish proofs of a progression in sanctity, and not rather, on the contrary, most decided testimonies to the re
verse? See Numb. xx. 10. Exod. xxxii. 21. 2 Sam. vii. compared with chapter xi. Jer. i. with xx. 14, &c. Matt. xvi. 17, with xxvi. 69, &c. Rom. vii. 18, &c.
Gracious Lord Jesus! I desire to lay low in the dust before thy Divine Majesty, under a conscious sense, that I find nothing progressive of holiness in my body, which is virtually all sin; for in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing! Yes, blessed Lord! let me go softly all my days under a deep sense of it, learning more and more my own nothingness, that I may therefrom, under God the Holy Ghost, know how to value, more and more, thy fulness, suitableness, and all-sufficiency. And if the daily workings of my heart do but endear my Lord the more to me, I am content to be indeed nothing, yea, worse than nothing, so that Jesus be glorified.
A little while, and I shall drop this body of sin, and with it all its corruptions. Every day hastens on the last day. And when my last day on earth comes, my body will sleep in Jesus, until He shall come to take it to himself, that "where He is, there may I be also." Yes, yes, thou precious Lord Jesus! when thou shalt take home my spirit, to join the assembly of " the spirits of just men made perfect," before thy throne, then will my flesh rest in hope, until that joyful morning, when "this corruptible shall put on incorruption; and this mortal shall put on immortality." And then, that which is sown in weakness, will be raised in power; and that which is sown a natural body, will be raised a spiritual body. Yes! for my God, my Saviour Jesus himself, shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God. And then will my Lord change my vile body, "that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself." Amen.
UNDER BEREAVING PROVIDENCES.
I had heard of a bereaving providence in the neighbourhood: death had entered in at the window, and taken away the desire of the eyes with a stroke. It is blessed, yea, very blessed, when our sorrows lead the heart to God, instead of leading from God. Perhaps there is not an higher proof of grace in the soul, than when our afflictions, be they what they may, induce such blessed effects. First, to eye the hand of the Lord with the providence. And, secondly, to approve of the hand of the Lord in the providence. We have two illustrious examples in the old testament dispensation of both these, and which are enough to make many new testament believers blush, under the consciousness of their weaker faith. Eli, when receiving the awful message from the Lord, concerning the destruction of his house, and the death of his two sons in one day, bowed down with submission, saying, "it is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good." 1 Sam. iii. 18. And Job, when stripped of every comfort, but the comfort of a covenant God in Christ, had the same views of divine love as before, and cried out, "naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Job i. 21.
"It is better to go to the house of mourning," Solomon saith, "than to go to the house of feasting for that is the end of all men, and the living will lay it to his heart." Eccles. vii. 2. And no regenerated child of God, but must join issue with the wise man in the sentiment. I resolved, therefore, on receiving the report of death in the neighbourhood, to visit the survivors. Perhaps, I said, they may go with me to Jesus. If Jesus makes (as I am sure he doth, and will make) the case of every member of his mystical body his own,
we shall speed at court, and the very tears of sorrow will be formed by Him, more grateful than the spiced wine of the pomegranate.
I forbore, however, until the first paroxysms of grief had in some degree subsided. Sorrow is not forbidden to the Lord's people, under bereavements by death. Nay, we are expected to mingle our tears in the stream of the deeply exercised, and weep with them that weep. "Only," saith Paul, " I would not have you sorrow as others which have no hope." Jesus himself "wept at the grave of Lazarus." John xi. 35. And when grace is in the heart, and the soul rejoiceth in hope, while nature gives vent to the separation made by death in those we love; the tear standing in the eye, is more lovely than the richest pearl the world ever saw.
It is an high privilege with the Lord's people, to have access to the Lord's presence, at all times, and upon all occasions. I found it so, in going to Jesus, under the present circumstances; and, therefore, had no sooner entered this house of mourning, than I proposed to the survivors an immediate attendance at the footstool of the Lord. And it is astonishing, what blessed effects are derived from a plan of this kind. We know, indeed, that the Lord graciously enters into all the concerns of his people, for he not only bears their sins, but carries their sorrows; yet, the conversion of the deepest mourning into holy joy-and while the countenance is sad, the heart is gladdened—this only is to be found, from the sweet communications of Jesus.
Mourners in Zion, even gracious mourners, are too apt, in such overwhelming seasons as death makes in an house, to overlook those soul-refreshing consolations which arise out of death, and which, in fact, can be obtained only by death. Never, surely, would the Holy Ghost have left upon record, as he hath, so decided a testimony to its blessedness, had the matter been in the smallest degree doubtful. "Precious in the