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THE CHRISTIAN REMEMBRANCER
(Continued from last issue)
The Love of the Father
“In this is manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his onlybegotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” We could have had no life but through the Redeemer; and we could not have had him but through the tender love of the Father. Nothing more forcibly can show the love of God towards us than this, that he should give up Christ to the deepest humiliation and sufferings for our rescue and redemption. Had there been any possible method of salvation beside this, consistent with the divine attributes, surely the bitter cup would have passed away from the blessed Jesus, and God would not have permitted him to drink it. But God did not, and therefore could not, in this case, spare his Son, but delivered him up to death for our sakes; and thus, in a most admirable manner and degree, “commendeth his love toward us, while we were yet sinners,” who therefore as such could have done nothing to deserve it. “Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
All this ensued according to the covenant of grace, which was settled between the Divine Persons upon the throne of heaven; and when the Lord Jesus was sacrificed, then was this covenant ratified and established. Jehovah interposing himself therein, and through the divided flesh and spirit of the Messiah, satisfying his law and justice for the remission of sins.
By this new testament in the blood of the Saviour, his people are not only admitted into fellowship with himself as their brother, yea, as flesh of their flesh, and bone of their bone, in a more than espoused nearness; but they are also entitled, by a gracious right, to approach unto God as their Father. They are adopted into his family; and the covenant established in the hands of the Mediator, is the testimony and the seal of it. Hence they are no more strangers and foreigners, and much less slaves and enemies, but sons and heirs, children and heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and so when they look up and pray, they do not take God’s name in vain, and speak’ falsely, when they call Jehovah himself, “Abba, Father;” but they utter what they have a right and privilege to utter, and what the Lord delights to hear.
O my soul, thou canst not be in a ten thousandth part so ready to be joyful in this matter, as thy God is to rejoice over thee. If he could regard thee so much, when thou wert dead in condemnation, and an alien, as to give up his Son for thy sake; how much more, when thou art reconciled by such expensive means, will he pour forth his compassion upon thee? If he was kind to thee when he stood as thy Judge, and smote thy Substitute for thy sins; will he, can he, cease to be kind, under the character of thy Father, thy merciful and gracious Father, in Christ Jesus ? Lord, remove so wicked a thought, so diabolical a notion of unbelief from my mind! It is treason against thy love, thy justice, thy truth, and all those attributes which are the shining rays of thy nature, to harbor so foul an opinion: it is atheism, madness, yea, the very falsehood and blasphemy of hell. Holy Father, drive by thy Spirit such base and abominable suggestions from my heart; and let me claim the privilege of my adoption, let me call myself thy child, though an unworthy child, and thus honor thy faithfulness and truth, by living in the sense of my nearness and dearness to thee!
When my soul can most ascend to this its proper station, then time, and the things of time, are most under my feet; the world, and all its bustles, annoy me less; my heart beats freely for heaven; and I can look down from the hill, seeing the vanities and pitying the follies beneath which carry men away from God, and too often ‘drown them in ruin and perdition.’
The Love of the Spirit
If God be love, then the Spirit is love, because the Spirit is God. He manifests himself as the God of love, be unfolding and bestowing such love as only God himself could have, and from himself could pour forth unto others.
The Holy Spirit as one of the parties in the everlasting covenant, loveth his people with an everlasting love. By him, they are spiritually circumcised, and so admitted into the bond or privileges of the covenant; that is, they are cut off from the state of nature and the world, and are brought into a new fellowship with God, and all that belongs to him. By him also they are made sensible of the love of the Father and of the Son, when He sheddeth forth his own love upon their hearts; for it is He who enables each of them to cry, “Abba, Father,” under the taste of his mercy; and to say to Christ, ‘Thou art my Saviour, my Lord, and my God,’ in the rich experience of his grace. Without the love of the Spirit, as they could not know, so they could not come up to the love of the whole Trinity: for by him alone it is shed abundantly upon all that are his, both in earth and heaven.
If I were left to love God by my own fallen powers, and had not the continual help of the Spirit of love, I should fear that I could do nothing but hate him entirely. “The carnal mind is enmity itself against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” The law of God is the pure life and love of God; and only by his Spirit can I delight therein, and then only after the inner man. Hence it must follow, that, “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Without him, every man must remain as he was born, earthly, sensual, devilish.
O how deeply then am I indebted to this divine Agent, for taking up his holy residence in my unworthy soul! What loving kindness and mercy have I not felt and enjoyed by his blessed power within me!
How is it, that He, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, should vouchsafe to take up his abode in a poor sinner’s breast? What marvellous love is this, that he should stoop to dwell with one, whose heart hath been the residence of the evil spirit, and the cage of every unclean bird ? Surely it must be infinite love which could cleanse so unholy a tenement, and kept it in any degree clean for himself, against the manifold attempts to pollute it on every side.
Whatever I may lose then, O thou blessed Spirit, may I never lose the love of thee! The loss of fame, of riches, and of all things here, are but of small account in themselves, and can soon be made up by thy power; but the loss of thee is the loss of more than life itself, the parting with the very anchor of my soul, and turning me adrift into a dark ocean of doubt and despair. O then forsake not thine own, who could never have been thine own but from thy mere love and bounty, and perfect all the work of grace in me; that, before men and angels, I may give indubitable proof that indeed I am thine!
The Work of the Spirit
The nature of man, since the PALL, is carnal and prone to evil; nor hath it power or inclination to raise up itself to the desire and enjoyment of heavenly things, but, on the contrary, shuns and abhors them. It “savoureth not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men” and of the world.
Now, as whatsoever is born of th flesh is flesh, and as flesh and blood cannot inherit nor even know the kingdom or grace of God; it is not marvellous that Christ should say, “Ye must be born again,” or that it is absolutely necessary for a man to be “renewed in the spirit of his mind,” before he can apprehend or enjoy the things of God. We see this plain necessity proved by the case of all men; for no man seeks and knows God by his own natural abilities; and every one, who doth know him, freely confesses, that it is by grace alone he obtained that knowledge.
The first work of the Spirit, then, in a sinner, is a “new birth unto righteousness.” As this is the Spirit’s office in the covenant of grace, so believers under it are said to be “born of the Spirit.” This is their entrance into the knowledge of themselves and of God. They are united unto God in Christ by the act of his Spirit, and so partake a new life, with new functions, faculties, and affections, peculiar to it; which life is in all things opposite to the carnal life of their fallen nature, and creates, from the time of its birth, a constant warfare in them against the being and power of evil.
As this generation, in its essence, is the sole work of the Spirit, so it is likewise in all its effects. When the Christian begins to live spiritually, he is soon enabled to think and act spiritually. And as the views and objects of this life are beyond the creature, and rest in God and in Christ, the Holy Spirit leads up the heart to a dependence on the Divine Persons for the attainment of them. This is faith: and thus it appears, that it is both the gift and the operation of the Spirit.
By this faith the Christian desires, and attains what he desires. By this he prays, and hopes, and waits, and expects. By this he wrestles against sin, and Satan, and the world. By this he looks with a holy contempt on all dying things, and beholds those delightful realities which are invisible to sense. By this all he knows himself to be a child of God, and the purchase of Christ. By this he sees a glorious immorality provided for him, and longs often to enjoy it. By this he suffers the will of God, as well as obeys it, knowing that it must work entirely for his good. By this he welcomes death itself, and at length obtains the victory over it, through Jesus Christ his Lord. All this work of faith is carried on by the effectual unceasing agency of the Holy Spirit. It is an action upon the spirit of man, which none but the God of spirits either would or could perform. And where this work is not thus inwardly performed, there may indeed be the notions of truth, and the forms of godliness, but they have no real life or power in them. The heart, in that case, may be as dead to God, and as much in and of the world as ever.
He is called the Spirit of Christ, because he not only is one with him in Jehovah, but also takes of the things of Christ and shows them to his people. Thus, where his Spirit dwells, Christ is said to dwell, because of their inseparable union. If Christ dwell in our hearts by faith, it is therefore because the Spirit of Christ is in us, and God is in us of a truth. It was the Spirit of Christ in the apostle which enabled him to say, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
To thee, then, O thou Holy Spirit of truth, and by thine own power, do I look up for the life of faith and hope, and for the increase of faith and hope, and every blessing! O work in me to will and to do what is right; for, without thee, I can neither will nor do any thing but evil. I am all depravity; but thou art grace itself, and the God of all grace. I am weakness, instability, and want; but thou art everlasting strength, the rock of ages, the fulness which filleth all in all. I have nothing, but thou hast all things. O behold thy poor servant, whom thou hast made willing to serve thee; and let all the good pleasure of thy will be done in me and by me. Abate my pride, subdue my unbelief, mortify my corruptions, establish my soul. All that I need, supply, according to thy riches in glory by Christ Jesus. So shall I be steadfast in thy steadfastness, lively in thy life, active in thy power, faithful in thy grace, wise in thy wisdom, holy in thine holiness, happy in thy love, persevering to the end by thine incessant care, comfort, and preservation. Lord, who or what am I, that thou hast so tenderly brought me hitherto; when, like millions around me, I might have been justly cut off, and left silent in darkness! Help, O help me to adore thee, and to testify of thy goodness and grace, in heart and in mind, in lip and in life, both now and forever!
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Bekijk de hele uitgave van donderdag 1 oktober 1942
The Banner of Truth | 12 Pagina's
Bekijk de hele uitgave van donderdag 1 oktober 1942
The Banner of Truth | 12 Pagina's