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If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Gal. i. 10. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. Rom. xv. 2. Fear or love of men, and hypocrisy, very often are nearly allied: A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet. Prov. xxix. 5. But he that rebuketh a man, afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with his tongue. Chap. xxviii. 23.
We are ever inclined to extremes, even then when God has begun his work in our soul. At one time we are apt to run into a false activity for the conversion of others, trusting too much to our own sufficiency and strength; at other times, perhaps, we fall into too much remissness and inactivity for the salvation of others. May the Lord therefore always guide me to steer the middle course, so as to walk in all singleness and humility of heart, as well as in true fervency of spirit, faith, and love, that it may be said, "I believe, therefore do I speak." Grant, O my dear Saviour, that I may shine as a light, and be useful to all about me; never seeking my own, but only the salvation and good of others, with unfeigned love! O that thy love may constrain me in all things! Amen.
My own glory still I seek,
Still I covet human praise;
Thee I wrong, and rob thy grace.
Sin from grace, and pride from thee?
O forbid it, humble love!
Hide me, O my Father, hide!
Save me from the sin of pride!
Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 1 John iii. 19. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. John xviii. 37.
THE evidence of our assurance of eternal happiness is that which every soul, that makes any serious reflections on matters of religion, pants after it is therefore necessary to know upon what foundation this blessed evidence is built, and from what principles it arises; and those, I think, are chiefly faith, love, and obedience; since no man can have this assurance who does not feel in himself the principle of obedience; nor can he have obedience without the principle of love, nor love without the principle of faith; for it is a notorious contradiction to imagine that any one can be assured of God Almighty's pardon, without obeying him; of his favour, without loving him; or of the eternal enjoyment of him, without a firm and stedfast belief in him. But here many mistake the nature of these things: true belief in God represents him to the mind as infinite in glory, and power, and wisdom, and goodness, and in all perfections; with such charms, such beauty, such loveliness, as to captivate and ravish the affections of the soul, and smite it with a divine love true love reigns triumphant in the soul, engrosses all its affections, strips other objects of their charms; nay, makes them appear vile and contemptible, in comparison with the supreme good; true obedience strives to please God, to resemble him, to render itself acceptable to him, and ardently desires the enjoyment of him. Faith only gives me peace with God; But if my faith be true,
It surely shews itself by love,
And kind obedience too.
He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Matt. xxiv. 13. Behold, I come quickly: hold that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Rev. iii. 11. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall. 1 Cor. x. 12.
HE that stands in faith, and by nature is of a cheerful temper, must not magnify the measure of his own faith, nor undervalue that of weaker souls, for such conduct would declare that he is even now fallen into pride, and a contempt of his brother; therefore, however fast we may seem to stand, let us be wary and watchful. We are never so near a fall as when we grow self-confident. He who knows the nature and power of temptations, will not discourage the weak, nor insist too much upon particular enjoyments and sensible assurances, which are not the constant witness and marks of faith. The Holy Spirit himself is the earnest and seal of adoption; who is to be known, not only by this joy, but by all his other fruits and operations. To trust too much upon feeling, disturbs our peace as soon as it is gone; but to rely on the word of God, preserves a settled assurance.
Jesus, shall I never be
Plant, and root, and fix in me,
Grant that every moment I
If any man have not the spirit of Christ (but the spirit of this world) he is none of his. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Rom. viii. 9, 14. See also ver. 7, 8. NOT gross wickedness only, but even a carnal mind, is enmity against God. "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James iv. 4. "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of CHRIST: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." Phil. iii. 18, 19. But how do I know that I have the Spirit of CHRIST?
Answer.-I have prayed for him earnestly; this cannot be in vain. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" Luke xi. 13. He works also hatred and sorrow of sin; rebukes, comforts, and drives me to CHRIST and to prayer. This is his abiding witness, built upon the word of God, which no man of this have, but even the weakest believer enjoys.
Holy, true and righteous Lord,
My conscience purge from every blot,
Within me thy good Spirit place,
Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly. Matt. xiii. 12. For the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water, springing up unto everlasting life. John iv. 14. He that is righteous let him be righteous still; and he that is holy let him be holy still. Rev. xxii. 11.
Of the remarkable increase of the kingdom of God, even from the least beginning, see also Matt. xiii. 31-33; and that beautiful figure, Ezek. xlvii. 1-12. This well being opened, it highly concerns us to draw living water out of it daily by fervent prayer, and then it will spring up freely. But, reader, if you begin to be slothful, and distracted with worldly cares, not abiding closely with CHRIST, nor calling diligently on him, your spirit will soon be dried up, and you will scarcely be able, with anxious groans, to draw a single drop from this well. Therefore, take heed to your spirit, and if you desire your own comfort and God's glory, keep near the well's mouth, and be drawing its water continually by prayer, and drinking it sweetly by faith.
But ah! how soon my joys decay
And snatch the heavenly scene away
When shall the time, dear Jesus, when
That I shall leave these clouds of sin,