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What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? Luke xviii. 41. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, &c. Matt. xxii. 37-39.
O LORD, dost thou ask me also this question ? O yes! Well then, I answer, That I may see how gracious thou art; that, knowing thy love in thy light, I may love thee again. This is the sum and substance of all my prayer; because thou requirest it so seriously of me. "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha." 1 Cor. xvi. 22. But thou dost not require it as of myself, well knowing that I can do nothing; but signifieth only what I am to ask of thee, and what thou art willing to give and to work; for thou dost not require anything but what thou workest thyself; and workest everything that thou requirest; therefore faith and love being required by thee, I require the same from thee first. Grant, O grant them to me, that I may return them to thee again. And since nothing is pleasing to thee but what is thy own gift, I trust that thou wilt certainly hear and fulfil this my request. However, as my salvation is not grounded on my own, but on thine and thy Father's love and counsel, save me by free grace through thy merits, and let me go on covered all over with grace and pardon. This is treasure enough, by which my heart can be well satisfied.
He that can shake the worlds he made,
And what a condescending God!
Our sorrows and our tears we pour
In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength. Isa. xxx. 15. In your patience possess ye your souls. Luke xxi. 19. Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be faint-hearted. Isa. vii. 4. CHRISTIANS must suffer patiently, and patience is their armour, while God is fighting for them. But when we are unwilling to suffer, going about to make complaints everywhere, and to seek human comfort, or to rid ourselves, by our own contrivances, we lose the comfort of the Lord's help, we are stirring up the wasp-nest of our unruly thoughts, and bring more trouble upon ourselves and others; nay, we are fighting against God, who thereby intends to cure our impatience, pride, and anger; for the more peevish and wild we are, the more desperate is our disease; and consequently, we have so much more need of such sharp but wholesome trials of affliction to mortify these bad passions of the flesh. Therefore, we must not presume to murmur or complain, which will only make bad worse; for he who, through impatience, will flee from one trouble, may run into ten others; and though it is possible sometimes to rid ourselves out of trouble, yet the help is not so glorious and blessed as if we had waited for the help of the Lord. Grant me to wait always on thy help, for the Lord's good time will come, though he tarry long.
Sure I must bear, if I would reign;
Must I be carried to the skies
Whoso loveth instruction, loveth knowledge; but he that hateth reproof is brutish. Prov. xii. 1. NOTHING can be said so bad of us, which we have not the root of in our heart; and though we are convinced of and strive against our own weakness, yet we may not strive so earnestly as to conquer. Therefore, God comes to our assistance in a sharp reproof from others; for he knows how to use even the faults of others to our good. And if we receive everything as from him alone, striving so much against this our frailty, that we may not be offensive to our neighbour any more, we certainly gain a great victory and blessing. But if we grow impatient and make many excuses, being unwilling to put up with anything, we make evil worse, and neglect the amendment of ourselves and others. O Lord, make us better, and give us patience!
How should the sons of Adam's race
If he contend in righteousness,
To vindicate my words and thoughts
Then seek the Lord while yet his ear
While offer'd mercy still is near,
Let sinners quit their evil ways,
He pardons with o'erflowing love?
Nor like your ways are mine
Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Romans iii. 28. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. James ii. 24.
BOTH these apostles wrote by inspiration. St. Paul answers this question both affirmatively and negatively: That a man is justified before God by faith, without the deeds of the law; and in the 20th verse positively affirms, "That by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified." St. James asserts, That "by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." St. Paul speaks of a justification before God; James of a justification before men. St. Paul speaks of the justification of penitent sinners before God: James, of the justification of saints before men. St. Paul of the justification of sinners believing in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ for pardon and life James, of the works of righteousness after justification by faith in CHRIST. Paul speaks of faith touching its office in the article of justification before God: James, of faith in its fruits and effects. Whenever there is a true faith, it must fix on Jesus Christ alone for salvation; that is its principal act. This same faith unites to CHRIST; and where there is union, there must be love; and where there is love, there must be obedience; and where obedience is, there will be a reward of grace; and when the reward is aoknowledged to be of grace, and not of merit, God will have all the glory in time and eternity.
Let all who hold this faith and hope
Thus faith approves itself sincere,
For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and thy people from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. Exod. xxxiii. 16. READER, do you adopt the language of Moses, and request with him that, in all your removals, God's presence may go with you? That you be not permitted to stir without this distinguishing testimony that you are in the path of duty? Are you waiting upon the Lord, earnest to serve him in sincerity and truth? "not being conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of your mind," and desirous to be numbered with his separate people? Then you may expect the divine blessing, and your way to be prosperous. It was a distinguished privilege of the Israelites that they were to dwell alone, and not to be reckoned among the nations; and it is the privilege and duty of the spiritual Israel to be separate and distinct from the world; they are a separate people in the love of God; in their election in CHRIST; in the covenant of grace made with them in him; in effectual vocation; in their being seated with him to all eternity. Nor are they reckoned among the nations but as they are called out of them, and generally treated as the refuse and offscouring of all things; they do not reckon themselves to be of the world, but as pilgrims and strangers in it. Lord, let my lot be among thy separate people, the righteous, both here and for evermore!
Among the righteous let me dwell,