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formed in their heads without any warrant from God. There was no life in it, and no living effects from it. There was the form, and nothing more. They made a profession, but never came to any enjoyment. They had no vital union, and therefore they could not have any real communion with Christ. They could not, as the apostle expresses it, walk in him; and, therefore, in the hour of temptation they fell away, and came to nothing. Take heed, e then, O my soul, of mistakes. Examine, carefully, of what sort thy faith is. Bring it to the standard of scripture; and see what went before believing--see whether thou dost now, from thy heart, believe what God hath spoken-wait for the effects. Dost thou so trust his word, as to take him for thy God and thy portion? Art thou walking with him? And art thou depending on him to bestow the promised graces and blessings on thee in thy walk? If this be thine experience, thou art set out well; go on. Remember where every thing relating to thy walk is to be had. The Father's love has laid it up all in the Son's ful
ness, and it is the office of the Holy Spirit to teach thee how to receive out of it grace for grace. He teaches by his word. With this in thy hand, and his light in thine understanding, read and study what he has promised thee for thy safe, happy, and holy walk. Take no step without the direction of his word; and expect at every step that he will make good to thee what he has promised. Thou wilt very soon find the necessity of this dependence upon him : for ere thou hast well begun thy walk, thou wilt be called upon to exercise thy faith, and to put it to trial. Thou wilt meet with many things in thee averse to this holy walk; and many more to distress thee in it. The body of sin, the old man, the flesh, with all its affections and lusts, are still in thee. It is of their nature to be lusting, and to be always putting forth some of their filthy motions, in order to draw thee to walk after the flesh, and not after the Spirit.
The tempter helps them all he can. He knows how to improve them to his own interest: and if, from what is passing within thee, there be a sight and sense of sin, then
if he can get thee to look at it in his view, he will act upon thy legal and self-righteous tempers, and will inject such vile insinuations as these against the Lord, and against his Christ
How is it that I am yet the subject of sin ? It is still in me. It cleaves to me as the flesh to my bones, and it mixes so with my duties, that I cannot perform them without it. I sometimes fear I am nothing but sin. When I attempt to walk with God, ere I set out, something evil arises within me, and stops me. Some proud, unbelieving thought, some sensual affection, some worldly disposition, some corruption or other is ever at hand to hinder my course. What then must I think of myself? I scarce know what. Things, I see, do not grow better. I have been long hoping for it; but I find there still dwelleth no good thing in me: so that I am almost ready to question the truth of my grace, and it is with great difficulty I can keep up any peace in my conscience.
When the believer is attacked in this inanner, (and who is not at some time or other)
how is he to defend himself? Will his skilfulness in the word of righteousness, and his faith in the word of reconciliation, keep him safe in the hour of temptation? Yes. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, the lessons before learnt will be enforced, and brought into use. This is the time to maintain faith in the atonement, and in the righteousness of the God-man. Now it is to be tried in the fire ; and it is put to the trial, that it may come out of it, like gold, proved to be sterling metal, and refined from its dross— better in every respect for having gone through the fire. The trial of faith is far more precious than that of gold which perisheth. It is therefore put into the furnace, that the believer may know the truth of it, and may experience the blessings of it. Faith conflicting with unbelief is a good fight--sometimes sharp; but always profitable. The flesh may be weak and ready to yield; faith may be hard put to it, but victory is certain. During the battle the warrior is invincible in the whole armour of God. He takes to him the shield of faith, and holds it up against the fiery darts of satan.
He draws out the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and with it he defeats satan. He consults or remembers a scripture suitable to his present case, and this being set home by the Holy Spirit, puts an end to the engagement, and restores and settles sweet peace in the conscience. How often has he applied the following passage, which the Lord speaks concerning his true Israelites, Jer. xxxii. 38, 39, 40, 41. “ They SHALL be my people, and I will be their God, and I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me FOR EVER, for the good of them, and of their children after them; and I will make an everlasting covenant for them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put my fear into their hearts, that they shall not depart from me; yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good.”
What strong consolation is there in this scripture? Every sentence, has an argument in it, tending to establish peace with God, and to maintain it in the midst of war. How quieting and satisfying to the troubled conscience is his covenant purpose ? " They