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GOD WILL BE GRACIOUS TO HIS CHILDREN. · He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.—Ps. cxii. 4. SWEET words ! precious and full ; enough to silence every doubt of poor, seeking sinners about the goodness of the Lord. Let every poor, doubting soul read these words, and he may see the heart of God himself, and what he is saying to him. “He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.” The good Lord is saying to every poor sinner that crieth unto him, that he will hear. Why will he hear? I answer, because saith the Lord, “I am gracious” (Exod. xxxiv. 6) full of free favour. To whom--the good, the self-righteous, the holy ? No, not to these ; these he will send empty away. It is to the poor, lost soul, that feels he is lost for ever, and that knows if the Lord were to send him to hell, he would deserve it. Yes, he can say amen to his own damnation. The prayer of such a poor soul is, “ God, be merciful to me a sinner;" he not only sees himself to be a sinner, but he feels it, and groans under the dreadful load of his guilt. What does such a poor sinner as this want ? Mercy. And will he cry in vain ? No, never. He might make bitter lamentations and mourning ; and this he will do. When he feels the wrath of God upon his conscience, he may think that he shall sink to hell ; but he never shall-he never can-- no, that cannot be. God the Holy Ghost has put this cry into his heart, and cry he will ; cry he must, or sink to hell. But will he ever sink to that dreadful place ? No, bless the Lord, he never will. Why not? I answer, because God will be gracious unto him. Yes, poor sinner, he will save thee; never would thy poor soul cry for mercy if God the Holy Ghost had not put that cry into thy heart. O bless his dear name, “He is gracious!” Hear the gracious words, poor sinner, that come from his mouth; “ Whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Yes, and though thou seest thyself as black as hell and as vile as the devil, he will save thee; nay, it is just such a one as thou art that he will save. And shall I say that thou art already saved, and the happy day will surely come when thou shalt know it for thyself, and shalt say the Lord is gracious indeed, and full of compassion ? Another gracious word that the good Lord has said to poor sinners is, that “They that seek shall find.” Do you want to find the Lord precious to your poor soul? Is there a desire in your soul that you might know him for yourself? And is the language of thy heart, “O that I could find him ; 0 that he would say unto my soul, “I am thy salvation ?!” Hast thou sought him with all thy heart and soul, when no eye could see thee but the eye of God himself? Perhaps thou hast been into thy bedchamber, and fallen on thy knees, and thy prayer has been something like this, “ Lord, I am a great sinner, one of the blackest sinners out of hell. Thou wouldst be just if thou wert to send me there ; but 0, dear Lord, send me not to that dreadful place ! Do, Lord, save my poor soul for the sake of thy dear Son. Thou canst save me in him. 0 wash my poor soul in his precious blood ! cover me with his everlasting righteousness ; let thy love be shed abroad in my heart ; let me have some sweet promise from thy holy word.” Or if thou wert going to the house of God, thou hast said, “Now, Lord, show me ; let thy servant speak a word to my soul ; 0 that I may know this night that I am thy child ! O show me that Christ Jesus has died for me! O, blessed Spirit, do thou show me that Christ has shed his precious blood for such a wretch as I am.” And hast thou not gone up to the house of God full of expectation, thinking that there was something for you ; and have you not sometimes heard your very feelings brought out ? Your path has been traced out and shown so clearly, and it has been such a delicious dish, that you have been almost ready to say, “ Why, surely, I am a child of God, but I am afraid to say that I am ; but there is a hope that I shall know. I feel a love to the Lord's servant, and I feel a little love sometimes to Christ ; but I often fear afterwards that it is nothing but flesh. 0,” says the poor soul, “ that I did but know whether it was the love of God or not; I am so afraid it is not. O, I would give a thousand worlds if I had them, if I did but know whether Christ did die for my sins or no ! But I am afraid I never shall know, for the longer I seek the farther I seem to be behind ; and when I hear God's children talking of how well they have heard, I often think that I know nothing about the matter, nor ever shall ; for sometimes when I do seem to hear a little, before I get home I doubt it altogether. And sometimes when I think that at such and such a time, when I thought that the Lord appeared to me and drew out my soul in love to him ; and at the same time I felt such a resignation to his heavenly will, and seemed as if the Lord did love me ; and I felt quite happy, and was almost ready to say that I was a child of God. But in less than one hour, Satan bas come and whispered in my ear, and said, "Now do you think that you are a child of God? Look at yourself ; you look like one, don't you? Look,' says Satan, at that sin that you committed the other day; there now, do you think that if you were God's child that ever the Almighty would have suffered you to fall ? No,' says Satan, that he would not.'” “No,” says the poor soul to Satan, “he would not. 0," says the poor soul, “I did think the other day that I was a child of God, but I cannot be so.” “No," says Satan, “all that you thought was the love of God was nothing but I transforming myself into an angel of light-it was I did all that. Ah,” says Satan, “it is no use for you to seek any more; you have been seeking from month to month, and from year to year, and you are as far off now as you were the first day. And,” says the old foe, “ you know that all your seeking won't alter your state ; your eternal state is finally fixed ; you were born either for heaven or hell ; you were either elected to everlasting life, or reprobated for eternal destruction. This doctrine you believe,” says Satan; “therefore,” he continues, “it is of no use for you to seek any more ; go back into the world again, you will be just as well off at last.” “Ah !” says the soul, “I think so too."
But can the devil hold such a poor soul as this? O no ! he cannot, any more than I can hold up my hand and take a star from the firmament. Such a soul as this is too dear to the Lord ever to be given up to the devil: therefore, poor child of God, groan out thy trouble to him-to
thy precious Jesus ; for, sure enough, he is thine, and so shalt thou be brought to know. Satan may tempt thee, and tempt thee he will, but have thee he never can; for thou art bought with the precious blood of Christ, and thou wilt one day say-0 yes, that thou wilt-that Christ is thine and thou art his. And as for thy temptation, there is no temptation that has overtaken thee, but what is common to men ; it is for the trial of thy faith-thy dear Lord knows thy trial, nay, he feels for thee. He was tempted the same as thou art ; he “was in all points tempted like as we are ;” and he knows how to deliver his own dear children out of every temptation. He is gracious, poor soul, and full of compassion-yes, he is full; and would you know that there is not a sigh that drops from thy poor heart, but he hears it ; every groan that goes from thy heart he feels, for thou art a part of himself. There is not a trial thou hast but he is with thee in it. There is not a want thou hast but he knows it; and he orders all these things for thee, and they are to work together for thy good. “Ah,” you say, “that is for those who love God, not for me ; I am afraid that I do not love God, I wish I could say that I loved him! O if I could say that I loved him, then I should be happy! I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, if I could say that Christ died for me ; but O, I am afraid that he did not !” My dear friend, you never would have such wishes and desires if Jesus did not love you—it is impossible ; it is the life of God in your soul : it is because God the Father loved thee from everlasting, and God the Son loved thee, and laid down his precious life for thee; it is the flame of never-dying love kindled in thy soul by God the Holy Ghost. Never, never, poor soul, wouldst thou want to see his blessed face if the love of God was not already kindled in thy soul; therefore all things are working together for thy good, and thou dost love God, and art already, at this very moment, called according to his purpose. Therefore, these trials, let them be what they may, whether temptations from Satan--such as I have been speaking of-or whether persecutions from hypocrites, which God's children are sure to have ; the hypocrites in Zion are sure to hate the living children of God; but what they say, or what they do, will never hurt, it will be sure to work for their good. Let them do or say what they will, they never can hurt the child of God—no, not if they kill him ; for then they would send him to heaven. All will work together for his good; for hear his gracious word to thee, poor soul, “I am with thee:” O sweet words! Let the Lord speak these words to thy heart, then wouldst thou not be afraid of men or devils ; “I am with thee—no man shall set on thee to hurt thee.” He said so to his dear Paul, and he is saying the same sweet words to every child of his "I am with thee.” Canst thou get into one place without him ? No, never ; he is with thee in the hottest fire of persecution from the world. “I am with thee, no man shall set on thee to hurt thee.” No, they shall not hurt thee; if thou art in the hot fire of Satan's temptationstemptations of all sorts- let them be what they will, Jesus Christ is with thee. No temptation of the devil shall set on thee to do thee harm; hear his sweet and precious word, “When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee.” He does not say that he may, but “I will be with thee ;” “and through the rivers" (O, poor soul, Christ is with thee in all thy afflictions) “they shall not overflow thee.” And why not? Thy Jesus is with thee in them; and not only so, but he is afflicted with thee, as it is written, “In all thy afflictions he is afflicted ;” not in part only, but in all. Thou mayst be called to go through fire and through water, and men may ride over thy head; but thou shalt be brought into a wealthy place ; thou shalt sing, “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” He will give thee strength according to thy day. But again, perhaps thou mightest be much tried from another quarter ; where you thought there would be nothing but the kindest friendship, you find that violence and strise have got into the camp ; “Mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it ; wickedness is in the midst thereof, deceit and guile depart not from her streets.” Not an enemy, but a friend ; one that you looked up to, one that you took for your right-hand friend ; one to whom you opened your heart, and told all your trouble and your secrets ; one that you took sweet counsel with, and with whom you walked to the house of God—this friend has perhaps failed you. “0,” says the poor soul, “ my friend, my familiar friend, in whom I trusted, hath lifted up his heel against me, calling me hypocrite, and doing me all the mischief he can to hunt down and injure me ; and I am so tried and cast down, and am afraid that what he says of me is true.” But, poor soul, what has this done for thee? O! a great deal of good. How? It has led you to self-examination, to seek the Lord to lead you aright. And has not the good and gracious Lord met with you and blessed you; and has not the Lord showed you more of his love, and have you not been led to find, by sweet experience, that the Lord favoured you, by giving you a spirit of prayer, blessing you with nearness to himself? And it has been the means of establishing you in his divine faithfulness. And has he not spoken some sweet and gracious word to thy poor soul ? Has he not, when every other friend had left thee, proved himself to be " a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother ? Has he not been with thee in the fire? And thou hast found what that dear man of God saith to be a truth ; and hast been able to adopt his language, or something like it, and say
“My soul, thou hast (let what will ail)
A never-changing Friend-
On him alone depend
His mercy is for ever sure.” Therefore this trial has proved to be a friend to thee ; it has weaned thee from every creature and thing, and has driven thee to the Lord alone ; and thou hast found that, when thy heart and strength had failed, Christ has been the strength of thy heart, and thy portion for erer. They have spoken against thee, and through this very trial thou hast found the Lord to be thy God in time of trouble, and could say,
The Lord is good, a stronghold in time of trouble ; he knows them that trust in him."
THE GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANTS.
MATTHEW, xxv. 20—23.
The faithful servant may be possessed of much learning, for the Apostle Paul was so reputed ; and on that very account he is made to acknowledge that he was not sent to preach the Gospel with wisdom of words or speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made of non-effect (1 Cor. i. 17); for he had “not received the spirit of the world, but the spirit, which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God: which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Cor. ii. 12, 13).
Before we proceed farther, let us consider what is here stated of the good and faithful servants of Christ. First, they do not preach the Gospel in the wisdom of words, or in the words which man's wisdom teacheth. But why do they not? The apostle replies, “ That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Cor. ii. 4, 5). Then what shall we say of those servants who do preach in the wisdom of words, or in the words which man's wisdom teacheth ? Surely they are servants with one talent, who hide their Lord's money, the Gospel, in the enticing words of man's wisdom. Dr. Gill states, in the work entitled " The Cause of God and Truth” (new edition, page 201), what the apostle expressly declares of all such servants with one talent_namely, that “the natural man is the man of reason, who is merely YuXlkos— has nothing but a soul, or bare reason in him” (1 Cor. ii. 12–14)—in plain words, “the soul man;" which appears to be the condition of all the natural offspring of the first man Adam, who was made a living soul (1 Cor. xv. 45), until they are born of the Spirit. Whosoever hath not the Spirit of Christ is none of his, for he is not manifestly his seed. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John, ïïi. 6), is a partaker of the divine nature (2 Pet. i. 4); and until a man be born of the Spirit, he receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. All such servants with one talent, if they are honest men, will acknowledge that, when the mystery of faith begins, their religion ends. Some of them say there are mysteries in the Bible--such as the doctrine of the Trinity- but they do not acknowledge the mystery (1 Col. ii. 2); for they make void its incomprehensibleness by their reasonable suppositions-such as, they are assumed names or assumed characters (speaking lies in hypocrisy); for assumed characters are hypocrites, as the Greek word ÚTOKPITES does signify. There are others who consider divine revelation as an allegory, and others who make void those mysteries “which are hard to be understood (by their traditions), which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye, therefore (that are born of the Spirit), beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away