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so undeserved, so amazing, so divine? It is the wonder of heaven, the glory of the universal Church, and will be the theme of praise to a redeemed universe throughout eternal ages.
The Lord God is the shield of his people from their spiritual adversaries We have many invisible enemies arrayed against us; but neither their number, nor their prowess, should strike us with dismay, for thus saith the omnipotent Leader of Israel, “ They shall fight against thee, but they shall not hurt thee; for I am with thee to defend thee. No weapon formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that riseth up in judgment I will condemn." The same gracious assurance is addressed to you as was addressed to the father of the jaithful : “ Fear not, Abraham, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” Vain then is the persecutor's rage ; utterly vain and futile the machinations of Satan ; and groundless all your fears and doubts: the Lord is your shield on the right hand and on the left: he defends you by night and by day; preserves your graces ; protects your spiritual life from the harrassing and vexatious assaults of every enemy; every thing of a holy nature which his love imparts, his omnipotence continues and upholds. Cease to wonder, therefore, that the faith of Peter was not abstracted from him ; cease to wonder that Daniel was safe and happy in the lion's den ; cease to wonder that Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego remained unhurt in the fiery flame; cease to wonder that the Church should outtride every storm; or that
“ The weakest saint should win the day,
Though death and hell obstruct the way."
The Lord is the shield of his people: this unravels the mystery: this insures the safety of the weak and harrassed believer; and as the shield is braced to the arm of the warrior throughout the entire combat, even until the triumph is gained, so the Lord will continue to shield his people until every foe is vanquished, and the crown of immortal life is conferred. I give unto you eternal life: they shall never perish, nor shall any man pluck them out of my hands," is one out of many of the glorious promises of your omniscient and omnipotent Redeemer.
Secondly, we have in the text A DELIGHTFUL DECLARATION OF WHAT GOD WILL DO FOR HIS PEOPLE: “He will give grace, and glory, and withhold nc good thing."
First, he will give grace ; and there is no gift can be compared with this. Precious and eminently desirable is the gift of health, of sight, of reason, of wisdom ; but these gifts sink into insignificance when contrasted with the gift of heavenly grace. O Gospel hearer, had you the wealth of Cresus, the wisdom of Solomon, the empire of Alexander, the skill of Archimedes, without grace you must be for ever miserable, the outcast of heaven, the tenant of hell. Yea, could you cominand the spacious earth, and the more boundless sea, without grace you will be a wretch undone, separated from holy angels, consigned with devils and fallen spirits in the blackness of darkness for ever. Let me entreat you then, by all that is solemn and momentous, to supplicate this heavenly boon, so essential to present peace and future felicity. You are actually invited and encouraged to entreat its bestowment: God will give his holy Spirit in answer
to humble, continued prayer : and will you not instantly and unceasingly implore its communication ? Will you perish when salvation is attainable? Will you remain indifferent and unanxious for the blessings of eternity, when they are revealed and imparted without money and without price? O hasten to the mercy-seat : seek, and ye shall find.
“ The Lord will give grace:” First, he gives the principle of grace; this heavenly bequest is received in conversion, then the light of heaven irradiates the dark mind; then the reign of sin terminates; then the desire of the heart is turned to the Lord and the reinembrance of his name; then the knee is bent in prayer, and the cry excited, “What must I do to be saved ?" Then that prayer is answered, salvation is bestowed, the spirit is beautified with the image of its Creator, and Redeemer, and begins to mirror those beauties to all around. O the blessed change grace produces! There is no stain which it does not ultimately efface, no idol which it does not dethrone, no excellency which it does not create. What it did for the Corinthians, it does for all who come under its benign influence; for such were some of you ; but now ye are washed, and sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
“ Grace taught my soul to pray,
And made mine eyes o'erflow;
And will not let me go." Secondly, The Lord encourages the growth of grace. As the Christian advances in the divine life he has new duties to perforın, new trials to bear, new temptations to overcome; and that these duties may not be neglected, that these trials may not overwhelm, that these temptations may not destroy, fresh supplies of grace are required ; and these supplies are condescendingly imparted: “ The Lord giveth more grace," says the Apostle James. He is to the believer what the head is to the members, what the root is to the branches, the fountain to the stream; he directs, preserves, and animates. Hence the members do not become lifeless, the branches do not wither, the stream fails not to flow. The fact is, all our wants as Christians have been foreseen, equally with those by which we can be affected as creatures, and in our divine Immanuel (as in a vast treasury), wisdom, knowledge, strength, holiness, and joy are accumulated as a rich portion for the universal church. “ It hath pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell,” and of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. This exhaustless fulness of spiritual blessings is in our divine Lord, for the purpose of distribution. There is a throne erected to which we are invited, and encouraged to come, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help us in the time of need. Daily and hourly to that throne you may go without any apprehension of being sent empty away; for the most legible inscription it contains is, “ Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength ; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Among men the having bestowed one favour is often pleaded as a reason for declining to impart another, but the God of all grace permits and instructs you to infer from every thing which his love imparts, how ready he is to accept and bless you, as often as you renew your approaches to
his mercy-seat, and to account each gift at once an expression of his kindness, and a pledge of future good.
This assures us, then, of the final perseverance of the saints. He who begins the good work carries it on to the end : he imparts not only enlightening grace, but quickening, strengthening, sanctifying grace; grace assuring us that our pardon is sealed, our redemption advancing, our heaven secure. remember an illustration of this reviving fact in the Pilgrim's Progress: Christian, in the house of the Interpreter, had his attention directed to a column of fire on which water was perpetually thrown, and yet the flame continued to ascend Surprised at this anomaly, Christian eagerly requested information as to the cause of the astonishing event that was transpiring before him, the Interpreter thereupon conducted him to the back of the flame, where he saw a person incessantly administering oil; so that while the heat of the flame was occasionally abated, the flame itself remained unquenchable. It is precisely so with the principle of grace: there is a power incessantly employed to suppress it, but unseen there is a mightier agency at work to maintain it, therefore it continues quenchless and indestructible. Being confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you will carry it on to the day of Jesus Christ.”
Thirdly, the Lord will reward the combat of grace. When grace is conveyed to the immortal spirit, the principles of sin, which prevailed there previous to its entrance rise up in opposition to it: there is consequently a perpetual strife in the believer's soul; the flesh lusteth against the spirit, while the spirit striveth against the flesh; as when a prince, who has had long possession of a certain territory, will marshal his forces and summon his energies to keep off any opposing power: so the principles of evil wage interminable war with the principles of holiness; “I find then," said an apostle, “a law that when I would do good evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man. But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”
In reference to this conflict the holiest delight is excited: by the consciousness, that however severe, or long protracted, victory will at last crown the Christian soldier-grace shall reign through righteousness and eternal life. 0 Christian, you shall come off more than a conqueror through Him that hath loved you ; shall tread upon the neck of all your adversaries ; shall rise and soar above these impure regions into the holy and peaceful paradise of divine love; shall cease to groan, being burdened. Unfettered and free, you shall behold the extirpation of every source of annoyance and grief, adorned in the splendid robes of sinless purity, and beautified with the crown of life, you shall enjoy eternal repose in the pavilion of the King of kings.
“ Sin your worst enemy before,
Shall vex your eyes and ears no more ;
Far beyond this fading scene, then, the blessings of salvation reach. Hence it is added “ The Lord will give glory.” Indeed, beloved brethren, there is an inseparable connexion between grace and the unspeakable felicity of the heavenly
state : grace is the bud, glory the flower in full bloom: grace is the dawn, glory the noontide splendour of a long and everlasting day; grace is an introduction to the threshold of heaven, glory the actual possession and enjoyment of the promised inheritance. “ The Lord will give glory.” Oye tried and tempted followers of the Lamb, here is a reviving and rapturous assurance for you, a portion unspeakably, inconceivably rich; a portion, of which your own unworthiness cannot deprive you, and which the craft and malignity of your enemies can never wrest from you. “ The Lord will give glory." Let this infallible assurance for ever check, yea, exterminate, a murmuring and repining spirit under present trials and dispensations. “ The Lord will give glory :" present to him, then, unceasing adoration while you live, and act as the expectants and heirs of such an inheritance.
“ The Lord will give glory.” That is, first, the glory for which grace prepares. Grace produces a moral renovation, a divine and spiritual transformation: it operates as sacred leaven to produce love to purity, an aversion to iniquity, a desire for spiritual and holy exercises : it qualifies for the uninterrupted enjoyment of the divine favour: it creates a solicitude for the total abolition of the reign and being of sin : it enkindles desire for an eternity of intercourse with a virtuous and sanctified universe : these desires and feelings, enkindled by heavenly grace, shall all be realized. “ Blessed are the pure in heart, they shall see God.” O Christian, you have desired to be “without spot, wrinkle, blemish, or any such thing ;" to be relieved from the possibility of displeasing your heavenly Father; to mingle with holy and pure spirits in that fulness of joy which is at God's right hand, and those pleasures which are there for evermore. Rejoice, then, for these desires shall all be fulfilled, without ceasing: therefore, give thanks unto the Father, which hath made you“ meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.” .
Secondly, the Lord will give you the glory which the saints in heaven now enjoy. Our conceptions of the glory which the redeemed around the throne now possess, must, of course, be diin and imperfect: to describe it fully would require the presence of an angel, or one of themselves, rather than a frail, sinful creature on earth. This, however, we know-their knowledge is perfect, their purity complete, their rapture unbounded, their bliss ever increasing; for the Lamb in the midst of the throne feeds them, and leads them to fountains of living waters. Alas! how dissimilar are our circumstances when we attempt to love God; when, by the alluring discoveries of his grace, we try to raise our affections to heavenly things! What sinful damps and coldness hang heavy upon us! What counter allurements are we painfully conscious of! What estrangedness from God! How inanimate and feeble our love!
“ Our spirits can neither fly nor go
To reach eternal things.” We come before God with our prayer and praises, but our thoughts wander in the midst of our worship and speed away to the ends of the earth : and even when, through the tender mercy of God, we in his temple realize a little elevation of soul, a glimpse of heaven, a sip of the brook by the way, we return to the world and almost forget the delights of the sanctuary. Let us rejoice, however, that the day of our redemption from these sources of distress is
rapidly approaching. Like those who have entered into the heavenly rest, we shall be in peaceful, in joyous scenes; no cloud will interpose, no melancholy brood, no shade of darkness arise. The reconciled countenance of our heavenly Father will beam eternal brightness : every moment we shall taste his love and live upon it in all the rich varieties of its manifestations; and throughout the length of our immortality there shall not be the least cessation of its enjoyment.
Thirdly, The Lord God will give glory: that is, the glory which he nas promised. The promise of eternal life is one of the principal promises of divine revelation. To this all the other promises tend; here they all centre and terminate. , The joy of the Apostle Paul was excited by the consideration of this fact; he exulted “ in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, hath promised before the world began.” We call upon you, therefore, devoutly and frequently to meditate on the exceeding great and precious promises of inspiration : they unfold and proclaim the glory which God will give. View those promises in all their amplitude and extent: each one of them is to be fulfilled, every iota verified. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but one jot or tittle shall not pass away from these promises, till all be accomplished-the immensity, the infinity of joy, knowledge, purity, love, and dignity they teach you to expect shall all be conferred. Your “ Sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw her light: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.”
Fourthly, The Lord will give glory: that is, the glory that exceeds all conception. We can imagine what is meant by the glory awarded to a devoted philanthropist, an enlightened statesman, a victorious general, or a patriot king; but who can estimate the glory to be awarded to the professors of grace ? When kingdoms, crowns, and sceptres are no more, that glory will remain : when the gay creation is stripped of its clothing, the groves divested of their foliage, and the valleys of their flowery pride—when the sun, moon, and stars shall go out in everlasting midnight-that glory will be inconceivably great. When the clangour of the archangel's trumpet shall be heard, and the opening graves give up their dead, that glory will be developed, and will astonish by its brightness and magnitude. When the great white throne is sublimely reared in the midst of the universe of God, and the Almighty Judge shall invite the sanctified myriads at his right hand, to inherit the kingdom prepared for them, then shall that glory enrapture and felicitate, and prove itself to be beyond all finite, or angelic conception, an exceeding and eternal weight of glory. And thus it shall continue
“. While life, or thought, or being last,
Or immortality endure."
And what is equally indicative of the energy of divine love, the Lord will not withhold from you while advancing to that glory, any good thing. It is not said he will not withhold any pleasant thing, but no good thing. Whatever is good in its nature, or in its effects, whether at the moment it be pleasing or painful, whether it be indulgence or correction, prevention or enjoyment, it shall not be withheld. “ He that spared not his own Son, but freely gave him up for us all, how shall he not with himn freely give us all things ?" Is grace