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the Spirit," and will answer the petitions which are so dictated by him.
We We are not indeed to expect any miraculous aid from the Holy Spirit: but a gracious influence we may expect; as St. Paul says, "Pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit"." Nor need we be concerned whether we address our God in words conceived at the moment, or in a pre-composed form it is the frame of mind which God regards: and, if that be spiritual, our prayer, even though it consist only of a sigh, or a groan, shall come up with acceptance before him", and shall bring down into our souls all the blessings both of grace and glory.
Whilst then we are building up ourselves on our most holy faith, we must be "pouring out our hearts before him through the assistance of his good Spirit, and be bringing down from him such communications of grace and strength as our daily necessities require.]
The beneficial tendency of the two former directions being thus clear and manifest, let me call your attention,
II. To the two latter, as perfective of your welfareKeep yourselves in the love of God"
[This was primary in the mind of the Apostle: the two preceding being urged only as conducive to it. And certainly this is the great object which every Christian should keep in view, and at which he should aim day and night. To have a sense of "God's love shed abroad in the heart";" to "have the light of his countenance lifted up upon us9;" to be going to him continually as a Father'; to "walk with him," as Enoch did; and, like Abraham, to commune with him as a friend; to set him always before us";" to have no wish or desire but to please him; to be "delighting ourselves in him," as our God, our portion, our eternal great reward: this is our wisdom; this is our happiness; this is our security. If we descend on lower ground, we are open to all manner of assaults: but who can reach us there? Who can break through to harm us, when we are " dwelling in God, and God is dwelling in us?" We are "encompassed as with a wall of fire" we are in a fortress that is absolutely impregnable: we may defy the whole universe to separate us from his loved."j
m Rom. viii. 27.
p Rom. v. 5.
s Gen. v. 24.
Let me then especially urge upon you this important duty. Live not at a distance from God: rest not in a formal acknowledgment of him: but endeavour to "walk worthy of him unto all pleasing :" get back, as far as possible, to the state of man in Paradise; and labour to walk as on the very borders of the eternal world. My beloved brethren, "let your conversation be thus in heaven:" and let all the faith which you exercise, and every prayer that you utter, be, as it were, a breeze to fill your sails, and bear you forward to your desired haven; that "so you may never fall, but have an abundant entrance ministered unto you into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."]
"Look also for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life"
[However close your walk with God may be, you must not on that account lean in the least degree to your own righteousness, but must rely entirely on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, and expect "eternal life solely as the gift of God for Christ's sake." And for this you must be waiting, looking, longing, in a state of constant preparation, and of eager expectation. The very perfection of the Christian state on earth is this, to be "looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of Godh." Of many in the Corinthian Church the Apostle says, " they came behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christi." Do ye then aspire after the same blessed attainment. "Let your loins be girt, and your lamps trimmed, and yourselves as those who wait for the coming of the heavenly Bridegroom;" that, when he shall come, you may "enter in with him to the marriage feast." Whilst you are in such a frame as this, all earthly things will lose their influence; and all attempts, whether of men or devils, to retard your progress be in vain. From my inmost soul therefore I would offer in behalf of you the prayer which St. Paul offered for the Thessalonian Church, the prayer which so remarkably coincides with that of St. Jude in my text, "The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and a patient waiting for Christ."]
[Settle it in your minds that this is true religion This is the state in which it is both your duty and your privilege to live and so living you are sure of mercy, and cannot fail of attaining that eternal life which the Lord Jesus Christ has purchased for you➖➖➖]
ASCRIPTION OF PRAISE TO JEHOVAH.
Jude 24, 25. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
BY many this Doxology is considered as addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ: but though it is certain that by all the heavenly choir our most adorable Saviour is worshipped as one with the Father, without any distinction whatsoever, and that he is to be honoured in all respects by us precisely as the Father, yet we must be cautious never to strain any portion of Scripture for the purpose of honouring him; for, if we do, we give advantage to those who deny his proper Divinity, to represent all our worship of him as unauthorized and erroneous. The more fully we are assured of any doctrine, the more careful we should be not to establish it on a weak foundation; lest, when the foundation on which we have indiscreetly built is shaken, we be led to doubt the truth of the doctrine itself. Of the Divinity of our blessed Lord we have no more doubt than of any other truth of our holy religion: but in the passage before us we apprehend, that it is not to Him in particular that this Doxology is addressed, but to the Father. For, in several other passages, the Father beyond all doubt is addressed, and under the same character as is here described. St. Paul concludes his Epistle to the Romans thus: "Now to him that is of power to stablish you, .. to God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever." In the Epistle to the Ephesians he again speaks in similar terms: "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, unto him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end." So again, in his First Epistle to Timothy he says, "Now unto the King Eph. iii. 20, 21.
a Rom. xvi. 25, 27.
eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen." Those who would apply our text to Christ, think that it must refer to him, because he alone (as they imagine) presents his Church before the presence of his Father's glory: as it is said, "He loved the Church and gave himself for it, . . . . . that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, &c." But the very same thing is spoken of the Father also, of whom it is said, that, "by Christ, the Father reconciled all things to himself, . . . . . even in the body of his flesh through death, to present us holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight." I consider the text therefore as addressed to the Father: and, in order to a suitable improvement of it, will set before you, I. The character of Jehovah as here described
His wisdom and his power are altogether infinite: and we might, not improperly, speak of those two perfections as they are delineated in the Holy Scriptures. But I conceive, that, though mentioned generally in the text, we should notice them not as existing in himself, but as exercised towards his Church.
Wonderful is the wisdom which he has displayed in his dealings with his people
What unfathomWell is it called,
[Contemplate the plan of salvation through the incarnation and death of his only-begotten Son able depths of wisdom are here? "The wisdom of God in a mystery!" To contemplate that, will be the employment of eternity.
Nor, if we entered into his particular dispensations towards his people, would this perfection appear in less bright colours; so "unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out." The experience of every saint will furnish abundant matter for adoration through all eternity; for he has abounded towards every one of them in all wisdom and prudence"
Nor is the power which he exercises towards them less stupendous
[View the temptations with which every saint is beset the enemies, even all the hosts of hell, with whom he his utter incapacity to do any thing e Col. i. 19-22.
has to contend
c 1 Tim. i. 17.
d Eph. v. 25, 27.
of himself- and yet his conflicts, his victories, and his triumphs Must not that power be wonderful that is able to keep him, and effectual for his preservation even to the end? Yes verily, it is no less a power than that which was put forth to raise the Lord Jesus Christ himself from the dead, and to exalt him above all the principalities and powers both of heaven and hell'.]
It is by the united and continued exercise of these two perfections, that he becomes "our Saviour"—
[In the name of "Saviour" he glories; and under that character he loves to be viewed by us. His perfections would indeed be the same, though never put forth for us, any more than for the fallen angels: but, as they are so exercised for our welfare, it becomes us to contemplate them in that particular view, and to render to him the praise which such manifestations of them demand. Reflect a moment on him as a "Saviour!" not merely as preserving us in our conflicts here, but as "presenting us faultless before the presence of his glory" in the world above-One moment's reflection upon his character in that view, will abundantly suffice to shew you,]
II. The dispositions with which it should be contemplated
Beyond all doubt our hearts should be lifted up with devoutest affection towards him, as the Apostle's was; and should be filled,
1. With love
[Review the character before described, and say, whether, though you yourselves were not the objects of his care, the very existence of those perfections ought not to endear him to your souls? How much more then, when from all eternity they have been consecrated to your service, and destined to be exercised for your good! — — - I call you then to love him, with all your heart, and all your mind, and all your soul, and all your strength]
2. With gratitude
[Go to the world above, and see and hear how all the glorified saints are occupied around the throne: what songs of praise are they singing night and day to God, and to the Lamb! How do they all labour for utterance; and, by the very accumulation of the terms by which they strive to evince their gratitude, shew how inadequate even the language of heaven itself is to express the feelings of their hearts
f Eph. i. 19-21.
8 Rev. v. 9-13.