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"While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept; and none of them is lost."-Ver. 12.
"I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil."-Ver. 15.
"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." -Ver. 20.
"Thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me." -Ver. 23.
"I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them."-Ver. 26.
No language can convey to the spiritual mind greater blessings than these. O! for faith to receive, with child-like simplicity, these gracious truths, which dropped from the lips of incarnate Love.
As the blind are unaffected by the sublimest prospects, and the deaf by the sweetest sounds, so do these displays of sovereign grace, these accents of redeeming mercy, produce no saving benefit on the carnal mind. Unbelief and pride, sensuality and the love of the world, hypocrisy and formality, like so many bars, close the citadel of the heart. Nothing can dislodge the strong man armed, but the mighty power of God. No human efforts will avail. Who can stop the whirlwind with a feather,—or the rolling tide with a straw? So helpless is man, when he attempts in his own strength, to stem the torrent of his corruptions. He, who said, "Let there be light: and there was light:"* He, who said to the wind and waves, "Peace, be still:"+ He, who said to Lazarus, "Come forth!" and the dead arose; can alone subdue the heart, and make the sinner willing in the day of his power.
It is delightful to dwell upon this comprehensive Prayer of our blessed Saviour. Here I am taught, that all who are the subjects of grace, are the gift of
* Gen. i. 3.
+ Mark iv. 39.
John xi. 43.
the Father to the Son: that to such, the Son gives eternal life that the beginning of this eternal life is to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent that this knowledge is imparted by Jesus Christ through the teaching of the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter: that this knowledge is of a sanctifying nature: that it leads to a separation from the world, and to a union to each other: that these happy souls are loved by the Father and the Son: are kept from the evil that is in the world: and preserved unto eternal glory.
O! blessed Lord, Thou who hast cast thy bright beams of light upon thy Church, how does my heart pant after this blessedness. I cannot claim it; for through sin, I have forfeited every favour; but, let me never cease to crave it, since thou hast interceded, not only for thine Apostles, but for all them who shall believe on thee through their word. As a poor suppliant at the door of mercy, I wait in humble expectation of the promised grace. Lord, enable me to believe in thee, through the words of thy Apostles; then I shall experience all the riches of thy love, contained in this precious prayer, which, as the Intercessor of thy people, thou didst present to the Eternal Father.
LXVIII. REFLECTIONS ON THE COMMENCEMENT OF A NEW YEAR.
"Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."-1 Sam. vii. 12.
ANOTHER year has fled! But how has it fled? Bearing the sins of unnumbered multitudes, which shall all be exposed at the judgment day! When first it opened upon me, it was greeted with thankful
A monument of gratitude was erected, on
which was inscribed, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped me." But, it has been an eventful year to many. Numbers, who beheld the opening year, full of hope, and prospects of happiness, are now in the silent
"He builds too low,
Who builds beneath the skies."
I am preserved in life, while death hath cut down many a lovely flower; and why is this? Why am I now on mercy's ground, within the precincts of salvation, while many are imprisoned, where hope can never come? It is because my gracious Lord hath interceded for me. "Cut it not down. alone this year also."* His thoughts towards me, are thoughts of peace and not of evil. In richest grace, he bears with my rebellious heart; he deigns to wash me in his blood; to cover me with his merits; to purify my heart; to make me a trophy of his love.
I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,"+ is the language of a Sovereign. "I will," is the voice of the Omnipotent Jehovah. How sweet is the sound, when coming through the Covenant of Grace : "I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them. And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."+ "I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart."§ Precious indeed are those words of power, uttered by Sovereign Love. Truly it is by grace that we are saved. God works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. He inclines our hearts to himself, so that when the call is given, "Come ye to the wa"**"whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely "++ the power goes forth with the command, and the sinner, by grace, is saved.
Heb. x. 16, 17. § Jer. xxiv. 7. || Eph. ii. 5, 8.; Phil. ii. 13.
d in the nd ins give the
While I meditate on the days that are past, two principles operate in my heart :-Hatred of myself, for having so long and so grievously offended the best of Beings; for having so much delighted in sin, and so little in things divine:-Love to God, for such unbounded mercy, such amazing forbearance, such striving and inviting, such compassion and pity, shown to the chief of sinners-an heir of hell!
O! my soul, humble thyself in the dust before the Majesty of heaven. Think how many precious moments, hours, days, and years, have borne on their wings ten thousand times ten thousand sins, which thou hast committed, and which are obliterated from the tablet of thy memory. But, oh! remember, God has not forgotten them. He will bring into judgment every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.* Canst thou think of this, O my soul, and not tremble? Canst thou think of this, and not fly with eager steps to the Cross of Christ, that, through faith in his atoning blood, all thy guilty stains may be blotted out, and thy sins and iniquities be remembered no more?
Lord! behold me prostrate at thy feet. I come to thy mercy-seat; to the Lamb which was slain, who alone can redeem me by his blood. Look upon the bleeding sacrifice, and then thy look on me will be a look of pardoning love. Yes! blessed Lord, thou never hast, nor ever wilt reject the vilest sinner, who clings to the Cross of Christ, and there, besprinkled with the falling drops of his atoning blood, cries out for mercy. Look on me, O thou God of my salvation. Behold a sinner vile and wretched, pleading before thy throne the merits of thy Son. For his only sake, O Lord, pardon all that is past; for his only sake accept me graciously; for his sake love me freely; and mercifully vouchsafe a rich effusion of thy Holy Spirit, that this opening year may be spent in thy service, and to the promotion of thy glory. May all my powers be devoted to thee, every affection and
* Eccles. xii. 14.
desire be fixed upon thee. Make me sincere in all I pray for. Give me a single eye in all I do. May every word spoken for thee, be the undissembled expression of my heart. Thou knowest what I am. Lord, teach me to know myself. Give me daily the victory over all my inward corruptions and spiritual enemies. Grant unto thy servant every internal and eternal blessing; and not to me only, but to all who are united to me by the bonds of friendship, or the ties of blood.
Another year has elapsed. New mercies call for fresh praise. I long to be a Christian indeed. Mere profession will profit nothing. It yields no comfort. It brings no glory to God. It differs as much from vital godliness as the portrait does from the living subject. It is the appearance, not the reality of
Nothing can make me happy, but a real, vital union to Christ by faith. Nothing can procure my acceptance with God, but his righteousness. great Apostle Paul desired nothing so much as to win Christ, and be found in him; not having his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.* This is what I want, and for which I pray. Let differing Christians understand the blessed truth in whatever light they may, yet, of this I am persuaded, that no sinner has, by nature, any righteousness of his own. To assert this would be a solecism, a contradiction in terms. strange to talk of a sinner's righteousness! of a sinner's holiness ! We might as well speak about the loyalty of a traitor, or of the sobriety of a confirmed drunkard. The most devoted children of God have cause to exclaim, "Behold, I am vile :"+ how much more those, who have never experienced regenerating grace.
An unconverted sinner is always proud. He is ever ready to place his honourable dealing, benevo