« PreviousContinue »
February 11, 1813.
MY DEAR GRANNY,
It is with much difficulty I can scribble a few lines, for my hand shakes, and is under no control. But, blessed be God, faith waxes not old, and hope knows of no decay. The outward man goes down apace, but every fruit of the Spirit is an incorruptible seed that lives and abides for ever. We are, I trust, on the Lord's side-on the side of truth; or else we could feed upon husks, as the carnal professor does. The soul that God by his Spirit quickens, can relish no provision but that from Wisdom's table, the bread of life-the sacrifice of our dear Lord, the righteousness of Christ, and the sincere milk of the word, which are the consolations of the ever blessed Spirit; and, where this delightful one is pleased to breathe life into the conscience, and to convince of sin, and to give cutting convictions of it, he will keep that conscience alive, so that the convictions shall not die away, nor shall their appetite promise to such a soul, 6. Your hearts shall live that seek God;" and that promise will never fail the hungry soul. The substance of that promise is life, and life is God's blessing wherever and on whomsoever it comes : and Christ pronounces them already blessed who hunger and thirst after righteousness, and promises that they shall be filled ; which promise will most assuredly be fulfilled, for he is faithfulness itself and truth itself, and therefore cannot deceive. The work is all his own; we can do nothing towards it. “ His reward is with him, and his work before him.” He washes, clothes, and sanctifies us; and then gives us peace, rest, and comfort, which is a sweet reward. And under all this work we are passive as clay in the hand of the potter, while he forms us a people for himself, to show forth his praise; and we are not our own; therefore, I say, wait on. The Son of God says, “ They shall not be ashamed that wait for me."
Here were six cities of refuge appointed by God for every manslayer to flee to; and sure it is we have all destroyed ourselves for naught; and, as Christ died for the elect, it was they, and no other, whose sins he bore, and who brought him to an accursed end: he was wounded to death in the house of his friends. Six, yea seven, formidable pursuers are at the heels of every sensible sinner; and six or seven covenant characters does Christ sustain, each of which is a refuge for the manslayer.
1st. A guilty conscience pursues us.Christ is a fountain open that cleanses from all sin.
2d. A broken law reveals the wrath of God against us, which follows hard after us.--Christ is the perfecting end of it for righteousness to all that believe.
3d. The sword of justice pursues us.The satisfaction of the surety by an atonement is the only shelter. “Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and I will turn my 4th. The old man of sin chases us. “Who shall deliver us from the body of this death ?” Christ's fulness of grace is our retreat. “My grace is sufficient; sin shall not have dominion.”
5th. The devil hunts us. No refuge from this but in the Lord, in whom we have strength. “I will give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and nothing shall by any means hurt you."
6th. Sickness and bodily infirmities follow hard after us, to drive us to our doomed state of mortality: but “mortality shall be swallowed up of life” when he who only hath immortality shall appear.
7th. Death pursues us : but “I am the resurrection and the life ; and he that believeth shall never die.” He tasted death for every man; and what he tasted upon the cross he will swallow up at the resurrection of the just. He will swallow up death in victory. “O death, where is thy sting—where is thy victory! Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ.” This is the secret place of the Most High; he that dwells here shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty till every calamity be overpast.
The road to these cities was to be fifty and a hand-post was to be fixed at every cross-way with this inscription—" Refuge, refuge.” Every servant that God employs is labouring at this road. “Cast up, cast up the highways; gather out the stones; take up the stumbling-blocks; lift up the standard; say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God.” The work is fourfold; making crooked things straight, rough places plain, exalting the vallies, and making every mountain and hill low. The crooked things are grace and corruption struggling within.
Why am I thus ?” The quickening voice of Christ giving us life, and the blasphemous mouth of Satan contradicting—this is Mahanaim, a company of two armies. Law and gospel, threatenings and encouragements, bitter cups and cheering cordials, clash and contradict each other in the bible; at least so they appear to do to awakened sinners, who (like new born infants) always squint, or else look various ways, but straight at nothing. And nothing makes this crook straight but taking the eyes off from a broken law, an angry judge, an accusing devil, and a wicked heart, and looking straight before us; namely, to Jesus, the author and finisher of faith. Every labourer upon the road, and