Sovereign, supreme disposal
"And God has put all things under the authority of Christ,
and He gave Him this authority for the benefit of the
church." Ephesians 1:22
God has put all things, events, and circumstances
under the authority of Christ! How vast, how numerous,
how complicated are the various events and circumstances
which attend the children of God here below, as they travel
onward to their heavenly home! What an intricate maze
they often seem, and how much they appear opposed to
us, as if we never could get through them, or scarcely live
Yet, there cannot be a single circumstance over which
Jesus has not supreme control. Everything in providence
and everything in grace are alike subject to His disposal.
There is not . . .
an affliction of body or soul,
a painful bereavement,
a case, state, or condition,
which is not put under Jesus' authority!
He has sovereign, supreme disposal over all events
and circumstances! As possessed of infinite knowledge,
He sees them. As possessed of infinite wisdom, He can
manage them. As possessed of infinite power, He can
dispose and direct them for our good and His own glory!
How much trouble and anxiety we would save ourselves,
could we firmly believe, realize, and act on this! If we
could see by the eye of faith that . . .
every foe and every fear,
every difficulty and perplexity,
every trying or painful circumstance,
every looked-for or unlooked-for event,
every source of anxiety, whether at present or in prospect,
are all under His dominion, and at His sovereign disposal—what
a load of anxiety and care would be taken off our shoulders!
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me."
Pride, worldliness, and covetousness
Pride, worldliness, and covetousness may reign
rampant, where grosser sins are not committed,
or kept hidden from observation.
"The human heart is most deceitful and desperately
wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I know!
I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret
motives." Jeremiah 17:9-10
All of us used to live that way
"Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your
many sins! You used to live just like the rest of the
world, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince
of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the
hearts of the children of disobedience. All of us used
to live that way, following the passions and desires
of our evil nature. We were born with an evil nature,
and we were under God's wrath just like everyone
else!" Ephesians 2:1-3
Paul reminds us of the state and condition in which we
used to live, that he may thereby magnify the riches of
God's grace, and bring before us what should be a matter
of the deepest humiliation and self-abhorrence. How clearly
does he show that there is no difference between the
saved and the lost—except what grace makes between
them; that all, elect and non-elect, are equally dead in
sin; that all equally live according to the ways of this
world in their unregenerate condition; and that all are
equally led and acted upon by Satan, that foul and
accursed spirit which we see now working everywhere
around us in the children of disobedience.
If we view the children of God only as they are by nature,
there is no difference between them and the lost. Their sins
are as great, if not greater; their nature as corrupt; their
hearts as evil; the whole bent and course of their thoughts,
words, and works, were as saturated with sin and crime. And
all these things deserve wrath, and would draw down wrath
as their everlasting portion—but for the sovereign grace of
God! The very sweetness of grace lies in this—that it has put
away deserved wrath!
Paul's object is to remind us of our obligations to distinguishing,
sovereign grace, by showing us that we deserve nothing at God's
hands but wrath; and that had we our just due, wrath would be
poured out upon us to the uttermost! Surely every one who has
felt anything of the wrath of God as his just due, on account of
his personal sins, will freely acknowledge that he is by nature a
child of wrath, and that there are thousands in hell who have
not sinned as great as he has!
"But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so very much, that
even while we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life
when He raised Christ from the dead. It is only by grace that
you have been saved!" Ephesians 2:4-5
Fall down in reverent astonishment
"His great love for us." Ephesians 2:4
"You love them as much as You love Me." John 17:23
The love of God to His dear Son must be so infinite
as to exceed all conception of men or angels. Now,
that He should love the people of His choice with the
same love—the same in nature, the same in degree
as that with which He loves His dear Son—is one of
the most overwhelming thoughts which can move
and stir a human bosom! Indeed, so overwhelming
is it in its sublime mystery and unapproachable depth,
that as it can only be received by faith! Faith itself
can only fall down in reverent astonishment and
admiration before it, and cry out, "O the depth!
O the blessedness of this love!"
"I love you the same way as My Father has loved Me."
Don't you realize!
"Don't you realize that you are God's temple and
that God's Spirit lives in you?" 1 Cor. 3:16
Alas! how little is this truth contemplated and acted upon!
Were we more deeply and powerfully impressed with the
solemn truth that God Himself dwells in us through the
Spirit, how much more careful we would be to maintain . . .
truth and reality,
life and power in experience,
godliness and holiness in life!
What a reverential fear would possess our minds, that
we might not defile the Lord's temple, or sin against
and before, so holy and all-seeing a Guest!
If we realized this, and lived under its solemn weight and
influence, how careful we would be not to defile that body
which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. How desirous and
anxious we would be not to pollute . . .
our eyes by wandering lusts;
our ears by listening to worldly and carnal conversation;
our lips by speaking deceit, or light and frothy talk;
our hands by putting them to anything that is evil;
our feet by running on errands of vanity and folly.
We are to view our body as God's temple, and therefore
sanctified to His service and to His glory!
"God bought you with a high price! So you must honor
God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:20
"To God's elect, strangers in the world." 1 Peter 1:1
"I am a stranger with you and a sojourner, as all
my fathers were." Psalm 39:12
"I am but a stranger here on earth." Psalm 119:19
"They confessed that they were strangers and
pilgrims on the earth." Hebrews 11:13
The main character of a child of God is that he is a
stranger upon earth. One of the first effects of the
grace of God upon our soul was to separate us from
the world, and make us feel ourselves strangers in it.
The world was once our home—the active, busy center
of all our thoughts, desires, and affections. But when
grace planted imperishable principles of life in our bosom,
it at once separated us from the world in heart and spirit,
if not in actual life and walk. We are strangers inwardly
and experimentally, by the power of divine grace making
this world a wilderness to us.
"People will be lovers of themselves,
lovers of money." 2 Timothy 3:2
"For the love of money is a root of all
kinds of evil." 1 Timothy 6:10
Money feeds the lusts of the flesh by giving
its possessor the power to gratify them.
Money nurses his pride by making its possessor,
so to speak, independent of the providence of God.
Money fosters the love of the world by giving
its possessor a portion in it.
"You cannot serve both God and Money!"
"Not greedy for money." 1 Peter 5:2
"Keep your lives free from the love of money
and be content with what you have." Heb. 13:5
"The Pharisees, who dearly loved their
money, scoffed at all this." Luke 16:14
All the ravishments of His presence and love!
"Receiving the end of your faith, the salvation
of your souls." 1 Peter 1:9
What is to be compared with the salvation of the
soul? What are riches, honors, health, long life?
What are all the pleasures which the world can
offer, sin promise, or the flesh enjoy? What is all
that men call good or great? What is everything
which the outward eye has seen, or natural ear
heard, or has entered into the carnal heart of man
—put side by side with being saved by Jesus with
an everlasting salvation?
Consider what we are saved from—as well as
what we are saved unto.
From a burning hell—to a blissful heaven!
From endless wrath—to eternal glory!
From the dreadful company of devils and damned
spirits, mutually tormenting and tormented—to the
blessed companionship of the glorified saints, all
perfectly conformed in body and soul to the image
of Christ, with thousands and tens of thousands of
holy angels! And, above all, to seeing the glorious
Son of God as He is, in all the perfection of His beauty,
and all the ravishments of His presence and love!
To be done forever with . . .
all the sorrows, troubles, and afflictions of this life;
all the pains and aches of this poor clay tabernacle;
all the darkness, bondage, and misery of the body of
sin and death—to be perfectly holy in body and soul,
being in both without spot, or blemish—and ever to
enjoy uninterrupted union and communion with God!
O what a heaven lies before the children of God!
"As obedient children, do not conform to the evil lusts
you had when you lived in ignorance." 1 Peter 1:14
Peter warns us against yielding ourselves to the power
and practice of any of those lusts which had dominion
over us in the days of our ignorance—such as the base
and sensual lusts of the flesh—or the more refined
lusts of . . .
—those more fashionable sins in which a man may live
and walk, and yet preserve his character and good name.
Let the children of disobedience follow after and be
conformed to all these worldly lusts; but let the
children of obedience shun and abhor them as . . .
hateful to God,
deceitful and dangerous to themselves, and
contrary to a holy, godly profession.
"But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy
in all you do." 1 Peter 1:15
At the cross alone
"Jesus has become our wisdom and our righteousness
and sanctification and redemption." 1 Corinthians 1:30
"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord
Jesus Christ, through which the world has been
crucified to me, and I to the world." Galatians 6:14
An experimental knowledge of crucifixion with his
crucified Lord, made Paul preach the cross—not only
in its power to save, but in its power to sanctify.
The cross is not only the meritorious cause of all
salvation—but is the instrumental cause of all
sanctification. As there is no other way of salvation
than by the blood of the cross—so there is no other
way of holiness than by the power of the cross.
Through the cross, that is, through union and
communion with Him who suffered upon it, not
only is there a fountain opened for all sin—but
for all uncleanness!
All our . . .
pardon and peace,
acceptance and justification,
happiness and holiness,
wisdom and strength,
victory over the world,
mortification of the body of sin and death,
hope and confidence,
prayer and praise,
godly sorrows for sin,
spring from the cross!
At the cross alone can we . . .
be made wise unto salvation,
become righteous by a free justification,
receive of His Spirit to make us holy, and
be redeemed and delivered from . . .
sin, Satan, death and hell.
To the cross we are to bring . . .
to get life from His death,
pardon and peace from His atoning blood,
justification from His divine obedience, and
resignation to the will of God from His holy example.
At the cross alone is . . .
the world crucified to us, and we to the world;
sin mortified, and its reigning power dethroned;
the old man crucified and put off, and the new man put on.
For the most part, it is only through a long series of . . .
pains of body and mind,
hot furnaces, and
as sanctified to his soul's profit by the Holy Spirit,
that the child of God comes to the cross.
The kingship of Christ
"King of kings and Lord of lords!" Revelation 19:16
The kingship of Christ is full of sweet consolation to
the tried family of God. As Zion's enthroned King, He
supplies His people out of His own inexhaustible fullness!
To Him, as our enthroned King, we give the allegiance
of our hearts. Before His feet, as our rightful Sovereign,
we humbly lie. And we beg of Him, as possessed of all
power, to subdue our iniquities and rebellious lusts, and
sway His peaceful scepter over every faculty of our soul.
The kingship of Christ is a blessed subject of meditation,
when we consider its bearing upon our helpless, defenseless
condition. We stand surrounded by foes . . .
all armed against us with deadly enmity!
Every child of God is surrounded by a multitude of enemies
without and within, who, unless they are overcome—will
most certainly overcome him. And to be overcome is to be
lost, forever lost, and to perish under the wrath of God!
What hope or help can we have, but in . . .
that all-seeing eye, which sees our condition;
that all-sympathizing heart, which feels for us;
that all-powerful hand, which delivers the objects of
His love from all the snares and traps—and defeats all
the plans and projects of these mighty, implacable foes?
We daily and hourly feel the workings of our . . .
against the least and feeblest of which, we have no strength!
But as the eye of faith views our enthroned King,
we are led by the power of His grace to . . .
look unto Him,
hang upon Him, and
seek help from Him.
Trials in providence,
afflictions in the family,
sickness and infirmities in the body,
opposition and persecution from the world,
a vile, unbelieving heart, which we can neither sanctify nor subdue,
a rough and rugged path, increasing in difficulty as we journey onward,
doubts, fears, and misgivings in our own bosom,
inward slips and falls,
hourly backslidings from the strait and narrow path,
jealous enemies ever watching for our halting,
with no eye to pity, nor arm to help—but the Lord's!
How all these foes and fears make us feel our need
of an enthroned King, Head and Husband . . .
whose tender heart is soft to pity,
whose mighty arm is strong to relieve!
We should be ever looking up to our enthroned King,
not only that He might sway His scepter over our hearts,
controlling our rebellious wills, and subduing us to His
gentle might; but as King over all our enemies—of which
our internal foes are much more numerous and mighty
than any external enemies!
When we feel the power of sin, the tyranny of our vile
lusts and passions, and what our nature is capable of
if left to its own will and way—how sweet and suitable
is the promise, "You will again have compassion on us;
You will subdue our iniquities and hurl all our sins into
the depths of the sea!" Micah 7:19
"We are powerless against this mighty army that is
attacking us! We do not know what to do, but we
are looking to You for help." 2 Chronicles 20:12
"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save!"
The chief burden of the Lord's children
The chief burden of the Lord's children is sin. This
is the main cause of all their sighs and groans, from
the first quickening breath of the Spirit of God in
their hearts until they lay down their bodies in dust.
The wrath of God due to them fell upon Him!
"God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us." 2 Cor. 5:21
"Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the
unjust, that He might bring us to God." 1 Peter 3:18
If we would we see, feel, and realize the exceeding
sinfulness of sin, it is not by viewing the lightnings
and hearing the thunders of Sinai's fiery top—but in
seeing the agony and bloody sweat, and hearing the
groans and cries of the suffering Son of God, as made
sin for us—in the garden and upon the cross.
To look upon Him whom we have pierced will fill heart
and eyes with godly sorrow for sin, and a holy mourning
for and over a martyred, injured Lord. (Zech. 13:10.)
To see, by the eye of faith, as revealed to the soul by the
power of God—the darling Son of God bound, scourged,
buffeted, spit upon, mocked—and then, as the climax of
cruel scorn and infernal cruelty, crucified between two
thieves—this believing sight of the sufferings of Christ,
will melt the hardest heart into contrition and repentance.
But when we see, by the eye of faith, that this was the
smallest part of His sufferings—that there were depths of
soul trouble and of intolerable distress and agony from the
hand of God as a consuming fire, as the inflexible justice
and righteous indignation against sin, and that our blessed
Lord had to endure the wrath of God until He was poured
out like water, and His soft, tender heart in the flames of
indignation became like wax, and melted within Him—then
we can in some measure conceive what He undertook in
becoming a sin offering. For as all the sins of His people
were put upon Him—the wrath of God due to them fell
No less real, and far more severe, were the agonies of His
soul—for the wrath of God in the Redeemer's heart was
as real as the nails that pierced His hands and feet!
When the sins of the elect were found on Christ, justice
viewed Him and treated Him as the guilty criminal. Separation
from God, under a sense of His terrible displeasure on account
of sin—that abominable thing which His holy soul hates—is not
this hell? This, then, was the hell experienced by the suffering
Redeemer when the Lord laid on Him the iniquities of us all.
What heart can conceive or tongue express what must have
been the feelings of the Redeemer's soul when He, the beloved
Son of God, who who had lain in the bosom of the Father from
all eternity, was by imputation, made a sinner—the deep wounds
of suffering love felt by the Son of God when His Father, His own
Father, hid His face from Him?
A gracious influence
The love of Jesus has a gracious influence on the life,
conduct, and conversation of a true believer. The tree
is known by its fruit; and those branches alone which
bring forth fruit unto God, are in manifest union with
the only true Vine.
Love to Jesus is the constraining principle of all holy
obedience. "If you love Me, keep my commandments,"
was His dying injunction to His disciples. As, then, His
bleeding love is experimentally known, there will be . . .
a conformity to His image,
an obedience to His will,
a walking in His footsteps.
At the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ
By the death Jesus, all our horrible filth and defilement,
however black, monstrous, aggravated and abominable,
however deep and dreadful, was thoroughly and forever . . .
cast behind God's back,
blotted out as a thick cloud, and
drowned in the depths of the sea!
In the pierced hands, and feet and side of Immanuel,
a fountain was opened for all sin and uncleanness!
At the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ . . .
justice and mercy met together,
righteousness and peace kissed each other,
mercy rejoiced over judgment,
grace abounded over sin!
Justice, with all its inflexible requisitions, was thoroughly
satisfied; the law, with all its holy, unbending demands
fully magnified; every perfection of God eternally glorified;
every apparently barring attribute entirely harmonized; so
that Jehovah, in all the blaze of ineffable purity, majesty,
power, and holiness—can now be just, infinitely just—and
yet the justifier of those who believe in Jesus.
Here, then, at the foot of the cross, is pardon and peace
for guilty criminals! Here is thorough justification for the
self-condemned and self-abhorred! Here is salvation,
complete and everlasting, for all the redeemed family of
God! Here is a fountain, ever open, full and free! Here is
a robe, in which the spouse of Jesus stands without blemish
and without spot before the throne of God! Here mercy is
magnified forever! Here dying love displays itself in all its
breadth, and length, and depth, and height! Here grace,
all-glorious, all-triumphant grace, reigns unto eternal life,
by Jesus Christ our Lord!
Authority, glory and sovereign power!
"Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns!" Rev. 19:6
The unlimited dominion of King Jesus extends over . . .
All are subjected to the sovereign control of the King
of kings and Lord of lords!
Everywhere on this earthly globe—as far as waves roll,
winds blow, sun shines, or stars hold on their nightly
courses—does the scepter of Jesus sway the destinies,
and control the designs and actions of men.
"He was given authority, glory and sovereign power;
all peoples, nations and men of every language obey
Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will
not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never
be destroyed!" Daniel 7:14
Pilgrims and strangers on this earthly ball
"To God's elect, strangers in the world." 1 Peter 1:1
"Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear."
1 Peter 1:17
Our life on earth is but a vapor! We are but pilgrims
and strangers on this earthly ball, mere sojourners,
without fixed or settled habitation, and passing through
this world as not our home or resting-place. The Apostle,
therefore, bids us pass this time, whether long or short,
of our earthly sojourn under the influence, and in the
exercise, of reverent fear.
We are surrounded with enemies, all seeking, as it
were, our life; and therefore we are called upon to
move with great caution, knowing how soon we may
slip and fall, and thus wound our own consciences,
grieve our friends, gratify our enemies, and bring
upon ourselves a cloud of darkness which may long
hover over our souls.
Our life here below is not one of ease and quiet—but
a warfare, a conflict, a race, a wrestling not with flesh
and blood alone, but with principalities and powers
and spiritual wickedness in high places. We have to
dread ourselves more than anything or anybody else,
and to view our flesh as our greatest enemy!
"Dear friends, I urge you, as pilgrims and strangers
in the world, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which
war against your soul." 1 Peter 2:11
In this scene of confusion and distraction
"The Spirit helps us in our infirmities. We do not
know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit
Himself intercedes for us with groans that
words cannot express." Romans 8:26
"We do not know what we ought to pray for."
How often do we find and feel this to be our case.
Darkness covers our mind;
ignorance pervades our soul;
unbelief vexes our spirit;
guilt troubles our conscience;
a crowd of evil imaginations, or foolish or worse
than foolish wanderings distract our thoughts;
Satan hurls in his fiery darts thick and fast;
a dense cloud is spread over the mercy seat;
infidelity whispers its vile suggestions,
until, amid all this chaos, such confusion and
bondage prevail that words seem idle breath, and
prayer to the God of heaven but empty mockery.
In this scene of confusion and distraction, when all
seems going to the wreck, how kind, how gracious
is it for the blessed Spirit to come, as it were, to the
rescue of the poor bewildered saint, and to teach him
how to pray and what to pray for.
He is therefore said "to help us in our infirmities,"
for these evils of which we have been speaking are
not willful, deliberate sins, but wretched infirmities
of the flesh. He helps, then, our infirmities . . .
by subduing the power and prevalence of unbelief;
by commanding in the mind a solemn calm;
by rebuking and chasing away Satan and his fiery darts;
by awing the soul with a reverential sense
of the power and presence of God;
by presenting Jesus before our eyes and
drawing forth faith upon His Person and work;
and, above all, by Himself interceding for us and in
us "with groans that words cannot express."
When the soul is favored thus to pray, its petitions are
a spiritual sacrifice, and its cries enter the ears of the
Lord Almighty, for "He who searches our hearts knows
the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for
the saints in accordance with God's will." Romans 8:27
That is what some of you were!
The Holy Spirit undertakes to sanctify the objects
of the Father's eternal choice, and of the Son's
Sanctification is as needful, as indispensable
for the Church's salvation, as redemption!
For O! how low was the Church sunk in the Adam fall! The
image of God, in which she was created—how defaced and
as if blotted out! Death spreading itself with fatal effect
over her every mental and bodily faculty! Sin, like a hideous
leprosy, infecting her to the very heart's core! A thousand
base lusts plunging her deeper and deeper into a sea of
guilt and crime! Enmity against God boiling up in waves
of ceaseless rebellion! Satan tyrannizing over her with
cruel sway, sometimes drawing and sometimes driving,
but by one or the other dragging her without hope or
help towards the brink of the bottomless pit!
Hear that bold blasphemer!
See that drunken, raving prostitute!
Look at that murderer with his blood-red hand
stealing off from his mangled victim!
Or, if you shrink from such sounds and such sights, picture
to your imagination the vilest wretch who ever disgraced
human nature—and you see in that portrait the features of
the Church as implicated in the Adam fall—and sunk into
original and actual transgression!
What a work, then, was undertaken by that most gracious
and condescending Spirit, who solemnly pledged Himself,
in the eternal covenant, to sanctify such wretches, and
to fit and frame them to be partakers of holiness, and
live forever in God's spotless presence!
It were easier for the wolf to dwell with the lamb, and
the leopard to lie down with the sheep—than for ungodly
sinners, unwashed, unregenerated, unsanctified, to dwell
forever before the throne of God and of the Lamb!
But O, the wonders of wisdom, grace, and love!
Sinners, the vilest sinners, the worst of wretches, the
basest of mortals—can and will enter through the gates
into the holy city!
Paul, having enumerated some of the vilest crimes which
stain human nature and sink it below the beasts that perish,
says, "And that is what some of you were! But you were
washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the
name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
1 Corinthians 6:11
To be washed and sanctified is as needful, as indispensable
as to be justified.
"Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all
day long!" Psalm 119:97
"Truly, I love your commands more than gold,
even the finest gold!" Psalm 119:127
"Your decrees are my treasure; they are truly
my heart's delight!" Psalm 119:111
To a spiritual mind, sweet and soul-rewarding is
the searching of the Word as for hidden treasure.
No sweeter, no better employment can engage
heart and hands than, in the spirit . . .
of prayer and meditation,
of separation from the world,
of holy fear,
of a desire to know the will of God and do it,
of humility, simplicity, and godly sincerity,
to seek to enter into those heavenly mysteries which
are stored up in the Scriptures; and this, not to furnish
the head with notions, but to feed the soul with the
bread of life!
Truth, received in the love and power of it . . .
informs and establishes the judgment,
softens and melts the heart,
warms and draws upward the affections,
makes and keeps the conscience alive and tender,
is the food of faith,
is the strength of hope,
is the mainspring of love.
"My child, listen to Me and treasure My instructions.
Search for them as you would for lost money or
hidden treasure!" Proverbs 2:1,4
The kingdom of Christ
"The kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:21
A true experimental knowledge of Christ as Lord
and King, has a holy sanctifying influence over a
believer's heart and life!
That Christ may reign and rule in the heart, there
must be a previous breaking to pieces of all other
authority and power . . .
the reign of sin must give way to the reign of grace;
idols must be dethroned;
the flesh mortified and crucified;
the old man put off, the new man put on.
Pride and self-righteousness,
unbelief and infidelity,
hypocrisy and vain confidence,
carnality and worldly mindedness,
sin and self in all their various shapes and forms,
must be smitten as with a deadly blow,
and scattered to the winds of heaven!
This fall and ruin of self, makes way for the
setting up of the kingdom of Christ in the heart.
Jesus reveals Himself to the soul, thus broken
and humbled, as its Lord and King.
But who is sufficient for these things? Who will pluck
out his own right eye, or cut off his own right hand?
Who will drive the nails of crucifixion into his own
quivering flesh? No one! The Lord, then, must do it
all for and in us by His Spirit and grace.
"Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,"
says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6
It has an influence over the life
"When you received the word of God, which you heard
from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but
as it actually is, the word of God, which effectually
works in you who believe." 1 Thessalonians 2:13
Where God's word effectually works in the heart,
it has an influence over the life. It . . .
separates from the world and the spirit of it;
keeps the consciences alive and tender in the fear of God;
produces uprightness and integrity of conduct;
extends its influence to the various relationships of life;
subdues pride, covetousness, and selfishness;
softens and meekens the spirit;
gives tender feelings and gracious affections;
fosters prayer, meditation, and spirituality of mind; and
makes itself manifest in the life, walk, and conversation.
The believer's rule of life
Were there no precepts in the New Testament, we
would be without an inspired rule of life, without an
authoritative guide for our walk and conduct before the
Church and the world. We rightly discard and reject
the 'law of Moses' as the believer's rule of life.
What, then, is our rule? Are we a set of lawless wretches
who may live as we desire, according to the libelous charge
of the enemies of truth? God forbid! We have a divine,
authoritative rule of life, a code of directions of the amplest,
fullest, minutest character, intended and sufficient to regulate
and control every thought, word, and action of our lives; and
all flowing from the eternal wisdom and will of the Father,
sealed and ratified by the blood of the Son, and inspired
and revealed by the Holy Spirit.
When, then, it is thrown in our teeth that, by discarding the
'law of Moses' as our rule of life, we prove ourselves licentious,
lawless Antinomians; this is our answer, and let God and His
word decide whether it be not a sufficient one. We have a rule
of life as far exceeding the 'law of Moses' as the new covenant
of grace and truth—exceeds and outshines the old covenant of
works; and as much as the ministration of the Spirit, of life,
and of righteousness—excels in glory the ministration of the
letter, of death, and of condemnation. (2 Corinthians 3:6-11)
The gospel, not the Mosaic law, is the believer's rule of life.
In a word, the precepts of the New Testament, in all their
fullness, minuteness, and comprehensiveness, are the
believer's rule of life.
Is any spot too low for me to creep into and lie in?
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of
God." (1 Peter 5:6.) I am here directed and enjoined to
humble myself under the mighty hand of God. But can I do
so? No, I cannot! I may make the attempt. I may fall on my
knees, confess my sins, put my mouth in the dust—at least
do all this in words. But can I produce in my soul . . .
that solemn humbling of my whole spirit before God,
that brokenness and contrition of heart,
that lying at His feet with weeping and supplications,
that giving up of myself into His hands,
without which all my humbling of myself is but lip service?
No! I can do none of these things! I am so thoroughly
destitute and helpless that I cannot produce one grain
of real humility in my own soul.
But let the Holy Spirit graciously work upon my heart;
let Him fill me with a deep sense of the mighty hand of
God over me and under me; let Him humble me in my
inmost soul as the very chief of sinners; let my heart
be broken and my spirit made contrite under a sight
of my sins; and a sight, too, of the life and sufferings
and death of my dear Redeemer—how then, can I not
humble myself under the mighty hand of God?
Is any spot too low for me to creep into and lie in?
Where are my pride and self-righteousness now?
Does not sweet humility fill and possess my soul?
All doctrine, all experience, all precept
All doctrine, all experience, all precept center, as one
grand harmonious whole, in the glorious Person of the
Son of God. From Him they all come; to Him they all flow.
Severed from Him . . .
doctrine is seen to be but a withered branch;
experience but a delusive dream;
precept but a legal service.
But His light enlightening, His life quickening, His power
attending the word of His grace—doctrine is seen to be
no longer doctrine dry and dead, but glorious truth;
experience to be not a mere matter of fluctuating feeling,
but a blessed reality, as the very kingdom of God set up
with a divine power in the heart; and obedience not a
legal duty, but a high, holy, and acceptable service.
"Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or
make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a
tree is recognized by its fruit." Matthew 12:33
Gospel fruit can only grow upon a gospel tree,
and thus the fruits of a holy and godly life must
spring out of the divine operations of the Holy
Spirit upon the heart.