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Filled with these bright expectations of future glory, founded on the promises of Jesus, the happy Paul animated the Philippian converts: "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ; even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the Gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace."
Being well acquainted with the innate evils of the heart, his Epistles are models for ministerial faithfulness; in which, to guard us against false security and presumption, caution is blended with encouragement,-warnings with promises,-and fear with hope.
Many are the hindrances, and many the snares which beset us on our way to glory. The corruption of the heart-the subtlety of Satanthe power of temptation-the fear of man-the allurements of the world-are continually, in one way or other, opposing our journey heavenward. But Christ is our Saviour. His wisdom is engaged to guide us, and his power to uphold and defend us.
Happy then is the man, whom grace has united to the Friend of sinners. Because Jesus lives, he shall live also. Whilst in the body he lives by faith in the blood of Jesus-by faith in the power of Jesus -by faith in the promises of Jesus. And when out of the body, his perfected spirit shall for ever dwell with Jesus.
How important then
Drawing back from God is drawing onwards to perdition. The farther we depart from God the nearer we approach to ruin. is the grace of perseverance. mark of true believers consists in their abiding in Christ, and evidencing that union by the fruitfulness of their lives. Mere outward profession is no certain indication of inward piety, neither is a long continued profession any safeguard against declension or final apostacy. Who would have thought, that Solomon, the wisest of men, who built so magnificent a temple for the worship of Jehovah, and who prayed so fervently at its dedication, would, in his old age, have been turned away after other gods, and been led even to build high places for the abominations of the heathen!-Surely he who trusteth to his own heart is a fool.
After many years of promise, the heart may discover its insincerity, should God be pleased to bring the professor of his religion, into the furnace, either of prosperity or adversity. Demas fell through the love of this present world; the stony ground hearer withered away, beneath the scorching beams of persecution. Nothing but the grace of God can keep us from falling, either partially, or finally. Can we then be surprised, that the well-instructed Paul, who preached the Gospel of the grace of God with such unmixed purity, should guard its possessors against the wiles of Satan, and the remaining corruption of their hearts ?
Having explained to the Corinthians, the spiritual privileges of the Israelites, he tells them: "But with many of them God was not well pleased,
for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. All these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."
Then, for their confidence in the faithfulness of their Redeemer, he adds: "There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
In like manner the Apostle showed the Hebrew converts the danger of unbelief as exemplified in their own history: "With whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in, because of unbelief."
With close self-application, he then presses this fact on their consciences: "Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. Let us labour to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief-for, there remaineth a rest to the people of God."
Lest an undue fear of losing heaven should arise in their hearts from the awful examples
which he had brought before them, and so cause their hands to wax feeble, and their feet to grow weary; how delightfully does he compose their apprehensions by a view of the tenderness and the all-sufficiency of Christ: "Seeing that we have a Great High-Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession; for we have not an High-Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence, stedfast unto the end."
What a wonderful display of mercy and judgment is also revealed to us in the eleventh chapter to the Romans. The Apostle himself was so overpowered by the view of the divine sovereignty, that like a person standing on the brink of some vast abyss, he exclaimed: "Oh! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God; how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
The Jews, as a people, having rejected their Messiah, were to be cut off because of unbelief: while the Gentiles, embracing the offers of mercy through faith in the blood of Christ, should be grafted into the good olive tree-the Church of God.
But, lest this grace should be abused through spiritual pride, the Apostle, with his wonted fidelity,
guards them against an evil so offensive to God: "Boast not thyself against the branches. But, if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then: The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear. For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed, lest he also spare not thee."
Is then the promise made to Abraham come utterly to an end? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Can his truth fail? St. Paul answers these questions: "I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, and so all Israel shall be saved. As concerning the Gospel, they are enemies for your sakes; but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sake; for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."
To the disputer of this world, who impiously cavils at the dispensations of Jehovah, and measures His dealings by the scanty line of human reason, we would say with Zophar: "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is high as heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea."
True humility is the basis of excellence in the