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net spread in the sight of any bird.” Enable me to examine every thing by the light of truw; to prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good. He seeks my destruction,—3. by stirring up the wicked to persecute my soul; and by spreading stumbling blocks to impede my progress towards the heavenly Canaan.
These are but a small part of his devices, of which the believer is not ignorant. We are in an enemy's country. This is the field of battle. Here we must fight; but, if we endure, faithful unto the end, we shall triumphantly join in the conqueror's song,
My prayer must daily be; that I may never be suffered to indulge a thought, which I would not dare to express; or do an action in secret, which I should blush to have known.
I do not expect, whilst in this state of mortality, to be free from every sinful thought, or effectually to prevent their entrance into the mind. This is the perfection of heaven. Yet I must labour after this blessedness by faith and prayer, or I am only a hypocrite and self-deceiver.
The ready access which Satan has to the imaginative powers of the soul, and the quickness with which he can dart his poisonous suggestions into the heart, are most astonishing. No season is too sacred to prevent his bold intrusion. The house of God and the table of the Lord do not afford a sanctuary from this enemy. Judas stands on record as an awful witness to this truth.
The Christian's private retirement is often greatly disturbed by this restless invader, who tempted the holy Jesus in the desert.
He raises visionary schemes of profit or pleasure, to amuse the fancy or engage the passions. No art or stratagem is left untried, to tempt the harassed soul to forego its duties, or meditate on any thing rather than Christ, and holiness, and heaven.
O! how precious at such a season are prayer and the word of God. The sword of the Spirit and allprayer are the weapons which Satan cannot long withstand, when wielded by the arm of faith. “Resist the devil, and he shall flee from you,” is written for the encouragement of tempted pilgrims.
But who can prevent the injections of Satan? I might as soon attempt to check the whirlwind in its course, or stop the flowing tide. Yet I may and must resist them by faith and prayer, or I shall perish by them. All-sufficient help is offered. Jesus has said, “My grace is sufficient for thee, my strength is made perfect in weakness.” The promise is, "God shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. " I must daily seek this promised aid by humble, persevering prayer. Then as surely as the promise stands recorded in the Bible, so surely shall I come off more than conqueror through the blood of the Lamb.
This is not, however, the work of an hour. The believer's warfare ends only with his life. off his earthly tabernacle and his earthly troubles together.
O my soul ! take encouragement from that consoling question which was put to doubting Sarah : “ Is any thing too hard for the Lord ?”
Almighty Saviour! when sin is working within me, and my soul is bowed down with sorrow; when Satan buffets me with his horrid assaults, and all seems darkness and despair ; when unbelief would tempt me to give up all for lost: then may I hear thee speak in cheering accents to my soul; “ Is s any thing too hard for the Lord ?"
o? let me never forget this animating question, which puts to flight a host of unbelieving fears May I daily live upon thy grace, and rest
on nothing, blessed Lord, but thee.
When I contemplate myself, what do I behold? A nature polluted; a heart deceitful; a body every moment tending to decay; an understanding beclouded ; a will depraved ; affections in disorder; a memory retaining things forbidden; a creature, in short, born in sin ; a child of wrath ; an heir of hell. Awful as this portrait is, and humbling to the pride of carnal man, yet it gives but a faint representation of the original.
And can such a hateful creature enter into heaven? Impossible! I must be born again. But can the Lord renew so vile a being, and cause the graces of his Spirit to abound in such a heart as mine?
Hear, 0! my soul, the words of thy Saviour which he spake to Sarah, as the ANGEL OF THE COVENANT : “Is any thing too hard for the Lord ?"
Lord, I believe-help thou mine unbelief. I believe thou canst in a moment raise me from a death in sin, to a life of righteousness; and shall I doubt thy willingness ? Thou camest to call sinners to repentance. Thou camest to seek and to save that which was lost. Thousands in every age who have felt the power of thy regenerating grace, can witness to this delightful truth: that nothing is too hard for thee.
O! heavenly Father! bestow on me, the vilest, the most unworthy of thy creatures, a look, a smile of love, for his dear sake in whom thy soul delighteth, even Jesus, the sinner's friend.
Thou art Almighty, nothing is too hard for thee. Let not unbelief, for one moment stop the current of thy grace; but cause thy saving mercy to flow onward in my soul, till unbelief and
pride, and every sin, shall be for ever lost beneath the powerful stream. Then shall I be able to tell some fearful, doubting saint, what thou hast done for my soul, and to the latest moment of my life proclaim with
heartfelt joy, that nothing is too hard for thee.
Nothing grieves the believer in Jesus so much, as the sin which dwelleth in him. He can feelingly adopt the language of the Apostle: “O wretched man that I am ;"_and with him acknowledge ; "we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened.”
Yet, let not the worldling imagine, that the believer has no inward enjoyment. This very grief on account of sin, is accompanied with holy peace and joy through faith in the atonement of Jesus.
How great is the change which grace makes in the soul! Sin, which once was sweet, now becomes bitter. Sin, which once wore the mask of beauty,
now appears in all its native deformity. The mind enlightened from above beholds sin in the mirror of truth, as hardening and deceiving, (Heb. iii. 13.) unprofitable, shameful, and deadly. (Rom. vi. 21.)
Its evil effects are seen in the destruction of primitive innocence; the desolating judgments of heaven; and the miseries which cover the earth.
Its evil effects are felt in the corruption of our nature; the stings of conscience, and the abounding iniquities of mankind. But above all other views, we behold the infinite evil of sin, in the agonies and death of Jesus the Son of God.
O! that I may have grace to bewail at the foot of the cross, the exceeding sinfulness of sin. There I would confess both my guilt and pollution ; and there, looking with an eye of faith to the bleeding sacrifice, I would wait in humble hope, till Jesus speak those soul-transporting words: “ Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee."
Sinless perfection is the bliss of heaven. There, believers who die in the Lord, become “ the spirits of just men made perfect."
Whilst they sojourn here below, they are called to wrestle, and fight both with inbred sin, and outward temptations. Hence we find in that faithful word, which is the “light” and “counsellor” of the church of God, continual calls to vigilance and activity, and reiterated cautions against negligence and sloth. There are four evils against which the most advanced believer has daily, yea hourly, to contend.
The first is UNBELIEF.
This is a powerful enemy to our peace. It was unbelief which gave Satan the first advantage over the once happy pair in Paradise. They doubtedthey disbelieved--they fell. Unbelief is the parent of numberless evils, which, although of different com