THE BELIEVER IN HIS HEART CLEAVES TO GOD, AND WALKS WITH HIM IN LOVE.
THIS depends entirely upon a good conscience. There can be no love of God unless there be first peace with God. No convinced sinner can love him until he believes him to be reconciled. While guilt remains in the conscience, enmity will keep its place in the heart: for so long as he looks upon his sins unpardoned, and God, the just avenger of them, he must consider him as a jealous God, and a consuming fire. In this view there is everything that can increase his guilty fears. And while these defile the conscience, instead of walking with God, he would run away from him, and, like the first offenders, he would foolishly try to hide himself from the presence of God.
But when the Holy Spirit has discovered the way of peace, and has enabled the sinner to find peace, being pardoned and justified through faith in Christ Jesus, then he looks upon God in another light. He can view him, according as he has proclaimed himself–the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth: keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin. Under this endearing character, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is revealed in Scripture. Thus would he be considered in the covenant of grace–related in the nearest bond of affection to all his children. Ho is their Father, the Father of mercies, freely loving, freely forgiving, freely accepting them in the beloved. The Holy Spirit convinces them of it, and sheds the Father's love to them abroad in their hearts; the sense of which sweetly 'inclines them to love him again. Love begets love. God has put on the tender bowels of an ever-loving parent, and he gives them the affection of dutiful children. They love him because he first loved them. Then it is the delight of their souls to cultivate and improve this love on their part, and it becomes their heaven upon earth to walk with their God in the ways wherein he has appointed to meet them, to love them, and to bless them.
The main point, then, in the Christian walk is to know how to maintain peace in the conscience; because this is the powerful motive upon which the believer first sets out, and it is the great spring which keeps him going on. While his conscience continues pure and undefiled, and the peace of God rules in it, all is well. Ho does not stop, he does not halt in the way. But when guilt enters, unbelief certainly follows close after it, and then there is a fresh controversy in the court of conscience, Many doubts arise, and afford matter for strife and debate. The sense of peace is not only disturbed, but is also for a time destroyed, by such suspicions as these: "Am I freely pardoned?–Is God fully reconciled to me?–Is he still my loving Father? I fear not. I have done so and so. He is certainly displeased with me, and therefore I dare not approach him, as I used to do, with love and confidence." This is an evil conscience. It is not purged from dead works, because guilt is still in it, and this keeps the soul at a distance from God. It begets a coldness and a shyness to him, and by shutting out the comfortable sense of his love, makes way for fear of wrath. Then the motives to walk with God lose their influence and an evil heart of unbelief tempts the man to depart from the living God.
Look well, then, O my soul, to this leading truth, which has such universal influence over the Christian walk. Attend to the peace of thy conscience. See it be true peace, and mind it be well settled. Learn to maintain it upon gospel motives. The heart follows the determination of the conscience, and cleaves to the Lord, or departs from him, according as the conscience excuses or accuses. It is therefore absolutely necessary for our peace, that we should know how God has shown himself reconciled in Christ Jesus. This character of him in the Scriptures should be studied. Whoever has been enabled to call him Abba, Father, should implore the assistance of the Holy Spirit for an increase of faith, and should make use of all appointed means for his growth in the knowledge of the love of his heavenly Father. The apostle is upon this subject in Romans v., a chapter abounding with powerful arguments to establish the peace of God in the conscience, in order that the love of God may rule in the heart. He gives us this account of the privileges of a justified man. He has peace with God through Jesus Christ, by whom he has a free access to God–is in a state of grace–stands in it by the power of God–has reason to rejoice (come what will) in hope of the glory to be revealed–and whatever he meets with in the way to glory should increase the rejoicing of his hope, and confirm his heart in the love of God to him. Observe how divinely the apostle speaks: "Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice m hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us."
What privileges! how many, how free, how blessed, are here declared to be the portion of the justified man, which he is to enjoy in his reconciled God! Each of them tending to establish peace in his conscience, and love in his heart, that he may delight himself in God and in his ways.
The first and chief blessing in experience, which draws after it all the rest, is the Spirit. The Holy Ghost is given unto him to be a witness for Jesus, and to shed abroad the Father's love through him. He comes as the Spirit of life to quicken the soul, which had been dead in trespasses and sins, and to bring it to the knowledge of salvation; which he does,
Secondly,–By the gift of faith–being justified by faith. He enables the sinner to believe in the finished work of the God-man, and to trust to the free grant of it in the word of God; whereby he sees himself fully justified: through the atonement of Jesus freed from sin and guilt; through the righteousness of Jesus entitled to lift and glory; and therefore,
Thirdly,–He has peace with God through Jesus Christ his Lord. He sees God is at peace with him–perfectly and continually reconciled. The peace is everlasting, which was made through the blood of the everlasting covenant. The belief of this quiets and satisfies the sinner's conscience; which being purged by the blood, and justified by the righteousness of Jesus Christ his Lord, is at peace, is freed from guilty fears, and is reconciled to God, yea, to the justice of God, who can now be just, and yet the justifier of the ungodly. To what high honour is he then called? He is admitted into friendship with God, and has,
Fourthly,–Access by faith into this grace, wherein he stands; access to a mercy-seat, to which he is invited to come freely, as a beloved child to an affectionate parent. Boldness and access with confidence are required and commanded. "Let us come boldly to the throne of grace: having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus," let us by faith make use of that new and living way which he hath opened for ns. O what a, mercy is it thus to have access to a gracious Father; how much is the mercy increased by his settling his children in it! "We STAND in it," says the apostle, denoting the being fixed in a state of perfect acceptance, conferred by sovereign grace; brought into it by unchangeable love, and kept in it by the power of a faithful God:–how strengthening to faith, how encouraging to hope!–for, Fifthly,–We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Faith relies upon the truth of what God hath promised, and hope waits for the enjoyment of the good in the promise, but more especially for the glory which is to be revealed. This hope of glory is full of rejoicing: because everything which hope looks at and draws its joy from, depends on the truth and faithfulness of a covenant God: there can be no failing on his part, and therefore on the believer's there can be no disappointment. On this ground hope casts its anchor, both sure and steadfast, and finds all safe during the storms of life, yea, has many a sweet foretaste of the promised glory, brought into the soul by these very storms: for,
Sixthly,–We rejoice in tribulations also. These are so far from taking away the joy of the justified man, that they tend greatly to increase it, and to make it more holy, as well as more happy. Tribulations produce a plentiful harvest of blessings; they bring forth Patience, giving occasion to exercise the graces of the Spirit, to find the truth and the power of them, and thereby working submission under the cross to the will of God. "It is good for me," says David, "that I have been afflicted:" his troubles brought him to God.-"Before I was afflicted, I went astray." His troubles kept him near to God,, dependent on the divine strength to bear them, with patience; and for a happy issue out of them. Whereby he learnt
Experience, which follows suffering and patience. Tribulations teach us what we are as sinners; and what God is to his reconciled children. They make us sensible of our weakness; and of our being strong only in the Lord–of our misery, and of his comforts–of what we deserve, and of what he saves us from; they bring us to five out of ourselves, upon the sure mercies of a covenant God: whereby our hope in him being tried, and by trials confirmed, we discover his love to us in suffering; and by daily experience become quite satisfied, that our Hope is the grace of the Holy Spirit: for it answers the scripture character; it rejoices in tribulation. It has good reason so to do. It experiences God's faithfulness. Everything promised being made good to us in time, we thereby grow up into the full assurance of hope, that we shall not fail of receiving the promised glory. And this Hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given unto us. He is given to satisfy our hearts of the love of God to us, and to lead us to study the nature and the perfections of his love. Behold! what manner of love, what a free, full, sovereign, and everlasting love the Father hath bestowed upon us. It is actually bestowed and enjoyed by the power of the Holy Ghost. He shows us how the Father loved us, even when we were without strength: yea, herein God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were sinners and enemies, he gave his Son to live and die for us, much more then, being now justified, we shall be saved from wrath, and brought to glory through him. How does this commend and set off the love of God! It is the first cause of all the graces here mentioned, and bestows them upon the most unworthy. Faith, justification by faith, access to God, standing in a justified state, rejoicing in hope of glory, and rejoicing in the way to it, even in tribulations, because they exercise and improve patience, and put our graces to such trials, as convince us that they are the true graces of the Holy Spirit, and that we shall never be ashamed of our hops in God. In this golden chain of experience, love is the uppermost link. It was the first, and draws after it all the rest. The free love of the Father gave his Son for us, and with him gave ns all things. The same love has now given his Spirit to us, and he has enabled us to know and to believe, that we are justified, have access to a reconciled God, stand accepted before him, &c.; and that he is our loving God and Father in Jesus. The sense of this warms the heart, and sweetly and powerfully influences the affections to delight in, and to walk in love with such an exceedingly gracious and merciful God.
In this delightful portion of Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches ns how he brings sinners to know that God loves them. It is by believing in the righteousness and atonement of the Son of God. Hence spring peace and love–peace with God in the conscience, and love to God in the heart. There is an inseparable connection between those two graces. The one cannot exist without the other. Whoever knows the God of peace, will find that God is love; for being justified by faith, he will thereby see that God is at peace with him, and himself in a state of free acceptance before him: in which he shall stand and be kept safe, until he receive the promised glory. The hope of which will be confirmed by his daily experience of God's faithfulness, making all things, even tribulations, work together for his good in the way to glory: thus will the Holy Spirit satisfy him of the love of God to his soul. And the persuasion of his love begets love. It softens the hard heart. It warms the cold heart. It works kindly upon all the affections; and by setting before them every possible good to be enjoyed in their reconciled God, it mightily disposes them to seek their supreme happiness in walking humbly and closely with him.
Attend then, O my soul, to this scripture. Meditate upon the experience of which it treats. Pray for it. Pray for more of it. And above all, observe the great truth here taught thee by the Holy Ghost; namely, that thou canst not have any true love of God but what arises from the sense of his being at peace with thee in Jesus. O beware of false teachers: for there is great reason, Many talk big of their loving God for his own inherent loveliness. A fundamental mistake. Mystics, Quakers, natural-religion men, dreaming metaphysicians, and the motley tribe of moralists and deists, pretend to love an absolute God, without viewing him in the covenant of grace, or as he has revealed himself in the incarnation of his Son. There has been no love of this kind in any heart upon earth for near six thousand years. Adam m paradise might love him thus. But when driven out of paradise for sin, he could love him so no more. The promised seed of' the woman, the Word made flesh, became then the object of his faith, and the only ground of his love. The Scripture has clearly determined this–"We love him, because he first loved us. And in this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him."
When the Holy Ghost has taught tiffs love of God to sinners, and by believing has manifested it to their hearts; then they love him upon Christian principles; and sinners cannot love him upon any other. They love him for that infinite mercy which led him to send his only-begotten Son into the world to finish the salvation of his people. They love him for sending the Holy Ghost to enable them to see the everlasting sufficiency of this salvation, and to believe the record of God concerning it; whereby they come to experience how much the Father loved them.
This is heaven begun. The Father's love shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost is the foretaste of glory. Whoever enjoys it, has found what is more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. O, it is indeed heaven upon earth. To preserve it, to improve it, is become the one study of the happy believer. The panting of his soul is after more of this love· The prayer of his faith is, "O thou eternal Spirit, help me so to walk with my most loving Father, as that I may maintain peace with him in my conscience, and a growing love to him in my heart, until thou bring me to the enjoyment of everlasting peace and love·"
The prayer of a righteous man prevaileth much, being offered with energy. By the love of the Spirit it is answered. He not only preserves, but also increases his own graces; he leads the believer to fresh discoveries of the Father's love, and puts him into possession of the exceeding rich treasures of it. He helps him to draw very strong arguments for the comfort of his heart from the perfect FREENESS of divine love. Thus he reasons–
Although I am beset with temptations, and assaulted with corruptions, and in a world of troubles, yet I need not fear but God will bring me safe through all, for I know he loves me. It is plain he does. I could never have loved him, unless he had first freely loved me. My love is only the reflection of his. I have been convinced of sin, but it was not from myself; the conviction was of' God. I have been convinced of righteousness, and I put my whole trust in the righteousness of Jesus. He is the only ground of my hope. I now rest my soul upon the sure foundation which he hath laid. And this faith is not of myself: it is the gift of God. I ascribe it to his sovereign grace, that I have been enabled to look upon the Father as reconciled to me, pardoning me through the blood-shedding of his Son, accounting me righteous through the obedience of his Son, and in him accepting, loving, and blessing me.
How could I experience these things but by the power of the Holy Ghost? And for what did I deserve to experience them? The reason must be found in the riches of his own free grace. Did the Father foresee anything good in me for which he chose me in his Son? Was it for any worthiness of mine that the Son vouchsafed to take flesh, and to live and to die for me? Was it for any foreseen works, faithfulness, or diligence in means, that the Holy Ghost called me to know, to believe, and to enjoy the Father's love through the Son's salvation? O, no! Away with such thoughts. I dare claim nothing for mine own but sin and shame. Not unto me, Lord, not unto me, but unto thee be all the glory. It was the good pleasure of thine own will, which chose me before the foundation of the world, and accepted me in the beloved; and now I know that thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. I experience the happy fruit and effect of them. I am brought to believe in thee, and to love my God and Father, which I am satisfied I could never have done, if thy free love had not first purposed to save me, and now carried thy purposes into execution. To the praise of the glory of thy distinguishing grace, I am in possession of the things which accompany salvation. O give me more grace, that I may daily make a better use of them, and may return thee better praise for thy free gifts of free grace.
It is free, and it is also COVENANT love. This is another of its divine properties. God commendeth his love towards the heirs of promise, by giving them full security for its unchangeableness. And this view the Holy Spirit opens to them for the support of their faith in times of trial. When they are walking in darkness and have no light, troubled on every side, without are fightings, within are fears; when in great heaviness through failings in duty, through risings of corruption, or through manifold temptations, then he discovers to them the treasures of covenant love, and enables them to draw rich consolation from that heavenly storehouse.
An heir of promise under his teaching is often supported in this way–It is true, I am in trouble, but not forsaken. What if everything I have and am in myself makes against me, yet God is on my side, a covenant God; for I believe the eternal Three entered into covenant before all worlds, and with manifold wisdom ordered all things relating to the heirs of promise. For their sakes, and to end all strife in their consciences about the certainty of their salvation, it pleased the blessed Trinity to enter into covenant, and to confirm their covenant by oath, thus giving them two immutable things to trust in, in which it is impossible for God to lie. O how strengthening to faith is this view of the unchangeableness of covenant love! If it be but a man's covenant, being properly signed and sealed, no one disannulleth or addeth thereto. And who shall disannul or add to the covenant of the Trinity? The creature cannot. God will not. His purpose of bringing many sons to glory is unalterably fixed in his own mind, and in order to make it a sure ground for their faith, he confirmed his immutable covenant by his immutable oath. On this security. I rest my soul. A covenant God has enabled me to trust in his covenant engagements. Hence I see everything relating to my salvation absolutely certain in the counsel and covenant of God; and I look upon my faith to be one of the effects of my being in the covenant. And faith as a covenant gift is an immutable gift.
What a blessing is it, that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance! It has been given me on the behalf' of Christ to believe. And is not this from covenant love? What else could bring me to trust in covenant faithfulness? Therefore, by believing, I have immutable things to depend upon for the certainty of my salvation. Upon them would I stay my soul, as well I may, and fix my heart upon them. O that I could bring more glory to my covenant God, by trusting him with unshaken confidence! His love to me demands it at my hands. His love contrived the plan of salvation. Love provided everything needful to carry it into execution. The evidence which he has given of this was from the overflowings of love. His word of promise, ratified by covenant, confirmed by oath, the oath of the holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, made to satisfy tile heirs of promise of the immutability of the divine will concerning them–O what miracles of love are these! And all to assure them that the heart of Jehovah is invariably towards them for good! Yes, Lord, this is the great love wherewith thou lovest me. And this is the evidence of thy love. Thou hast brought me to believe it, and to put some honour upon it. I desire to trust to thy covenant engagements without wavering. Establish, strengthen, settle my faith. Increase it from day to day, that I may grow in the knowledge and experience of that love which passeth knowledge. For,
It is a free, a covenant, and also an EVERLASTING love. This is another of its most glorious properties. His love knows neither beginning nor end. It is without variableness or shadow of turning. The heart of God is always one and the same towards his chosen people; for he loveth them freely: the motives to it were all in and from his own breast. The covenant was distinguishing love, secured to the heirs of promise by the most solemn engagements And this crowns all. His love is of the same date with the covenant–not only before all worlds, but also from eternity. Therefore it is frequently called in Scripture an everlasting covenant, and covenant love is said to be according to the eternal purpose which he had purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord; whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, He hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom lie hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour.
Here is a never-failing source of comfort to a believing heart. Mediate, O my soul, upon it. Consider what God hath done for thee, and give him the glory of his precious love. Has he not called thee, by his Spirit working iii thee, in due season? Hast thou not obeyed the call? Dost thou not depend upon the finished work of God thy Saviour? Art thou not justified freely by faith in him? Art thou not seeking daily to mortify the works of the flesh, and thy earthly members, and that thy mind may be drawn up to high and heavenly things? Certainly these are good proofs of the purposes of the Father's love towards thee, because these are the happy effects of his purposes now fairing place in thy soul. O how greatly should this consideration establish and confirm thy faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed by Christ, and thereby kindle thy love towards God. He has, indeed, drawn thee by the sweet attraction of his Spirit unto himself, and tie has explained to thee the motive for his so doings" Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee."
His love, discovered to thee in time, is the fruit of his love before time; for the one is the effect of the other. If love had not been always in his heart towards thee, thy heart could never have been drawn in love to him: but he has drawn it. And thou art seeking to have it drawn more closely to him. Is it not thy daily wish? O for more love to my gracious Father–what a love has he shown to me–what a free, covenant, everlasting love! And yet, alas! what poor returns do I make him? Holy Spirit of love, raise and exalt my affections, and let the consideration of the wonderful love of my heavenly Father to me increase mine to him, and let mine abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all sensible experience.
The Holy Spirit, who is the great teacher and maul-fester of the Father's love, has revealed these properties of it in Scripture, for the establishment of the faith of the children of God. He would have them believe assuredly that God is their Father, not in name only, but in deed and in truth; that he has the bowels of the tenderest parent, and that he freely, fully, everlastingly loves them in his dear Son. As he loves him, so he loves them. He embraces the head and the members with the same affection. And because they can hardly believe this in times of trial and trouble, the Holy Spirit would therefore satisfy their hearts of it, by discovering to them the unchangeableness of their Father's love, as it has been manifested in the divine covenant, and confirmed with the divine oath. In both which the witness of the [Father to his children is given in this manner: I have freely loved you, I have engaged to love you, and I will ever be mindful of my covenant engagements–as I live, saith the Lord, I will love you unto the end–yea, I will bless you with all spiritual and eternal blessings in Christ Jesus–what he, your elder brother, is now in glory, that will my love make you–the mountains shall depart, and the hills shall be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on you. These are faithful sayings, and worthy of all acceptation. O evil heart of unbelief, what pretence hast thou to reason against the truth of them? O ye of little faith, wherefore do ye doubt of receiving the goodness of them? Your Father is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should alter his purpose. Hath he said, and shall he not do it! Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Yes–the purpose of his heart, spoken with his mouth, shall be made good with his arm; all his perfections stand engaged to establish his faithful word, and therefore it is a safe ground to build and rest upon. Trusting to it, the believer may boldly claim the promised blessings of his father's love; and with a hope that will never make him ashamed, he may expect a growing enjoyment of its free covenant and eternal blessings.
Well then, O my soul, thou hast considered the subject. What are thy sentiments of the love of the Father? Are they such as the Scripture teaches? Take heed of error. A little mistake here will have dreadful effects upon thy walk. Dost thou believe that thou, coming to the Father, through faith in the life and death of his co-equal Son, art pardoned and justified before him, and that this thy coming to the Father, through the Son, is from the grace of the Spirit? Therefore the Three that bear record in heaven, do witness to thy being an object of covenant love. Does this witness keep thy conscience quiet, and thy heart happy? Canst thou plead it against guilt and fear, and maintain the influence of it in dark and trying times? The love of thy heavenly Father is immutable:–Dost thou experience it to be so? It is everlasting:–Canst thou depend upon it as such? It has provided all blessings for thee in Jesus:–Art thou receiving them out of his fulness, grace for grace? It is proposed to thy faith in John xvii. and in Eph. iii. as a never-failing spring of consolation: 'Read' and try, whether thou art practically acquainted with what is there written. Examine the character of the Father's love; and be assured what is not agreeable to it, is not the teaching of the Holy Spirit. His office in thy soul is to witness to what he has revealed in the Scripture, to explain it to thine understanding, to make it the ground of thy faith, and the enjoyment of thy heart. Dost thou then understand, and believe, and enjoy the Father's love, according to what the Holy Spirit has testified of it? Perhaps thou art clear in thine understanding, but through the weakness of thy faith, hast but little enjoyment of the love of God. Why is thy faith weak? Search into the cause (depend upon it, God is not the cause), and having discovered it, inquire into the remedy. There is provision made in the covenant for all the infirmities of thy faith; for it was well ordered in all things and sure, and thy faith was well ordered and sure –infallible securities were provided in the covenant to make it sure. That thou shouldst have it, that thou shouldst keep it, and keep it, too unto the end, the blessed Trinity have engaged, by their immutable counsel, and their immutable oath. Therefore Christ now kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. The power of God, which is thy keeper, has given thee faith; and keeps thy faith, that it fail not. Thou and it are well kept. A covenant God has the charge of both. Almighty love watches over thee, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Till these fail, thy faith cannot fail. O what powerful motives are these to induce thee to believe without wavering! Consider them carefully: and may the Lord render them the means of strengthening thy faith, and of thereby enabling thee to cleave more closely in love to thy heavenly Father. It may be thou art hindered from living by unshaken faith, because thou hast so little love to God–he ought, to have all thy heart and soul, ad mind, and strength; but it grieves thee to observe what small part he has of them. This view is always humbling. Our love, at best, is not what it ought to be. It is not constant; it ebbs and flows, It is not perfect; the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit. ]t is not what God deserves as payment for love received: Who will compute the full value of his love to one redeemed sinner? On earth it surpasseth knowledge. In heaven it surpasseth all returns of praise. The highest love of glorified saints is only acknowledgment, but not payment. They are perfectly humble, and therefore willing that God should have all the glory of their salvation. To him they ascribe it. The same mind in thee would refine thy love, and make it something like theirs. When thou are considering thy love to God, and ashamed at the sight of it, then look at his. Look especially at his when thine is little. Believing views of his will increase thine. Thine has nothing else to excite it, or to nourish it. Thou art not called upon to warm thyself with the sparks of thy love to God, but with the pure constant flame of his love to thee. His is to keep up thine. His is the first cause, and thine is but the effect. The experience of his will heal all the infirmities of thine. When thy love is little, unsettled, cold, and dull, then study the divine properties of his: these rightly understood, will increase, settle, warm, and actuate thine affections. By believing meditation thou wilt find a pardon provided for thy little love; the sense of it will comfort thy conscience. Thy heart will grow hot within thee; while thou art musing, the fire will kindle: it will break out. Thou wilt speak with thy tongue praise and thanksgiving to thy loving God and Father. Thou art willing then, O my soul, and ready to set out to follow thy God. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, theft hast chosen him for thy portion, and in a constant dependence upon his grace, thou hast taken his way for thy daily walk. How great is the love wherewith he loveth thee! Survey it. Measure, if thou canst, the dimensions of it in thine own particular ease. The more thou art acquainted with it, elm readier wilt thou be to give him all the glory of it, and to make such acknowledgments as these:–
I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience, bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that; being justified by faith, I have found peace, and free access to a reconciled God. We are agreed, and now I desire to walk with him. He is my Father in Jesus, and I know he has bowels of the tenderest affection for me. I ought not, it would be base in me, to question it, since he has shed his love abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost; who has made me of one mind, of one heart;, and of one way with himself. His way is become mine: for he has reconciled me to it, by causing me to see that he chose me freely, as an object of his electing love; that he gave his Son to finish salvation work for me; and that he has now given his Spirit to me, who has called me, and given me cars to hear; who has bestowed on me faith and hope, and has enabled me to look upon these as fruits of the Father's covenant grace and everlasting favour.
O what; exceeding riches of love are these! If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. What am I, that I should be accepted in the beloved? His Father mine. He sees me, loves me, yea, blesses me in him. My title is clear to all spiritual blessings, because God, being my God in Jesus, all things are mine. He will make them all work together for my good. He that withheld not his own Son, but gave him for me, how shall he not with him freely give me all things? Having his free grant of them in the word of promise, and trusting to his faithfulness, I have set out to walk with my divine Friend and Father, hoping to enjoy his loving presence all the way to heaven. I would not aim at getting any new title to his love, but to have new enjoyment. Every day I am seeking for more knowledge, and for more experience of his abundant love to me in His beloved Son. And for this end, I would walk close with him in his way–not to buy his love, it is inestimable–not to merit it, free grace and merit cannot stand together–not that I may deserve it for my walk, but may freely receive it of him in my walk–not that he may give it me for walking with him, but that in walking with him, I may enjoy what he has already given me. His love is a free gift. I would by faith enjoy it in time, as I hope by sense to enjoy it in eternity.
Whatever blessing, strength, victory, or comfort, I stand in need of, I look to the fulness which he has laid up in Jesus, and from thence I receive it. I read my title to it, and I take possession of it, for nothing done in me or by me, now or at any other time, but only in or for the free grace of his Father and my Father. While I can live thus by simple faith, I find I am enabled to go on well. The sense of his free, covenant, everlasting love, keeps my heart happy, and makes walking with him my delight. O that he may enable me to press forward, that I may hold my confidence, and the rejoicing of my hope, steadfast unto the end! And why need I doubt of it, since he has me in his keeping? His love has bound itself to me by covenant engagements, which are my full, security for what he has declared–"I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."
These desires, I am persuaded, art, from thee, O rather of mercies. I could never have sought my happiness in thy love, unless thou hadst first loved me. O grant mo then the desires of my heart. What thy good Spirit has put me upon seeking, let me by his grace find continually. He has manifested to me thy perfect reconciliation to thy people, through the life and death of Jesus. It has been given me on his behalf to believe this. I have therefore taken thee for my God and my portion, and I would so walk with thee as to obtain a growing knowledge and experience of thy love. For this cause I bow my knees unto thee, Holy Father. O hear and answer the prayer of faith. Give mo grace to walk with thee in love, all the way to glory. I ask it in the name of Jesus: for thou art the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family, in heaven and earth, is named. One rather, one family, one love. Thou receivest all thy children, whether in heaven or earth, into the stone near relation, and embracest them with the same dear affection in thy beloved Son.
O what a mercy is this! Blessed, for ever blessed, be thy fatherly love, which chose me to be of thy family, and which has brought me to know that I am a child of God, by faith in Christ Jesus. I thank thee for giving me the desire to live as such, and to walk worthy of my high calling. O grant me then, according to the riches of thy glory (out of thine infinite treasury of grace, and to the praise of the glory of thy grace), to be strengthened with might by thy Spirit in the inner man. He is the promise of the Father. All thy children have their new birth, and every faculty of the new man from him, and by the working of his mighty power they are kept, as well as renewed, day by day; for without him they can do nothing. Of this he has thoroughly convinced me. I know I cannot call thee rather, nor believe in thee, nor low thee, but by thy Spirit.
O my God, strengthen me effectually by his grace in the inner man, for every purpose of spiritual life. Whatever he has engaged to do in thy children, let him do it in me, that through his presence and power Christ may dwell in my heart by faith. O let him continually discover to me mine interest in Christ, and open to me the exceeding riches of' thy love in him. Holy Father, let; thy good Spirit; abide with me, that I may know for certain Christ is one with me, and I am one with him, and may thereby be able to maintain constant fellowship with him–he dwelling in me, and I in him.
O may I thus live continually by the faith of the Son of God, depending always for acceptance with thee upon his atonement and his righteousness, and so may find the happy fruit of his prayer to thee–"O righteous Father, I have declared to my disciples thy name, and will declare it, that the love wherewith thou lovest me, may be in them, and I in them." Thou didst hear, thou hast; answered times out of number, the request of thy beloved Son. Lord God, answer it to me. Let me rejoice in thy love, and find it to be the same to me, as to him. Let thy good Spirit; root; me and ground me in the knowledge of thy love to me in Jesus. O grant me to be deeply rotted in the experience of it, that my faith working by love, may bring forth much fruit to thy glory, and I may become so grounded in love as to stand unshaken, like a house bulk upon a rock, against every attack made upon my love to thee.
O my God and Father, my heart is naked and open to thee. Thou knowest the secrets of it; thou seest how fervently I pray for the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. My prayer comes from a feeling sense of my want of him, and from a dependence on thy promise to give the Spirit to them that ask him. Lord, I ask. Grant me to be strengthened by him, with every needful gift and grace in the inner man. Send him to manifest plainer and plainer my union with Jesus, in order to my keeping up communion with him; that having him dwelling in my heart by faith, I may be so established in the experience of thy love to me in him, as to be able to comprehend with all saints, what is that breadth, and length and depth, and height of thy love. All the saints comprehend it; but the saints below less than they above: and some of them below comprehend more than others. I know but little: O my God, increase my knowledge of thy love in Jesus. Whereunto I have attained, establish mc; and keep me pressing forward for clearer discoveries of it. Help me to survey it, so far as faith is able, in its most glorious dimensions, and to praise thee for mine experience of its rich mercies.
Holy Father, teach me still more by thy Spirit of the boundless freeness, and of the endless fulness of thy love let me know thy love in Christ, which passeth know-ledge. Although I cannot know it as it is, my limited understanding being incapable of measuring the infinity of thy love, yet for this very reason let mo be daily studying to know more of it–growing up into Christ Jesus by faith–abounding in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost–and increasing in the love of God. Holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, let mo thus partake of the fulness of grace below, grace for grace, till I partake of the fulness of glory above–that I may be filled with all the fulness which is of God, with which thou hast promised to fill thy children in earth and heaven. O magnify thy love towards me according to its greatness, and not according to my deserts, or to my prayers. I know thou canst do exceeding abundantly above all that I can ask or think, according to the power that worketh effectually in me. Thy power engaged to act for me is the support of my faith, and mine encouragement in my prayer. It is an infinite and almighty power, which has graciously begun, and has hitherto prosperously carried on the good work in my soul. To it all things are possible. Lord forbid I should doubt of thy granting the petitions which I have been offering up unto thee in thy Son's name. That which thou hast promised, thou art able to perform. O my God and Father, set thy power to work more effectually in me. Let the Spirit of might enlarge my thoughts of, and my faith in, thy precious love. Let me experience daily, how much more thou art able to do, than I have yet obtained; to give, than I have yet asked; to increase, than I have yet thought. And whatever increase thou givest, may it draw out mine affections in greater love to thee, and to thy ways, and so be the meant of bringing more glory to thee. For thy love in Jesus, the whole family in heaven and earth is ascribing honour and praise. Accept my thanks, holy Father, together with theirs. To thee be glory in the church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.