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what they in a degree enjoy, what some abundantly enjoy, and what, if we do not rejoice in, it is owing to the imperfection of our faith. And that imperfection, generally speaking, arises from our having grieved the Spirit by our folly, by wandering from the fold of Christ, and yielding too much to the carnal and enslaving ways of the wise men of this world. If the believer is in heaviness, it is through manifold temptations ; and even then he has cause to rejoice, as James exhorts, James i. 2—4. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations ; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. Having believed on the Lord Jesus, and stood in the grace of God in Christ Jesus, we are exhorted to rejoice in the Lord always.
Complying with this exhortation, we should look forward to the glory of God with increasing joy and praise.
1. How merciful-how suited to the state of ruined sinners, and how honourable to God-how wise and excellent the plan of salvation. Have sinners brought themselves into a state of sin and misery ? here is gracious redemption for the chief of sinners; justification for the ungodly ; free justification, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, by faith, without the deeds of the law. Have believers, in themselves and in the world, a constant source of trouble and sorrow? in Christ they have peace with God. Are they weak in themselves, and without strength to withstand the united powers of darkness? here is grace sufficient for them.
Do they find this world a vale of tears ? are they by many accounted as the filth and offscouring of all things ? here is for them a hope of glory, the glory of God. Very soon reproach shall for ever cease, and the righteous shall shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father.
In this way of justification and salvation, God appears inflexibly just, sin infinitely odious, the law of God is magnified and made honourable, while mercy is exercised. to the chief of sinners. What an excellent order in this plan of salvation ! Here sinners, enemies, rebels, and the vilest of the vile, are reconciled to God by the death of his Son; and, being reconciled, are saved by his intercession and grace, made meet for the glory of God, and finally received to that glory.
2. How exceeding sinful and inexcusable are all who willingly and obstinately reject this way of restoration to the peace of God and eternal glory. Has God herein provided salvation for the chief of sinners ? a complete, a perfect salvation ? Are all sinners invited to partake of it ? and is there no other reason of the ruin of sinners, of their losing the great blessings of salvation, besides, that they will not come to Christ that they may have life ?— they love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil ? Is it possible to shew forth the evil of such sin against the love of God and our own souls ? Shall the great and most merciful God stretch forth his hand all day long to a disobedient and gainsaying people? What, then, must be their sin and punishment, who thus trifle with the God of love, and contend against the interest of their souls, to final condemnation ?
3. How great the privileges of such as are justified by faith!
What cause for thankfulness! and what manner of persons ought they to be, in all holy conversation and godliness. Peace with God, after a state of enmity? Standing, in the grace of God, against all evils and enemies ! Blessedness in the glory of God for ever and ever, and the joyful hope of it in this life ! Well might the apostle speak of it, as the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. We cannot be sufficiently thankful for these great privileges.
We shall not be able, in eternity, to pay the debt of gratitude we owe for these great privileges. Should it not be our
most fervent desire, and arduous labour, to glorify God in all things ?
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.