June 21: Press In Humble Faith

“Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” Romans 8:33

WHO in heaven; who on earth; who in hell? God will not; sin cannot; Satan dare not. Who? If there be in this wide universe an accuser of those whom God has justified, let him appear. There is none! Every mouth is closed.

“Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” If there remain a sin unpardoned, a stain uneffaced, a precept unkept, by the Mediator of His Church, let it appear. But there is none! The work of Christ is honorable and glorious. It is a finished work. And on the basis of this complete atonement, God, while He remains just, is the justifier of him that believes.

Oh, embrace this truth, you who, in bitterness of soul, are self-accused and self-condemned before God! Satan could accuse, and the world could accuse, and the saints could accuse, but more severe and true than all, is the self-accusation which lays your mouth in the dust, in the deepest, lowliest contrition. Yet, as a poor sinner, looking to Jesus, resting in Jesus, accepted in Jesus; who shall lay anything legally to our charge, since it is God—the God against whom you have sinned—who Himself becomes your Justifier? May you not, with all lowliness, yet with all holy boldness, challenge every foe, in the prophetic words of Christ Himself-“He is near that justifies me: who will contend with me?”

This truth is an elevating, because a deeply sanctifying one. It exalts the principles, and these, in their turn, exalt the practice of the Christian. The thought that it is God who justifies us at an expense to Himself so vast, by a sacrifice to Himself so precious, surely is sufficiently powerful to give the greatest intensity to our pantings, and fervency to our prayers, for conformity to the Divine image. Deep sorrows, and sore trials, and fiery temptations we may have, and must have, if we ever enter the kingdom; but, what is sorrow, what is trial, what is temptation, if they work but in us the fruits of righteousness, fit us more perfectly for heaven, and waft us nearer to our eternal home?

Press, in humble faith, this precious truth to your heart; for God has forgiven all, and has cancelled all, and has forgotten all, and is your God forever and ever. “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, says the Lord.”

Advertisements

April 16: Our Present Wilderness Labyrinths

For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart fails me. Psalm 40:12

IN the more advanced stages of the Christian life, we find much into the experience of which the believer is brought, tending to cast down the people of God. Without minutely describing the many causes of soul-disquietude which exist, we may group together in one view those, the most fruitful, which conspire to this abasement of the spirit. We may mention, as among the most powerful, the clinging body of sin, to which his renewed spirit is enchained, from which it sighs to be delivered, but from which death only frees it; consequently, there is the daily battle with a heart of unbelief, incessantly departing from God.

Then there are the labyrinths of the desert, the straitness of the narrow way, the fears within, and the fightings without, the trials of faith, the chastisements of love, the offence of the cross, the intricacies of truth, the woundings of the world, the unkindnesses of the saints, and the varied difficulties and afflictions of the wilderness—all these create oftentimes great disquietude and despondency of soul. When to these are added the yet more painful and humbling remembrance of his sins since conversion, his stumblings and falls, his unkind requitals of God’s love, the base returns which he has made, and the deep ingratitude which he has felt for all the Divine goodness, with the consequent hidings of God’s face, and the withdrawments of Christ’s presence, he exclaims in the bitterness of his spirit, “My soul is cast down within me;” “my heart fails me.”

Ah! there is no humiliation like that which a sight and sense of sin produces, the heart laid open and the soul laid low before God. The world’s bitter scorn, the creature’s cold neglect, are nothing in comparison. In the one case, the heart is only mortified; in the other, it is truly humbled. The one is a feeling that has to do with man only—the other is an emotion that has to do with God. And when once the believer is solemnly conscious of acting beneath the eye of God, the gaze of other eyes affects him but slightly.

Oh how little do some professors deport themselves as though they had to do only with God! How imperfectly do they look upon sin as God looks upon it! But did they live more as setting the Lord always before them, how superior would they rise to the poor opinion of their fellow-sinners! To them it would then appear a very little matter to be judged of man’s judgment.

March 16: Christ In The Soul

How can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only? John 5:44

THE life of the renewed soul, springing from the indwelling of Christ by the Spirit, includes the crucifixion of self in us. “I live, yet not I.” What a depth of meaning is contained in these words! We may not in this life be able fully to measure its depth, but we may in some degree fathom it. There is not—indeed there cannot be—a more sure evidence of the life of Christ in the soul, than the mortifying of that carnal, corrupt self-boasting that is within us. For its utter annihilation, in this present time-state, we do not plead. This would be to look for that which the word of God nowhere warrants.

But we insist upon its mortification; we plead for its subjection to Christ. Who has not detected in his heart its insidious working? If the Lord has given us a little success in our work, or put upon us a little more honor than another, or has imparted to us a degree more of gift or grace, oh what fools do we often make of ourselves in consequence! We profess to speak of what He has done—of the progress of His work—of the operation of His grace, when, alas! what burning of incense often is there to that hideous idol self! Thus we offer “strange fire” upon the altar.

But the most gracious soul is the most self-denying, self-crucifying, self-annihilating soul. “I live, yet not I. I believe, and am comforted—yet not I. I pray, and am answered—yet not I. I preach, and sinners are converted—yet not I. I labor, and good is done—yet not I. I fight, and overcome—yet not I, but Christ in me.” Beloved, the renewed life in us will be ever striving for the mastery of self in us. Self is ever seeking to take the glory from Jesus. This is one cause of the weakness of our faith. “How can you believe,” says the Savior, “which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor which comes from God only?” “We know but little of God,” remarks an eminently holy man, “if we do not sicken when we hear our own praise.” And if we have kept the glory of God in view, rather than our own, remember, it is the gift of God, the work of His Spirit, which has gained a victory over self, through faith in Christ. Oh that the life of Christ within us may more and more manifest itself as a self-denying, self-mortifying, self-reannihilating life—willing to be a fool for Christ, yes, to be nothing, that Christ may wear the crown.

March13: A Victorious King, Mighty In Battle

You have ascended on high, you have led captivity captive. Psalm 68:18

As a victorious King, our Lord is now enthroned in glory. He went back to heaven as a Conqueror over sin, hell, and death. Never did a Roman victor return from the battle-field, bearing such spoil; or amid such glory and acclamation, as that with which Jesus re-entered His kingdom. The Captain of our salvation had gotten Him the victory over every foe of His Church. He met and battled, single-handed and alone, the combined hosts of His enemies and hers.

And although He fell in the conflict, He yet won the battle. He conquered by submitting to conquest; He overcame in being overcome. He slew death in being slain by death. Want you a confirmation to your belief in the essential Deity of your Lord? Behold it, beloved. Where will you turn to the record of a battle so strange, between combatants so opposite, and attended by results so wondrous? That, in the greatest weakness, our Lord should demonstrate His greatest strength; that, by a decided defeat, He should prove the victor; and that in succumbing to the power and dominion of death, He should be the death of Death—oh, how truly Divine does He appear!

Believer in Jesus! The King, whose banner waves over you, has fought and won all your battles. One with Him, every believer is victorious. Treading in his Lord’s footsteps, he overcomes, even as Christ overcame. It is impossible but that the weakest believer must obtain the victory in the severe conflict which he is waging with the foe. He may at times be foiled, embarrassed, and overcome, but he will ultimately triumph. The battle may go against us, but not the war. Faith, realizing its union with the Lord, obtains the victory. And never does the believer go forth to face the enemy in the name of Jesus, but with the disciples he may exclaim, “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Your name.”

Come, you faint and exhausted warriors! refresh your spirits and renew your strength with this precious truth—your Captain is victorious! He who lives for you upon the throne, He who dwells in you by His Spirit, is He who rose to glory with your every foe chained in defeat and humiliation to His chariot, carrying “captivity captive.” Do you still hesitate to believe so great a truth? Hark how His angelic escort heralded His approach to glory. “Lift up your heads, O ,you gates; and be you lift up, you everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.”

November 27: More Than Conquerors

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” Romans 8:37

The apostle had enumerated certain things which, to the obscure eye of faith, and to the yet obscurer eye of sense, would appear to make against the best interests of the Christian, regarded either as evidences of a waning of Christ’s love to him, or as calculated to produce such a result.

He proposes an inquiry—”Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”—and then proceeds to give the reply. That reply sets the question entirely at rest. He argues, that so far from the things which he enumerates shaking the constancy of Christ’s love, periling the safety of the Christian, or shading the luster of His renown, they but developed the Savior’s affection to him, more strongly confirmed the fact of his security, and entwined fresh and more verdant laurels around his brow. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors.”

“Through Him that loved us.” Here is the great secret of our victory, the source of our triumph. Behold the mystery explained, how a weak, timid believer, often starting at his own shadow, is yet “more than a conqueror” over his many and mighty foes. To Christ who loved him, who gave Himself for him, who died in his stead, and lives to intercede on his behalf, the glory of the triumph is ascribed. And this is the song he chants: “Thanks be to God, which gives us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Through the conquest which He Himself obtained, through the grace which He imparts, through the strength which He inspires, through the intercession which he presents, in all our “tribulation and distress, and persecution, and famine, and nakedness, and peril, and sword,” we are “more than conquerors.” Accounted though we are as “sheep for the slaughter,” yet our great Shepherd, Himself slain for the sheep, guides His flock, and has declared that no one shall pluck them out of His hand. We are more than conquerors, through His grace who loved us, in the very circumstances that threaten to overwhelm.

Fear not, then, the darkest cloud, nor the proudest waves, nor the deepest needs—in these very things you shall, through Christ, prove triumphant. Nor shrink from the battle with the “last enemy.” Death received a death-wound when Christ died. You face a conquered foe. He stands at your side a crownless king, and waving a broken scepter. Your death shall be another victory over the believer’s last foe. Planting your foot of upon His prostrate neck, you shall spring into glory, more than a conqueror through Him that loved you.

Thus entering heaven in triumph, you shall go to swell the ranks of the “noble army of martyrs”—those Christian heroes of whom it is recorded, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb.”

November 15: All Is Vanity

“For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope.” Romans 8:20

The vanity here referred to is opposed to the state of glory in anticipation, and therefore expresses the condition of corruption and trial in the midst of which the renewed creature dwells, and to the assaults of which it is incessantly exposed. The world through which the Christian is passing to his rest may be emphatically called a state of vanity. How perpetually and forcibly are we reminded of the king of Israel’s exclamation, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” “Surely every man walks in a vain show.”

His origin, the earth; his birth, degenerate; his rank, a bauble; his wealth, but glittering dust; his pomp, an empty pageant; his beauty, a fading flower; his pursuits, an infant’s play; his honors, vexations of spirit; his joys, fleeting as a cloud; his life, transient as a vapor; his final home, a grave. Surely “man at his best state is altogether vanity.” And what is his religion but vanity?—his native holiness, a vain conceit; his natural light, Egyptian darkness; his human wisdom, egregious folly; his religious forms, and rites, and duties, “a vain show in the flesh;” his most gorgeous righteousness, “filthy rags.”

In the impressive language of Scripture, of him it may be said, “That man’s religion is vain.” “Lord, what is man, that you take knowledge of him! or the son of man, that you make account of him!”

Truly “vanity” is inscribed in legible characters on each created good. How, then, can the renewed creature escape its influence? He is “subject to vanity,” Dazzled by its glare, captivated by its fascinations, ensnared by its promises, he is often the victim of its power. But it is not a voluntary subjection on the part of the renewed creature. “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly.” It is not with him a condition of choice. He loves it not, he prefers it not, he glories not in it. From it he would sincerely be freed; beyond it he would gladly soar. “For we who are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened.”

His prayer is, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken me in Your way.” He pants for a holier and a happier state—a state more congenial with his renewed nature. Like the Israelites under the Egyptian bondage, he is a most unwilling servant, groaning beneath his galling yoke, and sighing for the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Ah, yes! God has given you another will, O renewed creature! and your present subjection to this poor, vain world is an involuntary subjection of the divine nature within you. Why God should have subjected the renewed creature to vanity does not appear; we well know that He could have transferred us to heaven, the moment that He renewed us on earth. But may we not infer that in sending His people into the world, after He had called them by His grace, and; in a sense, taken them out of it—that in subjecting them for so many years to this state of vanity—He has best consulted His own glory and their good?

The school of their heavenly teaching, the scene of their earthly toil, and the theater of their spiritual conflict they are kept in this world for a season; “made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who has subjected the same in hope.”

November 7: Christ Suffers With You

“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds.” Hebrews 12:3

The assaults of the adversary contribute not a little to the sense of weariness which often prostrates a child of God. To be set up as a mark for Satan; the enemy smiting where sensibility is the keenest; assailing where weakness is the greatest; taking advantage of every new position and circumstance, especially of a season of trial, of a weak, nervous temperament, or of a time of sickness—distorting God’s character, diverting the eye from Christ, and turning it in upon self—are among Satan’s devices for casting down the soul of a dear believer.

And then, there are the narrowness of the narrow way, the intricacies of the intricate way, the perils of the perilous way—all tending to jade and dispirit the soul. To walk in a path so narrow and yet so dangerous, that the white garment must needs be closely wrapped around; to occupy a post of duty so conspicuous, responsible, and difficult, as to fix every eye; some gazing with undue admiration, and others with keen and cold suspicion, ready to detect and to censure any slight irregularity—add not a little to the to toilsomeness of the way.

Notice, also, the numerous and varied trials and afflictions which pave his pathway to heaven—his tenderest mercies often his acutest trials, his trials often weighing him to the earth—and you have the outline of a melancholy picture, of which he whose eye scans this page may be the original. Does it surprise, then, that from the lips of such a one the exclamation often rises, “Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.”

Remember, there will be a correspondence between the life of Christ in the soul, and the life which Christ lived when he tabernacled in the flesh. The indwelling of Christ in the believer is a kind of second incarnation of the Son of God. When Christ enters the heart of a poor sinner, He once more clothes Himself with our nature. The life which Christ lived in the days of His sojourn on earth was a life of sorrow, of conflict, of temptation, of desertion, of want, and of suffering in every form.

Does He now live a different life in the believer? No; He is still tempted and deserted, in sorrow and in want, in humiliation and in suffering—in His people. What! did you think that these fiery darts were leveled at you? Did you suppose that it was you who were deserted, that it was you who suffered, that it was you who were despised, that it was you who were trodden under foot? No, my brother, it was Christ dwelling in you.

All the malignity of Satan, all the power of sin, and all the contempt of the world, are leveled, not against you, but against the Lord dwelling in you. Were it all death in your soul, all darkness, sinfulness, and worldliness, you would be an entire stranger to these exercises of the renewed man.

Behold the love and condescension of Jesus! that after all He endured in His own person, He should again submit Himself to the same in the persons of His saints; that He should, as it were, return, and tread again the path of suffering, of trial, of humiliation, in the life which each believer lives.

Oh, how it speaks that love which passes knowledge! How completely is Christ one with His saints! and yet, how feebly and faintly do we believe this truth! How little do we recognize Christ in all that relates to us! and yet He is in all. He is in every providence that brightens or that darkens upon our path. “Christ is all, and in all.”

September 24: Redeeming Love

“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Romans 5:9

What forms the great security of the believer? what, but the atoning blood? This, and this only. The Father, beholding His child in His beloved Son, washed and clothed, pardoned and justified, can “rest in His love, and joy over Him with singing.” The atonement guarantees his eternal safety.

What formed the security of Noah and his family, when the deluge of God’s wrath descended upon an ungodly world?—the ark in which God had shut him in. What formed the security of the children of Israel in Egypt, when the destroying angel passed through the camp, waving in his hand the weapon of death?—the blood of the paschal lamb, sprinkled on the lintel and door-posts of their dwellings; and where this sacred sign was seen, into that house he dared not enter, but passed on to do the work of death where no blood was found. Exactly what the ark was to Noah, and the blood of the lamb was to the children of Israel, is the atoning blood of Christ to the believing soul. It forms his eternal security.

Reader, is that blood applied to you? Are you washed in it? Is it upon you at this moment? Precious blood! precious Savior who shed it! precious faith that leads to it! how it washes away all sin—how it lightens the conscience of its burden—heals the heart of its wound—dispels the mist, and brings down the unclouded sunshine of God’s reconciled countenance in the soul! Oh, adore the love and admire the grace that opened the fountain, and led you to bathe, all guilty, polluted, and helpless as you were, beneath its cleansing stream! and with Cowper let us sing,

“E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Your flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be until I die.”

Surely the Christian will ever strive to live near this fountain—the only spot where his soul shall flourish. As the gentle flower which blooms unseen by the side of some veiled spring is, from the constant moisture it receives, always beautiful and fragrant, so is that believing soul the most fruitful, holy, spiritual, and devoted, who daily dwells by the side, yes, in the “fountain opened for sin and uncleanness.”

We see not how a child of God can be fruitful otherwise. A sweet and abiding consciousness of pardon and acceptance is essential to spiritual fruitfulness. The great impelling motive to all gospel obedience is the love of Christ in the heart. David acknowledged this principle when he prayed, “I will run the way of Your commandments, when You shall enlarge my heart.” The apostle admits it when he says, “the love of Christ constrains us.” In order to walk as an obedient child, to bear the daily cross, to delight in the precepts as in the doctrines of God’s truth, the atoning blood must be realized. How easy and how sweet will then become the commandments of the Lord: duties will be viewed as privileges, and the yoke felt to be no yoke, and the cross to be no cross.

No believer can advance in the divine life, wage a daily war with the innumerable foes that oppose him, and be fruitful in every good work, who is perpetually in search of evidence of his adoption. We need all our time, all our energies, all our means, in order to vanquish the spiritual Philistines who obstruct our way to the heavenly Canaan: we have none to send in search of evidences, lest while they have gone the Bridegroom comes.

Oh, then, to know that all is right; the thick cloud blotted out—the soul wrapped in the robe of righteousness—ready to enter in to the marriage supper of the Lamb. To die will be quite enough; to face and grapple with the king of terrors will be sufficient employment for the spirit struggling to be free: no time, no strength, no energy then to search for evidences.

Let not the professor of Christ leave the “sealing” of his pardon and acceptance to that fearful hour; but let him earnestly seek it now, that when he comes to die he may have nothing to do but to die; and that will be quite enough.

September 5: Debtors All

“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.” Romans 8:12

THAT around a subject so momentous as this no obscurity might gather, tending to misguide the judgment, the apostle most distinctly and emphatically affirms, that the flesh has no valid claim whatever upon the believer; and that, consequently, he is under no obligation to yield compliance with its feigned exactions. We are debtors, but the flesh in not our creditor. What are its demands with which it is incumbent upon us to comply?

Do we owe anything to sin, the parent of all our woe? Nothing. To Satan, who plotted our temptation, and accomplished our downfall? Nothing. To the world—ensnaring, deceitful, and ruinous? Nothing. No; to these, the auxiliaries of allies of the flesh, we owe nothing but the deepest hatred and the most determined opposition.

And yet the saints of God are “debtors.” To whom? What debtors are they to the Father, for His electing love, for the covenant of grace, for His unspeakable gift, for having blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus! We but imperfectly estimate the debt of love, gratitude, and service which we owe to Him whose mind the Eternal Son came to reveal, whose will He came to do, and whose heart He came to unveil. It was the Father who sent the Son. With Him originated the wondrous expedient of our redemption.

He it was who laid all our sins on Jesus. It was His sword of Justice that smote the Shepherd, while His hand of love and protection was laid upon the little ones. We have too much supposed that the Atonement of Jesus was intended to inspire the mercy, rather than to propitiate the justice of God; to awaken in His heart a love that did not previously exist. Thus we have overlooked the source from where originated our salvation, and have lost sight of the truth, that the mediation of Jesus was not the cause, but rather the effect, of God’s love to man.

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and gave His Son to be a propitiation for our sins.” Oh, for the spirit to understand, and for grace to feel, and for love to exemplify, our deep obligation to God for the everlasting love that gave us His Son!

Equal debtors are we to the Son. He was the active agent in our redemption. He it was who undertook and accomplished all that our salvation required. He left no path untrodden, no portion of the curse unborne, no sin unatoned, no part of the law uncancelled—nothing for us in the matter of our salvation to do, but simply to believe and be saved.

Oh, to raise the eye to Him—strong in faith, beaming with love, moist with contrition, and exclaim, “You have borne my sin, endured my curse, extinguished my hell, secured my heaven. Your Spirit was wounded for me; Your heart bled for me; Your body was bruise for me; for me Your soul was stricken—for me, a sinner, the chief of sinners. I am Your debtor—a debtor to Your dying love, to Your eternal, discriminating mercy. Surely an eternity of love, of service, and of praise, can never repay You what I owe You, You blessed Jesus.” Oh, how deep the obligation we are under to Christ!

And not less indebted are we to the Holy Spirit. What do we not owe Him of love and obedience, who awoke the first thrill of life in our soul; who showed to us our guilt, and sealed to us our pardon? What do we not owe Him for leading us to Christ; for dwelling in our hearts; for His healing, sanctifying, comforting, and restoring grace; for His influence, which no ingratitude has quenched; for His patience, which no backsliding has exhausted; for His love, which no sin has annihilated? Yes, we are the Spirit’s lasting debtors.

We owe Him the intellect He has renewed, the heart He has sanctified, the body He inhabits, every breath of life He has inspired, and every pulse of love He has awakened. Thus are all real believers debtors to the Triune God—debtors to the Father’s everlasting love, to the Son’s redeeming grace, and to the Spirit’s quickening mercy. To the flesh we owe nothing but uncompromising hatred; to Jehovah we owe undivided and supreme affection.

August 18: Wrestle Beloved

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12

Let us inquire what is that which Satan desires to assault? It is the work of God in the soul. Against his own kingdom not a weapon is raised. It is his aim and his policy to keep all there undisturbed and peaceful. But against the work of the Holy Spirit in the renewed mind, his artillery is brought to bear; not a part of this work escapes him. Every grace comes in for its share of malignant attack; but especially the grace of faith. When, for example, a repentant and believing soul approaches Christ with lowliness and hesitancy, and with the tremulous hand of faith attempts to touch the border of His garment, or with a tearful eye looks up to His cross, then comes the assault upon faith in the form of a suggestive doubt of Christ’s power and willingness to save. “Is Jesus able to save me? Has He power to rescue my soul from hell? Can He blot out my transgressions, and redeem my life from destruction? Will He receive a sinner, so vile, so unworthy, so poor as I? Has He compassion, has He love, has He mercy sufficient to meet my case?”

In this way Satan assails the earliest and the feeblest exercises of faith in the soul. Does this page address itself to any such? It is Satan’s great effort to keep you from Jesus. By holding up to your view a false picture of His character, from which everything loving, winning, inviting, and attractive is excluded, by suggesting wrong views of His work, in which everything gloomy, contracted, and repulsive is foisted upon the mind; by assailing the atonement, questioning the compassion, and limiting the grace of Christ, he would persuade you that in that heart which bled on Calvary there is no room for you, and that upon that work which received the Father’s seal there is not breadth sufficient for you to stand. All his endeavors are directed, and all his assaults are shaped, with a view to keep your soul back from Christ. It is thus he seeks to vent his wrath upon the Savior, and his malignity upon you.

Nor does he less assail the more matured faith of the believer. Not infrequently the sharpest attacks and the fiercest onsets are made, and made successfully, upon the strongest believers. Seizing upon powerful corruptions, taking advantage of dark providences, and sometimes of bright ones, and never allowing any position of influence, any usefulness, gift, or grace, that would give force, success, and brilliance to his exploit, to escape his notice, he is perpetually on the alert to sift and winnow God’s precious wheat.

His implacable hatred of God, the deep revenge he cherishes against Jesus, his malignant opposition to the Holy Spirit, fit him for any dark design and work implicating the holiness and happiness of the believer. Therefore we find that the histories of the most eminent saints of God, as written by the faithful pen of the Holy Spirit, are histories of the severest temptations of faith, in the most of which there was a temporary triumph of the enemy; the giant oak bending before the storm. And even in instances where there was no defeat of faith, there yet was the sharp trial of faith.

The case of Joseph, and that of his illustrious antitype, the Lord Jesus, present examples of this. Fearful was the assault upon the faith of both, sharp the conflict through which both passed, yet both left the battlefield victorious. But still faith was not the less really or severely sifted.