April 23: For His Name’s Sake

For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it has pleased the Lord to make you his people. I Samuel 12:22

GOD rests in the immutability of His love. It is a love that knows no change in its character, and no variation in its degree. There never has been a period in which the love of God in Christ towards His people has been more or less than it is at this moment. It must have been great before conversion, because then it was that He gave His only begotten Son, that they might live through Him. Then, too, it was He sent His own Spirit to regenerate their minds, and to make them new creatures in Christ Jesus. If He thus loved them before conversion, when they were yet sinners, do you think, dear reader, that His love can be less since conversion! Impossible!

God rests in the unchangeableness of His love towards His saints. Nothing can move Him from it. When He set His heart upon His people, He foresaw and foreknew all that was in them. He knew when they would revolt, when they would start aside like a broken bow, when they would startle and fall. He knew all their waywardness, folly, and ingratitude. “I knew that you would deal very treacherously,” says God. And yet He loved them.

Acquainted with their sin, does He not chasten it? and in chastening, does He withdraw His love from them? Listen to His own words—”If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquities with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.” What language can more strongly set forth the Lord’s determination to correct the departures of His people, while yet resting in the unchangeableness of His love towards them?

If God thus rests in His love towards us, how jealous ought we to be of the fervor and fidelity of our love to Him! Ah! how inconstant, wavering, and restless have been our affections! How little have we rested in our love to Christ! Other objects have attracted us away from it; we have been as changeable as the wind, and as unstable as the sea. But let us watch over this holy affection, apart from which God takes no pleasure in our sacrifices or services. Let it be our aim to yield up whatever rivals Christ. He sacrificed all for the love He bore us; let us sacrifice all that He requires for the love we bear Him.

Jesus is worthy—oh how worthy!—of our deepest, strongest, most self-consuming affection. And God, who gave us His Son, asks nothing in return but that we give Him our hearts. Let His love, then, constrain us to a more unreserved obedience, to a holier walk, to a more ardent, inseparable attachment to Him, to His people, and to His cause. Let us, in this day of easy and abounding profession—this day of papal encroachment and of popish imitation—this day of exaltation of human authority above the word of God—this day of error, of rebuke, and of blasphemy—this day of rapid and of excited action—this last solemn dispensation of the world, the events of which are rapidly ushering in the coming of the Son of man—let us, under the influence of more simple faith, more fervent love, and brightening hope, “go forth unto Jesus without the camp, bearing His reproach,” resting amid our conflict and our toil, where the Father rests—where the sinner rests—where we may rest—in Jesus.

February 9: A Holy Heaven

And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness: the unclean shall not pass over it; but the redeemed shall walk there. Isaiah 35:8, 9

HEAVEN is the abode of a renewed people; it is a holy place, and the home of the holy; and before the sinner can have any real fitness for heaven, any well-grounded hope of glory, he must be a partaker of a nature harmonizing with the purity, and corresponding with the enjoyments, of heaven. Heaven would be no heaven to a carnal mind, to an unsanctified heart. Were it possible to translate an unconverted individual from this world to the abodes of eternal glory, overwhelmed with the effulgence of the place, and having no fellowship of feeling with the purity of its enjoyments, and the blessedness of its society, he would exclaim—”Take me hence—it is not the place for me—I have no sympathy with it—I have no fitness for it—I have no pleasure in it.” Solemn thought!

But the Christian is a renewed creature—he is a partaker of the Divine nature; he has sympathies, affections, and desires, imparted to him by the Spirit, which assimilate him to the happiness and purity of heaven. It is impossible but that he must be there. He possesses a nature unfit for earth, and congenial only with heaven. He is the subject of a spiritual life that came from, and now ascends to, heaven. All its aspirations are heavenly—all its breathings are heavenly—all its longings are heavenly; and thus it is perpetually soaring towards that world of glory from where it came, and for which God is preparing it. So that it would seem utterly impossible but that a renewed man must be in heaven, since he is the partaker of a nature fitted only for the regions of eternal purity and bliss.

But what is it that gives the Christian a valid deed, a right of possession, to eternal glory? It is his justification by faith through the imputed righteousness of Christ. This is the only valid title to eternal glory which God will admit—the righteousness of His dear Son imputed to him that believes. Here is the grand fitness of a poor, lost, polluted, undone sinner; the fitness that springs from the spotless righteousness of the Lord Jesus, “who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” “He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

Behold, then, beloved, the high vantage-ground on which a saint of God stands, with regard to his hope of heaven. He stands out of his own righteousness in the righteousness of another. He stands accepted in the Accepted One, he stands justified in the Justified One, and justified, too, by God, the great Justifier.

The spiritual life which God has breathed into our souls will never rest until it reaches its full and perfect development. Deep as are its pulsations, holy as are its breathings, it is yet but in its infancy, compared with that state of perfection to which it is destined. The highest state of sanctification to which the believer can arrive here is but the first dawn of day, contrasted with the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” which will burst upon him in a world of perfect holiness. Heaven will complete the work which sovereign grace has begun upon earth. Heaven is the consummation of the spiritual life of the believer.

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.”

October 21: Chilled Affections

“Why say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto you? Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.” Jeremiah 2:31, 32

When God becomes less an object of fervent desire, holy delight, and frequent contemplation, we may suspect a declension of Divine love in the soul. Our spiritual views of God, and our spiritual and constant delight in Him, will be materially affected by the state of our spiritual love.

If there is coldness in the affections, if the mind grows earthly, carnal, and selfish, dark and gloomy shadows will gather round the character and the glory of God. He will become less an object of supreme attachment, unmingled delight, adoring contemplation, and filial trust. The moment the supreme love of Adam to God declined, the instant that it swerved from its proper and lawful center, he shunned converse with God, and sought to embower himself from the presence of the Divine glory. Conscious of a change in his affections—sensible of a divided heart, of subjection to a rival interest—and knowing that God was no longer the object of his supreme love, nor the fountain of his pure delight, nor the blessed and only source of his bliss—he rushed from His presence as from an object of terror, and sought concealment in Eden’s bowers.

That God whose presence was once so glorious, whose converse was so holy, whose voice was so sweet, became as a strange God to the rebellious and conscience-stricken creature, and, “absence from You is best,” was written in dark letters upon his guilty brow.

And where this difference? Was God less glorious in Himself? Was He less holy, less loving, less faithful, or less the fountain of supreme bliss? Far from it, God had undergone no change. It is the perfection of a perfect Being that He is unchangeable, that He can never act contrary to His own nature, but must ever be, in all that He does, in harmony with Himself. The change was in the creature.

Adam had left his first love, had transferred his affections to another and an inferior object; and, conscious that he had ceased to love God, he would sincerely have veiled himself from His presence, and have excluded himself from His communion. It is even so in the experience of a believer, conscious of a declension in his love to God. There is a hiding from His presence; there are misty views of His character, misinterpretations of His dealings, and a lessening of holy desire for Him: but where the heart is right in its affections, warm in its love, fixed in its desires, God is glorious in His perfections, and communion with Him the highest bliss on earth.

This was David’s experience—”O God, You are my God; early will I seek You: my soul thirsts for You, my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where no water is; to see Your power and Your glory, so as I have seen You in the sanctuary. Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.”

Not only in the declension of Divine love in the soul, does God become less an object of adoring contemplation and desire, but there is less filial approach to Him. The sweet confidence and simple trust of the child is lost, the soul no longer rushes into His bosom with all the lowly yet fond yearnings of an adopted son, but lingers at a distance; or, if it attempts to approach, does so with the trembling and the restraint of a slave.

The tender, loving, child-like spirit that marked the walk of the believer in the days of his espousals—when no object was so glorious to him as God, no being so loved as his heavenly Father, no spot so sacred as the throne of communion, no theme so sweet as his free-grace adoption—has in a great degree departed; and distrust, and legal fears, and bondage of spirit have succeeded it.

All these sad effects may be traced to the declension of filial love in the soul of the believer towards God.

October 15: Confession Of Sin

“He looks upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; he will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.” Job 33:27, 28

Let the child of God be encouraged to take all his sins to his heavenly Father. Have you sinned? Have you taken a single step in departure from God? Is there the slightest consciousness of guilt? Go at once to the throne of grace; stay not until you find some secret place for confession—stay not until you are alone; lift up your heart at once to God, and confess your sin with the hand of faith upon the great, atoning Sacrifice. Open all your heart to Him. Do not be afraid of a full and honest confession. Shrink not from unfolding its most secret recesses—lay all bare before His eyes.

Do you think He will turn from the exposure? Do you think He will close His ear against your breathings? Oh no! Listen to His own encouraging, persuasive declarations—”Go and proclaim these words towards the north, and say, Return, you backsliding Israel, says the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, says the Lord; and I will not keep anger forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity that you have transgressed against the Lord your God.” “I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely; for mine anger is turned away from him.”

Oh, what words are these! Does the eye of the poor backslider fall on this page? And as he now reads of God’s readiness to pardon—of God’s willingness to receive back the repenting prodigal—of His yearning after His wandering child—feels his heart melted, his soul subdued, and, struck with that amazing declaration, “Only acknowledge your iniquity,” would dare creep down at His feet, and weep, and mourn, and confess. Oh! is there one such now reading this page? then return, my brother, return! God—the God against whom you have sinned—says, “Return.” Your Father—the Father from whom you have wandered—is looking out for the first return of your soul, for the first kindlings of godly sorrow, for the first confession of sin.

God has not turned His back upon you, though you have turned your back upon Him. God has not forgotten to be gracious, though you have forgotten to be faithful. “I remember you”—is His own touching language—”the kindness of your youth, the love of your espousals.” Oh! then, come back; this moment, come back; the fountain is still open—Jesus is still the same—the blessed and eternal Spirit, loving and faithful as ever—God ready for pardon: take up, then, the language of the prodigal and say, “I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in Your sight, and am no more worthy to be called Your son.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The blessings that result from a strict observance of daily confession of sin are rich and varied. We would from the many specify two. The conscience retains its tender susceptibility of guilt. Just as a breath will tarnish a mirror highly polished, so will the slightest aberration of the heart from God—the smallest sin—leave its impression upon a conscience in the habit of a daily unburdening itself in confession, and of a daily washing in the fountain. Going thus to God, and acknowledging iniquity over the head of Immanuel—pleading the atoning blood—the conscience retains its tenderness, and sin, all sin, is viewed as that which God hates, and the soul abhors.

This habit, too, keeps, so to speak, a clear account between God and the believer. Sins daily and hourly committed are not forgotten; they fade not from the mind, and therefore they need not the correcting rod to recall them to remembrance. For let us not forget, God will eventually bring our sins to remembrance; “He will call to remembrance the iniquity.” David had forgotten his sin against God, and his treacherous conduct to Uriah, until God sent the prophet Nathan to bring his iniquity to remembrance. A daily confession, then, of sin, a daily washing in the fountain, will preserve the believer from many and, perhaps, deep afflictions. This was David’s testimony—”I acknowledged my sin unto You, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgression unto the Lord, and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

September 26: The Snare Of Wealth

“Jesus said unto him, If you will be perfect, go and sell that you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” Matthew 19:21, 22

There cannot, perhaps, be a position, however peculiar and difficult, in which the believer may be placed, but he will find that Jesus, either by precept or example, has defined the path in which he should walk. The subject of this meditation pointedly and solemnly addresses itself to the rich.

Circumstanced as you are by the providence of God, you have need closely and prayerfully to ascertain how, in your situation, Jesus walked. One of the peculiar snares to which your station exposes you is high-mindedness, and consequent self-trust and complacency. But here the Lord Jesus presents Himself as your example.

He, too, was rich; creating all things, He possessed all things. The Creator of all worlds, all worlds were at His command. Yet, amazing truth! in the days of His humiliation, He was as though He possessed not—”Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor.” In view of such an illustrious pattern, what is your duty? Simple and obvious. You are in a degree to become poor, by devoting your substance to the glory of God. To amass wealth, for the purpose of hoarding it, is contrary to the spirit of the gospel, and is opposed to the teaching and example of Christ. It is a sin, an awful, a soul-periling sin.

Your property is a talent, for which, as a steward, you are as certainly and as solemnly accountable to God as for any other. It is, perhaps, the one talent that He has given you. What if you bury it in covetousness and parsimony, or in a prodigal expenditure and self-indulgence, refusing to relax your grasp of it to promote His cause and truth, who became poor to enrich us, how will you meet His scrutiny and His glance when the judgment is set, and He demands an account of your stewardship?

Nor is it a small, though perhaps a solitary talent. Bestowed upon but few, the obligation becomes the greater to consecrate it unreservedly to the Lord. And how can you withhold it in view of the claims which crowd upon you on either hand? What! are you at a loss for a channel through which your benevolence might flow? Are you inquiring, “How shall I devote my property to God? In what way may this, my one talent, best answer the end for which it is bestowed?” Cast your eye around you—surely you cannot long hesitate. Survey the map of Christian missions—is there no part of Christ’s kingdom languishing through an inadequacy of pecuniary support? Is there no important enterprise impeded in its course of benevolence by the lack of funds? No useful society discouraged and crippled through the narrowness and insufficiency of its resources? Is there no important sphere of labor in your vicinity neglected, no spot in the moral wilderness entirely untilled, because the means to supply an effective agency have been lacking? Is there no faithful, hard-working minister of Christ within your knowledge and your reach, combating with straitened circumstances, oppressed by poverty, and toiling amid lonely care, embarrassment, and anxiety, studiously and delicately screened from human eye, which it is in your power to alleviate and remove? Is there no widow’s heart you could make to sing for joy? no orphan, whose tears you could dry? no saint of God tried by sickness, or need, or imprisonment, from whose spirit you could lift the burden, and from whose heart you could chase the sorrow, and from whose feet you could strike the fetter? Surely a world of need, and woe, and suffering is before you, nor need you yield to a moment’s hesitation in selecting the object around which your charity should entwine.

Here, then, is your example. Jesus became poor, lived poor, and died poor. Dare you die a rich man—an affluent professor? I beseech you ponder this question. If your Lord has left you an example that you should follow His steps, then you are called upon to become poor, to live poor, even to die poor for Him. Especially are you exhorted to rejoice in that, by the grace of God, you are made low. That in the midst of so much calculated to nourish the pride and lofty independence of the natural heart, you have been made to know your deep spiritual poverty, and as a sinner have been brought to the feet of Jesus.

By that grace only can you be kept low. Here is your only security. Here wealth invests its possessor with no real power or greatness. It confers no moral or intellectual glory. It insures not against the inroad of evil. It throws around no shield. It may impart a measure of artificial importance, authority, and influence in the world’s estimation; beyond this, what is it? Unsanctified by Divine grace, it entails upon its unhappy possessor an innumerable train of evils.

As a Christian man, then, exposed to the snares of even a moderate degree of worldly prosperity, your only security is in drawing largely from the “exceeding riches of Christ’s grace;” your true wealth is in the fear of God ruling in your heart, in the love of Christ constraining you to “lie low in a low place;” to bear the cross daily; to walk closely, obediently, and humbly with God; employing the property with which He has entrusted you as a faithful steward; your eye ever “looking unto Jesus” as your pattern.

You “know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ”—the rich, the amazing, the sovereign, the free grace of Jesus, to which you owe all that is precious and glorious in the prospect of eternity—let this grace, then, accomplish its perfect work in you, by leading you to glory only in Jesus, to yield yourself supremely to His service, and to regard the worldly wealth God has conferred upon you as valuable only as it promotes His kingdom, truth, and glory, who “though rich, for your sakes became poor, that you, through His poverty, might be made rich.”

September 6: Temples Of God

“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” 1 Corinthians. 3:17

How holy should the temple of the Spirit be! Reader, are you a temple of God the Holy Spirit? Then dedicate yourself unreservedly to God. You are not your own; your body, your spirit, your family, substance, time, talents, influence, all, all belong to God.

He dwells in you; walks in you, rules in you, and calls you His dwelling-place. “Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you?” Then, what a separation should there be between you and the world that lies in wickedness! How should you guard against every unnecessary entanglement with it! how cautious and prayerful, lest, by contracting an unholy alliance with it in any form or degree, you should defile the temple of God, “which temple you are”!

Oh, what heavenly wisdom, and holy circumspection, and ceaseless prayer, do you need, that you might walk with unspotted garments—that no rival should enter your heart—that no lofty views of self, no spirit of worldly conformity, no temporizing policy, no known sin, no creature idolatry should enter there!—that, like the heavenly temple, nothing that defiles, neither whatever works abomination, should be cherished or entertained in the abode and in the presence of the Holy Spirit! for “what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Reader, whose temple are you? Solemn question! Does God or Satan dwell in you? Christ or Belial? light or darkness? Either the one or the other has, at this moment, entire possession. You cannot serve two contrary masters; you cannot entertain two opposite guests. You are living either for God or for Satan. You are traveling either to heaven or to hell. Which? On your bended knees before God, decide; and may the Lord the Spirit renew you by His grace, and if renewed, make you “a vessel unto honor, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”

The Gift Of Affliction And Trial

The Lord has laid His heavy hand upon you. All is in love. May He open your eyes to see it. He loves us too well to afflict us with out a ‘needs be’. When we get above, we shall see how needful the chastening of Him who loves us, for our preparation for the full enjoyment of that place He has gone to prepare for us.

Oh, what a change! from earth to heaven! From a suffering bed to a mansion of glory! You are the sufferer; but dry your tears, for home will come at last, and may we receive from His own loving lips a “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord.” I feel for you, and pray you may be sustained and comforted by God. Jesus is very near. He is ordering all things for you.

Continue reading “The Gift Of Affliction And Trial”

May 6: You Did Run Well

“You did run well; who did hinder you that you should not obey the truth?” Galatians 5:7

The apostle Paul, skillful to detect and faithful to reprove any declension in the faith or laxity in the practice of the early Churches, discovered in that of Galatia a departure from the purity of the truth, and a consequent carelessness in their walk. Grieved at the discovery, he addresses to them an affectionate and faithful Epistle, expressive of his astonishment and pain, and proposing a solemn and searching inquiry. “I marvel,” he writes, “that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ. How, after that you have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn you again to the weak and beggarly elements? I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain. Where is the blessedness you spoke of? I stand in doubt of you. You did run well; who did hinder you?”

To the reader conscious of secret declension in his soul, we propose the same searching and tender inquiry. You did run well; who hindered you?- what stumbling block has fallen in your way?- what has impeded your onward course?- what has enfeebled your faith, chilled your love, drawn your heart from Jesus, and lured you back to the weak and beggarly elements of a poor world? You set out fair; for a time you did run well; your zeal, and love, and humility gave promise of a useful life, of a glorious race, and of a successful competition for the prize; but something has hindered you. What is it?

Is it the world, creature love, covetousness, ambition, presumptuous sin, unmortified corruption, the old leaven unpurged? Search it out. Rest not until it be discovered. Your declension is secret, perhaps the cause is secret- some spiritual duty secretly neglected, or some known sin secretly indulged. Search it out, and bring it to light. It must be a cause adequate to the production of effects so serious. You are not as you once were. Your soul has lost ground; the divine life has declined; the fruit of the Spirit has withered; the heart has lost its softness, the conscience its tenderness, the mind its lowliness, the throne of grace its sweetness, the cross of Jesus its attraction.

Oh, how sad and melancholy the change that has passed over you! And have you not the consciousness of it in your soul? Where is the blessedness you spoke of? where is the sunlight countenance of a reconciled Father? where are the rich moments spent before the cross? the hallowed seasons of communion in the closet, shut in with God? where is the voice of the turtledove, the singing of birds, the green pastures where you did feed, the still waters on whose banks you did repose? Is it all gone? Is it winter with your soul? Ah! yes; your soul is made to feel that it is an evil and a bitter thing to depart from the living God.

April 12: Mortification Of Sin

“Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts.” Galatians 5:24

True mortification has its foundation in the life of God in the soul. A spiritual, yes, a most spiritual work, it can only spring from a most spiritual principle. It is not a plant indigenous to our fallen nature. It cannot be in the principle of sin to mortify itself.

Human nature possesses neither the inclination nor the power by which so holy an achievement can be accomplished. A dead faith, a blind zeal, a superstitious devotion, may prompt severe austerities; but to lay the axe close to the root of indwelling evil, to marshal the forces against the principle of sin in the heart- thus besieging and carrying the very citadel itself- to keep the body under, and bring it into subjection, by a daily and a deadly conflict with its innate and desperately depraved propensities, is a work transcending the utmost reach of the most severe external austerities.

It consists, too, in an annulling of the covenant with sin: “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness”- enter into no truce, make no agreement, form no union; “but rather reprove them.” “Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?” The resources of sin must be cut off: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Whatever tends to, and terminates in, the sinful gratification of the flesh is to be relinquished, as frustrating the great aim of the Christian in the mortification of the deeds of the body.

Mortification is aptly set forth as a crucifixion: “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh.” Death by the cross is certain, yet lingering. Our blessed Lord was suspended upon the tree from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon. It was a slow lingering torture, yet terminating in His giving up the spirit.

Similar to this is the death of sin in the believer. It is progressive and protracted, yet certain in the issue. Nail after nail must pierce our corruptions, until the entire body of sin, each member thus transfixed, is crucified and slain.