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by starting an if, and desiring a miracle: “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread,” Matt. iv. 3. But the Saviour would not satisfy. his adversary by a miracle, but left him to doubt who he was, or to find it out; which Satan soon did when he perceived that no temptation gained ground. But he felt who he was when he entered upon his ministry, cast out devils, and by his own almighty power began to destroy Satan's works.
The adversary, gaining no ground upon Prodigalis by this, went back, and puzzled him again upon the old text: “ He that is born of God sinneth not.” And here he foiled the poor man; for he had not a right understanding of that text; nor could he conscientiously use the ancient saints'common pleas. On these two heads the plaintiff gained ground: therefore Prodigalis was obliged to turn away his ears from common pleas, and make use of them that are too seldom used. For, after the accuser had gained a considerable advantage of him from the text above quoted; namely, that “he that is born of God sinneth not,” the defendant cried out, “The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin,” 1 John i. 7. This put the accuser to silence. The defendant finding that, produced another promise, saying, It is written,“ Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you,” Luke x. 19, This weakened the temptation greatly; therefore Prodigalis followed him up again, saying, It is written,
My heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.” In love my heart is fixed; nor can all your wiles ever make me hate my Sovereign, or make me loyal in your in
terest: therefore I am upon the Rock; and it is written that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” Matt. xvi. 18. “It is written, it is written,” gives a terrible blow to the accuser: he cannot stand the sword of the Spirit, nor the power of the Saviour, who is the sinner's only plea. “No alsehood can stand the touch of celestial temper,' says Milton.
Ahimaaz. It is a blessed thing to be well instructed in the word of God: the word of truth is both sword and shield. It is through the comforts of the scriptures we have hope. The Bible should be read by every believer as the will of his heavenly Father, in which lies his vast inheritance; secured by absolute and unconditional promises, which were made to Christ, and to us in him, and all ratified with a divine “ Yea and Amen."
The whole covenant of promise that was made with the Saviour, and all the promises and blessings of that covenant, were given by the Father to the Son, and by the Son to us: “ For I have given them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me," John xvii. 8. And all these covenant promises and blessings will be found in the church in the great day, when the earth and all her works will be burnt up: yea, when bibles and all other books are burnt up, the Spirit of God, and the word of God, will then be found in the church of Christ: “As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; my Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever,” Isa. lix. 21. Thus the word and the Spirit will return in the church unto God, the fountain of all divine happiness, and the eternal centre from whom every blessing came to the church, and in whom they all must terminate with the church.
The great and grand end that the Almighty aimed at in his great works is, “ That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus,” Eph..7. The word and Spirit, which are compared to rain, shall never leave the world till all the elect are called, made fruitful, and meetened for glory by it. “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth, it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it," Isa. lv. 10, 11. Pray observe the above text: the end of a shower is to give bread to the eater; so God's word and Spirit, compared thereto, are to make us, being many, one bread, i Cor. x. 17; that, as the shew bread, or the bread of faces, was set on the golden table in the most holy place every sabbath day, even so shall God's elect be presented (not like Ephraim,“ à cake not turned,” Hosea vii. 8; but perfectly leavened by the Holy Ghost) in the presence of God; to the glory, honour, pleasure, and satisfaction, of every attribute of God, who in the end will be all in all; when the eternal sabbath (of which the Jewish was a sign) shall arrive.
Q how sweet is the word of God! and what a pity that so many real Christians are so little acquainted with it. What profound mysteries does it sometimes disclose, when we can read it in the language of our own heart's experience, and feel its divine force and operations, as the blessed Spirit is pleased to move on those holy waters of the sanctuary.
It is in perusing the word that we converse with the Father in his secret decrees and purposes; with the blessed Redeemer in his great undertakings, sufferings, and soul-comforting discourses; and with the blessed Spirit, who spoke by the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles. Yea, I have often found the sweetest companions, and the greatest company, when I have been alone. It is by the Spirit's operation, by the bond of love, by a unity of sentiment, and by a unity of the faith of God's elect, that we come to the general assembly and church of the first-born which are written in heaven.” It is by our arraignment and justification that we come “ to God the judge of all;” and by the Spirit's operation that we come to the spirits of just men made perfect.” Believing in Jesus for life and salvation is coming “ to the Mediator of the new covenant;” and receiving the atonement by faith is coming “ to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel,” Heb. xii. 23, 24. : O how I love a Bible Christian! A believer who is not a constant reader of his Bible is like a soldier without arms. The reason of so many being led astray into all manner of errors is because they take up their religion upon trust, and so fix their faith on the wisdom of men, instead of the power of God. Christ tells
us to search the scriptures. The prophet says, “ To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." And in Job we are commanded to pray for divine teaching: “ What I know not teach thou me.'
I will never believe that so many would be led to credit the doctrines of Universalists if they were convinced of the necessity of divine teaching, and led to receive it from the Bible. They would find neither universal grace nor universal redemption there: nor is there any signs of it in the world at present; for its inhabitants seem to get worse and worse. give me a little further account of Prodigalis.
Cushi. The advocates for free-will, human power, and universal grace, may extend their own pity and compassion as far as they please: but divine grace and mercy are the properties and prerogatives of God: and therefore they have no right nor warrant to be so profuse and lavish with that which is not their own. But to proceed. After Prodigalis had
After Prodigalis had put his accuser to silence with the force of truth, these words were applied with power to his mind,“ Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” Heb. iv. 16. This was a reproof to Prodigalis, who had neglected that most blessed duty and privilege of prayer. It was likewise to encourage him in future. And the latter part of the text convinced him that he would often stand in need of mercy and help, and that if he would have those blessings he must pray for them. He obeyed the invitation, and set his face to seek God by prayer and supplication, though it was with much shame and confusion of face at first: for