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still impenitent, will much more draw near to us and come to meet us, like the father of the prodigal son did, when we approach with true penitence to him. O let us, therefore, be of good courage, and place a perfect confidence in our Jesus! If he has revealed to us the danger of our souls, and given us a desire for deliverance; if he has invited us to come to him and seek help from him; he will also grant us his aid. His heart will melt, so that he must have mercy upon us. (Jer. xxxi. 20.) He will
say to our hearts, “Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee; go in peace !" Our hearts will then be pacified, and may continue at ease and in peace.
But we must not only take refuge in Jesus in our first and elementary repentance; we must also do so in the progress and whole course of our Christian life, if we are desirous of attending to the things that belong to our peace. We must then continually cleave to Jesus, and in all the storms of the temptations and assaults of the world, of our own flesh and blood, and of Satan, flee to Jesus alone, and conceal ourselves in him and his protection as in a sure fortress. Yes, we must abide in Jesus, and in real humility depend continually upon his grace, in the consciousness of our own inability. As soon as an individual imagines in the smallest degree, that he is any thing, has any thing, can do something, is far advanced, and the like: he then falls out of his fortress, and loses his peace ;
for God resisteth the proud; and if God resist us, we
are then no longer in a state of peace with God. Hence it happens, that God is constrained occasionally to lead souls that are dear to him, and who often possess much grace, into various kinds of barrenness, trials, and temptations; only that they may again become little, that they may be conscious that they can only live by grace, and can have peace alone in Jesus. If we are not in Jesus, but in ourselves, and suppose we are great people : let us then remember the warning, 1 Cor. x. 12. “ Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall !” that he do not lose his peace, and that distress and uneasiness overtake him. We must be found in Jesus, who is our peace (Ephes. ii. 14), and in whom Paul sought to be found (Phil. iii. 9), and to be found in this manner more and more, go out of ourselves and enter into Christ more and more, and be ever less, and more empty of self, in order that Jesus may become all in all to us. Being thus little, brings us peace in life and in death. Little in ourselves great in Jesus; naked and destitute in ourselves beautiful and glorious in Jesus.
What is there besides, that belongs to our peace ? The daily mortification of ourselves, and the denial of the world and its vanities. The Jews were vain in their imaginations, and looked only for an earthly and worldly Messiah, who should redeem them from the Roman yoke, and make them a people who superabounded in natural things, who could outwardly indeed attend to their temple service, but could live at the same time in all affluence, abundance, and
splendour; such a Messiah did they expect : Jesus, the true Messiah, in his humble form, was not at all to their taste, and his discourses upon self-denial, the renunciation of all things, the taking up the cross and following him did not please them at all; no! he could never the Messiah ! And thus it is still with many Christians. They are willing to be outwardly pious, they are willing outwardly to serve God: but they refuse to enter upon a renouncement of the world, and the denial of themselves ; with all their piety, they continue to be avaricious, covetous, lovers of the world, seek to gain something in the world, and become people of property; and this they call the blessing of God, and say, 'this hath God given me,' this they are unwilling to forsake and deny, or to give their tender natures pain. Well, this belongs to the peace of nature, to the gratification of flesh and blood, but not to thorough tranquillity and true peace of heart, nor to peace of conscience. Let him that will have a religion with which he can keep the world at the same time, make the attempt, and see whether it brings peace to him. Christ however says 6 No man can serve two masters."
Many at their first conversion, fall into mistakes respecting it. They think, because they now intend to be pious, and to live and walk otherwise than before, no one must lay any obstruction in their way; no one must hinder them in their being pious, in their reading, praying, in their devotions, and in their other good things; no one must now oppose them, no one
confuse them, no one do any thing to them against their will; if this is not the case, they complain that they have so many obstructions, hindrances, and disturbances; although there is nothing that can disturb or hinder them, but their own instability, and that they will not deny themselves ; hence it is that they can find no peace. Such like characters then fall upon a variety of plans; they think this must be altered, and that must be changed; they would gladly be in some other situation, in other outward circumstances, at one time in this, and at another in some other place; if it were with them they think, as with this person or that, they would have peace. No, my friends! it is not change of place or circumstances that gives us peace; but the deny. ing ourselves, and the uniting our will with God's will, gives peace; the renouncing the world gives peace; such is the true state of the case. Or what shall we make of the precious words of our Saviour, when he says: “He that does not forsake all that he hath, cannot be my disciple; if
any man will follow me, let him deny himself.” I say, what shall we make of such expressions, if we imagine every thing must go according to our ideas and convenience ? We ought, therefore, to let ourselves be led into a denial of the world and ourselves.
I speak of an evangelical renunciation, of the world and self, not of a legal one, which is done as it were by compulsion, which is required of us from our own strength, and with which we expect to merit something: 0 no! Jesus does not require of us self
denial in such a manner or for such a purpose ; we require it, nor do we or can we merit any thing by our self-denial; by no means ; but it is the indispensable and necessary way by which we may attain true peace and fellowship with God; otherwise we cannot attain it. Jesus, who requires of us selfdenial in an evangelical manner, will lead us into it, and give us also the strength for it. He not only sees how our hearts are attached to some particular object, how we still have so many things beside him, and do not consider what belongs to our peace, but also, that we cannot help ourselves or set ourselves at liberty; this excites his compassion, and from heartfelt pity, he is willing by his precepts and assistance, to help us in forsaking them, that we may attain to the things that belong to the peace of our souls.
At our conversion, we joined ourselves to Jesus as our bridegroom; we must therefore no more give ear to any rival, for this would disturb our peace. If we wish to live in peace with our precious Saviour, we must empty our hearts for him alone, and avoid every thing that is contrary to him, and on every occasion, pay attention to his inward admonitions respecting the denial of ourselves, in whatever it be, that we are displeasing to him, and by which our peace with him might be disturbed. Not all that is termed no sin, is on that account pleasing to the Saviour or harmless to us; we must lay aside every thing, not only open sins, but generally, every thing that cannot consist with union with our