the Second Week of Lent
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Spiritual Treasury For The Children of God
Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.- Luke 23:43.
Unbelief, how great its power! how strong its influence! it would for ever blind the eyes, and harden the heart against Jesus and his grace; but "he shall divide the spoil with the strong." The prophet’s prediction is here clearly fulfilled; the sovereignty of grace is fully displayed. Our Lord’s own doctrine is truly verified in these two thieves: "One shall be taken, the other left."- Matthew 24:40. Pride is the companion of unbelief. This keeps men in obstinacy; they will not see; they will not bow to God’s sovereignty. But this is a comfortable truth to self-abased souls! God’s power is their hope. But doth our Lord bring sinners to glory without faith, repentance, and holiness? Doth he leave his people in their sins and rebellions? No, blessed be his name! Jesus is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour: he gives repentance and remission of sins. "So he saves his people from their sins." So he makes them happy in his love by the secret power of the Spirit’s inward operations. Who made these two companions in sin, these blasphemers of Jesus to differ? Grace, sovereign, distinguishing, almighty grace, did this wonderful work; "and it is marvellous in our eyes." How rapid its power! how swift its race! in one moment a railer against Jesus is changed to a believer in him; a proud rebel to an humble suppliant; a self-justifying sinner to a Christ-exalting saint; in a moment converted, pardoned, sanctified, and made meet for glory-today hell-deserving, today in Paradise. Thus this thief believed with his heart unto righteousness, and made confession with his mouth unto salvation.
What hath grace done? what is it not able to effect? Sweetest encouragement to the vilest of sinners, to look to Jesus: strongest assurance for the weakest believers to abide in him. "Lord Jesus, remember me," proceeds from grace in the heart of his members-"Thou shalt be with me in Paradise," is the gracious answer from the tongue of the head. It was the grace of our Lord Jesus that saved this thief, this highwayman, and translated him from a gallows on earth to a crown in glory. The most amiable character, the most upright person hath nothing else to look to, to hope for, or trust in, but the cross of Christ alone for salvation. This is all our glorying. By the death of Jesus we live. The same Spirit that enables the soul to believe on Jesus, conforms it to Jesus in likeness and love, and sanctifies it through the faith of Jesus, and makes it "meet for the heavenly inheritance with the saints in glory."- Colossians 1:12.
He will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with singing. Zephaniah 3:17.
Instead of two meditations on this verse, it is worthy the study of our whole lives. Eternity itself will never exhaust the fulness of that rich and glorious grace contained in it. When the vanity of the creature, and the richness of God’s everlasting love and free grace are the subjects, well might the preacher say, “Of making many books there is no end; though much study may be weariness to the flesh.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12.) Yet such study is reviving and refreshing to the spirit. Well, saith the poor sinner, ‘I remember the day of my espousal to Jesus: it was sweet. My heart was filled with peace and joy in believing. But, ah me! I have lost my first love: I am cold, and dark, and dead: I go on heavily, while the enemy oppresses me, and is daily saying to me, Where is now your God, in whom you once delighted, and of whom you formerly made your boast? Thy love is cold to him: he has totally withdrawn his love from thee: thy manifold sins have turned his love to thee, into perfect hatred against thee.’ Dost thou know this language? How dost thou treat it?-as the voice of a friend, or an enemy? What saith thy Lord? “He will rest in his love.” Believe him: reject the lying accusation of Satan. Look not at thy scanty love to the Lord, but to the fulness and perpetuity of his love to thee. This will excite thy love. He rests everlastingly, and unchangeably the same, in his love to thee. God is as unalterable and unvariable in his love to thy person, as in hatred to thy sins. He is silent in his love: he forgets thy sins: he remembers thine iniquities no more. This is the declaration of covenant love.” (Jeremiah 31:34.) Therefore, he will be silent in his love. When the terrors of the law ring a loud peal in thine ears, and Satan brings dreadful charges against thy conscience, yet thy Lord is silent. He condemns thee not: his love covers the multitude of thy sins: his righteousness justifies thee from all iniquity. In the days of his flesh, when a poor sinner stood before him, and was vehemently accused to him, he wrote upon the ground: he was silent. When he lifted up himself, he said to the poor soul, “I do not condemn thee; go and sin no more.” (John 8:11.) He considers his toils and sufferings for sinners. “I will joy over them with singing.” Ah! but our Saviour’s great joy would be turned into sorrow, if but one of his beloved, redeemed sheep were to perish. But that is as impossible, as for him to cease to be God. Now, think of all this fulness of might, love, joy, and delight, which thy Lord declares he has in thee, and over thee, O my soul! The Lord excite confidence in him, and cause thy heart to burn in holy love and sweet gratitude to him.