A considerable portion of the Sacred Volume (as the Book of Psalms and Canticles in the Old Testament, and a large part of the several Epistles in the New Testament) is occupied with the interesting subject of Christian Experience; and exhibits its character, under different dispensations of religion, and diversified with an endless variety of circumstances, as ever essentially the same. As the same features of countenance and elevation of stature have always marked the human species in the midst of the creation of God; so an identity of feature and “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” has, in all ages, and under every shade of outward difference, distinguished the family of God, “as the people that should dwell alone, and should not be reckoned among the nations.” This indeed was to have been expected.
Human nature has undergone no change since the fall. In its unrenewed state it is still captivated in the same chains of sin; and, when renewed, it is under the influence of the same Spirit of grace. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The modern believer, therefore, when employed in tracing the records of Patriarchal or Mosaic experience, will mark in the infirmities of the ancient people of God a picture of his own heart, “answering, as in water face answers to face;” and in comparing their gracious exercises with his own, he will be ready to acknowledge—“All these works that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.”
In this view, it is the object of this work to exhibit an Old Testament believer in a New Testament garb, as one “walking in the same spirit, and in the same steps” with ourselves; and, in bringing his features of character to the Evangelical standard, it is presumed, that the correspondence will be found to be complete. “Faith which works by love”—the fundamental distinction of the Gospel—pervades the whole man; with at least an implied reference to the One way of access to God (verses 41, 88, 132, 135), and a distinct regard alike to the promises (verses 25, 32, 49, 74, 169, 170), and to the precepts (verses 66, 166), of Divine revelation. Nor are the workings of this principle delineated with less accuracy. In all the variety of Christian feelings and holy conduct, we observe its operations leading the soul into communion with God, and molding every part into a progressive conformity to His image.
When we view the “man after God’s own heart,” taking God for his portion, associating with His people, and feeding upon His word; when we mark his zeal for his Master’s glory; his devotedness and self-denial in his Master’s work; when we see him ever ready to confess His name, to bear His reproach, and caring only to answer it by a more steady adherence to His service — do we not in those lineaments of character, recognize the picture of one, who in after times could turn to the churches of Christ, and say — “therefore, I beseech you, be followers of me?”
Or can we recollect the Psalmist’s insight into the extent and spirituality of the law of God, and his continual conflict with indwelling sin, awakening in him the spirit of wrestling prayer, and confidence in the God of his salvation; and not be again forcibly reminded of him, who has left upon record the corresponding history of his own experience — “I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
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