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CHAPTER I.

A PRECIOUS REALITY


Breathe, O, breathe thy loving Spirit
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in thee inherit,
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith as its beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

Finish then thy new Creation;
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see thy great salvation,
Perfectly restored in thee:
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Charles Wesley.

And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ; Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me ... that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed — Rom. xv, 29, 30, 32.


A
hungry world needs to be fed; a helpless world needs help; a perishing world needs relief; a lost world needs salvation. To supply these imperative needs is the loving work of the Triune God. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost have together undertaken the vast and blessed task. When we contemplate this earth on which we live, when we observe what it contains, when we view so much of the universe as comes within the range of human vision, we are lost in wonder and astonishment at the displays of wisdom, skill, and power that everywhere confront us. Nor is it surprising that the psalmist exclaims:
When I consider the heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? — Psa. viii, 3, 4.

But the psalmist hastens to answer his own questions, for he goes on to say:
Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. — Psa. viii, 9.

Hence we see that man takes rank with the angels, those pure and mighty intelligences that stand in the immediate presence of God, and serve and worship him day and night. For similar if not identical service God created man in his own image and likeness, and so endowed him with faculties and capabilities that he was fit for the companionship of all holy beings in all worlds. But man fell away from his original state of purity and obedience, and so lost his exalted position in the universe, and his relation of sonship to God. To regain all that he has lost by sin is only possible through the infinite grace and mercy of his Creator.

"'Twas great to speak the world from naught,
'Twas greater to redeem."

Unquestionably the work of redemption has not only been attempted, but perfectly accomplished, so that the sinner may more than regain the paradise from which the parents of the race were expelled; indeed, he may be renewed in the image and likeness of God; he may be delivered from the guilt and corruption and power of sin; he may be cleansed with an uttermost cleansing; he may be endued with power from on high; he may be adopted into the heavenly family, and so become with Jesus Christ an heir of an eternity of blessedness and glory.

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior's blood?
Died he for me, who caused his pain?
For me, who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That thou, my Lord, shouldst die for me?

'Tis mystery all! the Immortal dies!
Who can explore his strange design?
In vain the first-born seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine;
'Tis mercy all! let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left his Father's throne above, —
So free, so infinite his grace! —
Emptied himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race;
'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For, O, my God, it found out me!

— Charles Wesley.

An experience such as this is not the result of the imagination, it is not the fruitage of an insubstantial dream, it is not the product of a fanatical faith. The plan of redemption proposes to remedy all the wreck that sin has made; and this redemption is efficacious for time and for eternity, for soul and body.

And this is eternal life, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. — John xvii, 3.

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Sou of God. — 1 John v, 13.

The real eternal life commences with the soul while still abiding in this world. Here we see the beginning, the unfolding, something of the fruitage; in the world to come it will be the more abundant life; for Jesus says:
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. — John x, 10.

And we may well remember that redemption includes the body as well as the soul.

Jesus saith unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. — John xi, 25, 26.


Beloved, how are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself even as He is pure. — 1 John iii, 2, 3.

Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised in corruptible and we shall be changed For this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory. The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. — 1 Cor. xv, 51-58.


This victory, which is to be absolute, complete, and eternal, commences in this life and is essentially, in all spiritual things, as real as that which shall be achieved in the world to come. All God's people may abide in the sure confidence that these promises will be fulfilled: "for we have not followed cunningly devised fables." (2 Peter i, 16.)