"But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing of himself alone and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden,"
THE work mentioned in my text is not the works of the law. No, no, no; for the Scripture says, "By the works of the law shall no flesh living be justified."
But the work here mentioned is faith.
Hence we find the apostle says, "Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith. Prove your own selves," (2 Corinthians 13:5); and here it says, "Let every man prove his own work"
Thus it is plain that this is the work of faith.
"But, then," say you, "how shall we know that we have faith?"
Why, if you have these six things in you which faith always attends:
1. Faith purifies the heart (Acts 10:43); "Whosoever believeth in him shall receive the remission of his sins."
2. It is prevalent with God in prayer (1 John 5:14-l5); "And this is the confidence we have in him."
3. It overcomes the world (1 John 5:4); "Now this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith."
4. Faith attends the Spirit's witness (1 John 5:10); "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself."
5. Peace in the conscience (Romans 15:23); "Peace in believing through the power of the Holy Ghost."
6. It attends the preaching of the word (1 Thessalonians 1:5); "For our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but in power;" and elsewhere it says, "The word preached did not profit, not being mixed with faith" (Hebrews 4:2).
The next thing is to prove this work; to prove the work of God.
1. The Bible says, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6). Well, say I. I am the person; for I "hunger and thirst after righteousness." Then this proves it.
2. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten" (Revelation 3:19). Now if I am rebuked and chastened,this proves it; and thus I prove my own work by the word of God.
The next thing is this rejoicing. It is common for people in a natural state, when on a death bed, to send for the minister, and he reads over a few prayers to them; and if conscience begins to lash them, then he administers the sacrament to them, and thus patches up a false peace, and the sick person rejoices in the testimony of another.
But what is all this?
Supposing, on the one hand, every one of you were to tell me I was a child of God, and my conscience cursed me, and told me I was not, what signifies your testimony?
"Why, no," say you. And, on the other hand, suppose every one of you cursed me, and told me I was not, what should I care for that if the Spirit bore witness that I am a child of God?
I care not what you say. And thus I rejoice in myself alone, and not in another.
I will now show you in a three-fold sense how every man shall bear his own burden.
You may say you think it is wrong, for Paul says, "Bear ye one another's burdens."
"O," say you, "that's the moral law;" but I answer, "No;" for the moral law never commands me to bear another's burden.
But Isaiah says, "He bore our sins in his own body on the tree;" and we are to take pattern by him, so if a brother is in distress of soul, by my telling him of my having been in the same state, and praying to God to deliver him as he did me, I make his trouble my own; and this is well-pleasing; for it is the law of love. It was nothing but the self-moving love of Christ that occasioned him to bear our sins.
But this burden in my text is different, as I shall show you in a threefold sense.
1. It is a daily cross: "Let him deny himself, and take up his cross," (Matthew 16:24)
2. The depravity of our nature: "We that are in this tabernacle do groan;"(1 Corinthians 5:4)
3. Bodily afflictions and trials.
Thus I have endeavored to show the meaning of the text, and I add no more.
By William Huntington