"HAVING BEGUN IN THE SPIRIT,
ARE YE NOW PERFECT BY THE FLESH?"

Gal. 3:3

Robert Hawker
(1753-1827)


"Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"--Gal. iii. 3.

While beholding the church of Galatia, which set out upon true gospel principles, and before whose eyes Jesus Christ had been evidently set forth as crucified among them; yet after this, turning aside to seek justification by works; let thine evening meditation, my soul, be directed to this heart-searching inquiry: upon what art thou building thine hopes of salvation? Is it simply on Christ; or art thou mingling with the blood and righteousness of Jesus, somewhat of thine own, by way of justification? The question is exceedingly important; and the clear answer to it, of the first consequence to thy present peace, and everlasting welfare. See to it then, that there be no reserves, no limitations, nothing to qualify the plain and direct answer to the apostle's words; but that having begun in the Spirit, thou mayest truly say, thou dost not seek to be made perfect by the flesh. If this be thy case, thou hast learned to make a nice, but highly proper distinction between the great object of faith, which is Christ alone, and the fruits and effects of that faith, which are the gracious influences that Jesus, by his Holy Spirit, hath wrought in thine heart. It is very blessed, very desirable, to let the world, both of saints and of sinners, see our light so shine before them, that it may be not the subject of doubt, whose we are, and whom we serve. But, if any-attainments, which, by grace, my soul is blessed with, be made a part saviour in my views of justification; and I am not looking wholly to Jesus for this great work, as wrought out and completed by him; certain it is, that however I might begin in the Spirit, I am now turning aside to the flesh. Moreover, besides thc motley religion I am thus taking up with, if what I feel, and what I enjoy in the fruits and effects, of faith, be made a part of my hopes and confidence; alas! when those feelings, and those enjoyments at any time abate, my hopes and confidence will abate also. And if justification be made a fluctuating principle, is it not plain, that I shall be void of comfort, when I most want it? And is it not, from this very cause, that so many precious souls go in leanness all their days, sometimes feeling hope, but for the most part, exercised with doubts and fears, according to what they feel, and not what Jesus is in their view; and because in themselves, they are looking for somewhat that may give a greater confidence in Christ? Pause, my soul, and inquire how the case stands with thyself: is Jesus the whole, in the way of a sinner's justification before God? Is he the Alpha and the Omega also? Dost thou regard him as both the Author and the Finisher of salvation? Is he the first and the last; and dost thou venture thine everlasting all upon Jesus? Pause once more, and then say, what are thy views in this distinction between the works of the Spirit and of the flesh? Hast thou so learned Christ?

From the POOR MAN'S MORNING AND EVENING PORTIONS.

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Robert Hawker



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