Streams in the Desert
James Smith, New Park Street Church, London, 1849
This book contains a variety. It is a collection of pieces written at different times, for different purposes. These are now brought together, in the hope that they will be useful both to saints and sinners. There is much that is of an experimental character, and is therefore calculated to comfort young Christians, and tried believers. Some of the pieces are of a more stirring kind, and it is hoped will stir up some who may be at ease in Zion, or who are wrapping up their talent in a napkin.
A few, are more suitable for unconverted sinners, they point out the way of salvation, and set forth the method of justification by faith in the Lord Jesus, and may be as balm to a wounded conscience.
Simplicity is the characteristic of this little volume; and to do good to souls its one grand aim. Some of the pieces have been useful in another form, may they be much more so in this. Such books, appear to the writer, to be especially needful in the present day. And having been so favorably received by the public in his former attempts to spread the truth, he is encouraged to appear among them again. May the Lord graciously condescend to smile upon this feeble effort, and render this book a blessing to many souls.
Reader, one word with you before you begin to read this little volume: remember, that God alone can make it useful to you. Everything is just what God makes it to us. He can make this little work a very great blessing to you. Let me entreat you to spend a few minutes in prayer before you begin to read—for unless God blesses it—you will read it without real benefit! Prayer brings down the blessing. But it must be earnest and energetic, simple and sincere, direct and devout: for it is the "fervent prayer of the righteous man that avails."
Should you derive benefit from it, will you recommend it to others, and aid in its circulation. It may do them good too. Let us always bear in mind, that God works by means—and frequently by the most simple means. Let us use the means in faith, expecting a blessing in the use of them, forasmuch as we know that our labor shall not be in vain in the Lord. May the good Lord bless both writer and reader—making us holy, useful, and happy! Amen.
James Smith, New Park Street Church, London, 1849
A Birthday Meditation
James Smith, New Park Street Church, London, 1849
How great has been the mercy of my God to me—a poor, worthless, ill-deserving worm! I trace his goodness from my birth to the present moment.
I was born in a land of gospel light—when I might have been born in heathen darkness.
I was instructed to read God's holy word—when I might have been left like others, in nature's ignorance.
I was preserved in Christ Jesus during the years of my unregeneracy, when many who were born about the time I was, have been cut down and consigned to the grave.
I was called by the sovereign grace of a covenant God, when running post-haste to eternal destruction.
I was taught by the Holy Spirit my sinful state, the value of my soul, the need of a Savior, the way of escape, and the freeness of salvation.
I was given a saving interest in Christ, and feel love to his dear name, and obtain a knowledge of his saving work.
I was kept by his mighty power in the midst of temptations, persecutions and snares, to publish the glad tidings of salvation.
I was sent to proclaim to poor sinners round the danger they are in, the glorious salvation of the cross, and Jehovah's boundless love. Blessed with many seals to my ministry in different parts of the land, and with repeated testimonies of the power of the word in the hearts of the people of God.
I was preserved from my depraved heart, the various errors that lead multitudes astray, and the opposition of all my foes.
I was supplied with every temporal mercy, gospel privilege, and promised blessing.
I was brought through innumerable trials, difficulties and distresses, to the glory of Jehovah's grace.
I was spared, notwithstanding my hardness, rebellion and backslidings, until I am more than forty years of age.
I appear before God this morning—willing, heartily willing, to be, to do, to suffer whatever he sees proper, so that I may but be kept from sin, and dishonoring his dear name and gospel.
When I reflect upon WHAT I WAS, how circumstanced, and situated, and view the way the Lord has led me, what he has done for me, and what he has done by me—I am astonished! O, that I did but feel humbled, grateful and thankful—as I would I desire to be filled with love to God, zeal for God, and concern to glorify God. I want to be entirely devoted to him, body, soul, and spirit, that my all may be for him and not for another. When I consider my coldness, carelessness, and ingratitude, I cannot but wonder that the Lord has not long ago disowned me! But blessed be his holy name,
"Whom once he loves—he never leaves.
But loves him to the end!"
He changes not—therefore I am not consumed.
O my soul, lay low before the Lord under a sense of your manifold infirmities and follies, and seek grace from Jesus to live holily, righteously, and usefully in this present evil world.
Gracious Lord, grant unto your servant light to see your will, power to do your pleasure, love to follow you wherever you go, and an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of my Lord and Savior. O give me an increasing love to souls, success in your work, and growth in grace, that my own personal concerns be not neglected! O make me like my Savior in spirit, temper and conduct!
See, gracious God, I do afresh on this my birthday, surrender myself entirely to you to be your servant, to be used as you please, and to be led where you will! O grant that I may serve you with a son's heart, a bride's affection, and a servant's submission! Lord, take me, and enable me to remember evermore that I am yours! May I leave myself and all my concerns in your hands, and go about your business. O save me from every snare, from every foe, and from my wretched self! Get glory in me, by me, and through me—for Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.
A New Year's Address
James Smith, New Park Street Church, London, 1849
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!" Hebrews 13:8
Everything around us is changing and fast passing away! Nothing appears settled or secure! The old year has fled and has told its tale; a new year begins today and will introduce mercies and trials, comforts and distresses, darkness and light. Who can tell what is folded up in the bosom of this year?
Could we look through the coming hours, days, weeks, and months of this year; could we count the head-aches and the heart-aches which await us; the disappointments we shall meet, the vexations we shall experience, the distresses we must pass through—our hearts would perhaps be wrung with anguish, and our minds be clouded with gloom! But these are wisely concealed from our view, and whatever may be our anticipations or forebodings, the Lord meets us on the threshold of this year and assures us that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!" This is our encouragement, beloved friends.
God himself in pity and compassion gives us this sweet, cheering, and animating assurance. Could Jesus change, then we might sink into gloom, despondency, and despair! Creatures may change, and do change for the worse instead of the better—but Jesus is the same. It is impossible that he should be better—for he is altogether perfect. And being perfect—he can never change for the worse. He embodies everything that is amiable, glorious, and inviting in deity; and everything that is excellent, admirable, and sweet in humanity. He blends the attributes of God—and the perfections of man in his sacred character. He is at once our Brother—and our God; our Maker—and our Fellow; our Lord—and our Husband. O admirable mystery! O encouraging connection! O delightful truth!
Brethren, what have the Lord's people found Jesus to be in bygone days? That, all that—is Jesus NOW. Yes, this new year's morning he has all that love, kindness, tenderness, pity, compassion, verity, and majesty—which his people in every age have proved him to possess. He who sympathized with the widow of Nain, who had compassion on the hungry multitude, and wept with the sisters of departed Lazarus—is just the same now—as then. He has the same nature, the same heart, and the same fellow feeling.
True we have not the same visible expressions of his tenderness and pity—but they are nevertheless real; he is the same today as he was yesterday, and will be the same forever. We have the same Jesus to deal with—as had the Syrophenician woman, the adulteress at Jacob's well, or the thief upon the cross. He is deeply interested in our welfare, lovingly concerned to do us good, and ready to help us in every time of trouble.
His ear is at every believer's heart—listening to the voice of his sighs, groans, and desires.
His eye is observant of the Christian's goings, and marks every step he takes.
His hand is stretched out to help him in every time of trial, or circumstance of difficulty.
His affections yearn over him with indescribable affection and pity in every affliction or trouble.
He loves us dearly.
He knows our frame.
He considers our circumstances.
He pities our weaknesses.
He watches our movements.
He orders our steps.
He instructs our minds.
He subdues our sins.
He frustrates our enemies.
He will never for one moment leave us, nor on any account forsake us!
No, he will never turn away from doing of us good—but will rejoice over us to do us good with his whole heart, and with his whole soul. Jesus is the same. He is one with us, has suffered like us, and knows by experience what our temptations, trials, and distresses are! He is no stranger to a troubled heart, a pained body, or the distress occasioned by the loss of the divine presence, he has passed through the whole. Therefore my poor, tried, tempted, and distressed brother, or sister in the Lord, learn to look to Jesus—as Jesus—as one touched with the feeling of your infirmities. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are!"
We are apt to think the Lord changes—when his dispensations change. But no! The change of his dispensations proceeds from the immutability of his purpose respecting us, and his love to us. He is determined to bless us indeed, and this being the case—he must empty us from vessel to vessel, and change his dealings according to the state of our hearts, our enemies, or our temptations. Our immutable Jesus always pursues one steady course, and has one gracious design towards us—all must work to produce our sanctification, and eternal salvation.
The Lord Jesus will not indulge us—when indulgence will harm us. He will only correct us—when correction will do us good. His infinite wisdom devises our way, and inconceivable love directs our steps. Creatures, providences, experiences may change—but Jesus is the same!
His heart is as tender,
His eye is as penetrating,
His ear is as attentive,
His arm is as powerful,
His presence is as near,
His name is as sweet,
His blood is as efficacious,
His righteousness is as glorious,
His promises are as certain,
His oath is as sure,
His throne is as accessible,
His love is as great,
His concern for us is as deep,
His intercession is as prevalent
—as it ever was! And will be so through every week, day, hour—yes, minute of the present year! May we always keep this in remembrance!
Beloved, you must trust no one, depend on no one, look to no source either for peace, comfort, or supply, through this year—but Jesus! He is willing and waiting to supply all your needs, according to his glorious riches! Soul needs, body needs, family needs, church needs; needs in sickness, needs in health; needs at home, needs abroad; needs while living, needs when dying—Jesus can, will, yes wishes to supply them all.
He will keep his seat on the throne of grace throughout the whole of the year! You will never find him absent for any one moment, or so engaged—that he cannot attend to you. He will always be pleased to see you come, and will at all times consider your case. But you must go to him first—be sure you remember this, for he has a jealous eye!
You must go to him alone,
you must go to him for all,
you must go to him frequently,
you must go to him perseveringly,
and as sure as his name is Jesus—you shall not go in vain!
I proclaim to you in my Master's name, that he has everything you can need for body or soul—for time or eternity! And as his herald I cry, "Ho! everyone who thirsts, and whenever you thirst—come to the waters, come buy and eat! Yes, come, buy wine and milk—without money and without cost!"
I have a complaint against some—that they have not come often enough; and against others—that they have gone to some other market! But let me interrogate you a little:
Did ever my Master frown you away?
Did you ever find him lacking in kindness, pity, or love?
Did you ever need any blessing which was not to be found in his fullness, or to be had at his throne?
Did you ever do better, or so well anywhere else?
You must all to a man say, No! Why then do you forsake the fountain of living waters? Why do you wander upon every mountain and hill—and forget your true resting place? Jesus addresses you through me, and says, "O my people, what have I done unto you? Wherein have I wearied you? Testify against me!"
None have come too frequent; no—nor ever will. Come, then, and receive, and so glorify Jesus.
But I must draw to a conclusion, there are seven things I wish you may all more fully EXPERIENCE this year:
His Spirit working in your hearts,
His blood speaking in your consciences,
His power subduing your corruptions,
His blessing resting upon your souls,
His presence cheering your way,
His righteousness covering your sins,
His peace keeping your hearts and minds.
There are seven things I wish you may know it is your privilege to HAVE this year:
a name in his book,
a sight of his covenant,
a tear in his bottle,
a place in his heart,
a title to his fullness,
a right to his promises, and
an interest in his prayers.
There are seven things I wish you may DO this year:
weep at his cross,
wrestle at his throne,
cleave to his truth,
walk in his ways,
aim at his honor,
comfort his people, and
spread his fame in every direction.
There are seven things which I wish you may ENJOY this year:
the light of his countenance,
the power of his love,
the hope of his calling,
the blessings of his chosen,
contentment under all dispensations,
liberty in performing his commands,
and victory over every foe.
There are seven things from which I hope you may be PRESERVED from, this year:
a hard heart,
a seared conscience,
a Laodicean state,
a proud look,
an unforgiving spirit,
an envious eye, and
from distrusting God.
And now, brethren, Jesus can give all that I wish you to experience, to know, to enjoy! And he can preserve you from all I wish you to be kept from. But he says, "I will be inquired of, by the house of Israel, to do it for them." You must ask, seek, knock, plead, wrestle, and agonize at his throne—for he loves a determined, importunate, perservering beggar; as is evident from Luke 11:1-14; 18:1-9.
"May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace."
THE WORD OF GOD
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
The Bible is God's book, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and therefore free from error; "Holy men of God wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."
It contains God's law, the church's history, and Christ's gospel.
It reveals God, opens heaven, and directs man.
It makes known God's thoughts, the world's doom, and the church's blessedness.
It unfolds eternity to time, brings heaven to earth, and makes invisible realities known.
It was written for sinners, has been preserved by a special providence, and is the godly man's treasure.
Infidels scorn it, angels study it with wonder, and the saints delight in it.
It is a token of God's love, a proof of his regard, and a display of his concern for our welfare.
This Word of God contains . . .
the Law—commanding, condemning, and cursing;
the Psalms—disclosing, elevating, and praising;
the Gospel—unfolding, inviting, and directing;
the Prophets—predicting, exhorting, and denouncing.
It contains a rich variety, a divine fullness, and is exactly adapted to meet the case and condition of sinners.
Its histories are true, instructive, and impartial.
Its precepts are just, holy, and good.
Its cautions are beneficial, wise, and useful.
Its exhortations are judicious, adapted, and profitable.
Its reproofs are kind, solemn, and suitable.
Its directions are merciful, practical, and plain.
Its instructions are deep, spiritual, and extensive.
Its corrections are loving, just, and judicious.
Its doctrines are divine, sublime, and glorious.
Its descriptions are vivid, correct, and impartial.
Its invitations are general, attractive, and gracious.
Its promises are great, numerous, and invaluable.
Its warnings are solemn, preventing, and tender.
Its threatenings are dreadful, alarming, and just.
Its parables are simple, instructive, and edifying.
Its types are significant, impressive, and suitable.
Its examples are bright, winning, and worthy.
It is in every part, and every way, worthy of a God!
We have this blessed book as God's free gift, procured for us by our adorable Redeemer, and bestowed upon us through the Holy Spirit. Its revelations were delivered, first orally, then written, then printed: first given to a few, then written for many, then printed for all: first freely bestowed, then hard to be obtained and now easily to be gotten. Given by God, opposed by the devil, blasphemed by many, rejected by more, unknown to thousands—but highly prized by a few. It is suited to youth, adapted to manhood—but peculiarly applicable to old age. It is the child's lesson book, the learner's class book, and the scholar's text book. Many study it, all Christians believe it—but none fully comprehend it.
This divine testimony is exceedingly useful; for it produces morality in the world, spirituality in the church, and good in all who believe it. It . . .
enlightens the dark,
instructs the ignorant,
comforts the desponding,
directs the lost,
encourages the seeking,
assures the waiting soul,
warns the wayward,
threatens the unruly,
condemns the impenitent,
invites the weary,
strengthens the weak,
consoles the dejected,
alarms the careless,
accuses the indifferent,
confounds the worldly-wise,
cautions the venturesome,
reproves the heedless,
gives promises to the diligent,
frowns on the thoughtless,
curses the profane,
damns the hypocrite,
urges the halting,
exhorts the obedient,
rewards the persevering,
exalts the Savior,
delights perishing sinners.
The Bible is God's will, the saints' treasure and the devils' eye-sore!
This holy writing is intended for earth, it is placed before our eyes, to be copied into our memories, and observed in our lives. The world has it, the church owns it, and every part of God's family may equally enjoy it. It is intended for the whole of this life, to be used through our entire journey—but will be dispensed with when we get home. It is here in written characters, there in substance, and both here and their prized and enjoyed. It is here to be read, believed, and tasted; but its fullest blessings are reserved for that better land. Now we need it, while on earth we cannot dispense with it—but in heaven we shall be able to do without it.
This book is pure—unmixed with error, untainted by sin, and worthy of a holy God.
This book is true—and may therefore be firmly believed, implicitly trusted, and unreservedly depended upon.
This book is sure—and cannot possibly deceive, lead astray, or sanction a mistake.
This book is right—being in perfect accordance with the holiness, justice, and grace of God.
This book is assimilating—he who believes it, loves it, and obeys it—must resemble it.
This book is divine—the offspring of God, bearing the impress of divinity, and is always acknowledged by Jehovah when pleaded at his throne.
This book is spiritual—and therefore cannot be understood by the carnal, the worldly wise, or anyone who is untaught of God.
This book is mysterious—containing mysteries which are to be believed, reverenced, and acknowledged, though never in this world to be fully comprehended.
This book is excellent—in its matter, style, and design.
This book is extensive—embracing more than the human mind can contain, than any creature could invent, or the whole of time will unfold.
This book is firm—and cannot be removed, driven out of the world, or destroyed.
This book is full—containing all that is necessary, ornamental, or useful.
This book is feeding—it feeds the memory, the intellect, and the heart.
This book is filling—it satisfies the illiterate, the learner, and the scholar.
This book is glorious—and glorifies God, the Savior, and the church.
This book is harmonious—every part accords, harmonizes, and agrees.
This book is honest—it exposes, commends, and reproves, as the case may be.
This book is immutable—it can undergo no change in its doctrines, requirements, or promises.
This book is irrevocable—heaven and earth may pass away, but its predictions, threatenings, and promises shall stand forever.
This book is inviting—for God stoops to write, instruct, and give wisdom to worms.
This book is incomparable—it never had, has not now, nor ever will have—an equal.
This book is infallible—here are no mistakes, misquotations, or exceptions, all is the word of God, and worthy of a God.
This book is lively—it gives life, quickens the dull and sleepy, and preserves the life given.
This book is ministerial—being the seed of God, the scepter of the Messiah, and the sword of the Spirit.
This book is necessary—for our information, consolation, and establishment.
This book is nourishing—it strengthens our faith, animates our hope, and quickens our love.
This book is conquering—it overcomes Satan, destroys sin, and leads sinners as willing captives to the Prince of peace.
This book is original—nothing is borrowed, stolen, or altered—all is of divine origin.
This book is penetrating—it wounds the heart, pierces the conscience, and divides between soul and spirit.
This book is perfect—as a whole, and in every part; it contains a perfect system of doctrine, a perfect code of precepts, and a perfect variety of truth to meet every possible case.
The Bible is compared to . . .
a fire, that burns;
a hammer, that breaks;
a sword, that pierces and slays;
a light, that shines in a dark place;
a lantern, that guides the feet;
milk, which nourishes and feeds;
a suit of armor, which protects the person;
incorruptible seed, which always brings forth fruit.
It is called . . .
the word of God,
the word of righteousness,
the word of reconciliation,
the word of life,
the word of faith,
the word of salvation,
the word of grace,
the word of truth,
the faithful word,
a more sure word of prophecy,
the word of the saint's testimony,
and the word of Christ.
Of this word, Job could say, "I have esteemed the words of his mouth, more than my necessary food."
Jeremiah exclaims, "Your words were found, and I ate them; and your word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart!"
David appeals to the Lord and says, "Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you. I will delight myself in your statutes, I will not forget your word. Your word is very pure, therefore your servant loves it. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night—that I may meditate on your word."
Jesus said, "The Scriptures testify of Me."
Paul insists, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
O, for greater love to the Scriptures—that we may know them, enjoy them, conform to them, exercise faith in them, and make them our delight! May we read them daily, pray over them constantly, meditate on them frequently, and manifest their holy tendency in life and death. May our memories be stored with them, our hearts be sanctified by them, and our lives correspond with them.
O may these heavenly pages be
My ever dear delight;
And still new beauties may I see,
And still increasing light!
"Unto you therefore who believe—He is precious!" 1 Peter 2:7
To the spiritual mind, there is a charm in the very name of Jesus; and when graciously assisted by the presence of the Holy Comforter, we immediately conceive of something sweet, glorious and delightful, when the name of Jesus is but mentioned. It is a name that never wearies, because it is associated with all that is important, valuable, and delightful in the estimation of the believing soul. Many a saint has complained when Jesus has not been sufficiently honored—but never one that he has been exalted too highly. Our best moments are spent in contemplating his person, rejoicing in his work, spreading his fame, and enjoying fellowship with him. The spiritual perception of his glories—fills the soul with admiration and holy love; the application of his promises—softens and elevates the heart; and a sense of a saving interest in his salvation and grace—makes happy beyond description.
Holiness never appears so lovely—as when beheld in his adorable person and meritorious work! Sin never appears so detestable and loathsome—as when seen in his agony, cross and death! Grace is then most glorious—when we view it in his humiliation, sacrifice, and triumphs! And mercy has peculiar attractions—when beheld in his tears, tender expressions, and ardent prayers.
Jesus is indeed precious, when faith views him as descending from the glorious high throne, and becoming a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief—stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted—wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and making peace for us by the blood of his cross. To see the object of Jehovah's delight and angelic adoration—exposed to the rage of devils, the contempt of men, and the fierce, unsparing wrath of God, in order to purchase my freedom from bondage, to secure my deliverance from eternal woe, and procure a title for me to unfading blessedness and glory—this renders Jesus precious, and causes the soul to exclaim: his love to me is astonishing, his grace surpassing thought, and his mercy is inconceivable! The mind struggles for suitable emotions—the soul longs for a lofty song, and labors for befitting expressions to tell out her ideas of Jesus.
His tenderness, as manifested in his kind expressions, sweet invitations, and loving promises—endears him to us—and how unspeakably precious he appears! To hear the Father vouch for him, "A bruised reed—he shall not break; and the smoking flax—he shall not quench—he shall feed his flock like a shepherd—he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom,"—this fills us with admiration and pleasure.
To listen to his gracious promises, "I will see you again—I will not leave you comfortless—I will manifest myself to you, I will come and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also"—this fills us with gratitude and humility.
To find him informing us of the Father's mind and will, to relieve us from cares, and banish our fears, saying, "Fear not, little flock; it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom—whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give it you—for this is the will of him that sent me, that every one that discerns the Son, and believes on him, may have eternal life, and I will raise him up again at the last day,"—this consecrates us entirely to him, and leads us to devote ourselves and our all to his praise. But when we behold him confirming his word, removing our sins, bearing our curse, and making reconciliation for our iniquity by his vicarious sufferings and death, love can hold no longer—but cries out,
If I loved my Lord before,
I would love him ten times more!
The sympathy of Jesus also renders him precious to the believer. He possesses my nature, and has felt as I feel—his heart has throbbed in unison with mine, he has feared, hungered, thirsted, wearied and suffered in every part of his person, and in every way—therefore he is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He knows the power and influence of temptation upon the mind, and in all our afflictions he is afflicted, and the messengers of his presence surround us.
Not a sigh escapes unnoticed—not a groan is neglected, nor a tear forgotten! He is ever with us, feels for us, and directs everything to work for the good of the soul that sincerely believes on him.
He is always Jesus, the fountain of love, mercy, pity, compassion, and grace. He is ever our kind, tender, and faithful brother, born for adversity, and present when needed to support, comfort or deliver. He says, "Even to hoary hairs I am he—I have borne you, and I will carry you—I will make all your bed in your sickness—I will never leave you, I will never, no never forsake you; but I will deliver you in six troubles, and in seven shall no evil touch you."
Let this but be received into the mind by faith, and Jesus must be precious! Every name he bears, every office he fills, every relation he sustains, every promise he has given, every doctrine he has taught, every precept he has enforced—rightly viewed—endears him to the spiritual mind, and renders him precious to the soul.
If these lines should be read by any one who has never felt Jesus to be precious—more precious than riches, honors, reputation, health—yes, than life itself, I would say to that person, "You are in a pitiable situation! The god of this world has hitherto blinded your mind—he now leads you captive at his will—you are a stranger to real holiness, gospel peace, and true happiness!"
Jesus is the charm of life, the essence of joy, the spring of everything worthy the name of comfort. An interest in, and fellowship with, a precious Christ, illumines the dark hours of affliction—warms the heart in the cold embraces of death—and perfumes the otherwise scentless grave.
Everything is lacking, where Jesus is not known; and Jesus is not scripturally known, unless he his precious to the soul. My friend, never expect to be happy, or dream of peace, holiness, or heaven—unless Jesus is your all in all!
THE SAVIOR'S DEMAND
"Do you love Me?" John 21:17
WHO is it that makes such a demand upon me, and inquires after my love? It is Jesus, the sinner's Friend—the glorious Savior.
Love You! Yes, Lord, you know that I love you? The great desire of my soul, and constant prayer of my heart, as you know, is, that I may love you more, and serve you better. How can I meditate on the glorious perfections of your nature—the boundless love of your heart—your deep humiliation for my welfare—glorious exaltation at the right hand of the Father, and sweet love messages to me from thence—and not love you? O yes, I do, I must, I will love you! I only want to feel your love inflaming, increasing, and settling my love upon you and your immovably.
But why is the inquiry thrice repeated? Are you jealous of my love? O! now I see, it is my conduct! I am prone to wander, and fond of other lovers, and too much taken up with the things of time. But, Lord, I wait to hear your word—speak the command, and give me will and power to obey.
"Do you love Me?" Then spread abroad the knowledge of my love, work, and word—use every means to circulate the glorious, glad tidings of salvation, by free grace through my meritorious blood. Tell to sinners, in every direction, that there is salvation in Jesus, and salvation nowhere else—tell them that I am ready to pardon, waiting to be gracious, exalted to show mercy, to give repentance, and the remission of sins; tell them that I receive the vilest, cast out none—but receive all who come, and receive them as they are—all guilty, polluted, and depraved; tell them there are no bounds to my merits, or limits to my mercy, or prerequisites necessary to obtain my grace. Lead them, all guilty and depraved, to the cross where I bled, and cry—
See here an endless ocean flows
Of never-failing grace:
Behold a dying Savior's veins
The sacred flood increase.
It rises high and drowns the hills,
Has neither shore nor bound:
Now if you search to find your sins,
Your sins can ne'er be found!
"Do you love Me?" Then endeavor, by every means in your power, to lead poor sinners to me. The poor, the halt, the maimed, the blind, as many as you find, bid to the marriage; compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. Depend on my promises for strength; look to my commands for direction; call daily upon the Holy Spirit for his light, energy, and presence; and employ all means to pluck brands from the burning. Look not with unconcern on sinners, on whom I looked and wept—for whom I shed my blood—to whom I send my gospel; but pity, pray for, and plead with them, that you may by all means save some.
"Do you love Me?" Remember time is short; the season in which you may glorify me on earth will soon pass away, and be gone for ever. Work while it is called today, for the night comes, when no man can work. Evidence to all around that you are not your own—but are bought with a price, and are solemnly engaged to glorify me with your bodies and spirits which are mine. Let every talent be consecrated to, and employed for, the advancement of my kingdom, and the spread of my fame. Everything around you: pale-faced sickness, clay-cold death, the opening grave, approaching judgment, and all the changeless solemnities of eternity—call upon you, if you love me, to keep my commandments, and seek my glory.
"Do you love Me?" Then why those reserves? Why so seldom at my throne of grace, though so repeatedly, so urgently invited? Why is my word neglected, though given by inspiration, and profitable for all things? Why are my ordinances slighted, though identified with my honor, and intended to produce your good? And what is this bleating of the sheep that I hear—are these things too good, too valuable for me? Are you afraid you can give me too much, or be a loser by me?
If you love me, I demand your body—render it a living sacrifice; I demand your soul—surrender it cheerfully as my lawful right; I demand your time—consecrate it to me, and only use it as a loan; I demand your property—use it—but be sure you do not abuse it. I demand your all—whether, therefore, you eat or drink, or whatever you do—do all to my glory. For except a man denies himself, and takes up his cross, and follows me—he cannot be my disciple; and he who is ashamed of me and of my ways before men, although he may say he loves me, of him will I be ashamed before my Father and the holy angels.
"Do you love Me?" Then endeavor to manifest to all around the glory, perfection, and tendency of my grace. Exhibit the graces of my Spirit. Crucify the flesh, with its affections and lusts, and declare plainly that you seek a country—a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Set your affections—your minds, on things above, not on things on the earth: for if you indeed love me, you are dead, and your life is hid with me in God. Daily expect my coming; always act as under my eye; ever pursue your way, persuaded that every moment brings you nearer to my glorious presence. Let it be seen that you are Christ-like—endure the cross, despise the shame, walk as I have written in my word—and you shall shortly sit down with me on my throne.
"Do you love Me?" Then remember you have my word that I will never leave you—that my grace is sufficient for you—that I will make all grace to abound toward you—that my strength shall be made perfect in your weakness—and that I am able to do exceeding abundantly above all that you can ask or think. Never venture out in your own strength, or attempt anything by your own wisdom—or you will fail. Look to me for wisdom, grace, courage, strength, holiness, and peace; go on trusting my faithful word, and you shall find that the way of the Lord is strength to the upright; for I will never fail you—but will accomplish in you all the good pleasure of my goodness, and the work of faith with power.
To conclude, never think you can do too much for me, or be satisfied with what you have done, or are doing; rather ask, "What more can I do to glorify my Savior's name, to further my Redeemer's cause?" Look at my journeys, labors, Gethsemane sorrows, and dying pangs; listen to the voice of my groans, and read the language of my blood—all, all cry, "If you love me—then honor me, obey me, imitate me, and press on with vigor to be with me."
"Follow Me!" John 21:19
"They follow the Lamb wherever He goes!" Revelation 14:4
He who would be found in good company—must accept the Savior's invitation, and follow him. He calls us to him, as the Author of eternal salvation, and invites us to follow him as the Shepherd of his flock. Nature is for inquiring, "Where will he lead me?" But grace is willing to follow wherever he goes.
Jesus leads all his followers out of the world—unfits them for its pleasures and practices; and, though they are often entangled by it, they cannot be comfortable in it. Divine teaching proves that they are not of the world, even as Jesus is not of the world.
He leads us into fellowship with himself and his Father; and we find our sweetest comforts and most precious communications flow from holy fellowship. Having once enjoyed sweet, heart-melting, soul-liberating fellowship with God in Christ—we cannot be satisfied, or feel happy—but as we are living in the enjoyment of such a high and holy privilege.
He leads us into the way of holiness; holiness becomes the object of our ardent desire, constant pursuit, and earnest prayer. It is the element which we must breathe, if we are in spiritual health—it is the attainment we seek, if we are really taught of God.
He will lead us to heaven. Our way may be through a waste, howling wilderness—we may be tried, tempted, disappointed, and perplexed daily; but if we follow Jesus, we shall be glorified eventually. It is through much tribulation he conducts—but all who follow him must enter the kingdom!
He'll lead them on fair Zion's road,
Though weary, weak, and faint;
For, O! they ne'er shall lose their God,
Nor Jesus lose one saint.
Jesus says,"Follow Me!" and for all who follow, he provides everything necessary for the journey. He will feed with the finest of the wheat, and with honey out of the rock—all who cleave unto him with full purpose of heart. His promises are marrow and fatness; his presence is a delightful feast, which those often taste who live near him in the exercise of faith and fellowship.
He who follows Jesus may safely trust all his concerns in his hands—he will order, arrange, and manage all for him with infinite wisdom and unparalleled prudence. None walk so safely, so consistently, or so prosperously, as those who step, or endeavor to step in all the Savior's foot-marks. He will warn them of danger, protect them from harm, comfort them with tokens of his love, and bless them with the Spirit in their hearts. He will compass them with favor as with a shield, feed them with the heritage of Jacob their father, give them more grace—nor will he withhold one good thing from them.
But there can be no following Jesus to purpose, unless we are brought to resign ourselves and all that belongs to us, into his hands. Until we can bring all we have, and all we are—and lay it down at the Savior's feet, and write upon it with our own hand, guided by a willing heart, "This is the Lord's!" —we shall make but poor work of following Jesus. If we have many interests, each will call to us, have a claim on us, and a demand from us; but if our interests are all merged in the interests of Jesus, our interest being his, and his ours—then we shall proceed with pleasure, satisfaction and willingness.
Most men are willing to follow their treasures—but few are willing to leave them. Just so, unless Jesus becomes our treasure, our portion, our all—we shall not follow him heartily, cheerfully, or universally.
Reader, have you anything you have not resigned to Jesus? have you anything which you cannot deliberately and heartily give up into his hands? If so, you will find it a burden on the mind, a plague to the soul, a disease at the heart! You will make but sorry progress at any time, and no progress at all in stripping times: for he can never cheerfully give up for Jesus, who has not first given up to Jesus.
There will be no following Jesus to purpose, unless we believe in his revealed character. Unless we can believe he is wise, merciful, and faithful—we shall never follow him far or freely. How can I trust myself with an unwise, unmerciful, or treacherous person? It is impossible. One great reason why we do not follow Jesus fully, is founded in our ignorance of, or lack of faith in, what Jesus is. He who believes heartily that Christ is what the gospel says he is, and what saints in every age have proved him to be—can trust Jesus with all, and leave himself and all his concerns in his hands.
My brother, are you afraid to trust Jesus—to follow Jesus, or afraid you shall be a loser by Jesus? If so, you do not know him, or you do not fully believe the testimony God has given of his Son. O what comparatively happy lives we would live, if we practically believed Jesus to be what he really is—the kind, tender-hearted, gracious, faithful, and ever-loving Friend of sinners.
We shall never fully accept this invitation, until we are fully persuaded that our happiness, holiness, and safety are involved in it.
What can make me truly happy? The presence of Jesus and the light he graciously communicates. But how is this to be enjoyed? He tells me, "He who follows me, shall not walk in darkness—but shall have the light of life."
What can make me holy? Only the gracious work, teaching, and communications of the Holy Spirit. But what is the design of his work, teaching, and communications? To glorify Jesus; and herein is Jesus glorified, that his disciples forsake all and follow him wherever he goes. The holy flock always follow the sanctifying Shepherd.
In what consists my safety? In my Savior's watchful eye, potent arm, and loving heart. But when are the evidences of these being employed for us, enjoyed? Only when we are found following in his sacred footsteps.
But WHERE are we to follow Jesus? Wherever he goes, through evil report and good report. He is to be constantly set before us as our one grand object, and we are to run our race looking unto him. Follow him in all his holy institutions, and soul-feeding ordinances, in every self-denying path, in every arduous duty, and in every gracious privilege. Endeavor to imbibe his spirit. He was meek and lowly in heart. Prize and search his word—for there his footprints are to be discovered. Look to his fullness for wisdom, strength, and all necessary provision. Rely on his faithful promise, in the most unfavorable circumstances. Trust his veracity in the dark uncomfortable night of trial and trouble. Follow him in sighs, cries, groans, and prayers, when you feel unable to follow him in any other way, and remember that he is always at your right hand, that you may not be greatly moved.
Expect much opposition from Satan, self, the world, and many professors of religion; but always bear in mind Jesus, who bought you with his blood, quickened you by his grace, and has promised you glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life—your Jesus says, "follow Me—not them."
THE CHRISTIAN'S PRESERVATIVE
It is a melancholy truth, which every day's experience corroborates, that the seed of every evil still lurks in our fallen nature, and is ready to break out into action if an opportunity presents itself; and, notwithstanding the promises made in the good word of God, and the privileges to which free grace introduces us, we shall certainly turn aside and sow the seeds of darkness, distress, and desertion, without constant watchfulness and holy fear.
God has promised to put his fear in our hearts as a preservative against apostasy, Jeremiah 32:40; and believers in every age have found, that it is a choice preventative to many sins. When Joseph had imprisoned his brethren as spies, and kept them there for three days, he at length comes to liberate nine of them, and gives this as a reason, "I fear God." Genesis 43:18. And when Nehemiah speaks of the conduct of former governors, and opposes his own to theirs, the reason he assigns for the difference is the same, "But because I feared God—I did not act that way!" Nehemiah 5:15
The fear of God is the watchman upon the walls, the sentinel at our gates, and the crier in our streets! Its place is to watch against temptations, to guard us against being surprised into sin, and to sound an alarm when any evil approaches! Therefore the Holy Spirit by Solomon exhorts, "By the fear of the Lord—men depart from evil." Proverbs 16:6. "A wise man fears—and departs from evil." Proverbs 14:16.
A filial fear of God springs from a spiritual knowledge of God as our Father; from the love of God shed abroad in the heart. When we take in gospel views of Jehovah's covenant character, believe his precious promises as made to us in Christ Jesus, and enjoy his love as the fountain of true happiness—we find liberty and are at peace; we love our God with ardor, and desire to please him in all things. Nothing appears so distressing as the loss of his presence or a sense of his love; and the soul, like the spouse, is ready to give charge to everything, to be careful not to disturb or cause the Lord to depart. As the Lord rests in his love to his people, so the favored believer desires to rest with God in the same.
But we have often found that we have been betrayed by some foe, or led away by some temptation, and have lost this blessedness for a time; we have seen that our departures from the Lord have been grievous in his sight, and exceedingly injurious to us. The Holy Spirit has made use of this to produce self-loathing, penitence, and caution; and a greater measure of fear has been experienced and exercised. The young Christian knows but little of commended carefulness, 2 Corinthians 7:11; or of that hesitation which is often felt and manifested by more advanced believers.
But the experienced follower of Christ not only fears and departs from evil, on account of the effects which sin has on himself and his comforts—but also because he would not dishonor his good and gracious God; he sees that every act of transgression, or every departure from his God, dishonors the dear name by which he is called. It is his glory his happiness, his constant aim to honor it in all things; but it always distresses him if he is the cause of its being spoken against, or in any way dishonored. He desires to walk after the Lord, and imitate him in all his imitable excellences, that so he may glorify his Father in heaven. He fears to offend God, or in anything to displease him; he knows on the one hand that nothing will go well if God manifests his displeasure; and, on the other, that if his Father refuses him comfort no one else can bestow it, however ready they may be.
Carnal-minded professors often rush forward with but little consideration of what they are about to do, or but little concern whether they shall glorify God or not; but the right-minded Christian fears, hesitates, and prays; he examines his motives, distrusts his own heart from a knowledge of its deceitfulness, waits on the Lord, watches the motions of Divine Providence, looks for intimations from heaven, and prays, "Teach me to do your will; for you are my God; your Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness." Psalm 143:10. He waits, watches, hopes, fears, and begs that he may not be allowed to walk contrary to his God.
O! he thinks, if I should proceed without the pillar and the cloud; if I should be left to myself in this dreary desert; if I should have my desire, and leanness in my soul—how distressed, how miserable, how wretched I should be! If your presence goes not with me—do not let me proceed, or turn to the right hand or the left.
None but a believer can tell the painful cogitations, distressing exercises, and multifarious thoughts which often agitate the Christian, under the sovereign dispensations of his God. He fears doing wrong; he wishes, he longs, for an alteration; his flesh, his connections, all seem to say, "Proceed," but he knows not the mind of his God; he fears lest he should draw false conclusions, and proceed when the Lord would have him Stand Still; or stand still, when the Lord would have him Go Forward. He searches his Bible and his heart, and often feels at a standstill; concludes, and then changes his mind; thinks he sees his way, then he is in a labyrinth; takes a step or two, and is obliged to recede with sorrow, if not with shame.
All this time fear preserves him, his patience is exercised, his faith is tried, his jealousy appears, and he is kept from the paths of the destroyer. By these things Christians live, and by these things are they kept from presumption, lukewarmness, and a worldly state. Isaiah 38:16. Thus often the Lord proceeds with man, to keep him back from folly, and lead him into truth and peace. Job 33:12-33.
Godly fear always produces and preserves a tender conscience, and a tender conscience preserves from many follies and sins. When conscience is enlightened by divine truth, and penetrated by sanctifying grace—a concern for God's glory, and a fear of grieving his Holy Spirit, are always predominant. Lust may work, and corruptions roar, and the Christian may for a time be led captive; but back he must come with heartfelt confession and prayer, before he can find peace or enjoy any of his privileges or mercies.
A clear view of truth, a tender conscience, a godly fear, and a humble mind, are blessings of incalculable value: they will garrison the heart, and keep the mind in a holy, Christ-like, lovely frame.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of true wisdom; the evidence of real holiness, and a proof that we are the Lord's.
As a grace—it flows from divine love, through the mediation of the Lord Jesus, and is produced by the power and presence of the Holy Comforter.
As a duty—it is required by our heavenly Father and gracious Savior, for the illustration and proof of gospel principles, for our own welfare, and his eternal praise. It is promised as a grace, to be sought as a blessing, to be practiced as a duty, and all to the glory of our God.
My brother, have you the fear of God ruling in you, reigning over you, and preventing you from falling in with temptation, or into sin? If so, bless your God: some of the exercises connected with it may be truly painful and cross to your nature—but its operations upon the mind are beneficial and sanctifying.
The Name of Jesus
"You are to name Him Jesus—because He will save His people from their sins!" Matthew 1:21
There is a savor and sweetness in all the names of Immanuel, but there is something peculiarly sweet, harmonious and precious in this of 'Jesus'. It conveys to our minds an idea of all we need—a Savior. Holy Spirit! lead me into its import, sweetness and glory. When Immanuel was coming to make his abode with us in our nature, the heavenly messenger informed his reputed father, that his name was to be called Jesus, importing that he came into the world having a definite people in his mind, a definite work in his hands, and a definite principle in his heart.
When He took the name of 'Jesus'—He had a definite PEOPLE in His mind! They are called "His people." He had a peculiar interest in them, right to them, and concern for them. They were given him as a pledge of his Father's love, to be his associates, joy, and delight, his crown and special glory. They were sunk in sin and wretchedness, under the condemnation of the law, and were the captives of the prince of darkness! They were sheep—but lost sheep! They were jewels—but jewels in a heap of rubbish! They were his bride—but in a state of adultery! He had the eye of his omniscience watching them, the love of His heart pursuing them, and the arm of his omnipotence protecting them. His eye was upon them when in heaven in his Father's bosom, and his eye was upon them when enclosed in Mary's womb; his eye ever was and ever will be on them from the beginning to the end of time. He is called Jesus, for his eye was upon his people, to save and to bring them safely to glory!
When He took the name of 'Jesus'—He had a WORK in His hand! It was a work for his Father, and a work for them. He had the law to fulfill, justice to satisfy, sin to remove, heaven to open, Satan to spoil, death to destroy, the grave to perfume, a gospel to make, a people to father, ambassadors to appoint, and to bring down the Spirit into the Church, to fit and prepare it for glory. "Behold, the Lord God will come: behold his reward is with him, and his work before him."
This work he undertook to accomplish, nor did he fail, nor was he discouraged until it was completed. He brought all the powers of his divinity, with all the adaptation of his humanity to the work, and proceeded to perform it until in triumph he exclaimed, "It is finished!"
How glorious did Jesus appear then, to angels and the spirits of the just made perfect! How glorious does Jesus appear now, when by faith we view him as having conquered all, fulfilled all, and procured all! Precious Redeemer, my soul would bless you, and I would summon all my powers to praise you, for the work, the glorious work, you have accomplished in my nature, for your church, for my soul!
But when Immanuel assumed the name "Jesus," it is evident that there was some powerful principle in his heart. And what was that working principle, which brought him from heaven—to earth, from glory—into contempt, from unutterable bliss—into inconceivable sorrow?
It was LOVE! Love, the ruling attribute of his nature, the prominent feature of his character, the rule of his conduct towards his people. It was love which eternally existed in his bosom, fanned his heart, and directed his ways. Love which sat regent on the throne when he accepted our persons, undertook our cause, and engaged to bring us to glory; love which is not only as ancient as eternity—but as changeless as the nature of Jehovah; love which is omnipotent in its working, wise in its operations, and determined to fulfill its designs; love which passes knowledge.
It is a foundation of happiness, a river of pleasure, an ocean of delight. It was this sacred principle that led Jesus to our world, conducted him through all the stages of his work, and triumphed in his death over all its opposers.
Never think that it was merely human misery, or the doleful cries of suffering mortals—which brought Jesus to our world; for if these would move him, assuredly He would empty Hell itself!
It was not human misery—but divine love!
It was not man's cries—but his own glory, which brought Jehovah Jesus into suffering circumstances and a miserable condition. O the love! the depth of the love of Jesus!
His name then is Jesus—because He loves and saves all of His people! He is the Savior, the Only one. There is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we can be saved; neither is there salvation in any other. He is exclusively, "the Savior." He is an all-sufficient Savior, able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.
Reader! do you know Jesus as your Savior? Have you felt the constraining power of his love, the cleansing efficacy of his blood, the peaceable effects of his righteousness, applied? Have you ventured on him? If so, you have renounced all beside; all your own works, feelings and endeavors. You have left the land, trusting to this life-boat alone. You have said by your conduct, if not with your lips, "Sink or swim with Jesus." But if you have not renounced all for him, if you have not ventured on him, if you are not found relying simply and alone on him, Christ shall profit you nothing. It must be man's work entirely, or Jesus Christ's alone, the two never will unite. As well have nothing to do with Christ, if not building alone on Christ, as well have all to do with works, if you have anything to do with works in the matter of salvation. He shall save. And now, my soul, turn in upon yourself, and ask, Am I looking to Jesus, venturing on Jesus, and trusting in Jesus alone? Is it Christ, and Christ alone? Am I seeking to be pardoned through him, justified in him, and kept by him? If so, then am I blessed, blessed of the Lord who made heaven and earth; and in life I may rest assured, that my God will supply all my need, according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ; and in death I may say, by way of soliloquy, for my comfort
THE FAME OF JESUS
Yes, Jesus is indeed famous; his fame is spread through the ranks of angels, the hosts of devils, the carnal multitude, and especially in his church.
His love for poor sinners, and the grace displayed in his conduct toward them, entitles him to everlasting honor. How wondrous his love! When nothing else could procure their pardon—he freely gave his life! When he saw them naked—he labored to produce a garment to cover them! When no power but omnipotence could rescue them—he cheerfully stretched out his hand to deliver them, and snatched them as brands from the burning. He died for their redemption; arose to justify them; ascended to advocate their cause; rules heaven, earth, and hell for their advantage; and will come again to receive them to himself! For them he—bore sin, carried sorrow, endured temptation, suffered privation, languished under the wrath of God, combated Satan, entered the lists with death, descended into the gloomy cavern of the tomb, and arose as a mighty conqueror. O the love, the unparalleled love of Jesus!
But he is famed for his skill and generosity; he can heal all the diseases which sin has introduced into the body and soul of man; and as he can heal, he does, and heals all who apply to him, freely. He says to every sin-sick soul, who groans under a burden of sin, a guilty conscience, and apprehensions of divine wrath, "I will bring you health and cure; I will heal you of your wounds, and restore unto you the abundance of peace and truth." Jeremiah 33:6.
Well do I remember when I first went to him—as poor, as wretched, and as diseased as any poor soul possibly could be; I had long feared my case was hopeless; I thought no one was ever in such a condition, nor could I possibly expect deliverance; but I was directed to Jesus, and assured that he could heal me; at first I doubted his skill, and afterward I doubted his kindness—but at last driven to extremity, I applied to him. He seemed to refuse to notice me; no answer was given to my cries, no reply was made to my requests; but at length he turned and looked upon me, and O the love that beamed in his countenance, the majesty that shone round his person, the pity that floated in his eye, the tenderness that appeared in his looks—never can he described.
His appearance banished my fears, emboldened my soul, and put fresh life into my heart. My soul failed when he spoke, for his words conveyed pardon, healing, peace, and bliss divine. I felt in myself, that I was healed. His precious blood applied, cleansed my terrified conscience from guilt, proclaimed peace to my troubled soul, and assured me of acceptance with God. All my doubts vanished, the yoke of bondage was broken, the burden fell from the shoulders of my soul, because of the anointing. And now my tongue was loosed, and I spoke plainly; and it became my delight, my pleasure, my heaven, to sound forth the fame of Jesus; and from that day to this—I have endeavored, in one way and another, to send poor sick sinners to him; and never has he refused one, nor never will.
He is famed for his condescension; he visits the cottage of the poor, the dungeon where misery pines unseen, and the dunghill where a Christ-wanting soul is to be found. No heart is too vile, no sinner too mean, no wretch too base to expect a visit from him. Say, you children of my God, have you not found this to be the case? Do you not desire to sound abroad the honors of his name, and to make his praise glorious? Are you not with me exclaiming?
"Jesus, the name to sinners dear,
The name to sinners given,
It scatters all their guilty fear;
It turns their hell to heaven.
The fame of Jesus is increasing and everlasting; he is constantly raising up heralds to trumpet forth his fame; every vessel of mercy, sanctified and made fit for the Master's use, is a publisher of the fame of Jesus; every minister of the cross is more especially set apart for the work. O, how I long for the time when every city, town, village, and hamlet in our favored land, shall ring with the sound of the fame of Jesus! When ten thousand times ten thousand shall join to exalt him, praise him, and extol him in the highest possible degree!
O servants of my God, ever direct poor sinners to this all-healing, soul-saving, sin-purging, devil-confounding, mercy-manifesting Savior! Direct them to Jesus—not to self, not to trust in duties, not to rest in ordinances, not to look at graces; but to look to, trust in, and rest on Jesus, and on Jesus only; so shall you magnify your office, delight the Christ-loving soul, disappoint Satan, honor Jehovah the Father, please the Holy Spirit, and spread abroad the fame of Jesus.
And you who believe in his name, spread abroad the savor of the same in every place where you come; tell of the fame of Jesus, bear a personal testimony to his worth, skill, and kindness; and whenever you meet with a poor, convinced, distressed, despairing soul, speak in his praise; tell how he received you, how he revealed himself to you, and has delivered, comforted, and blessed you. Thus should all the heaven-born family aim and endeavor to sound his praise abroad, and celebrate his fame; and thus my soul do you always, and in every place, exalt your adorable Lord.
Real prayer is the going forth of the soul to the Lord to communicate its needs, wishes, and requests. It is making known our feelings, fears, and troubles, unto our God. It is pleading with our King for life, liberty, and blessedness. It is pleading with our Prophet to teach, instruct, and make us wise. It is pleading with our heavenly Father for food, sanctity, and peace. It is spreading our cares, exercises, and distresses, before a kind and beneficent Friend; and entreating him to give what he has promised, and do as he has said. It is committing ourselves and all our concerns into the hands of infinite wisdom and love, in the confidence of faith and hope. It is visiting the supreme object of our love—for fellowship, enjoyment, and satisfaction. It is calling for help from God—against sin, Satan, and the world. It is interceding with the great I AM, for ourselves, our families, the church, and the world. It is crying for help, asking for favors, and seeking admittance into the presence of the Most High God.
Prayer is a privilege unspeakably great—a duty of the first importance—a favor profitable and sweet. In prayer we confess our sins; plead the promises of God; reason from what the Lord has done; wrestle as for life or liberty; supplicate with earnestness and fervor; acknowledge the mercies received; and importune for new blessings.
Real prayer springs from a sense of need, a desire for grace, and a wish to glorify God. It is the effect of the Spirit's teaching, founded on the gracious revelation Jehovah has given of himself, and strengthened by the glorious promises of the gospel. Without the Holy Spirit we are graceless, and while graceless—we are prayerless. Without the perfect work of Jesus—we would never have received the gift of the Holy Spirit; and except the Father had been a God of infinite grace and mercy, Jesus had not been given, nor the foundation for prayer laid—thus we trace up our prayers to the infinite grace and goodwill of the Father, through the atonement of the Lord Jesus, by the teaching and operations of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit teaches us our wants, opens the promises to the mind, leads to the throne of grace, furnishes with energy and argument, and enables us to plead and prevail.
Spiritual prayer does wonders: it brings down Christ into the heart, opens heaven to the view, and fills us with joy and peace; it restrains our enemies, checks our opposers, and often secures us a victory; it prevents evils, procures blessings, and removes fear. It clears the judgment, fortifies the mind, and sanctifies the heart. It has defeated Satan, controlled men, and ruled the elements. It has stopped a lion's mouth, changed the nature of fire, and made the sea part asunder. It has procured food for the appetite, clothes for the back, and an habitation for the houseless. It has obtained promises, brought down blessings, and changed an Esau's heart. It has opened the prison doors, struck enemies blind, and made ravens feed a prophet. It has made a dungeon delightful, the rattling of chains musical, and the most painful death desirable. It has conquered kings, employed angels, and frustrated the designs of devils. It brought Joseph from the dungeon—Israel out of Egypt—and Pharaoh into the Red Sea. It discomfitted Amalek, brought manna from heaven, and water out of a flinty rock. It nailed Sisera to the ground, raised up Samson to deliver Israel, and made Gilead's fleece both wet and dry.
Prayer will make a miserable man happy, set a bond-man free, and procure a pardon for the guilty and condemned. It eases the mind, relieves the soul, and liberates the spirit. It engages God as our ally, holds the hands of omnipotence, and brings oyer the Captain of salvation to our side. It has power with God and with men, and prevails.
But prayer is confined to this world—Now is the season for prayer; now the throne of grace is accessible; now the intercessor stands before the throne; now our God says, "Prove Me;" now the promise runs, "Whatever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive."
In heaven—there will be no sin to confess, no sorrow to pain, no enemies to oppose, no needs to urge, no desires unsatisfied; there will be joy, peace, and praise, in perfection, and forever—but no prayer. And in hell all will be gloom, misery, and hopeless despair; sinners will curse themselves, their God, and their doom, and will look upwards—but there will be no prayer there. Prayer is now offered up in private, in public, and in the social circle; in different places, under different circumstances—but all on earth. In heaven they have nothing to pray for; and in hell they have no ground of hope—all is pain, enmity, and horror.
The prayers of believers are spiritual, fervent, and prevalent. They arise in the heart, carry with them the affections, and prevail with God. Their prayers are often painful, urgent, and mingled with desponding feelings: at other times they are sweet, pleasant, and ascend on the wings of full assurance: at all times they are needful, profitable, and required; and, if spiritual, are at all times heard, approved, and answered.
Opposed to praying—is complaining to man, murmuring against God, and indulging in self-pity and pride. Self-dependence generates stupidity; stupidity leads to the neglect of prayer; the neglect of prayer issues in hardness, doubt, and a long train of evils. The man who seldom prays, is sure to be weak in faith, and lukewarm in his profession of Christ. Only men of prayer are found to be diligent, devoted, and useful members of the church; our public actions are greatly influenced by our private devotions.
Prayer is, in the holy scriptures, compared:
to emptying a vessel, "pour out your hearts before him;"
to the cry of a child to its parent, "then shall you cry unto me;"
to the smoke of the incense in the tabernacle, "let my prayers come up before you as incense;"
to the lifting up of the hands, "I will lift up my hands toward your holy oracle;"
to the holding of the hands of another, "let me alone, or unhand me;"
to wrestling, "there a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day;"
to flying, "I flee unto you to hide me;"
to calling for help, "call upon me in the day of trouble;"
to knocking at the door of mercy, "knock, and it shall be opened unto you."
The Lord testifies his approval of prayer in many ways in his word. He says the prayer of the upright is his delight. He tells his church that "her voice is sweet," her "lips drop as the honey-comb," and assures her that he "will hear her cry and will save her."
Do we believe that prayer is powerful, profitable, and pleasant to God? What do our closets say? Do we come to prayer as the hungry man to his food, as the miser to count over his gold, or as the bride for fellowship with her beloved bridegroom? Or have we neglected this privilege, lightly esteemed this duty, and thus grieved and vexed the Holy Spirit? Beloved let us attend to his intimations; stir up ourselves to take hold on God; and plead in prayer—for ourselves, our families, and our churches, until we prevail. Our God hears prayer—delights in prayer—will answer prayer. Let us ask for great things in the name of Jesus, and expect what we ask because he is faithful who has promised. May the Lord pour out a spirit of earnest, importunate, believing prayer, upon his church, and upon every one who reads these lines. Amen.
Prayer is the breath of God in man,
Returning whence it came;
Love is the sacred fire within,
And prayer the rising flame.
The prayers and praises of the saints,
Like precious odors sweet,
Ascend and spread a rich perfume
Around the mercy-seat.
When God inclines the heart to pray,
He has an ear to hear;
To him there's music in a groan,
And beauty in a tear.
The humble suppliant cannot fail
To have his wants supplied,
Since He for sinners intercedes,
Who once for sinners died!
True praise includes—a grateful acknowledgment of mercies—glorifying God for his goodness—and a celebrating the excellencies of Jehovah with thankfulness. In praise we confess ourselves unworthy, indebted, and laid under great obligation for kindness manifested; we adore the author, acknowledge that we received the favor, and give thanks with gratitude for the same. Our relation to God as creatures, calls for praise; as sinful creatures, spared, protected, and supplied, more; as new creatures, ransomed by the blood of Jesus, still more; but as new creatures, adopted into God's family, indulged with communion with Himself, blessed with all spiritual blessings, appointed to reign with him, and everlastingly enjoy him, most of all.
Yet so hard, so blind, so ungrateful, are our hearts, that unless the Holy Spirit works in us, and produces gratitude—we do not praise. We forget, we neglect, we lack the fire necessary to offer up such a sacrifice. A sense of our desert, a discovery of our Father's love, the enjoyment of the Savior's presence, the reception of some unexpected blessing, or the secret operations of the blessed Comforter, will set us praising. But without these we are generally dull, cold and negligent.
Praising God elevates the soul, softens the spirit, and makes the frame of the mind heavenly; it produces a sacred satisfaction, imparts indescribable pleasure, and is a preventative to many evils. It brings us near to the Lord, divorces the spirit from the world, and leads up the affections to things above. Praise is commenced on earth—but will appear in full perfection in heaven. It well befits the Christian in his present state of existence; when he considers his obligations, he sees that he should have begun praising—when he began breathing; and have continued doing so ever since.
But though it becomes us below, and is commenced on earth, yet heaven is more particularly the place of praise; this is one of the principal employments of the spirits of the just men made perfect. Here on earth, we find many things to hinder, interrupt, or prevent us; but there in heaven, all is calculated to assist us in the delightful employment! There sin is completely and forever purged away, Satan is absent, the world is left behind, the body of sin and death no longer clogs us, ungrateful principles are forever eradicated from our natures; and the songs of angels, the presence of God, and immortal life, will incite and impel us. The beauty of the place, the excellency of the company, the happiness which abounds—will all conspire to constrain us to praise the holy Three In One forever.
The praises of a Christian should be spiritual; a natural man may make a natural acknowledgment—but a spiritual man must offer a spiritual sacrifice. This was a part of the design of God in our regeneration, as it is written, "This people I have formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise." This is the design of God in our deliverance from guilt, bondage, and slavish fears; then Jesus gives "the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." This is the command of God, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; and laud him all you people."
Our praises should be lively and vigorous; not dull and sleepy. How often may the Lord say in reference to our praises, "Would you offer this unto your king? "God's mercies come to us flying—but our praises scarcely creep! How very unbecoming are dull, sleepy, heavy praises; if such exercises may be called praises at all.
Our praises should be free-will offerings: "not by constraint—but willingly, of a ready mind,"—is a good rule respecting praise. A forced sacrifice is not acceptable to God; every man must voluntarily bring his offering, lay his hand upon it, and so deliver it unto the Priest. My soul, seek grace from your God, that you may "offer the sacrifice of praise continually, which is the fruit of the lips, giving thanks to his name!"
Our praises should be with delight; not only the understanding and the will should be engaged—but the affections also. The heart is the censer, grace is the incense, joy is the fire, and praise is the flame that ascends to our God. The heart is the lamp, grace is the oil, joy is the wick, and praise is the light which the real Christian gives. And while he burns, to God's glory he sings, "Thus will I bless you while I live, and praise your name forever and ever."
Praise must be sincere. Lip-labor can never be accepted. The heart must be affected with a sense of God's mercies, our own desert, and the love manifested in those mercies, before we can truly, sincerely, and gratefully praise God.
Our praises should be humble—the head should be hidden while the praise is ascending. It is not the honest tradesman paying his debts—but the poor beggar returning thanks for undeserved kindness. Humility generates praise; and praise increases humility. The humble Christian will be thankful, and the thankful Christian will never lack. The believer who is much in praise—he will be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. God calls for praises, the Spirit teaches thankfulness, and our adorable Savior loves to present our grateful acknowledgments.
Our praises should be constant—this is one of "the things of the Spirit" which we should "mind:" Romans 8:5. When is it that we have no reason to praise? When can we say, "I have nothing to praise for?" It is in God that we live, move, and have our being.
"To Him every mercy we owe
Above what the fiends have in hell!"
Our life, our health, our breath, our freedom from pain, our clothing, our home, our friends, our relations, our food, our civil and religious privileges, the light we enjoy, and ten thousand other mercies combine to call for constant praises. Therefore, said the apostle, "In everything give thanks." But if from temporals—we turn our eye to spirituals, and think of eternal love—redemption by precious blood—regeneration by the Holy Spirit—liberty through the gospel—joy and peace in believing—promises to comfort—invitations to draw—doctrines to support—warnings to caution—exhortations to quicken—and the sweet experience of God's presence in the heart; then indeed, we see cause to say, "O Lord, I will praise you! I will exalt you! I will extol you, my God, O King, and praise your name forever and ever!"
But in order to praise aright—we need grace from God to influence, direct and sanctify our service. Praise is compared to a sacrifice, "Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually:" Hebrews 13:15. To a garment which should appear on us continually, Isaiah 61:3. To the springing up of a plant from the nourishment received, bespeaking the fruitfulness of the soil in which it grows, Isaiah 61:11.
Praise is the opposite to ingratitude, carelessness, and hardness of heart: it is contrary to pride, self-sufficiency, and self-importance: it is opposed to murmuring, discontent, and self-complacency.
Respecting praise, God says, "He who offers praise—glorifies me!" "One generation shall praise his works unto another, and declare his mighty acts!" Psalm 145:4. "From the rising of the sun, unto the going down of the same, the Lord's name is to be praised!" Psalm 113:3.
And now, reader, may we not well cry unto the Lord that he would reveal to us more clearly—the nature, importance, and excellence of this duty; that he would give us to taste the sweetness of it, and abound in the exercise of it more and more. Ought we not to lament that we have thought so little of what God thinks so much; and mourn over our backwardness to praise and magnify his glorious name. O! for more heavenly-mindedness, more gratitude of heart; and may the Lord open our mouths, that our lips may show forth his praise! We have not rendered back, according to that which the Lord has done for us; we have been unmindful of his favors, and our memories have been the grave-yards of his mercies. May the Lord pardon his servants in this thing, and give us true repentance and his Holy Spirit. Amen.
THE CHILDREN OF GOD
It is the honor and happiness of some to be thus related to the Lord; "born again not of corruptible seed—but of incorruptible, which lives and abides forever." The Holy Spirit quickens them to feel their malady and misery, and enlightens them to see their danger and desert: he leads them to confess their sin, cry for mercy, plead for pardon, and loathe themselves. They look unto the Lord, as directed in his holy word: they wait upon him, as encouraged by his faithful servants; and, at length, they receive the Holy Spirit as a Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, "Abba, Father!"
They discover their saving interest in his love, their title to his promises, their right to the provision he has made for his family; and they love him, revere him, adore him, and obey him. His word becomes the man of their counsel, his throne their beloved resort, his people their chosen companions, and his ordinances their delight. The things of time lose their charms, and the things of eternity become all-important. They become dead to the world, and alive unto God; they live by faith, follow on to know the Lord, and walk in the foot-steps of the flock. Sin they hate, holiness they love. A conflict between the flesh and the Spirit they feel, and are often distressed by the hardness, carelessness, and indifference of their minds.
They want to be all light, all love, all joy, and all obedience. The Lord's children are not what they wish to be—but they cannot be what they used to be. Sin plagues them, Satan distresses them, the world tries them, and at times the Lord hides his face from them. Love makes them uneasy when at a distance from the Lord; and an enlightened, sanctified conscience condemns them when they indulge any sin. They admire and wonder at Jehovah's love, depend upon free grace, rest upon the atonement, walk by Bible rules, and surrender themselves entirely to God. Christ is the object of their faith, the subject of their meditation, and the source of their happiness. They are jealous of the Lord's glory, zealous for the extension of his cause, and devoted to his fear. They distrust themselves, and trust alone in the Lord. They want to be always near him, to find him in every ordinance, and enjoy him in every spiritual exercise. Jesus is the light of their eyes, the joy of their hearts, and the rock of their hope.
They are distinct from the world, though living in the world. Unknown and yet well known. Hidden from men in general, who know them not; but manifest to God, who loves them, visits them, and rejoices over them. They are often deeply afflicted—but never for a moment neglected. They are often sorely tempted—but safely protected. Everything at times seems against them—but all is in reality for them, and must work their good. Almighty God watches over them, angels minister to them, devils tremble before them, and heaven is waiting to receive them. The fullness of Christ is intended to supply them, a special providence is over them, and all things are given to them. Things present and things to come are theirs. Every attribute in the divine nature, every letter in Jehovah's name, and every promise in God's book—stand engaged to make them blessed. Their names are in the book of life, their persons are in the Redeemer's hands, and their life is hid with Christ in God. They are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord now invites them to the throne of grace, and promises to raise them to the throne of glory. Death for them is unstung, and is changed into a friend. The grave is perfumed, and called a bed of rest. And Jesus has pledged himself to come and receive them unto himself. Christ and they are in vital and eternal union. Immortality is their portion, and eternity the duration of their happiness. They live for Jesus on earth, who lives for them in heaven. They represent him below, he represents them above. They wear his name, his righteousness, and his honors. They possess his nature, his Spirit, and his likeness. Identified with him, they will be glorified together.
Jesus is their present and unchangeable friend; his pity and power secure them at all times. Pity reigns in his heart, and he employs his power to protect, preserve, and keep them. He will not fail them nor ever forsake them—all his goodness shall pass before them, he gives his glory to them, and will be eternally glorified in them.
Happy are the people who are in such a case, yes, blessed are the people who are the children of God. They are safe now, they shall be happy forever. It befits them to be humble—for grace alone distinguished them thus. It befits them to be grateful—for many as good as they are left. It befits them to be dutiful—for their obligations are infinite. It befits them to seek in all things the Lord's glory, who has thus secured their salvation and endless happiness.
But there is another family, the children of the devil. To one or the other of these we must belong. Satan's children possess his spirit, imitate his conduct, walk by his rules, and are led by him at his will. He dwells in them, rules over them, deceives and deludes them, and will eternally torment them. This is the epitome of wretchedness, and the source of misery and distress. Ask, to which family do I belong? Whose image do I bear? Whose spirit do I breathe? Whose conduct do I imitate?
"Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more!" 1 Thessalonians 4:1
My mind is struck with the idea. I ask, "Is it possible for a sinner to do anything that will please God?" The reply is, No, not considered simply as a sinner; for those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But if the sinner has received Christ; if he is a believer in Christ for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; if he has put on Christ, and realized acceptance in the beloved—then he can please God. Being sanctified by the Holy Spirit; having his heart sprinkled from an evil conscience; looking to Jesus alone for peace, acceptance, and salvation—he can now glorify God in his body and spirit, which are God's.
O delightful idea, to please God! that God whom I had offended, whose law cursed me, whose justice once condemned me, whose wrath was once feared by me; to please him—and for him to take pleasure in me—is truly delightful. Yes, for this purpose he redeemed me by the blood of his Son, taught me by his gracious Spirit, and led me into liberty and peace. That I might please him—he called me his child, gave me the Spirit of adoption, and blessed me with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. And I do find that when grace is in exercise in my soul, nothing appears more desirable, nothing more sweet and pleasant, than having the opportunity and ability to please God.
God is pleased with the secret, heartfelt, fervent prayers of his people. The eye of divine compassion lingers with delight over the closet, the barn, or the chamber, where the Christian enters to pour out his soul before God. The secrecy honors his divine omniscience, the silence his omnipresence, the emptiness his mercy, the sense of unworthiness his grace, the plea his justice, the confidence his faithfulness, and the act as a whole, his paternal character and infinite love. The empty-handed, Jesus-pleading, resolute petitioner at God's throne—pleases him! No angel's harp yields such music, or ministers such delight.
So also the feeble praises we present, he has condescended to assure us they glorify him; he comes and makes a home of them he is so well pleased with them; hence the Psalmist addresses him, "O you who inhabits the praises of Israel." As the Shechinah-glory over the Mercy seat was enveloped in the smoke of the burning incense, so our God loves to be surrounded with the heartfelt praises of his people. O let us call upon him often, and praise him always, for thereby we please him.
We are mistaken if we think prayer or praise is only for ourselves; prayer and praise please our God, and bring down blessings on our souls.
Holy consistent walking in the world, in the family, and the church of God, is well pleasing in his sight: when the Christian is clothed with humility, ornamented with a meek and quiet spirit, filled with faith in Christ and his word, with love to God, his people, and poor sinners, and aims at the glory of God and the good of souls in all it undertakes, it pleases God; and this should be our ardent desire and constant aim.
There is nothing which Jesus has commanded his disciples—but it is pleasing to God, when attended to in a loving spirit, from gospel motives, and with a laudable design.
In baptism the believer pleases God; he comes forth and professes before the world and the church that he is building on Christ alone for salvation: that he has renounced self, the world, and the service of sin; that Christ is his all in all; that he desires to honor him as his priest—by relying on his perfect atonement; as his prophet—by receiving his instructions, and approving his command; as his king—by walking in his ways and observing all his statutes. He professes he looks to Jesus alone for salvation, and yet holds himself under grateful obligation to obey.
So also in the supper of the Lord, he meets the holy family at his Lord's command, in order to observe his precept and do his will; he there looks to Jesus, remembers the garden where he agonized and sweat blood, and the cross where he languished and died. He blesses the Father for his gift, Jesus for his condescending love and vicarious sufferings, and the Holy Comforter for the revelation of the facts in the word and to the heart.
So in all the Christian does—he may please God; in his meditations, plans, purposes, and actions; and in all he should study how he may please the Lord.
When the believer aims at pleasing God—then he is most likely to be pleased with God. It is an solemn fact—but a fact it is, that the Lord's own family are often displeased with him in his dealings with them. Perhaps there is no one person with whom we are so often offended as the Lord. He has managed the world for nearly 6000 years, and yet his people often feel, and talk as though it was but badly managed; the dispensations of his providence in every age, have produced and secured the welfare of all his saints, and yet they often complain as though all things were against them.
We often find believers whom God has in mercy bereaved, or stripped of their idols, making it manifest that they find it very hard to forgive the Lord for what he has done. The Lord's ways never so well please us—as when we aim in all things to please him. Jesus pleased him always and in all things, and he was pleased with his Father, kept his commandments and abode in his love, though his lot was the hardest that was ever endured. When we seek to please God in all things—then we are most likely to please ourselves; we often find this a difficult matter, and so sure as we aim at it we shall miss the mark. We are not pleased with our prayers, our praises, our graces, our lot, or anything we do; and it is generally going ill with us, if we are. But if we sought simply to please God more—we would look at self and our own things less; we should mourn over failings, grieve at short-comings, and seek grace, that we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
A true Christian never can please or satisfy himself—but only as he pleases God. If we sought only to please God—we would doubtless please God's spiritual people more. How often do we grieve, vex, and displease members of the heaven-born family; and why? Very frequently it is because we are so unlovely in our tempers, ways, and deportment; so little like Jesus, so much like the world. But if pleasing God was our constant object—we would be much with God, and be often beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and become changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord. Like Moses coming from the mount, our faces would shine; or like Paul coming from the third heaven, we should, in the same sense as he did, please all men in all things.
Never are the Lord's right-minded saints so pleased with other saints, as when they discover by their spirits, actions, and aim, that they are endeavoring to please God. And we must not forget that it is written, When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7. When we aim in all things to please God, we shall be able to make allowance for the feebleness and infirmities of others. We shall be less severe in our censures, more charitable in our spirits, and more condescending in our manner. The bitterness and uncharitableness of spirit in Christians often originates in mistaken views, supposed superiority, and aiming at a wrong end: if we only sought to please God, there would be more love, forbearance, and compassion among us.
Paul beseeches us by the Lord Jesus to walk so as to please God, and abound therein more and more. As if he had said, If you have any love for that Jesus who laid aside his glory, assumed your nature, suffered your desert, obtained your release at the expense of bitter privations, dreadful agonies, and inconceivable sufferings, and who now pleads your cause at the right hand of the Father—then so walk as to please God. If you have any reverence for his authority whom the Father has highly exalted, and to whom is given a name above every name, who rules over heaven, earth, and hell, and seeks your welfare in all—then so walk as to please God. If you have any concern for his glory who took so deep an interest in your eternal welfare, that he considered no sufferings too great, no shame too much, no burden too heavy to be endured, or borne for your relief—then walk so as to please God. If there is any savor in his name, any power in his love, any respect for his word, any desire for his approbation—then walk so as to please God. You have the rule in his word to direct you; you have the motive in his love to influence you; you have the encouragement in his promise to incite you; you have the happiness that flows from his gracious presence and smile to allure you—O then walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, abounding in every good work.
Can we consider this subject—without feeling reproved? Can we look back upon our lives without grief and regret? Can we look from the subject—to the cross or the throne, without ardent desire and earnest prayer, that our God would pour upon us such a measure of his grace, and so much of his Spirit, as shall not only enable—but constrain us to walk so as to please God? Surely not, if we are under divine teaching, or are partakers of the grace of God. Never let us expect permanent peace, holy joy, or solid and lasting satisfaction, unless brought to walk, habitually to walk, so as to please God. And let us remember that for this purpose we were chosen in Christ, put among his children, redeemed by the invaluable blood of the Lamb, blessed with the Gospel, visited by the Spirit, and are continued in the world. And let us also bear in mind that the Lord is not pleased with anything of ours because there is any inherent excellence in it, or because it adds anything to him; this cannot be the case: but as the parent is pleased with the acts of of the child, because he is a child, and an object of complacency and love; and because what he does springs from love, is done because commanded, and with a desire to please: so our heavenly Father is pleased with the imperfect actings of his children when they aim at his glory, out of love to him as their God, and because he has commanded them so to act in his holy word. He views their persons in Christ, and accepts and testifies his approbation of their actions, as they come up before him perfumed with the incense of the dear Redeemer's merits. My brethren in the Lord, may we be enabled constantly to aim at pleasing God in all we do, and never consider that we have arrived at this sufficiently—but seek to abound therein more and more. Amen.
The Person and Work of Christ
What a wonderful person is my glorious Lord! One with Jehovah the Father—and one with me; possessing all that is peculiar to Godhead—and all that is essential to manhood. Equal with the Father, having attribute for attribute, perfection for perfection; like unto me. Having a spotless human soul, and a perfect human body. All the divine attributes, and all the essential properties of our nature, are found in him; and as possessing both natures in one person, he is Jesus—the Savior; Immanuel—God with us.
He brings down the perfections of God to bless me—and takes up my needs to God to supply them. In consequence of my relation to Jesus, and his oneness with me—I am exalted, dignified, and blessed beyond conception or degree. As there are no limits to his fullness, there can be no limit to my supplies, or the least prospect of need. God is in Christ, and I am in Christ; here we meet and agree, and mutually bless each other—he by communicating blessings; I by ascribing blessedness to him. In consequence of this connection I may rejoice—I ought to be confident, and proceed on my journey in peace. What should alarm me? Why should I doubt?
Jesus is my Savior, and that Jesus is God; and by reason of this relation, divine wisdom is employed to direct me.
Jesus is my divine Savior!
His bounty will supply me,
His omnipotence will deliver me,
His omnipresence will protect me,
His omniscience will guard me,
His love will animate me,
His mercy will heal me,
His grace will support me,
His compassion will comfort me,
His pity will relieve me,
His goodness will provide for me,
His tenderness will soothe me,
His kindness will encourage me,
His patience will bear with me,
His justice will avenge me,
His faithfulness will embolden me,
His holiness will beautify me,
His anger will awe me,
His life will quicken me,
His light will illumine me,
His Word will regulate me,
His joy will delight me,
His blessedness will elevate me,
His long-suffering will lead me to repentance,
His immutability will secure the fulfillment of all the promises to me,
His truth will be my shield and buckler,
His sovereignty will raise my admiration,
His condescension will inspire me with gratitude and love,
and His all-sufficiency will satisfy me both in time and eternity!
In Jesus, God has reconciled me to himself, imputing my trespasses to him—and his obedience to me. God came down to me in Jesus, and takes me up into union with himself in Christ. God by Jesus takes away all my sins, his own wrath, and deserved condemnation; and brings me into a state of friendship, peace, and blessedness. All good things are treasured up in Christ, were procured for me by Christ, flow to me through Christ, and are conferred on me for the sake of Christ!
The Father's eye is fixed on Jesus, I am viewed as one with Jesus, loved with the same love as Jesus, and destined to be forever like Jesus! How great is this mystery! How wonderful the person of Christ! God and man! the God-man! my Savior!
How exactly suited is the Lord Jesus to my case! Inflexible justice demands my blood–He becomes my substitute, and spills His own!
Infinite justice demands an infinite satisfaction, or it cannot acquit me—and by virtue of his divinity, he can and will give it; his blood is the blood of God, and his righteousness is the righteousness of God. As man, he was adapted to make the required atonement; as God, he was sufficient; and as God-man, he "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Suffering was required—and as man he suffered; satisfaction through suffering was demanded—and as God he satisfied. He brought the dignity and wealth of divinity—to give worth and efficacy to the sufferings and death of his humanity; and by so doing, satisfied justice, honored the law, and procured the deliverance of his captive bride.
He took humanity, that in the sinning nature he might suffer and satisfy; he possessed divinity, or he could never have paid down the ransom demanded. The life of his manhood was the price he gave—but it was his divinity which gave it worth, and merited our discharge! He suffered as man, he merited as God-man; he died as man—but as God-man he made atonement for our sins; and as God-man he sits on his Father's throne, rules the world, effectually calls his ransomed ones, preserves his called ones, and will come to, and take possession of, the purchased inheritance, to the praise of his glory! Ephes. 1:14.
His holy humanity endured the wrath divine, his Godhead appeased and removed it; on his manhood the curse alighted, by his Godhead it was taken out of the way; the fire of wrath was kindled in his humanity—but by his Godhead it was extinguished forever.
As touching his humanity, he was made under the law, as God he was always above it; as God-man he fulfilled, honored, and satisfied it; his manhood did the work, and as God he made it over to me. He made reconciliation in the flesh—but it was effected by the indwelling divinity. As God, he knew what was required for my deliverance, and as man he restored that which he took not away. As God, he knew my needs, and as God-man he provided for them all. His ability was in his Godhead, his suitability was in his manhood; and the union of both the natures in one person rendered his work acceptable. His humanity was in the form of a servant—his divinity was in the form of God. His complex person was peculiar to himself; as a servant he wrought, as God he procured, and as God-man he applies. He could engage because he was God; he could do, suffer and die, because he was man; and by doing, suffering, and dying, he could save because he was God-man.
His engagements bespeak his antiquity, his coming into our world attests his faithfulness, and his return to his Father proves the perfection of his work. His engagement was the proof his greatness, his procuring salvation was the effect of his engagement, and both engagement and salvation the result of his love.
The application of the blessings he procured—flows from his merit, and his merit from his official character; his official character is founded in his Sonship, and his Sonship in the will of God. He was God eternally; he became a Son; as a Son—a substitute; as a substitute—a sufferer; and as a sufferer—a Savior! His person is the foundation of his office, his office is the basis of his merit, and his merit the ground of his people's deliverance. Without his personality as God, and his fitness as man, he could not have been in office; except in office by the appointment of the Father, his work would not have been acceptable. And had not his work been acceptable, his body had never risen from the grave; and if he had not risen and ascended, the Spirit had never come—and so all had been in vain! The office without divinity would have been useless, for his work must have been unsuccessful; divinity without humanity would have been lacking in fitness, and both would have been inefficient without an office. But now—all is harmonious, delightful, and complete!
His engagement secured his merit, his merit secured the agency of the Holy Spirit and the office of the Holy Spirit secures the application of merited blessings.
1. He engaged in unknown glory, John 17:5.
2. He merited on the cross in shame, Hebrews 12:2.
3. He applies on the throne in majesty, Hebrews 1:3.
The first bespeaks his ancient glory;
the second his dishonoring connection; and
the third, his merited triumphs and deserved splendor.
The first was with infinite pleasure;
the second, with unutterable sorrow; and
the third, with peculiar joy and delight. Isaiah 62:4, 5.
The first was of grace, 2 Corinthians 8:9;
the second, through substitution, Ephesians 5:25;
and the third, by invincible power.
In Jesus, I see my sin—and God's justice meet!
He removes the one, and satisfies the other! Here the riches of eternity and the poverty of time are brought into connection—Godhead and manhood united and agreed.
Being reconciled to God by Jesus, Jehovah quickened me together with Christ, having forgiven me all trespasses; Col. 2:13. He passed the act of indemnity in Christ, and then quickened me to live with Jesus; he made my state blessed, and then gave me light to see it, and life to feel it. "Much more, then, being justified by his blood, I shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when I was an enemy, 1 was reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, I shall be saved by his life:" Romans 5:9, 10.
How wise! How holy! How wonderful this plan! O the riches of grace! O the wonders of redeeming love!
But what is Jesus called in God's holy Word?
A Savior—in reference to my lost condition.
A Reconciler—in reference to the enmity that existed between myself and God.
A Redeemer—in reference to my slavery.
A Mediator—in respect to the disagreement between myself and the Most High God.
A Refiner—with respect to my filthiness.
An Advocate—with regard to my perplexed cause.
A Prophet—in respect to my ignorance.
A Priest—with a view to my guiltiness.
A King—in regard to my weakness and foes.
A Bridegroom—regarding my lowly estate and social nature.
A Physician—with regard to my many soul maladies.
In a word, Jesus is "All In All."
O to know more of Jesus, in the glory of his person, the riches of his grace, the perfection of his work, the tenderness of his heart, the strength of his love and the effectual working of his power!
Reader, do You Know this Savior? Do you know him so as to love his name, confide in his word, and depend on his work alone for salvation? Is he to you the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely One? Have you committed your soul into his hands, consecrated your entire person to his service, and do you love to hear him exalted and commended to all around?
He is the only Savior. He can save to the very uttermost, and he will save all who come to him as sinners, and rely on his blood alone? Have you fled for refuge to his cross, and there found salvation? If not, then go now. You need no recommendation, he invites you, he calls to you, and he will never cast you out.
"The axe is laid to the root of the trees."
"God now commands all men everywhere to repent."
"God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins."
"Repent, therefore, and be converted—that your sins may be blotted out."
All over glorious is my Lord;
Must be beloved and yet adored;
His worth if all the nations knew,
Sure the whole earth would love him too!
Then Asa cried to the Lord his God and said, "Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!" 2 Chronicles 14:11
"Then Asa cried to the Lord his God and said,"
Here is, first, a discovery of covenant interest. It was his God, not only the God of Israel, or of his fathers—but his own God. The God whom he knew, loved, and worshiped. The God whom he trusted, believed, and adored. His God, who had invited him to approach him in trouble, who had promised to hear prayer put up in distress, who stood engaged to answer. His God, whom he had proved on former occasions, and whose mighty acts he had read with pleasure and joy. His God, who conquered Egypt, divided the sea, led his people through the wilderness, and planted them in the promised land. His God, who raised him to the throne, gave him his law to direct him, his prophets to encourage him, and his priests to officiate for him. His God, who had given him faith in his word, love to his cause, and hope in his mercy.
Here is, secondly, the improvement of covenant interest in a time of trouble."Then Asa cried to the Lord his God and said," To whom should he cry when wronged—but to the great Avenger; to whom should he cry for support—but to his God and friend; to whom should he cry for salvation—but to his great Deliverer? "He cried," not to man, mark his wisdom; "to the Lord," see his faith. It is the work of true and living faith, to lead the perplexed, tried, and troubled Christian to the Lord in every time of trouble. "Nature to nature leads—but grace to God directs." Carnal reason would lean on Egypt, or rely on Ethiopia; but
"Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
And trusts in God alone;
Laughs at impossibilities,
And says it shall be done."
"Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty." All things are alike easy to omnipotence; faith sees this—and the Lord the Holy Spirit leads us in troubles, peculiar troubles, to plead it.
What are enemies—to the Lord? What are instruments? Or what is human power? This, this is the work of faith, to survey, and to look beyond all, simply to the Lord, "to whom nothing is strong, nothing is mighty." His almighty word confounds the devices of the crafty, blasts the deep-laid schemes of enemies, loosens the loins of kings, and makes armies melt away as snow when the sun arises. Before his word difficulties vanish, obstacles remove, and apparently insurmountable barriers fly away like a frightened bird. Every hill is leveled, each mountain becomes a plain, and the mighty ocean becomes solid ground.
All things are possible, yes, easy to him with whom we have to do; to whom we pray; and in prayer it becomes us to view omnipotent power, infinite wisdom, and eternal love—as ready to make us blessed. Let us not, then, look at human weakness or power, at numbers either great or small, at probabilities or improbabilities—but simply to the Lord, who says, "Call upon me in the day of trouble—I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me."
"Help us, O Lord our God!" Never is deliverance nearer, or more certain, than when we despair of help from self, or from any creature—and expect it only from the Lord. Herein is the Lord honored, flesh mortified, faith exercised, and an opportunity offered for omnipotence to display itself on our behalf. But did ever any self-despairing soul cry to the Lord for help in vain? Never! Rather shall heaven and earth pass away, than God falsify his word, or turn a deaf ear to the cry of his people in want, trouble, or distress. "I will deliver." Here Jehovah stands pledged; here we see the praying soul secured.
"For we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude." Here is the mighty, the irresistible argument, "We rest on you." The love, the faithfulness, the promise, the omnipotence of God, form . . .
a rock on which the believer can rest with safety;
a fortress to which he can repair with confidence;
a defense in which he can trust, though earth and hell assail him.
When by faith we rely, depend, or "rest" on the Lord, the cause becomes his—it is transferred from us; and his honor, his glory, his praise, bind him to effect our deliverance.
"We rest on you." Here is our safety, here is our consolation, here is our bliss! We have God—a covenant God, who is engaged to fight our battles, supply our needs, shield our persons, and save our souls! And not ours only—but all who believe on him, trust in him, and call upon him. O blessed security! O glorious privilege! O the wonders of the grace of God!
Here is a worm—defended by the Lord Almighty!
Here is a shaking leaf—supported by the upholder of the world!
Here is a poor, worthless, and erring mortal—delivered by the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity!
O the blessedness of the believing soul! Gracious, gracious God! give us to rest on you!
"In Your name we go against this multitude." In this we shelter, on this we trust; this is our armor of defense. It is not to be Asa's valor, nor Israel's courage—but the Lord's name! If we conquer—You have the praise; if we are ruined—your name will suffer. We depend, we trust, we rely on this alone; and if it is not sufficient, our enemies will overcome us. But God will uphold the honor of his great name. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runs into it and are safe."
"Do not let man prevail against You!" When once we have put our cause into the Lord's hand by faith, it is no more ours—but his. He accepts it when man resigns it—and we resign it, when we rest in him. As the child rests on its parent's wisdom, love, and power; as the client rests on his attorney's counsel; as the monarch rests on his armies, so does the believer rest on his God, and says,
"No other stay have I beside;
If this can alter, I must fall."
And now it is, "Do not let man prevail against You!" The Christian, and the Savior on whom he rests—are one; their cause, their interest, their security one; and because Jesus lives, he shall live also. O how blessed it is when we can see our persons one with Jesus' person, our cause one with his, our concerns identified with his; to find ourselves rooted in Christ, built up in him, and to be assured that our God will give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. May you thus pray, thus rest, and thus argue—and you shall thus conquer every foe!
The Elect of God
"For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight." Ephesians 1:4
How surprising the grace, how astonishing the fact—that sinners, enemies to God, and children of wrath—should be elect of God! It appears too good to be true, and I find it hard to believe . . .
that such a poor, vile, worthless sinner as I am—arrested the attention, engaged the thoughts, and filled the mind of Jehovah from everlasting;
that his eye, his heart, and his purpose were fixed upon me before time began;
that he chose me in Christ, before he spoke the world into existence, or manifested his creating power;
that he chose me in the foreview of all that I would be, and do, as a vile rebellious creature;
that he chose me to be holy, blameless, and happy, in and through Jesus my beloved Lord.
O the wonders of electing grace! Here it shines forth in its glory, purity, and sovereignty. Here it works, opposes, and triumphs; works in the sinner, opposes his sins and foes, and triumphs over all. Great is the mystery, and glorious the scheme. Elect sinners are separated from the mass of sinners, united to a living, life-giving head, and delivered from wrath through him!
Chosen in Christ that we might know him, love him, worship him, and enjoy him!
Chosen in Christ that we may openly profess him, obediently follow him, boast of him, and triumph in him!
Chosen in Christ to be conformed to him, be inhabited by him, and clothed with him!
Chosen in Christ to wear his name, bear his cross, defend his gospel, and glorify him!
Chosen in Christ to stand before him, being related to him, and share with him in the glory which the Father has given him.
And can all this be true of one like me? Yes, true of just such ones as you! Turn to the unerring pages and you will read of the elect of God groaning under a body of sin, crying day and night to God, seeking to do good and finding evil present with them. They were tempted as you are—afflicted as you are—crossed as you are—and felt themselves to be as wretched as you are.
Jehovah having chosen us in Christ—polishes his jewels, in the furnace of affliction, Isaiah 48:10. "The Lord tries the righteous." We are ordained to holiness, and then to happiness: it is through much tribulation we are to enter the kingdom; though elected to it, we must pass through tribulation to possess it; and while thus tried, we are to make our calling and election sure.
The doctrine of eternal election is sweet to the Christian, and honorable to God. Jehovah in the act of election, benefits many—but injures none. Election ruins none, though it secures salvation to thousands. It is as merciful as it is sovereign, and as just as it is merciful. Rightly viewed, none need cavil at it—but the unsanctified heart will rebel against it. May my soul ever bow to the sovereign pleasure of my God, both in reference to my present lot, and endless destiny; and may I bow to it with holy reverence, godly fear, and devout thankfulness!
Election always leads to election. God's choice of us—always leads to our choice of God. He who is elected by God to be an heir of glory—will choose Jehovah to be his God and portion. He who is elected in Christ—will choose, prefer, and seek oneness with Jesus before all things beside. He who is elected to holiness—will love it, seek it, and earnestly pray for it. He who is elected for God's glory—will seek to glorify God. He who is elected to be the Redeemer's spouse, companion, and friend—will be brought to know the Savior's person, love his heaven-making company, and walk with him in friendship and odedience. He who is elected to be a fellow-citizen with the saints and of the household of God—will choose the Lord's people for his people, and love and cleave to them as the excellent of the earth.
Inquire, then—what are the objects of my choice? Do I choose Jehovah for my God, Jesus for my Savior and friend, and his people for my companions and associates? Has God the Holy Spirit led you to see the glory, appreciate the value, and taste the sweetness of divine things? Are you earnestly desiring, daily seeking, and importunately praying for them? If so, blessed are you!
"Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:3-6
Communion with God
The fruitful source of my misery is distance from my God; my happiness and peace spring from his presence; and yet how willing I seem to live at a sensible distance from him. Frequently Satan suggests, and my heart seems to believe, that it is vain to draw near to him, call upon him, or wait before him; but sweet experience has often proved the contrary.
It is good to draw near to him when I feel my weakness, for he is a strength to the poor, and a strength to the needy in distress; and his strength is put forth in his people's weakness.
It is good to draw near to him when cast down and distressed, for the light of his countenance puts joy into the heart, and rejoicing into the soul.
It is good to draw near to him when the enemy comes in like a flood, for he has said, that his Spirit shall lift up a standard against him.
It is good to draw near when our graces wither and comforts decline, for he will revive his work in the midst of the years, and make known both his power and his love.
It is good to draw near when perplexed and filled with confusion; for he says, "I will instruct you, and teach you in the way which you shall go: I will counsel you, my eye shall be upon you."
It is good to draw near in prospect of sickness, death, and the grave; for he will make all our bed, give us the victory, and make us more than conquerors through his love.
It is indeed good to draw near to God—for I find it unburdens the mind, relieves the spirits, and comforts the heart. It exercises my graces, leads me to trust in the Lord, and weans me from the things of time. It leads me to be familiar with the Lord, increases my confidence in God, and banishes legal fears from my soul; it sweetens crosses, makes losses bearable, and emboldens me to face my foes. It prevents many evils, leads me to the word to learn God's mind, and is a channel through which I receive many blessings.
It is good for me to draw near to God. I am such a poor, weak, dependant, miserable creature, that unless I receive comfort from another, I must be miserable; and, O blessed be God! there is comfort endless comfort stored up in Jesus, for such miserable sinners as me. To me, Jesus says, "Come, Abide, Ask, Take, Drink, I will give."
Shall I then stay poring over self, sin, and creatures? Nay, rather let me hasten to Jesus, who waits to be gracious, who is exalted to show mercy to such as me. Shall I listen to Satan, unbelief, or the world? Nay, rather let me listen to Jesus, whose voice is sweet, his words verity, and his invitations gracious: to Jesus, who calls because he loves, gives to all whom he calls, and refuses none, however wretched, however base, however undeserving, who come pleading his mercy, merit, and word.
It is good to draw near to God. Jehovah in Jesus is the fountain of goodness, from whom flow streams which make glad the city of God. Jehovah in Jesus is a father, who pities, cares for, and will supply his praying children with all necessary good. He has pledged himself to withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly; and though the lions may lack and suffer hunger, those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. There is no real, spiritual, lasting good in creatures; all is in Jesus our God; therefore, O, my soul, do you draw near to him.
Blessed Jesus, draw me near you. Holy Spirit, lead me continually to my Father's throne, and let me have communion with the Father and the Son; O may I ever find it good to draw near to God in every trouble, difficulty, and danger; in life and death may I say it is good to draw near to God!
Fellowship with God
First. Fellowship supposesknowledge. There can be no fellowship with God, without a knowledge of God. The gospel brings the true knowledge of God to men, and under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, we receive into our hearts the knowledge of Jehovah in Jesus—the manifester of God. Here we behold his glory, beauty, and excellency. His terror does not make us afraid, nor is his hand heavy upon us. We see justice without a frown, holiness without a thunderbolt, veracity without terror, love beaming with brightness, grace clothed in royalty, and mercy stooping to do every kind office for the vile, miserable, and unworthy. There is nothing to alarm, terrify, or dismay us; but everything to attract, invite, and draw us to our Father's feet.
Eternal love says, "Come!"
Free grace says,"Take!"
Justice says, "Fear not!"
Holiness says,"Be not terrified!"
Truth says, "Take courage!"
Mercy says, "All that Jesus has, or God can consistently give, is yours."
Each of the Divine Persons in Jehovah is revealed as at peace with us through the blood of the cross; and every covenant blessing is secured to us by the faithfulness of the Eternal Three. When this knowledge of Jesus is received into the heart, then the foundation of fellowship is laid, and the superstructure will be sure to be reared.
Second. In order to have fellowship with God—there must first befriendship. I must not only know something of Jehovah—but I must feel something toward Jehovah. The enmity of the carnal mind must be subdued. Love to the Most High God must be generated, and then friendship with Jehovah commences. Then we desire to . . .
know Him fully,
enjoy Him spiritually,
walk with Him daily,
please Him constantly,
submit to Him incessantly,
obey Him universally, and
be conformed to His will entirely.
Then we seek His company, crave His teaching, and are willing to be, to do, or to suffer anything—so that we may but be His friend!
Nothing can be compared with . . .
friendship with God,
devotedness to God, and
the enjoyment of God
in an experimental and spiritual manner.
Third. Fellowship supposesjoint interest, and joint engagement. Those who have fellowship with Jehovah—are savingly interested in Jehovah. They have a saving interest in his eternal love, in his ancient covenant, in his merciful decrees, in his gracious provision, in his glorious gospel, and in his spiritual operations. They are savingly interested in all God has done, is doing, or will do—as a covenant God and gracious Father. In all he does, he has his eye on them, is concerned for them, and consults their good. O glorious mystery! O delightful information! O stupendous mercy!
But Jehovah also is interested in them! He is interested in their persons which he has formed for himself, redeemed by the blood of Immanuel, and new created by the energy of the Comforter! He is interested in their love, in their needs, troubles, trials, persecutions, temptations, afflictions and death! Yes, there is nothing belonging to a believer, but what Jehovah is interested in, and concerned about, from the tiny trifles of today—to the ponderous concerns of eternity; from the feeble flutterings of anxiousness—to the redemption of the immortal soul! All and everything that concerns them, their heavenly Father is interested in, and concerned about.
O if the Lord's family did but believe this, that the minutest thing that belongs to them, the least circumstance of their lives, and everything connected with that circumstance, is a matter of concern to Jehovah—how happy would they live, how cheerfully would they pass along the journey of life, and commit all to the keeping of their God!
"Cast all your care on Him—because He cares about you!" 1 Peter 5:7
"Cast your cares on the Lord—and He will sustain you!" Psalm 55:22
Christian, what a thought is this! A sinner savingly interested in all that a covenant God is, has, and does; and a covenant God interested in all that a sinner is, has, suffers, and does likewise. But is it true? Yes, in reference to the former, Paul declares,
"All things are for your sakes," 2 Corinthians 4:15.
"All things shall work together for your good," Romans 8:28.
"All things are yours," 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are." Hebrews 4:15
He is engaged for us by promise, oath, and blood—and we become engaged to him and for him by promise, profession, and love. He is engaged to teach, lead, supply, protect, deliver, and glorify us—and we are engaged to serve, honor, reverence, acknowledge, praise, follow, imitate, and glorify him, in our bodies and spirits, which are his. Our engagement to, and for him—springs from, and is secured by, his engagement to, and for us. His is the cause—ours the effect, and our engagement to, and for him, if hearty, is the evidence that he is engaged for us. Let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
Fourth. Fellowship embraces joint communication. Jehovah communicates to the sinner his Spirit—and the sinner surrenders to Jehovah his body, soul, and spirit. The Lord communicates to the soul grace, light, and comfort—and the soul communicates to the Lord its fears, desires, and praises. The Lord communicates to the soul strength, holiness, and peace—and the soul renders to the Lord grateful acknowledgments, loving obedience, and hearty thanksgiving.
The believer brings to the Lord his sins, trials, griefs, and woes;
and the Lord bestows His pardon, riches, relief, and consolation!
The redeemed sinner sees Jehovah in Christ—and Jehovah sees the sinner in Christ.
The Lord says, "I have loved you—and therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you."
The sinner says, "I love the Lord because he has heard my voice and my supplication."
The Lord says, "You shall no more be termed forsaken; but you shall be called Hephzibah, my delight is in her."
The soul says, "I have said unto the Lord, you are my Lord, my goodness, my fortress, my deliverer, my shield, and my high tower. I will love you, O Lord, my strength."
Jehovah says of Christ, "Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my elect in whom my soul delights!"
And the sinner says, "My beloved is white and ruddy, the chief among ten thousand; his mouth is most sweet, yes, he is altogether lovely!"
The Lord delights in his people—and his people delight in him.
The people are the portion of the Lord—and the Lord is the portion of the people.
The Lord is ALL to the people—and the people are ALL to the Lord. They have fellowship one with another.
Fifth. In fellowship there issympathy experienced and manifested. Love begets love. "We love him—because he first loved us." When the soul is grieved—the Lord feels. His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel, Judges 10:16. When the Lord is dishonored—the believer grieves; when God is glorified—the Christian is made glad. The head and members mutually sympathize with each other; and real friends sympathize with each other also. The concerns of the Lord are merged in the concerns of his people, Deuteronomy 32:26, 27. Oh what wondrous grace! Jehovah sympathizes with, and feels for—sinful dust and ashes!
God calls us to fellowship with himself by his gospel; fits us for it by the new creating power of his Spirit; and brings us to the enjoyment of it to the praise of the glory of his grace.
But do I live in fellowship with God?
Have I a spiritual knowledge of him?
Am I in friendship with him?
Am I engaged to him?
Are my interests his? And are his interests mine?
Do I communicate to him my sorrows, my cares, my desires, my praises, my troubles, and my all?
Do I receive his Spirit, his grace, his comforts, his love, his word?
Do I sympathize with him? Is that grief to me, which is represented to grieve him?
Do I walk in the light as he is in the light, and find the blood of Jesus cleansing me from all sin?
If so, then assuredly I am happy and blessed! But if I know nothing of these things, Then, (O awful!) then my religion is a dream, a fancy, a delusion!
All believers are called to the fellowship of the Son of God. They have communion with the Holy Spirit, and are only happy as they can say to those who profess Jesus around them, "Have fellowship with us, for truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ!"
But perhaps some may read this paper who cannot say they have fellowship with God thus: but are you seeking it? are you thirsting for it? is it the desire of your soul? If so, remember we were all but seekers once. The time was, when the most favored saint could only say, "O that I did but know, love, and live in fellowship with Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit!"
To you I say, yet not I—but the Lord, "Seek—and you shall find; ask—and you shall receive; strive—and you shall enter; call—and you shall be answered; for I wait to be gracious." Give not way then to despondency—but look to the Lord, and you shall be lightened, and be delivered from all your fears.
"Lord, my every desire is known to You; my sighing is not hidden from You!" Psalm 38:9
I find much of my of true religion, consists in desires. I often examine myself lest I should rest short of the mark; and it is often the case that all I can find—is a desire.
I desire to prefer Jesus to all things else—but I cannot actually do so at all times—yet still I desire.
I desire to love Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, to love him so as I never loved anything beside—but often it is only the desire.
I desire to prize and enjoy Jesus—not only to use him as a shelter from the storm, a covert from the wind, and a hiding place from my foes; but to find him the banquet of my soul, my choice food, my treasure, all things in one—but often I do but desire, for what I want to do—I am not able to do.
I desire to Honor, Glorify, and Praise him, in all and everything I do—but often I find I do some things which dishonor him, and other things without even thinking of his glory—yet still I desire.
I desire to be more and more separated and dead to the world, and increasingly alive to the things of God. But all I find is the desire, for what I want to do—I am not able to do.
Shall I then despond because this is the case? No! Let me turn to the book of God for information; here I find Nehemiah speaking of himself, and others of the spiritual Israel, and he says, "O Lord I beseech you, let now your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servants, who desire to fear your name," Nehemiah 1:11. It seems he could not say we DO fear—but we DESIRE to fear your name.
"The desire of the humble is heard by the Lord," Psalm 10:17.
"Their desires shall be fulfilled by the Lord," Psalm 145:19.
He will give them their hearts desire, and not withhold the request of their lips.
It is a gracious token—if the Lord has given us good desires; and an evidence that we possess a divine nature. Desires cannot be forced—they spring from the heart, and manifest the character of the heart from which they proceed. If the desires are earthly, carnal and sensual—so is the nature in which they originate. If the desires are spiritual holy and heavenly—so is the nature from which they spring.
Those desires which spring from a new nature—are habitual, not merely produced by a sermon, affliction, or any external thing—but flowing from the fountain of nature, they continue and abide. They flow, and will flow, until they are satisfied by the possession of the blessings desired.
The Holy Spirit is the author of them;
they proceed from the hidden recesses of the heart;
to Jesus they go forth;
on spiritual and heavenly things they fix; and
until supplied, they can never be quenched.
Reader, what is the character of the prevailing desires of your mind? What are you longing for and seeking to possess? Is it to know Christ, to be conformed to him, to be filled with his love, and to be made a lasting monument of his grace? If so, your desires shall never be satisfied until you wake up in our Lord's likeness, and enter into the possession of our Lord's glory!
But while thus desiring, and seeking, and waiting, we are encouraged by our Lord, who satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness. It is for us to pray without ceasing, expect without doubting, wait without murmuring—and we shall eventually be filled to our perfect satisfaction. God is faithful who never begets a spiritual desire in any soul, only to disappoint it—but who always fills the hungry with good things, though the rich may be sent away empty.
Bless God, then, for your holy desires; follow on until you possess the blessing; and, though hope deferred, may make the heart sick, yet when the desire comes—it will be a tree of life. It may appear to tarry—but it will come, for "the desire of the righteous shall be granted!" The greatest saints were once no more than humble desirers; and those who have the brightest evidences now, had once no evidence more than a desire; they sought more, and they obtained; and we shall know, if we follow on to know the Lord, for his goings forth are prepared as the morning, and he will come unto us as the former and latter rain upon the earth.
"Lord, you know all things; You know that I love You!" John 21:17
At times, the Lord Jesus seems to leave me, to hide himself from me, and refuses to manifest himself to me. O how dissatisfied I am, yet not dissatisfied enough. How miserable I feel, yet not miserable enough. How restless I am, and yet not sufficiently restless. I miss my friend, my joy, my life, my boast, my supporter, my salvation, my object, my subject, my light, my peace, my home, my rest, my love, my sun, my food, my drink, my comfort, my satisfaction, my portion, my prospect, my husband, my Lord, my way, my king, my brother, my Alpha, Omega, my first, last, all in all.
How then, can I be happy? I am nothing, I have nothing, I can do nothing! It is Jesus who gives me entity, possessions, and ability; without him I had better never been born; if I may not enjoy him—I had better never have known the way of righteousness; if I may not live in fellowship with him—it would have been well for me never to have tasted the bliss his presence, words, and smiles impart. I now see, feel, and realize what Jesus is to me; it is well at times to miss him, it will I hope (Lord grant that it may) make me prize him more when I again feel his presence and enjoy his love.
I do love to hear of him, to read about him, and to have my thoughts filled with him—although I cannot enjoy him. I am sure I love my Savior, for I am a poor repining, unhappy, heartless creature without him! None can fill his place, none can be accepted as a substitute in his room; nothing can possibly make up for the loss of his presence. Surely he will return shortly, he cannot tarry long; but my soul cries, O Lord, how long?
O Holy Spirit, lead my mind, affections, and desires more and more out after him, to him, and upon him; make intercession in me to him with groanings which cannot be uttered! O never let me rest, be satisfied, or quiet—without the conscious enjoyment of his presence, salvation, and love!
O save me from coldness, lukewarmness, or carelessness; rather let me be tenfold more miserable—than sink into spiritual lethargy and indifference!
O Holy Father visit me! O precious Lord Jesus—come, and make your abode with me; consecrate my heart, my life, my all to your honor, praise, and glory! I am yours, save me, use me, and bless me for your mercy's sake!
The True Christian
James Smith, New Park Street Church, London, 1849
The true Christian is born from above, partakes of the divine nature, and is taught by the Holy Spirit. He knows himself to be a vile, corrupt, and polluted sinner. He has felt condemned, confessed the justice of God in his expected doom—and sought pardon at the feet of Jesus. He knows that the law is holy, just and good; that it extends to the thoughts and intents of the heart; that he cannot keep it, and is justly condemned by it. He has been directed to Jesus for pardon, life, and salvation; and has fled to him for refuge, shelter, and safety. He has turned from creatures, duties, and legal hopes; and has obtained mercy, received grace, and found deliverance. He has believed on Jesus, repented of sin, and experienced God's forgiving love.
He is crucified to the world, and the world unto him. He can no longer love its pleasures, follow its vanities, and conform to its fashions. He pities its state, prays for its good—but keeps himself separate from it. He passes through it, suffers in it, and rejoices in an inheritance above it.
He walks with his God in faith, dependence, and obedience. He follows his Savior through evil and good report; and cleaves to the Lord with full purpose of heart. He renounces self, makes use of the fountain of Immanuel's blood, and builds upon the rock of ages. He discards his own works as dross and dung, rejoices in free grace as the fount of salvation, and—triumphs in the righteousness of Christ. He feeds by faith on the flesh and blood of Jesus, relies on the exceeding great and precious promises of God, and listens to the warnings of his Father's word.
He resists Satan steadfast in the faith, mortifies his members which are upon the earth, and takes comfort from Christ' atonement. He mourns over his duties, sows to the Spirit, and follows on to know the Lord. He walks in the light, overcomes all his foes, and stands up in defense of the gospel of God. He rejoices in Christ, grieves for the low estate of the Church, and sighs, and cries for all the abominations that are done in the land.
He proves his adoption, gives all glory to God, and waits for the hope of righteousness by faith. He prays earnestly, lives honestly, and suffers patiently; knowing that in heaven he has a better, and more enduring substance.
He mourns over his follies, laments his imperfections, and supplicates forgiveness of God. Sin is his burden, moral defilement his grief, and conformity to Jesus the reigning desire of his soul. The house of God is his home, the people of God are his companions, and the ordinances of the gospel his delight.
Prayer is the breath of his soul, the throne of grace his place of resort, and praise the very element in which he lives. The presence of God is his heaven, fellowship with Jesus his delight, and the unction of the Holy One his teacher.
The word of God is his sword, the righteousness of Jesus his breastplate, and the hope of salvation his helmet. Sin, Satan, and the world are his foes; the Father, Son, and Spirit, in covenant relation, are his friends. The gospel is the charter of his privileges, the law is the rule for his feet, and heaven is the goal of his race. He is reconciled to God by the blood of the cross, justified from all things in the righteousness of Christ, and communes with Jehovah from the mercy seat. He is saved by grace, made near by the blood of the Lamb, and suffers for Christ and his cause.
In a word, he is spiritual in his nature, sincere in his professions, holy in his aims, high in his relationships, happy in his prospects; upright in his walk, heavenly in his conversation, and safe for eternity.
Such is the real Christian when he acts upon bible principles, walks by Scripture rules, and lives up to his grace given privileges. This is the state, happiness, and portion of those who truly know God, and the heritage appointed them by God.
But, alas! how many are there in this day of profession, who pass for Christians, and yet are totally ignorant of these things. Reader, are you a Christian? do you pass for one?
If so, when did you receive the blessings of pardon, peace, and assurance in answer to prayer?
When did you enjoy real heartfelt communion with God?
When did you find Christ precious, as your Prophet, Priest, and King?
When did you enjoy the witness of the Holy Spirit in your heart?
When did you sit in judgment on yourself?
When did you search and try your ways?
When did Jesus and his Father visit you, according to his word? John 14:21-23.
When were you walking in the comfort of the Holy Spirit?
Do you know anything of these things? the very life and soul of true religion consists in them. All religion without these things is like a body without life, a shell without a kernel, a shadow without a substance. "The kingdom of God is not in word—but in power." "The kingdom of God must be within you."
Beware, O beware, that you are not deluded! Where your treasure is—there will your heart be also. "If you are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory. Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth." Col. 3:1-6. Covet earnestly the best gifts. "Take heed, lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end."
But should my reader be one that cares for none of these things, whose life is spent in vanity, and his days in pleasure. "Therefore, this is what the Lord God says: My servants will eat, but you will be hungry; My servants will drink, but you will be thirsty; My servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame. My servants will shout for joy from a glad heart, but you will cry out from an anguished heart, and you will lament out of a broken spirit. You will leave your name behind as a curse for My chosen ones, and the Lord God will kill you; but He will give His servants another name. Isaiah 65:13-15
"The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." Psalm 1:5. "Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him." Isaiah 3:11. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. "The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is fierce in wrath. The Lord takes vengeance against His foes; He is furious with His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished. Who can withstand His indignation? Who can endure His burning anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, even rocks are shattered before Him!" Nahum 1
Sinner, this is the God you have to do with, before him you must stand, and by him be judged. Woe! woe! woe! unto you, if you are found outside of Christ in that day!!! O may you to his throne repair—and find a full salvation there!
An Exhortation and Caution
"Be doers of the word, and not hearers only—deceiving your own selves." James 1:22
"To him that knows to do good, and does it not—to him it is sin." James 4:17
The Word of God is intended to be our daily counselor, guide, and friend. It contains all that is necessary to be known for our comfort, direction, and safety. It never flatters our vanity, nourishes our fears, or sanctions our sins. It comprises all that is necessary for doctrine, correction and instruction in righteousness. Its doctrines are all true, important, and holy: they are to be believed, published and enjoyed. Its ordinances are simple, plain, and significant: and are to be observed by all who reverence, believe, and hope in God. Its precepts are appropriate, necessary, and wise; adapted to all our situations in society, and are to be cheerfully, constantly, and universally obeyed. "Be doers of the word!"
As Christians we are to walk in wisdom, with kindness, and mercy, toward the world; remembering that grace alone has made us to differ. As brethren in Christ, united by the endearing ties of spiritual love, in gospel fellowship, we are to walk in love, unity, and peace; as those who being one with Christ, are influenced by the same Spirit, and walk by the same rule. As subjects of the kingdom of Immanuel, we are required to walk with loyalty, courage and sincerity; as sincere in our profession, and upright in our hearts. As the sons of God by adoption and regeneration, we should walk in humility, submission, and holy fear, as always in the presence of our loving Father, and gracious God. As temples of the Holy Spirit, we are required to carry ourselves towards him as dependants, as set apart for his glory and praise: sowing to the Spirit, minding the things of the Spirit, and being careful that we do not grieve him. In all our relations in the world we are exhorted to be examples, not only professing—but "doing the will of God from the heart."
Fathers are commanded to be kind, attentive, and patient.
Children are commanded to be obedient, submissive, and attentive.
Husbands are commanded to be loving, industrious, and prudent.
Wives are commanded to be submissive, affectionate, and modest.
Masters are commanded to be just, considerate, and feeling.
Servants are commanded to be honest, industrious, and willing.
And we all are commanded "study to be quiet," and each one to mind his own business; because a meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great price.
These distinctions in life, Jehovah has ordained, and these duties the same God has commanded and requires: therefore we are bidden to perform them, not as pleasing men but God, who tries our hearts: nor can they be rejected or neglected without sin, and some measure of correction if we are the Lord's people.
Our character, duty, state, and privileges are defined and set forth in God's word for our comfort, direction, and spiritual profit: doctrines, ordinances, and duties are united by the wisdom and love of God; and it is very unfitting for worms of the earth to attempt to disunite them. "What God has joined together let no man put asunder." He has made provision for our weakness in his dear Son, for our ignorance in his holy word, and for our idleness and waywardness in his chastising rod; mercy and grace are promised to help us, the Spirit to lead us into truth, and the rod to drive folly from us. Weakness is no excuse, for God has provided, the plea of inability cannot be admitted, for God has invited and exhorted us to "ask, and receive." If there was no provision, we might plead our weakness; if no direction, our ignorance; if no authority, our slavery; but now we see every excuse cut off, and the slothful servant must be speechless before God at last.
The commands of God are positive, not merely negative; we are not only to abstain from evil—but to do good. Life is given us for activity, and opportunities to prove our sincerity; our benevolence is not to be confined, nor our efforts suspended; we are to do good to all, and not be weary of well-doing. Our obedience must be willing service, doing the will of God from the heart; if our minds are spiritual—his commandments are not grievous: but his yoke is easy and his burden light.
God accepts not eye-service, performed in slavish fear; nor approves of that obedience which is a burden—but the obedience of faith, love, and gratitude he does accept. Believing the love which God has for us; the relation in which he stands unto us, (as a Father;) the provision he has made, the mercies he has bestowed, and the salvation he has freely given us; the honor he has put upon us, with the designs of his wisdom respecting us—we love him; and loving him, we desire to honor, obey and glorify him. Love sets the soul on flame to render again according to all that the Lord has done for us; and gratitude, sweet gratitude, oils the wheels of the soul and inspires us to cry out, "I will run in the way of your commandments, for you have enlarged my heart."
The command should be viewed as proceeding from Jesus, our dear and adorable Savior, who laid down his life for us; as backed with the most powerful arguments drawn from Bethlehem's manger, Gethsemane's garden, Calvary's cross, Joseph's sepulcher, Olivet's mount, and the glorious high throne above, where he ever lives to make intercession for us: and surely arguments indited by purest love, written in characters of blood, and breathing in every line peace, good-will, and an ardent desire for our permanent happiness, must have weight, must be powerful to move even such hearts as ours! The design which our gracious God has in view in every New Testament command is our good, in connection with the honor of Jesus, and his own glory and praise. All his precepts issue from a throne of grace, are the offspring of paternal kindness, and could not be dispensed with, but at our loss.
The kindness of our Lord cautions us against being satisfied with merely hearing or reading the word—unless we are sanctified through it: the great design of preaching or reading the word is our sanctification; and therefore our Redeemer prayed, "Sanctify them through your truth, your word is truth." Reading the word or hearing it explained should never satisfy us, unless its sanctifying effects are felt in our hearts and evidenced in our lives! Or to use Paul's beautiful figure, unless we are delivered into it as into a mold, and bear the impressions of its sacred character about us wherever we go. The word preached did not profit the Jews of old, they not being united unto it by faith; therefore the Apostle exhorts us to fear and labor. Heb 4:1, 2, 11.
Never should we consider that we are safe or in the right way, merely because we can hear the word with satisfaction, or remember it with ease; unless it spring up and bring forth fruit to the glory of divine grace. "Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."
Awful! most awful must be the character of the self-deceiver, who like the foolish virgins, or those referred to in (Matthew 7:22, 23.) think that they are right until Jesus from within, when the door is shut, assures them they are wrong. Such a thing is more than possible, for we have evidence all around us that many such characters exist; hearers, talkers, and professors abound in every direction; who by the spirit they manifest, the unsanctified tempers they habitually display, and the forbidden conduct in which they indulge, without remorse or contrition, prove that they deceive themselves. For if any man, however sound his creed, has not the Spirit of Christ—he is none of his: and without holiness no man shall see the Lord.
Presuming on the goodness of their state, and resting in a creed or form of godliness, while destitute of the power; they pass on persuaded they are the Lord's and shall finally be glorified with him in Heaven—whose word they pervert, whose name they profane, whose cause they injure, and on whose love they presume. But shall they escape by their iniquity? No, "be not deceived, for God is not mocked, for whatever a roan sows That shall he also reap. For he who sows to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."
They that are after the flesh, do, notwithstanding all their profession to the contrary, mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. "And to be carnally minded is death—but to be spiritual minded is life and peace." The Lord intimates in many portions of his word, that many professors will thus deceive themselves, and we find judging from their fruits that it is even so. Let us then benefit by the beneficial caution, "Take heed that you be not deceived. Be not high minded but fear." Let us not rest satisfied without good evidence—but let us examine ourselves, whether we are in the faith. If we say that we have faith—what does our faith produce? What are its works? We hear, receive, and profess to love the truth—but where are its sanctifying effects?
Do they appear in the family, in the business, in the world, in the church, and in all the relations of life? Are we doers of the word? or only hearers, deceiving ourselves? "Trust in the Lord and DO good," is the direction of Scripture. Rest the whole weight of the soul's salvation, upon the glorious person, perfect work, rich grace, immutable word, and office character of Jesus; cast all your cares upon your Father who is in Heaven, who cares for you; and then "do good:" let your light so shine before men that they seeing your good works may glorify God in the day of visitation. Evidence to all around you that Christ is formed in you, lives in you, and that you live to him; that you are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and a vessel of mercy prepared for eternal glory.
Remember, my dear friends, Jesus has said, "By their fruits—you shall know them." No man is required to believe your words—unless they are corroborated by your works. Consider the name you profess, the cause you have espoused, the truths you hear, the church you are connected with, the guide you profess to follow and the end of the Christian's race; all, all are characterized by holiness; it is a holy name, a holy cause, a holy gospel, a holy people, a way of holiness, and a holy Heaven. Let me then exhort you seriously to examine yourselves. The matter is of solemn and infinite importance. Profession is vain without possession. We must every one of us give account of himself to God, we must appear naked, stripped of every false disguise in the sight of the Lord, and then self-examination will be too late. Eternity renders everything connected with it momentous; therefore trifle not, presume not—but look well to the foundation of your hope.
Are you founded upon a Rock? Are you keeping the sayings of Jesus, and doing them? Or, are you resting upon a little knowledge, a few gifts, and a mere profession? If so, your fall will be great, your end awful, and your pretensions prove to be nothing but wind and confusion.
Better make no profession of faith in Jesus, than to profess only to dishonor. Better never to have known the Way Of Righteousness, than knowing, refuse to walk in it. Wrath will come upon such unto the uttermost, and they shall receive the greater damnation. It is only empty professors who crucify the Son of God afresh, who do despite unto the Spirit of grace, who turn the grace of God unto lasciviousness; let us therefore watch and be sober, let us cast away the works of darkness and put upon us the armor of light, let us walk honestly as in the day. We have not a moment to call our own, all and each is the Lord's; therefore let us not trifle: we have professedly resigned ourselves and all we possess into the gracious hands of Jesus, therefore let us remember it is sacrilege to lend them to Satan, or employ them in sin.
We are the Lord's, so we declared when we put on the profession of his name; let us therefore aim in all things to glorify his name, adorn our profession, and benefit his cause upon earth. We must give an account of ourselves to God; we shall be rewarded according to our works; let us therefore be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as we know, (being informed by the word before hand,) that our labor is not in vain in the Lord. Being loved with an everlasting love, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit—let us so think, speak, and act, that God may be glorified in us, by us, and through us.
David Recovered All
James Smith, New Park Street Church, London, 1849
"So Achish gave David the town of Ziklag," 1 Samuel 27:6
"Three days later, when David and his men arrived home at their town of Ziklag, they found that the Amalekites had made a raid into the Negev and Ziklag; they had crushed Ziklag and burned it to the ground. They had carried off the women and children and everyone else but without killing anyone. When David and his men saw the ruins and realized what had happened to their families, they wept until they could weep no more." 1 Samuel 30:1-4
How instructive is the life of David! Every part is calculated to edify and benefit the spiritual child of God; it was written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. There is much to be learned from this occurrence.
Ziklag had been given to David; here he dwelt with his family and friends—and no doubt enjoyed many a happy hour. He was prompted to go forth against his brethren the Israelites, and self seems to have had much to do with this circumstance; therefore I hear him saying to Achish, "Surely you will see for yourself what I can do," 1 Samuel 28:2. While he was going to show what he could do, the Amalekites came against Ziklag, took the women captives, burnt Ziklag with fire, and departed. David returns to witness the desolation, weeps over the ruins, hears the people talk of stoning him, inquires of the Lord by Abiather, and gets an assurance that he shall recover all. Upon this, he goes forth to the brook Besor, leaves there his fainting men, pursues after his enemy with the remainder, finds an Egyptian who brings him down to the camp, which he finds rejoicing over the spoils; he smites his enemies, and recovers all.
Here are many lessons of instruction, as "When pride comes—then comes shame," Proverbs 11:2. There is no joining with the enemies of the church without suffering; seldom does one trouble come alone; Ziklag is burnt—and the people talk of stoning him.
The Christian in trouble is near to his God—who has an ear to listen to his cries, and a heart to answer his request. He shall be sure to meet with success, who will begin no enterprise without consulting and obtaining direction from the Lord.
But I would view David here as the type of his Lord; and methinks there appears something sweet in the subject viewed in this light.
David signifies, "beloved." Just so, Jesus is the beloved of the Father, the church's beloved, and the beloved of the elect angels.
Ziklag, a city of the Philistines, was given him for a possession, and there he took up his abode. Just so, the world was given to Jesus for a possession, and a dwelling place for himself and his people.
Here David brought his wives, Ahinoam, "beauty and loveliness," and Abigail, "the joy of the Father;" and here he dwelt with, and enjoyed their company. Just so, the church of Jesus is by him made beauty, or beautiful as Tirzah, Song 6:4. She is the Hephzibah, or delight of the Father, who has loved her with an everlasting love, and with loving-kindness drawn her. These two women may represent the two parts of the one church, the bride of the Lamb; the Jewish and the Gentile.
Amalek, "who licks up," the type of Satan, comes against the city in David's absence; they burned the city, and took captive the wives—but did not kill any. Just so, Satan came against the church, and took her captive, and burnt up the world, and reduced it to a moral wilderness, and it is even now set on fire of Hell; but though he took captive the church, he was not allowed to destroy her, nor any part of her.
When David came to Ziklag he beheld it in a ruined state; he wept over it, and the people talked of stoning him. Just so, when Jesus came into our world, he beheld it in its wretched, miserable, ruined state; he wept over it tears of love, pity, and compassion; and more than once they took up stones to stone him.
This conduct did not divert the attention, alter the intention, or alienate the affection of David. Just so, neither did the base conduct of his people change the purpose or affection of Jesus—but having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them to the end.
David inquired of Abiather, "the excellent pattern, or father of him that survived." Just so, Jesus took counsel with Jehovah our Father, respecting the recovery of his church, before he attempted her rescue.
David had the Lord's word that he should recover all. Just so, of Jesus it was predicted, "He shall not fail nor be discouraged, until he has set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law," Is. 42:4.
David went over the brook Besor, which signifies "incarnation, or glad tidings," to recover his wives and property. Just so, Jesus was incarnated, made under the law, made of a woman, to redeem his bride and recover the forfeited possession; his incarnation was indeed glad tidings of great joy unto all people. He came into the world to save sinners, to give himself for his church, and to send the glad tidings of his love, birth, work, death, sacrifice, and conquests throughout the earth; and we have beheld the glory of the word made flesh, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
David found the young Egyptian, who "binds, straightens, troubles, or oppresses," who brings him down to his enemies. Just so, Jesus found an Egyptian in Judas, who brought his enemies upon him, to deliver him into their hands.
"David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day." Just so did Jesus, he began before it was yet day; he fought throughout the day, and cried out, "It is finished" in the evening.
David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and rescued his two wives. And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great; "David recovered all;" and he equally divided the spoil. Just so, Jesus has recovered all that his people lost through sin; the purity of their nature, the justification of their people, and their title to life. All this is recovered; and he will present to himself a spotless, blameless, holy church, perfectly justified in his own immaculate righteousness; and entitled to life. He equally divides the spoil—each has a full pardon, a perfect righteousness, a new nature, a title to bliss, a whole Christ, all the promises, and all things. 1 Corinthians 3:21-23. None can have more, none have less, every one shall receive his penny.
Reader, have you been used to view Jesus as the beloved? Is he the beloved of your soul, the light of your eyes, the joy of your heart, the center of your affections, the supreme object of your faith, love, and desire? Are you saying, "None but Jesus! None but Christ for me!" Do you view him as having recovered all, having conquered Satan, removed sin, satisfied divine justice, procured pardon, made peace, sealed the covenant, confirmed the promises, opened Heaven, and consecrated a new and living way into the holiest, for sinners? Do you view his blood as the price of your pardon, the choicest expression of his love?
The Lambs Book of Life
James Smith, New Park Street Church, London, 1849
The Lord Jesus Christ is often represented in sacred Scripture by the figure of a LAMB, either to set forth the mildness, patience, and loveliness of his nature; or the design of his incarnation, which was that he might offer himself as a sacrifice to God, and so put away sin. He is pointed out to us as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; as bearing our sins in his own body on the tree. For this purpose he was appointed from everlasting, and manifested in these last times; therefore the apostle Peter assures us that we are redeemed by his precious blood, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot; who truly was foreordained before the foundation of the world. He came to give his life a ransom for many. He had power to lay it down—and he had power to take it again. "He laid down his life for his sheep." He came that they might have life—and that they might have it more abundantly.
The Lord Jesus is represented as having a BOOK, which is called "the book of life." Phil. 4:3. In this book is recorded the names of all his beloved sheep. Therefore he bids his disciples "rejoice, that their names are written in Heaven." Luke 10:20. And we read of some "whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world." Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:15. Of others, that they "were written in Heaven." Hebrews 12:23.
This book is the 'family register', containing the names of the "the whole family in Heaven and earth, as named by the Father." Ephes. 3:13. Here is recorded "the eternal purpose and promise of God, to give life eternal to all who believe in Jesus." Ephes. 3:11; 1 John 2:25; Titus 1:2.
Here is found the contract between the Father and the Son in reference to our redemption, and the Savior's satisfaction. Hebrews 10:7-10; Isaiah 53:10, 11.
And in this volume is signified the will of the Father, that for the honor of Jesus, "every one that sees the Son and believes on him, shall have eternal life." John 6:37-40.
And in the judgment, this book of life will be produced and opened, and Heaven shall be awarded to all whose names are written therein. Rev. 20:12, 21:27. "Jehovah chose his people in Christ from the beginning," (2 Thes. 2:13.) "before the foundation of the world," (Ephes. 1:3, 4.) of mere grace. (Romans 11:5.)
Not because they would be holy—but to make them so; (Ephes. 1:4.) not because influenced by any works they would perform, (Romans 9:11-29.) but to the praise of his glorious grace. (Ephes. 1:6.) He chose them, fixed their names, predestinated them to sonship, (Ephes. 1:5; Romans 8:29, 30.) gave them to Jesus, (John 17:6, 9, 16,) and appointed them to obtain salvation by him, (1 Thes. 5:9, 10.) with eternal glory. (2 Tim. 2:10.)
They are the objects of his highest love, constant care, and unceasing attention. For them he prepared the kingdom before he made the world, (Matthew 25:34.) and blessed them with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. He ordained them to eternal life, (Acts 13:48,) sanctifies them by the Spirit unto obedience, (1 Peter 1:2,) and raises them above all condemnation and guilt, (Romans 8:1, 33, 34.)
Nothing shall separate them from him, or divert his attention from them. He loves them just as he loves Jesus, John 17:23; he visits them with Jesus, John 14:21, 23; and is a Father unto them and they are his sons and daughters. 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18. Blessed are the people whom he has chosen for his own inheritance. Psalm 33:12.
Brethren, do you believe the glorious truth: that God has chosen his people in Christ, that he has blessed them with all spiritual blessings, that they are his jewels, his treasure, his portion?
Let me exhort you to give all diligence to make your calling and election sure. Make the prayer of the devout Psalmist your own, "Remember me, O Lord, with the favor that you bear unto your people; O visit me with your salvation; that I may see the good of your chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance." Psalm 106:4, 5.
Do not cavil against a truth so plainly revealed—but believe it because God declares it; it is not a barren speculation—but a truth flowing with milk and honey, to the truly humbled heart
It opposes our pride, it destroys self-righteousness—but it administers the choicest consolation to the poor in spirit. To know that God loved me, thought of me, chose me, blessed me, and gave me grace in Jesus before the foundation of the world; (2 Tim. 1:9, 10,) can there be anything gloomy, distressing, or alarming in this? Surely not!
But can we know of a certainty that our names are written in the Lamb's book of life? Yes, beyond a doubt. It is the book of life, and if discovering the value and importance of eternal life, I come to Jesus for the blessing, determined to possess it or perish in pursuit of it—then my name is recorded there. No man can come to Jesus thus—except the Father draws him; the Father only draws those who are given to Jesus. Therefore if I thus come—I am drawn, and drawn because I have been chosen, and my name was written in the book of life.
If I believe in my heart the record God has given of his Son; receive Christ as my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; and rely simply and alone on him for life and eternal salvation; I have the faith of God's elect! This faith is the gift of God, it is only given to those who are chosen of God; and it is given to me, therefore I am the chosen of God. The election has obtained it—and the rest were blinded. Romans 11:7; 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4.
If I am called into fellowship with Jesus, and live upon him as the bread of life, if I receive from him grace, and use that grace to his honor—then my name is written in his book. It is only those who are predestinated, who are called. I am called, therefore I was predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ.
If I bring forth good fruit in consequence of vital union to Christ; if my person, talents, and property are cheerfully devoted to the cause of God; my name is in the book of life. For believers are chosen, and ordained, that they should go and bring forth fruit, and that their fruit should remain. And I do bring forth good fruit which remains to the honor of God, therefore I am chosen and ordained.
If you are stripped of self-righteousness, if you loathe sin, if you love and follow after holiness, if Christ is precious to you, if his name is written upon your affections, memories, prayers, purposes, and actions; your name beyond a doubt, is written in his book!
This doctrine is calculated to afford you the strongest consolation. To be loved by God with an everlasting love; to have your name written his Heaven, among patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and saints; to be appointed to a kingdom of eternal glory and inconceivable blessedness; to be the sons of God; the heirs of God; the brethren of Christ—and all this of grace, without the least thing in you to entitle you, or warrant you to expect such distinguishing honor; surely it is enough to constrain you to devote yourself entirely and forever to the Lord!
And is it possible that such a comfortable and holy truth should be opposed? Yes, men not submitting their understandings simply and entirely to the word of God; not forming their judgments from what God has said; but proudly reasoning upon what they think to be right and consistent for Jehovah to do—have denied or explained away this wholesome doctrine! And the principle of pride, which in some has led to the denial of the doctrine of eternal election, has in others led to the denial of the divinity of Christ, the atonement he made, and the glory to which he is entitled.
But we must receive the kingdom of God as a little child, and submit to be taught—without us choosing our lessons, or setting in judgment on the wisdom of our Divine Teacher. God has plainly revealed it, let us therefore receive and believe it, search out our interest in it, and put on as the elect of God, holy and beloved, humbleness of mind and meekness. This will be better than a thousand arguments, or lengthened controversy.
But do not some abuse this truth? Undoubtedly they do! But shall we therefore reject it? if so, we may reject all truth, for all is more or less abused. The legalist abuses one part, and the licentious abuses the other; but let us hold fast the whole truth, and be careful not to abuse any part of it.
We can have no occasion to be ashamed of the truth of eternal election—but let us remember we may be a shame to it. God's elect are holy, humble, and devoted to God. And those who can love and live in sin, who are proud and censorious, worldly and covetous—give no evidence that they are elected, except it is by Satan—to bring dishonor on God's cause; but they must give an account of themselves to God, and be judged according to their works. The judge of the earth will do right even in reference to such.
The doctrine of eternal election sanctions no sin, dispenses with no duty, nor affords the least ground of hope to the unholy or profane. It is a holy doctrine, revealed by a holy God, for the comfort of holy people, who are walking in a holy way, to a holy Heaven!
But is not this doctrine a stumbling block to unsaved sinners? Unsaved sinners have nothing to do with the doctrine of election; it speaks not one word to them. The gospel directs them to Jesus with the assurance that he will never cast out one who sincerely comes to him. And when they have believed in Jesus and found salvation by trusting in his name, then they are encouraged to believe, receive, and enjoy this holy doctrine.
It is not for us to make this doctrine the rule of our life; the precepts of the Word of God are the rule by which we are to walk. This doctrine of eternal election is a ground of strong consolation—but not a rule of conduct.
Neither are we to attempt to bend other portions of God's word, to make them agree with our views of this doctrine. The gospel is the mystery of God's will, it contains some things which are hard to he understood, and many which we cannot reconcile; a simple faith believes them, and a truly humble mind receives them on the authority of God, without needing to have everything "fit" in his limited mind. The message of God to sinners, and the choice of the elect in Christ, are different parts of one vast scheme; the infinite intellect of God grasps, and sees the harmony of the two—though we cannot. We know but in part—but by and by we shall know fully—even as also we are known. It is for us to receive, believe, obey, and adorn and circulate the truth—and leave the rest to God!
Election hinders the salvation of no man—but it secures the salvation of millions! The sinner is to come to Jesus and believe in him for salvation, as though no such doctrine was in the bible; and we are to exhort sinners so to do. Condemnation flows from sin—not from election! Hell is the fruit of sin and the consequence of rebellion against God. No man can trace his condemnation and punishment to any purpose of God; he can trace in to himself—and no further—he has destroyed himself!
But the Christian can trace his salvation to God's purpose of grace—but for which, we would have all been left in one common ruin. He who closes his ears and heart to the gospel, who rejects the Savior, and judges himself unworthy of everlasting life, must admit that his condemnation is just and inexcusable. And this is the case with all who die in their sins. It is proclaimed alike to all, it presents a remedy to sinners as sinners, it is unclogged by conditions. "Whoever will—may come and take of the water of life freely!" "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed!" John 3:19-20
Have you chosen . . .
Jehovah for your God,
Jesus for your Savior,
the bible for your guide,
saints for your companions,
holiness as your object, and
the glory of God as your end?
If so, it is because you have been chosen by God to life, holiness, happiness, and honor! Your name is written in the Lamb's book of life, and you are encouraged to rejoice in the persuasion that your name is written in Heaven, and that Jesus has appointed unto you the kingdom of heaven as your eternal inheritance!
Seven Solemn Subjects!
James Smith, New Park Street Church, London, 1849
is the object of the believer's hatred, and the daily cause of grief; he feels it working within him, and discovers it in all he performs. Every thought, word, and action, is defiled by it—and he groans being burdened with it. He is delivered from its guilt by faith in atoning blood—but he wants to witness its uprooting by the hand of almighty power. He believes it shall not condemn him—but he feels it continually annoy him; it disturbs his peace, spoils his devotions, feeds his doubts, furnishes weapons for his enemy, and grieves him at his heart. It is always within him, and generally working to distress him; it is his bane, his annoyance, and his great stumbling block.
He hates it when he sees it in the world, more when he sees it in the church—but most when he sees it in himself! He rejoices that Christ removed it—but mourns that he was pierced by it. He longs for freedom from it, and often groans out, "Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?"
, is the Christian's daily cross, he is fastened to it, pained by it—and yet cannot get from it. Self creeps . . .
into every duty and spoils it,
into every privilege and perverts it,
into every place and proves an annoyance.
The more we see of the Redeemer's glory, aim at Jehovah's praise, and desire to live a life of holiness and usefulness—the more we find self to be our enemy! Its deceitfulness beguiles us, its wickedness burdens us, and fills us with shame. We sometimes admire it, hug it, and honor it—and then we are deceived by it! We at other times crucify it, deny it, and aim to be the death of it—and then we deal wisely with it.
Saintly self is too often mistaken for grace, and highly honored.
Wicked self is too often looked at as a proof that we have no grace at all.
But both are wrong. We require much wisdom and grace to live very near to the Lord in order to preserve us from deception in this matter. Self in a sheep skin is far more dangerous—than self in a devil's skin! The one may fill us with fear—but the other is sure to puff us with pride. The one may make us conclude we are less than the least of saints, and the chief of sinners; but the other will lift us up above our fellows, and persuade us to look down from our dangerous pinnacle and treat them with contempt.
Self is a dreadful perverter! It will pervert God's book, the Spirit's work, and the designs of a wise and holy providence. It will pervert all a man sees, all he hears, and all he feels; consequently we cannot but fear its power, hate its nature and practices, and pray for complete deliverance from it. Blessed be God, self in a bad sense—can never enter Heaven!
Self will be left behind,
When I to Jesus flee;
And I shall glorious freedom find,
3. SATANis another great foe; the two former enemies are within; this one is without. They are permanent residents in the soul; this is only a visitor. Once he inhabited, claimed, and wrought in us to the blinding of our minds—and led us captive at his will. But Jesus overcame him, cast him out, took the prey from the mighty, and the lawful captive was delivered. But he never forgets that I was once his palace, and is determined if he cannot re-possess, he will create all the annoyance he can. He is the public disturber of the soul's peace, and the determined enemy of its holiness and usefulness. He lays siege to every faculty, and endeavors by ever infernal artifice to lead astray from the simplicity which is in Christ. Every saint is his eye-sore; but a spiritual, simple minded, active Christian is especially so; he will pursue him in every way, and employ every means to corrupt his judgment by error, to alienate his affections from Jesus, to defile the conscience by sin, to fill the memory with carnality, and to lead out the will in the choice and pursuit of forbidden objects. He will twist the Scriptures, and put his hand to anything so that he may but beguile us, and lead us to dishonor Jesus, against whom his malice is chiefly vented.
A pious devil is the most dangerous devil, and he often comes in this character, and fills the mind with pride, conceit, and presumption; and then the mind is a miniature of himself.
A blaspheming devil is truly distressing, when he throws his horrid injections into the mind, and fills the memory with the very skimmings of Hell; but even this, dreadful as it is, is not so dangerous as the other. Well may Peter say, "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour!"
Satan our dreadful foe,
Is ever on his rout;
And seeking to destroy our peace,
He daily goes about.
4. SALVATIONfrom sin by the blood of the Lamb, from self by the power of grace, from Satan by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Christian's foes would make him the most wretched of beings, if it were not for his wondrous salvation.
To be saved from the guilt, power, and consequence of SIN by Jehovah's free grace, and to know and enjoy it under the sweet anointing of the Holy Spirit, is blessed indeed. To find what was once my delight, my pastime, and my element—become hateful; to loathe it, grieve over it, and rise superior to it through fellowship with Jesus Christ, is truly salvation.
To be enabled to look at SATAN, at his malice, his cunning, his power, his vassals, and innumerable instruments; and to know that the blood of Immanuel, the faithful promise of an unchangeable God, and the office, character, and work of the Holy Spirit are all combined to secure me the victory—is indeed a cause of consolation.
To look at SELF in its various forms, artifices, and designs; and to be assured that it shall be abased, conquered, rooted out, and destroyed—is truly a cause of gratitude.
To believe that I shall be delivered from everything injurious in its character, be raised above everything painful in its nature and tendency, and be introduced into the enjoyment of perfect holiness, uninterrupted happiness, and God glorifying employments—is certainly true blessedness! And all this is contained in salvation! Then I may sing,
"Salvation, O the joyful sound,
"Tis pleasure to my ears;
A sovereign balm for every wound,
A cordial for my fears."
5. SINCERITY. This the Christian prizes, seeks, and manifests. He hates the very name of deception, and would not deceive, or be deceived for the world. He goes to God with, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life."
He searches the word of God, and examines his own heart, comparing it therewith, lest he should be deceived. He chooses and prizes a heart-searching and rousing ministry, and values searching books. He would be what God requires him to be, and appear what he really is. Not but he sometimes finds secret abominations working, which he would not have disclosed for the world—but he would only profess that character which he really is. He speaks what he means—and means what he speaks. Heart and lips go together, the one is the index of the other. He fears, he hates, he dreads hypocrisy; and longs to be all holiness, honesty, and truth.
If he swears to his own hurt, he changes not—but endeavors to perform his vow. He trembles at the trimming, shuffling, and deception practiced by many professors, and humbly exclaims, "But I do not act like this—because of the fear of the Lord." He sincerely intends when he professes, sincerely endeavors to be and to do what he has professed, and sincerely laments and mourns over all his short-comings. You may read his heart—in his life, see his uprightness—in his tears, and hear his sincerity—in his groaning confessions. Next to salvation by grace—he prizes sincerity of soul.
. He learns this of his beloved Lord, who tells us, "Except you are converted and become as little children, you shall never enter into the kingdom of God." Simplicity and godly sincerity go together.
It is manifested in reading God's word: he wants simply to understand the mind and will of God, to understand what God really intends. He does not want to form a system, or defend favorite theological points; but to find light, obtain knowledge, receive comfort, enjoy gospel peace, and walk in the ways in which his God would have him to go.
It is manifested especially in his prayers: he goes to God as a poor, dependant, unworthy sinner; he goes through Jesus Christ, he pleads mercy, grace, and promises; he does not attempt to compliment the Lord—but to obtain blessings from him, and enjoy communion with him. His language is the language of his feelings rather than his fancies. He is, or would be earnest, fervent, and importunate, as one who really needs and seeks.
It may be seen in his conversation upon spiritual subjects, there is a simplicity which strikes, pleases, and gratifies a spiritual mind. Simplify is one of the sweetest ornaments of Christianity; as sincerity is on of the brightest ornaments—the two united, adorn the Christian's character.
7. SUPERIORITY. "The righteous is more excellent than his neighbor." The Christian attempts to be superior to all those evil principles which regulate the worldling. He would live above the world—daily gaining victories over it. He would live above his self-seeking, flesh-pleasing carnal nature. He would live above the things of time—fixing his thoughts on eternal realities. He would be influenced by nobler motives; walk by holier rules; and seek a superior end—to the worldling. He would sustain a superior character, contemplate superior objects, live on superior provision, and anticipate a superior end! He is not—and cannot be satisfied with fleeting contemptible baubles—but looks for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, even our Savior Jesus Christ.
O let superior motives rule my heart,
And may superior rules my conduct guide;
Superior consolations, Lord, impart,
Grant a superior end—my Savior's side!
Reader, are you acquainted with these seven solemn subjects? Have you ever . . .
been made sincere,
evinced simplicity, and
enjoyed holy superiority?
Have you ever known these subjects separately? Have they all met in you experimentally? They are seen to most advantage when seen altogether: the three former, like the dark background in a picture—set off the latter. But remember . . .
sin must be hated,
self must be denied,
Satan must be resisted,
salvation must be realized,
sincerity must be experienced,
simplicity must be manifested, and
superiority must be discovered—or
you have great, very great reason to doubt your pretensions to real Christianity!