By Henry Law, 1873
If there is a picture, in which all enchanting beauty shines, it is that which represents the state of the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.--Gal. 3:26. Every joy should glow in their cup. They are called to a song swelling with melody, which cannot be more sweet. They are invited to a garden, in which each fragrant flower ever blooms. They are enjoined to sit down beneath the shadow of a tree, on whose extended branches most luscious fruit forever hangs. A volume is presented to their hands, written inside and outside in glowing terms of bliss--in which every page is calm and bright, and where perusal never wearies. Thus blessed is the heritage of faith.
To show the truth of this statement is an easy and delightful task. It requires no stretch of mind--no strain of argument--no effort of intellect--no expansion of reason's wings--no deductions of logic--no inventions of wit. To gain this light, we have only to sit still, and hear what God the Lord has said. Let the record be now pondered with earnest cry--'Open our eyes, good Lord, that we may behold wondrous things out of Your law; open our ears that we may hear Your heavenly voice, walking in the garden of Your word; open our mouths wide, and then descend and fill.'
The faithful word instantly gives the following witness–
1. God's children share His EVERLASTING LOVE. Oh! that the love of God were shed abroad more abundantly in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given unto us.--Rom. 5:5. Its origin and duration should be pondered. It began before the birth of time. It will be fresh, when time shall be no more. "I have loved You with an everlasting love."--Jer. 31:3. "I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."--Rom 8:38-39. "God is love." It is the very essence of His being. If it could expire where would God exist?
Consider, also, its FREENESS. God loves not for anything seen or foreseen--known or foreknown--given or designed--destined or pledged. There neither is, nor can be, a moving cause independent of Himself. He loves, because He will love. The actuating motive, so to speak, is His own heart. This statement leaves nothing to be added.
Mark, also, its NEVER-VARYING brightness. It knows no mutability. "I change not--therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed."--Mal. 3:6. "With Him is no variableness neither shadow of turning."--James 1:17. Man is fickle, as the restless wind. The prince's smile may be a frown tomorrow. The summer-friend may freeze into a winter-foe. Our perceptions of God's love may indeed differ. A passing cloud may hide the sun. But its reality is the same "yesterday, and today, and forever."
Its INFINITUDE is an amazing thought. The heavens are high--but it is higher. The ocean has vast depths, but it is deeper. Far is east from west, but its length has no horizon. We have no measure with which to estimate--no scales to weigh--no line to fathom it. No tongue can tell--no thought conceive--its boundless, boundlessness. If happiness exists, it surely must be theirs, who are encircled by this love.
2. God's children are enriched with the gift of gifts--the largest and the best, which heaven could grant. God gives His co-eternal and co-equal Son, Christ Jesus the Lord. If worlds upon worlds with all their treasures, beauties, glories, had been piled into one pyramid, it would have been as the small dust of the balance, when weighed against this portion. Each one can truly say, "I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine."--Song 6:3. Christ--all that Christ is--all that Christ has--is granted as an inalienable possession.
What tender RELATIONSHIPS result! He is the everlasting Father--we are begotten by the word of His truth. "Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet will I not forget You."--Isa. 49:15. But Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.--Prov. 18:24. His life belongs to His people, that they may live forever. His death is theirs, that the second death may touch them not. His blood is theirs, to wash them whiter than the whitest snow. His wounds are theirs, their hiding-place from wrath. His stripes are theirs, their healing balsam. His righteousness is theirs, their fit robe for the courts of heaven. His prayers are theirs, that every blessing may be obtained. His advocacy is theirs, to silence the accuser's voice. His whole work is theirs, that they may be forever saved. His glory is theirs, that they may be like Him, as He is. Is not this all-surpassing happiness?
3. God's children rank the HOLY SPIRIT high among their treasures. The word is true, "I will not leave you comfortless."--"I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever."--John 14:16. Hence the bold appeal--"What! Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you!"--1 Cor. 6:19. Is he not supremely happy, who at all times and in all places bears within his heart this heavenly inhabitant--this in-dwelling God! His presence gives light, and peace, and joy. He opens the eye to see the glories of the Gospel-hope. He molds the will to receive the blessed Jesus in His every office of saving grace. He shows redemption's consummated scheme, and gives the appropriating hand of faith. He whispers guidance in each doubt, perplexity, distress. He causes the Bible-page to shine in heavenly light. He applies the precious promises with enlivening power. He stamps the sacramental privileges with seals of assurance. He leads into all truth, and dissipates the mists of error. Are they not happy who are thus enriched?
4. God's children are exempt from sin's penal woe. In common with all mothers' sons, their iniquities are--many--grievous--vile--often done against the Spirit's warning--the voice of conscience, and clear knowledge of duty's call. These rise as mountains upon mountains, and they accuse as with thunder's roar. The children meet not offences with excuse. They humbly own their magnitude of guilt. But they present an all-absolving plea. "Christ has died," when urged by faith, releases from all wrath. The blood, which streamed on Calvary, obliterates the crimson-dye, and makes each stain invisible even to the omniscient eye. "As far as the east is from the west," the dying Savior bears the load away. The voice is heard in all its sweet assurance, "You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."--Micah 7:19. The heart may grasp the record, "There is therefore now no condemnation."--Rom. 8:1. And again, "in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace."--Eph. 1:7. The God, who is their God, pardons iniquity, and transgression, and sin.--Exod. 34:7.
5. God's children are surrounded by a glorious company of GUARDS. It is a wondrous word--worthy of all study and acceptance, "You have come to an innumerable company of angels."--Heb. 12:22. These bright intelligences counted it their highest honor to minister to their great Lord, during His sojourn on this earth. Similarly they joy to serve all the members of His body. What though their presence is not open to our gaze, is it the less real? Our eyes behold not the surrounding air; but is it less our life? We cannot touch the fragrance of the rose; but it is real refreshment to the sense. We cannot see the wings of these encircling friends; but are they therefore the less near? The prophet's servant trembled when he saw the besieging host. But fear fled when his eyes beheld "the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."-- 2 Kings 6:17. Armies of invisible defense, though undiscerned by sense, were present.
The Spirit's pledge is not recalled--"The angel of the Lord encamps round about those who fear Him, and delivers them."--Ps. 34:7. Daniel testifies to the King--"My God has sent His angel, and has shut the lions' mouths that they have not hurt me."--Dan. 6:22. It is true of each lowly member, even as of the glorious Head, "He shall give His angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways."--Ps. 91:11. See some mighty monarch going forth encircled by his glittering guards. It is a splendid spectacle. The potentate is clad in honor and garrisoned with safety. But what is this state to the grand security of him to whom the hosts of heaven always minister? Believers are thus guarded.
6. They are ADOPTED into the family of God. This honor belongs to all Christ's members. Such was the purpose before the world began. "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will."--Eph. 1:5. The heaven-directed pen writes, "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."--Rom. 8:15, 17.
How sweet the tenderness, which encourages, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God."--1 John 3:2. This sonship involves the brotherhood of Jesus. The relationship is gladly avowed. Hear the assurance, "I ascend to My Father and your Father--to My God and your God."--John 20:17. We are predestinated to be conformed to His image, that "He might be the first-born among many brethren."--Rom. 8:29.
There is a thrill through loving hearts at the bare name of HOME. How should the believer exult in the truth that his soul's home is the palace of his God! Here he is ever welcome. Here smiles await him. At all times he may draw near. The gates are never closed. He may claim audience and pour out every desire of his heart into the listening ears above. He may fondly lisp, "My Father," expecting the dear response, "My son." He may ask, and will receive, all that paternal love can grant. The portion, which is really good, will be abundantly supplied. He may sit down at heaven's own table, and feast on the luxurious fare of the eternal Word, and be refreshed with the delicious richness of the promises. He is regaled by the celestial manna--the true bread that came down from heaven. There are no more empty cravings. The word is realized, "Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life--he who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes on Me shall never thirst."--John 6:35. Say, where can happiness be found, if it be not with the children of adopting love?
7. Is it not high privilege to be united by one Spirit to all the family of heaven, and to see a brother in every saint? But believers are "no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God."--Eph. 2:19. Happy membership with the mystic body! Happy fellowship with this sanctified band! Happy union with "the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven!"--Heb. 12:23. Great is the joy of this community. Large is the benefit of sharing all the general supplications of the Church. Sweet is the comfort of being interwoven in heart with the greatest and noblest of our race. Blessed indeed are the members of this holy brotherhood!
8. Happy are they, for whose good all PROVIDENCES work. To our blindness the course of daily events may seem to be a tangled net. In a long chain the links may appear to be united without plan. A mass of occurrences apparently is jumbled by confusion's hand. But is it so? God's never-failing wisdom orders every minutest circumstance. Without Him no insect crawls—no sparrow falls—no breeze arises—no gale is lulled. "The very hairs of your head are all numbered." Luke 12:7. In so-called trifles, even as in a nation's crisis, wise prearrangement regulates the whole machine. God sits supreme upon the directing throne. The government is upon the shoulder of our mediatorial King, Who ever guides it for His people's well-being. Events most adverse in their first look subserve their good. The frost--the snow--are needful for the crop. The keen wind chills beneficially. The tempest clears the air. Out of the bitter, sweet can come. We cannot always trace--we may be often puzzled--but we should always trust and lean confidingly on our Lord's arm. The word is settled in the heaven of heavens, "All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."--Rom. 8:28. Sweet is their peace who in every circumstance look upward, and devoutly say, "It is well."
9. But this happy day is gilded by a happier CLOSE. The present light is dim before the coming brightness. The bud, though sweet, exhales but scantily the fragrance of the full-blown flower. The infant's limbs show little of the grown man's strength. Here indeed we lie down in green pastures and are led by still waters. Here we rejoice in full knowledge of Christ's finished work, and claim the riches of complete redemption. But as yet we stand outside and have but glimpses of the full heavenly bliss. Yet in a little while, and we shall hear the Master's voice, "Come up here--sit beside Me on My throne--share My glory, and enter into all My joy." Let your enchanted gaze dwell on the dazzling prospect! It will indeed invigorate. The traveler steps briskly when in sight of his resting place. Will not Zion's pilgrims sing, when they see their city fully in view? Such is a scanty glimmer of the blessed heritage of faith.
But few drink deeply of this cup. Realizing perception of heaven is alas! too rare--a flower uncommon in a wilderness of weeds--a verdant spot in an expanse of sand--a jewel in the rubbish of a quarry. Through grace believers are not few. In this fallen world a goodly company look unto Jesus and are safe. But sadly they ignore their privileges. They mourn like Heman in the valley of timidity. They pitch their tents amid bewildering doubts. They draw their water from the wells of fear. They creep along the cloudy side of Zion's hill. They see a lion in each path. They tremble at the rustling of each leaf. Their heads droop mournfully. Their looks are downcast and their hearts despond. Though the sun is high in the heavens they seek some chilling shade.
Let us proceed to mark some DOUBTS which injuriously trouble, and scrutinize some CLOUDS, which darken without cause their way.
1. Some are distressed when they read of "the Lamb's Book of Life." They know that from the foundation of the world a mystic register of the saved was written. The truth is announced that the happy seed are "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit--unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ."--1 Pet. 1:2. They hear the record and reverently bow the head. They foster no rebellious thoughts against God's sovereign will. They cavil not against His wisdom. They know that the Judge of all men must do right. But still they cannot calm the apprehension, that they have no saving interest in this everlasting purpose. They cannot read--what is inscrutable--the page of heaven--and this veil of mystery creates agitation. They hesitate to claim the portion of the predestined, because not cognizant of hidden counsels.
They thus invert the order, which has been so wisely ordained. They think that knowledge of electing love should be the basis of faith's rest. They desire assurance, that God has loved them from eternity, as ground for venturing to love Him. This is to work backwards. It is no marvel that they advance not, whose first step takes a misguiding course. Doubtless, in God, election must precede our faith, as cause precedes effect. But in our hearts faith must precede our comfort in decrees. We believe indeed, because of God's choice and faith must be given before we can read this choice. Therefore by believing, we gain knowledge of our saving interest in the Book of Life. It is thus we reason in nature's work, and in occurrences of life. We prove that summer is arrived by the heat, and crops, and ripened fruit. We argue from the motion of the rapid train, that steam must be at work. So from effects we know that grace rules in the heart.
But, whence this grace? It is no product of dull nature. It springs not spontaneously in corrupt soil. It is from heaven, and thus is clear evidence of heavenly regard. Are our souls warm with love of God? Then we are sure that God loves us--and in His love has marked us as His own. Do we choose God to be our portion--our joy--our all? Whence this choice? It is the planting of the Spirit, and establishes that He works in us according to God's will. Does the strong current of desire bear us towards God and heaven? Trace the stream to its first source. It must descend from God. He first desires us, or never would we think of Him. Beloved, if you are conscious of the actings of true grace, cast to the wind all doubt. Be satisfied--rejoice--be glad. The finger which implants grace, first wrote your name in the Lamb's Book. In the effects you see the first cause.
2. Sometimes the soul is heavy, because it cannot fix the DATE of its first turning unto God. It dreamily reasons, if conversion is a real work, it must have had commencement, and the commencement of such change must be a marked era. Go forth again to nature's field. Mark gradual operations and be wise. You see a flower. Did you see the seed quicken in the soil? No--but you doubt not that there was a moment of life's first spring. You see the sun resplendent in the skies. You saw not the first ray in the chambers of the east. But the shining light leaves no doubt that it once began. You see a river rolling down its floods. Its source is hidden from man's research. No traveler can trace the waters to their origin. But still you know there is a spot where it has birth--an opening, whence the tiny rill first issues forth.
God may deal thus in matters of your soul. With noiseless step He may come in, and take His seat with no announcing knock. The question is--Does God reside within? Do holy thoughts, and faith in Christ, and love of the Word, and joy in ordinances testify His presence? If so, conversion is a sure fact--it has indisputable proof. Rejoice, although its origin cannot be dated. You doubt not that you naturally live, although you felt not life's first spark.
3. Others nurse despondency, because of DECLENSIONS in grace. Their first love, so bright--so joyous--so ecstatic--has suffered sad eclipse. Their early warmth is chilled. Their leaves, once verdant, now droop witheringly. Delight in prayer--high flights of praise--delicious feasting on the richness of the Word--have spread departing wings. A vacancy is left most coldly void. They have gone back to the husks of worldly vanity. They have sought pleasure in scenes, where God rules not, and their dear Savior is ignored. Theirs is the backsliders' deadness. They feel disquietude. An accusing conscience alarms. They mourn and sigh alone–"Is not all hope now gone? Can I regain the happy eminence, from which I have fallen? Can heavenly smiles again beam over me? Can my delinquency be pardoned? Can I again have place among the children? Can my erring soul be restored?"
Let no one speak lightly of this case. To desert the Lord and drink again the puddle of the world, is grievous guilt. But such is the tender mercy of our Gospel--such the sweet pitifulness of our heavenly Father--such the infinitude of His love, that especial promises and most alluring calls pursue this class. Peter has been foremost to deny his Lord--but Peter especially receives tidings of great joy--"Go your way, tell His disciples and Peter."--Mark 16:7. The admonition is reiterated, "Return backsliding Israel--says the Lord--and I will not cause My anger to fall upon you--for I am merciful, says the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever. Turn O backsliding children, says the Lord; for I am married unto you."--Jer. 3:12, 14. Let such then hasten to the throne of grace, pleading that they obey this gracious call. He who gave the pledge will faithfully redeem it. They will realize the gracious truth "He hates divorce."--Mal. 2:16. "The redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with singing unto Zion--and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads--they shall obtain gladness and joy--and sorrow and mourning shall flee away."--Isa. 51:11.
4. Another sigh is not uncommon. How can my brow be decked with smiles, and notes of gladness warble from my lips? My dwelling is amid so many foes and my voyage amid opposing waves. I may not remit my watch. I dare not put off my armor. Threats and alarms give no respite. My many adversaries are fierce in rage--mighty in strength--deadly in hate. They have crushed many far abler than I am. In their presence how can I rejoice and sing! Is there not cause to be dismayed! Did not David fear! "He said in his heart I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul." But did David fall? Yet a little while and his feet stood on the necks of all his enemies, and we read, "David spoke unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul."--2 Sam. 22:1.
It is true that we are called to fight the good fight of faith--never to lay down the shield and sword--to wrestle with untiring nerve--to strive, as if each effort was for life--to give no place to the devil--to resist even unto death. But it is also true, that we go forth with certainty of eventual triumph--with infallible promises of sure victory. We should remember what Captain leads us--what Spirit arms us with endurance--what angelic guardians hover around--what a cloud of witnesses encompasses. We should think of our many Ebenezers--sure pledges of unfailing help--of our many brethren, more than conquerors in all these trials--of the treasury of promises stored with all-prevailing aid. "Fear not, for I am with you--be not dismayed, for I am your God--I will strengthen you--yes I will help you--yes I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness."--Isa. 41:10. "I will never leave you nor forsake you."--Heb. 13:5.
The gracious design, also, of this continued conflict should be understood. It is ordered to drive from self-confidence--to show where true strength resides--to prompt faith into constant action--to intensify confiding prayer. Realize these purposes, and then the joyful song will sound, God is faithful. He will not allow us to be tempted above what we are able to bear. "If God is for us, who can be against us?"--Rom. 8:31. The victory is sure. Away then with these fears!
5. Sometimes the soul is locked in another gloomy cell. It questions whether its faith is true. May it not be some cheat--some counterfeit--some deceiver in disguise--some earthborn vanity--no heaven-born grace! Undoubtedly presumption may assume the semblance of faith. It stealthily may creep into the heart and give sweet opiates. It may persuade that soul-concerns are safe, and cause for discomfort remains no more. It may lull on a soft pillow of delusion, and rock to sleep amid deception's dreams. Wherever this impostor cheats, there is the full calm of security.
The fact, then, that the soul trembles is sure proof that presumption is not its inhabitant. The presumptuous, pleased with their seeming beauty, are at ease in Zion. They gaze complacently on painted features, and take them for the children's likeness. This counterfeit may be detected by its half-heartedness. It professes to make total self-sacrifice--to be bought by a price, and therefore to be wholly Christ's. But, like Ananias, while it consecrates much, some portion is retained. It hides some secret idol 'beneath the stuff'. It offers to surrender all sons, except the darling Benjamin. It locks some secret chamber, from which the Lord is excluded.
If you are conscious of this half-consecration, your faith is equivocal, and trembling is justly yours. But if in thorough sincerity you give your body, soul, and spirit to the Lord--if you are willing that He should live in you as truly as He died for you--if you desire that He should reign supreme, as really as you hope to sit beside Him on His throne--these evidences show faith to be true. This fear is your own infirmity, and ranks among the deceiver's guiles.
Observe, also, presumption has scanty relish in the Word, and draws but little strength from prayer, and warms not in the joys of ordinances. It still seeks pasture amid the weeds and berries of the world. But if you turn dissatisfied from such food, and have no content in anything but Christ--if your constant yearning is for more of His presence--more tokens of His love--more basking in the sunshine of His smiles, you may take comfort. Such are the actings of true faith. Presumption never thirsts for such delights.
6. The traveler must expect some cloudy days. So the Christian pilgrim must be prepared for storms. Providences may seem to frown. A great fight of affliction must be endured. As wave succeeds to wave, so trouble may follow trouble. One disappears, another comes, more trying and severe. Sometimes sickness invades the frame--strength languishes--the night brings no repose--the day is wearisome in pain. Sometimes failing health in much-loved friends awakens concern--means of family support are dried--poverty shows its grim form--the cruse of oil runs to its last drop--the barrel of meal is exhausted. Perhaps malicious tongues breathe wicked slanders. Reproach assails the name, and calumny hints opprobrious surmise. Varied miseries assail in turn, and batter with pitiless assault. The disconsolate heart is prone to read in these dealings, signs of heavenly wrath. Gideon's doubt is felt, "If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?"--Judg. 6:13. Timidity infers, If God indeed loves me, if rightly I call Him Father, Protector, Friend, why am I thus? If He but speak the word, all pains depart--all peace and joy and blessedness come in. These troubles intimate that I am an alien, and no child.
But all these doubts are prompted by the father of lies. The sun is near, though its rays do not appear. The Father's love is no inconstancy. These dealings may be real mercies. Have you not read "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten."--Rev. 3:19. He is not the blessed man who never knows, but who endures, temptation--for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life. Consider the saints of old. May not the present trial be Paul's thorn? Did not Job suffer more than this? In this affliction may I not be retracing David's path? A cloud of witnesses have preceded in this road. Many were their afflictions. Did they perish in them? Out of them all the Lord delivered them. Perhaps you cannot read God's purpose, yet you must trust, and still cry, "It is the Lord; let Him do what seems good to Him."--1 Sam. 3:18.
7. Sometimes the wheels move heavily, being clogged by fears of final failure. Intelligence is sound--knowledge illumines the mind--the provisions of the covenant of grace are clearly seen. The work of grace is real. Repentance is deeply felt. Faith tightly grasps the Savior. But the full assurance of hope is not admitted. The feet are in the right path, but clouds obscure the end. There is a lurking dread, lest the vessel, in which Jesus sits, may yet make shipwreck. What! can it be, that they who are born of God should die at last in Satan's grasp? What! can his breath put out the flame of grace? Can the incorruptible seed decay? Can he who has received everlasting life find it to be everlasting death? Can a son of God--an heir of promise--lapse into a child of perdition? Let not such groundless surmise be entertained.
There would indeed be cause for every fear--there would be slender ground of hope, if saints were left to their own keeping. They would then fall, as Adam fell in Paradise. They would not keep their high estate better than apostate angels kept theirs. But they are secure in the almighty arms of God. Their "life is hidden with Christ in God."--Col. 3:3. Christ must be spoiled, and God subdued, and heaven ransacked, before saints can be plucked from their safe custody. They are committed to the guardian-care of God the Holy Spirit. It is a wondrous word--but not more full of marvel than of truth, "I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments and do them--and you shall be My people, and I will be your God."--Ezek. 36:27, 28.
When Israel left Egypt, not a hoof might be left behind. Exod. 10:26. The ark stood still in Jordan, until the entire host had passed the stream. The promise provides that all God's children shall safely reach their home. Christ and His members make one body. If but one member perish, Christ is no longer whole. Christ incomplete is an impossibility. Believer, realize these solid truths. The covenant, which secures salvation to Christ's seed, includes each member. The portion in Paradise is doubtless more happy, but the militants on earth are equally secure. Cling to Christ, and He will bring you to be with Him where He is.
If fears be thus prone to enter, diligence should bar the portals of the heart against them. The tremblers are weak. Satan knows this and strives to despoil us of our strength. Awake to his stratagems, and vigilantly resist.
1. With this intent renew repentance daily. Be often in the penitential valley. Cloak not transgressions. Recite with smitten breast the falls which conscience knows. Bewail their multitude and magnitude. The weeping eye sweetly beholds the cross. The humbled heart most quickly hears, "Your sins, which are many, are forgiven--go in peace." The promises cheer most tenderly such as confess and forsake their sins.
2. Daily draw near to Christ, as if each day's approach were a new act. Plead, "Lord, if I never came before, now I lie low at Your feet." Continually cast yourself into His open arms, and enter by faith into His wounds. Clinging to His side, avow that nothing shall ever part you from His presence. Be assured that oneness thus cemented is oneness for the endless life. Draw near, then, and be happy.
3. Review the gracious dealings of preceding days. Surely memory's casket contains many jewels. Let them not lie neglected. Bring them to light and profit by their contemplation. Retrace your journey through the desert land. The guiding pillar has never yet failed. When foes came forth have not your arms been strengthened to win glorious trophies! Think of your many escapes, as a bird from the fowler's snare. Has not sadness disappeared, when the Sun of righteousness arose with healing in His wings! You have trembled at the thought of hindrance, but the opposing stone was gone when you drew near.--Mark 16:3-4.
When sinking in the billows the Savior has held forth His hand, and you sank not. When you were mourning in a captive's cell, the prison-door flew open untouched. Infuriate Esau has run to your embrace. These sweet Ebenezers are courage for succeeding days. He, who delivers now, and has delivered, will deliver to the end. Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind. Review your mercies and march bravely on.
4. Soar high on wings of PRAISE. Begin on earth the song of the redeemed. Intermingle now with the harpers harping with their harps. What motives urge you to this melody! What topics of thanksgiving throng around you! Verily, they cannot be exhausted. The bliss of adoration is ever new. The name of Jesus is an ever-budding theme. In it there is melody without end. Without pause praise His salvation. Bless God incessantly that you claim Him as your own--that your feet stand on praising and on praying ground--and that every moment wafts your bark nearer to the shore of ceaseless hallelujahs. In this blissful exercise fears wither. Resolve that these songs shall continually be in your mouth, and happiness will fill your heart.
5. Never hold parlance with your crafty foe. You cannot sound the depths of his devices. He can transform himself into an angel of light, and can soon bewilder by his subtleties. Answer him not a word. Appeal to your Advocate on high. Fly quickly to His sheltering arms. There nestle as in a mother's close embrace. The tempter cannot then obtain advantage.
May the loving Spirit so bless these humble words, that they may lead you to be happy among the happiest, ever rejoicing with the sons of joy! It should be so. It is sad shame--it is ingratitude, when they, professing to be Christ's, weep among the woe-worn and downcast. The spies were punished who brought discouraging report of Canaan's land. Never misrepresent your gracious Lord. You are high above others in exalted state--in present privilege--in glorious prospect. Be equally high in happy walk--in smiling brow--in glowing lip. Let all observers see the coming glory beaming in your heaven-lit countenance. Let godly words prove that you are upraised from earth. Thus allure others to your happy walk; and until heaven's portals open to you, sing for very joy at your own heaven's gate.